BIG GREEN FAILED, as most of us know, when California voters last week turned down the environmental initiative. But what happened to the recycling initiative in Oregon -- the proposal that was viewed by environmentalists as the bottle-deposit bill of the 1990s?
It also failed, by an almost 3-2 margin, with 57 percent of the voters casting no votes against 43 percent in favor. The measure, which would have imposed a ban on all products that failed to meet strict recycling standards, was vigorously opposed by food manufacturers and most supermarkets, with executives charging it would result in many products not being sold in Oregon.
Environmentalists, who initially had widespread support for the measure, said they were defeated after industry launched an expensive advertising campaign and outspent the environmentalists by eight to one.
THE VEG-O-MATIC sliced and diced its way into the pantheon of great American gimmicks during the 1960s and early '70s before it disappeared, victim perhaps of the Cuisinart and increased kitchen sophistication.
Memories of this legendary product were revived briefly in a "Saturday Night Live" Bass-O-Matic routine that, hilarious as it was, was not that much more entertaining than Raymond Popeil's original television pitches for the Veg-O-Matic.
The Veg-O-Matic was developed and marketed by Popeil Bros., Inc., which also piqued the imagination of late-night TV viewers with demonstrations for the Pocket Fisherman and Dial-O-Matic.
Now, there are plans to revive the old slicer-and-dicer in 1991 by K-Tel International Inc., which has the rights to the hand-operated food processor.
So, the Veg-O-Matic lives on. Bring on the bass. WHAT SEX IS that eggplant you're holding? It makes a difference, because the females are more bitter. A new cooking video, "Trucs of the Trade," will show you how to determine the answer without having to ask the eggplant any embarrassing questions.
This truc (French slang for a little thing or trick) is one of almost 100 genuinely helpful and amusing kitchen tricks, straight from the mouths of nationally known chefs and authors. Some of the hints -- from how to make a perfect omelet to how to peel an artichoke or tomato -- are practical. But you also get to see dentist's daughter and cookbook author Rose Levy Beranbaum demonstrate how to cleanly slice a piece of cheesecake with dental floss, and local star chef Jean-Louis Palladin explain the most efficient way to crack a quail egg -- should the need arise.
The whole performance is a treat, and it's for a good cause too -- a portion of the profits goes to the hunger-relief organization Share Our Strength (S.O.S). The $19.95 VHS video is available at some video stores, or can be obtained by calling 1-800-448-2449.
ThursdaySTART NOTE: Nov. 15. END NOTE: Rick Rodgers, author of "The Turkey Cookbook," workshop and book signing, noon to 2 p.m., Kitchen Bazaar, Pentagon City, $3, call 703-415-5545 for reservations.
SaturdaySTART NOTE: Nov. 17. END NOTE: Virginia Wine Tasting Gala, samples, food, music, 7:30 p.m. to midnight, Torpedo Factory, Alexandria, sponsored by the Wine Tasting Association, $50, call 202-682-4732.
MondaySTART NOTE: Nov. 19. END NOTE: Jane Brody, author of "Jane Brody's Good Food Gourmet," demonstrations and book signing, 7 to 9 p.m., Kitchen Bazaar, Connecticut Avenue, $3, call 202-244-1550 for reservations.
TuesdaySTART NOTE: Nov. 20. END NOTE: International Fair, sponsored by the Capital Area YMCA, ethnic foods, entertainment, gifts for sale supplied by more than 30 embassies, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Washington Hilton Hotel, $6, call 202-626-0700.
THE FOOD SECTION will appear again on Sunday, instead of next Wednesday, giving you an early jump on Thanksgiving, and will resume normal Wednesday publication on Nov. 28.
CALF'S LIVER WITH PEARS (4 servings)
The sauce -- made up of sliced pears, chopped shallots, a splash of fruit vinegar and chicken broth -- is a silky, luxurious counterpoint to the sliced, saute'ed calf's liver. Serve with a steamed green vegetable or spinach salad.
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 slices calf's liver
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, spread out on a dinner plate
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 shallots, chopped
1 large firm but ripe pear, peeled, halved, cored and sliced
2 tablespoons raspberry or black currant vinegar
1/3 cup chicken broth
Place 2 tablespoons butter and oil in a large skillet and set over moderately high heat. Dredge the slices of liver in the flour and saute' in the hot fat for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until just cooked but still slightly pink in the center; remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and keep warm.
Reduce the heat to moderate, add the remaining tablespoon of butter, shallots and pear slices; stir-cook for 3 minutes. Add the vinegar and chicken broth, bring to the boil, and simmer for 1 minute, or until lightly thickened. Transfer the liver to warm plates and spoon some of the pear sauce over each piece. Serve piping hot.
Per serving: 508 calories, 44 gm protein, 26 gm carbohydrates, 25 gm fat, 10 gm saturated fat, 25 mg cholesterol, 186 mg sodium. -- Lisa Yockelson WHEN IN DOUBT, dial 202-447-3333 (1-800-535-4555 outside the metropolitan area) for the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, daily between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. from now until Thanksgiving, and from 8 a.m. till 2 p.m. Thanksgiving Day. Year-round hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.