Saturday, January 29, 2011

Make an Emergency Oil Lamp from a Can of Tuna

ok, this was kinda cool!

Coffee Ground Cleaner

Our bucket looks like this,
plus or minus a little aging
The abrasive qualities of coffee grounds may make them suitable for some limited cleaning uses.
We collect our compostable scraps in a lidded stainless steel bucket under the sink, and empty it into the compost heap every couple of days. Over the course of time and in the nature of things, the inside of the bucket gets kinda skanky. Fortunately, we generate a cup or so of coffee grounds in that time, and their nature abrasive properties are good for scouring out the inside of the bucket. A quick rinse from the rain barrel, and the bucket is almost as good as new. And best of all, the effluvia is harmless to the environment; rain water and coffee grounds go right on the compost pile!

If we had enough grounds, I'd like to experiment with it for other cleaning purposes. I imagine they might stain anything porous, but might be o.k. for metals that sit outside and perhaps the top of my potting table, which is wood but stained from potting materials anyway.

For a little more scrubbing power, I might experiment with baking soda, which comes free whenever we switch out an odor-eating box from the fridge. Thriftiness at no sacrifice in quality is always smart!
I was inspired to writ on this subject by this week's Change The World Wednesday Challenge:
"This week, if you've never tried Eco-friendly cleansers (either commercial or handmade), please try one out.

Or ...
If you've used commercial Eco-friendly cleansers but have never made your own, try making one (a simple cleanser can be made with equal parts vinegar and baking soda, with a few drops of essential oil added in to make it smell nice ... it's perfect for cleaning bathrooms and kitchens). We'd also like to know which commercial brands you use and your analysis of them.
Or ...

If you always use homemade cleansers, please share your recipe with us. We'd also like to know what you've tried, what works and what doesn't.
Thanks, "Small Footprints", for another fun challenge. I'm looking forward to seeing what other people come up with!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

10 Ways Vampires And Corporations Are Alike

  1. Immortal
  2. Amoral
  3. Disdainful of laws and customs that bind mere humans
  4. Served by limitless hordes of lesser beings
  5. Capable of acts of immense physical strength
  6. Generally more intelligent than any individual human
  7. Immune to being injured by physical acts that would kill any human
  8. Nourished by the life-force of humans, typically expressed as blood
  9. Useful servants but terrifying masters
  10. Literary Fiction.
1-7. Same as Above
8. Nourished by the life-force of humans, typically expressed as employee time or customer money
9. Same as Above
10. Legal Fiction.

See the difference?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Planted this week: Horseradish!

It's a pretty mellow January this week; not quite sweater weather but very pleasant to work in outside.

chicken in the garden
Village Green's rooster
lords over
the winter garden
Sunday we stopped by Village Green Perennial Nursery and had a nice chat with the proprietor. This time of year, there's not much business so she might not be in all the time, but as we looked at the gate she opened it up and we looked around. The plants were in their winter state, mostly resting and quiet. However, the chickens were more active than usual; during the planting season they are confined, because otherwise they eat the crops. In the winter, they can roam freely.
The chicken in this photo is the rooster, who is six years old and very good tempered. Some people think chickens get nasty as they age, but this seems to depend upon the individual, just as with humans ;-)
We settled on a horseradish. We've had a lot of fun making horseradish vodka, and would like to try growing our own.
This horseradish came from the garden of Village Green's mother, who passed away last year. We are honored to carry on her memory, and can only say "Thanks Mother!"

Sunday, January 23, 2011

NuWave: it's not just for music anymore

NuWave cooker
with Optional
 Big Orange Extension Cord
I was sceptical when my mother-in-law ordered a NuWave cooker off of TV. We already have a perfectly usable oven, plus a little gas grill for outside, and the NuWave's claims seemed to good to be true:
"The NuWave Oven cooks food up to 50% faster than a conventional oven through its patented 3-Way cooking method: Infrared-Conduction-Convection; INFRARED radiant heat penetrates food from the inside out leaving food moist and flavorful. CONDUCTION applies heat directly to the food enhancing browning, roasting and flavor. CONVECTION circulates heat evenly around food for faster cooking and even browning. The NuWave Oven Pro is powered by a 1500 Watt Sheath Heater that can last up to 30 years without service. ..."
But it turns out that the cooker works very well for us. We don't have to crank up the whole oven to cook, which saves energy and money. It's very convenient to stack up meat and vegtables in a pattern that uses one to baste the other as they cook, so that assembling a complete meal takes very little time.
And with the use of a heavy orange extension cord, it cooks just find on a little table outdoors! We don't use the little gas grill anymore, except perhaps when a party has too many people for the one oven to feed conveniently. It's just too easy to plug in the NuWave, stack up the food, pop a beer and wait for dinner to be ready!
I was inspired to write this by this week's Change the World Wednesday Challenge
This week, if possible, try cooking a meal outside over a clean, Eco-friendly fire.
Or ..
If you are unable to cook outside, or if it's just too cold, please cook at least one day's meals using energy-efficient methods (table top appliances such as crock-pots, electric skillets, etc.). Do not use the stove or oven.
Or ...
If you are already cooking meals in an energy-efficient way, please share information and suggestions on how we all can do better.
I do like to cook outdoors, but would have a hard time justifying our little gas barbeque on environmental grounds. Fortunately, the NuWave runs off electricity, which in our state is mostly from renewable falling water, although some comes from less benign sources. Until we can get solar panels installed on our south-facing roof, we'll have to hope the economies of scale of using utility-based electricity makes our cooking with this gadget more carbon efficient than our other options.

P.S. I also love to use our crockpot, both to save energy and to minimize food waste. Bone Soup will please your palate AND your wallet!

Comic: XKCD

One of the smartest comics anywhere is XKCD.
Accurately self-described as "A webcomic of Romance, Satire, Math and Language", XKCD is always funny, but its subject matter can range from the peculiarities of the human heart to the strangeness of quantum theory, often in the same panel.
This is a comic that is not afraid to be very very smart but does not let its intelligence get in the way of being funny!
Highly recommended: