19 December 2011

Good stuff

There's this website I was introduced to a couple years ago, and was reintroduced to a couple other times before I became a real fan. Good.is is good. And it's kind of me, too. They do infographics! They are global and local! They do education! They do social activism! They do design! They do geeky tech stuff! They do progressive politics! They do green! They do food without being too 'foodie'! They do 're-purposed' crafts!

It's a sweet spot for my demographic: young-ish, socially conscious, educated, progressive but not extreme, practical AND playful. They have a DIY lab for a thing they call a no-chart. Try it!

28 October 2011

Climate Shift in Focus

Personally I do believe in climate change. I think that it was an important shift when people started saying 'climate change' rather than 'global warming'. People say, when we got emergency level freezing here in New Mexico and "snowmageddon" in 2010, or 12 inches of snow right before Memorial Day "I don't see a lot of global warming going on here!" Well, they're right in a way. And that's the point. The climate is changing. The cause of it, I don't know (I do have theories and opinions, but that's not the point). But if you deny that there is a huge change going on, even over the last decade, you need to pull your head out of the sand.

But that's not the 'shift in focus' that I'm talking about. All through the 80s (when I recognized 'environmentalism' as a movement) and 90s (when I went to school) the focus was ozone depleting gasses, rain forest deforestation, acid rain, pollution and the quality of life, and consumer society waste and recycling. Now, the focus is on carbon emissions and climate change. It seems like all the 'save the whale' movements and other environmental issues are irrelevant, and the entire focus is on driving a hybrid car or denying human contributions to environmental decline. The shift in focus to Climate Change is damaging to the environmentalist cause because it's so politically charged.

If you believe the climate is changing or not, I don't care. If you believe humans made it happen, I don't care. But you cannot deny that a more polluted, eco-diversity diminished, landfill-filled planet sucks! The climate change argument isn't working, since the developing world is increasingly industrializing despite the inspiring TED talks out there, and the majority of the developed world outsources the responsibility from our minds since we live in a climate-controlled world anyway. There needs to be a new approach, and since environmentalists tend to operate under a more holistic mind-frame anyway, maybe the argument shouldn't be so narrow.

16 October 2011

Recent cooking adventures

I really learned to cook when I was in Argentina and had no recipes but memories, and unfamiliar ingredients and utensils. I totally freelanced an Easter roast, a tuna casserole, and bread pudding. The bread pudding was one of my favorites. In Argentina, most of the bread we used was bought freshly made (without preservatives). As missionaries we only went shopping on one day a week, so I often had good (but very dry) bread left over halfway through the week. Solution: bread pudding. I made a lot of really good bread pudding throughout my mission.

Fast forward. We spent a lot of time on planes this summer. Sometimes there's really just nothing on the TV, and its not as easy to get up to go do something else. So I watched the FoodNetwork, and they highlighted a woman reinventing bread pudding. I was inspired. I have not been able to try my hand at anything like she does, but I had bread pudding on my mind. Fast forward again. Our school gets some donations from Costco to distribute to the kids and their families. It's usually some sort of bread, and sometimes the needy teachers take some things home, too. We had brought home some artesian sourdough loafs and some bagels, and after using what we could, the rest sat on the counter for a week. So then we had some (a lot) nice, dry breads that we weren't going to eat, and bread pudding wasn't really an option since sourdough doesn't really mix with nutmeg.

So, did you know that if you search for 'savory bread pudding', you will get a LOT of recipe results? Yeah, I was excited. So, I mostly followed this recipe, but also mostly winged it. The end result was a mix of the sourdough and bagels (note: bagels? Yeah, really good in bread pudding.) tomato, green onions, and spinach. Sorry, no pictures of that one, but here's one of a frittata. When I started making it, I wasn't sure if what I was making was, in fact, a frittata. It was. Finally got to use that awesome cast iron skillet we got for our wedding.
'Savory' is usually my thing, but last week I did have a desert craving. We had the Bisquick out earlier, so I searched for recipes using it to make scones. Well, this is what I came up with. Based on this recipe, I substituted chocolate chips for the pecans, soy milk for milk, and also stirred in a dollop of Nutella for good measure. Super easy. Really, really good.
OK, I'm sorry it looks gross. I had to take the picture with my phone.
Tonight I tried the same recipe, but with a variation. I did add the pecans this time, but instead of milk I used some natural apple cider. And instead of throwing in some Nutella, I added a good measure of honey.Wonderful. But I think next time I'll add some cinnamon.
Hope this pic is more appetizing!
I'll wrap up with some more savory dishes. We were gifted a number of zucchini, and had already made bread and cooked up what we could. In an old church cookbook there was a recipe for zucchini pizza crust. It doesn't really 'pick up' like a pizza, and it will win no beauty contest, but it was pretty darn tasty.

4c shredded zucchini     1c shredded cheese     2 eggs     Bake at 400 for 15 mins. Then top as you would a pizza, and bake until its ready.

The guy across the street moved out, and since our landlord also owns that property, he invited us to take advantage of the garden the guy left behind. After looking through the variety, all i wanted to do was make salsa. So, I got a recipe from my dad, and threw it all together in a blender, and just went with it. Here's some recommendations from the source: Use a food processor. Do the onions, peppers and fresh garlic from the garlic press and chop them up really small and then mix all of the spices and other ingredients. Do the tomatoes in the chopper, but not long so it's more chunky, and drain off some of the liquid from the tomatoes before adding so it is not as runny.

8 tomatoes
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
1-2 jalapeƱo pepper
1-2 Anaheim peppers
1 lime juice
2 T cider vinegar
1 T olive oil
1 t salt
1 T sugar
½ t oregano
1/3 c fresh cilantro or ½ t dry cilantro
I used some green onions and cilantro as well, and fresh oregano and tarragon, no cilantro. I just added it all into the blender. It was a little runny, and pink. There was a kind of tomato I'd never seen before, and it turned everything a little pink. But good flavor.

Once upon a time I got a laptop. It's been nearly 4 years, and it has often been in the kitchen with a recipe pulled up. I've had my iPod touch for about a year and a half, and it has been a convenient cooking companion. But over the past 4 years, and even more so recently I have had the idea of having a WiFi-enabled refrigerator. You can turn it into a digital picture frame, make a shopping list, and even look up recipes online. I was really excited when google came out with a special category of searches. And, then, I saw that I need not reach out to a manufacturer with my groundbreaking innovation. It already happened.