BB on GOOD: "Fast People, Slow Food - Better Living Through Homemade Yogurt"

The Boing Boing editors have been having fun with some guest-writing over at GOOD, and my latest contribution has just been published. It involves NOM. Here's a snip:

When the economy took a nosedive, I did the same thing a lot of other Americans did: I looked at my household expenses and my lifestyle with newly frugal eyes, and began thinking about costs and personal priorities in new ways. That included food.

Rethinking what I cook and eat post-econopocalypse meant simpler, slower food; a more local and traditional diet which, in fact, makes good sense in any economic weather. But I live an urban life. I spend a lot of time online or working in short attention bursts. I don’t have a lot of time to cook or prepare food, and my city apartment doesn’t afford room to raise goats or grow tomatoes.

Despite this, I’ve gradually eased into a number of new rituals and good habits that reduced my grocery bill and make me feel happier and healthier. One of them is making yogurt each week. It takes maybe 20 minutes of actual work and attention, zero equipment beyond stuff I already had in my kitchen, and yields a yummier, healthier, and yes, “probiotic” product that costs five to 10 times less than the store-bought stuff.

Here are the basics of rolling your own yogurt the lazy Xeni way...

Read the rest of the essay here, with step-by-step HOWTO. Photo courtesy Flickr user (cc) Biology Big Brother

(Special thanks to my co-editor, BB founder Mark Frauenfelder, for putting the yogurt bug in my head, so to speak.)

Previously: Boing Boing on GOOD: "DIY Funerals and the Quest for Authenticity ... Read the rest

Heart shaped watermelons

It took three years for farmer Hiroichi Kimura and his wife to cultivate heart-shaped watermelons. This year, they shipped 20 of the fruits, which "symbolize their passion for farming and their affection for each other." They sell for 15,750 yen apiece.

Heart shaped watermelons (Via Japan Probe) Read the rest

Kimchi contest, Saturday May 9 in San Francisco

Phil Ross says:

Please come to the first annual CRITTER Kimchi Contest!

All are welcome to submit their favorite version of this spicy pickled delicacy and taste the competition. The people’s choice will win $100, second wins $75, and third will get $50. Bring 1 quart of your best Kimchi to CRITTER on Saturday May 9th at 1 PM. Tasting opens at 2PM.

All varieties accepted! There will be ongoing demonstration of how Kimchi is made, and plenty of palette-cleansing white rice available. So even if you don’t have a favorite recipe for Kim Chee, or you’ve never tried it before—here’s a chance to try the best Kimchi at CRITTER.

Read the rest

4 Things to Consider Before You Try to Join the Amish

Maggie Koerth-Baker is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. A freelance science and health journalist, Maggie lives in Minneapolis, brain dumps on Twitter, and writes quite often for mental_floss magazine.

I know, I know. The recession blows. The job you may soon lose* is stressful and unpleasant. And beards are more popular these days. But before you abandon your fast-paced lifestyle for a quieter, more-cow-filled one, I recommend consulting my book, Be Amazing. There are a few things you need to think about.

1) Can You Tell the Difference Between Amish and Mennonite? You're never going to endear yourself to your new neighbors if you can't tell 'em apart from their theological cousins down the road. Historically the older of the two sects, Mennonites believed in plain, unadorned living and adult baptism, making them not all that different from the other Christian groups that popped up in Germany and Switzerland in the 17th century. But, around 1693, one of their members, a guy named Jakob Amman, started to get a little rowdy. Amman traveled around the countryside preaching a more hard-line version of Mennonism that called for, among other things, a return to traditional clothing, avoidance of worldly grooming trends like moustaches, mandatory un-cut beards, and the public shunning of excommunicated church members. Taking their name from Amman's, his new followers called themselves "Amish." Over the next few hundred years, both groups did their fair share of theological off-shooting. Today, there are numerous sub-groups of both Mennonite and Amish, making it difficult to pin them down with generalities. Read the rest

Yoga "Eco Mat" Review: PrAna Revolution (Attention-Conservation Verdict: I Dig.)

I have practiced yoga on and off since I was a teenager, but in recent years, more off than on. Recently, when friends, colleagues, and family all seemed to be pointing out with greater frequency that I seemed particularly stressed (read: a total pain in the ass to be around), I made a commitment to switch that back to "on." It's been pretty great. I'm happier. The more I practice, the more centered I feel, physically, mentally, emotionally. And, the less of a total pain in the ass I am.

Yoga isn't about the accessories, and I loathe the idea that you have to have just the right gear, just the right teacher, just the right whatever to practice. You don't. But a good mat can really help. So when I got back into the groove of regular practice, I checked out a bunch of different mats -- from the ultra-thick black ones, to the "towel" kind folks like to use with "hot yoga," to the thin cheap synthetic ones. I have a stack of 8 of them sitting in the corner in this room, as I type this review.

But I've found my favorite now -- the just-released Revolution "eco" mat by PrAna.

It's sticky enough to help grip your fingers, palms, soles, and toes when you're doing balance poses -- and, truly, every pose involves some element of balance. It's 30" wide, much wider than standard mats and better fit for taller yoga students like myself. It's lightweight enough that I can carry it comfortably on my back in the cool little carrying sack they sell. Read the rest

People who use barrels to catch rain from their roofs breaking law, says State of Colorado

Nicholas Riccardi of the The LA Times has a story about "rainwater harvesters" in Colorado who are not allowed to collect rainwater that falls in their own yard, because the water rights belong to farmers, ranchers, developers and water agencies.
Every time it rains here, Kris Holstrom knowingly breaks the law.

Holstrom's violation is the fancifully painted 55-gallon buckets underneath the gutters of her farmhouse on a mesa 15 miles from the resort town of Telluride. The barrels catch rain and snowmelt, which Holstrom uses to irrigate the small vegetable garden she and her husband maintain.

But according to the state of Colorado, the rain that falls on Holstrom's property is not hers to keep. It should be allowed to fall to the ground and flow unimpeded into surrounding creeks and streams, the law states, to become the property of farmers, ranchers, developers and water agencies that have bought the rights to those waterways.


"If you try to collect rainwater, well, that water really belongs to someone else," said Doug Kemper, executive director of the Colorado Water Congress. "We get into a very detailed accounting on every little drop."

People who use barrels to catch rain from their roofs breaking law, says State of Colorado Read the rest

Wine-cellar encapsulated in a staircase

I don't drink wine, I don't have a cellar -- or even dirt under my flat to install a cellar in -- but man, this is one freakishly desirable batcave/staircase thinggum.
Ever want a wine cellar but don’t have the space or money to build one? The Spiral Cellars design/build firm will dig a hole right in whatever room you want your cellar in and haul the dirt right out the front door. In the remaining void they infill a highly functionally and visually dazzling spiral-staircase wine cellar to fit all your favorite vintages and go with your favorite funky furniture designs.
Wonderful Wine Cellars For Any Room in Your House (Thanks, Steve!) Read the rest

Paean to iron-on patches from the 1970s

Over at Craft: Online, Cathy Callahan writes about iron-on patches from the 1970s, taking special note of their packaging design.

Pictured above are a few packages of iron-on patches I found at my mom's house. I actually think she might have used the drawing on that Sturdy Brand package as a style guide for the way she dressed me. There are pictures of me dressed in almost that exact same outfit. I absolutely adore the graphic design, color palette, and illustrations. Wouldn't you just love to walk into Jo-Ann's today and see a whole rack of packages that looked like these?

I am actually kind of fascinated by the Plasti-Stitch corduroy patches. Were they meant to blend in seamlessly and look like you never had a hole in your pants? Or could you go wild and do a little mixing and matching? Perhaps you could tone down your plaid pants a bit by adding a little gray corduroy patch. The back of the package lists purple, olive green, maroo,n and gold as other available colors. Wow!

Let's take a closer look at the Touch O' Magic package: "Use on new jeans for longer wear..." I love their approach to "preventative" patching. But why not wait until you actually have a hole? And isn't the very nature of denim its strength? Iron-on patch sales must have been down in 1968, so those folks at Sandrew, Inc. (makers of Touch O' Magic) of Streetsboro, Ohio, had to come up with new ways to sell their product.

Read the rest

Video of shell-less egg one of my chickens laid

In September 2008, I got six baby Plymouth Barred Rock hens in the mail. They began laying eggs on March 6, 2009. The eggs are about 1/2 to 2/3 the size of "large" eggs I buy in the store (see the photo of the little egg on the left; click to make bigger).

The eggs my hens have been laying have nice thick shells because I give my hens plenty of crushed osyter shells. But one egg, which I pulled from the nesting box on Saturday, had no shell. It was like a rubber trick egg. Enjoy this video of me prodding and squeezing it repeatedly. Previously:Phone call: Can I keep chickens in Chicago - Boing Boing Setting free the chickens - Boing Boing Homegrown Evolution blog on the ethics of raising chickens - Boing ... Plymouth Rock Monthly -- old magazine for chicken aficionados ... Plymouth Barred Rock chicks - Boing Boing Screams kill chickens - Boing Boing Clothing for chickens - Boing Boing Long crowing roosters - Boing Boing Girl kisses chicken, gets bird flu - Boing Boing The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-sufficient Living in the ... Read the rest

Cave house for sale in Festus, MO

$300,000 is the starting bid on this eBay listing for a three-bedroom home built in a 15,000 sqft cave in Festus, MO, formerly a roller-rink/concert venue that entertained the MC5, Ike and Tina Turner and Ted Nugent. Sounds like a hell of a place to live (and you gotta feel for the family that's losing their dream). It's got three freshwater springs and there are fourteen waterfalls on the property. Yowza.
On May 19th, 2008, the City of Festus approved our occupancy inspection for the cave. Officially, this completed our project. There are still projects that can be started, completed and developed. Plenty of room in our 17,000 square foot home.

This is now where we live, work, raise our family and celebrate life! Here are a few of the details about the place: Historic, regionally famous cave: 15,000 square feet, divided into three main chambers.

The front chamber houses the main part of the 3-bedroom finished house.

The middle chamber holds the laundry room, storage, and a spare bath. The middle chamber made a great party room. 80 feet by 80 feet.

The back chamber still has the stage where Ted Nugent, Bob Seger, Ike and Tina Turner, the MC5 and many other bands performed.

Property: 2.8 scenic, partially wooded acres provide excellent privacy and the feel of the country right in the middle of town, just several blocks from shopping, dining, and other conveniences.

Energy efficiency: Geothermal and passive solar keep the home comfortable year-round without a furnace or air conditioning.

Read the rest

Embroidered MRI slice

Becky Stern says: I'm using the image data from my knee MRI to embroider pictures. I've just finished the first of many. Read the rest

Rice-filled felt creatures

I recently decided that I'm going to give things I made as gifts to family and friends, instead of giving them store-bought stuff. There are three types of gifts I'm planning to make: food (honey from my bees, dried figs, and pickles), whittled wood items (spoons and other utensils), and felt creatures.

The green 3-eyed monster on the left is from a class I took a couple of years ago with my daughter. I really enjoyed making it, and it only took about 40 minutes to complete. I made the blue squid on Saturday, using felt purchased from Michaels (29 cents a sheet) and embroidery floss pilfered from one of Jenny Hart's Sublime Stitching kits. Again, I spent about 40 minutes making it. I chatted with my family as I cut and stitched it together, filling it with uncooked (duh) rice. My daughters joined in on the fun, making their own creations. It was a pleasant way to spend time together. Read the rest

Boing Boing on GOOD: "My Ecologically Correct Move."

Here's my latest contribution to a series of essays by Boing Boing editors at GOOD -- a review of a "green move" service called, which I tried when I relocated not long ago. It priced out cheaper than cardboard boxes. The basic idea is to use materials made from 100% post-consumer waste. It was super convenient, they drop it all off, and pick it all up when you're done. Snip from my review:

They send a truck to your home with whatever number of boxes you need (they’ll help you estimate). The boxes are made from recycled plastic containers, and come in various sizes–smaller ones for heavy objects like books, larger ones for more lightweight things like clothes or bedding. The service comes with recycled packing materials, too, so you don’t have to use über-wasteful, petroleum-based stuff like bubble wrap or Styrofoam packing peanuts.

Spencer drove the (100% veggie biodiesel) truck to my home himself, and showed me around the truck and demonstrated the process in person. My dog liked him, and she liked rolling around in the “expandos” and “recocubes.”

Apart from being (surprise!) made from recycled materials, these packing materials also look attractive. The expandos are cute papercraft-oid thingies (like something Buckminster Fuller might fiddle with while bored at his desk), and we found the recocubes serve a second, sinister purpose: they’re great for tossing at whoever’s helping you move, when you’re all sore and tired and frustrated and want to blow off steam.

Read "My Ecologically Correct Move" at GOOD, and here's the comment thread, and GOOD published a bunch more iphone snapshots I took of the supplies, the process, and our cute golden retriever who thoroughly approved. Read the rest

Making sauerkraut is easy

It's so easy and fun to make sauerkraut that there's really no good excuse to buy it from a store. Plus, home made sauerkraut is full of living microbes that might be good for you. (Read news reports that kimchi -- spicy korean sauerkraut -- could be a bird flu remedy.)

Store bought sauerkraut is often not even real sauerkraut -- it's just cabbage soaked in salty vinegar. Even store bought brands of sauerkraut made from lacto-fermentation have usually been cooked to the point that they're no longer alive.

I've been making my own sauerkraut for years, based on my grandmother's "recipe" (it's hard to call it a real recipe, when the only ingredients are cabbage and salt), which is pretty much the same recipe found in the wonderful book, Wild Fermentation, by Sandor Ellix Katz. This book shows you how to make a wide variety of fermented foods: beer, wine, mead, miso, tempeh, sourdough bread, yogurt, cheese, and other more exotic foods. Katz, a long term HIV/AIDS survivor who lives on a queer intentional community in Tennessee, is a "fermentation fetishist." In the introduction to his book, he writes:

Wild fermentation is a way of incorporating the wild into your body, becoming one with the natural world. Wild foods, microbial cultures included, possess a great, unmediated life force, which can help us adapt to shifting conditions and lower our susceptibility to disease. These microorganisms are everywhere, and the techniques for fermenting with them are simple and flexible.

Wild fermentation involves creating conditions in which naturally occurring organisms thrive and proliferate.

Read the rest

Short documentary about urban foragers in Chicago

Interesting documentary about a couple of Chicagoans who find and eat edible weeds, wild berries, nettles, purslane, apples, and other goodies free for the taking in the urban landscape.

Urban foragers are people who eat what grows naturally from a very unnatural place— a city. In this all-vegetarian Sky Full of Bacon podcast, urban foragers show us how they find food all around them. Chef-blogger Art Jackson shows us what's growing around his home in Pilsen, and then foraging expert Nance Klehm, Art and I nibble our way through a remarkable wilderness literally in the shadow of Chicago's skyscrapers.
(Via Homegrown Evolution) Read the rest

CCTV decals for your toilet

These Etsy-sold CCTV decals make a handsome addition to your white goods, porcelain fittings, and other smooth surfaces.

SECURITY CAMERAS vinyl toilet fridge wall or window decal (Thanks, Iain!) Read the rest

Long crowing roosters

Hate your neighbor? Buy a long-crowing rooster.

According to poultry expert Gail Damerow, writing in the current issue of Backyard Poultry Magazine, long crowers probably have their origins in Japan and have spread throughout the world through deliberate selection. Here's a play list for your listening pleasure, consisting of a Turkish long crowing breed, the Denizli, followed by a Koeyoshi (good crower in Japanese) and the Tomaru (black crower).
Homegrown Evolution: 2009 Waking up on New Year's Day with the world of long crowing roosters Read the rest

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