Monthly Archives: November 2009


My blog had a record number of hits yesterday despite having only one search engine reference (for Fluenz).  I have no idea why. Hello, readers!

Today I found that vegetable based rennet is available at Earthfare, one of the two big health food chain grocery stores in my area. Naturally, I bought some. Then I thought I was all set (minus cheese cloth) to make mozzarella.. wrong! I forgot about citric acid! I think I’m going to head to the other Earthfare tomorrow for that – the store I went to was temporarily out of JR Ligget shampoo bars, which I want to try.  After I get the citric acid (and maybe I’ll go ahead and buy cheesecloth), I will make people join in with my mozzarella making over Thanksgiving break : )

Somehow, when searching for that JR Ligget link, I came upon commercial toothpowder – a substance I hadn’t come across before. More research will be necessary.

I have to be at work early tomorrow morning in order to utilize as much daylight as possible – bonne nuit!


Cheese Revelations

I’m reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Chapter 9, Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast, just rocked my world.

Were you aware that you can make soft cheeses (spreadable ones) with less than an hour of effort, and that mozzarella can be made in half an hour flat? Me neither.  But now I am.  I’ve also discovered that it’s really easy to find cheese recipes on the internet.

For those of you who may know that rennet tends to imply calf stomachs, I’ve learned that, much like gelatin, there is now a vegetarian version.

I was completely wowed by some gourmet cheeses found in Paonia, CO (although actually made a county or two over) this summer – specialty fetas rolled in things like dried cranberries or thyme. I have a vague memory of an industrial scale cheese making operation I saw on a field trip in elementary school, and I had it in my mind that such an operation was necessary for making that sort of cheese. I bet that gastronomically delightful feta, though, was made more like this.  I could make cheese like that!

I think this is one more sign that I need to one day have goats.

: )

I’m happy today. Here are happy pictures:

Because There Are Goats

Kurt sent me a short documentary by Robin Moore on WWOOF today – which essentially saves me from coming up with something to post. For the full thing, either click on the youtube video for parts 2 and 3 or check out the original site.

For extra amusement, check out his music video “Performance.”

Farmland Values Project

I went to the SAMAB conference again today, and learned a lot of things – including that there are exurbs on top of suburbs! I had absolutely no idea about this whole exurb business, and it’s pretty fascinating. Nothing you can google is quite as informative or shocking as the talks I went to – I wish I could post some GIS images from the presentations – but suffice it to say that the urban expansion into exurbs is a lot more worrisome than expansion into suburbs alone.

My favorite talk of the day was on the Farmland Values Project. The project director, Leah Greden Mathews, was the presenter – she did a fantastic job.  Here’s their mission statement:

While both farmers and consumers value farmland as a source of income and agricultural productivity, additional farmland benefits accrue primarily to non-farmers as economic, social, and environmental benefits. This project develops a quantitative assessment tool to help rural populations in Western North Carolina better understand the forces and opportunities that affect them by identifying the multiple types of benefits that farmland provides in our region. This tool will help communities recognize the spatial interplay among the economic, social, and environmental factors in their region and thus assist them and policy makers in directing farmland preservation and rural development efforts in a manner that is both socially desirable and economically efficient.

I highly recommend going to their website and checking out the story half of their webpage.  It may suck you in – don’t say I didn’t warn you.

A quick note on climate change

I’m attending the SAMAB conference on climate change in the southern Appalachian region this week, but I have no desire to write about it at the present moment. Instead, I’ll leave you with an excerpt from an article in BBC news today:

“One of the most intriguing findings from the study is the difference between the emissions produced directly by a given nation and the emissions generated through production of the goods and services consumed by its citizens.

Emissions from within the UK’s borders, for example, fell by 5% between 1992 and 2004, says the GCP analysis.

However, emissions from goods and services consumed in the UK rose by 12% over the same period.

“The developed world has exported to the developing world the emissions it would have produced had it met its growing appetite for consumer goods itself for the last two decades,” said CSIRO’s John Finnegan.”

This matches up nicely, of course, with the news that Kumi Naidoo, a human rights activist, just signed on as the new international executive director of Greenpeace (I have an issue with them being regarded as a mainstream environmental organization, but the article was still interesting).  In his words,  “More equality and the equitable sharing of the planet’s finite resources are our only chance to save the planet for the future. [cut] We need to organise ourselves and work together in new and more transparent ways. We have to break down the barriers that exist, and realise that our struggles and causes are not independent.  They are not about the people or the planet; they are in fact one single common cause – justice.”


I’ve been looking up vermiculture (worm composting) recently – I found that red wigglers, the kind of worm used most frequently in worm bins, are an invasive exotic in the great lakes region. However, freezing compost before using it will kill any worms in the compost – so, as long as care is taken, it’s still a pretty awesome way to compost.

But what method to use? Some people just use a plastic container and mix it once in a while. Others like a similar system, but you only use half the container at one time – when you’re done with one half and start the other one, the worms will theoretically migrate from one side to the other over the course of a few days.  A very popular method uses at least three containers – two top containers to put compost in (C1 and C2), and a bottom container for the ‘worm tea’ (C3). In the tower method, when the top compost (C1)  is becoming mature you switch it’s place with the middle container (C2), then place bedding and scraps in C2 (now the top container). Both containers have holes drilled into the bottom. As the compost in C1 matures, the worms will, theoretically, migrate upwards into C2. Repeat ad nauseum.

I think it would be very neat to incorporate the mesh screen into a vermicomposting bin, a la these guys, so that there would be no worry about transferring worms to the garden from the compost. I’m not quite sure how that would work… right now, the best I can figure is that the compost could be shaken through a wire mesh screen (maybe 1/16″ spacing?) as it is removed from the bins… anything that doesn’t make it through can be dumped back in.

Finally, this guy is my new favorite.