Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Pleasure of a YardFarm

So nice to go out into a small garden early in the morning and bring in food for the day, and more. (There is more kale available than I can eat, and just planted New Zealand spinach where the America and Bourdeaux spinach had been. New Zealand will apparently tolerate the heat like the Malabar spinach which is doing great.) The tomatoes are turning red—these could have stayed on the vine a couple more days, but I had to do a gymnastic routine to get to these so went ahead and pulled them once I was there. I pick these squash when small because it makes them the perfect size for dipping in hummus and eating raw for breakfast.


Cell Phone Radiation

I have posted several times about the potential dangers of cell phone EMF (radiation) discharges, especially when phones are held to the head rather than using a wired or air-tube earpiece. (Bluetooth earpieces don't qualify as they are wireless.) San Francisco has now become the first city to mandate that cell phone retailers list the amount of radiation discharged by the phones they sell in the interest of consumer safety. While I would never be quick to cite San Francisco as a model of what's reasonable, I mention SF's action only to say that this issue isn't going away. If you are a cell phone user you owe it to yourself to be aware of the dangers and available workarounds. Read the San Francisco article here.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Hummus Is Humming in America

Good New York Times article on the rapid rise in popularity of hummus in America. I made a batch today using a third each of black, garbanzo, and red kidney beans. Any way to get more beans is a good thing—the most under-appreciated nutritional powerhouse around: cheap, versatile, tasty, and full of fiber and protein.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Stuff that Works: Lemon Squeezer

For a long time, and religiously for the last six months or so, I've squeezed fresh lemon juice into the bottle of drinking water I keep at my desk during the day—refilled 2-3 times daily. Fresh lemon juice, contrary to logic, has a powerful alkalinizing effect on the body's pH, important since so many foods in the Standard American Diet are acidic. I don't eat the SAD and depend on my plant-based diet to keep my pH balanced, but use the lemon juice as added insurance.

I've been using a hand-held lemon squeezer for a long time that was a flaky product from the beginning. I bought it at Sur la Table, the high-end kitchen store, so assumed it was good. But I hadn't had it two days before the hinge pin snapped due to the pressure I was putting on it. So I discarded the hinge pin and replaced it with a finishing nail, cutting it off to length and blunting the cut end to keep it from sliding out—and it's worked fine ever since. Sort of. Over time, the acid from the lemons caused the paint to begin flaking off and the lemon oil stained the paint. I would occasionally find a little chip of yellow paint in my water—not good. It's obvious that this product was put on the market without any kind of thorough testing or these deficiencies would have shown up. But I have seen this squeezer sold lots of places in three sizes: yellow for lemons, green for limes, orange for oranges. DON'T BUY THIS PRODUCT!

Instead, I have found a great replacement—a stainless steel squeezer that is a bit more expensive but a delight to use. Granted, I haven't yet put it through months of use like the other one, but so far it's been great. Ergonomically, it feels better. The stainless steel doesn't stain, and the hinge pin takes all the pressure I can give it. I found this at Amazon (4.5 stars by 75 reviewers) for sale through a third-party seller who has a kitchen gadgets storefront on Amazon. But when I went back to get the link for this post, it was gone! The squeezer is there, but only listed for sale by Target which lists it as "Out of Stock." Not sure why my seller isn't listing it currently. I bought it from them (got it in two days!) even though it was a bit more expensive than Target since they had it in stock and Target didn't. The squeezer is made/distributed by Norpro, a wholesale distributer of kitchen tools. It seems to have limited availability on the web for some reason. [Note: a friendly reader provided a link in the Comments to a source for this juicer for $23! Click here to see it—and thanks!]

Anyway—I really recommend this as a better, safer (no paint chips) lemon/lime squeezer. (And I recommend adding the lemon juice to your water daily as well.)

Compare the old and new (note all the places where the yellow paint has chipped off the old one):



Monday, June 14, 2010


I posted a link to this a long time ago -- am reposting it for those who missed it. Just gorgeous. This kind of talent is mind-boggling to me. The artist is North Carolinian Jane DesRosier:

Why Churches Have Choirs

White guys (and gals) can write and sing a good worship song, but it takes an "A.M.E." (or similar) choir to take it to a higher place:

(Music video of "Love Has Come" by Mark Schultze from his album Come Alive.)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Beautiful Buildings

Made my third trip to Cold Spring for water yesterday and took these pics of some beautiful structures in the countryside near Mount Pleasant, NC.

A beautiful, old white farmhouse is flanked on both sides by two gorgeous barns. Something seems odd about this setting. First, though I don't have a good picture of the house, the barns seem much older than the house. Plus, the fact they're in front of the house rather than behind, is unusual. Were the barns moved there?


Old, small buildings/sheds supported on rocks isn't unusual in the countryside, but something about this doesn't look right. Though its creative and fascinating, I'm not sure barns would have been built from the ground up with stones as support, though it's certainly possible. The stones suggest the possibility of the barns having been moved to their current location. (Disassembled and reassembled?) The lack of stairs up to the first-floor door suggests the same -- not rebuilt after the buildings were moved? Note the second story door for conveying hay to the loft. And note the old wagon wheels showing in the right corner of the barn. What other treasures might lie within?






There is a falling down barn of the same general design across the road. It seems to have had open sections in the wall beneath the eaves -- for air flow to dry hay?


On this barn, note the cantilevered corners jutting out from the right front corner. How are they supported -- and for what purpose? It's hard to see, but there's another old farm wagon sitting in the shadows under the eave on the right front corner:


Just a quarter mile down the road from the house and barns is this lovely little white house. It looks thoroughly fixable and livable, but it has obviously been abandoned for a long time given the growth around it. Look how high the peak of the metal roof is:


I love the picket-fence railing on the front porch. Note the large size of the glass window panes in the four-over-four windows and the curved-top glass in the front door. It almost looks like there are two front doors as another set of the curved-top windows is to the right:



It's amazing to contemplate the number of interesting houses and buildings that exist from a prior period in rural settings—and how many are sitting empty, at the mercy of the elements.