Friday, July 31, 2009

Weird Recipe of the Week

I was craving fish. And I'm trying to (literally) downsize the fish I consume by eating fish lower on the food chain (and giving large fish a chance to recover their populations). So I got sardines from that fish market on Metropolitan and Leonard which I hadn't been to in several years because I once got some bad salmon there. (The sardines were fine, fresh and wild caught.) And I had all my CSA ingredients.

So this is Grilled Sardines with a Corn Peach Papalo "Salsa."
Better I think side-by-side, not together.

fresh-off-the-cob raw corn
ripe peaches and/or nectarines, cubed
papolo (or cilantro or mint), finely sliced
juice of one lime or apple cider vinegar
olive oil

Toss all ingredients together.

Brush butter on whole cleaned sardines. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on hot grill. This is one fish that tastes better when it's actually cooked through so test for doneness after about 3 minutes on each side. But keep cooking until fish is flaky.

Environmental Side Note
I bet some folks are thinking I could possibly serve the fish population even more by skipping out on fish altogether. But fish are essential for a healthy brain and reduce risk of death due to coronary disease—outweighing even the risks of mercury and PCBs.

According to a study published by the Harvard School of Health "For infants and young children, the authors found that omega-3 fatty acids from seafood likely improve early brain development; children could obtain that benefit from pregnant or nursing mothers who consumed fish." And implies that it could offset depression or other behavioral problems.

So all my cranky friends, may I suggest more fish? Especially sardines, anchovies, catfish, lobster, mussels, and oysters—all of which are the least endangered and have the lowest environmental impact.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Worm Food

Ahhh, just finally harvested my first batch of vermipost. This tub was almost spilling over, but look how much room we have now! (With a good 3~5 lbs of fresh compost left over waiting to feed my plants.)

I started this bin about 4 months ago. And these guys (about one pound of red wigglers and their friends) have been steadily monching through all my veggie and coffee waste since—I'd estimate it to be about 3 lbs. a week. I haven't had any trouble with odor, a bit with flying insects...but mostly localized. And have kept it under my kitchen table just fine, even with my normally overly curious dog. Want to start your own? It's easy.

plastic bin (mine measures 12" x 16" x 9" deep)
1 lb red wigglers (available at these places)
old B/W newspapers, torn in strips (color inks are more toxic)
vegetable scraps, used coffee grounds, tea bags, etc. (avoid any fats, dairy, or meat)

Drill enough air holes all around the top and through the lid so the worms can breathe but can't crawl out (click on the second photo above to get a better view).

Toss in a couple handfuls of soil (just get some from your local park or backyard), then the worms. Cover with about 4 pages worth of newspaper strips. Dampen paper unless the soil is especially muddy.

Now whenever you have extra veg scraps, uncover the newspaper, throw in the scraps, then cover back with the newspaper. Even better, age the scraps for a week before adding to make it more readily digestible by the worms (instead of the flies).

Other species
After a while you may notice some other critters crawling around. Tiny (less than 1/8 inch long) white pot worms, little hard shiny brown mites, roly polies, fruit flies, and soldier flies. They all prove beneficial, feeding on different stages of the plant decay. You can use common remedies to catch the flies if they're a nuisance, but if not, they'll help speed up the composting.

You should also start to notice tiny yellowish, translucent pods. These are the worm babies, so yay, they're reproducing! A healthy colony of worms can double their population every two weeks.

Some common problems and remedies
  • Mold/mildew: feed less
  • Too liquid: drain, add more newspaper, air out by leaving lid ajar, or drill more holes to increase aeration
  • Ants: Set bin on a tray of water to prevent access

Cool Roofs Can Use a Face Lift, er, Twist?

The NYT just printed a piece on cool roofs. White reflects light. And white roofs can too—as much as 90% of the sun's heat energy, thereby significantly lowering cooling costs. Great for Florida, say detractors, but not so much for, say Michigan where a dark roof can boost warmth in winter.

Is it not obvious to anyone else, they should make shingles that are peaked or curved and painted two different shades. Light where it angles toward the hot summer sun, and dark where it faces the low winter sun. Case closed, next!

Friday, July 10, 2009


I can be kind of a buzz kill. I'm the girl at the party I who can turn even the most mundane discussion or activity into a political issue:

Oh, you're using that lip balm, don't you know it can give you cancer? Yeah, that engagement ring is rather big and shiny, but was that diamond ethically sourced? You're still drinking water out of plastic, et el ad nauseum.

So henceforth, I'm
going to make it even MORE political and start keeping track of all the evil perpetrators I feel are unfit to deserve our patronage.

Richard Hayne-owned stores: Urban Outfitter
s, Free People, Anthropologie. (Supported Prop 8 which discriminates against same-sex marriage.)

Petrolatum: Banned by the UK in 2004 because linked to breast cancer, still used in American-made beauty products, especially lip balm. (Burt's, btw, still uses only seed oils and wax.) Damn you Kiehl's!