Flies are fuel

flytrapI just wanted to link to something really really cool. And kind of creepy.

It seems that a design firm is making household furniture/robots that make their own electricity by attracting and then digesting household pests. I don’t know how it works, but it seems to involve lights, holes, and something called “microbial fuel cells”. Soooo cool.

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April 21, 2009 at 2:35 pm 1 comment

Lazy blogger, mediocre environmentalist

soda_rings

It’s been over a month since I last wrote here, and I don’t really have an excuse. I think it’s because I keep coming up with blog topics that are kind of hard to research and/or comply with. Someone recently told me that it actually slows down your boiling water if you add salt to it first – I always have added salt in the beginning because I thought it sped up the process. Does anyone know what the truth is? I’m too lazy to look it up, but I would really like to know whether I’m wasting a ton of energy trying to heat up salty water all the time.

I’ve also been thinking about greening up my cat’s litter situation, but I’m totally hooked on Fresh Step (which is clay-based and not at all green, plus it costs about $10 a box). I’m not at all interested in potty-training my cats, (more…)

April 21, 2009 at 2:03 pm Leave a comment

Garden Update

garden3My garden is still a ways away from the green eden that I imagine it will be in a few months, but it’s coming along. Last weekend my dad came down to visit and brought a little electric chain saw that my grandpa used to use in his own tiny back yard in Jersey back in the 80s. We used it to cut down some dead trees that were hanging precariously over the garden (one of them already fell down a few weeks ago on a particularly windy day), and then chop up the tree branches and trunks to use as fire wood and for lining out my garden beds. The beds are still empty and I need to get some more good compost to fill them with, but it’s exciting to see where my food will be growing this summer. I plan to get test the yard soil tested to make sure I don’t end up poisoning myself – I hear you can send it to Rutgers and they’ll test it for you. Which reminds me, I should call them. Later!

March 18, 2009 at 7:08 pm 1 comment

One Chicken, Two Meals

two_mealsRoasting a whole chicken is one of the easiest ways to make a delicious meal. And then when you’re done with it, you can get a whole second meal out of the carcass.

Most contemporary Americans go straight for the boneless chicken breasts when shopping for poultry, but not only are they expensive, those little cutlets are lacking in flavor and doomed to end up dry and mediochre on your plate. I recommend going for a nice big hunk of bone-in chicken, like wings and legs (great for the BBQ), and I’ma  particularly big fan of the whole chicken. This is how most chickens come at the farmers market, and pound-for-pound it’s the cheapest way to buy a bird.

Roasting chicken is easy. You simply rub it down with salt and pepper, put it in a pan and throw it in the oven at 450 degrees for about an hour to an hour and a half. Don’t cover it, don’t stuff it (make sure there isn’t a bag of organs in there, though) – just put it in the oven and watch TV or something until an hour has passed. You can tell it’s done because the skin gets a beautiful golden brown color. Take it out of the oven, spoon some juice from the bottom of the pan onto to the top to give it a nice, juicy shine and let it rest for a couple minutes before diving in and carving it up. It goes great with potatoes and winter root veggies (throw them in the oven in a different pan while the bird is cooking), or with a salad in the summer time.

Once you’ve gobbled (clucked?) up the roaster, hold on to the leftover carcass. It’s still good.You can pick the extra meat off the bones and make a nice chicken salad sandwich with it, or put the meat aside and use it in a chicken soup. The rest of the carcass gets thrown in a pot – skin, bones and all – and boiled in several cups of water until you’ve got a nice broth. Don’t stir the chicken while it’s boiling – you want to leave it alone and get a nice, clear broth out of it.

Usually I use my chicken broth in chicken soup (broth, salt, chicken, onions and veggies – very simple and delicious). But you can also use it in sauces, polenta, stir fry or anything else that calls for broth. This time I made a nice borscht with it. (more…)

March 18, 2009 at 6:58 pm Leave a comment

EPA Bags Eco-Fugitive in Florida

epa_fugitives

Last night the Associated Press released a breaking story about the shooting and capture of Larkin Baggett, a Utah-based chemical company owner who was wanted by the EPA for illegally disposing of hazardous waste. The EPA was tipped off about Baggett’s whereabouts after listing him as a wanted fugitive on the Criminal Enforcement section of their website, and found him in the Florida Keys yesteday where the manhunt ended in a hail of bullets. Baggett reportedly pulled out a gun when confronted by officials, who in turn shot him twice, arrested him, and brought him to a Miami hospital where he remains in critical condition.

It’s not easy enforcing environmental protection law, so back in December of last year Bush Administration EPA officials set up a webpage on the  that features a saloon-style bulletin board of EPA Fugitive wanted posters. The fugitives include hazardous waste dumpers and importers of emissions-spewing vehicles and ozone-depleting chemicles, and grainy photographs of their two dozen sad faces are posted on the page along with short descriptions of their wrongdoings and last known whereabouts.

Baggett was the first EPA fugitive to be identified and captured using the Agency’s online list. When the list was first published back in December, environmentalists doubted that the digital wanted posters would help bring eco-violators to justice. Under the current administration, however, the EPA has been newly empowered and seems genuinely interested in enforcing environmental law. The story of Larkin Baggett may only be the first of its kind as the EPA enters into a new era of environmental protection by all means necessary (including the use of deadly force).

March 12, 2009 at 2:54 pm Leave a comment

Seed Update

seed_starting2

Look how big my seedlings have grown! It’s only been a week and a couple days since the little guys were just ova, and now they’re real live plants. Not all of them have grown to this size yet – the herbs and peppers are slower growers than the ones you see here (from left to right: cabbage, basil and brandywine tomatoes). Pretty soon it will be time to separate them out into larger containers to their little roots can spread out and their stems and leaves can get big and strong. Watching these teeny guys grow makes me feel like a proud mommy – I almost teared up when I saw the first little sprout push up through the soil. In a few short months I’ll be picking their fruits, chowing down and then saving their seeds for next year.

March 9, 2009 at 10:13 pm 1 comment

Not Terribly Green Meal (but yummy, nonetheless)

burger_dinner

The other night Boyfriend and I made a tasty dinner out of a mix of some green but mostly conventional ingredients. This is kind of how all of my meals look these days, as I’ve been out of work and pinching pennies. Although there are lots of ways to save money while still eating green, I haven’t been leaving my neighborhood much (the little work I’ve been doing of late has been from my couch), and there isn’t a lot of organic and sustainable food in Bushwick (yet! – this weekend we had a great discussion about this).

Anyway, here’s the meal broken down:

The potatoes are from my local grocery store, and I picked them out because they were labeled “eastern potatoes,” which I assumed meant they were kind of local but I have no clue whether or not that’s true. I sliced them up and fried them in olive oil (pricey, but good for you) – a technique that I learned from my Step Dad, who traditionally makes these kinds of fries to go with big weekend bacon-and-eggs breakfasts.

The rolls, tomatoes and arugula came from the grocery store, and although the rolls were baked locally, the rest probably hailed from California or Mexico. (more…)

March 9, 2009 at 9:58 pm 1 comment

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