Friday, June 29, 2007

Torn jeans & recent cooking endeavors

List of recently cooked/baked things (listed chronologically, from most recent):

  • Oats (a bit of a cop-out, but still, 5 minutes of cooking time)
  • Soy milk (it's not technically baking or cooking, but it created a food and it was the most labor intensive)
  • Cool cucumber soup
  • Banana bread (see previous post)
  • Chocolate Wacky cake (from the glitter cookbook, which I cannot find in the web archives)
Photos: the jeans: they are torn, as you can see, and I wanted to turn them into shorts, so thought I would picture them first (from a tip saying if you find it hard to get rid of old clothes, try picturing them first - don't remember where I read that). It didn't work, and they live on - for now.

Non-jeans photo: paper cranes hanging from the ceiling. Probably not a permanent home.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Banana Bread

Problem: Overly ripe bananas (black, truth be told)
Solution: Banana bread
Recipe: At Post Punk Kitchen.

Result: Not bad at all, even with my modifications. (2 bananas instead of 3, regular white vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar, "Salt and herbs" mix instead of allspice).

Monday, June 25, 2007

Missing: Art Supplies

Today's creative endeavors, inspired by seeing these awesome webcomics:

xkcd - "A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language." The disclaimer warns "may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors," but I proceeded recklessly anyway. Check out the featured comics in little boxes.

Also check this out. The story of stereotypist, a webcomic artist who decides to move to Mexico for a year. His comics are awesome too. You can see some here.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Book Review: The Omnivore's Dilemma

by Michael Pollan.

I'm an omnivore by [genetic] inheritance, and vegan by diet of my own choosing. Still, despite the potential for exclusion, I wanted to read this book, probably because of all the buzz it seemed to generate online. (I don't remember where specifically, but probably Salon* and Amazon).

The book certainly didn't disappoint; it totally surpassed my expectations. I thought it would be a simple rehashing of animal abuse cases involved in producing the meat and dairy we consume; news to some, but not me (there's a reason I became vegan).

But it was much more: Dubbing itself as a look at the journey of food from field to table, the book indeed does that, looking at traditional industrial agriculture, organic, and even hunter-gatherer.

Pollan reveals that traditional industrial agriculture - probably the source of most of our food - is based on corn. Forget everything you learned in third grade science (where the sun is the primary source of energy allowing the grass to grow which the animals then eat), because the reality is really different. Corn is grown in huge quantities (intermingling of government subsidies and corn's ability to grow in different environments) and then, because it is so cheap, put in just about everything we eat. Most animals we eat and get our milk from are fed corn as well, even though their digestive systems can't really handle it, and the majority are factory farmed, where they never get to see the light of day crowded together.

Even organic food, we learn, is divided into industrial organic and 'beyond organic.' Industrial organic mimics traditional industrial food, the difference being organic alternatives are used instead of traditional pesticides for crops and antibiotics for animals. For example factory farm chickens aren't given antibiotics, but extreme measures are taken to ensure that they don't contract infectious diseases - in such close quarters and without antibiotics there's a huge risk of infection outbreaks.

Beyond organic, or what we would assume all organic farming looks like, shows us a (rare agricultural example) where the energy depends on the sun and is grass(not corn)-based. Everything is a cycle, or a series of cycles, very much like what we learn in third grade science: sun nourishes grass, animals eat grass (and their manure fertilizes the soil), and humans eat animals. It's much more complex than that, but that is the basic idea, which adapts natural ecosystem to a farm.

Finally Pollan sets out on a mission to create a meal composed exclusively of his own hunting and gathering efforts, a meal where he not only knows where all his food comes from, but faces the ethical responsibility associated with consuming it.

Pollan succeeds in breaking down the science simply even for non-science folk like myself, always employing an engaging tone, and very often relating the information to himself. He also includes his own struggle to make sense of whether eating meat is ethical, and managed to make me rethink my own views. Although I don't know how much of this applies outside the US, it's definitely a fascinating account of where the empire's food comes from.

Also check out this funny and informative clip on Amazon where Michael Pollan discusses the book with Bill Maher.

* Check out a Salon interview with him here, and an excerpt from the book here.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Heat and Hatred in Cairo

The heat of the summer seems to have gotten everyone around me in a bad mood. Or at least definitely me. S. thinks it's the lack of escape from chaotic Cairo, which everyone seems to agree needs to be escaped on at least a semi regular basis.

The heat hasn't let up, but my hatred has, for at least a little while. Long enough for me to, in the little cracks between hating, think of ideas of things to do in an upcoming zine workshop I want to conduct.

No, I haven't conducted a workshop before, and yes, I'm excited.

I think the idea was at least partially inspired by finding my beloved missing "Invincible Summer" zine anthology by Nicole J Georges.

Also (this is kind of to a side) I am really loving Summer Pierre's blog these days. She just posted a variation of her 'traditional' fliers that she does - leading me to dig into the archives of other wonderful fliers she's done - an illustration a day combined with stories from her past. Very inspiring and just cool to look at. Plus they're cross posted on her blog itself (the archives link takes you to flickr).

Back to battling the heat. And Cairo.

Occasional art, comics, food, and other things of less interest to the general public.