Archive for July, 2009

Recycling and such

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

there appear to be as many ways to recycle as the number of creative people interested in recycling. It is amazing how many ideas people dream up.

I took a rare afternoon off last week. I spent the time at a friend’s house drinking “Eiskaffee” (no no, not cold coffee with ice cubes, but the European version,  made with the same basic cold coffe to which a generous scoop of ice cream has been added, topped with a healthy dollop of whipped cream -  if you have never tried this, go for it, live a little and worry about the calories another time ;)

We were sitting on the edge of a pond, feet dangling in the water, sipping this fabulous concoction, counting butterflies, listening to bird song, and talking about whatever came to mind.  There are 16 apricot trees in my friend’s garden that produced an unbelievable amount of luscious, sweet, ripe apricots this year, thus the best way to preserve the fruit was one of the topics that came up. I love apricot jam, and in order to get that from the cooking pot into the jars with the minimum amount of drips and spills I have gone through girations from using little ladles to cutting the tips off funnels. One of my friends cuts a plastic bottle in half and uses the pouring end as a funnel. No fuss, no mess, you don’t even have to wash it afterwards, just toss it when you are done. Pretty neat, huh?

Do you have obsolete CDs hanging around? String them up! Do you have fruit trees or berry bushes in your garden? Hang a few CDs on the branches and the birds will stay away. I saw this in a restaurant garden where a giant horse chestnut tree sparkled with CDs. Pretty nasty to have birds sitting above your food.

For more great ideas you can look here.

Or share your ideas. I’d love to hear them.

Plastic bottles and their uses.

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

Ask anyone and they will undoubtedly tell you that plastic bottles are bad for the environment, their manufacture requires oil based products,  they take a long time to decompose, and even though they can be recycled many plastic bottles wind up in garbage dumps and landfills, and that is especially the case for bottled water that is not consumed in or near the home. So what to do with all that bulky waste?

How about using plastic bottles to generate energy.  Industrial designer Chris Allen has developed a plan to use stacks of capped plastic bottles to build huge platforms in the ocean to generate energy. Certainly an interesting idea if one can ignore the danger of these towers disintegrating, and littering the ocean with millions of bottles.

Or, on a much smaller scale of course, one can take an example of what must have been a school project in a nearby village. Plastic bottles, each a unique specimen, painted and glued into various forms, mounted on sticks and merrily spinning in the breeze were in front of many houses. Real eye catchers.

I found a use for plastic bottles too, not as artistic as these, but quite useful still. I put them on the ends of the poles that hold the tomatoes so I don’t poke out my eyes when I bend over them ;)

Crooked cucumbers are back!

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

in case you missed the earth shattering announcement a few days ago let me be the first to inform you that … drum roll please … crooked cucumbers are coming back! Cukes and 25 other varieties of fruit and vegetables with less than perfect shapes will be allowed to be sold in stores again. If you live in a country that belongs to the European Union that is. And isn’t that impressive enough to make your heart beat faster. It is truly amazing how long it took the various commissions in Brussels to realize that ruling on curvature, shape and color of fruit and veggies might just be a bit of overkill and excessive in terms of bureaucracy. Didn’t anyone tell these people that nature does not usually grow things uniformly and perfect? But not to worry, there is enough of these inane laws left in place to put the sparkle back in the eyes of any pedant. Ten items, apples, citrus fruit, kiwi, lettuce, peaches and nectarines, strawberries, peppers, grapes and tomatoes, will have to be labelled if they are non-conformant to the standards devised by the wise men and women of the European Commission.

Instead of worrying about perfection I would be much more impressed if some of the old varieties that were known for how good they tasted were coming back. I take a lopsided tomato with flavor and aroma over the overbred bright red perfectly round hard tasteless globes that we find on the shelves of most super markets. And whatever happened to the many varieties of potatoes which used to be available? There are about 5500 known varieties of potatoes, so how come we can only choose between baking, for salad, mashing, early, or not? That to me is not progress but a step in the wrong direction. To think that we we are paying representatives for this silliness. But then dealing with produce is probably less controversial than having to worry about climate change, energy crisis, the environmental impact of industrial waste just to mention a few. Some form of identification of the distance an item had to travel to reach us would be a good thing, tell us the environmental impact and let us decide whether we like what we see. Instead, they discuss how perfect a piece of fruit must be in order to be sold in a market? Somone tell these clowns to get in touch with reality. Please. . .