29 September, 2008

What's hot and what's not.

Olive oil injection - the hot and not so hot of:

Olive oil injecting a turkey for flavour and moisture is hot.  I can see myself doing this with a chicken and mixed EVOO, sesame oil, and orange juice, or a nice piece of roast lamb using olive oil blended with herbs.

Note that you can get the same effect without looking like a hypodermic-seeking druggie by taking your carving or roasting fork and perforating the roast before rubbing the oil marinade in, and this method has the advantage that it tenderises the roast, allows you to use granular stuff in the oil, and also you can insert things like slivers of garlic or herbs in the holes.

You just have to make sure you really perforate the roast with dozens of holes, as deep as you can get.  And leave it laying on the treated side for a few minutes to allow gravity to take your marinade deep into the meat.

Self-injecting is not hot...

26 September, 2008

PETA - Puerile Extremist Thoughtless Asinine

Two immediate thoughts about PETA's slightly creepy request ...

Firstly, as we get older, human milk is less beneficial for us and according to some research may even be harmful to the older body's biochemistry.  Dairy milk, on the other hand, the human race (Mediterranean/European branches, in any case) have specifically evolved to tolerate because our bodies need calcium.

Secondly, not milking cows is a damn sight more cruel than milking them.  PETA as usual misses the whole point, these cows are BRED to provide milk and their lives would be short and miserable if they were left to die of mastitis.  Get over it PETA you pack of dipshits.

And there's a third thing.  Would PETA go to press to protect the hundreds of thousands of women from poor countries (who are NOT bred for milk production) who would suffer to provide the milk for PETA's proposed mammary milkshakes?

As usual PETA demonstrates complete ineptitude and total lack of konowledge of what they are spouting.  Maybe one day we'll find a way to develop their brains past infantile short lived febrile hallucinations to some kind of rational thought, and then find a way to connect their mouths to those brains instead of their asses.

24 September, 2008

Find Cheap Petrol In Your Area

Firstly - you can go to here and add this to your Google page http://www.google.com.au/intl/en/help/ig/petrolprice/ or go here http://maps.google.com/maps/mpl?moduleurl=http://petrolpricetracker.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/mapplet/motormouth.xml and just drag and zoom the map around until it's where you want.  I just found out that two service stations in all of Perth seem to be under $1.43, but it would cost me more to drive to them than it would to buy petrol closer to home...  But spread this around cos every person that has a choice and buys at the cheapest prices, helps slow the climb of prices...  

15 September, 2008

From Dreamcar to Dream Life.

This post starts off at something that triggered off a stream-of-conscious flood of thoughts in me. As such, it's not really following a logical progression, and gets back to food and lifestyle pretty quickly.

A quick few thoughts on Dreamcar 123. First up, I live in Australia. It gets HOT here in summer, and I'm eyeing that small pyramidal solar cooker I'm supposed to stick my head up inside of, and something in me is just screaming "No cook Number Five! No cook Number Five! Aieee!"

Sorry - but that alone limits DC123 for me. Then too the inventor says "it will have 80 batteries" and that "it will have a top speed of XXXmph and a range of XXX miles" but - well, you've seen the video. There's no suspension to speak of, not enough ground clearance to cross a shopping mall carpark speed bump, and that means that at any speed faster than a jog (Ghods forbid!) I wouldn't trust my spinal integrity to some suspension that DC123 will have. Maybe. One day.

Range of over 200 miles on a $5 worth of electricity? Is great, but let's pretend for a moment that it's 5 years in the future, my DC123 has been delivering great service for all that time, but, you know - range has been steadily decreasing over the years, and a new lot of batteries just hasn't been a priority. After a full night's charge, the DC123 stalls in the communal driveway of the gated community I live at...

Yes I realise that the latter is going to be a common problem until the problem of battery life and memory is licked. But I bought the DC123 because it was inexpensive. And while we're on the subject of batteries: At least 5Kg (10lbs) per battery, right? That's at least 800lbs right there, in weight. In environmental terms, digging up, smelting, and manufacturing all that lead (or Nickel, or whatever other material is Flavour Of The Month with batteriologists) into a battery - is that really going to be justified over the life of the vehicle?

Batteries still have to be charged, that needs energy from somewhere.If it's from a coal, gas, or other fossil fuel powered generator or from the grid, that leaves a footprint. If you go the solar cell route, include the manufacturing footprint of the solar PV cells, extra batteries to store all that power while your DC123 isn't plugged in, electronics to regulate it all.

Not that I'm really wanting to discourage this development effort, but you have to admit it's not inspiring. And current efforts need to focus more on how to store the energy we can collect from the Sun, batteries are a huge ecological disaster waiting in the wings, worse even than plastics have been. Our main efforts should really be focused on using less of that energy.

Things that add HUGE ridiculous amounts to our energy footprint are the cost of storing, shipping, and storing again of seasonal fruits and vegetables so we can confuse our bodies with the wrong nutrients at the wrong times, the cost of manufacturing and processing natural foods into highly processed foods which include chemical additives and supplements and then shipping those around the world, the cost of shipping fuel around the world so that we can ship other stuff around, and I'm sure you can think of at lest a few more such high-impact activities.

Think - the cost to the environment of getting the materials for, building, and then maintaining the roads. Of building huge cities so we can concentrate some of the costs incurred and can have a ready supply of customers to buy that crap.

So - put less effort into encouraging people to build better stuff and instead see how you can reduce your environmental footprint. I'll give you a few hints:

  • Don't buy out of season fruit and vegetables. If demand decreases, the major supermarkets will reduce their stocks, the artificial price stranglehold they have will decrease, and your health will improve because your body is used to having those foods only at certain times of the year.
  • Don't buy anything with preservatives and artificial flavour, colour, or whatever else in it. Again, once demand decreases, the practice will stop. Immediate benefits to you include better health, and latent benefits will occur when the "food factory" that produces that crap shuts down the machinery.
  • Be prepared to spend a little bit longer getting fresh and in season foods, and pay a bit more to independent fresh and organic producers to encourage them. Withhold your money from any that are seen to use environmentally unkind practices. The immediate benefit to your health is that you'll probably waste less, and make better use of what you get.

A quick thought about tinned and packaged foods - the original intent for developing tinned foods wasn't to flood the world with tinned peas. It was to ensure that there was some kind of emergency supply in case of war or disaster. No-one really thought that having peas out of season was the single compelling reason to put foods into tins... It was emergency rations for when the world failed us for a season. And here we are, decades later, eating emergency rations and thereby precipitating the seasonal failures...

Just on that last reason alone, I avoid tinned and preserved foods - we're not refugees, and we deserve better than denatured rations...

13 September, 2008

Mediterranean == Less Chronic Illness

More and more of these kinds of reports are appearing.  It's no secret, I guess.  This is the kind of diet that our ancestors had become adjusted to, and which we are still adjusted to.  It'll take a few hundred generations before the human species adapts to chemicals and over-processing.  Unless we take a direct hand and interfere in our genetic makeup, that is.

I mean - mutation and adaptation over generations does the same thing, imperceptibly, slowly, but very certainly.  It modified human digestion and respiration to the point where the Mediterranean foods - lots of fruit and nuts, olives and olive oil, tomatoes and fish and grains - was totally accepted by our bodies and resulted in the best health.  Now, we eat foods that are not natural, that contain additives and strange combinations, and are available out of season almost anytime.  And if your system tolerates this food slightly better, then you are more likely to reproduce and your offspring are more likely to be tolerant.

The thing is, that evolution takes tens of thousands of generations to make general changes, and several hundred generations to respond to changed food conditions. Either way, it's not going to help you, right here and right now.  So the choices are to directly tamper with your own DNA, (very risky,) or to tamper with your offspring's DNA, (less personally risky to you but still very much a stab in the dark,) or else change your diet now and make sure your offspring also learn to eat right.

I point out the right diet in The Body Friendly Zen Cookbook, to me it seems that eating the right food and letting nature take its course is a lot less drastic than messing with the human genome to make it adapt to eating the chemical cocktails that some of our more processed foods have become.

05 September, 2008

It's enough to give you gas...

This is less about health and more about general consumer action. Whether it's worthwhile action remains to be seen... I'll set the scene. I'm living in my motorhome almost exclusively now, and cooking takes a fair precedence for me. The bus has a nice 4 burner stove/oven/grill combo, which I use a few times a day, to boil the kettle for tea, produce meals, etc. What I'm even more in love with is the fact that it uses a 4Kg gas bottle, and has so far kept on cooking for me for over eight weeks... This is low-impact living for sure. But - today I wrestled the bottle out of its impossibly small cubby and shook it - maybe 2" of gas left inside, maybe less.

So I figured I'd get a second bottle, and then switch them when this one is totally empty. Can't be that hard to get 4Kg bottles - right? Boy, are you mistaken if, like me, you said "Yeah! Easy-peasy!"

First stop, white pages. Found two companies that have mini-outlets at major petrol stations and stores, I picked the one that looked most popular and populous. Phoned them to enquire about prices, was told that a refill would cost me $22 and a "new" bottle, $67. That was fine, I thought, I know this size is a bit harder to get hold of than the others. I asked where my closest outlet was and the person was stumped. Luckily I was a bit faster on the mouse and opened the website which had a well marked store locator. That turned up two outlets about 4 - 5 km away.

I set off for the farthest one first, nope they do not stock that size bottle, sorry Sir. Second outlet I got wise and inspected the gas bottle cage outside, didn't bother to go in when I saw that all they had was the 9Kg size. As I was driving home I had an idea - the local BP (which is only 800m from my home) has a gas bottle cage. Silly me! I drove to the BP and saw that they had the 4Kg bottle. Asking about the price though, produced a bit of a shock reaction: "Umm Seventy-six dollars for a new one sir." I explained that Swap'n'Go had told me that the price for a 4Kg bottle was $67, had he read his screen right? And then it hit me - this was actually also a Swap'n'Go outlet! I asked the attendant why they were charging almost ten dollars more than the recommended price, and was told that it was a price set by head office.

I did ask for the numbers for head office and also for Swap'n'Go, then sat outside and dialled. First Swap'n'Go - the official line suddenly changed to "prices are set by individual resellers" and that it was up to them. I explained the situation quickly, and said I would not use Swap'n'Go if they gave one price over the phone and then allowed resellers to extort almost 15% more out of me. The woman (I'm sure the same one I'd rung a day earlier and who had given me a fixed price, as though that was a set item,) kindly gave me addresses of two more outlets, unfortunately these were about 12km from my home. But by now I was so determined to figure this out, that I went. I had some shopping to do in Vic Park so I just did it at the same time.

I also phoned the BP customer support line, who said that each individual service station set their own prices for things like gas. I asked that my complaint be brought to the attention of the area manager, that the staff here didn't know their products and overpriced them, and hung up.

First off - found two other gas resellers within 3km of home, none of which had come up on Swap'n'Go's store locator. Boo hiss! They sent me 5km for a service I could have had within 800m of home, didn't mention a whole slew of places that were all closer than the 5km mark, and the human couldn't figure out anyplace closer for me either. Talk about not knowing shit about your business. (Because I suspect that far from being an employee, this may have been one of the business owners. Makes it all the more incomprehensible that they didn't know the first thing about the only product they sell...)

Drew blanks at both these resellers, (oh and both had the "Swap'n'Go" logo on their cages, yes.) so I continued to the Vic Park places. I decided to go a slight detour, to catch the BP it Cannington. And to no great surprise, their prices for bottled gas were exactly the same as my local BP... So who really does set the prices? I'll phone a few more BP's and get to the bottom of this I think. Suffice to say that when an employee of BP tells me one thing, and then a customer service agent tells me the opposite, one of them has to be lying.

I found the Shell at Bentley to be a Swap'n'Go agent too - yet their price for that 4Kg bottle was $69, much closer to the recommended price. Unfortunately, they didn't have any in their cage. More unfortunately, they didn't know that until I'd paid for the bottle, so we had to reverse the transaction to my card.

I didn't find the other service station I'd been told about because I went to the Independent servo in Vic Park along the highway there in the shopping district, and they both had a 4Kg bottle, and had it at $69.

Now we get to the Twilight Zone bits. The service station the S'n'G rep had told me about was the Gull. I'm pretty sure the Gull changed to become that Independent, a few years ago. S'n'G had their facts out by quite a few years. Secondly, the Indie servo didn't have S'n'G gas, they had some other supplier. Thirdly, both 4Kg and 3.8Kg bottles are apparently only filled to 3.7Kg. Yet the S'n'G rep on my first call had told me that a 4Kg bottle was filled to 3.9Kg.

There are a couple more things. I emailed S'n'G with the full story and suggested they police their dealers a bit more closely, because they've just lost my business (and hopefully any of you who read this will go to alternate dealer outlets too) and then wanted to email a cc: to BP. But BP only allow you a web based form for feedback and I didn't want to submit it because - final demonstration of cluelessness - BP require you to agree to their "Privacy Statement" before you can submit the form - yet nowehere on the page is there any reference or link to that privacy statement.

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