Tag Archives: bacon

Friday Linkage 2/3/2017

Well, this week happened.  It was a week in which I found myself agreeing with Dick freaking Cheney.  The man better known as W’s Darth Vader actually came out against Trump’s horrible ban on refugees as “against everything we stand for and believe in.

Never mind the failure to actually limit immigration or entry into the United States from countries that have exported terror to the United States—yes, I am wondering why Saudi Arabia was left off the list and it could not have anything to do with Trump’s sons business dealings.  You remember that Eric and Don Jr. are running the empire now, right?

On to the links…

This Map Might Make You Think Twice About Trump’s Immigration Ban—I wonder why Donald Trump and Steve Bannon did not include Saudi Arabia—home to almost all of the 9/11 terrorists—on their list of countries?  Oh right, conflicts of interest:


Republican Bill to Privatize Public Lands is Yanked after Outcry—Your voices matter.  When a snake oil salesman like Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) is forced to back down amid public outcry, you know something is working in this messed up world.  Keep up the heat and make sure that every member of Congress knows that we are watching.

‘It’s A Big One’: Iowa Pipeline Leaks—The number of gallons of diesel fuel leaked is being debated.  Of course the oil company says it is fewer than reported, but who really believes them?  Remember this every time someone says that oil pipelines are so safe.

US Coal Industry Will Continue Historic Decline Through 2017—In spite of Donald Trump’s rhetoric coal will continue to fall out of favor in the U.S.  It is called a death spiral for a reason.

The Great Energy Disruption—When you go back and look at these projections, as the author points out, many of the assumptions driving the models are wrong…to the better.  Renewable energy generation has gotten cheaper, faster.  Energy storage has gotten cheaper, faster.  The beat goes on.

Who Installs More Solar Power? Republicans and Democrats are Pretty Much Tied.—Must not be any of the Republicans elected to Congress.  Those guys hate solar.

The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt May Be The Start Of The Everyday Electric Revolution—This is why the Chevy Bolt may be the true winner of the electric vehicle war to come…it’s kind of boring, in an everyday get my stuff done kind of way.

The Next EV Revolution: Think Trucks and Buses—If you are looking to get some serious savings in terms of oil consumed in the transportation sector look to heavy duty commercial vehicles.  This quote from the article encapsulates the opportunity perfectly: While medium and heavy trucks account for only 4% of America’s 250+ million vehicles, they represent 26% of American fuel use and 29% of vehicle CO2 emissions.

Chart of the Month: Driven by Tesla, Battery Prices Cut in Half since 2014—Think about that for a moment—battery costs have been cut in half in approximately three years.  This is before the Gigafactory and mainstream EVs really hit the market bringing some true economies of scale to bear:

1 IWOQkF5YxbKykAFypJEmFA.jpeg

Going Local: The Solution-Multiplier—In the age of Trump local matter more than ever.

Diageo Opening Guinness Brewery in US—With all the great craft beer in America, do we really need Guinness to open up a destination brewery?  I have had their rye pale ale and it does not belong on the shelf with a hundred other great American beers.

Nation’s Bacon Reserves hit 50-year Low as Prices Rise—In case your week was not crappy enough there may not be enough sweet, savory, delicious bacon to salve our wounded souls in the era of Trump.  WTF?


Learning to Live Lactose Free

There have been a few times over the course of the past seven and half years of being a parent that I have been completely floored with sadness. The first two times followed the death of my parents when I realized that neither would get to watch my children grow up.

The third was late last week when my daughter told me, “Daddy, my stomach does not hurt anymore.” How did I get to this point?

A few weeks ago my wife and I noticed our daughter would have an odd smell. Not like normal body odor, but really hard to place. I should have known better than to dive deep down into the well that is health information on the internet. Pretty soon you are at the worst case scenario which is almost always a rare terminal disease.

Not so this time. Between some internet research, conversations with a family member, and some good ol’ process of elimination we concluded that our daughter might be lactose intolerant. Without telling her, because a seven year old can be hyper sensitive, we cut out the lactose. In our house this is a major ordeal. We do not eat a lot of meat, but cheese is a constant. Four cheese baked macaroni and cheese is a fall staple. Baked potato soup is one of our daughter’s favorite meals in the whole world.

Within a week the odd smell was gone. Not better. Gone. It also led to the most brutal statement ever from my daughter to me. She said she did not know her stomach was not supposed to hurt because it always felt that way. Wow, I felt like the worst parent ever. Okay, maybe not the worst parent ever but I was completely floored.

I am also amazed at the way a seven year old can police herself better than most adults when it comes to consuming lactose. She has turned down ice cream—thank you summer camp counselor for finding a Popsicle—and tells us when a party might have pizza so we can make sure there is an alternative. Other times she just goes without eating the treat with nary a complaint. On the flip side, it makes me wonder just how much better she feels if this is the level of self-control she is willing to exert.

Food is so basic and woven through so much of our life that eliminating a simple and pervasive component like lactose becomes a challenge and a treasure hunt. Now the trips to the New Pioneer Coop have become exercises in what dairy free items we can find that day. Vegan carrot cake anyone?

The biggest challenge so far? Finding a suitable replacement for Parmesan cheese. My daughter loves Parmesan cheese. For the first few years of her life she referred to it solely as “yummy cheese.” She would eat slivers cut from the block and hoard them at dinner. When someone brought out a canister of Kraft Parmesan cheese she looked at it askance and said, “That’s not yummy cheese.” Please help internet, you’re my only hope.

Friday Linkage 8/29/2014

There are few good things to say about having your refrigerator stop working and losing a lot of food. If I look on the bright side I got to really clean the inside, disposed of some junk food that no one in my house needed to eat, and now have the opportunity to really think about what gets put back in. On second thought, maybe this should be a yearly thing.

On to the links…

As Americans Pig Out, Bacon sees Sizzling Price Hikes—Supply and demand baby! It’s good to see that people have let go of their fat phobia and are embracing the tasty meat. Granted, a lot of people go too far in their bacon love. It can be sort of disturbing.

Why Are We So Fat? The Multimillion-Dollar Scientific Quest to Find Out—This issue seems to boggle scientists and there is a lot of contradictory information that exists. All of it appears to have been conducted in the best interests of science, but it has confused the issue mightily.

Norway Whale Catch Reaches Highest Number since 1993—This was a total WTF moment for me when I read the article. Japan gets a whole boatload, pun sort of intended, regarding its whaling program but Norway is out there killing just as many whales. That’s right, Norway, which is usually thought of as being a fairly progressive and with it country. WTF.

Renewable Energy Capacity Grows at Fastest Ever Pace—The International Energy Agency estimates that 22% of the world’s power comes from renewables, including hydropower. Greater than $250 billion, yep that’s a billion, was invested worldwide in 2013. As good as this news seems this pace of introduction will not be enough to meet climate goals. Boo!

Renewable Energy Accounts for 100 Percent of New US Electrical Generating Capacity in July—Of all the new electrical generating capability brought on line in July all of it, let me repeat all of it, was generated via renewable sources.

Soon, Europe Might Not Need Any New Power Plants—At its core the economic argument for small scale generation will be feasible without government subsidies and have a payback of approximately 6 years, which means that demand destruction will take off to such a degree that large centralized power plants will be an endangered species. Dig it.

Hawaii’s Largest Utility Announces Plan To Triple Rooftop Solar By 2030—I am always a little hesitant to believe anything HECO says because they tend to seem to be incompetent when it comes to renewables. Here’s to hoping.

Lawmakers, Homeowners Fight Rules Saying Solar Is Too Ugly To Install—Homeowners Associations (HOAs) blow my mind. People will talk about freedom and property rights all day long, but willingly submit to the whims of neighbors with nothing better to do on a beautiful day save for figuring out who is in violation of some silly rules. I am sorry sir, but those plants are not on the approved list.

New Bill Could Make Residential Solar In California A Lot Cheaper—It used to be the panel costs that drove the price of a solar PV system. Now, as the price of solar panels continues its downward trend, the balance of systems costs are stubbornly high. Some lawmakers are trying to rectify this issue with streamlined permitting.

How A New Group Is Helping Nonprofits In West Virginia Get Solar Panels For Just $1—This is a great story about a community coming together and making solar happen.

Weed Blaster shows Promise as Alternative to Herbicides—When RoundUp finally fails in its ability to control superweeds like pigweed then it will be time for another solution. Here is something that does not depend on the chemical regime of the past to save us from weeds.

Moving Back Home Together: Rarest Native Animals Find Haven on Tribal Lands—Through neglect and downright abandonment, tribal lands have been saved from a lot of the ravages of modern development including the plow. Now, these lands are a bright spot in the effort to reintroduce species of animals long gone from the landscape.

Powerful Photos of the World Feeling the Impact of Climate Change—Global climate change as a result of human behavior is real and its effects are visible today. Climate deniers may line their pockets with Koch money to slow down effective mitigation, but it will not help when the waters rise.

Friday Linkage 5/2/2014

The “best” part about having minor elective surgery is that you get to spend a lot of time catching up on your DVR backlist and the books that have started reproducing in a corner by your bookshelves. I must have read for something like ten hours a day after surgery. Damn.

On to the links…

Supreme Court Backs Rule Limiting Coal Pollution—This is a big deal because it means that the executive branch, through the EPA, can issue rules that restrict the pollution from coal burning plants. I think it also sets the stage for a series of discussions about the externalities of other polluting industries.

U.S. Solar Capacity Grew 418 Percent In The Last Four Years—The drumbeat of bad news is pretty incessant, but there are some glimmers or flickers of hope. Solar PV is hot. Like Paris Hilton hot back in the day.

How Solar Energy Cuts Electric Grid Costs—Distributed electrical generation usually means that electricity is produced near where it is consumed so you do not require extensive transmission networks to move power from a single generation source to multiple consumption points. Also, you do not lose as much energy in transmission. Win-win baby!

Arizona May Impose Unusual New Tax On Customers Who Lease Solar Panels—Just when you thought the battle over residential solar PV had been won in Arizona the power plant lobby came in with an end around. Nothing like resorting to legalese and arcane property law to get what you want.

A Ghost Town, Going Green—Does the Mojave Desert attract some strange cats. There is something about the high desert air that contributes to strange flights of fancy.

Renewable Energy Policy in Europe is Faltering—What I took away from this report is that consistency is key to the development of alternative and renewable energy. You need a consistent regulatory and tax regime to ensure investment. Take that stability away and investment dries up. Very simple.

EPA says Automakers Ahead of Schedule for 54.5 MPG by 2025—The number can be misleading because CAFÉ is a number that is figured across a fleet and there are vehicles that count more, etc. However, the good news is that our fleet, in general, is getting more efficient.

In Florida Tomato Fields, a Penny Buys Progress—I have profiled a book that featured the workers in Immokalee, Florida—Barry Estabrook’s excellent Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit—and it looks like campaigns to improve the conditions in the tomato fields might actually bear fruit. Pun totally intended.

Is There a Sustainable Future for America’s Most Popular Seafood?—We eat a lot of freakin’ shrimp in the U.S. Like tons and tons of the stuff. We actually eat 600,000 tons annually, so we eat like hundreds of thousands of tons. Is our appetite for these little guys ever going to be sustainable?

The Coffee Industry Is Worse Than Ever For The Environment—This makes me feel like garbage. While I do not eat much meat or seafood, I drink a lot of coffee. If you drink non-shade grown coffee you are part of the problem. Coffee grown in direct sunlight is no different than endless fields of corn or destructive palm oil plantations.

Taco Bell Reveals Its Mystery Beef Ingredients—Taco Bell has finally answered the question about what was in the other 12% of its meat filling, but I do not think that has really answered the question well. Why does there need to be 12% of other stuff in something called meat? When I make taco filling at home for a quick dinner it consists of ground meat and a few tablespoons of spices.

Why You Should be Eating More Wild Pigs Right Now—Feral pigs are a big problem. Texas gets the lion’s share of attention when it comes to the problem because that state has been overrun, but these beasts have caused problems in Minnesota and Wisconsin. I would love to dine on some feral pig bacon.

A Partnership to Help the Tallest Residents in Yosemite Park—We do not fund our national park system to an adequate degree. Every election cycle politicians for national office will talk about doing more, but it always dies on the vine. I am glad to see a private-public partnership that is trying to help the situation.

Late to the Kale Party

I am not obsessed with kale like Erik at Root Simple.  I am not going to wear a shirt admonishing people to eat more kale.  On second thought, if buying a shirt from a small business in Vermont pissed off the bigots at Chick Fil-A then I might whip out my credit card.

In the search for a snack that is devoid of any scary sounding preservatives I latched onto baked kale chips.  A friend of mine always has a bowl of them handy and the crispy little bits are quite delicious.  To my surprise, Costco had giant bags of baby kale this past week:

Bag o Kale

Just ~$5 for a big ol’ bag of baby kale.  I split the bag with kale loving friend—he puts it in just about everything he cooks, which makes me wonder if he is part of some kale cult—and I set out to make kale chips.

It’s been a while since I felt like a total failure in the kitchen, but my attempts at kale chips brought me down to my knees.  I tried batches at 250, 300, and 350 degrees like several recipes on the internet said would produce the perfect kale chip.  I tried batches with very little oil or no oil at all.  I salted some and tried other spices on some.

The end result looked okay:

Kale Chips

Each time the batch totally lacked something that made it an appealing snack.  The worst part was that every batch had a lingering aftertaste that accumulated after a few chips.  It was actually quite awful.  A swig of Chinook IPA took care of the aftertaste.

Furthermore, a good sized jelly roll pan produced very little in the way of finished products once the chips had reduced down.  It was a lot of time, effort, and energy for very little return.

I am going to have to side with Dana Cowin who declared kale chips a passé foodie trend on a recent episode of Top Chef.  At least no one is marketing kale deodorant because some clown has come up with bacon deodorant.

Friday Linkage 7/5/2013

It’s July…where did June go?  I got sick, when to a funeral, and all of a sudden three weeks passed by in no time.  Damn.

On to the links…

President Obama’s Climate Change Plan (Infographic)–If you can boil it down to an infographic, everyone wins:


Federal Government Hopes More Rigs will Become Reefs–Until now, it had been a real challenge for oil companies to leave drilling rigs alone in the Gulf of Mexico as fish habitats.  Here’s hoping some of these artificial reefs are allowed to survive.

For Perfect Bacon, Add a Little Water to the Pan–Huh?  Try it.  It works.

Seaweed Biofuels: A Green Alternative that Might Save the Planet–I still have hope for biofuels, just not the first generation of fuels derived from the same crops as food.  Seaweed derived fuel would be badass.

Clean Energy For All: California Advances Pioneering Shared Renewables Bill–As renewables enter the mainstream more and more, the options for obtaining different renewables will increase.  Solar gardens for victory, man!

Can Electric School Buses Help Solve Our Grid Problems?–Renewables are “lumpy.”  That is to say that the amount of power going into the grid is not consistent 100% of the time.  Moderating those peaks and valleys is a challenge.

How the Koch Brothers Screwed the Climate More than You Think–Just when you think that these two ass wipes have reached bottom there is another rung down into the slime that they descend.  Impressive.

Bright Kids, Small City–Maybe chasing one’s dreams in the “big city” is not the only option for people out there.  Here is to hoping that a new generation does not immediately fall for the allure of a major metro.

WWOOF Experiences Cheaper Way to try Farming–Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms sounds really interesting.  It’s hard to find an experience on the farm if you do not intimately know someone who farms.  Wait a second.  Maybe that’s one of the problems with out food system.  Oh snap!

Eight Rules of Electric Vehicle Charging Etiquette–I cannot imagine how pissed I would be if I drove my Nissan Leaf to a charging spot and saw am SUV parked in the spot.  Whoops, I don’t own an EV yet.  Yet.

Could The NSA Spy On Environmental Activists?–Do you remember the stories about police in Britain embedding themselves as undercover agents?  Who says that the NSA would not spy on Could The NSA Spy On Environmental Activists? as well?

Cooking with Beer on a Rainy Weekend

When it rains for most of the weekend like it did here in eastern Iowa this past Saturday and Sunday, I just want to curl up on the couch with a hot cup of coffee and read a book.  It helps set the mood if something is slowly simmering in the slow cooker for eight hours.  It gets even better when that something is simmering in high quality beer.  Oh, how will I ever get all of these things accomplished?

My dad sent me a recipe a while back for a slow cooker stew that combined two of my favorite things: bacon and beer.  Sure, there were other ingredients but who really cares once you get to bacon and beer?

Considering that he was coming over for a movie night with my daughter it seemed the opportune time to break out his suggestion.  The recipe called for approximately 14 ounces of stout—conveniently about the same size as a can of Guinness commonly available in cans in the U.S.

Unfortunately, I did not have any of the rye stout I have recently brewed available.  Heck, it is not even in bottles yet so I will not be enjoying any of that particular batch until I return from vacation in March.  So, it was off to the liquor store to see what kinds of stouts were available.  I did not want to go the Guinness route—it was less an indictment of Guinness and more a desire to just be different.  Rogue’s Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout would be different:

Rogue Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout

I am a huge fan of this beer when it is on tap.  If you are every in Iowa City, head to the Sanctuary near the University of Iowa and have them pour you a glass.  The atmosphere of the place is perfect to enjoy a pint of this well-done brew.  With the recipe only calling for 14 ounces, I got to enjoy the other 8.  Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

BTW, I am also a huge fan of Rogue’s bottle art.  It’s simple and distinctive in one fell swoop which is more than I can say for so many craft beers.

The verdict on the stew?  Kind of weak, honestly.  It was like one of those moments on Top Chef where the contestant is just baffled that the dish they slaved over lacks any punch when it comes to flavor.  I cannot put my finger on it, but this stew really lacked flavor.  The bacon got lost and the stout was nowhere to be found either.  Interesting.  Oh well, there will be more rainy days for the slow cooker.