Tag Archives: gluten

Friday Linkage 8/11/2017

Heading out on vacation in a few hours because nothing says relaxing like Orlando in August with your extended family.  There is absolutely nothing quite like late summer Florida heat and humidity to really bring people together.  At least there will be Dole Whip.

On to the links…

Utah Commission: Keep “Negro Bill Canyon” the Same—Between the zealots who cannot stop fighting the Civil War by idiotically flying what they assume is the flag of the Confederacy—when in truth it is bastardization of a battle flag flown by either the Army of Northern Virginia or the Army of Tennessee—to maintaining symbols of hate like this we will never grow as a nation.

How Midwestern Farmers Could Help Save the Gulf of Mexico—It will never happen with the current White House and most of the governors being Republicans, but there should be a national program to pay farmers to deploy cover crops.  No single action would be better for the health of the Gulf of Mexico and our nation’s water quality.  It is a proven solution.

How Fossil Fuel Money Made Climate Change Denial the Word of God—Be wary of the man who claims to be godly, but spends his time talking about earthly matters.  It usually means that he is hiding an agenda and using a veneer of piety as a shield against criticism.  As I tell people all the time, “I do not remember a single passage in the bible where Jesus talks about the rights of oil companies to drill on public lands.”

Americans Are Using Less Electricity Today Than A Decade Ago—The key caveat here is per capita.  There are more people, but we are using less electricity per each person.

Thanks To Co-op, Small Iowa Town Goes Big On Solar—I went to a wedding this summer just outside of Kalona and the solar panels were all over the place.  Ground mount arrays were at almost every farm that was not owned by an older order Amish or Mennonite family.  If everyone could embrace solar like the customers of Farmers Electric Cooperative the world would be a better place.

Dirty Energy’s Quiet War on Solar Panels—They can try and stem the tide but solar panels will win in the end.  The guys who put the panels on my house this week were booked solid with jobs for the rest of the summer and fall.  Solar power is real and it is here.

To Solve ‘Duck Curve,’ Missouri Utility to Pay Bonus for West-Facing Solar Panels—It’s not just about south facing roofs anymore.  As someone who has installed a west facing array—270 degree azimuth baby—I cannot wait to see how my peak production lines up with the duck curve.

Shell Oil CEO Stunner: ‘My Next Car will be Electric’—The worm has turned.

More New Yorkers Opting for Life in the Bike Lane—Bikes are amazing and can be a major component of the mobility solutions puzzle we, as a nation and species, are trying to solve.  Seriously, if people are willing to bike in New York City you should be willing to bike in Cedar Rapids.

A Perfect Illustration of the Spatial Inefficiency of the Automobile—Remember, if you work in a cubicle your parking space is bigger than your office.  What do we truly value?

Pedal Power: How Denver Bike Crews are Rescuing Food from Landfills One Ride at a Time—I love this business model.  Collect scraps—for a fee—with a no-emissions bicycle and create wonderful compost to nourish the soil.

Here’s Proof the Average U.S. Household Isn’t the ‘Dumb Money’—I spent twenty one months in business school listening to the icons of “smart money” tell aspiring investment bankers how they were the masters of the universe and what not.  The financial crisis in 2008 was a total nut punch to these guys, but it obviously did not make them humble.

Papa John’s has Made a Gluten-Free Pizza that Gluten-Intolerant Diners can’t Eat—Here is proof that the gluten free trend is not about people with celiac disease and more about marketing.

Impossible Burger’s ‘Secret Sauce’ Highlights Challenges of Food Tech—Soy leghemoglobin may be an allergen, but I love the government’s concern.  I also find it stunning that the FDA has acted so quickly when other problems in our food system are persistent and pernicious going on for years and decades without any government intervention.  Do you think big meat is behind this?  Oh yeah…


Friday Linkage 10/31/2014

Just living takes a lot of time. You wake up, get the kids ready for the day, finish a day of work, make some dinner, and look up to see that it is almost 7:00 which means the bedtime routine is about to start. I envy people who find time in their day for other pursuits, but I am not one of those people lately. It’s like we barely have time enough to get the bare minimum done. I guess this is what you mid-thirties with two kids is supposed to be like. Right?

On to the links…

Climate Change And Rising Violence Are Linked, According To 55 Scientific Studies—Get ready for a world where conflicts arise because of climate change. If you thought the water wars in the Mad Max films were a fantasy then you have not been paying attention.

NPR Guts Its Environment And Climate Reporting Team, Becomes ‘Part Of The Problem’—If NPR, which usually gets credit for being one of the honest brokers, is not giving good coverage to climate issues who will be the voice of reason? It sure as shit is not going to be Fox News.

Solar Grid Parity In All 50 US States By 2016, Predicts Deutsche Bank—Imagine the demand destruction that can take place when solar is on par with the cost of other power sources. The panels on your roof could be putting out power on a per watt basis that was comparable with dirty coal or fracked natural gas. Let the sun shine, baby!

Minnesota Gets Ready To Launch Solar Highways—Just look out the window for a moment the next time you drive on a highway and think about all of the land sitting there that could be used for solar energy installations. It’s a lot.

SolarCity Unveils ZS Beam — New System Improves Speed + Affordability Of Solar Carport Installation—If you are done thinking about all of the right of ways along American highways start thinking about all of the parking lots that could be covered with solar carports. It’s an amazing opportunity to get two uses out of space that is just sitting there and is not very aesthetically pleasing.

The Australian Solar Industry Has Grown By 1 GW Since July 2013—When you think about Australia you probably think about the sun. Here is a country roughly the size of the continental United States that gets absolutely blasted by the sun. It should be covered in solar panels.

MGM Installs America’s Largest Rooftop Solar Array but it Only Powers 1/5 of the Hotel—This solar array is freaking huge and it only powers 20% of the convention center/hotel’s needs. That really speaks volumes about the nature of energy use in Las Vegas. It is still cool to see something of this scale done.

How Cheap Wind Energy Threatens To Upend The Kansas Governor’s Race And Upset The Koch Brothers—What the heck is wrong with Kansas? It is the home the Koch brothers, which is bad enough but it is also the state that elected Sam Brownback to be governor. That guy is a complete stooge. The state should also be covered in wind turbines like Iowa, but the industry is still in its infancy. WTF?

America’s Last Coal-Fired Ship Finally Stops Dumping Coal Ash Into Lake Michigan—The S.S. Badger is a freaking ecological disaster that as used political machinations to continue operation long beyond its expiration date. It looks like the boat might finally be cleaning up its act. Somewhat.

How California is Turning Drainage Canals Back to Rivers—People think of California as this ecological oasis, but its modern history has been of subverting the natural order. As people begin to realize the value of nature some of these mistakes are being rectified.

John Oliver’s Takedown of the Sugar Industry is Pretty Sweet—John Oliver, like his former boss, delivers some of the most had hitting commentary with a hint of humor that is undeniably excellent. I cannot wait for the 2016 election cycle. It’s going to be epic. Although his assertion that cranberries taste like cherries that hate you is a little harsh. C’mon John.

Against the Grain: Should you go gluten-free?—Gluten. The new big bad in the nutrition “whack a rat” game. It’s funny how people eliminate gluten and feel better. No, it’s really just common sense that if you eliminate beer, refined carbohydrates, and lots of calories that you will feel better. Alas, it’s a fad.

What the World Eats—Check out National Geographic’s series of images on what various countries eat. It’s kind of shocking.

What Food Do We Throw Away the Most?—Ahhh, an infographic. Noel Dempsey has produced a couple of graphics that show what we throw away:


Bread Success!

I suck at making bread.  I have made loaves that resemble door mats or the bases for a baseball diamond.  I have made bread that even the animals in the yard would not eat and I wonder exactly how well these logs would fare in the compost bin.

This weekend…something happened…there was bread success!  What happened?

A few times a year I get the bug to try and bake bread.  It is my culinary unicorn.  Whereas I have conquered many things in the kitchen—creamy risotto, drop dead delicious mac & cheese, omelets I can make in my sleep—decent bread has been elusive.  Sunday was one of those days because, for some reason, the weather gods have decided that winter should hang on just a little longer and it snowed all day.  Not that nice fluffy snow.  It was one of those grey days where the temperature was warm enough to turn every surface where the snow was disturbed into a dirt flavored slushy.

I anticipated the nasty weather and set out to make some no knead bread.  Instead of trying a variation or someone’s modification of a recipe I went to the source: Jim Lahey’s No Knead Bread recipe in the New York Times.

The loaf came out of my La Creuset dutch oven looking good:

Bread Loaf

The real test, however, was to see what the crumb looked like on the inside:

Bread Crumb

Yeah, that’s steam rising from the inside of the freshly cut bread.  I could not contain myself in cutting the loaf.  The results were good.  A success, I dare say.

About the only complaint that I have is that the crust on the bottom turned out a little thick.  Not inedible thick, but rather dip in some Secret Dipping Sauce thick.

Compostable Play Time

If your children are anything like mine you quickly discover that an hour of time can be carved out of any day by the introduction of a tub of play dough and a rolling pin.  Seriously, it’s an hour of quiet time to cook dinner or clean the house or whatever you need to get done.  Sure, I could turn on the television but that seems like the suburban cop out.

If you are like me you also probably wonder what the heck the commercial versions of play dough are made from.  According to Hasbro, the maker of the well-known Play-Doh brand:

the exact ingredients of PLAY-DOH compound are proprietary, so we cannot share them with you. We can tell you that it is primarily a mixture of water, salt and flour. It does NOT contain peanuts, peanut oil, or any milk byproducts. It DOES contain wheat.

PLAY-DOH compound is not a food item and is not intended to be eaten.

PLAY-DOH compound is non-toxic, non-irritating & non-allergenic except as noted: Children who are allergic to wheat gluten may have an allergic reaction to this product. Also, due to the high salt content in PLAY-DOH compound, the product can be harmful to pets if ingested.

There is no MSDS sheet required for PLAY-DOH compound.

Well, that makes me feel better.  Okay, maybe not.

Not only do I not know what is exactly in the product that my children will be kneading with their hands for an hour, I have no idea what I can do with the product at the end of its like other than throw it away.  I find that unacceptable.  I want to compost it like that couple from Portlandia wants to pickle that.

So, I spent part of the Christmas break searching out a recipe for play dough that produced a workable end product, contained nothing that was not a “food” ingredient, and could be composted.

Needless to say, the Internet is full of options.  Deferring to my sister-in-law, who spent the better part of four years working in a day care while pursuing her college degree, I decided on the following recipe:

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tsp. cream of tarter
1 tbsp. oil
1 cups water

Pour all ingredients into a large pot. Stir constantly over medium heat until a dough ball forms by pulling away from the sides. Knead dough until the texture matches play dough (1-2 minutes). Store in plastic container. Should last for at least 3 months.

To add color I used a gel food coloring and added it during the kneading step.  The results were pretty darn good, if I do say so myself.

Nothing in the ingredients is odd and, an added bonus, I had every ingredient in my pantry.  Sure, it may be the same ingredient set as what Hasbro uses in commercial Play-Doh but I actually know what is in my play dough.  I also have found that the smell of the homemade product is inoffensive compared with a somewhat odd smell for the commercial product.  Go figure.

By the way, it’s definitely compostable.  I do not know how a ball of dough is going to break down in the bin but I’ve got the time.  Dig it.