Chris Kott

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since Jan 25, 2012
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Recent posts by Chris Kott

We're big fans of roasting veg and immersion blending it. We tend to use enamelled cast-iron dutch ovens for the roasting, though, so if we're motivated enough to peel what doesn't have at least a nominally scoopable rind (when we're lazy, we halve, seed, and gut squash, then put onions and garlic to roast in the empty seed cavity; I guess that's our version of lazy), we are left with a nice one-pot meal that yields several days of lunches.

I sometimes like to make them like dilute curries, leaving texture to the blend, rather than blending and straining for a more refined presentation. We have yet to take any of our favourite indian dishes and make a soup inspired by it, but I could see saag paneer soup working very well (a spinach and unripened cheese dish), or lamb korma soup, for that matter. Or how about a butternut butter chicken soup?

Sorry, I have to stop. My drool is at risk of shorting my keyboard.

Okay, all better. But veg is really easy this way. It's like permaculture, or systems design. What functions are being filled by the veg in question? How is the spice palate being chosen to offset or otherwise complement them? If substitutions are made for individual variables, what will each change do to the taste, and what does that mean for the level of spice required, or the specific spice palate choice altogether?

And yes, as long as the relative densities aren't too dissimilar, I love how you can break it all down on a parchment papered sheetpan or into a dutch oven, roast until some elements are caramelised, and then blend it into deliciousness.

As to autumn produce, however, don't forget mushrooms. Some, like the chanterelle, whose flavours are most mobile in fats, are best soaked in cream of some kind which is then used in the soup along with the fresh or rehydrated mushrooms.

For a chanterelle and/or wild mushroom soup, I typically buy two pounds of whatever is available and will stand up well in a soup as texture and body. Creminis are great for this. If I am working with dried wild mushrooms or chanterelles, I rehydrate first, covering several times with just enough water, and using the last of the water, adding heavy cream to soak them in, sometimes with a good white wine, brandy, or cognac. If I am showcasing the mushrooms, I will go with a veggie broth. I have never done this with a mushroom broth, and I have also been meaning to try it with coconut cream, for a good vegan creme of wild mushroom.

And one observation I will leave from my much better half: you don't always have to blend them into oblivion. Also, sometimes, two soups with identical ingredients can present completely differently depending on what, if anything, is reserved for texural elements.

And from me, don't forget cheese. I love a good garlicky butternut soup with chicken or veggie broth and coconut cream, spiced with garam masala, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, and just a touch of cayenne, pepper and salt to taste, but I generally only salt a little. Top that with a thin slice or three of brie, and you're golden.

For me, roasted veg soups were like when I discovered green smoothies, which I promptly turned black, with 5 oz of spinach and a cup of frozen blueberries in almond milk (I was unaware at the time of the environmental issues with almond agriculture, and my potential allergenic sensitivity to it); it was a new, easily adopted way to consume way more veg in a delicious way than I had known before. And for us, it also fits quite nicely with the "make big meals" approach to time-saving with food prep. We never lack for fast, delicious, and healthy lunches when we make soup. I literally salivate half the day until lunch in anticipation. I lose more keyboards that way.

Lovely ideas here, by the way. If one needs inspiration, one of my favourites is The Soup Bible by Debra Mayhew. I think that's the one with the African Sweet Potato and Peanut Soup I love. Which reminds me, my addition to the flavourful mix-ins has got to be peanut butter, possibly with sriracha, if the context works. If my veg needs more roasty brownness than the veg provided, I like to use cocoa powder, sometimes a fattier red one mixed with a darker one. Unsweetened, no quik powder here, people.

But keep up the good replies. I love to discover new soups! Good luck, and keep us posted!

17 hours ago
Hey folks.

I was wondering how that modded oscilloscope would react to the electrical wiring of a standard, code-built house. Should we be rethinking how we use electricity in our homes?

For the most part, I agree with you, Eric. That said, I think Mike Haasl is right in that we need more study.

Anyone who's read through the Science VS. "Science" and engineering too thread knows how I lean on this issue. Reason before fear. But reason requires all the information, and the way we tend to source that these days is tainted.

So no, I don't think I would purchase land near cell towers if I had any choice in the matter, and if I can rig up that modded oscilloscope for when I go land hunting, I would find that really useful to know, as much so as the land use history and the industrial or business history of the area. I would similarly eschew high-tension power lines. I am currently looking at land by a major two-lane blacktop (HWY 7, for those who know). The variables involve possible expansion including eminent domain issues (I don't know if that's what they're called in this situation, so correct me if I'm wrong please), along with the usual discussion about what kind of reed bed and forest strip will I need to leave to turn the roadway from toxic input to water collector and cleaner.

But until we discover something we can make into clothing or grow up around our properties that can selectively shield us from EMF, it's pretty much a binary decision to make. Throw in the idea that future discoveries could decrease the value of your investment or render you unable to sell an asset you can't use yourself and I think that either you'd have to look surreptitiously to see if there was a local interest in the tower's removal, or perhaps start one. It sounds like if you get rid of the tower, there wouldn't even be a question for you.

I have read that some people have given their houses tinfoil hats, or rather made rudimentary Faraday Cages in the plaster of their walls and ceilings. I would love to test their efficacy at blocking EMF with the aforementioned modded oscilloscope.

I think what we really need is to be able to generate directed localised fields of EMF tuned precisely to cancel out those we wish to block, if this truly is a problem, an electro-magnetic adaptive interference field, like noise-cancelling headphones. There are issues of choice here that Pearl touched upon that bother me. We can't properly choose because all this tech has been foisted upon us (I was going to say "rammed down our throats," but nobody forced kids into arcades, or had a gun to their parents' heads when they bought Ataris, and more properly Nintendo Entertainment Systems. Modern technology was eagerly gobbled up; we are currently communicating using PCs, tablets, and smartphones, some of which were literally science fiction almost two decades ago, to interact on this site, to help the world and ourselves with permaculture. And let's be real. I wasn't the only one who got a flip phone with visions of Kirk's Star Trek gagetry in my head.).

So I think that I would pass unless there's an option to have it removed.

Sorry about it. But let us know how you proceed, and good luck.

1 week ago
Welcome Estelle.

As with most things permaculture, you're going to have to suit the specific model to your specific situation. Your market forces in the south of France are different than ours in different parts of Canada, and what the market will bear can differ greatly.

One way you can look at it is in terms of ecology and system health. You might need to ask locally how many hens can be freeranged locally per acre, and depending on the state of your land, then cut that figure in half.

The other thing to think about is the regrowth rate after grazing. Many models suggest that a thirty-day regeneration period where a paddock remains untouched is necessary for proper system health. I know that you can select for faster-maturing varieties, but really, what is needed is to take the amount available for paddock shifting and divide it by at least thirty, and then determine how many chickens can be on that spot for how many days. Should they take two days to graze the area, then increasing the stocking density or increasing paddock size and accordingly reducing the number of paddocks could be considered.

Considering what you're looking at, I would suggest you read Mark Shepard's Regeneration Agriculture, and maybe look into Joel Salatin, for his chicken and livestock wisdom.

You can also throw ideas and numbers up on this thread, where the membership will do their very best to nail something down with you. But whatever you decide, good luck, and keep us posted.

2 weeks ago
Sorry to hear about your diagnosis, Trace. It sounds like there are quite a few people on here with more info than I realised existed.

Take care of yourself. Good luck, and keep us posted.

2 weeks ago
Well it would depend on your personal interpretation and application of veganism, but my favourite non-human all-natural bed warmers tend to be quadripeds.

Yes, dogs, and the occasional cat, but I am allergic, so a good hypoallergenic dog would be my choice. I know some people sleep with their rabbits. My bunny has chisels in her fuzzy face, and she weighs sixteen pounds, so I will take a hard pass on pissing her off in the night by rolling on or kicking her.

Mind you, sleeping with giant rabbits might apply better. Rabbits are obligate vegans, after all.

1 month ago
My much better half and I began our journey together over five years ago. Most of the steps we have taken are of the "vote with your dollar" and lifestyle change type. For instance:

-we eschew all food listing palm ingredients. This has led to us (and by us, I mean my much better half) making our own phyllo, pizza crust, and bread, and sooo many cookies, among other deliciousness.
-we eschew all personal hygiene products containing palm ingredients.
-we try to get as much of our produce in-season from local farmers' markets.
-we try really hard not to buy grocery store meat of any kind. We try to buy from local butchers who source their meat locally, from sustainable, ethical, and organic or better farms. This means that I have slashed my meat intake to perhaps a fifth of what it was.
-we mine traditional plant-based diets for flavour inspiration, and get creative with flavour and texural meat alternatives in traditional meat contexts, and use tricks like adding cocoa powder and/or peanut butter for a measure of "browning" in the flavour profile.
-we curb food waste by making meal plans and having strategies for using up leftovers.
-we try to choose glass and silicone over even hard-wearing, longer-lived BPA-free plastics.
-we like to store as many appropriate goods as possible in mason jars.
-we do some garden work-trade with friends out of town for a donation of produce at harvest, and throughout the year.
-we are working on our canning to keep more of said produce longer.
-as much as we would like to see far-off places, we are limiting travel to daytrips for canoeing.
-we purchase locally-made bar soaps
-and, I am currently participating in a positive conversation about the steps people have already taken to make things better, where we can each take from what the other is doing and, if it works for us, we can use it, too. Sharing wisdom saves the world, too.

Some of the things I would love to do would be to be able to live closer to where I work, to live somewhere the cost of living doesn't so readily outpace earnings, and somewhere I can perhaps own a house and land, on which to expand our steps in the same light.

Great posts, people! I think voting with one's dollar and living one's convictions as much as practicable are some of the common threads I have seen here. Which other common themes are we seeing?

1 month ago
Realistically, adding more particulates to the air isn't going to make it feel cleaner. Burning more plant matter, or vapourizing its essential oils, is only going to put something else that's not oxygen in the air.

I would suggest getting those pollen-grade window screens, or failing that, getting a bunch of those hepa filters that will fit a window, duct-tape them in place, and then blow the air out another window with a box fan similarly fitted to the window or door it's exhausting out of. It won't work perfectly, but it will remove particulates from the air, which are responsible for the smell and thick feeling both.

1 month ago

I am actually in favour of a return to hydrogen as a lifting gas, with an envelope of helium as a lighter-than-air fire extinguisher. If the separate hydrogen bags, in their helium envelopes, vented directly up in the event of an emergency, the flammable gas would end up above the suddenly dropped airship. And as we know, hydrogen is far cheaper. And if we don't use bloody flammable balloons and omit the fire-extinguishing helium, we should do all right.

But I love the idea of compressing the lifting gas into tanks.

One other thing to consider is the surface area required for these ships, which is massive, paired with lightweight, even middle-of-the-road efficient solar panels, means that there is the potential for huge amounts of electricity to be generated. I don't even know what the potential for Li-air or aluminium batteries might be, but you could function stack with recoverable emergency solid ballast that normally was, say, half your battery reserve.

Imagine, instead of FedEx, you had the International Civilian Air Service, with Town and City class-ships, operated by town and city civil servants. So you'd have the ICAS Toronto (and in all likelihood one for every one of the original boroughs), ICAS Kingston, ICAS Halifax, et cetera, et cetera. You could have mom-and-pop flag-stop operations picking up travellers at rail depots, dropping canoeists off upriver, on their way to deliver mail and cargo on-contract to remote communities before running back to do search-and-rescue operations for some of those same canoeists or travellers.

Imagine how tourism might change. Imagine how much more science could be done if you could hover just over the tree canopy in sensitive environments, without the need to ever set foot on the ground until, perhaps, after complete uncontaminated documentation and observation.

Hell, imagine how even resource extraction could be changed. Imagine if all tree harvesting was selective, simply because it was cheap and effective to laser mark the best lumber, then have the airship fly over with a skidding bay that used drone-guided cable tethers and drone saws. No roads, no damage to hydrology, watersheds, or soil structure. Simply harvest and renewal.

That's more likely to kill automotive fancy than anything else. We'll have options that fly, and less incentive to maintain expensive roadways when we can have really fast trains and enormous air freight.

If I can't have a starship, maybe an airship will do...

1 month ago
Most oil interests nowadays are acting like they believe peak oil demand has already happened, and the decline is already underway.

I suspect that those who like to motor will find a workaround. I also think that, due to a drop-off in demand, we probably will never exhaust our reserves. It will just turn into a niche thing, like functional miniature internal combustion engine models.

I suspect that there will be a great rail revival, or at least I hope, with transportation shifted to move masses of goods to central rail depots, where electric trucks will move goods to final destinations, and probably not crossing more than half a city to do it.

I also suspect that some smart person will put two and two together and start making carbon fibre sheeting and structural materials out of the tarsands, with a view to constructing heavy-lift thermal solar electric cargo airships to replace ocean freight. They could be constructed to not require a landing crew or infrastructure, and travel at the same speed or better than ocean freighters, but in straight lines, through the air.

Or we could be wrong, and someone could genetically modify grapes or something to produce a squeezable ethanol as a protective reaction against frost. Even if they required collecting, crushing, and freezing to separate out the water, à la Apple Jack, it would still be a way internal combustion engines could be transformed to be carbon neutral, to stay with us longer than we thought possible without petroleum.

1 month ago