Robin Katz

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since May 10, 2015
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Recent posts by Robin Katz

Oh dear. When I read the title of this post I pictured myself with a cucumber in my hand trying to pollinate a zucchini flower. Then I realized that this is WRONG on pretty much every level. I blame lack of socialization. And my sophmoric sense of humor.

Anyway, it's no business of mine what consenting vegetables do in the privacy of their own garden.
5 days ago
I think the term elderly is defined by the person saying it, based on their age and view of life.

When I was in graduate school, one guy said to me that once he hit 30 years old, he would commit suicide because he wouldn't be able to do all the things he wanted to do. He'd be too old. I thought that was ridiculous and of course never followed up on him but I'd bet that once he hit 30 his view on aging changed, and somehow he'd find that life was still good (although he was probably still an idiot).

Ask a teenager to describe someone over 30 (or 40 or whatever). You're probably ancient if you're over 50.

On the lighter side, when I find myself saying things like "boy that's gotten expensive" or "these kids today...." or "they don't know what hard work is!" I have to stop myself from premature geezerhood.
2 weeks ago
Matthew, I've always been interested in how people used to do everyday things before electricity. My interest is from a nutritional and self-preservation standpoint - if there was another Carrington-level event (look it up, it's really interesting) that knocked out our grid, what would I do?

I've collected several cookbooks from the late 1800s to early 1900s and the description of the way people ate then may be of interest to you. Below are the main points from the book, keeping in mind I'm not a historian and have not thoroughly examined this topic. I'm a casual investigator in this instance.

I'm looking at Miss Parloa's New Cook Book and Marketing Guide from 1880 right now and here is a general idea of what's in it. Several other cook books have similar information. My impression is that this book was intended for the fairly well off people that were cost conscious, but had enough money to buy staples such as grains, meat, sugar, etc. I think it still has value in seeing what people found to be necessary for eating year-round.

- Storage cellars were a given. The railroads had started moving produce around the country but it was expensive, so most people ate what they could store over the cold months. Refrigerators were very new, expensive, and not very good.
- From pg. 48 "those to be bought (for the winter) are onions, squashes, turnips, beets, carrots, parsnips, cabbages, potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes, all of which, except for the first two, should be bedded in sand and in a cool place, yet where they will not freeze. Squashes and onions should be kept in a very dry room." Sweet potatoes were purchased from the South and stored over the winter. They weren't in her list, but there are a lot of receipts/recipes for them.
- The other vegetables eaten fresh were: spinach, asparagus, dandelion, cauliflower, tomatoes (also canned for winter), green beans, celery, some lettuce, mushrooms, green corn (their term for sweet corn), cucumber, radish, chicory/endive, and herbs. Salads were eaten, but the preference was for the pale inner leaves and not the tough, green outer leaves. These were eaten in season even though some greenhouses produced lettuce off season if you could afford to buy it. There were many non-lettuce types of salad recipes given that included other vegetables, meats, eggs, seafood, etc.
- Dry beans were used extensively

Meat: Mostly for people with money. Pork was the main preserved meat. Beef, lamb, mutton and poultry were eaten fresh. Beef and mutton/lamb could be held for a couple of weeks in a cold room. Beef was corned/brined for storage. Fish could be either salted or fresh. Venison was common and eaten fresh all year. Rabbits were eaten fresh.

Fat: Butter and animal fats (lard especially) were the primary ones used for cooking. Salt pork belly was used to "lard" other meats before cooking.

Grains: wheat, dry corn (used a lot), rye, oats, rice

Fruits: Jellies and jams were used extensively to preserve the harvest. Sugar was purchased for this.

Fruits and vegetables were either fermented or treated with spices, salt and vinegar for extended storage and additional flavor.
Andrew, if it was my bird, I would put it out of its misery. That's a deep wound and undoubtedly very painful for the bird. I've had chickens with wounds on their backs heal, but nothing like what I see in the picture. Sorry to see this happen.
2 weeks ago
Since you're using cardboard, check out the thread today about cardboard being sprayed with disinfectants for Covid. This could change the pH of the cardboard, or inhibit fruiting in other ways. Lots of unknowns.

Can you stick to just coffee grounds? Cardboard is suspect as a food substrate in our household for a lot of reasons besides being sprayed with disinfectant. That's just the latest crud to be added to it.
3 weeks ago
Michael, that's my experience with our wood stove as well. If I have the flows right there is little wood smoke odor. I haven't checked our particulate level in the house, but the incense I burn is adding far more particulate than the wood stove, at least at the visual and odor level.

The only time we get smoke in the room is if there is a big inversion, the stove is cold, and I'm too impatient to get a draft going with some newspaper.

The main health hazard is the less than 2.5 micron particles that you inhale all the way into the lungs. I'd like to see a study measuring this throughout the day, with and without a wood stove going. There are a lot of things that increase particles in the air, and I doubt that a wood stove is the only culprit.
4 weeks ago
Ellendra, I got most of my information from the Scents of Earth web site and Even with this I found there's a learning curve in getting the blends right if you want to make cones or sticks that burn properly. It is definitely an art form, especially in blending the resins, woods, herbs, etc. to make your own scent. A lot like cooking actually. I just made some sandalwood cones using powdered sandalwood and a little makko powder (natural binder that helps burning). It was mild and very pleasant, unlike so many overpowering scents out there.

You can get high quality ingredients from Scents of Earth, but shop around because some of it is overpriced compared to other places. Mountain Rose Herbs is my favorite for any herbs that I need. Apothecarys Garden has some great info and high quality ingredients. There is a lot of variation in quality so I suggest starting with a small amount from a high end supplier so that you know what it should smell like. I bought some benzoin off Amazon and I think it was adulterated with something nasty since it was sickly sweet and gave me a headache. The same resin from Scents of Earth was incredible with no headache or other effect.
1 month ago

I managed to get through it just because it was a challenge. I think I might have hurt my brain, my mind, and my head. The less said about hearing damage the better, but you can say it because of, you know, hearing damage. I won't mind.

The cats woke up and ran to the other part of the house. They might decide being feral and hungry is not so bad.

This has to be, without question in my mind, the WORST song in existence. Thanks Greg. Now I need to find another horrible song to drive that one out of my head.  The Snoopy vs. the Red Baron song usually works.
1 month ago
Besides the usual indoor cleaning/upgrades, this year I've started making my own incense from scratch. I'm so sick of the nasty, overly sweet stuff that's sold. I've lost track of how much "sandalwood" incense I've bought that doesn't smell anything like sandalwood.

Yesterday I made sticks of frankincense (from resin), white sandalwood, and burgundy pine resin. It's woodsy and a little sweet from the frankincense. I made some Egyptian Kyphi last week. That was an adventure. It took almost a week to make since there is a fermentation/curing step (the base ingredients are raisins, honey and wine). Now it will be a few months for it to finish curing/drying. I never knew there were so many types of incenses in different cultures. It's been a lot of fun, and using the whole resins, woods, herbs, etc. has improved the quality of what I'm making.
1 month ago
The first thing I noticed is that there is far too much head space in the jar. All of that air space means it take longer to displace oxygen, and can lead to growth of undesirable microbes.

I agree with other posts about fresh vs. store bought cabbage. I've had to add some extra brine to my cabbage because there wasn't enough juice to cover it all. And we drink a shot of the brine in the morning for a nice probiotic pick me up so juicy kraut is ok with us. Sounds weird but I love any kind of pickled juice in the morning.
1 month ago