Todd O'Brian

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since Feb 13, 2020
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forest garden building homestead
Expat living in Asia trying to learn all I can.
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Recent posts by Todd O'Brian

I absolutely adore Ruth, Peter, Tom, and Alex and have watched all of these.  I cannot overstate how excellent they are.  In addition to the farming documentaries they also helped build a castle in France (Search: Secrets of the Castle), ran a Victorian style pharmacy (Search: Victorian Pharmacy), taught us all about the early era of locomotion (Search: Full Steam Ahead), and did Christmas Specials for most of the Farm Seasons including a stand alone documentary for Christmas on a Tudor Estate (Search: A Tudor Feast).  Thanks to this post I also saw that there is one on the Edwardian Larder, which I am definitely watching tonight!
That is strange, I don't appear to have the option to add bumper stickers.  Here is a screenshot of what I see in the profile view:
Followup question:

My father, who lives in Stepford-esk, dense, suburban development that makes my skin crawl a little, reported that many of his neighbors are forgoing their usual ornamental landscaping in favor of edibles this year, so much so that the local garden center was out of seed packs for most veggies.  I realize that most everyone here does that already but has anyone else seen an atypical change in their neighbor's or community's gardening habits?  

Here in Vietnam, even if the big cities, most everyone keeps a vegetable/herb garden on their portion of the sidewalk, balconies, and/or roofs.  Ornamental plants are only for special occasions (lunar new year, weddings, funerals, etc.).  The trees that line the street are also mainly fruit trees that had sidewalks built around them once development came to town, so there doesn't appear to be any change in my part of the world.  I even saw a family harvesting and shelling tamarinds on the main drag through town today.  
4 months ago
I'm also a big fan of potato soup, mine is spicy and made with beer and cheese.  My favorite soup, however, has to be Hot and Sour.  My recipe is based on a Vietnamese recipe but with many Americanizations to overcome certain missing ingredients (and I'm not a big fan of fish):

Onion, Carrot, Celery, and hot peppers, garlic, ginger, hot bean paste, and about a quarter of my spice rack get simmered in olive oil.  Then I toss in the chicken (or veggie) stock and bring to a slow boil.  Separately, I combine soy sauce, red wine vinegar, sugar and a little flour (to thicken) and whisk well.  Then you toss everything together and keep with the heat.  Last thing I do is I add thinly sliced chicken and slowly drizzle some beaten eggs both of which will cook almost as soon as they hit the soup.  
4 months ago
I'm curious to see if the recently imposed social restrictions (closed restaurants, loss of income, stay and home orders, etc.) are affecting what people are choosing to eat.  Have your dietary choices improved because you are cooking at home more, have they taken a step back as you load up on items that last longer in the pantry (maybe electing to eat junk while you binge listen to the Permies podcast), or would you rate them as unchanged?  Would you say that these changes have been dramatic or subtle?  What would you say is the most prominent reason for the shift?

For my part, I'm pretty sure I'm not doing myself any favors but it isn't drastically different.  I think the largest impact is that I am not walking as many places because there is nowhere to go.  My income hasn't been so severely impacted that it changes what I buy, but restaurants here tend to be healthier than my home concoctions.  One of the big impacts in the positive column that we've seen in my corner of Asia is that there is much less air pollution than there was last year, still plenty, but less.  
4 months ago
Cool video, she definitely has a flair for the spectacular!  I found myself wondering, what she meant by "treating" the bamboo? Here is a video that explains the treatment process using a different one of the methods described in Mr. Smith's post:

The Formula they used was 30L water, 1.5kg Boric Acid, and 1.5kg Borax.
5 months ago
An alternative to the plastic sheeting is polycarbonate sheets, which are a more rigid clear plastic (from the side it looks like cardboard but it is made of plastic).  Because of their rigidity they can be cut to the size you need with a saw or a stout razor blade and can be screwed into the existing frame in the same manner that the other panels are attached.  They last longer and will resist the snow load better than regular greenhouse sheeting but are more expensive.  As for instillation, I guess it comes down to how much you trust the frame... You'd have to get on the roof, more than likely, to secure whatever you pick into the greenhouse's frame.  Since it survives the snow it should be fine but you'll have a better idea of the frame's structural integrity than I could even try to guess.
5 months ago
For those casting about ways to do this there are a lot of options.  Too many to cover in a single post.

For small dollar commerce you can get paid to take surveys.  I used Prolific, which is for academic researchers to gather data for their studies, but it is not available everywhere.  You will usually get less than a dollar per survey, but they are short.  A quick google search will reveal any number of small dollar options that companies are willing to pay to rent your eyeballs and attention span.  Attachment below.

For mid dollar commerce, if you have a bachelor's degree you can sign up to help students by answering homework questions.  I did this for for a few months, they pay $5/answer but it was college level stuff and worked out to about $8/hr once I got good at it because the answers need to be detailed.  It does have the added benefit of helping you brush up on your old academic skills if you feel like you need it.

Finally, for full-time commerce, if you have a bachelor's degree and are a native or near native English speaker, you can get an English as a Second Language certificate and do online tutoring.  This can pay anywhere from $15-50/hr depending on your qualifications, experience, and any sort of niche that you can fill (IELTS, STEM, Business, etc).  I've heard rumor that it can get higher than that but this seems to be the market consensus rate.  I haven't done this personally but I have known people who did it full-time and made decent money.
5 months ago
I concur with everything that has been said.  I also do not use water or salt in some of my pickle recipes.  I do, however, make my brine 50/50 Apple Cider to Rice Vinegar so that the former does not dominate the taste of the cucumbers and because the later is cheaper where I live.  The additional benefit to using vinegar only is that you can reload the jar once you've eaten all the yumminess.  Just realize that if you reload (especially with watery veg), each successive batch will become more diluted so you can only get away with it once or twice before the preservation benefits (and the taste) begin to slump off.  
5 months ago