Infusion pt III

I made 4 more infusions, cilantro, fenugreek, nutmeg, and dill. None would have been my first choice, but I’m getting to the back of the spice cabinet, and thought there might be some surprises.

– Attractive yellowish grass green color
– Unidentifiable smell – definitely not the smell of cilantro, but if anything it smelled like chicken soup – very odd
– Almost flavorless
– Ethanol flavor very present
* Not a contender

– Had to use ground
– Pale yellow color
– Strong maple smell. Adding water brought out a smokiness. It really smelled like breakfast at a diner
– Mild smoky taste. Not bad but not interesting
– Mild ethanol harshness
* Also not a contender, but both of these give me … Read the rest

Infused Ethanol pt II

In the continuing effort to create my own amaro/bitters/digestive (in the style of Fernet or Campari or Gin or Angostura Bitters) I’ve been infusing various herbs in alcohol to help me decide which to add to my master mixture.

I bottled a few 2 weeks ago and tried them yesterday and today.

Herb Rosemary Tarragon Thyme Bay Laurel
Color Lovely chartreuse color Beautiful deep green color, nearly teal when concentrated Deep green color Pale straw color almost unappealingly brown when concentrated
Aroma Flowery aroma with only a hint of Rosemary Pleasant vaguely sweet aroma, Not recognizably tarragon Strong thyme smell Very clean aroma almost like a pleasant household cleaner or shoe polish. It could make a good cologne or scent for shampoo
Flavor Adding water clouded
Read the rest

Ikea Hackers

“ is a site about modifications on and repurposing of Ikea products. Hacks, as we call it here, may be as simple as adding an embellishment, some others may require power tools and lots of ingenuity. ”… Read the rest

Crunchy Homemade Potato Chips in the Microwave

La Cucina di Kat has a post about making potato chips in the microwave.

The idea seemed implausible since microwaves tend to make crispy things (e.g. toast, pizza crust) stiff, not the other way around. But I tried it and it totally works, the chips are very crispy and light. One potato made about 40 chips (sliced with a mandolin) and I had to do it in 2 batches since that’s all that fits without overlapping the chips. It’s a little time-consuming, maybe 20 minutes (slicing + 7 minutes each for 2 batches from one potato) but makes a decent snack and it uses almost no oil.… Read the rest

Food Experiments

#1 Baked Falummus / Humafel

I tried making hummus. We had a bunch of dried garbanzos that I soaked overnight. We didn’t have tahini so I used sesame oil. I tried pureeing them but they stayed pretty chunky. I blamed that on the oil/tahini switcheroo but realized that you’re supposed to use cooked garbanzos. So I put the quart or so of raw hummus in the microwave but it cooked very unevenly, so it went into the oven on low heat. As the garbanzos cooked they absorbed all the moisture so I added a little olive oil and a 1/4 cup or so of water and stirred it in. I let it bake at 250° for a few hours and then tasted it. It needed a … Read the rest

Pop-Up Street Furniture

There’s not really enough value in this to make cities need to install them everywhere, but it’s one of those ideas that at least makes me pause to think about it.

Pop-Up is a set of platforms that is embedded in the sidewalk and can be pumped up or down by anyone. The advantage is in being able to free up sidewalk space when not in use, while also not requiring other storage space for bulky furniture. Also, since each component can be raised or lowered independently the furniture can be used as benches, tables, or some combination.

A) Potentially filthy (dog-doo smears on your table?)
B) Some kid decides to pump your seat up or down while you’re sitting on it and you have … Read the rest

Manly Slang from the 19th Century

The Art of Manliness has a list of a few dozen key slang terms used in Victorian times.

Some are merely amusing:
Fart Catcher A valet or footman, from his walking behind his master or mistress
Sit-upons Trousers

Some give a sense of what the dangers of the times were:
Sneeze-lurker A thief who throws snuff in a person’s face, and then robs him

And some are words I wish were still in use:
Hobbadehoy A youth who has ceased to regard himself as a boy, and is not yet regarded as a man
Rumbumptious Haughty, pugilistic… Read the rest

DIY Cell Phones

From the earliest days of desktop computers there has been a tradition of tinkering with computers, people taking them apart, modifying them, and building their own. But cell phones seem to have not gotten the same kind of attention, even though they may be the most ubiquitous computing devices there are.

CNet has a story about home-brewed cell phone makers that show that it isn’t all that difficult to get into cell phone hacking, especially now that there are tiny Linux-powered brains available.

“Patel says he has lost patience with even the slimmest Motorolas and most advanced Nokias. He has been trying to build new features for cell phones for years, and he–like a growing number of other impatient developers–has concluded that phones have to be … Read the rest

Spiral Island

I first heard about this guy, Reishee Sowa, about ten years ago on some TV news show. He built a floating island out of empty plastic bottles and was able to live on it as it floated near the Yucatan Peninsula.

Unfortunately, the island was destroyed by hurricane in 2005 and since then Sowa has been working on the replacement, named Spiral Island.

The island uses a quarter of a billion soda bottles tied together, with plywood sheets mounted on top of them, then sand is poured over the boards. Mangrove trees, which thrive in salt water, help anchor the sand to the bottles and provide shade.

Sowa is nearly completely independent on his island, gathering drinking water from rain, and using solar ovens for cooking.… Read the rest