06 May 2010

Zoe on "Lemon"ade

Warm welcome to guest-writer Zoe Maddalena. I'm her daddy, and if it isn't glaringly obvious in about a minute ... she is her daddy's daughter.

Last Sunday my youth group was holding a hot dog/chili fund-raiser for a mission trip. But that's beside the point. The point is, my job was to make lemonade.

Not "life gives you lemons" lemonade, not sugar-and-fruit-of-the-citrus-persuasion lemonade, but powdered lemonade. Country Home, or something like that. It looked like highlighter and sand, and smelled like detergent. Mixed with five gallons of water, it didn't take on that translucent effect that actual lemons might give it: it was milky opaque.

Back to the story.

I was given a great big cooler that had been sitting in storage for about a year, so it was pretty dusty crusty dirty. So I hauled it into the dusty crusty dirty kitchenette, dumped it in the dusty crusty rusty sink and hosed it down and went on the hunt for some dish soap. I found some Dawn, or Joy, or something cheerful and bright and clean-y. So I cleaned it out and made the hungry masses some "lemonade."

But there was one thing that I noticed that I can't get out of my head. The Dawn dish soap was proudly labeled, "Made with REAL LEMON JUICE!"

I don't think there was any of that in the actual lemonade.

04 May 2010

Solar Oven

A hand-me-down from my friends Mark and Georgina, local gurus of sustainability. Mark had a couple extras from a demo day at his place of employment, and said, "I'll give you one if you're really going to use it!" No problem there.

The pic is of my first effort: a hastily prepared rice dish, put out around 4 PM, unsure if the sun would be hot enough in the last hours of this early May day. The rice came out of the sun at 6.30, perfectly cooked. It would have felt like a very pure and simple cooking experience if I hadn't needed to microwave the chicken stock we keep stored in the freezer. The lady of the house was not very impressed with that. If only I had an extra hour of sun, I would have been able to shun the nuclear option.

I have some unexpected disappointments to sort through. This is, essentially, an outdoor cooking method, one that my wife seems happy to leave to The Man. But, strangely, there is no smoke. There are also no special tools, no sizzling, splattering of fat, or poking of charred meat with forks. Really I think my disappointment comes down to a lack of fire. I should say, just to be clear, that my criteria for cooking with fire is that said fire be at ground level, not burning at a distance of one astronomical unit.

I can live with it, because with this smokeless cooking method, entirely devoid of splattering fat as it is, there is also no power being used ... so no draw on the power lines in the house, no burden on the grid, no demand generated on some coal-burning plant somewhere, and so no smoke near or far, which means no impact near or far. This is good.

I'm counting on the fact that I'm banking some carbon equity, and can soon plan a meal that involves solar-baked potatoes and veggies, with a side of grilled meat.