waterwise

Yes, we got record amounts of rainfall this week, for this time year. But no, the drought is not over. Not by a long shot. We probably used more water wiping the spots off our windshields than we received in the form of rain. Estimates for most parts of SLO County indicate something between one and two thirds of an inch fell on Tuesday, so drought conditions remain as severe as ever, and so there’s no better time than now to get waterwise.

If you haven’t already started taking fewer and shorter showers, please do. If you haven’t already removed your fuzzy green lawn, or at least let it whither away by natural causes, then what are you waiting for? These are simple steps we all should’ve taken by now, minor inconveniences to our lazy lifestyles. But there’s plenty more we can do, especially if you’re not enamored with that golden brown front yard of dead sod.

Master Gardener Mary Wootten is hosting a workshop on Waterwise Gardening later this month, June 25th, at the Paso Robles demonstration garden to provide creative tips on more efficient and socially responsible gardening strategies. Topics will include drought-tolerant landscaping, grey water recycling, and drip irrigation. With her waterwise words of advice, you can enjoy a beautiful garden without taxing our diminishing water tables. Workshops are free; check out the flier for complete details.

Kale it's what's for dinner

Three and a half years later, the “Kale it’s what’s for dinner” design remains our all-time best selling t-shirt. Printed on a super soft blend of 70% bamboo and 30% organic cotton, and emblazoned with a snarky yet whimsical message that promotes good nutrition while poking fun at the artery-bursting beef council and the tooth-rotting soft drink industry, it’s something almost everyone can get into. (Follow these links for MEN’S and WOMEN’S Kale shirts.)

I still get compliments every time I wear, like today at the post office, as a matter of fact. The shirt has gotten good mileage, and never fails to earn a smile and a chuckle wherever I go. I usually don’t have time to explain the whole “kale for marriage equality” story, which is a little bit long and complicated, but when I do, everyone just loves it all the more. (Full story HERE.)

While we parodied the beef slogan and the coca-cola logo, it’s interesting to see how others have taken liberty in posting our “Kale it’s what’s for dinner” design, unattributed, on their websites and Facebook pages. But that’s OK. Like bamboo, kale is a renewable resource, and unlike some things, there’s more than enough of it to go around. So go ahead and dig in, because kale is still what’s for dinner, not to mention breakfast and lunch. And, of course, it makes a great snack!

Charley Younge

Charley Younge, a true pioneer in the field of bamboo products, passed away this week (May 17, 2015). For four decades Charley invigorated the sustainable building industry, as an enthusiastic promoter and advocate for bamboo, and a successful innovator who branded bamboo as a modern material.

Charley Younge is regarded as the pioneer of modern bamboo decorating products in Europe. As early as the 1970s, Younge was actively engaged with bamboo and earned an international reputation for his knowledge about the bamboo plant, its development and its versatility. Younge will also be remembered for founding the Dutch Bamboo Information Center (BIC), which has been largely responsible for bamboo’s widespread success in Europe.

In 1993 Younge began selling bamboo flooring in Europe under the trademark of PLYBOO® which he himself developed. Three years earlier, the first bamboo flooring in Europe had already been laid. That flooring remains to this day, and to their full satisfaction, in the home of the Younge family in Schellinkhout, Netherlands.

Charley lives on in our memory, in our hearts, and in bamboo floors, countertops and kitchenwares across Europe and around the world. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family. And with all due respect, let us remember the old adage: Only the good die Younge!

(Thanks to Susanne Lucas, one of North America’s greatest bamboo advocates, for the factual details of this article.)

Eco Fashion Show 2015

It’s Memorial Day Weekend, and San Luis Obispo’s natural fiber fashionistas know what that means. The 5th annual Eco Fashion Show is just days away, taking place at the Odd Fellows Hall at 520 Dana St., on Friday May 29, at 6:30 pm. A yearly fundraiser to benefit Humankind Fair Trade, a non-profit gift shop on Monterey Street, this year’s Eco Fashion Fashion will feature several local purveyors of fine organic and re-used apparel.

Of course, no SLO Eco Fashion Show would be complete without showcasing outfits from Bambu Batu, Hemp Shak and Maule Wear, pillars of our local natural fibers community. Live Local Apparel will also be on the scene with their locally inspired and locally produced t-shirts and caps. Second hand clothiers like Curio, Ruby Rose, Threads and Castaways will also take part, touting the ecological benefits of used clothing. Re-use and reduce! A new addition this year, Eco Bambino will be representing the fashion trends for the little ones.

Good-looking models have been recruited from the community to show off five outfits from each participating business. Bambu Batu will feature a number of new styles, including our top-selling Felicity Dress, as well as other perennial favorites for men and women.

Be sure to stop by and see what else is new this season in the world in the eco fashion. Tickets are $15 in advance, or $20 at the door, and proceeds benefit Humankind Fair Trade, a non-profit shop that provides income to artisans and farmers in the developing world. Also check out the vendor fair before the show, and don’t miss the silent auction, with some exceptionally nice gifts from each of the participating businesses.

bamboo-sheets-set-butter

After many requests, we are very pleased to announce that we are now carrying bamboo sheet sets from BedVoyage in those hard-to-find specialty sizes, including Split King and Twin XL; we even carry bamboo crib sheets for pampering your precious little ones. This is all in addition to the standard bamboo sheet sets that we’ve been carrying for years—in sizes twin, full, queen, king and California king. Visit our  Bed and Bath page to view our complete selection of bamboo sheets, blanket and pillowcases.

In recent years, bamboo has become very well-known as the superior fabric for bed linens. Once you’ve slept on them, you’ll understand why. Most of our blankets and sheets sets are available in a choice of nine colors. (The crib sheets come in seven colors.)

Benefits of Bamboo Sheet Sets

Bamboo is praised as ‘the natural, green, and eco-friendly textile material of the 21st century’ because of all of its amazing qualities.

BedVoyage rayon from bamboo fibers are made using an eco-friendly ‘closed-loop’ process, and the bamboo is grown organically and the raw materials are selected from non-polluted areas in Asia. BedVoyage linens are made in China from our certified textile plant that has passed the Social Responsibility Audit, as well as been certified by many of the top retailers.

Bamboo fibers are naturally hypo-allergenic, thermal regulating, moisture wicking, odor resistant and mildew resistant. As soft as silk, yet highly breathable, bamboo fiber is three to four times more absorbent than cotton due to its unparalleled micro-structure. This allows the sleeper to stay more dry and comfortable than they would with any other natural fabric. BedVoyage bamboo linens are thermal regulating as their insulating properties keep you cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

 

Central Coast Sustainability Festival

The 2015 Central Coast Sustainability Festival takes place this Saturday, May 2, at Mission Plaza in downtown San Luis Obispo. The festival, hosted by the Cal Poly Future Fuels Club, will feature bands, companies, alternative fuel and electric vehicles, and other projects all with one goal: making the world we live in more sustainable. Up to 30 businesses will be exhibiting their sustainable tech and cars, 2 bands (including San Luis Obispo’s own Louder Space, and Attic Empire), and several food vendors will be there!

Seeded German Sourdough Bread

A big part of healthy living is definitely healthy eating. After taking a couple of classes from Virginia at Vert Foods, we’ve been on a sourdough kick. A healthy sourdough starter on the kitchen counter and endless possibilities at your fingertips.

Here’s a super easy recipe that I adapted, replacing the commercial yeast with my starter. There are many reasons why you want to use the wild yeasts of a sourdough starter over the commercial yeast available in every grocery store. If you follow Vert Foods on their Facebook page, you’ll learn about this and much more.

But now to the recipe:

Ingredients: 1c fed sourdough starter 200g (7oz) white flour 200g (7oz) whole wheat or rye flour 325g (11 fl.oz) filtered water 9g (~1.5 tsp) sea salt 3g (~0.5 tsp) bread spice* 150g (5oz) seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, flax,…)

*For making the bread spice, grind 2tsp fennel seeds, 2tsp anise seeds, 2tsp caraway seeds and 1 tsp coriander and mix. Store in an airtight container. This makes enough for about 4 loaves.

ingredients, note: I didn’t have enough whole wheat flour when I made this loaf, so I added some oats and soaked them in the sourdough starter overnight.

active sourdough starter

Instructions: The night before you want to bake, mix all ingredients EXCEPT the seeds into a loose dough ball in a non-reactive bowl (glass). It’ll be very sticky. Cover and let it rise overnight.

mixed ingredients

In the morning (or whenever you’re ready), deflate the dough, which will be significantly bigger and bubbly by then, and fold in the seeds. The dough is very wet, but it should stick together more than sticking to the bowl.

sponge after overnight rise

adding seeds to the sponge

Grease a bread pan (mine is a 5.5” x 10.5” pyrex pan) and sprinkle it with corn meal or wheat bran (optional).

prepared bread pan

Poor your dough into the pan, sprinkle it with a bit of flour, cover it with a towel and keep it in a warm spot. I use the same towel for this every time. It has flour on it and I keep it in my proofing bowl.

After an hour or so, test the dough by poking it gently with a finger. If the hole dent pops half way back out, you’re dough is ready for baking. If it pops right back out and disappears, let it rest a little longer. (Read more here about the myth of “double in size”) Depending on how warm your selected spot is, this takes 30 min to 2h.

ready second rise in bread pan – before

About 15 min before you think you’ll be ready to bake, preheat your oven to 450º.

second rise in bread pan – after, sprayed with water and sprinkled with oats, ready for baking

When your loaf is done proofing, mist it with water and sprinkle more seeds, oats, etc on top. Put it into the oven and bake for 20 min. Then turn your oven down to 400º, mist the top of the loaf again and return to oven for 25 more min.

baked bread

Let it sit for a few minutes, then take it out of the pan. Wrap it into a towel and let it cool down completely before you cut into it. We have great selection of awesome bamboo cutting boards and I also highly recommend a good bread knife.

Seeded German Sourdough Bread – perfect for sandwiches. And although it has spices, it tastes great with savory AND sweet toppings

My German grandpa always said: “A good bread only needs butter on top.” This bread really doesn’t need anything else…

I’m just starting out with sourdough baking, so if any of you seasoned bakers out there have any tips on how to improve this recipe, please chime in and share your secrets!

What’s your favorite sourdough recipe? Please share!

*EDITS & NOTES:* You can make a simpler bread by just using water, flour, salt and sourdough starter. Leave the seeds and bread spice out, or just sprinkle some seeds on top before you put the bread into the oven. It’s just as yummy, I promise!

Also, you don’t have to put corn meal or wheat germ into the pan either. Just grease it generously, and when you’re bread comes out of the oven, let it sit in the pan for a few minutes. It should come out relatively easily.

centrally grown truck

Heading up the coast anytime soon? You probably should. Gonna get hungry on the way? I bet you will. Have you tried Centrally Grown? You absolutely must!

Yes, the first turn after Cambria, just across the highway from Moonstone Beach, there’s a charming little turn off called Exotic Gardens Drive that will lead you directly into an enchanting food forest, cafe, grocery store and paradise known as Centrally Grown.

Whether you’re picking up groceries to picnic in Big Sur, grabbing a quick sandwich, or seeking an all-afternoon diversion to sip wine, admire the ocean view and stroll through the immaculate edible gardens, Centrally Grown on the outskirts of Cambria has all your needs met. Everything is made fresh, and all variety of diets are served and satisfied, from vegan to paleo, gluten free to pastry junkie. The juice bar abounds with the vivid palette of oranges, reds and greens that comprise their super-nutritious smoothies. Daily specials incorporate local seafood, grass fed meats, and estate grown veggies of every stripe.

Living on the Central Coast, where we daily enjoy a choice of two or three farmers markets for fresh grown produce, we’ve known for some time how spoiled we are. But no place drives that point home like Centrally Grown. Of course, they also boast an impressive list of local wines and beers, and there’s even a cocktail bar outside by the gardens where their charismatic mixologist serves you in style. And yes, this is kind of place where even the bartender has the kind of glow that you would only associate with a superlatively healthy lifestyle.

Put it on your itinerary or make it your destination; with the abundance of stunning attractions in the immediate vicinity, here’s a day trip that just gets better by the mile.

Creekside Brewing

Good news for beer enthusiasts, locavores and libation lovers, Creekside Brewing Co at 1040 Broad St. (right across the street from Bambu Batu) is re-opening this week under new ownership, and their new drink list is enough to make your head spin. Co-owner Kevin Pratt is the highest ranked Beer Judge in the western US and a certified Cicerone with 25 years brewing experience. So if you thought Creekside Brew’s beers were delicious before (which we did), then prepare to have your socks knocked off by Pratt’s new concoctions. Pratt has also reworked the kitchen menu with an emphasis on classic, heart-warming cuisine to be paired with the updated house beers.

Of particular interest will be Creekside’s new cocktail menu, relying strictly on locally sourced liquors. Who knew that so many small, craft-style distilleries were operating in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties? Indeed, Creekside will probably be serving the best selection of local liquors and spirits available on the Central Coast, from the likes of Bowen’s Whiskey, See Canyon Cider, and many more. Stop in soon for a refreshing drink and see for yourself.

Or visit Bambu Batu at Art After Dark, the first Friday of each month, when we feature local artists, local musicians, local energy readers, and assorted suds from Creekside Brewing. It’s a monthly celebration not be missed.

Panda Poop Fuel

Here at Bambu Batu, the House of Bamboo, we’re pretty much suckers for anything panda bear related, and we’ve got a really good gut feeling about this one. In an age of economic uncertainty and unsustainable fossil fuel dependency, the idea of relying on Panda Poop Fuel for your energy needs has to make you smile.

Ok, so when we say Panda Poop Fuel, we’re not exactly talking about running your car on panda poop. Actually, it’s the little enzymes that live in the gut of the giant panda bear that we are really interested in. These microbes that populate the G.I. tract of the beloved panda have some powerful properties that could make them very useful in the realm of biofuels.

The average giant panda bear eats about 20 or 30 pounds of bamboo every day, which is a pretty amazing feat if you stop to think about it. For one thing, that means they have to spend almost all of their time foraging and consuming bamboo just to keep up. That’s because bamboo is actually not very nutritious, and since it constitutes 99% of the panda’s intake, they have to ingest some pretty ridiculous quantities of the grass just to meet their dietary needs.

But secondly, and what makes them interesting to the biofuel developers, is that bamboo is incredibly difficult to digest. Have you ever tried to break a bamboo pole over your knee? Now think about trying to break some of that stuff down in you belly. No, it’s not going to happen. Not unless your gut is loaded with the kind of bacteria found in the unusually short intestines of the panda bear. Capable of breaking the obstreperous lignocellulose down into something accessible to the panda bear, these microbes could also have a very useful application in breaking down the difficult-to-process cellulose of corn byproducts and other discarded fibrous plant matter that could potentially be a rich source of biomass for fuel.

And this could all be great news for the endangered panda bears, because in today’s economy they may have just found the perfect niche to make themselves a hot commodity, something that even a heartless Koch Brother might realize is worth protecting.

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