Archive for the ‘Alternative Lifestyle’ Category

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.

Bamboo Sporks be with you

Last night we took the kids down to the beach for an end-of-summer picnic, and picnics always remind me of how much I love my reusable bamboo Spork. So I figured, what better time than now to honor and reflect on one of our all time coolest products.

So simple, so functional, and so aesthetically pleasing, the reusable Spork is the epitome of sustainable simplicity. Crafted from bamboo scraps at the Bambu® factory where so many of our bamboo kitchenwares are produced, each Spork rescues a sliver of bamboo from the waste heap, and then, over the course of its long life, goes on to eliminate the need for thousands of disposable plastic utensils. With just a few basic tools, the individual scraps of bamboo are readily shaped into Sporks — no glues or wood stains required.

I always keep a Spork behind my desk here Bambu Batu, and believe it or not I’ve been using the same one for about 5 years now. And the thing is good as new. Whether I’m picking up lunch from one of our cafe neighbors or bringing in some snacks from home, my trustee Spork is always here, ready to get the job done. And it didn’t take long at all to train the cafe staff NOT to put the usual plastic forks and spoons into my take-out lunch.

If you need to improve your workplace utensils, or want to be prepared on your next picnic, road trip, or backpacking excursion, we have several options to meet your needs. For the serious Spork enthusiast, check out the Spork n Cork (a bamboo Spork in a stylish cork carrying case). Or step it up a notch with the To-Go Ware utensil set, comes complete with bamboo fork, spoon, knife and chopsticks, in a handy case with velcro closure and carabiner clip.

To-Go Ware Bamboo Utensil Set

Bamboo Spork and cork carrying case

 

 

 

bioneers

There is no doubt that the earth and human beings are intertwined. However, our species certainly has a knack for pretending as if this were not the case. The Bioneers Network brings together leading thinkers from around the world to help heal the divide between nature and people.

→ Read more

Travelers to San Luis Obispo come to the area to relax, take in the scenery, and engage with the community. While there will always be the sort who prefer a hotel or spa, many tourists are choosing to stay in unique, rented spaces provided by residents of their destination. Visitors get to sample a little local flavor at rates significantly less than many large establishments or chains, and property owners can find a use for old rooms, boats, apartments, or cottages. Sites such as Airbnb help parties find one another and list their accommodations. However, many cities have laws that restrict this kind of transaction, and San Luis Obispo citizens are asking to be able to lease their living rooms.

Change.org is hosting a petition to amend San Luis Obispo’s housing code to allow for short term rentals. The backers of the petition to City Council estimate that the county could see a $7.6 million annual increase in revenue as well as attract a wider demographic than just the wine drinking set. Homeowners are able to supplement the high cost of living in the county, and get to share their love of the region with others. Would you rent out your space?

 

In the Hindu pantheon, goddesses represent strengths, beauty, compassion, good fortune and creativity. While the female figures elicit great respect from worshipers, their earthly counterparts sadly do not receive the same degree of respect. In India, gender is a major determinate for mobility, social status and personal safety.

According to Save the Children India, over 68 percent of women who live in  the country are subject to domestic violence. To draw attention to their plight, the organization created a media campaign called “Save Our Sisters”. The anti-trafficking series of images aims to shed light on the exploitation that many young women and girls face. Pictures of traditional goddess representations are altered to show the figures as subject to abuse, reminding society that no one is safe from aggression and discrimination.

The pictures are intended to resemble old oil paintings in the tradition of hand-crafted devotional illustrations. Models were photographed and digitally manipulated to create the striking images. The normally serene, dignified expressions of the goddesses are replaced by tears and wounds, connecting the actions of human beings to the divine. Far from just a problem in India, the ads allow the global community to take note and consider their own relationships with trafficking and violence against women.

When it comes to caring for the environment, we would all like to do the right thing. Whether it’s installing a solar array or buying an electric vehicle, the cost of the new green technologies can sometimes be prohibitive. Luckily, there are some incentive programs to make modern living both sustainable and affordable.

Lawn be Gone – Living on the Central Cost, residents enjoy a Mediterranean climate. Characterized by long hot summers and short rainy winters, the native vegetation has adapted to become drought tolerant and hardy. With suburban development, much of the endemic flora has been replaced by water hogging lawns and golf courses. The county suffers from water shortages on an almost consistent basis, and this has spurred some cities to offer compensation for replacing grass with xeroscaping. Paso Robles, for example, will give homeowners up to $500 to convert their yards into gardens that use rocks, succulents, and other drought tolerant plants.

Energy Extras – San Luis Obispo is blessed with an abundance of sunshine. What better part of the state to take advantage of solar panels and heating systems? The California Solar Initiative provides assistance and cash back for those in PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E territories who wish to operate off of the grid. The program takes you through an energy efficient audit, helps you find a solar installer, and apply for the rebates that apply to your home or business. The CSI program has a total budget of $2.167 billion between 2007 and 2016 and a goal to install approximately 1,940 MW of new solar generation capacity, meaning that there is a pretty deep funding pool for those who qualify.

Cars and Cash- Hybrid and electric vehicles are undoubtedly the wave of the future, but the sticker price can send some prospective shoppers into shock. However, California is home to a number of programs that take a little pain out of making an enlightened decision. The Clean Vehicle Rebate Project from the Center for  Sustainable Energy California provides up to $2,500 to consumers for the purchase of a zero-emission or plug-in vehicle. Federal tax credits for plug in-hybrids and EV’s can reach as high as $7,500 if bought after 2010.

It seems as though every California city has at one point in its history been home to an eclectic group of residents. The Guadalupe Dunes, located in Oceano, once boasted a unique community of intellectuals, mystics, artists, and vagabonds who called themselves the “Dunites”.

In the 1930’s and 1940’s, a collection of disenfranchised sand worshipers claimed the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes as their own, salvaging the wood and scrap materials from an ill-conceived boardwalk and resort town built during the turn of the century. The Dunites were comprised of a number of odd personalities, including Spanish-American war veteran Edward St Claire, notable author and Socialist gubernatorial candidate Upton Sinclair, recovering alcoholic and evangelical naturalist George Blais, artist Elwood Decker, and Gavin Arthur, astrologist and grandson of President Chester A. Arthur. The members published their own alternative magazine with contributors such as Ansel Adams. Dune Forum only lasted for five issues as its expensive price of 35 cents during the Depression and Bohemian content proved to be a hard sell for the majority of the population.

In addition to being the refuge for society’s outcasts, the Oceano Dunes is an Official Archeological Site that is the resting place for Cecil B. DeMille’s massive “Ten Commandments” set, a wildlife sanctuary, and recreation area. Visitors interested in exploring this amazing landscape can delve into the area’s history at the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center. For more information, check out Norm Hammond’s book, The Dunites for a comprehensive history of men and women who survived on nuts and fruit, dressed in loincloths to go to town, and wandered around the sand as modern mystics.

 

Ever feel a bit guilty that you are using what once used to be a stately tree to wipe your behind? The American obsession with soft tissue has been responsible for the clear-cutting of forests across the world, and all just to keep clean in between showers. Simple solution? Bamboo toilet tissue!

According to Simple Ecology, Americans use 50 pounds of tissue paper per person each year. Each household will use two trees a year to fulfill their needs, translating into 200 pounds of paper. This figure is nearly 50% more than in Western Europe and Japan. Furthermore, the processing of the tissue is a major contributor to air and water pollution as well as habitat destruction. The industry is the third largest emitter of greenhouse gasses, and uses many cancer causing chemicals. With a full two-thirds of paper used at home, individuals can do a lot to help reduce their ecological footprint.

Finally, there is a green alternative for your bathroom break. The Tian Zhu Paper Group Co. offers bamboo pulp toilet tissue that is soft, strong, and sustainable. Established in 2006, the company is located in Jinhua Industrial Park, Chishui and operates out of a 70 acre facility. They take advantage of fast growing bamboo to create everything from toilet paper, to facial tissue, napkins, hand towels and kitchen towels. While there is a definite concern over the energy used to transport the paper products, bamboo toilet tissue is a great substitute for the devastation of old growth forests.

Farmgram SLO

Local CSAs are a great way to eat healthy, support local farmers, and renew a connection with the land. However, what happens if you run out of ideas for all of those veggies? Often times, too many pieces of produce end up rotting in the compost bin because you either have no clue what to do with them, or cannot bear to look at the same ingredient for the third week in a row.

Farmgram San Luis Obispo is a project designed to deliver fresh food from the county as well as provide ideas and directions on how to use them. Each box follows a theme, such as the “breakfast box”, “juicing box”, or “meals with friends box”. In addition to vegetables and value-added items such as eggs, nuts, honey, or bread, the Farmgram comes with a chef’s recipe, starter kits for projects, and discount coupons. The canvas boxes are delivered directly to the home or office, making grocery shopping a breeze. Buying a Farmgram also helps those in need with funds each box sold used to donate fresh produce to hungry families in San Luis Obispo.

The project was started as a collaboration between three 5th year Seniors at Cal Poly. The trio hopes to encourage customers to learn new ways to enjoy the agricultural heritage of their homes, bolster local businesses, and promote food culture across the county. The Farmgram project is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign, and is looking for donations to get off the ground! A pledge of $35 will secure you the first pre-order box. Contribute now to go on a culinary adventure that is good for the body, community, and creative spirit!

There are plenty of reasons for concerned citizens to be wary of companies like Monsanto and Koch Industries. Between pollution, public deception, and political manipulation, these are corporations that have permeated our society with their GMO’s, chemicals, and corrupt policies. As consumers, we tend to believe that we can at least choose not to purchase the goods they are peddling. However, identifying the makers behind popular foods and cleaning supplies are nearly impossible at the grocery store without having to do a multi-hour internet search beforehand.

Instead of lugging around your own compendium of brands to avoid, you can turn to a much more manageable smartphone app called, “Buycott“. Invented by 26-year-old Ivan Pardo, the program scans the barcode of a product, determines its manufacturer, and cross-checks the item against campaigns you have joined to see if it conflicts with your principles. The campaigns you can join either choose to avoid or promote certain goods or causes. The application already has a large database, but users can contribute information for those items that Buycott does not recognize.

So far, Buycott has experienced a rush of new users, speaking to the concerns of communities across the nation. Although these businesses are massive and influential, this may be the first grassroots step in the effort to topple their hegemony.

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