Archive for August 2011 | Monthly archive page


Let’s face it, the world is a difficult place to live in, and we all could use a little kindness now and again.  Whether it comes in the form of a hug from a loved one, a driver letting you into his lane during rush hour traffic, or a smile from a stranger on the sidewalk, everyone can appreciate life’s small pleasures and acts of selflessness.

Next time you are in the mood to show the world that you care for its inhabitants, grab a couple of frosty brews for your friends or co-workers and offer to pop the caps with your Beers Not Bombs bottle opener.  The key chain opener is made from Peace Bronze, an alloy fabricated with scrap metal taken from dismantled nuclear weapons systems.   Take a stand for peace by showing some goodwill and love for your fellow man by spreading some joy with an oat soda and the intriguing back story detailing the fascinating history of your BNB opener.

From the 1940’s through the 1980’s, huge quantities of copper were mined in Montana for the expressed purpose of being used in the massive network of cabling connecting nuclear missile silos across the upper Midwest.  During the Clinton Administration, many miles of these cables were decommissioned through the process of disarmament.  The San Luis Obispo company that fabricates Peace Bronze into bottle openers and jewelry, From War to Peace, excavated huge sections of the gigantic wires and used the copper to create necklaces, earrings, and bottle openers.   The metal is not, and never has been radioactive.  The 95% copper mix has been certified safe by the U.S. Government, Iowa metal recyclers, and the From War to Peace lab.

As if sharing a beer with friends was not enough of an excuse to come by Bambu Batu and pick up a BNB opener or stylish t-shirt, perhaps the knowledge that 20% of the profits from your purchase will be donated to social justice organizations might spur you into action!  Choose from three trendy models designed by SLO jeweler, Jason Main.  Make your Happy Hour a peaceful one and proliferate some merriment with beers, not bombs.



The Magic Muffin Mix: Chocolate Beet Cupcakes

Our  household recently enjoyed a wonderful weekend filled with delicious and nutritious chocolate beet cupcakes. From the same kitchen that boasts regular batches of incredibly disappearing kale chips and notoriously mouthwatering sweet potato curry, here’s a must-try addition to your regular menu of well-balanced appetizers.

If you crave their vitamins and minerals but have a hard time turning those intensely crimson root vegetables into something irresistibly scrumptious, then here’s a formula to satisfy all your dietary needs and indulge your most decadent appetite. Looking for a way to deliver the daily requirement of hearty vegetables to your fussiest young eaters? Look no further. Just be sure your stock pile the ingredients, because when the first batch is gone, the whole house will be clamoring for more!

Recipe: 1 cup of soy milk (we used hemp milk) 1-1/2 tsp. apple cider vinegar 1-3/4 cups whole wheat flour 1/2 cup all purpose flour 1 tsp. baking powder 1 tsp. baking soda 5 tbsp. cocoa powder 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp. sugar (last time used 2/3 cup agave this time about the same sugar beet syrup. Agave is sweeter than sugar so you need less in general.) 1/2 cup canola oil (we used safflower oil) 2 tbsp. molasses 1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract 1 tsp. salt (we added salted almonds and skipped the salt.) 1/2 cup roasted chopped almonds 1/2 cup chocolate chips 2 medium red beets, raw and grated

In a small bowl, whisk the milk and vinegar, and then set aside to curdle. In a large bowl, whisk the flours, baking soda and powders. In another large bowl, whisk the sugar, oils, molasses, vanilla and salt. Add milk to this admixture once thoroughly whisked. Add wet ingredients (large bowl #1) and dry ingredients (large bowl #2), and stir until just combined. Add beets, chocolate chips and nuts. Fill cupcake liners to the top and dome them slightly, for they don’t rise like regular cupcakes. Bake at 25-30 minutes at 325º.

We baked for 30 min. at 350º, and they achieved a sumptuously hearty yet succulently moist consistency, more like muffins than cupcakes. We couldn’t eat them fast enough. That batch produced 12 regular sized cupcakes and 8 minis. All were devoured quickly.

Pairs nicely with pistachio ice cream, sliced cantaloupe and/or White Russians.


Gerald Durell could quite possibly be the science nerd’s perfect author.  Born to an eccentric English family in Jamshedpur, India in 1925, Durell began a life devoted to the exploration and conservation of nature which he chronicled in over 3o books and publications.  Over his 70 years of life, Durrell lived and traveled to the world’s most exotic places, collecting animals for British zoological gardens and stories for his books along the way.  As a recipient of numerous awards, accolades, degrees and medals, Durrell shines as an academic but retains the personable and affable nature lacking in so many of our higher intellectual institutions. Durrell hosted seven television series and made appearances on a number of BBC programs.

I have such glowing praise for Durell’s writing that as I sit here typing, I resemble and incandescent light bulb.  (OK, energy efficient LED diode).  His descriptions of the flora and fauna of Corfu in his trilogy of novels detailing his childhood exploits in Greece are simply magical, invoking the tastes, smells and sights of a place so close to his heart.  There are few authors that can make science writing so engaging, charming, and evocative of such emotion.  His craftsmanship of story lines, witty dialogue, and achingly beautiful accounts of scenery are as good as those of any great fiction writer.  His animal observations are thorough without being dry, and reading his accounts allows the reader feel as though they are an adventurer alongside Durrell.

For a good introduction to his work (whether you are a naturalist geek or just plain lover of humor and entertaining stories) I would suggest starting with My Family and Other Animals, a hilarious account of his formative years on the Greek island of Corfu with his mother, sister and brothers.  Each character introduced becomes a cherished friend and is as fascinating a study as any of the plants or animals in the book.  You may soon find yourself making your way down the list of Durell’s works, and I am proud to say that I am making significant progress through the collection. Put Gerald Durrell on your  “Must Read” list!


Amanita jacksonii button mushrooms

When it comes time for me to buy the farm, I may be able to become the farm as well.  Instead of choosing to be embalmed with toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde (a known carcinogen) or cremated and releasing particulate matter and greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, I can now tell my loved ones to bury me in the Sustainable Mushroom Death Suit.

Visual artist Jae Rhim Lee created this full body shroud laced with spore infused threads as a part of the Infinity Burial Project which proposes “alternatives for the postmortem body”.  Now, in addition to being flash frozen and shattered by sonic waves, composted, or incorporated into artificial ocean reefs, you can become substrate for mushrooms that not only naturally decompose your body, but help clean the surrounding environment.

Lee, along with mycologist Timothy Myles, has been investigating which strains of mycelium thrive best on human tissue by experimenting with her own hair and fingernail clippings and has developed a “decompiculture” kit that adds spores to embalming chemicals and makeup. Dubbed the “Infinity Mushroom”, this special strain of fungus helps to quickly and efficiently break down dead human tissue as well as neutralize toxins around the burial site.

According to the CDC, human bodies contain over 200 toxic chemicals at the time of death, including pesticides, fungicides, flame retardants, heavy metals, and ingredients found in the production of plastics.  As a final gift to the world, the Mushroom Suit could render these compounds harmless and eliminate the need for dangerous embalming fluids.

In addition to acting as a sustainable way to return one’s body to the earth, the Mushroom Suit is also Lee’s personal exploration into the psychological response to death.  Considering that embalming is a relatively new development in human history and the current state of our planet’s ecological health, leaving our earthly husks as mini clean-up crews might not be such a bad idea.  By donning the mushroom shroud, you could leave the world a little healthier upon your departure.

Would you rejoin the Cycle of Life as a miraculous mushroom?

P. S. If you’re into consuming mushrooms in the here and now, like the edible kind, be sure to check out our article on Hunting Chanterelles in San Luis Obispo. I think you’ll really dig it!

Photo Credit: Amanita jacksonii button mushrooms (Wikipedia)

Farming Bamboo by Daphne Lewis

DThinking of getting into the bamboo business?  Excited by the idea of growing the wonder-grass for food or construction projects?  Dream of a shady, peaceful zen grove? Whether you are looking to plant for fun or profit, you may want to seek advice from Daphne Lewis.  She is the author of several books about bamboo, including Farming Bamboo and Hardy Bamboos for Shoots & Poles, which are both great reference guides for the beginning farmer.  The publications cover the essentials, including species and site selection, irrigation and pest control, as well as harvesting and marketing your crop.

Residents of USDA zones 7 and 8 will be delighted to hear that their warm, humid climates are ideal for successful bamboo cultivation. As a rule, if corn will do well in your soil, so will bamboo.  This grass likes more summer than winter rain, and soils that are not easily saturated.

Many Southern states are beginning to experiment with bamboo, and Lewis herself has been involved with collecting data on American production.  In October of 2010, Lewis moved to Perry, Georgia from Seattle, Washington to investigate how many pounds per acre several different species of bamboo would yield.  For those interested in the particulars of variety and pound per acre, visit the ongoing study at her website,

Lewis is involved in all aspects of raising and selling bamboo from germination to fabrication.  Through her site and contributions to the American Bamboo Society’s blog, Lewis aims to educate farmers as to the many commercial advantages to their crop.  Whether it be selling the young shoots to restaurants for special dishes, bagged for charcoal or kindling, used as fodder for livestock, mulch, or building material, farming bamboo can be a profitable endeavor.

At Bambu Batu we are excited to see more bamboo grown on native ground, and look forward to seeing what her research and advocacy will produce in the future!