Archive for December, 2007

Baking at 20F

December 9, 2007

I’ve been waiting for a chance to continue with the ideas from the last post. I decided to make potato herb bread today, despite the weather. Its been cold and dry for most of a week and was about 20F when I got out to the oven at 10:30am. Pealing the plastic covering off gave a surprise — a layer of ice condensed between plastic and oven.
Mud Oven 1

  • 11 AM fire lit
  • 1 PM still frosty outside, installed R-19 cover over much of the oven
  • 2 PM pulled out most of the fire, pushed some coals to the back and placed a brick in front to shield. Should have put the brink in the oven an hour earlier to warm
  • while to oven soaked, I tossed an unstuffed chicken into the Weber, as planned. This time, the coals were not smokey — they were really just coals, so I dumped on a handful of alder smoking “chips” more like really coarse sawdust — huge cloud of smoke almost immediately. I placed chicken on aluminum foil to protect if from the heat.
  • The chicken got stuffed with wild rice brown rice, plus onion, and herbs
  • 2:30 PM the oven was 300F when the food got in, including 3 sweet potatoes. It started to snow
  • 3:55 PM going to pull in the food, it smelled nicely smoky when I peaked at 3:40

Mud Oven 2
Reflection-in-action: the small baking dish I used for the chicken was too shallow and the fat from the chicken was overflowing when I tried to slide it out.

Reflection, the oven cools off too fast in this environment, I either need to learn from Kiko Denzer’s new book about super insulating the oven (Kiko’s new book promises this) or get it into an indoor setting. One thought is to build a new one in my greenhouse.

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Reflections on lifestyle integration

December 2, 2007

I’ve been thinking about integrated living for awhile. (most especially on this project where I was trying to understand design choices in a Norwegian Stabur, and more recently trying to learn to use my oven) and yesterday I made the best I’ve ever had. I thought I’d share the recipe because it connects to integrated living. As you read this, play John McCutcheon song, “Water from another time” that talks about someone before to you saving a bit of water so that you’d have it to prime the pump (and you should do the same).

Soup from another time

Have your mother-in-law cook turkey for Thanksgiving, take the gravy with giblets and some of the white meat.
Go to the cabin and make Turkey noodle soup with some of the gravy, meat and assorted veggies; save the leftovers.
Roast some beef, but find its tough. Cube and make beef veggie soup; save the left overs.
Make ravioli with commercial spaghetti sauce doctored with lots of sautéed garlic; dump the leftovers back into sauce jar.
Make Bubble and Squeak, grate too much cheddar cheese, save the extra cheese. (Alas, we do this recipe from scratch, rather than from left overs.)
Make chicken korma over white rice; save a leftover serving of rice and topping.

In large pot combine all ingredients above (except cheese) with enough water. Simmer slowly until hot. Stir in cheese. Eat with bread; save the leftovers.

Today I have been making potato bread in and around my other Sunday chores. I cut corners and used instant mashed potatoes; should have boiled extra spuds for the Bubble and Squeak and saved a cup. With the bread I’ll bake the last of our pumpkins to make pie later in the week. BTW, turns out its much easier to clean a pumpkin that has frozen solid and then been allowed to thaw enough to be cut but with lots of ice crystals still inside. The guts are just not gooey (work fast, they thaw quickly).

This reflection is intended to help me remember the satisfaction of these experiences and to encourage me to move forward towards tighter integrations (for example the pumpkin seeds just went into the toaster oven, when they could well have been toasted in the residual heat of the mud oven if I were using it for the bread and pumpkin. (I’m not using it because its outdoors and we are having 20 mph (gust to 40) winds and the air temp is 32F., need to have a baking shed heated by the oven. (maybe partly baking shed, partly sauna?))

Blog as a reflection and learning resource

December 2, 2007

John Gardner blogs in Washington: a [Clean] Tech Capital? about his reflections on a question: “Can Washington take a lead role in solving [green tech] issues…” and he offers some evidence about important resources needed to answer his question in the affirmative: “political will, experience, community ethic, talent” but he seems to conclude the situation is great but not enough.

Here is where I think he starts to switch to reflection-in-action, assaying some next steps: “literacy in the issues, inventory our assets, identify strengths, develop our ethic.” He ends, “I am convinced Washington will play a major role in this all too important part of our future lives. I just don’t know yet exactly what it will be.”

What I think is missing is he doesn’t ask his readers to help in his learning nor do I see what next move he sees for the university. Literacy might be a place where WSU plays a role, as might be developing the ethic, and we might contribute to developing the experience & talent of the next generation. Its clear he is thinking about these problems, but it isn’t clear that these musings are asking for help to developing his thinking. Do you think I got the analysis right?

I’m motivated to this analysis because we have been working on a similar deconstruction of the blog of George Hotz, the hacker who first unlocked the iPhone. In Hotz’ blog we are seeing a portfolio of his learning, and we see him telling us what he knows, what he conjectures, what help he needs, and what he thinks his next move(s) will be, including at times doing an assessment of risk, payoff, and resources. This is interesting both because it illustrates the sophistication of a 17 year-old problem solver, and because he illustrates how he gathered additional resources (via his blog and elsewhere) to help with his problem. More insight into our analysis of Hotz, or other examples of learning during adaptive problem solving are welcome.

I am doing these reflections in preparation for working on my portfolio. I’ve started with some exploration of my thinking here and I’m trying to get more explicit about doing (and how I’m doing) reflection, for example here. I think my next move needs to be to look across the collections of my work and do some selection/ reflection to bring out themes and evidence of my leadership and learning.