Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Read MIT's Technology Review for amazing stories of technological improvement

I recently became addicted to Google's Fast Flip, which as far as I'm concerned is the best way to browse through news sites.

MIT's Technology Review has become one of my favorites. You can flip through the pages of the site by selecting it from among the fifty or so sources for Fast Filp. going to the easily because they cooperate with Google.

One of the best things about this site is that they don't mislead with over hyped headlines and sketchy information.

Here are just a few of the stories that have caught my attention lately.

Gasifying Biomass with Sunlight: A solar-driven process could yield far more fuel than conventional biomass production.

Making Solar Cheaper with Natural Gas: Florida Power and Light has built a solar power plant linked to a natural gas plant.

Catalysts for Plastic Recycling: Chemical process can recycle PET bottles at lower temperatures.

Ultra-Efficient Gas Engine Passes Test: A novel fuel-injection system achieves 64 miles per gallon.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Free Gardening Classes on the west side from Time Dollar alternative currency and Green Spaces

These classes are being offered by the Time Dollar Community Connections (an alternative currency coordinator in San Antonio's impoverished west side with support from Green Spaces Alliance.  All classes take place in the community garden behind the Time Dollar house across the street from Divine Redeemer Presbyterian Church at 2806 W. Salinas. San Antonio, Tx 78207. 

Each class will be taught by Andrew Willems an experienced gardener and community organizer.  Call (210) 433-9851 for more information.

Intro to Square Foot Gardening

(20% of the Space, 20% of the Water, 20% of the Work, 100% of the Harvest)
Tues April 6th 1:30, Wed April 7th 10:00 AM, Thur April 8th 1:30

Planting Techniques                   
(A study of companion planting and other planting guides)
 Wed April 14th 10:00 A.M

(The key to a great garden)
 Wed April 21st10:00 A.M.

Water Saving Techniques         
(Learn how to best utilize this valuable resource at your home)
 Thur April 29th 10:00 A.M.

More about Plants                      
(Learn helpful tips about plants including herbs and vegetables)
 Wed May 5th 10:00 A.M.

Organic Pest Control                                           
 (Controlling pests and diseases the healthy way)                                                  
 Wed May 12th 10:00 A.M.

Saving Seed & Spring Starters   
(Sustaining your garden for the future)                                                                    
 Wed May 19th 10:00 A.M.

Vegetable Nutrition                    
(You are what you eat)                                                                                               
Thur May 27th 10:00 A.M.

Friday, March 26, 2010

How sustainable is your home from a feline perspective

Some folks will argue that cats themselves are not sustainable due to their propensity to kill off small song birds.  The mining of clay for cat litter has had a devastating effect on the environment.

Nevertheless just as there is appropriate design for humans there is appropriate design for cats which takes into account their need for height, safety and easy climbing throughout their lives.

The most famous cat centric home is the "Cat's House" which is a otherwise unremarkable suburban ranch home in California. A more modernist approach to a cat lifestyle is Asahi Kasei’s Plus-Nyan house.

You can find pictures of it on Apartment Therapy and Crooked Brains.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Meatless Monday Recipe-Corn and Broccoli Calzones

Corn and Broccoli Calzones

These calzones are stuffed with a combination of corn and broccoli, but you can use whatever you have in your fridge. Part-skim ricotta and mozzarella make our pizza pockets lower in saturated fat. Plus a whole-wheat crust adds a nutty flavor and extra fiber. Serve with your favorite marinara sauce for dipping.

1 1/2 cups chopped broccoli florets1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears; see Tip)1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese2/3 cup part-skim ricotta cheese4 scallions, thinly sliced1/4 cup chopped fresh basil1/2 teaspoon garlic powder1/4 teaspoon salt1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepperAll-purpose flour for dusting20 ounces prepared whole-wheat pizza dough (see Tip), thawed if frozen2 teaspoons canola oil

1. Position racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 475F degrees. Lightly grease two baking pans.

2. Combine broccoli, corn, mozzarella, ricotta, scallions, basil, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a large bowl. On a lightly floured surface, divide dough into 6 pieces. Roll each piece into an 8-inch circle. Place a generous 3/4 cup filling on one half of each circle, leaving a 1-inch border of dough. Brush the border with water and fold the top half over the filling. Fold the edges over and crimp with a fork to seal. Make several small slits in the top to vent steam; brush each calzone with oil. Transfer the calzones to the prepared baking sheets.

3. Bake the calzones, switching the pans halfway through, until browned on top, about 15 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

Yield: 6 calzones

Healthy Heart Variation: To reduce saturated fat even further, use nonfat ricotta in place of the reduced-fat ricotta. 334 calories, 2 g saturated fat.

Recipe Tips & Notes
Tips: To remove corn kernels from the cob: Stand an uncooked ear of corn on its stem end in a shallow bowl and slice the kernels off with a sharp, thin-bladed knife. This technique produces whole kernels that are good for adding to salads and salsas. If you want to use the corn kernels for soups, fritters or puddings, you can add another step to the process. After cutting the kernels off, reverse the knife and, using the dull side, press it down the length of the ear to push out the rest of the corn and its milk.

Look for balls of whole-wheat pizza dough at your supermarket, fresh or frozen and without any hydrogenated oils.

Recipe NutritionPer calzone: 350 calories; 7 g fat (3 g saturated fat, 3 g mono unsaturated fat); 21 mg cholesterol; 50 g carbohydrates; 17 g protein; 4 g fiber; 509 mg sodium; 250 mg potassium

Nutrtion Bonus: Vitamin C (35% daily value), Calcium (25% dv), Vitamin A (20% dv).
3 Carbohydrate Servings
Exchanges: 3 starch, 1 medium-fat protein

Found on www.Care2/ and

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Death of Coal by Terry Tamminen (Will someone please tell CPS?)

Here's a link to an essay by Terry Tamminen  on the Fast Company website.  He gives several reason why he believes that coal has been unmasked as not only a dirty source of power but also as an uneconomical one.  

The Death of Coal by Terry Tamminen on Fast Company

The new international hit: "The Story of Bottled Water" disects the actions of the water pushers

The makers of "The Story of Stuff" are back with an entertaining analysis of the forces selling us bottled water. You can watch it below or even better go to the website.

More than one writer has connected The Story of Bottled Water to Chris Jordan's mind blowing depiction of the two million plastic beverage bottles consumed in the USA every five minutes in his "Running the Numbers" project.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Wayne Haese of San Antonio's Grayscaping Inc to speak at March meeting of San Antonio Sustainable Living

Are you the kind of person who maybe goes to two or three San Antonio Sustainable Living meetings a year? You really ought to be coming to these meetings more often since the price of admission cannot be beat (FREE!). However, if you are particular about what topics are worth your time, this is one of those topics - WATER. Oh sure, you've been to water presentations at the San Antonio Sustainable Living before, and yes, they've been very informative and innovative. Still, we only have about one presentation per year on water issues (I keep track of these things), so you can't say this is all we talk about. This Tuesday's presentation is, trust me, the most important and encompassing water presentation we will have for a long time.

We are more familiar with water source issues. We are at the center of rainwater harvesting activity in the country. We are familiar with the excellent guidelines and programs offered by the San Antonio Water System regarding water efficiency and sensible landscaping. Build San Antonio Green has promoted wise water use for many years in their family of programs. But very little attention has been given to graywater systems. Graywater systems, in brief, makes the most out of water by making it work for you more than once. Very few have addressed this category of water efficiency.

Wayne Haese has been developing water use systems for many years and is a multiple award winner from the San Antonio Water System. I've been looking at a lot of water systems, and Wayne Haese's GrayScaping System is the most comprehensive, but simply elegant use of graywater I've seen. He has designed systems from individual houses to entire housing developments incorporating graywater recycling systems with rainwater recovery augmentation, and has also developed proprietary systems he calls RainPonics, GrayPonics, TreeScaping, FireScaping, and more. For additional information, visit his website. But by all means, do not miss next week's meeting in the classroom inside Whole Foods Market in the Quarry at 7pm.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Meatless Monday Recipe-Lentil Artichoke Stew

Lentil Artichoke Stew
Dear Cancer Project supporter,

This aromatic, fiber-packed, and tasty Middle Eastern dish is great served alone or over brown rice or pasta. Using fire-roasted tomatoes is not necessary, but gives the stew a delicious smoky flavor.

Makes 6 servings
1/4 cup vegetable broth
1 onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, pressed or minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 cup dry (uncooked) red lentils (3 cups cooked)
1 bay leaf2 cups waterjuice of 1 lemon
2 24-ounce cans chopped tomatoes (preferably fire-roasted), undrained, or 6 cups freshly chopped tomatoes plus 1 cup tomato juice
1 1/2 cups quartered artichoke hearts (1 9-ounce frozen package or 1 15-ounce can)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste

Heat broth in a large saucepan. Add onion and sauté on medium heat for about 5 minutes, until golden. Add garlic, cumin, and coriander and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add dried lentils, bay leaf, and water to pan and bring to a boil. Lower heat and add lemon juice, tomatoes and their liquid, artichokes, and crushed red pepper (if using). Simmer for about 20 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Add salt and black pepper, or to taste.

Nutrition Information
Per serving (1/6 of recipe): 176 calories; 1 g fat (0.1 g saturated fat); 4.9% calories from fat; 0 mg cholesterol
11.7 g protein; 34.3 g carbohydrate; 7.5 g sugar; 10 g fiber; 560 mg sodium123 mg calcium; 6.3 mg iron; 28.6 mg vitamin C; 238 mcg beta-carotene1.8 mg vitamin E
This recipe is a preview from the upcoming NEW EDITION of The Survivor's Handbook: Eating Right for Cancer Survival.
View The Cancer Project Recipe of the Week Archive

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Meatless Monday Recipe-Indonesian Tofu Stir-Fry

Indonesian Tofu Stir-Fry
Courtesy of The Orchard

For the Indonesian Sauce:
1 1/2 cups tamari
1/2 cup agave nectar
1 cup fresh lime juice
1 cup dry white wine
2 Tbsp. freshly grated ginger
2 Tbsp. freshly chopped garlic
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 cup smooth natural peanut butter
Water sufficient to give it a smooth, sauce-like consistency

•Combine all the ingredients for the sauce in a blender. Add the water and blend until smooth.

To Assemble:
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 block tofu, pressed and cubed
Vegetables of your choice

• Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Sauté the tofu and vegetables.

• Add enough of the Indonesian sauce to cover, plus a few extra Tbsp. Cook until reduced and thickened.

• Serve over rice or tossed with soba noodles.
Makes 4 to 6 servings

Found through website

Sunday, March 7, 2010

MIT's Artificial Photosynthesis using solar power to pull the hydrogen out of water

They've received funding from ARPA-E.  MIT professor Dan Nocera says his system allows water from a puddle to be used to be split using a trickle of electricity from a photovoltaic panel with the help of a catalyst.  The hydrogen obtained from the water would be stored and burned.   The hope is that the energy your house needs could be produced at your own home.

Sun Catalytix of Cambridge Massachusetts is in the early stages of developing the process for commercial use.

Read more about the process on their website and in these articles:
With Artificial Photosynthesis, A Bottle of Water Could Produce Enough Energy To Power A House (Popular Science) and Shift happens: Will artificial photosynthesis power the world? (Scientific American)

The Green Building Battles : As Eco-friendly Building Takes Off, the Fight Is on to Define What It Means to be Green (By Christine MacDonald)

Here's a link to an interesting story from E  It mainly concerns the conflict between two competing lumber certification schemes.  One accuses the other of engaging in greenwashing.

The Green Building Battles : As Eco-friendly Building Takes Off, the Fight Is on to Define What It Means to be Green by Christine MacDonald

Christine MacDonald, is also the author of Green, Inc.: An Environmental Insider Reveals How a Good Cause Has Gone Bad .

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Is raw meat right for your cats?

At a recent Green Drinks, I held forth on the raw meat mixture I make for my cats. Since not everyone was totally bored by my monologue I thought I'd add information on it to the blog.

When two of our older cats were diagnosed with kidney problems I did some research and found out about raw meat diets for cats. Many people believe that cat foods that which include vegetables and cooked meat are responsible for many cat diseases including kidney problems.

Cats are pure carnivores who don't know how to cook so the thinking is that their food should resemble the food they eat in the wild, which is basically whole raw mice and other small mammals. Since ground raw mice are not available in stores, and breeding, slaughtering and grinding mice is just gross, mixtures that use chicken instead have been developed.

I use Dr. Lisa Pierson's raw meat formula. But my cats wouldn't touch the small chunks of bone that the meat grinder produced or the ground chicken skin so I use boneless skinless thighs instead of leg quarters.

I grind up two 4 pound packages of boneless skinless thighs which produces enough chicken for 3 batches. I use a Maverick electric grinder. (The grinders sold by Northern Tool are also supposed to be very good.)

Along with the thighs I grind liver. I set aside two 2 1/2 pound batches of the ground chicken/liver mixture and freeze them for later use.

I add the required vitamins and nutrients to the last 2 1/2 pound batch. After mixing it well I put into some ice trays that I use for nothing else. Once they freeze I take the meet cubes out of the trays and store them in a ziploc bag.

My cats continue to eat dry food along with the raw meat, which is unusual among raw meat eating cats and may not be recommended. But since they won't eat the bones or skin I hope that the dry food provides some missing nutrients.

Two years after starting my two elderly calicos on the diet, one is doing well while the other passed away a couple of months ago.  Until her kidneys completely gave out the last week or two of her life she thrived.  She ran, jumped, climbed, played and explored. (She was also bulimic but that's another story.) Once one of the calicos passed away our other inside cat started eating the raw meat. She and her surviving auntie seem to really enjoy it.

It takes me about an hour to prepare each batch and to clean up. If you try the diet I recommend that you try to use the leg quarters. They are much cheaper than the thighs and the bones and skin provide essential nutrients.

Be sure to read up on the diet and decide whether you think it is safe and effective.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Meatless Monday Recipe-Gingery Quinoa Salad with Apples, Peas, and Coconut

Gingery Quinoa Salad with Apples, Peas, and Coconut
Serves 6; Vegan; Gluten Free
30 minutes or fewer

Vegetable juice gives this grain salad a gorgeous color, a hint of flavor, and a hefty boost of vitamin C and beta-carotene.

1/3 cup chopped almonds (1 1/2 oz.)
2 tsp. vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
1 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups beet-carrot juice or carrot juice
1 cup frozen peas
1 medium apple, diced
1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1. Toast almonds in sauce pan over medium heat 3 to 5 minutes, or until fragrant and beginning to brown, stirring often. Cool.

2. Wipe out sauce pan; add oil and onion. Saute onion 2 to 3 minutes, or until translucent, stirring occasionally.

3. Stir in ginger, quinoa, and juice, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed.

4 Remove from heat, and scatter peas over cooked quinoa. Cover, and let stand 10 minutes, until peas are thawed.

5. Stir apple, coconut, and almonds into salad. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Per 1-cup serving: 295 cal.; 9 grams prot.; 11 grams total fat (3 grams sat. fat); 40 grams carbs.; 0 mg chol.; 98 mg sod.; 6 grams fiber; 7 grams sugar
Found: Vegetarian Times-March 2010

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Do you want to use grey water for irrigation in San Antonio? Here is an interpretation of the code (with other useful links)

Gray Water is a fantastic way to provide some water for thirsty plants. The good news is that it is legal in San Antonio. Roderick Sanchez, Director of the City of San Antonio Planning and Development Services Department provided an interpretation of the city rules governing residential gray water dated April 20, 2009. I've included a link to a pdf of the interpretation, but for convenience have transcribed the document below:
Interpretation Number: CI2009-002 April 20, 2009
Title: Grey Water Provisions on Residential Applications.

Code/Edition: 2006 Uniform Plumbing Code as amended by COSA

Purpose: To clarify the acceptable provisions regarding the use of grey water on residential applications.

Question: Can I discharge the gray water from a residential washing machine directly onto the ground surface on the exterior of a residence?

Answer: Yes, Gray water may be discharged directly onto the ground surface on the exterior of a residence under the following conditions:

Limited to single family dwellings only.

Irrigated areas must be in a fenced-in area and in control of the occupant of that residence. The area must be limited use and access by residents, pets and foot traffic.

Cannot be used during times of rain.

Irrigation must not create a public health nuisance such as surface ponding.

The irrigated area must support plant growth such as grass, bushes, or be overlaid with a vegetative cover.

The discharge point of the hose shall be kept a minimum of 10 ft from the property lines.

The Director of the Health Department may suspend this practice if he determines that it creates a negative impact on the community health.

Roderick Sanchez, AICP, CBO,
Director and Building Official
Planning and Development Services Department
Joe Barfield provided the above document and link to us. He also included the following resources for anyone considering a gray water system:

Wireless parking finding, paying and behavior system imagined in San Francisco

Stephen found this video on Babelgum. "This is a forward-thinking idea to solve the problem of searching for a parking place as well as putting more money in a meter without having to run back to your car." was his comment.

Here is a version of the video on YouTube: