Category Archives: politics

A little rant

Why does this remind me of something?

For the record, our garden takes us maybe an hour a week, if that, despite the fact that we have to lug jug after jug of water from the basement of our building to water it.  We don’t need chemicals — we just plant a lot of different varieties and seed more than we can actually grow.  Then we weed out the weaklings and wash our produce carefully.  That’s pretty much it. It’s not foolproof — we’ve learned what we can and cannot grow easily over the past year or so — but it seems to work pretty well for us, despite night shifts and paper writing and all the usual hectic bits of life.  And you know what? Seeing something you raised from seed thrive is one of the best feelings I can think of.

Granted, it does take a little work to learn how to prep the soil, etc — particularly if you’ve been killing everything off (both good and bad) with chemical fertilizers in the past.  But once you’ve figured that part out, you’re set for life.

Thanks to the Yale Sustainable Food Project newsletter for the link.

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Filed under gardening, politics

Getting lost in Canberra

Parliament, from the rear (aka, what you see if you get lost on your way up)

Parliament, from the rear (aka, what you see if you get lost on your way up)

If I had a sense of direction, I wouldn’t stumble upon Asian lions guarding the rear end of the Australian Parliament house, ready to pounce upon diplomats intent on a secret smoke break. But then again, I wouldn’t feel like I was going to be hauled in by the Federal Police, for wandering into somewhere I really shouldn’t be. I forget sometimes that I’m in Australia, where they seem to be a little less uptight about that sort of thing. I mean, you can walk on the roof of the Parliament House here, provided the grass isn’t frosty. There aren’t even guards with funny black earpieces and formidable eyeglasses to avoid.

Yes, Parliament and my lab have something in common. Somehow I think this execution was a little more successful, despite a few leaks in the glass roof.

Yes, Parliament and my lab have something in common. Somehow I think this execution was a little more successful, despite a few leaks in the glass roof.

Yes, I had my first tourist experience in Canberra. I had a little tour (there are more pictures on flickr, of the inside of the building), and I also walked to the National Museum and had a look. This is where I ran into this guy:

This guy knows how to live.

This guy knows how to live.

He seemed to be thoroughly enjoying himself. It was a gorgeous day, so I don’t blame him. The Museum was actually pretty awesome, and free. The building was impressive, in a very modern, “I intend to be an important piece of architecture” sort of way:

Imposing. But free!

Imposing. But free!

That’s Canberra for you, though. The whole city is relatively new, and is full of man-made monuments symbolizing all sorts of things. It also happens to be huge, despite its relatively small population. I walked to the National Museum and Parliament house, and it took me about 5 hours to get through both of them by foot. It’s definitely a collection of suburbs, spread out and designed for automobile transport. So it’ll take me a while to see everything. After all that walking, I really wanted food. Lots of it, fast. So I did a warm salad, with bits and pieces from the fridge.

Apples and bacon are actually a perfect pair.

Apples and bacon are actually a perfect pair.

I threw free range bacon, mushrooms, pecans, apples, bok choy, garlic, red wine vinegar, olive oil, a bit of sugar, lemon juice, and salt and pepper in a pan (add the bok choy last), cooked it until everything was nice and soft, and threw it over some mesclun greens. It was just the thing after a long walk — sweet and savory and warm (it’s winter here, remember). And with the blue brie, fresh bread, and fig jam with fennel, it was a nice way to end a rather long day.

Oh yah — I almost forgot:

I could only afford this if I consider that I almost bought a $20 bottle of vino cotto instead.

I can only afford this if I consider that I almost bought a $20 bottle of vino cotto instead.

That was pretty good, too.

Tomorrow? Well, there’s work, and dinner at a collaborator’s house, for which I’m making truffles. And the experiment. Of course. But I bought a book on Canberra. Hopefully I’ll find something a bit more interesting food-wise to share. I know it’ll involve a bus or two, or perhaps a bike rental. The supermarkets around here have been rather mundane, so I’ll have to try a bit harder to find some of the more interesting ingredients I was hoping to try. Not that I’m complaining.

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Filed under Australia, bacon, dessert, main, politics, quick meals, stories

No such thing as a free lunch

I’ve been backing off on the food policy / environmental posts lately, mostly because I really haven’t had that much to add on the subject of late. There are a thousand things I could point to as terrible examples of what, precisely, we’ve done to render our planet (and particularly, our country) a slightly less hospitable place, but sometimes it’s hard to figure out what’s worth arguing about and what’s worth letting go. Because you have to make choices, really, about things you can do something about, and things you just don’t have time to do justice to. Right now, I don’t have time to do justice to anything. Not in a bad way, though — work is going, trips are forthcoming, and life is more exciting than it’s been in a while.

But I still keep an eye on what’s going on — an old habit from my newspaper days, though now my daily read is limited to the NY Times and whatever is in my Google Reader. This week, Kim Severson’s article on rising food prices caught my eye. See, it’s been rolling about in my head of late, because I’m not quite sure what to think of the question the article attempts to address.

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Filed under food prices, politics, poverty

Why I want to move to Vermont

Enough said.

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Filed under politics, war