Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Strange Eats in London's Chinatown

Here in London, Chinatown is a small, and fairly, new area in Soho that seems to exist exclusively for tourists. However, the New Loon Moon supermarket was pretty packed with Asian people shopping for fresh durian, vegetables, packaged goods and other regional delicacies. Such as:

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Helping Kids Avoid Rainy-Day Blues

On rainy summer days, kids can go a little stir crazy.

Even though most modern kids have enough games and toys to keep them busy until it’s time for college, sometimes a pet project is just the thing. Baking is an excellent way to introduce kids to the joys of the kitchen -- keeping little hands busy and keeping cabin fever at bay. You can watch through the oven door together as small balls of dough grow into muffins and cookies, and at the end of it, you’ll have something tasty to share and enjoy.

But if the kids are already loaded up on sweets, try this: get them in the kitchen to make their own modeling clay. For more ideas, check out CreatiVegan.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Greening the Environment, One Burp at a Time

An article in the Times today profiles efforts to determine whether changing the diet of herds of cows can help them belch less methane, a gas that has been linked to climate change. Farmers in Vermont are experimenting with giving their cattle feed that includes more plants like alfalfa and flaxseed, which are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and more suited to a cow's digestion.

Most dairy cattle are currently fed corn and soy feed, grains that are inexpensive and plentiful but that have a different type of fatty acid structure that causes burping and flatulence in cows.

The article says that Guy Choiniere, "a third-generation dairy herder who went organic in 2003, said he had sensed that the outcome would be good even before he got the results.
"They are healthier," he said of his cows. "Their coats are shinier, and the breath is sweet."

Sweetening cow breath is a matter of some urgency, climate scientists say. Cows have digestive bacteria in their stomachs that cause them to belch methane, the second-most-significant heat-trapping emission associated with global warming after carbon dioxide. Although it is far less common in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, it has 20 times the heat-trapping ability.

Frank Mitloehner, a University of California, Davis, professor who places cows in air-tight tent enclosures and measures what he calls their “eruptions,” says the average cow expels — through burps mostly, but some flatulence — 200 to 400 pounds of methane a year.

More broadly, with worldwide production of milk and beef expected to double in the next 30 years, the United Nations has called livestock one of the most serious near-term threats to the global climate. In a 2006 report that looked at the environmental impact of cows worldwide, including forest-clearing activity to create pasture land, it estimated that cows might be more dangerous to Earth’s atmosphere than trucks and cars combined.

In the United States, where average milk production per cow has more than quadrupled since the 1950s, fewer cows are needed per gallon of milk, so the total emissions of heat-trapping gas for the American dairy industry are relatively low per gallon compared with those in less industrialized countries.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Looking At: Teapots

I'm heading to London in a few weeks for a much-needed vacation. When I think of the U.K., I think of tea and to me, a nice cuppa tastes better from a great looking pot.

This quirky number shaped like a camel may not be the most practical but it is a definite conversation starter, and a steal at just $13.99 -- it would make a great gift too.

This one from the modern art museum in San Francisco is a splurge, but how cool is it? Designed by Joey Roth and known as the "Sorapot," it brews just enough for two cups of tea.

From etsy.com comes this handmade cat teapot thrown on a potter's wheel and made with high fire stoneware clay...

... or this lovely speckled stoneware pot with a looping handle, also from etsy.

I like the shape of this pot from Ikea, but past experience has proven that they're not the most durable bits of equipment.