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Archive for February, 2009

grease1

Credit: The New York Times

Look what some students in Virginia are doing in the name of alternative energy:

Roanoke, VA – EMORY – Students here have found a new way to harness the power of vegetables: fuel for spring break. Participants in the outdoor program at Emory & Henry College plan to drive more than 1,500 miles to Big Bend National Park on waste vegetable oil. “It’s not like kind of a crazy, outlandish idea,“ said Ryan Hasty, a senior chemistry and environmental studies major. “It’s very realistic.” Last semester, the program spent $5,000 to buy an old bus from the Knoxville, Tenn., school system, said Jim Harrison, its director and an English professor at the college. With about $4,000 worth of work, they have it running on vegetable oil discarded by the college cafeteria. The main modifications are heaters to get the oil hot enough to behave like diesel and an on-board filtering system so they can refuel on the go.  The fuel sources they hope to find along the way? Fast-food restaurants. In a pinch, the bus can run on regular diesel fuel, but the students are confident they will be able to find vegetable oil to refuel.    

“We kind of saw the contradiction between driving burning fossil fuels to go to a place to go hiking or kayaking or something like that, enjoying the environment and at the same time kind of … destroying it,“ Hasty said. “With vegetable oil, you’re not adding any more (carbon to the atmosphere) than was already there before those plants were grown.” Reduced pollution is one benefit of the veggie bus; reduced cost is another…”

Rest of the story here.

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One of the perks of working in an international office is that interesting foodstuff is always turning up.  Today, I wandered groggily into the breakroom and found this:

rwanda-mountain-tea

Rwanda Mountain Tea…from Rwanda.  Just chillin’ in our D.C. office.  Alrighty then.  You know there’s an interesting story behind that!  Anyway, between the silverback gorilla and the promise on the package, (“Best Teas in the World are probably made in Rwanda the Land of a 1000 Hills.  The Best Teas in Rwanda are made by Rwanda Mountain Tea”), I could hardly resist.

rwanda-mountain-tea-ii1

Intrigued, I brewed a cup and settled down at my computer to browse the teamaker’s website.  More descriptive gems: Rwanda Mountain Tea is “a delicate flavoury liquors from the misty mountains, producing an invigorating cup of breakfast tea. Teas from Nyabihu tea garden are carefully selected in producing Rwanda Gold luxury which is of great value and taste.”

Those delicate flavoury liquors really hit the spot, let me tell you.  And they’re best served with milk and sugar.

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kale

Image via: www.mariquita.com

My friend, Brooke, loves greens, and she says they’re amazing in this soup her mom makes.  It’s a simple recipe, and simply delicious.  Add your choice of herbs to taste.*

-2 cans (16 oz.) cannellini beans [drained]
-1/2 large bag kale (pre-washed), large stems removed if necessary
-1 onion, chopped
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 lg. box chicken stock, plus 1 tablespoon chicken base or one bullion cube
-salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste
-1 lb. kielbasa sausage
-olive oil (more…)

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…the 99 Cent Chef?

The 99 Cent Chef is more than just a goofy guy who loves cheap food and breakdances badly.  He’s also a talented cook who manages to reinvent inexpensive ingredients in dishes you might actually eat (although I won’t go anywhere near those Vienna sausages—gross).  In these times especially,  it pays to think outside the Whole Foods.  (more…)

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Cooking for one is sometimes an (unexciting) necessity.  To me, it’s much more fun to cook imagining someone else groaning in pleasure after taking a bite.  (Hey, a girl can dream, right? 😉 )  But anyway, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to cook up a big pot of soup or whole roast when there’s just one mouth to feed—my own.   The dish that follows is perfect for small-scale cooking.  It’s quick and tasty, and even slightly redeems itself with the inclusion of roasted Brussel sprouts.

Vegetarians could omit the bacon without sacrificing too much flavor, esp. if the sprouts get nice and toasty.  Just toss in a little Baconnaise or something. (more…)

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rosieIf things look a little messy around here, have no fear—there will be no wolf whistles or lewd catcalls emanating from this construction site (er, not many, anyway). I’ve been playing around with blog themes and formatting, trying to find a look that fits Culinspiration.  So please, pardon my mess.  By the end, I hope to have a custom header—I have a beautiful image in my mind’s eye, but realizing it will take some time.  In the meantime, you never know what might pop up.

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macaroni-and-cheese

Credit: Allen J. Schaben, Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles Times promises that of the 600 recipes it tests each year, only 400 make it to print.  Supposedly, you can be confident that their recipes will turn out right the first time (even serve them untested to company!), because the editors have already culled through the losers for you. 

I’m placing my blind faith in this promise by reprinting this recipe by Betty Hallock, which accompanied her story, “When Bad Mac Happens to Good People.”  She explains that cooking the bechamel for 30 min. deepens the flavor and really emulsifies the cheese sauce. (more…)

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