Sunday, January 26, 2014

Praising Solar Gain

Most of us have been experincing the arctic polar plunge into the US in the last few weeks, me included. We have had frozen pipes, impassable roads, school closings and more snow and ice that I'd like. 

I have extreme cabin fever.

But, there's a lesson I learned in all of this. I have long been a supporter of passive solar energy but it really has come to the forefront in this awful weather. Usually on cold days, I run out and start my old truck and let it warm up before I try to go anywhere. 

Despite recent temps in the single digits, we have had a couple of days with (cold) sunshine. On those days I try to get out for perishable groceries if the roads are passable. I've discovered that even in 5ºF weather, the cab of my truck is warm and toasty in the sunshine, without any need to warm up the engine, thus proving how solar gain really works even in dreadfully cold weather.

It gives me a great prospective now on designing wit6h passive solar gain in mind.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Growing Micro Greens and Health

Beet and Kale Microgreens, Photo Borrowed from Johnny's Selected Seeds

One of the things I've discovered during my declining health is what my diet is missing from salads. During the summer, I eat enough fresh vegetables (including tomatoes) that I don't notice any deficit, but it has become more apparent lately.

When I was first diagnosed with liver disease, they put me through 6 months of testing all parts of my body to determine if I was healthy enough for a liver transplant. During that time, they pulled all my teeth except 6 teeth in the lower front. Tooth decay had been a life-long problem for me despite throwing many thousands of dollars into my mouth for root canals, crowns and bridges and still losing the teeth.

Medicare will not pay for dentures and I haven't had an extra $5-6,000 sitting around to pay for them myself, but I get by except for the few things I cannot chew easily, notably a steak and most salad greens. I can manage romaine but not the baby greens I so love, and eating only romaine in salads gets old.

Micro greens turn out to be a great alternative that I can actually chew, and interestingly enough, they contain more nutrition than those same greens grown to full size! Over the course of this past summer I have been buying micro greens at the farmer's market but now they are closed for the winter so I ordered seeds and trays to grow my own, inside on a bookshelf under a windowsill.

To start off, I bought a quarter pound each of 2 mixes from Johnny's, one spicy (red and green mustards with various textures) and one a mild mix (Mizuna, Cabbage, Kale, and Kohlrabi). When I get the hang of growing them, I can buy the specific micro greens I prefer (and there are oodles of choices), but I thought this was a good way to start.

After 4 Days

My first try was to sow just a few rows of each in one tray just to see how they grow, although my ordered pack of trays was for 6 trays. I only have enough windowsill for 2 trays, leaving room enough for my cat to lounge in the sun's scant rays.

The first seeds (uncovered) sprouted in 4-5 days and the instructions said 10-15 days to maturity (cutting). I think the first sowing will barely make 1 salad with other additions, so I should get 2-3 servings per full tray and will do continuous sowing as I use them.

After 6-7 Days

I should be able to cut them in another week. 

Update, Dec 23. My micro greens are languishing for lack of enough light on the window sills. They don't even have a true set of leaves yet and are very leggy. My after-Christmas chore will be to hang a grow light (a fluorescent light with one cool-white bulb and one warm-light bulb) over that windowsill before I sow another batch. I have the light fixture, just need bulbs but I'm NOT braving the last-minute Christmas shoppers for them.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Eggs... whole or just whites?

For several months (or maybe more) fast food chains like McD's and Subway have been pushing breakfast items that contain egg whites without any yolks.

I know the egg whites contain protein, but what is in the yolks making them omit them?

Our brains run on fats, but not just any fats. Not canola oil, not corn oil, not soy oil, and not most other processed oils. Our brains need what's in animal fats such as egg yolks and free-range meats. Free-range eggs are a good and inexpensive source of those needed fats.

So, my questions are what's in it for those food chains (and who sold them on that idea, anyway)? Are they trying to dumb us down even more? It has to be a "follow the money" thing. Equally important to me is WHAT are they doing with all those egg yolks they don't use?? Must be millions a week just for McD's.  (Have you ever seen a chicken lay an egg without a yolk?)

Inquiring minds want to know.