Thursday, September 18, 2008

Cider Time

This is just a quick back-from-the road check-in for our regular readers. I was in England the past two weeks, at the International Biochar Initiative meeting in Newcastle, and then down to Totnes for a stay with the Hopkins family and a closer look at the Transition Towns movement, now more than 100 villages strong. I’ll post more on both those subjects in the coming days and weeks.

My talk in Totnes was recorded, as Rob reports in his Transition Culture blog:
Luckily for those of you who couldn’t make it, Carl Munson of the wonderful Traydio.com was there, and made podcasts of the Albert’s talks. You can here is main talk, ‘Anything is Possible’ here, and a short interview Carl did with Albert at the end of the evening here. You can also read Carl’s review of the talk here. You can recreate the Albert Bates experience in the comfort of your own living room by also downloading his powerpoint here and flipping through it as you listen to the podcast. Now, how 21st century is THAT?! Transition Culture, the cutting edge….

My last prediction (Tea Leaves) about gas prices and Hurricane Ike proved prescient, and I came back to find my home Strategic Petroleum Reserve a dime cheaper per gallon than the prices at the stations. Whether my Bush-Baker hypothesis has anything to do with the price pattern could be decided when (a) the panic subsides as Houston recovers and prices go back down to around $3.50 again, and (b) when they spike up again steeply, along with crude prices, immediately following the election, with crude closing out the year 7 to 15 percent above levels seen in December 2007.

Here in Tennessee it is cider-pressing time, and the apprentices at the Ecovillage Training Center are in full swing, or twist. This weekend we start an advanced permaculture course in Forest gardening and Orchard Remediation, with Rick Valley, Land Steward at Lost Valley Educational Center in Oregon, who has been teaching permaculture since 1975, and as people gather for that workshop, we are taking advantage of the extra hands to get some added leverage on the press.

The cider tastes a trifle tart to me this morning but it should sweeten up nicely as those magic enzymes begin to work their magic.

Back with us also is Doug Beitler, our cheese wizzard, with a backpack full of new cultures gathered in Southeast Asia. He is busy experimenting with hundreds of possible variations on soy cheese, tweaking the flavor tones to get out the green or chemical tastes and get in the tang and snap. He produced a hard jalapeño jack last night that grates well and melts over burgers. Doug has produced a variety of soy cheddars that range in hardness and sharpness, and also some lovely crumbly blues and fetas that go well over salads.

A plate of these vegan cheeses will go great with some apple slices and a tall glass of fresh cider at lunch today.

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