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Yogurt making

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011 by Marie

We recently started making yogurt - especially before special events where we plan to serve guests breakfast. Our homemade yogurt contains living, healthy bacteria: lactobacillus. This bacteria is known as a probiotic, and helps to strengthen our digestive systems.

Making your own yogurt is super easy. No special equipment is needed; just a double boiler (I fashion one out of two pots) and a food-safe container for storage. And two ingredients: a small amount of living yogurt, and milk. We get our milk from a local provider who raises grass-fed, free range cows.

A few days ago we delivered some starter (living yogurt) and instructions to friends in town who were curious how to make yogurt. Brian calls it a cultural contribution to the community (pun intended). Hopefully more people start making their own living yogurt instead of buying the dead, sugary yogurt that is normally available. For those who prefer a sweet yogurt, honey and fruit can be added for sweetness.

Making yogurt

For folks living in the Lake Pátzcuaro region who want to try making yogurt, you can purchase some living yogurt to eat and use as a starter at Don Chucho’s, near el estación in Pátzcuaro.

And yes, the previous entry is just a joke. :)

New Solar Oven: Olla Solar

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010 by Marie

The sun provides ample energy every day.  It’s up to us to figure out how to harvest that energy and put it into use.  Our new solar oven can bake two loaves of bread per day, it can cook beans and rice, boil soups and cook them for hours, and warm up leftovers.  Solar ovens are a pretty magical way to harvest the sun’s energy and help save on gas, electricity, and firewood.

The Olla Solar (Solar Pot) arrived last week, shipped from a company in Monterrey, Mexico.  If you read Spanish, you can get more information about them on their website.  The idea is pretty genius: an foldable aluminum reflector holds a sturdy glass pot.  Inside the pot is a black metal bowl where you put bread dough, pre-soaked beans and rice, meat, or soup ingredients.  Cover the pot, and aim the reflector at the sun - in 2-4 hours you have cooked a meal or loaf of bread!  The black bowl absorbs a lot of heat, and the glass pot traps it, serving as a small oven.  The glass doesn’t get very hot; a careful cook can actually handle the glass after the food is done.  The black bowl gets very hot - over 135 degrees centigrade (275 F).

The reflector is a bit flimsy but serves its purpose.  We’re very happy with this product and may order another one.  Our friends in the nearby villages keep asking us how much it costs, so we may attempt to do a bulk order and resell to the nearby towns.  This area has lots of sunlight for about 75% of the year.  With solar ovens in action in the nearby towns, the whole region could potentially save lots of money on propane costs, with the added benefit of helping save the planet!

For those who live in Mexico and have a yard or place to set up this cooker, we recommend you order one.  Below we are cooking carrot bread.  We have also cooked a wheat flour bread (I was curious if the heat would be enough to do a yeast bread - yup!), beans, and will be heating up some leftovers for lunch today.

ollasolar

Our old solar oven was based on a design by Maria Telkes - read about her solar cooker in this great article.  It was constructed in a prototype fashion, and left out in the rain, and as we took it to town to have a metal worker look at it the whole thing fell apart.  We will build a new one in order to have as many solar oven designs as possible.

Solar Oven Links:
*http://www.solarovens.net/ - a USA based solar resource that ships an identical type of oven, as well as “The Sun Oven” - an oven similar to the Telkes’ design

*http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_cooker - Solar Cookers on Wikipedia

*http://solarcooking.wikia.com/wiki/The_Solar_Cooking_Archive_Wiki - A solar cooking wiki, with helpful resources and recipes

Papermaking

Sunday, December 14th, 2008 by Marie

The ancient craft of papermaking has found a place at the Bosque.

Using both recycled paper and fibers we collect in the forest, we have started to make many different test batches of paper.

Brie making paper

The process took awhile to get going…  Suzanne, Brie, Ben, Dominik, Charles, Trevor, and others have all contributed to our developing knowledge about papermaking.

We made a block and deckle by making frames out of cherry wood, and attaching plastic mesh to one of the frames:

making the block and deckle

We collected many fibers from the forest to experiment, including stalks of the red hot poker, which we have been propagating heavily over the last few years:

red hot poker

And we had a blender attachment made for a drill in order to process large quantities of fibrous pulp.

The results have been great!  Volunteers and visitors have had fun experiementing with different ways to make the paper pretty and useful.  Some of the fiber combinations we can fold for potential notecard products.

paper

Type of fibers we have been trying are the red hot poker stems, maguey leaves, madrone bark, newspaper, toilet paper rolls, bamboo, and others.  As we identify native plants we hope to test all of them for their papermaking usefulness.

suzie making paper

Planters

Friday, May 11th, 2007 by The Bosque

Here are some planters in progress. The bark will fall off on its own.

planters

Today we drilled holes for drainage and are putting plants which don’t need much watering in them. The idea is to let the plants mature in the rainy season then sell them.

Likely won’t make much money on them… but we gotta try to come up with products.

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