Archive for May, 2009

Harvesting energy off craptastic rocky soil.


A great reply from a slashdot thread in response to an article discussing how bioelectricity used for battery-powered vehicles would deliver an average of 80% more miles of transportation per acre of crops:

mcrbids’ reply:

Comparing energy production density to Corn-based Ethanol is like stealing candy from a baby. Corn-fueled Ethanol has a tough time doing much better than just burning fossil fuels outright in systemic carbon footprint, and in some studies, is actually WORSE than strictly burning gasoline/oil.

Yes, the average is a net improvement of anywhere from 25% to 70% return on investment, but even then, you have to consider the value of the farmland itself! We’d probably do much better by simply growing wild grass on prime farmland, harvesting it, and burying it, when looking in terms of carbon footprint!

So saying that NNN technology is X% better than bioethanol is like saying that doing X is less painful than scraping off your penile foreskin with a cheese grater.

Truthful, but not very useful. Come back when you have something that actually works. For example, what’s the benefit of bio-electricity over Photo-voltaics? Now that the latter technology is down to (or better than) $1/watt [], this becomes a very, very tough technology to beat, and actually works better on craptastic, rocky soil off in the desert someplace with 3 inches of rainfall per year.

Meaning, we can get back to using farmland for growing food, and stop with this silly “let’s raid the kitchen cupboard to feed our guzzling SUVs!” craze that’s been on for the last few years.

Wild Edibles Course, Day 2


An after work hike in the woods near Pakenham gave Martha and opportunity to show us several new plants and cook us up a meal along the shoreline.

We were all lucky enough to have an opportunity to hike through some beautiful property that was COVERED with white & red trillium.   There were a few spots where the ground was too swampy so the trillium  gave way to fields of fiddle head and other treats.

Dandelion Fritters

Dandelion Fritters

O.K., these fritters tasted FAR better than you would think and were so quick & easy to make.    Pick the yellow flower (best when it’s open during the day) / dip in batter (pancake batter or whatever suits you) / deep fry in oil / dip in a tiny bit of cinnamon & sugar / eat.

Burdock Root

Burdock Root

Burdock  (that plant with purple burrs) has a long edible root that won’t  leave the ground easily.   Cutting it in thin diagonal slices brings out an interesting pattern, and while the taste is quite bland it certainly would be good for soaking up and bringing out other flavours in a dish (eg. wild ginger).

Second serving.

Dandelion Fritters

A bit of what we enjoyed tonight: Steamed fiddle head s in a tasty leek oil, mixed green salad with edible flowers and cooked Jerusalem artichoke root.

Wild Horseradish… …or Ode to Crinkleroot


The bush in front of the house has a plethora of Crinkleroot. It is not the easiest to grow or harvest or clean BUT if you like horseradish you definitively need to give this root a taste! Think strong horseradish with a bright,minty kick and a small (almost unnoticeable) hint of black licorice — all that flavour packed into a tiny, crinkly root.

After cleaning the handful of roots which I brought back from the bush and throwing them the blender with a bit of vinegar all that was left was hardly enough to fill a small jar:

Prepared Crinkleroot

So now the dilemma: What does one do with such a tiny amount of wild edible gold?!? I’m guessing it’s about half a cup of delicious condiment that I’m likely going to use ever so sparingly until I’m confident that I’ve hunted up enough for the next small batch.

Bring out the BBQ!

Edible: An Illustrated Guide to the World’s Food Plants

Edible - Book Cover

Edible - Book Cover

An interesting picture book, it added to my ever-growing list of travel to try foods:

  • Peanut Butter Fruit (South America)
  • Ice-cream Bean (Central & South America)
  • Sapodilla (Mexico, Guatemala, Belize)
  • Fresh Dragonfruit (Subtropical areas of the Americas, Vietnam, Israel, Australia)

Ah, and posting this just reminded me to add “The Fruit Hunters” to my reading list.

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