• Tropical Kitschen: Surinam Cherries

    Surinam Cherries are starting to fruit everywhere right now. Literally everywhere. The plant is native to Surinam, but its hardiness and adaptability have allowed the shrub to proliferate across the tropics. In Brazil it's called a "Brazilian Cherry," in Florida it's called a "Florida Cherry," and in Bermuda it's called - you guessed it - a "Bermuda Cherry."

    The taste and color changes drastically during maturation. As the saying goes: the darker the cherry, the sweeter the fruit. You essentially want it to be so ripe that a light touch causes it to fall into your hand... anything less and the meat will taste resinous. (I happen to find the tropical-acid taste unusual and attractive, so I've started eating the cherries straight off the bush.) Another way to reduce the aroma is to cut a slit, pop out the seed, and let it chill in the fridge for 2-3 hours.

    More recipe ideas:

    • Cut fresh into a salad
    • Macerate with sugar as a dessert topping
    • Surinam Cherry Ginger Jam
    • Distill into a liquor
    • Ferment into a wine
    • Surinam Cherry Chutney
    • Blend, strain, and add club soda and citrus juices for a punch
    • Pulp and fold into baked goods

  • Cooked

    This documentary just impacted my whole mindset about food.

    I consider myself relatively educated about what I eat, where it came from, and how it got onto my plate. I love a good Kraft mac n' cheese (mmm, chemical powder), but both my upbringing and choice of friends have exposed me to the benefits of consistently using natural, whole-nutrition products. I will never stop eating meat, nor gluten. I've seen microbial proof that bacteria is a good thing. I love alcohol for many more reasons than "it gets me drunk." In short, documentaries like this one are preaching to the choir, babe. So what happened?

    There were no horrific scenes of mass-market, eyeless chicken stalls or, alternatively, whimsical sunsets behind free range cows who listen to Bach during their daily two-hour petting session. All Michael Pollan did was present basic information about the history and evolution of the human relationship with food. It just happens to be in a manner so simple, so informative, and so pretty that it fermented a sentimentality I didn't know I had.

    I'm now interested in trying to make my own bread. I absorbed a base knowledge for how cheeses develop into specific styles. And the chocolate - jesus christ, the chocolate. I never realized how far removed we are from this standard American food product until I watched a cacao harvest. Do you know how that bean grows!? I bet $100 you don't.

    I think the point here is that Cooked wasn't a mind explosion. It didn't have to be. It explained a few things I had already heard of and articulated why food is important to humans, both as individuals and as a society. What blew my mind is that nobody's ever said it like this before.

    Anyway. Nice job Michael Pollan. Highly recommended.

  • DIY Bunny Hutch

    One of the maintenance guys on station helped make my rabbit hutch dreams a reality. We went over my incredibly professional blueprints, he added a few construction-savvy touches of his own, and we created an end product that is both functional and pretty! I'm really happy I decided to go the revamped-dresser route. It's perfect for housing a bunny in a small apartment.

    Here's some pointers if you're ever in the market for an interior animal cage:

    1. Pull out all of the drawers/cabinets and remove the backplate.

    2. Add the shelf and ramp, making sure they're stable and not too steep. (We used wood glue to stabilize and a nail gun to solidify.)

    3. Put the backplate on and nailgun around the entire border, as well as onto the shelf and ramp.

    4. Add casters for easy movement and cleaning.

    5. Create the doors. I was able to rip the drawers off and repurpose the swinging cabinets as doors. I cut out the centers with a jigsaw (2" border on all sides), then Greg routered an indent for the wire caging. We used a staplegun to attach the mesh. No raw metal is sticking out into the cage!

    6. Attach the doors. We hinged the left side on the bottom so it could double as an entrance ramp. The right side swings open horizontally like a normal door. Both close with a double roller catch and latch tightly to the front face of the hutch.

    7. Treat the wood. I covered the whole interior with a layer of Thompson's WaterSeal, let it dry 48 hours, and added a few stick-on vinyl tiles in the litterbox area. I figured this would (a) repel urine from soaking into the wood and (b) make it easier to clean. The vinyl turned out to be a little slick for his smooth paws, but he's getting the hang of it - and actually loves relaxing on the cool surface. I'm hoping they'll retain temperature a little better during the humid Bermuda summers.

    8. Finished! It looks (mostly) like a normal dresser and adds some extra surface space for my tiny studio apartment.

    8. Well, almost finished. I stabbed some holes in a child's toybox organizer and zip-tied it to the inside of the door as a food tray. The litterbox is a tupperware bin with an "entrance" cut out and some fitted rubber hose covering the rough edges.

    9. Add bunny!

    10. Play with bunny!

  • Self-Made

    I did stuff this weekend!

    On Friday night I finally got my favorite fish sandwich: Art Mel's Spicy Dicy with "the works" on raisin bread. Just living the dream.

    On Saturday I ate the other half. I spent the evening binge-listening to this year's Serial while crafting up some throw pillows out of these amazing thrifted cloth napkins.

    On Sunday I weeded out a garden bed and made a compost bin in the hellish rock jungle that's next to the apartment building.

    On Monday my body is not going to be happy. But I'm totally on that farmer's high where a solid day of physical labor, combined with the knowledge of future self-sustenance, is existentially rewarding.

    And on that note - want to hear something crazy? Rabbits produce a second type of fecal pellet called cecotropes. They are manufactured in the bunny's caecum, which contains highly nutritious bacteria that can ferment any undigestible fiber into a tasty little snack.

    So yeah. Rabbits eat self-made granola bars that happen to exit through their own anus. The ultimate sustainably local organism. 

  • Moon Rabbit

    There's a rabbit hutch on campus that currently houses almost 20 "accident" bunnies looking for good homes. I made the giant mistake of stopping by every day to visit.

    Meet Mochi! My new sweet lil' bun.

    He's about 8 weeks old and ready to leave the family, so I'm suddenly in a hurry to collect rabbit supplies and build an apartment hutch. I decided to use an idea from pinterest and convert an old dresser. Lo and behold, the very first thing outside the thrift store today was a supply cabinet! With an extra deep bed! In decent condition! It was clearly a sign of deliverance from the bunny gods.

    My plan is to pull out the drawers, nail in a thick shelf for the second floor, build a little chicken ladder, put down ceramic tiles (non-porous, easy to clean, help stay cool), and put grid wire across the front openings. The left side will swing open as a latched door. I've clearly got my work cut out for me this weekend.

    ...And so begins my life as a pet owner. I've already accepted the unfortunate side effect of annoying everyone around me with excessive baby photos. But just look how cute his gray paws are! Eeee!