Archive for August, 2011

August 25, 2011

The Dessertiest Dumpster Score I Have Ever Seen (outside of Theo’s): Eugene

Trader Joe’s: chocolate hazelnut biscotti, box blueberries, peach, bag walnuts, 2 lemon marionberry muffins, lemon raspberry zinger cake, 2 sugar chocolate coffee bean grinders, Rainbow’s End trailmix, pita chips with cinnamon sugar, red grapefruit, potato chips, brown rice spaghetti, 2 boxes mini heirloom tomatoes, bag apples, large tomato, 2 red bell peppers, corn tortillas, manzanilla olives

August 24, 2011

Apple Cider and Blackberry Wine

We’ve been having some fun fermenting various beverages on the bus. There are larger fermenters of mead (honey wine) and a beer in the back, but we decided we wanted to experiment with some other alcohols in smaller batches. Seeing as how we have a limited kitchen on board (no running water, a fairly small stove, small space), we thought we’d stick to the really simple.

First, a cider. There’s really no getting simpler than this. We saw one of those big gallon jugs of apple juice on sale for really cheap and bought it. All that was left was adding a packet of champagne yeast and putting in a cork and an airlock (fancy plastic thing that lets Co2 escape, but keeps air from getting in).

Second, a blackberry wine. We biked out to a beautiful spot on the river the other day. I went  swimming and while I was drying off I walked around collecting blackberries. Its fun as we’re highly evolved to pick berries. Anyways, I ended up picking at least a few pounds of blackberries. To make wine, we put the blackberries in water in a big pot, mashed them up with our hands, added about 2 pounds of white sugar, and then poured in some of the cider (which was full of yeast as it was very actively fermenting at this time). We let this whole combination sit 24 hours in the pot with a cotton cloth covering. The next day we poured the mixture through a sieve into another 1 gallon jug and put another cork and airlock into it. And to top it all of we ended up with 2 big jars full of blackberry mush. Its not quite blackberry jam (a lot of sugar and flavor left and went into the wine), but its delicious with peanut butter. In a week or two we’ll be able to report back as to how the wine is!

-Max

August 21, 2011

WVO Experiment-in-progress

A couple weeks ago we had this plan to drive Ollie from Eugene to a community called Circle of Children in Lorane, then up to Corvallis — a total of about 80 miles.  We made our usual preparations: gathering waste vegetable oil from various restaurants, pouring it all into our 55 gal steel drum, and turning on the good ol’ centrifuge, and waiting.  Centrifuging a drum full of oil usually takes some 8 hours, wherein we clean out the centrifuge about every hour (and watch happily as the amount of gunk and water inside steadily decreases).  Unfortunately for us a couple weeks ago, things didn’t go as planned: instead of the oil getting cleaner, it got murkier and murkier, and the gunk in the centrifuge wasn’t decreasing much.  We had to abandon our travel plans.

We did a little research and discovered our problem: we’d come across what’s known as an emulsion, a nasty mix of oil, water, and some kind of cleaning agent like detergent (this can happen when a restaurant cleans their grill or frier and then puts the rinse water into their waste oil container.  Big biodiesel companies probably know how to handle this easily; DIY busdwellers like us have a harder time).  Any water at all is bad for a vehicle’s engine, and our centrifuge usually extracts water in our oil, but emulsions by definition contain such tiny drops of water that are so thoroughly mixed with the oil that the centrifuge can’t remove it.  Bad news.

There are a variety of websites which talk about solutions to this problem.  Several of them suggest dumping shockingly large amounts of salt and baking soda into the oil, letting it sit and separate (salt attracts the water causing it to clump together in larger droplets than would be in an emulsion; baking soda neutralizes acids), and then siphoning off the top layer of cleaner oil, leaving the salt water on the bottom of the barrel.  This particular site has great pictures of what this separation looks like.

We tried it.  We went to a grocery store, bought 5 boxes of baking soda and some 20 lbs of salt, and dumped it apprehensively (I mean hopefully!) into our 55 gal drum of oil.  Then we went galavanting around Eastern Oregon, leaving the bus in Eugene.  Before we left we scooped a sample of our mixture into a glass jar so that we’d have an idea of what was going on in there (the steel drum is not see-through so we can’t see where the layers are).  It’s been about two weeks, and our jar sample looks something like the first jar in this photo:

Presumably the top layer is the clean(er) oil, the middle layer is emulsion, and the bottom layer is salt water.  But who really knows!?

We’ll keep you updated as the experiment continues!  (We won’t be going anywhere until we figure it out!)

-Rachel

P.S. I forgot to mention how exactly we knew we had an emulsion on our hands.    We took a small sample of the oil that was coming out of the centrifuge (which, if everything were working correctly, should have been relatively water-free), and dumped it into a hot pan.  It sizzled and spit like crazy, which meant that there was A LOT of water mixed in with the oil.  The centrifuge wasn’t doing its job, because the water droplets were too small to be separated from the oil = an emulsion.

August 21, 2011

Dumpster Score #Last night: Eugene

Trader Joe’s: raspberries, white wine, 2 bags strawberry cereal, fancy mixed nuts, coffee, baby spinach, herb salad mix, cauliflower and broccoli, bruscetta sauce, mini heirloom tomatoes, 2 blocks tofu, 2 organic woodfired Sicilian pizzas (red pepper, provolone, and pearl mozzarella cheese), buffalo jerky (the package says: “Buffalo is not an endangered species”!), 2 bell peppers, avocado, apricot preserves, 11 containers agave

August 21, 2011

Dumpster Score #I’ve lost count: Eugene

Trader Joe’s: tempeh, 2 boxes grapes, corn chili, face wash with tea tree oil, cran-apple stuffed chicken, HUGE box blueberries, hummus, box tomatoes, 5 cartons eggs

De Casa Fine Foods: medium salsa

Chocolate Decadence: chocolate!

August 21, 2011

We’re still alive!

As you might be able to tell, we’re both fairly new at blogging.  We originally wanted our blog to be about just three things: waste vegetable oil as vehicle fuel (and our vegbus Ollie in particular), intentional communities on the West Coast, and our dumpstering exploits.  But we’ve taken a break from visiting intentional communities in order to do some other fun stuff this summer, and for various reasons we haven’t been dumpstering much lately.  I have no great excuse for our lack of posts about veg oil, cuz we HAVE been dealing with that quite a lot lately.  But anyway, we apologize for going MIA for a while.

Many friends have emailed us asking why we haven’t posted our whereabouts on our blog lately, so even though these might not pertain to our intended blog topics, I’ll provide you with a brief list of the things we’ve been doing:

So far a fun summer!  We are now back in Eugene, and plan to continue our intentional communities tour soon.  Next stop: Nor Cal.

-Rachel

P.S. In a very true sense, many of these things DO apply to our intended blogging topic of intentional communities.  The Radical Faeries, who I got to know at Rainbow and then Witchcamp, are a beautiful, well-established spiritual community of mostly gay men who have land projects and sanctuaries all over the world.  I feel honored and very blessed to have met them and been welcomed into their magical world.