A few interesting links to get ya through the workweek.

Seasoning a Wok
Frying food is something of passion of mine, and so cheap woks with no-stick coatings that flake off annoy me to no end Not only are they often toxic, but once they’re gone cleaning becomes a nightmare. Then, the other day, I left some oil to warm up for a little bit too long and a black coating formed over the base of the pan. Thinking back to what I knew about cast-iron and other kinds of cookware, I decided to look up the art of seasoning woks. “Seasoning” uses oil heated to high temperatures to form a non-stick coating. The heat burns and boils of most of the oils leaving a layer of oily carbon which reaches deep into the pores of the steel (carbon-steel woks are best for this).

So far I’ve cooked about five thin layers of oil onto the pan, and it’s darkening nicely. At first I made the mistake of using too much oil – this leaves charred bubbly deposits that don’t fully dry and tend to rip off when you clean them. Using a cloth and thin coatings, though, is working much better. At the moment I’m doing it over elements but I may put it in the oven later to do the sides.

Solar Wood Kilns
I love working with found wood, but there are a lot of problems dealing with green wood. As the moisture level in wood changes, it can grow, shrink or warp. To be really stable and usable, it has to dry, but while I’ve been cutting down lots of wood in my garden, it takes about a year to air-dry. Worse yet, I’m almost through my stockpile of branches from past years (though at least the black walnut I cut down is growing back – promising more soon). Kilns can dry wood much faster (and kill bugs), but take a lot of gas or electricity, which really doesn’t help with my mandate of ‘sustainable wood’. How else can you quickly and reliably dry/cook wood? With the sun. A solar kiln can be build like a greenhouse or garden shed, using south-facing windows and insulation, with a fan and vents to control temperature. It doesn’t take a lot of wood to build, and very little power to operate. This site has links to a number of different designs with plans and discussion.

THE REVOLVING DOOR: 29 People who went from Wall Street to Washington to Wall Street
Robert Rubin went from running Goldman Sachs to Clinton’s Staff to Cititgroup. William Dudley went from Goldman into Running the Federal reserve. Wonder why the government was so concerned when these firms started collapsing? Because they are the government. This slideshow helps demonstrate how arbitrary and illusory the line between “public” and “private” really is.

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