Basic Dough

This yeasted dough is really easy to throw together if you have a bread machine. Actually, even if you do not, mix it together just til everything is wet and then let stand covered in a bowl for 12 hours and let the gluten develop on its own. This is a new method I've just recently seen and will be doing a video for. Missing from this video is the addition of the 1/4 cup of olive oil - somehow I managed to mess up that clip while doing the video.


  • 350ml water (or beer)
  • 1 (generous) tablespoon honey

Meat Slicer a true Frugal Find!

My wife found this wonderful item at the annual spring yard sale at one of the churches up the road. It says "Edelstahl Rost Frei" on the blade so is probably a German unit that I would say is 30 to 50 years old, and looks like it could have just as much use left in it. The body is extremely well engineered cast aluminum, with a stainless steel blade, and a few plastic parts that given how long they've clearly already held up, my money is on them lasting a good time longer still.

We'd actually been looking at meat slicers but the only good ones seem to be hundreds of dollars. The lower end models have a lot of plastic on them and look fairly shoddy. I will give this a good cleaning and try it out soon on one of the ham roasts I'd brined up recently. I bet it would also work fantastically on my home made bacon! My wife says this is what she immediately thought of.

Another Free Grill

Another day, another free grill for the Urban Hippy! A reader here in Ottawa saw my call for free grills and answered it with this Centro unit with lots of stainless steel ... oooooo ... shiny! Thanks very much BTW! He said he bought it in 2006 but recently picked up a Big Green Egg and is not looking back - doesn't want to have anything to do with gas or propane any more! Not that I can blame him that's for sure. If anyone out there has a Big Green Egg to give away, just let me know :-)

Free Centro Grill

Review: Swiffer 360° Dusters*

I received a package of Swiffer 360° Dusters* for review and I admit dust is something we see a lot of in our house. The package contained the dusting handle and three dusters, and required a bit of assembly.

Overall, I was pretty pleased with the product performance. It grabbed the dust just as the packaging promised and was really great at capturing the "fly away" dust that can sometimes rise from the surface with conventional dusters. The handle was comfortable to hold and made reaching those higher spots easier to manage. It even somehow managed to make the dusting seem more fun than usual -- this is always bonus for me. I really dislike housework.

The Two R's

"Two R's?" You ask? "Wait a sec, I thought there were 3 of them!"

Yeah, actually, so did I! And that is exactly my point - everyone seems to have forgotten the first two of them! Back in the 80s we all started learning about "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - in that order". But somewhere along the line, this mantra has been reduced to simply "Recycle, then pat yourself on the back for doing such a great job". I've actually seen people brag about how full their recycling bins are, and to me they seem to have completely missed the point.

The fact is that recycling is only one small step above tossing something in the garbage. In some cases it is probably even more of a resource drain because of the energy and resources required to do the recycling. We need to get back to basics here.

Wasting Food

I'm not exactly sure how I got this way because it was not ingrained into me as a kid, but I really have a difficult time wasting food. If the kids do not finish what is on their plates, 9 times out of 10 I will either finish it right away, or put it into the fridge for leftovers. The 10th time would be when they are sick, and I don't want to catch what they have. But even then sometimes it pains me so much to throw away good food that I'll cook it again to kill any germs in it, and eat it.

Here is a can of olives that I found this past winter while walking my son home from judo. It was neatly placed on the window sill of a local Vietnamese restaurant. The ends were bulging a bit at the time, but I figured that was just from the stuff inside expanding from being frozen. I know, I know, you should not eat canned goods that are bulged. But that is only a general rule of thumb for people who do not actually know why you should not eat them when they are bulged. I do know why, and I knew that if I took the can home and left it a few months, it would tell me whether or not it was still good to eat. It still looked fine today, so I put it on the pizza I made for supper.

Urban Foraging at its yummiest!

My Not-So-Shiny, New-to-Me Earth Day Present

I like to talk a lot about wants versus needs, and how for the sake of the planet we all have to be a little (OK, a lot) more careful about not wantonly giving into our consumer wants. Today on Earth Day I put my money where my mouth is - my gift to the planet was to "upgrade" my backyard grill to one that someone else was tossing in the garbage. While there is very little in this world that I find myself really wanting, you would not believe how badly the former consumer inside me burns with wanton desire when I see a shiny new stainless steel grill. Ooooo, soooo shiny. My precious! Sure, I could afford one. A nice one, too. But do I need it? Not in the least.

What I do actually need is more surface area on my grill. The one I have was the lowest-end, cheapest model I could find 8 years ago. And now that we have big Brew 'n' Q parties all summer long the last few years, I've found that I really need more real estate on that sucker. So I scoured kijiji and got a free one. It ain't pretty by a long shot, but it is actually a bit better looking than the one I have, and has almost twice as much real estate.

What a beauty!

Gathering Free Wood for my Smoker

Smoker season is just about to start, and although I already have a fair bit of wood on hand from last year when I cut up an apple tree for a coworker, I was still eager to take down another small crabapple tree for a friend, to get the free wood. A different type of apple, a bit different character. In all it took me less than an hour with my little electric chainsaw and a pair of hand trimmers to cut it down and pack it into my car. This one little tree is likely enough for a whole summer of smoking on its own.

Many different kinds of wood can be used for smoking. The most obvious ones are anything that produces something edible : most fruits and nuts, sugar maples (but not other types of maples!), and oak are the most obvious ones. I've used cherry, pear, apple and serviceberry with terrific results.

Getting free apple wood for smoking

Canada's Environmental Performance Index

What the's story does not tell you is that canada is ranked #12 in the world. "In spite of nearly universal support for a cleaner globe (the U.S. was one of only a few countries that failed to adopt Kyoto), it's mainly the rich nations that enjoy pristine environments, according to the Environmental Performance Index (EPI)

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