When friend S was over for kimchi making, we started talking about other foods we could make. It seems like there’s the most collective interest in vinegar and in alcohol. ( I’d like to make hard cheeses in the future as well.) So I embarked on some initial vinegar experiments!

According to this source, all you need to do is inoculate an alcoholic liquid with acetic acid-producing bacteria. Some other sites suggested adding sugar, to provide easier-to-access food. You can get the bacteria from unpasteurized vinegar (e.g. Braggs brand), but I figured I would try inoculating with kimchi juice, since it’s sour. I’m not sure what acid is in kimchi. Some of it is lactic acid, but there might be acetic acid as well.

So I mixed together some kimchi juice (1 part), a pinch of sugar, and sake (5 parts) in a little glass jar. I guess I’ll just let it sit and see what happens. I wonder if the sake is too alcoholic. It’s surely possible to kill off all the bacteria.

I also discovered a vinegar subreddit (I’m not even surprised at this point). If you just looked at this, you’d think that everybody’s making their own vinegar!

Waffle Iron!

We got an early 1950s waffle maker from a garage sale!

It looks like this.
And it looks like this when you close the lid. It has a light that turns red when it’s on (it’s actually just the glow from the heating element).
Here’s some info I dug up about the machine. It’s repeatedly “as bulky as a Buick.”
It transforms into a grill if you fold it down and take off the waffle grates.
After seasoning the cast iron, we made waffles! 

It’s pretty nonstick!

The finished waffles, only slightly burnt.

For dinner we made monjayaki using the griddle mode. It’s was great!

Century-old Korean barbershop!

This awesome video is from my sibling. Notice the use of vinegar to rinse hair near the end of the video! Vinegar is actually good for your hair, and is used in the no-shampoo community as an alternative to conventional conditioner.

Also cool is the use of a straight razor! I’m surprised the barber had such an old razor, though. In Japan at least, the traditional razor, used before Westernization, is the kamisori. I figure Korea used something more similar to that than to European straight razors.

Kamisori example. From site.


All the stuff we buy in packaging

Someone new(er) to living low waste asked what types of packaging I still buy. I’m pretty sure the asker just meant categories, like cans, glass jars, milk jugs, etc. However, I found it an interesting exercise and tried to enumerate all the things we regularly buy that come in packaging. I’m not counting durable goods that need some research before purchase, like clothing, shoes, cookware. These types of items can often be found at thrift stores anyway.

To find all the packaging we buy, I walked around the apartment looking in cupboards. I could have looked in the trash, but packages that we go through slowly wouldn’t have been included. But I’m sure I forgot something…

Here is everything that my household routinely purchases in packaging:

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I actually bought something from Usaato

Menstrual pads for my sister and instructions (in Japanese). Usaato makes several different kinds- large, medium, small, “free” (that is, use it as you like), and “leaf” (??). These are the large ones.

Last Friday, J and I went to a special event in Los Gatos put on by Usaato. First we watched a video about Usaato’s production methods. Unfortunately, I can’t find the video 🙁 But if I find it in the future, I’ll make sure to share it here.

After the video, there was a modern taiko and dance performance by the Kohaku group, based in Sacramento. The performers wore (awesome) flowy clothes made by Usaato.

Then Usaburo Sato, the designer behind Usaato, talked us through the production video. He talked about production techniques and dying techniques- and even knew what a lot of the dye plants are called in English (and some in Latin)! He spoke English surprisingly well for a random Japanese clothes designer.

Continue reading “I actually bought something from Usaato”

Mattress update: Tufting

After lacing, I cut the string so that every desired tuft location had two string ends on the top of the mattress. I loosely tied the ends with a special tufting knot, as described in How to make a cotton mattress.

This knot isn’t hard, but it’s easy to tighten it wrong so that you have to completely untie it and start over.

Before tightening the string fully, I placed rolled up pieces of cotton sliver on the top and bottom of the mattress underneath the string. This helps prevent the string from ripping through the fabric of the ticking (mattress case).

This part was really hard. You have to tighten the string a lot, and each knot has to be tightened the same amount. Otherwise your mattress will be lumpy and uneven. It took me several days to finish this part. My fingers were so sore!!

Finished! I’m not sure what to do about the strings. If I need to adjust the tension of the tufting, I need to keep the strings long. I’ll probably try the mattress out for a while, then decide whether or not I like the thickness/tension.

The final mattress is fine. It’s not amazing, but it’s definitely sufficient. It’s pretty firm, as expected. Unfortunately, there’s very little spring. Maybe I should have added a thin latex core. I hear latex is excessively springy, enough that it’s not usually used alone.

I haven’t slept on the mattress yet, so I’ll report back once the two of us are more familiar! 😀