Cooking after the cataclysm

February 20, 2009

If your favorite cookbook doesn’t include instructions on how to dress and cook a squirrel, it’s not going to be much use after the global climate change cataclysm.

You’re going to need older cookbooks, with recipes based on local ingredients.

Listen here, or read post #35 Buy an old cookbook.

Right click here to download the mp3.

[El Wala Wala (Hey Dude) by Hakim]


Holiday gift ideas: local, organic, artisanal literature

November 25, 2008

Everyone knows that the best-tasting holiday cookies are the ones made from scratch with fresh ingredients and a lot of love. The same goes for gifts. Southern California’s indie presses are cooking up unique, reasonably priced poetry and fiction appealing to almost every taste. Check them out online or visit an indie bookstore, and enjoy the warm holiday feeling that comes from knowing you supported local artists and businesses instead of overseas sweatshops and multi-national retail chains.

Remember, buying local is good for the environment. Fend off the cataclysm, one book at a time!

Here are a few presses and stores we recommend.

Southern California-based Presses:

  • Angel City Press: nostalgic yet cool illustrated books
  • Arktoi Books: poetry and fiction that give lesbian writers access to “the conversation”
  • Cahuenga Press: poetry that honors creative freedom and cooperation
  • Cloverfield Press: books as visually beautiful as they are intellectually and emotionally stimulating
  • Dzanc Books: literary fiction that falls outside the mainstream
  • Gorsky Press: risk-taking books that encourage readers to re-examine society
  • Green Integer: essays, manifestos, speeches, epistles, narratives, and more
  • Les Figues Press: aesthetic conversations between readers, writers, and artists, with an avant-garde emphasis
  • Make Now Press: contemporary works of constraint and conceptual literature
  • Otis Books/Seismicity: contemporary fiction, poetry, essays, creative non-fiction and translation
  • Red Hen Press: poetry and more by writers whose work has been marginalized
  • San Diego City Works Press: local, ethnic, political, and border writing
  • Santa Monica Press: offbeat looks at pop culture, lively how-to books, film history, travel, and humor

Independent Bookstores in L.A.:

Happy holidays from the Future of Publishing Think Tank*!

*The Future of Publishing Think Tank is an ad hoc group of writers and representatives of independent publishers and bookstores, nonprofit literary organizations, and producers of public radio. Our task: to consider the changes occurring in publishing, distribution, and marketing of literary work and to envision new ways for writers to engage readers and build audiences for their work. Groups who that have been involved include 826LA, Arktoi Books, GuerrillaReads, the HeArt Project, Hol Art Books, “Indymedia on Air” (KPFK), the Lambda Literary Foundation, Les Figues Press, Poet Joi, Poets & Writers, Red Hen Press, Skylight Books, and Writers at Work.

Cashing in on a leap of faith

November 14, 2008

A thing has only as much value as people believe it has. After the cataclysm, what will you do if people stop believing in cash? Barter! Listen below, or click here to read tip #33: Pack your barterables.

Or right click here for the mp3.

[I’m A-Giving Way by Laura Love]

#35 Buy an old cookbook

October 13, 2008

If your favorite cookbook doesn’t include instructions on how to dress and cook a squirrel, it’s not going to be much use after the global climate change cataclysm.

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Cooking is cultural, sociological, environmental and historical. What we cook depends on what’s available in our local grocery store or market. As globalization and international trade have grown exponentially in recent years, we’ve grown used to seeing ingredients from around the world on local grocery shelves, like Bulgarian feta, Italian proscuitto and Philippine tilapia.

As ingredients have changed, so have cookbooks, which was nice while the global supply chain still functioned. When it collapses and you have to rely on locally-grown ingredients, your fancy-pants modern cookbook will be next to useless. Well, I suppose you could use it to start a fire.

Luckily, I have the 1975 edition of The Joy of Cooking on my shelf. It includes detailed instructions for how to dress and cook squirrel, opossum, porcupine, raccoon, muskrat, woodchuck, beaver, armadillo, and seven different ways to prepare rabbit. Plus recommended side dishes.

The 2006 edition only offers this advice: “Small game can be cooked following most recipes for chicken.” To survive on local game post-cataclysm, most of us will need more guidance than this.

I mean, the recipe for moo shu tempeh looks tasty – I’ll give it a try it while I can still buy the ingredients. But the odds of finding shiitake mushrooms, wood ear fungus, sesame oil, canned bamboo shoots and tempeh on the grocery shelf after the cataclysm are slim.

I’m keeping my old fashioned cookbook with old fashioned local ingredients in my cataclysm survival kit.

#33 Pack your barterables

October 2, 2008

Cash. When the credit markets dry up, it’s what will keep the world going ’round. Right?

Don’t count on it.

As we’ve all been learning since the subprime meltdown began gathering steam earlier this year, a thing has only as much value as people believe it has. After the global climate change cataclysm, cash may become useless. What can you use those small rectangles of printed paper for other than lighting fires? I suppose the coins could make nice paperweights. When everybody around you realizes this and stops using cash, how will you get the things you need from the people who have them?

May be useless after the cataclysm

Useless after the cataclysm?

Bartering. You’ve got something the other guy wants, he’s got something you want. Are they of equal value? Depends how much you both want what the other guy’s got. If all you have on hand in your cataclysm kit is cash, you may find yourself out of luck.

Sure, keep a stash of cash tucked away for an emergency. Just be sure to include some extras in the kit that might be valuable enough to barter for the things you find you need. Maybe it’s an extra can of instant coffee, a spare roll of fishing line, or a second wind-up radio. I’ll leave it to you to sort out the actual value of your barterables, and that will depend on post-cataclysm conditions.

They say cash is king. I say be prepared for the revolution.


August 29, 2008

After the cataclysm, binder clips will be ever more valuable than they are today, so you’ll want to have plenty in your survival kit. Listen here to learn more, or read the post (and watch the slideshow).

Click here if you’re having trouble with the embedded media player.

[My City Was Gone by the Pretenders]

#28 The clips that bind

August 28, 2008

Can you remember life before binder clips? I do, and I don’t want to return to those bad old days. That’s why I keep an assortment of them tucked away in my cataclysm survival kit.

Today we think of binder clips as a nifty little gadget for holding papers together. After the cataclysm, they’ll be ever more valuable, holding packages closed to prevent loss and standing in for failed resealers on your aging plastic baggies. Who knows, they might even fill in for sutures in a pinch.

And that’s just for starters. There are many other things you can do with binder clips. A lot more.

If you work in an office setting, you’re in luck. These little creatures tuck easily into even the smallest pocket or purse. If you took home just one binder clip a day, you’d have [5 days per week x 52 weeks =] 260 binder clips for your stockpile by the end of the year. If you can, get an assortment of colors too, to brighten those dreary post-cataclysm days. Even if you take off four sick days and a week’s vacation (as if!), you’ll still have 251 binder clips in your kit.

That is, if the cataclysm doesn’t hit before then.