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Topics - Mok

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The Forest Floor / Fungi break acceleration record to escape dung
« on: September 16, 2008, 10:34:03 PM » ... news_rss20

Fungi break acceleration record to escape dung

    * 00:01 17 September 2008
    * news service
    * Catherine Brahic

They're tiny, gooey and they grow on dung. But that does not stop fungi spores from being the fastest flyers in nature.

Using high-speed cameras, researchers have for the first time accurately measured the speed at which some fungi propel their spores. The images show in detail how microscopic dung-loving, or coprophilous, fungi use a squirt-gun action to propel their spores.

The fungi degrade the millions of tons of dung produced by cows and other herbivores each year. To reproduce, their spores must be eaten by herbivores, yet few animals will graze on the grass next to their own dung.

To overcome this obstacle, dung-dwelling fungi have evolved tiny catapults, trampolines and squirt guns that propel spores and spore packets up to 2.5 meters away.

Goodbye, cow pie

Nicholas Money at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and colleagues filmed the squirt gun action of four species at 250,000 frames per second.

They found that the spores, measuring between 10 micrometres and half a millimetre, are launched at up to 25 metres per second. Although impressive, that makes them slower than had been estimated by mathematical models.

But the acceleration of the spores still puts them in a class of their own. "One minute they're standing still on a cow pie, and a millionth of a second later they are travelling at 25 metres per second," says Money.

His colleagues measured accelerations up to 180,000 g – the fastest airborne acceleration seen in the living world. In comparison, a jumping antelope accelerates at 1.6 g, astronauts experience maximum acceleration of less than 4 g during a Space Shuttle launch, and fleas accelerate at 200 g. Jellyfish stingers are fired at 40,000 g in water.

"The fastest spores travelled more than 1 million times their own 'body' length in one second," says Money. "A 1.8-metre human travelling at 1 million times his or her body length in one second would be travelling at a velocity of 1.8 million meters per second, which is more than 5000 times the speed of sound."

Sap squirters

To understand why mathematical estimates based on the distances travelled by the spores had been wrong, Money's colleague Diana Davis looked at the droplets of liquid expelled with them

The squirt guns expel their contents by osmotic pressure. So from the composition of the sap, Davis was able to calculate the pressures that would develop inside. The mathematical calculations had suggested that these pressures must be very high in order for them to spit the spores metres away.

Instead, Davis found that the squirt cells are under no greater pressure than other kinds of fungal cells. The researchers say the models must have over estimated the drag that air exerts on the tiny droplet.

Journal reference: PLoS ONE (DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0003237)

The Kitchen / Mok's Peanuts Sauce - Full Disclosure
« on: August 26, 2008, 11:17:10 PM »
After a very long period of deliberation, the Group has agreed to release this information to the general public, in this forum, in this post, and nowhere else.  This recipe is the result of countless hours of devotion, sacrifice, and expense by the thousands of hands that make up the Group.  You would do well to pay attention.

250ml peanut butter
125ml coconut milk
30ml fermented soybean liquid (tamari, shoyu.. or "soy sauce")
15ml "sweet chili sauce" consumer food product, any grade
15ml strong citrus juice
2-10g cilantro leaves
2g garlic, finely divided
2g ginger root, finely divided
.5g NaCl, food grade

I suggest grating the vegetable roots with a microplane.

Mix all together, adding cilantro to your taste. I don't like it, I think it tastes like soap.  But that's a very common variation, so I included it.

This peanut sauce is extremely tasty.


Be very careful, I suggest dosing with a scale of microgram accuracy or better.

This recipe is simple and in the wrong hands, could cause a world of trouble.  I trust you'll do the right thing.


The Kitchen / Easier waffle recipe
« on: April 19, 2008, 04:59:19 PM »
Egg replacer sucks.  This recipe requires 2 measuring cups and a mixing bowl, which is easier for me in the morning.

1c soymilk
1c flour (wheat bread flour, in my case)
1T baking powder
1T Oil (safflower)
1T Maple Syrup, Grade B

I add chunks of veggie sausage, but you could add walnuts, blueberries, raspberries, bananas, lingonberries, gooseberries, schnozzberries, or any other such item.

The Forest Floor / Thermostat
« on: April 17, 2008, 01:39:29 AM »

I put a wire between the thermostat and the sensor.

I have this thing switching a 12v 1.5a wallwart.  At first I had a fan and a bulb  in parallel, but it wasn't heating enough.  I think I'm gonna pick up some nichrome wire and see if I can make my own element and put it in a tube vwith the fan pointing at it.

I think I'm gonna mount it to the inside of the lid.

This thermostat is very simple, a single relay that's marked 2a 30 VDC or 1a 120VAC, a pair of batteries, a thermistor, and a variable resistor.

What kind of AC heat source could I get under 1a?

The Long House / roach?
« on: March 30, 2008, 02:42:42 AM »
You out there buddy?

Let us know how you are, haven't heard from you for a while.

At least, I haven't.

The Kitchen / Masht PuTater Nuggits
« on: January 03, 2008, 11:11:27 PM »
A few days ago I made chickpea cutlets (chickpeas, gluten, breadcrumbs) and mashed potatoes for dinner.  A significant percentage of the mashed potatoes remained afterwards, so tonight I fried up a passel of mashed potato nuggets.  

Mashed potatoes:

2lbs russet potatoes, peeled, chopped, and boiled with 2tsp salt
1/3c soymilk (unsweetened)
2T margarine
2tsp garlic powder or other spice (I like Spike)

Mash everything up together  They will be a little thick, but that's OK.

1c soymilk
1tsp mustard powder or mustard
1tbsp balsamic vinegar (for luck)

2-3 slices whole wheat bread crumbled
1T spike seasoning
1tsp garlic powder

Make little patties with the mashed taters (about 2T worth apiece), wash them in the wash, dredge them in the dredge.  Be sure to cover them completely with crumbs and press them in.  Otherwise the mashed tater will be "carried away" by the oil and make big crunchy cavities.

I have no idea what temperature my fryer gets to.  It's one of those little frydaddies with the magnetic power cord.  It's totally awesome.  I imagine it gets to around 300 or 325, but I haven't measured it yet.

Fry those suckers up, drain and serve with ketchup.  Very, very, very tasty.

The Forest Floor / Collapsible Vinyl Glovebox
« on: September 10, 2007, 02:32:20 AM »
To tide me over until I have enough time to build my vinyl cleanroom, I built a little vinyl glovebox.

I got a 1"x12"x4' board from my local builder's supply store, cut two 1' sections off, wrapped them in shelf liner, attached them to the remaining 2' section with steel hinges, used thumbtacks to attach a length of 2mil vinyl all round, cut two slits in the front for glove entry and put a strip of adhesive-backed velcro at the bottom of the flap to keep it in place.

Then, I got out my newish holmes HEPA filter, cut up the remaining foot of velcro (I'll add more later, but this works) to attach the filter to the back of the box as shown, cutting two squarish holes to allow for airflow.

The length of wood holding the two wooden flaps apart will be replaced with PVC as soon as I get some.  I needed them held apart so I could mark the holes to attach the filter.

It probably could have been done better, but it only took me about three hours.

Tell me what you think!

The Kitchen / Cashew-breaded Eggplant
« on: July 06, 2007, 07:38:05 PM »
We had a bumper crop of eggplant this year, so here's a recipe I came up with to try to use them all before they got too old.

1 large eggplant, skinned and sliced 1/4" thick
Bragg's Amino Acids (spray bottle)
1/4c balsamic vinegar
onion powder
garlic powder

1/4 cups each of unsalted cashews and peanuts, ground to a coarse flour
1 slice of whole-wheat bread ground to crumbs
Fresh herb mix: Rosemary, Summer Savory, Oregano, Thyme, Sage

1/2c soy milk
2T nutritional yeast

Put the eggplant slices in a large bowl and spritz Bragg's on both sides.  Drizzle the vinegar over them all and make sure they get covered very well, turning and basting them for a few minutes.  Sprinkle both sides lightly with garlic and onion powder.  Leave for now.

Mix together the ground cashews, peanuts, and breadcrumbs (I usually grind the cashews and peanuts together, dump them in a bowl, then put a slice of wheat bread into the chopper to crumble it).  Mash the herbs up in a mortar and pestle until they're good and pasty, then mix with the crumbs until well distributed.  Don't expect uniform distribution, just do the best you can.

Mix the soy milk with the nutritional yeast and stir well.

Dip the eggplant slices in the soy milk and sprinkle the breading onto them.  The breading is easily compressible, I ended up just sort of patting it onto the eggplant to make a crust.

Once they've all got a good crust on them put them in the oven on 375 for about 25 minutes or until slightly browned.  Serve over pasta with a tasty tomato sauce.

Muy tasty!

The Kitchen / Tasty Tofu
« on: May 19, 2007, 12:02:10 AM »
Rushed for dinner, I prepared the most tasty tofu I have ever eaten:

1 package firm tofu
8oz water + 2tsp vegetable "Better Than Boullion"
Pinch of fresh:
 Summer Savory

Sliced the tofu up into 1/2" (1.25cm) slices and simmered in the broth/herb mix for a while.  Actually I kinda let it go too long and the pan went a little dry, so I added a splash or two more water to get it all liquidy again.  I turned the tofu a few times as well.  It cooked maybe 20 minutes before I threw a slab onto a bed of couscous and ate it.  BabyMok loved it!

I think though that next time I'll bread the tofu with something crunchy and fry it a bit.  Maybe corn flake crumbs...

The Kitchen / Vegan Gravy (goes well with magical loaves)
« on: April 01, 2007, 10:26:53 PM »
Here's an awesome gravy recipe adapted slighty from  "".  It is very savory and goes excellently with a vegan loaf:

Vegan Gravy


    * .5C vegetable oil
    * 3-6 cloves of garlic minced
    * .5C onion, chopped finely or pureed
    * .5C all-purpose white flour
    * 4T nutritional yeast
    * 4T soy sauce
    * 2C water
    * .5t sage
    * .25t black pepper
    * Salt to taste
    * 5 or 6 white mushrooms, thinly sliced


Sautee pureed onion with oil in saucepan for a while, then add the garlic.  

Once it's all good and cooked add everything but the mushrooms and the water and stir it into a thick paste.  Add the water slowly with stirring, then bring to a boil for a few minutes.  

Stir in the thinly sliced mushrooms, cook until they're tender, salt to taste, and serve hot.

Mine always comes out a bit thick, so you might want to thin it out a bit more.  If it's too thin, you can always add a bit more flour.


I tend to puree the onion, it helps the consistency of the gravy.  When first made, this gravy will be nice and thick, but still liquid.  Upon cooling it will congeal into a jello-like substance that WILL NOT LIQUEFY no matter how much you microwave it.  It still tastes as good as before but it will not turn back into a liquid, so use it wisely.   If anybody figures out how to do this, I will be very interested to know.

The Kitchen / Magical Loaf Studio
« on: April 01, 2007, 09:10:24 PM »
I wanted to share an awesome resource for making vegan loaves,  The Magical Loaf Studio, courtesy of the Vegan Lunchbox Blog.  If you aren't savvy, vegan loaves are pretty much like meatloaves except without the meat.  This "studio" allows you to generate a recipe for a vegan loaf from any number of ingredients, although it does not guarantee a tasty result.  Below is an example of a recipe that we recently generated and cooked which turned out rather well (which, incidentially, I am feeding to BabyMok right this moment):


1/2 cup sunflower seeds
2 TB olive oil
One onion, diced
One large garlic clove, minced
Two celery ribs, diced
One cup mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
2 cups mashed firm tofu
1 cup cooked quinoa
1/4 to 1/2 cup vegetable broth, as needed
1/2 cup uncooked Cream of Wheat
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried sage
1 tsp. dried basil
2 TB nutritional yeast flakes
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 TB soy sauce


Preheat the oven to 350º. Spray a loaf pan or 8x8 square baking pan with nonstick spray and set aside (an 8x8 pan makes a crisper loaf).

Grind the sunflower seeds into a coarse meal using a food processor or spice/coffee grinder. Place in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Sauté any vegetables you've chosen in the olive oil until soft. Add to the large mixing bowl along with all the remaining ingredients. Mix and mash together well, adding only as much liquid as needed to create a soft, moist loaf that holds together and is not runny (you may not need to add any liquid if the grains and protein are very moist). Add more binder/carbohydrate as needed if the loaf seems too wet.

Press mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until cooked through.

Let the loaf cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then turn out onto a plate or platter and slice. Serve with potatoes, vegetables, and vegetarian gravy, if desired.

Cold leftover slices of make a great sandwich filling.


I find cream of wheat to make an excellent binder, but the tofu made the loaf a bit squishy.  Next time I will likely use half-and-half tofu and garbanzo beans (beans alone make it rather chunky and dry).

The Garden / Pest Identification Challenge: Happy-Face-Butt Worm
« on: March 06, 2007, 12:20:40 AM »
Whilst digging up some soil that I intend to garden in very shortly, I came across this fellow:

Can anybody help me identify him?  I live in the south-east USA, if that helps.

Here's the little guy hanging out with Sacajawea, for the sake of dimension:


The Kitchen / VEGAN: (Insert Additive Here) Waffles
« on: February 20, 2007, 10:26:49 AM »
When I was young, a favorite food was Sausage Waffles.  Yes, sausage in waffles.  It's actually very tasty, somehow the sweet of maple combines well with bready waffles and the savory sausage.  Don't knock it 'till you've tried it....

Anyway, it took me a while but I finally found a replacement for these now that I've "turned" to the V-side.  I like this recipe because it's simple, it doesn't call for a bunch of weird flours or flax seeds or stuff I don't regularly buy.

Here's what I use for the waffle batter:

1c unbleached white flour w/germ
1T aluminum-free baking powder
Dash of salt

2T Energi Egg-replacer + 4T water
1c soy milk
1T maple syrup
2T peanut oil

Combine solids and liquids separately, then whisk together.   This makes about four decently sized waffles.

For the sausage I brown in a pan one plastic sausage of Go Lean! Sausage Style... substance.  It's pretty tasty, although I think eventually I'll try my hand at making my own.  

Today I made blueberry waffles (although I forgot the oil for the first two - trust me, don't forget the oil).

Post your variants!

The Kitchen / VEGAN: Portobello Burger
« on: February 20, 2007, 09:29:13 AM »
I can't stand the mushroomy flavor of raw mushrooms.  Can't take it man, it makes me nauseous.  But, luckily for me, I found that balsamic vinegar cuts that flavor like a mentally retarded man with a scythe through some jerk.

Anyway, here's what I do (I suggest doing these two things concurrently):

Slice up some bell peppers (red, yellow, or orange, green isn't ripe) and onions fairly thin, sautee until soft, toss in some balsamic vinegar at the end and stir around until most of the liquid boils away leaving a soggy mess of vegetables.

Remove the stem of your portobello, place on foil-lined baking sheet, fill the upturned mushroom cup with balsamic, rubbing the gills to make them absorb it (they're fairly hydrophobic otherwise).  Bake at 350F for a few minutes until visibly soft, about 7 or 8 for me.  Bake too long and it'll deflate and get chewy.  Pour off excess balsamic if necessary.

Bottom of the bun gets greens, then the mushroom, then the veggies on top, then the top of the bun.  Extremely tasty, especially if you like balsamic vinegar.

The Kitchen / VEGAN: Indian-Spiced Quinoa with Raisins and Pine Nuts
« on: February 01, 2007, 11:40:57 PM »
This is Mok's wife Mystia. I am posting under his name because my account is messed up. I wanted to post this now, before I forgot about it. Enjoy! Oh and I had to use a yellow onion instead of shallots but it came out nicely. Next time, I will use the shallots and see how it turns out.

Indian-Spiced Quinoa with Raisins and Pine Nuts

Despite the fact that quinoa hails from South America, it adapts deliciously to the flavors of Indian spices and the Middle Eastern pilaf-style cooking method.

1½ cups quinoa
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large shallots, minced
1 teaspoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
⅛ teaspoon cayenne
3 cups vegetable stock or water, heated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
⅓ cup golden raisins
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves

1. Rinse the quinoa well to remove the bitter white coating. Drain thoroughly and set aside.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and ginger and cook, stirring, until the shallots are slightly softened, about 1 minute. Add the quinoa along with the cardamom, coriander, cumin, and cayenne and stir to coat with the oil. Stir in the hot stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook until all the water is absorbed, about 10 minutes.
3. Remove from the heat and stir in the raisins, pine nuts, and parsley. Serve hot.

Serves 4.

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