small innovations

i had a few thoughts this morning that i will try to tie together. one aspect of being out here in a somewhat remote place, appealing or frustrating depending on your outlook,  is that are many things you cannot just run out and buy here. you can get all the basics, but beyond that you might be looking at a four hour trip to san jose, a big city where you can get pretty much anything.
necessity is the mother of invention, and that means you see more creative uses and reuses of tools, building materials, containers, and fewer consumer goods targeted at highly specific purposes. to give a couple of imperfect examples, for the last couple of weeks i have been reminding myself that i need a cutting board, usually while chopping an onion on an overturned plate. i think there is a tourist shop in puerto viejo selling teak ones, and i have looked in the supers for plastic ones. then it occurred to me there are all these wood scraps at the construction site next door. i poked through them and found a good size piece, and gave it a little scrubbing with a rotary sander pad i found in the toolshed. last night i broke it in preparing a nicoise salad, and it works well.
i had some finely diced garlic and onion, along with some balsamic vinegar and oil that needed emulsification. i thought about using a coffee cup and a fork, but opted instead to use an empty yogurt container. the lid fit snugly, and with a few shakes the oil and vinegar thickened to a perfect consistency. i couldn’t ask for a better implement to make salad dressing, and yet i started thinking that in the states, i would probably end up buying something to replace the repurposed plastic yoplait canister. why? i think that is the subject of another post, but i can say with almost certainty, judging from my experience in the past, that the replacement would not be a better tool. it might look more “appropriate”, but likely at the sacrifice of utility. i derive much greater satisfaction from macgyver-ing, so why am i so often tempted to buy things that take away the pleasure?
that’s enough rambling from the porch for now. i had plans to tie in several other thoughts that occurred to me this morning, but the day is calling.






3 responses to “small innovations”

  1. Jondi Avatar

    perhaps the reuse/recycle/repurpose urge (which I can related to) expresses a need for functional minimalism (vs. aesthetic minimalism). the task is the object rather than the object being the object.

  2. Jondi Avatar

    excuse my mistyping … i can has no minimalism … i is in your comments hackin your thoughts

  3. Jackson West Avatar

    Just remember to rub that wood down with mineral oil — it’ll keep the board from cracking when washed (vegetable oils will go rancid, so not a proper replacement).

    Also, if you’re looking for a chopping block to make quick work of prime cuts, whole fowl and small game, keep an eye out for someone felling a nice thick, hardwood tree and ask for a section 6-24″ long from the base of the trunk — remove the bark, sand, and again with the mineral oil.

    I don’t know if it’s because I’m a bachelor, or from my experience at the family cabin, but I love to come up with new purposes for ‘disposable’ items (those plastic tofu containers make great prep dishes for your mise-en-place). Don’t need to be in Costa Rica to take full advantage of the industrial world’s abondanza!

    Great to read the blog after getting back from CampCamp. I overheard a discussion that involved taking CampCamp to you next year!

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