Sunday, June 14, 2009

this is just kind of cool

reflective bubble wrap = $0.35/foot^2

At that rate a tent cover with 100ft^2 = $35. Add some pvc poles and we might be on our way to something.

So you think you can cook ....

...But can you clean? Can you deal with gray water? Have you figured out what kind of tent you will be living in out on the playa this year?

Now that we have the essential tools and techniques for cooking we must figure out the essentials of cleaning up our mess and dealing with gray water.

More notes on desert shade structures.

We all love our amazing dome. It keeps us out of the elements and provides us a center point to our social activities. It does all these things wonderfully. We are all very grateful to the intrepid three man crew that made it happen so many years ago.

However, when out on the playa for a week, or as some of us are planning, two weeks, we need privacy from time to time. We all have the need for personal space. Tents almost work for this. Though, they lack protection from the dust and are just a little bit on the flimsy side for the desert environment. Over the next month, members of our camp will be spending time exploring personal space units(PSU's) The criteria we'll be optimizing for are:

1 Ability to completely protect the inhabitant from all weather on the playa (wind,sun,rain,dust,people)

2 Cost

3 Ease of: day to day use, transport, setup, tear down.

4 Looking awesome.

Here are some links that may provide some inspiration.

Desert Shade Structures


Shade Structures

Shade Geeks

Shade structure photos on tribe

Well it's a start.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Fwd: Dome

Dome! Love the Dome! personal dome love. It's better than a tent? Maybe yes?

How to run a playa kitchen!

From our friends at Pancake PlayHouse:

I'm the kitchen manager for Pancake Playhouse.  I can give you a rundown of the steps we take to meet code.  We have evolved to this point from a pretty crappy kitchen that probably should have been shut down in 2001 to what we are today (still pretty budget, but functional.)  I don't know how much detail you want, or how much of this will apply to you, but here is everything we do.

Our kitchen is made up of 2 carports, we got ours from Costco, but lots of places have them.  We carpet the floor, and spike the carpet down with those crappy little tent stakes that no one uses out on the playa, just stake the edges of each piece of carpet down about every 4 or 5 feet.  This reduces dust.  We have a couple of large fans to circulate air in there so we don't get too hot. 

 We store our dry food on shelves to keep it up off the floor, we place these shelves on the windward side of the kitchen, this helps secure the structure. 

We have 4 large trash barrels, one each for aluminum, trash, glass, and burnables.  These are staked down and attached to the structure support poles on the windward side.  We use heavy duty contractor's bags instead of trash bags, as even the strongest trash bags will tear under the kind of stress the playa puts on plastic, but contractor's bags are a lot tougher.  You can find them at any good hardware store.  When a bag is full we tie it shut and tie it to the outside of the kitchen on the leeward side. 

Our washing, cooking, prep, and serving are all done on large 30"X72" folding tables, four for cooking, 1 each for prep, serving, and dish washing. 

The dishwashing table is located on the leeward side of the kitchen.  We use 3 shallow sealable storage tubs for our dishwashing.  One for washing, one for rinsing, and one for bleach sanitizing.  For the sanitizer use the gnarly chlorine bleach, we used the environmentally friendly seventh generation stuff one year and got dinged for improperly sanitizing our dishes.  You can get basic litmus paper from a restaurant supply store to test the ph of your sanitizer.  We use a simple wooden shelf above the tubs to hold 2.5 gallon water jugs to serve as spigots.  Once the dishes are dry we pack them away in large sealable storage tubs.

Next to the dishwashing station we have a hand washing station.  It is just a 2.5 gallon jug of water with a small tub underneath it to catch the runoff.  We have liquid soap and hand sanitizer gel.  We keep a nail brush in a bowl of relatively high ph bleach water.  We had a paper towel roll from the kitchen wall above the station. 

The prep, cooking and serving tables are cleaned before and after each shift.  After each shift all of the stoves are cleaned and stacked.  Before each shift we give them a quick wipe down to get all the dust that they accumulated off.

The serving area has syrup jugs with pump tops and at least one of us serving the pancakes using tongs and wearing gloves.

You are not allowed to have open beverage containers for people working in the kitchen, but sport top bottles are acceptable so we makes sure to put one by each stove, so that the cooks can stay hydrated without breaking the rules.  We also make our people take frequent breaks, as it can get hot in there. 

Every one in the kitchen has to be wearing a hat or hairnet and some sort of clothing that covers the front of their body. 

We have at least one runner to take the food from the cooks to the servers, this keeps the food flowing quickly.

We have one person whose job it is to deal with the health inspector each day, they probably won't come every day, but they might, so we pick someone that refrained from heavy extra-curricular activities the previous night so that they are relatively fresh and coherent.  If you have volunteer cooks, make sure they don't talk to the health inspectors.

We don't serve food that requires refrigeration, but we cook it for ourselves, if you need to keep food cold using only ice chests, make sure the chests stay in the shade.  If you are using a refrigerator I would suggest putting it on a dolly so you can roll it into the shade as needed.  It will keep the compressor from getting over worked, well no it won't, but it might make the compressor last the week.  I have never had a fridge survive a trip to the playa, but if you have access to one you are going to toss anyway I highly recommend taking it up there.

You get the permit application here

This is a helpful checklist, if you answer yes to all the questions you will pass your inspections.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Hey Mikey, I think DPW likes Spaghetti!

This past weekend two members of our camp rambled up into the high desert of Nevada about 30 minutes further away from civilization than the playa off to burning mans dwp ranch. It was a wild and surreal space. It consisted of a 1 square mile track of land with in which there was a 3 acre compound filled with sleeping trailer, workshops, large sculptures, and some of the sweetest hippypunks you ever met. We worked hard saturday and sunday building projects to get dpw ready for setting up black rock city. They start working on the playa in july. One night made spaghetti dinner for about 40 people.

Cooking the spaghetti was fairly easy. We fired up the burner at chow time and waited 30 minutes for 1.5 gallons of water to boil and then tossed in 4 packages of spaghetti. It took about 15 minutes for the whole wheat pasta to cook up. We pulled the pasta out of the pot with a pair of tongs and threw it into a serving dish and placed a bowl of sauce next to it. It was a big hit with the dpw crew. There was about .75 gallons of gray water left in the pot at the end. It looks like we didn't use very much propane in the exercise.

Looks like we are on a good path.

On the way out of town we swung by the playa. It rained while we were there. There is standing water in some places. The playa looks like it will be super hard this year! YAY!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Spaghetti expirements

Here are the distilled notes from our spaghetti experiment this last weekend.

-It takes 1.5 gallons of water and 45 minutes to cook one package (11 bowls) of spaghetti.

-A tasty anchovy sauce can be made with garlic, olive oil, and anchovies. It's easily prepared during the time while the spaghetti is boiling.

Here are the advanced notes from our resident chemist:

• 6 qt of water to one package of spaghetti
• Estimated 8 qt water for 2 packages ~ 4 qt water per package of spaghetti
• homemade anchovy sauce serves 15 bowls ~ 1/4 cup per bowl
- 1/5 bottle of oil
- 3 can of anchovies
- 4 cloves of garlic peeled and diced and onions
• home made sauce took approximately 1 hour for 1 competent person to make.
• Prego (container is about 8cups) ~ 1/4 cup per bowl
- 30 bowls
• 6 qt water took 30 minutes to boil on camp stove. [in the 12qt pot]
• 1 package of pasta takes 15 minutes from putting the pasta in the water to being done.
- takes about 10 minutes to cook once it's all in the water and water is back to boiling.
• 1 package of spaghetti made 11 bowls.
• We can use this info to figure out how much water is needed.