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test run

12 Aug

Test runs are always good ideas.
It felt oh so good to get my signs clipped onto my cart, and strap my newly fabricated table on top, despite their inescapable flimsiness.
But then I packed everything up and got on the road, and I realized a few very important missing elements in the Yogurt Pedaler’s getup:

1. The cooler didn’t fit in the cart. This is oh so obviously something I should have confirmed before now, but I didn’t. Good thing I wasn’t depending on a cooler as enormous as this one. One item added to the Menard’s shopping list.
2. The tarp I salvaged from the dumpster to make my rain tarp had been tossed for a reason – it was full of holes. Back to square one. At least I had most of a shower curtain lying around at Open Produce. Thanks, Steven.
3. I broke my front basket while strapping it onto the handlebars. So much for my awesome old leather Schwinn handlebar bag.
4. My squeaky new umbrella is too short to stand under, so I’ll either have to find a sturdy, light extension method, or go umbrella-less and hope people eat my yogurt quickly.
5. My heels hit the panniers at every pedal stroke. Luckily there’s a solution for this involving a PVC pipe strapped to my rear rack, already perfected by Steven and Katherine on previous trips.

Moving forward from these hurdles, I’ll leave you with a hastily captured image of the Yogurt Pedaler’s return home after its hardly-glorious test run to Open Produce:

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i have a logo!

7 Aug

Thanks to the fantastic Alejandra Ponce de Leon and my fumbling around in Adobe Illustrator, I have a logo!  Watch for it to appear on my lessons, cards, stickers (!! inshallah), and snazzy apron.

incubation experiments.5&6

1 Aug

Today I did a two-fer. Steven’s suggestion of a tea light imitating the pilot light I use in my kitchen was simple, and I tried the thermos jug again, with heated water and yogurt inside.


The results: minutes after removing their UFO wrapping foils, were diverse. The thermos yogurt is definitely yogurt – smells like it, and it’s got the texture of a very, very thin yogurt. We’ll see if it firms up enough in the fridge.


The tea light yogurt was a burnt failure. There’s even a nice little browned film on top. Next time I’m going to raise it up so the tea light isn’t directly under, possibly touching the jar.


Thanks to all of you who have helped sponsor these yogurt-making adventures – the failures as well as the successes! My Kickstarter fundraising goal was met, exceeded grandly, and my time is up. Keep an eye out for future updates, and thanks again!

incubation experiments.4

1 Aug

Corrigan cleaned behind the counter at the bike shop the other day, and I snagged a big old thermos he was going to throw out. Instead of going through the whole yogurt making process, I filled it with hot water from the faucet, closed it up, and wrapped the whole thing in an insulation blanket I got from American Science & Surplus.


The temperature at 8:45, when I left for work, was 110°F, and when I returned home 11 hours later, at 7:45, it was at 95°F – a loss of only 15°F! I’m hopeful – today I’m going to heat some water on the stove to about 125°F and try a yogurt incubation experiment for the rest of the day. (Remember – the ideal yogurt-making temperature is 110°F.)

incubation experiments.2 & 3

30 Jul

It’s a little over 2 weeks before departure…and I have yet to successfully make yogurt outside of my kitchen.  I’m getting closer, but also more desperate.  I have a fourth experiment (no yogurt, just a temperature maintenance test) on my kitchen counter now – I’ll report back tomorrow on its success.  (It’s in a 30-year-old thermos rescued from the floor of Blackstone Bikes…so I have my doubts, but we’ll see.)

Experiment number 2 was a slight upgrade from sun experiment 1, which almost worked.  For this one, I simply stuck my yogurt jar in a black garbage bag, hoping to capture some of the sun’s heat and store it a little longer and hotter.  I sat it on the roof of Experimental Station all day long, on a consistently hot day.

At the end of the day…I had my first MISERABLE complete yogurt-making failure I can remember.  I was holding a hot jar of cream.  It smelled sweet and creamy and sour all at the same time.  I tossed it right down the drain.

Experiment number 3 was much more involved. I did some research on some awesome websites about solar ovens (I really want to make one out of an umbrella, but I don’t need to grill my yogurt, so it didn’t seem appropriate), and made one of my own.



I was excited, but also a little skeptical. Espeically of the hinge, which was screwed weakly into styrofoam. My worries turned out to be justified, because the top broke off the in wind on the way to Experimental Station.  No reflectors for me!  (I had intended to use the foil-covered roof as a reflector in the middle of the day and then close it as the sun sunk lower and cooler during the afternoon.)


In any case, this experiment definitely made yogurt, just really, really watery yogurt. I had my thermometer stuck in the top, in the shade, for the whole day, and checked it periodically. The temperature was fluctuating a LOT, so that likely had something to do with the mediocre results.

I have dreams of a fancy solar oven hooked up to solar panels and a heat storage center, with little pipes that run hot water from the super-thermos to the yogurt, like a little solar powered yogurt radiator.

keep the momentum!

11 Jul

Thanks so much to all of you who helped me reach my goal of $2000 so quickly!
Now for the hard part; that budget didn’t include outfitting my bike properly. So, in order to make the Yogurt Pedaler sustainable, durable, and effective, spread the word, and help me transform this:


into a properly constructed bike trailer that I can depend on, that will carry my yogurt making supplies, teaching materials, and tent and personal gear reliably,
…so I won’t return to Chicago lugging a cart held together with duct tape, zip ties, and bits of old bike tubes.
Pledge here. (Click the green “back this project” button to the right of my video.)
So please help me keep the pledges coming ($2000 is not Kickstarter’s limit), keep getting the word out, and help me get safely on the road in August!
Thank you!

Concept sketches 1.0

17 May