Stroke equipment by a stroke warrior
A pot boiling water over a fire, just like in the recipe.

Ancient Recipe

Recently a friend in New Jersey sent me an email asking ten of her friends to forward her our favorite recipes.

According to the ponzi scheme that she proposed, she would then forward our ten recipes to the person who had originally emailed her. And so on and so forth.


Somehow or other, if I followed this plan, I would then receive a hundred thousand recipes back.   On a dark note, she warned that breaking this recipe chain-letter would result in dire consequences. A man in Rangoon broke the chain and died of elevated cholesterol levels. A woman in Tierre del Fuego ignored the letter and fell into the industrial meat grinder at the hot dog factory where she worked.


Nonetheless, I hit delete.


From past experience, I knew that at most one or two of those hundred thousand recipes would be filtered out as spam. The other ninety nine thousand nine hundred and ninety eight recipes clogging my inbox would either be for brownies or have cream of chicken soup as their main ingredient.


I’m against following recipes and particularly against sharing them.

Not just because recipes are totalitarian but because of the damage that recipes are doing to our planet.


Consider the ingredient list; some shmo wakes up in the morning and put Chilean Sea Bass on a recipe. Ten million gourmets copy the recipe off the net, and suddenly a whole species is doomed.


Or a simple choice like “preheat oven to 450” changes the geopolitical balance in central asia as the world’s need for natural gas suddenly spikes. Remember the old rule of thumb: Every extra fifteen degrees starts one oil war.


Even simple recipes can have potentially catastrophic results. Think of the oldest and simplest recipe of them all – how to boil water. A recipe which actually appears on page 1058 of the Joy of Cooking.


So you don’t think that boiling water is dangerous to the planet? Then consider a recipe for boiled water that was recently discovered carved onto the cave-wall of a prehistoric settlement in Siberia.


Experts believe that this is the oldest and most environmentally destructive recipe ever discovered.


Boiled Water – serves one extended family group


Preparation time: 3-5 years, depending on availability of local resources



Step 1. Choose tin-ore and timber rich area to settle. You will need these raw resources!


  1. Form flint axe using two or more pieces good quality flint, the bough of oak tree and strips of tanned animal hide (see tanning animal hide, cave wall number 84)


  1. Using your newly formed flint axe, hew down several sizeable trees. Trim larger branches and set aside for later (you will need these to craft rudimentary shelter!)


  1. Chop trunks into manageable cords of firewood. Set aside in dry, sheltered cave or under rocky outcrop.


  1. Prepare several more flint axes (see step #2). Eight or ten may be necessary.


  1. Mine one metric ton of tin-ore (note: this step may require domesticating pack horses or raiding neighboring tribes for slaves.)


  1. Use axe to dig fire pit.


  1. Build your fire using cords of firewood. You may be able to kindle fire by repeatedly striking flint to produce sparks, by waiting for nearby lightning strike to ignite bush or by raiding coals from neighboring tribe (be sure to bring hollowed-out piece of oak to carry the coals!)


  1. Fan the coals white-hot by waving branches at base of flames. (A sheep bladder may also be used as bellows.)


  1. SLOWLY add chunks of tin ore to perimeter of fire pit. As ore melts, it will run into bottom of pit. Repeat step over two week period until all your ore is gone. (You may need to hew more firewood or raid more neighboring tribes.)


  1. When ash has cooled, remove slab of tin from bottom of pit.


  1. Using fist-sized rocks, beat slab of tin into rough shape of bowl (a bowl is shape your hands make when you use them to lift water to your mouth from stream.)


  1. Build second fire (this one small.)


  1. When fire going well, fill your “bowl” with water and balance it on top of flames.


  1. Observe water. As the flames heat it through tin, tiny bubbles appear. Also steam.


  1. Stir occasionally until water resembles foaming rapids.


  1. Remove tin bowl from flames using deerskin fire-pit mitts (if you don’t have fire-pit mitts, raid neighboring tribe.)


Step. 18. Pour boiling water on enemy. Serve immediately.

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