Adi Zaffran’s toaster has five components: rebar rods, a cinder block, wood, a wire, and some fasteners. Looking at its compact aesthetic, I can’t help but think of Thomas Thwaites.
Thwaites’ project was intended to raise awareness of the massive network of materials and production required to make simple household objects in an industrial economy--a contemporary reinterpretation of I, Pencil. It was intentionally absurd, but watching him struggle through the quixotic process, I kept thinking:
"Dude, just use different materials!"
Zaffran’s toaster is itself a reinterpretation of an elementary technology--the brick oven--using the common materials of contemporary construction. Zaffran says.
"The pita bread as a staple food led me to the use of simple and basic building materials. It is very easy to make out of ready-made cement block."
Zaffran’s toaster would still require some struggle if you put it to the Thwaites test, but with its economy of parts, it would be far easier to build. It bypasses the plastic problem entirely. Besides, if the industrial economy does collapse, there will be plenty of rebar and cement blocks lying around to provide the raw materials. This attitude of making clever use of available materials, rather than futilely trying to create an impossible copy, strikes me as being closer to the heart of good design.
COMMENTARY: What a great idea for a weekend project for the do-it-yourselfer who loves rustic baking like they still bake pita bread in Greece, Iran and Middle East. In the mood for some freshly baked pita bread, checkout this receipe.
In Greek: πίτα, pronounced PEE-tah
Many recipes for pita bread require cooking at very hight heat, and home ovens don't always do the best job. This recipe makes soft, white pita rounds that should be brushed with olive oil and grilled, heated in a skillet, or toasted in the oven before using and serving. Serve wedges of this soft bread with dips, as a wrap for sandwiches, and in other creative ways.
Prep Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes
Cook Time: 6 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours, 21 minutes
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 1/2 cup of warm water
- 4 cups of bread flour
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 1 cup of warm water
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
Dissolve in the yeast and sugar in 1/2 cup of warm water and set aside, covered, for 15 minutes. Dissolve salt in the remaining 1 cup of warm water.
In a large mixing bowl, add flour and make a well in the center. Add yeast mixure and salt water. Knead with hands for 10 minutes in the bowl. Add olive oil and continue to knead until all oil is absorbed. Shape into a ball in the bowl, cover, and place in a warm area to rise until doubled in volume, approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Punch down the dough and knead for 5 minutes more.
Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C), and lightly oil baking sheets.
Take pieces of dough slightly larger than an egg and roll out on a floured surface to a thickness of 3/8 to 1/4 inch. (For larger or smaller pita bread pieces, take more or less dough). Prick the bread with a fork in several places.
Place on baking sheets and bake at 350°F (175°C) on the lowest oven rack for 2-3 minutes, then turn the pitas over and bake for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a tray covered with a clean dishtowel, with another clean towel on top. When thoroughly cooled, pitas can be stored in plastic bags in the refrigerator, or frozen.
Before using, brown in a lightly oiled frying pan for a few minutes until browned on both sides.