Root Simple Reader Survey Results

Many thanks to all of you who took the time to fill out the survey. I had to close it when we reached the maximum number of responses (100) without having to pay for a Survey Monkey subscription. And apologies for not checking to see if the survey worked on a smart phone (it didn’t). That was one of the important lessons: always optimize for phones. Hopefully this website works on your phone. If it doesn’t please let us know.

Now for the results of the survey:

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We’ve set a goal to put out three to six blog posts a week plus a podcast. I have a hard time knowing if we’re putting out too much or too little. There’s a paradoxical problem with a DIY blog. If we’re gardening or in the garage making something we’re not writing and vice versa. It’s been difficult to find the right balance. Looks like you’re all good with where we are.

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When we first began this blog ten years ago the standard advice was along the lines of, “people are distracted so make your posts short.” Lately, the common wisdom is that blog posts should be long and footnoted. We decided to split the difference, though we’ve kept posts on the short side. It looks like you agree (though the unscientific part of this poll is that the folks who want them shorter or longer may not read this blog anymore). I am going to try the occasional longer post. And sorry about the typo on the question–I need an editor!

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We began the podcast knowing that many of you would not listen to it. I’m fine with this. There are several blogs that I love and read that have podcasts that I never listen to. That said, many more people listen to our podcast than show up for book tour appearances. We’ve been averaging around 1,200 downloads per week, though it’s hard to tell how many people listen all the way through.

But the real reason we do the podcast is that it’s a way to have a conversation with and listen to other people in the movement. Writing can get lonely and solipsistic. It’s easy to lose perspective. The conversations we have on the podcast change the written content on the blog in a positive way. Unfortunately, the podcast takes a lot of time. We have to book guests, conduct the interview and spend, on average, four to five hours editing. It looks like we could step back to one podcast every other week instead of every week. That will give us more time for the blog.

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It would be a lot easier for the Root Simple PR department if we just stuck to one topic like, say, chicken health or DIY lotion making. That’s what bloggers are “supposed” to do. But this blog began as a way to celebrate those of us who are “Jack (or Jill) of all trades and master of none.” It looks like you agree. But we do need to do more gardening posts and spend more time building things.

In the “other” category many of you left very kind comments as well as great suggestions (I’ve never once blogged about DIY music in spite of the fact that I have a degree in music).

Again, thank you for your help and support over the past ten years. The eclectic topics we cover attract really nice people who want to make the world a better place. We are fortunate to have you as readers and listeners.

Take the Root Simple Poll

Dear Readers,

We’re curious as to how Root Simple could please you best. To that end, we’ve created a short four question poll. It would really help us if you would take a minute and fill it out.

If you have other feedback which does not fit into poll form, please leave a note for us in the comments.

Many thanks!

Erik and Kelly

Update: We’ve reached the maximum number of responses without paying for a Survey Monkey subscription. Many thanks for all your feedback.

Create your own user feedback survey

Weekend Tweets: Strawberry Season, Air Plant Therapy and Trees Eating Things

How do I get started baking bread?

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The short answer to the question of how to get started baking bread is Josey Baker. His name is Baker, after all. While I’ve reviewed his book before, it’s worth repeating since I get asked for good bread recipes all the time.

Why do I like Josey Baker’s book? Baker is a former science educator. He’s good at explaining things in a clear, step-by-step manner. Many of the other bread books floating around right now are, in my opinion, overly lengthy and, often, confusing. Best of all, Baker emphasizes whole grain, sourdough fermented breads.

Baker has summarized all the popular methods out there right now in one place. Want to make a New York Times no-knead/Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day type loaf? No problem, that’s the first loaf in Baker’s book. Want to make a Tartine style loaf without reading a hundred pages of directions? No problem, that’s also in the book. Wan’t to graduate on to a style of whole wheat/sourdough breads pioneered by people like Baker and Miller? He’s got you covered. If that’s not enough, Baker also shares the excellent Cooks Illustrated Chocolate Chip cookie recipe as well as a recipe for moist scones (no, scones don’t have to be as dry as dog biscuits!).

I’ve had the privilege of meeting Baker and hosting him for a bread class here in LA. He’s a supremely nice guy, more than happy to share his expertise and spend hours answering hydration ratio questions. I don’t think there was a moment when he wasn’t smiling. His mentor is someone I consider to be the finest baker in the US right now, Dave Miller (who was profiled in Michael Pollan’s Cooked).

If you’re visiting San Francisco make sure to visit his bakery which is located within a cafe called The Mill.

084 How to Make Your Own Cheese with David Asher

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Want to learn how to make delicious cheeses in your own kitchen? It’s easier than you think. Our guest this week is radical natural cheesemaker David Asher, author of The Art of Natural Cheesemaking: Using Traditional, Non-Industrial Methods and Raw Ingredients to Make the World’s Best Cheeses.

During the podcast we discuss:

  • The difference between natural cheesmaking and the way most cheese is made in North America.
  • Using a kefir culture to make cheese.
  • The importance of quality milk.
  • What if I can’t get raw milk?
  • Easy cheeses.
  • The ins and out of rennet and how to make your own.
  • WalcoRen rennet.
  • Using cardoon flowers instead of rennet.
  • Tools you need for cheesemaking.
  • Hacking a fridge to make your own cheese cave.
  • Using leftover whey for fertilizer and cooking.
  • Making chèvre.
  • How to store cheese.
  • The cheese scene in Canada and the legality of raw milk.
  • Raw milk cheeses in Quebec.

To find out about David’s classes visit his website The Black Sheep School of Cheesemaking.

If you want to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to [email protected]. You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. The theme music is by Dr. Frankenstein. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.