Coffee Roasting Demo at Summer Nights in the Garden July 8


The Los Angeles County Natural History Museum puts on a fun and free series every summer called Summer Nights in the Garden. It’s a fun mix of hands-on science demos, crafts, food trucks, music and cocktails in the museum’s beautiful garden. We’ve been a part of it each year and we’re returning on July 8th from 5-9 p.m. to do a home coffee roasting demo.

Of all the crazy home ec things we do around the Root Simple compound, coffee roasting is one of the simplest and most rewarding. I can’t believe that more people don’t do it. We’re going to show you how to roast your own coffee with a Whirley-Pop stove-top popcorn maker. Sweet Maria’s Home Coffee Roasting has generously donated the green beans we’ll be using. We’ll be repeating the workshop 6 times throughout the evening. There is a separate, free reservation system for the workshops that you can sign up for once you are on site. But show up early as the workshops fill up quickly.


Black Rock Observatory.

If the coffee roasting demo is not enough to get you off the couch, there will also be a macrame workshop with Elsie Goodwin of Reform Fibers (this really takes me back to my 1970s childhood) and stargazing with the Desert Wizards of Mars who run an astronomy camp at burning man and who have created some amazing portable observatory buildings.

Music will be provided by DJ Aaron Byrd and Boom Boom Boom.

The event is free but you need to RSVP and show up early.

Los Angeles Bread Festival This Weekend!


This Saturday at Grand Central Market, I’ll be doing a free demo on how to starter a sourdough starter as well as a lecture on cats and grain! I’ll also be at the Los Angeles Bread Baker’s booth all weekend. Here’s the 411.

Throughout the weekend, Grand Central Market vendors will provide an eclectic offering of special, one-time only bread menu offerings–special, hearth-baked loaves from Clark Street Bread, cornbread from Horse Thief BBQ, flatbread specials from Madcapra, handmade tortillas from Chiles Secos, “butter flights” from DTLA Cheese, salted caramel bread pudding and fruit bread pudding from Valerie Confections Bakery & Café, cultured butter and Bruce Kalman’s signature giardiniere from Knead & Co. Pasta Bar + Market and much more.

The festival will also include a pop-up marketplace showcasing local bread bakers and purveyors of jam and nut butters, as well as bread-centric workshops and demonstrations.

Last year was a lot of fun and the festival is freeeeeeeeeeeeee.

Tree Bondage

Ladies and gentleman, this is how you do a class announcement. Robert Kourik, our guest on episode 69 of our podcast, sent me an email that had me laughing and wishing that I lived in Northern California so that I could attend his upcoming talk:

Tree Bondage: and solutions 

I’ll show dozens of misshaped, abused and tortured trees, from mangled roots, to poorly-tended trunks and grossly manipulated canopies. I will show photographs of trees in bondage and discuss healthy alternatives. (Or, whether or not it should be reduced to firewood!) Be prepared to be shocked as well as educated.

You will:

  • See how trees can be mismanaged
  • Learn how to “repair” damaged trees
  • Learn how to avoid the hurtful aspects of the damaged trees shown
  • See examples of the correct way to plant, irrigate, compost, fertilize, mulch and prune trees

Where: The Seed Bank, 199 Petaluma Blvd N, Petaluma, CA 94952

When: Thursday June 2nd, 6:30PM

Phone: (707) 773-1336

Robert Kourik, Metamorphic Press
PO Box 412, Occidental, CA 95465

Author & Publisher
“Understanding Roots”
“Drip Irrigation for Every Landscape and All Climates”
“No-Dig Gardening, for a Healthier Soil & a Sustainable Garden”

A Lecture on the Connection Between Cats and Grain


If not for cats would we have bread? On Saturday June 4th at 2 p.m. at the Los Angeles Bread Festival at Grand Central Market I’m going to deliver a talk on the connection between cats and grain. The connection is a basic one: store grain and you get vermin. Then you need cats.

But, in the course of preparing for this lecture, I discovered that the commonly held narrative of cat domestication is an unsubstantiated fiction. That narrative goes something like this: in a golden, ancient time Egyptians revered cats, Medieval folks persecuted them and enlightened 18th century philosophers rediscovered them. This is the feline version of the myth of progress whose ultimate destination is a world in which we spend all our hours spinning around in self driving cars while watching, on our virtual reality glasses, an endlessly looped 3D version of Nyan Cat.

Islam tells a much more succinct and, I think, more accurate version of cat domestication. An Islamic legend holds that Noah’s ark was overrun with mice and rats. God instructed Noah to pet the nostril of a lion, whereupon the lion sneezed out two house cats. Noah’s vermin problem was solved. The story highlights the two ways in which humans actually interacted with house cats for thousands of years: as rodent control and as the occupants of ships.

In my talk I’ll discuss what we know about early cat domestication in the Fertile Crescent (not much, but cat domestication predates Egyptian civilization by several thousand years). Then I’ll show how our feline grain guardians became ship’s cats and spread all around the world. Lastly, I’ll take a detour into the lives of famous distillery cats.

Hope to see you at the Bread Fest!

Sprouted Rye Class This Saturday!

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I’m teaching a rye bread class this Saturday May 14th at 10:45 AM at Holy Nativity Episcopal Church in Westchester. I’m going to walk you through how to start a rye sourdough starter, how to sprout grain and how to work with 100% rye doughs. There are still a few seats available so sign up soon. As a bonus, there will be a pizza lunch and community bread bake using the community oven built by Environmental Changemakers. To sign up for the class head over to the Los Angeles Bread Bakers Meetup Group.