Learn How To Bake Sourdough Bread with Dana Morgan February 18th

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Want to learn how to bake your own tasty sourdough loaves? Take a class with the Los Angeles Bread Baker’s amazing instructor Dana Morgan on February 18th at the community oven in Westchester. Not to be missed!

This small class will teach you the basics of Tartine-style sourdough bread baking. Come learn about making and maintaining sourdough starter and how to mix, divide, shape and time the fermentation of amazing artisan bread inspired by Chad Robertson at Tartine Bakery in San Francisco. Prepare your sourdough in class and bake it at home the next day. Ingredients for your bread will be provided.

Head over to the Los Angeles Bread Baker’s Meetup to sign up.

Saturday Tweets: DIY WiFi Antennas, Cardboard Drones and Giant Crabs

The #FewerFeatures Movement

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When the control panel on our dishwasher failed last month I found myself asking why our appliances and gadgets have so many useless features. Those features bring with them a greater chance that the device will break down and make them harder and more expensive to repair.

Take a look at our dishwasher’s control panel above. Never, in the years we’ve had this beast, have we ever used any of the wash cycle options except for “Normal.” What the hell is “Glass Xpress” or “Adaptive Wash” anyways? Via the power of Adobe Photoshop (itself a mirrored funhouse of features), I’ve redesigned the Whirlpool Quiet Partner III. Et, voila, #FewerFeatures:

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Here’s our complex and Eurotrashy, combo-washer/dryer:

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For the #FewerFeatures version, I’ve simplified the wash cycles to cold, warm and hot. I took out a few of the dryer’s options too (the dryer doesn’t work well anyways and we seldom use it). And I removed what I call the “feature signaling” verbiage stenciled on the lower left and right of the control panel that reads “TrueBalance Anti-Vibration System™” and “Smart Diagnosis™” (look closely and you’ll even see a drawing of a flip phone next to a plus sign!). Why?

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Speaking of flip phones, this isn’t entirely fair, but I couldn’t resist a #FewerFeatures version of the iPhone.

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No, my still functional Western Electric 500 does not play movies, music, function as a timer or keep track of my steps, but it sure is a lot more handsome and less distracting:

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Incidentally, rumor has it that a lot of high-powered Silicon Valley execs use flip phones, a.k.a. “dumb phones” precisely because they have #FewerFeatures.

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Some companies have long been hip to #FewerFeatures and actually sell less features for a premium. Take a look at the beautiful Leica M10. Leica places an emphasis on high quality optics and ease of use. The M10 will set you back $6,500.

Update: In Twitter, Adrien Berridge @berridAC points out that the ultimate #FewerFeatures Leica is the M-D-a digital camera with no screen! I updated the photo so show this remarkable and pricey camera. Thank you Adrien!

I suspect that devices with too many features come from companies where the marketing department has too much say in the design. We’re going to change this! Tell us about your #FewerFeatures journey. Bust out the Photoshop, use the hashtag in social media and let’s simplify our tools!

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097 Mill Your Own Flour with a Mock Mill

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Listen to “097Mill Your Own Flour with a Mock Mill” on Spreaker.

First off, I want to thank Eric Rochow of Garden Fork for subbing for Kelly and I on the previous podcast (episode 96). Thank you Eric! And I hope everyone listening to our podcast will also subscribe to the Garden Fork Podcast and YouTube channel. Please leave Eric some good reviews too! As for Kelly, she’s doing better and I hope to have her on the next episode of the podcast to talk about her aortic dissection adventure.

On this special live episode of the Root Simple podcast I interview Paul Lebeau, who came all the way from Germany to demonstrate an interesting new home flour mill called the Mock Mill. The Mock Mill was designed by Wolfgang Mock who has, in his career, created what I think are the best home grain mills you can buy. What’s interesting about the Mock Mill is that it’s a stone mill that attaches to a Kitchen Aid mixer. This greatly reduces the cost and footprint of the mill.

I’ve been milling my own flour for several years now with another mill designed by Wolfgang Mock and, like Paul, I think that everyone who bakes–bread, cakes, cookies, anything–should have a home mill. The flour you get is many orders of magnitude better, plus you can make flour with all kinds of exotic grains.

This live event was made possible thanks to a number of people–Roe Sie hosted the event at his shop, the King’s Roost (Roe was a guest on episode 58 of the podcast), an amazing baker named Guy Frenkel, who I hope to have on the podcast soon, Leyna Lightman and the Los Angeles Bread Bakers, a Meetup group that I co-run.

Some other folks in the audience: farmers Larry Kandarian and Alex Weiser, Sherry Mandell from the Tehachapi Heritage Grain Project, bakers Rose Lawrence, who teaches classes at the King’s Roost and Dana Morgan, who teaches classes at the Westchester Community Oven at Holy Nativity Episcopal Church (sign up for the Los Angeles Bread Bakers Meetup to find out about those classes). And a big thank you to Sharon for running the mixing board for me!

If you’d like 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.

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DIY Appliance Repair: What I did When My Dishwasher Start Button Stopped Working

When, in the middle of a terrible head cold last week, our dishwasher stopped working I had a meltdown. In my worst display of “first world problem” privilege ever, I actually fell to my knees and wailed. Then I calmed down and asked Dr. Google for advice.

In recent years, Dr. Google has become much more knowledgeable about the intricacies of appliance repair. Back in the dark ages, the internet only provided Beanie Baby prices and Nyan Cat memes. Now the internet’s coverage has expanded beyond the geeky and into the more mundane world of home construction and repair.

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So when a major appliance breaks down I would suggest first consulting the Appliance Blog discussion threads. Even if you’re going to hire the job out it’s good to know what the problem might be and how much it will cost to fix. In my case I was able to figure out that the control panel had a bad switch.

The next step is to head to a parts supplier such as Parts Dr. I picked up the control panel for $137 including shipping.

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The last step, actually doing the repair, is where YouTube comes in. You could probably learn to pilot a jet with YouTube instruction these days, and there’s now a decent amount of appliance repair porn to watch. I viewed the thrilling video above multiple times before attempting the repair.

It took less than ten minutes to swap out the control panel. Then I took a victory lap around the living room with much fist pumping. In the end, I probably saved at least $150 by avoiding a service call.

The interior of my Whirlpool Silent Partner III dishwasher has nicely designed modular parts that are easier to access than many other appliances I’ve opened up. But I have to say that, like many modern gadgets, I wish it had fewer features. All those buttons and circuits end up being a repair liability over time. We need to start a #fewerfeatures movement!