How To Dry Food With the Sun

Drying Apricots in Southern California–early 20th century style. Dehydration is one of my favorite food preservation techniques. Drying food concentrates flavor and is a traditional technique in our Mediterranean climate. Best of all, drying food is one of the best applications for low-tech solar power. In many places, you can simply set food out under cheesecloth to dry in the sun. But there’s a catch to sun drying: humidit...

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Lego-Robot Chickens

In response to our Monday post on clicker training chickens, Root Simple pal and fellow Master Food Preserver Diane Trunk posted a video on our Facebook page. Diane explains, Here’s a link to a silly video of our trained chickens. My son trained them to come running in response to a beep. The beep signaled that a lego-robot box (you’ll see) was going to open, and the hens would get their favorite treat: string cheese. Alas, these...

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No Need to Knead

The Los Angeles Bread Bakers held their debut demonstration today thanks to the folks at Good. As you can see from the picture above some serious bakers showed up. Teresa Sitz and Mark Stambler Teresa Sitz demonstrated her wild yeast no-knead bread. You can read her recipe over on the LABB Facebook page. Wild yeast breads have a number of advantages over breads made with commercial yeast. Due to higher acidity they keep longer and hav...

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Sonora Wheat at the Huasna Valley Farm

...oking forward to baking with it. I might even grow my own mini-Sonora wheat field this winter (you plant it here in Southern California in January for harvest around the 4th of July. For more information on Sonora wheat see: The Huasna Valley Farm website, particularly their informative newsletters. Sustainablegrains.org has a Sonora Wheat tortilla recipe. Slow Food USA has a page on the history of Sonora wheat. If you’re in the Los Angele...

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The Skunk Whisperer

...coop was well fortified and I got rid of a water feature that was a nightly raccoon attractant. Our Doberman is the icing on the anti-raccoon cake. It’s easy to see how preventing points of entry into our homes is one important part of fending off critters. Judging from the voluminous photos on the Skunk Whisperer’s facebook page they focus on screening out critter access. The beehive relocation I helped with recently and the one I&#...

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The Making of a Great Olive Oil

...(called malaxation) the pulpy olive mass goes into a high speed centrifuge: Matt (left) Dale (right) with the centrifuge At the end of all this machinery the oil pours out of a spigot and into a steel drum: We all had the great privilege of tasting the freshly squeezed oil. I won’t soon forget that heavenly flavor. Matt told us that it takes around a ton of olives to make 25 to 30 gallons of oil. The olives come from a thousand t...

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A tasty Italian chard: Bieta Verde da Taglio

A few folks have written to ask what we’re growing in our winter vegetable garden and we’ve been late to reply. Since we’re in USDA zone 10 and seldom get freezing weather here in Los Angeles, we can grow year round. One of my favorites this winter has been a Swiss chard variety from Italy called Bieta Verde da Taglio or “Green cutting chard”. Verde da Taglio has thin stems and thick leaves. It ain’t as pretty...

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