Mead!

...17;ve tasted the Ethopian honey wine known as Tej, we’ve never had mead, so we decided to cook up a batch. It’s way too early to tell if we have a tasty beverage or a gallon of home brewed Listerine–it will be many months before the stuff is drinkable. But we thought we’d note how we made it, based on a recipe in Ken Schramm’s book The Compleat Meadmaker. We downsized the recipe from five gallons to one gallon, figur...

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In Praise of Disorder

Loose chickens in Houston A neighborhood whose demographics fall somewhere between the extremes of the crack den and the country club presents just the right level of civic inattention to allow the urban homesteader to get away with many of the illegal projects profiled in this blog: greywater, backyard poultry, and front yard vegetable gardening, to mention just a few. Ideally you have a balance between order and disorder–neither gunfir...

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Physalis pruinosa a.k.a. “Ground Cherry”

...on several hybrids exist of these plants. Clammy ground cherry pie anyone? As for the fruit of Physalis pruinosa itself, it does not ship well, hence you’ll never find it in American supermarkets, which only seem to carry things that have been shipped for thousands of miles and are therefore both durable and, inevitably, tasteless. Cultivating strange things like this is one of the best arguments for growing your own food–access to fl...

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Bike to Work Week

It’s bike to work week and time to RIDE! That being said, we’re a little disappointed by the iconography our Metropolitan Transit Authority is using to advertise what we otherwise think is a worthwhile cause. It reminds us of an essay by Michael Smith about a poster designed for the equally clueless New York City Department of Transportation. Our MTA seems to feel that only children should ride bikes–at least that’s the u...

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Is Bob’s Red Mill’s Farro Actually Spelt?

...” To add to the confusion spelt and einkorn, are also known as faricella, or “little farro” in Italian. Confused? According to a 1997 article in the New York Times, “Farro, Italy’s Rustic Staple: The Little Grain That Could,” “true” farro is emmer (Triticum dicoccum) and considered superior to spelt. The distinction between farro (Triticum dicoccum) and spelt (Triticum spelta) is important. Triticum...

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Loquat Season

...that mostly goes to waste. Many of these trees live in public spaces, the parkway and people’s front yards making them prime candidates for urban foraging i.e. free food. The tree itself has a vaguely tropical appearance with waxy leaves that look like the sort of plastic foliage that used to grace dentist office lobbies back in the 1960s. In short it’s a real tree that looks fake with fruit that nobody seems to care about. The loquat...

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L’hamd markad – Preserved Salted Lemons

...we added some spices to our lemons. This is an optional thing. A traditonal spice blend would be something like 3 peppercorns, 3 cloves and one cinnamon stick. Also, we found it impossible to follow the command in the recipe to cut the lemons this way and that, cleverly leaving them whole and stuffing them with salt. That just didn’t work because our lemons were too big to fit in the mouth of the jar while whole. You see, we’re using...

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Irish Soda Bread

...cipe my comrade in arms decided to post as representative of the best of quick breads. For years I’ve been making a much better whole wheat-ish quick bread (which he seems to have forgotten) and this is how it goes: Irish Brown Soda Bread 1 3/4 c. all purpose flour1 3/4 c. whole wheat flower3 T. toasted wheat bran3 T. toasted wheat germ2 T. old fashioned oats(note: change up or skip these nuggety bits as necessary–they just add textur...

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Growing Chayote

...llis over his carport. Giovanni has wisely intertwined the chayote with an equally prodigious passion fruit vine making for a combo that produces many pounds of fruit all summer long. Chayote (Sechium edule), for those not in the know, is a wonder plant of the gourd family hailing from Mexico and Central America. It has a mild slightly sweet cucumber-like taste. They can be boiled, pan fried, steamed, baked, pickled or chopped up and tossed raw i...

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Damned Figs!

...the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once.”-Matthew 21:18-19 We find it hard to cut down a mature tree, especially a fruit tree. But after living with a substandard fig tree for ten years we finally understood this biblical...

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