Summer of Solar Cookin’

...n (just sliced red onion soaked overnight in white wine vinegar- delicious with everything) Lots of water- maybe 4-5 cups You want to make sure to use plenty of water. Beans absorb a lot of water as they rehydrate and the solar cooker looses some moisture as it cooks. So err on the side of extra water. I’m not much of one for measuring. The great thing about making beans, soups and stews is you can add a pinch of this and a sprig of that...

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Return of Bean Friday: Bean Broth or “Tuscan Crazy Water”

Yep, Bean Friday rears its head again–or is it Frugal Friday? Whatever it is, I’ve got this thrifty idea for you. I read about in The Italian Country Table , by Lynn Rossetto Casper. We’ve had this book for years and years, and it has some really good recipes in it that have become standards in our house, along just with a couple of duds. I’d not paid attention to her entry on “Crazy Water” before, but by her...

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Oatmeal: It’s Not Just for Breakfast Anymore

...rd.  I’ll tell you right off that Erik won’t eat this stuff (it just seems wrong to him), but I love it. I’m exploring the world of savory oatmeal. I’m sure there are savory oatmeal recipes on the web, but I haven’t looked because I’m enjoying working without a map. What I’m doing right now is making oatmeal with seaweed in it, inspired by both my love of Japanese style breakfasts, and half remembered thi...

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Power of the Patch

...r littlest Ramshackler sits on a hand-me-down car seat whenever we venture for a drive. After six years of use, the cover started to show some wear. I thought about buying a seat cover or making one from scratch. I decided against both. We don’t need a new $50 seat cover. And I would prefer to sew something else, like pants for the kids or even some skirts for me, rather than the intricate seat cover. Then I realized a patch was a...

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Newsflash: Thift shop where rich people live

...tter hunting grounds. Case in point, I visited the idyllic town of Ojai with a friend recently. While we admired their copious public parks, clean public bathrooms, and shops filled with a vast selection of sensible shoes and flowing linen outfits for well-heeled ladies of a certain age, we also checked out their thrift stores. In one, I found a baking dish. I needed a new baking dish because I destroyed our Pyrex dish doing experiments for Makin...

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California poppy tea

...a as I’d make any cup of tea. If I have a headache, I’ll make a small pot of tea (2-3 cups) and brew it strong and sip it until I feel better. You can also tincture the plant, fresh or dry, in alcohol, and take it in that form. This isn’t the place for a tincture how-to, but if you already know how, Moore says: Dried plant tincture: 1:5,  50% alcohol; Fresh 1: 2; Both 30-60 drops, up to 4x a day, for anxiety.  I’ve heard t...

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Stinging Nettles and Cat Allergies

...what? I’m all for the placebo effect. That’s not a negative term in my book at all. Self-healing is the best healing. Nettles are also really good for you, being full of minerals and green goodness–so there’s no reason not to try. They’re also free for the gathering in most places. I make nettle tea the Susun Weed way. We cover this in Making It, actually: Put one ounce of dried herb in a quart jar. That’s a...

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Advances in Gardening Series: Thoughts on The Fan, and the problems of overabudance

...lso collects seed, to keep it from spreading everywhere. Despite my efforts, I know a ton of seed fell, and when the rains come next year, I’ll be pulling Calendula and chamomile volunteers. Moral is, know what you need, and plant no more than that. Unless you’ve got the time and energy to maintain larger, more flashy beds. I’m all about making it easy on myself, so next year I’ll plant less. Of course, it takes experience...

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Why We Travel By Train

Amtrak ain’t this grand, but it’s a lot better than flying! Photo via the Library of Congress. We’re headed up to Northern California, Oregon and Washington to promote our new book Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World . And, with the exception of the San Francisco to Seattle leg, we’re traveling by train. Why do this when it’s more expensive, time consuming and probably makes our dear publis...

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More On Preventing Plants From Falling Over

...sive workshop earlier this month. In front of Jeavons is a bed of fava beans, also notorious for falling over in the slightest breeze. The randomly strung network of twine will support the fava as it grows. You can see from my own fava bed below that I could have benefited from this low tech solution: While I didn’t lose any fava in the storm, the plants are sprawling all over the adjacent, narrow path making it difficult to harvest. As Je...

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