Build a Ghetto Solar Cooker

Using crap we had laying around the homestead, SurviveLA fashioned a solar cooker based on plans from Backwoods Home Magazine, the Dwell of the Ted Kaczynski set. We just substituted an old cooler for the cardboard boxes, and we finished it off by using one of Los Angeles’ ubiquitous abandoned car tires as a cradle to keep the cooker oriented towards the sun. It ain’t pretty but it works. In our first test we reached 160º inside the...

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Mud for the People! Building an Adobe Garden Wall

of the workshop, but pieced together what Kurt and Ben went over. One of the first steps is to determine the clay/sand content of your soil and to do that you do a jar test. When you mix some soil with water in a jar and let it sit, the clay settles on top, the silt below that, and the sand on bottom. You can measure the sample and determine percentages. At the workshop, held in the high desert town of Landers, CA the sand and clay were source...

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Free Preparedness E-Books

Camp loom, for making mats and mattresses from the 1911 edition of the Boy Scout Handbook Through a circuitous bit of aimless interweb searching I came across a huge list of downloadable urban homesteading/gardening/survivalist manuals on a site called hardcorepreppers.com. Unfortunately, this site is so popular that it seems to be down every time I’ve checked. But thanks to Google’s caching feature I was able to access a li...

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A Taste of Honey – Story from the BBC

Gentle readers, Mrs. Homegrown here. When we renamed our blog Root Simple we were making a commitment to build a better blog. We don’t have the change all mapped out yet–we’re letting it evolve organically (how else?) but one thing we’ve known for a long time, and that is that we wanted to partner with Eric Thomason and Julia Posey from Ramshackle Solid. We’ve long admired their aesthetics, the grace with which they...

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The Making of a Great Olive Oil

...e 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 trees that are tucked around the vineyards. If you’re ever in Northern California the Preston Vineyard is well worth a v...

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Using Kosher Salt for Making Pickles

...t for fermented pickles, you must weigh out the proper amount.Weigh out 73⁄4 ounces (220 grams) of flaked salt, and you will have the equivalent of 1 cup of canning and pickling salt. This same publication also notes how easy it is to find pickling salt and how hard it is to find kosher salt. It’s just the opposite here in Los Angeles. So what kind of salt do you use for pickling and fermenting? What’s the easiest to find where you l...

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Our Books

Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World , by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen This book, written by a husband-and-wife team of die-hard DIYers, will leave you thinking you can take on the world and win. –Milwaukee Journal Sentinal My favorite of all these recent books by far… — Kirkus Reviews A how-to book providing you with all of the tools you need to become a producer instead of a consumer and transform your h...

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Bar Codes on Veggies

...n the QR code on the label. The code links to a mobile website detailing origin, soil composition, organic fertilizer content percentage (as opposed to chemical), use of pesticides and herbicides and even the name of the farm it was grown on. Consumers can also access the same information over the Ibaraki Agricultural Produce Net website by inputting a numbered code on each label.” Though we’re not Luddites, we have mixed feelings abo...

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Gluten Intolerance . . . Is It All In Your Head?

...a bread club, after all) smacks of religious zealotry. We know with a great deal of certainty that gluten intolerance in the form of celiac disease effects slightly less than one percent of the population. That actually makes it one of the most common disorders related to food. But a much larger percentage of people self-diagnose as gluten intolerant who do not have celiac disease. Peter Gibson, a professor of gastroenterology at Monash Univers...

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Analysis Paralysis

is the way Shakespeare describes this condition in Hamlet. The re-design of our backyard lead to the worst analysis paralysis I’ve ever experienced. Weeks went by with no progress. Ideas came and went. The internet made it worse by providing way too many possibilities. A quote in a book finally broke my analysis paralysis spell. The gist of that quote was that we are all called by a higher power to build. I realized that I needed to set a d...

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