Four Ways to Preserve Prickly Pear Pads (Nopales)

some for use later in the year. Incidentally, I prepare them fresh by first cutting them into strips and boiling them for five minutes to remove the mucilaginous texture. After boiling I pan fry them and serve them with eggs. It’s a meal that comes, except for the salt, entirely out of the yard. What follows are the methods I used to preserve those tasty pads. Dehydrated I removed the spines, cut the pads into 3/4 inch strips and boiled th...

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Secrets In Your Pantry?

...dusted cornmeal snacks. The truth is that we don’t often have them on hand more than a couple times a year (largely because I would go through them like a crack addict). But we do have plenty of other dodgy convenience foods picked up at Trader Joes and consumed on those evenings we’re too tired to cook. While the image of the urban homesteader is one who dines on nothing but wholesome veggies, backyard eggs and artisinal canning pr...

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Disconnect to Reconnect: Ditching the “Flushie” for a Composting Toilet

...most of the time, but at least once a week I’ve got to deploy that damn snake. Here’s Nancy: I don’t use a flushie often, I made the decision to ‘go dry’ years ago, adopting the bucket toilet + sawdust system as it pairs nicely with my composting obsession and food growing habit. I stayed at Erik and Kelly’s back in February. Their low flush toilet and antique piping can’t seem to handle even the most modest bodily donation. Once a...

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Reseeding Vegetables for the Warm Season

own food forestry experiment. This month the following things popped up out of that load of compost: stinging nettle cardoon tomatoes nasturtium fennel sunflowers Elsewhere in the yard, New Zealand spinach has popped up on its own. I doubt the stinging nettle or nasturtium will hang on for long (it’s out of season for those plants here).  But I’m willing to bet that the tomatoes, New Zealand spinach, fennel and cardoon will take. B...

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Homemade Cat Toys

...hing else. And I don’t mean genuine novelty–they don’t need newer and stranger toys all the time. Rather, individual toys seem to get stale for them. A fresh paper bag is thrilling, but by the end of the day it’s old news. However, if you put another paper bag down, even the exact same kind of bag, the thrills will start all over again. If you try to fulfill their whims by buying them new toys all the time, soon your pocke...

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Tree Tobacco as a Stinging Nettle Cure

...n there– and the sting goes away. So if you plan to harvest nettles, I’d recommend you keep a tree tobacco leaf in your pocket. The classic herbal antidote to nettle stings is Jewelweed, but I don’t believe it grows in the southwest–at least I’ve never seen it. Tree tobacco is a good substitute for folks in our region Native Americans smoked Nicotiana glauca and used it as a topical medicine. It is poisonous if tak...

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Front Yard Vegetable Garden Update

One advantage of living in a slightly rough-around-the-edges Los Angeles neighborhood is that nobody gets bent out of shape about front yard vegetable gardens. Indeed, they are  a tradition in immigrant neighborhoods. The picture above is an update of one of the front yard gardens Kelly blogged about back in May. It looked like this when she first blogged about it. Not sure exactly what’s growing here. It looks like beans from a distanc...

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Toby Hemenway On How Horticulture Can Save Us

...nce on ecosystems, human health and culture. Hemenway also, justifiably, critiqued some corners of the urban homesteading movement for promoting an egocentric self-sufficiency–”MY food on MY land” as he put it–a kind of industrial farming on a household level. While “self-sufficiency” appears in the subtitle of our first book (our publisher’s idea), it’s not a term we use. Kelly and I always emphas...

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Picture Sundays: Good News and Dog Carts

First off, Governor Brown signed the California Homemade Food Act, AB 1616, into law this past week. So Californians will soon be able to make and sell “non-hazardous” foods in a home kitchen and sell them. But how will those goods get delivered? Above, a bakery in Holland using that long lost mode of transport, the dog cart. Picture via Terrierman’s Daily Dose....

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Radical Beekeeper Michael Thiele Ventures Into New Territory

Thiele with an unorthodox hive–picture from his website Gaia Bees. One of the lectures I went to at the National Heirloom Exposition in Santa Rosa earlier this month has really stuck with me. It was a talk by radical biodynamic beekeeper Michael Thiele that, frankly, I walked into biased against. But by the conclusion I could tell that the whole audience, including myself, left deeply moved by what Thiele had to say. The reason fo...

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