Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Buyer Beware

From the University of California Food Blog, a warning about fraud in the olive oil business: “Researchers at UC Davis and in Australia discovered that 69 percent of the imported oils sampled, compared to just 10 percent of the California-produced oils sampled, failed to meet internationally accepted standards for extra virgin olive oil. The imported oils tested were purchased from supermarkets and “big box” stores in three Californi...

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No garden space? Check this out

...Yesterday Erik and I were walking down the sidewalk, admiring a flat stretch of dry, weedy ground betwixt sidewalk and street, 10 feet across and almost a block long, with perfect East-West sun exposure. We wondered how much food could be grown in that space. Probably enough to put veggies on the table of everyone living in the apartment building fronting that strip....

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Loofah Sponges

We talk about the joy of loofah–or luffa– (Luffa aegyptiaca) all the time, but I don’t believe we’ve every blogged about it here. I was reminded of it when we received a letter from Candace, who heard us on a podcast talking about how much fun it was to grow loofah sponges. She said: I wanted to thank you for that part of the interview in particular.  I decided to grow some this summer and it has been a great joy.  It i...

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Seed Mania

...resistant, needs water in a dry spell.” Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) from Bountiful Gardens. The fruit of this berry producing shrub can be found in Armenian and Russian markets here in LA. I was introduced to it by my friends at Tularosa Farms. It’s difficult to germinate so that plan is to gift the seeds to the TF folks and hope that they give us seedlings (an evil plan, I admit). I also picked up some crimson clover and...

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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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Eating In: The Biosphere Cookbook

from the backyard and make use of the bare-bones recipes in this book. And don’t worry about having to grow your own cooking oils–the Biospherians had trouble with that and have thoughtfully skipped any deep fried items. The Biosphere’s kitchen. But let’s get to those recipes! For relaxing next the the shore of the Biosphere’s simulated ocean there’s “Beach Blanket Bean Burgers,” “Bea...

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The Ecology Center of San Juan Capistrano

Kelly and I had the privilege of doing a short talk this weekend at the Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano. If you’re interested in Southern California food forestry, greywater, chickens, you name it, this is the place to visit. They have an amazing garden, classes and a well curated gift store. When people ask us how to design garden and house systems in SoCal, we’re going to send them to the Ecology Center....

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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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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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