2013 in Review Part I

...I did what I should have done 20 years ago: hire a personal trainer to set up a gym program tailored to my needs and weaknesses. After many hours at the YMCA I’ve got PT syndrome under control but I’ve still got a lot of work to do. Thankfully, I’m back to running and fencing. February In February in Los Angeles it should rain. It didn’t. The year was the driest on record: 3.6 inches, making it a desert not the Mediterran...

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Fabulous Postcards from HenCam

...s produced three lovely sets of postcard books based on antique photos of people with animals. One set is people and chickens, the second is people with other livestock, and the third in people and their dogs. (She promises she’s trying for a cat collection, but it seems kitties were a little too sly for early cameras, making good pictures (as opposed to cat-shaped blurs) hard to find.) She tells us she spent two years collecting pictures f...

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The Lament of the Baker’s Wife

...against 5 gallon buckets. A five gallon bucket holds about 30 pounds of flour. I think we’ve got at least 200 lbs of flour piled up here. And where will it all go eventually? Straight to my hips, sweetheart! And I know I shouldn’t complain. “We have too much food!”  “There’s nowhere to put it!” “All this artisanal sourdough is making me fat!” Boo hoo. This the lament of the baker’s wife...

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An update on Phoebe

A whole lot of animal lovers read Root Simple, and so we get a lot of inquires about how our special cat, Phoebe, is doing. Because we know so many people care–and at risk of making this a maudlin sick pet blog–we wanted to let you know she’s in the hospital tonight (Monday night) and will probably be there most of tomorrow. She started having trouble breathing today, and needs to spend some time in a box fu...

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Can Whole Wheat Solve the Wheat Allergy Problem?

...lergies have been able to eat his baked goods due to the use of whole wheat flours. Ponsford, through his bakery and his classes for amateur bakers, is showing how tasty baked goods can be that are made from real whole wheat flour. But it’s tricky. High extraction whole wheat flours are a lot less uniform than white flours. And they suck up a lot of water when you use them for making bread. As the co-founder of the Los Angeles Bread Bakers...

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Does Sourdough Offer Hope for the Gluten Intolerant?

...an allergy to wheat.  A very short history of bread yeast Louis Pasteur figured out that yeast makes bread rise and ever since commercial baking has depended on a powerful strain of yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, to make bread rise quickly. But even before Pasteur, bakers used the yeast remaining from beer making (also a strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae) to make doughs rise. Sourdough cultures are not as powerful and predictable, so it’...

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It’s Calendula Season!

...a happy volunteer. Once you plant it, you may never have to plant it again. The volunteer flowers are not as big and fancy as their parent flowers–they revert to their wild form quickly–but they work just as well. I like Calendula so much that I’ve already written a whole series of posts on it: Why not plant some Calendula Harvesting and drying Calendula How to make a Calendula oil infusion Making Salves, Lip Balms & etc....

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California poppy tea

...tnip, linden, chamomile, etc.), but this one intrigues me because it’s essentially a weed where I live. If it doesn’t grow readily where you live, I’d encourage you to investigate other herbs which grow more easily in your area.  But for those of you who can grow California poppies easily, I’ll just say that I’ve been making tea with fresh California poppy foliage this year and must report that I really like it. I li...

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Thoughts on Samhain

...wn, dusk, midnight, crossroads, lakes and streams, caves, etc.–held supernatural energy. These were places and times where the boundaries between our world and the other world was very thin. Samhain was one of those transition periods, and coming as it did at the last harvest, at the beginning of winter, it was associated with the dead. And of course, within the Catholic Church November 1st is also marked as All Saint’s Day and the 2n...

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Mud for the People! Building an Adobe Garden Wall

This weekend Kelly and I had our first adobe encounter. We were lucky to have been invited to attend a workshop led by Kurt Gardella and Ben Loescher. Kurt also teaches both live and online classes that you can find out about on his website, www.kurtgardella.com. We’ll post announcements for future classes, because I haven’t had so much fun in a long time! This past weekend’s workshop focused on making bricks and building an a...

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