Book Review: My Side of the Mountain

...es various solutions, and most often fails on the first two or three attempts. He makes mistakes and learns from them. More significantly, he often finds his solutions in the library or from helpful mentors. For instance, he could not make fire with flint and book-learning alone. He needs a kindly old man to demonstrate the whole fire making process to him. So not only does the book show that failures are the merely part of the road to success, i...

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The Sound of One Hand Snapping

...tool in the SurviveLA compound tool box. The Snapper model we have is double sided, and has a spring connecting the two ends which consist of a center punch and a nail set. You hold one end against a nail and pull the spring back. The spring bangs one end into the other, thereby driving the nail. We’ve used it for years, and driven hundreds of nails with it, hanging molding, fixing windows, making furniture, and countless other tasks. It&#...

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Homegrown Evolution Food Review: Backpacker’s Pantry Huevos Rancheros

On our recent Homegrown Evolution journey to Santa Rosa Island we taste tested another freeze-dried food item, Huevos Rancheros from Backpacker’s Pantry. While this product has an impressive shelf life and ease of preparation, making it appropriate for emergency food supplies, we’ve had better freeze dried entrees. Our fellow campers had the same reaction to the visual look of the cooked and re-hydrated product: dog vomit. The taste...

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Can Whole Wheat Solve the Wheat Allergy Problem?

...e kernel. Ponsford claims that many people who have wheat allergies 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 maki...

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LED Light Bulbs

...ns we obtained from the C. Crane Company web site. The spotlight profiled by BoingBoing, which we assume is also the C. Crane spotlight also has a lumens to watts ratio of 34. For more on these issues see the Department of Energy’s FAQ on LEDs. As the DOE notes in the FAQ, it’s not entirely fair to directly compare compact fluorescents to LED lights, since LED bulbs have a more directed light making them perhaps better for application...

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Does Sourdough Offer Hope for the Gluten Intolerant?

...rful 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’s understandable that commercial bakers would want a more dependable alternative. What is in a sourdough culture? There are many strains of yeast in sourdough culture...

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2013 in Review Part I

...rs 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 Mediterranean climate it should be. It seems t...

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Recipe for the World’s Best Whole Wheat Pancake

...wn flour. Ferment for a long time with a sourdough starter. The heirloom grain I used is Sonora wheat, probably the oldest wheat in the Americas. It’s a soft, winter wheat traditionally used for tortillas. Recipe (based on Nancy Silverton’s pancakes) 210 grams starter 2 tablespoons maple syrup 3 tablespoons safflower or corn oil 2 eggs 1/2 teaspoon sea salt 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon baking powder The night before making th...

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Made in the shade- Passive cooling

...eated and cooled buildings are adapted to local climate conditions. Current construction practices tend to favor the same type of ramshackle 2×4 and drywall buildings from California to Long Island, and all the climate zones in between. Just stick an air conditioner on top, put in a heating unit, and you’re done. Sadly, most buildings are an energy efficiency disaster. Poor design is so prevalent, it is shocking once you know what to l...

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Online Adobe Classes With Kurt Gardella

...Kurt Gardella, who built our adobe oven, will be teaching a few online classes. More information after the jump. Dear adobe friends, I wanted to remind you that I am teaching 2 Adobe in Action online classes beginning next Monday, March 17th. The History & Basics class will give you all of the skills you need to find and test soils for use in adobe construction and also take you through the process of making your own adobe bricks: C...

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