Shiitake Happens

Well, actually, shiitake doesn’t happen. It’s back to the drawing board for our first experiment in mushroom growing. We ordered a kit and dutifully followed the directions, but a combination of high temperatures and too much or too little water resulted in the result you see above, what looks like a cake with a skin disease. And even if we got a crop the cost of the kit was too high to make the process economical. The kit came pre-...

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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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How to Make Soba Noodles

Last month I took an amazing class with author and chef Sonoko Sakai on how to make soba noodles by hand. She’s a great teacher and I managed to make a halfway decent couple of servings of noodles during the class. Like many Japanese arts, soba making has a series of very precise steps. The recipe itself is simple (just buckwheat flour and water), though you do have to pay close attention to the temperature and humidity in the room. Whil...

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Adventures in Gardening Series: Wrap up on the Hippie Heart: Growing lentils and flax

The Hippie Heart got a crew cut We’re clearing out our cool season crops for the warm season ones, so it’s time for some reporting on the new beds we’ve been profiling under the “Advances in Gardening” series. We’ll start with the Hippie Heart. The Hippie Heart is a heart-shaped bed where I was intending to experiment with planting seeds straight out of the pantry, ill-advised as that might seem,...

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Make a Spore Print

Making a mushroom spore print is a fun activity for the kidlings and it’s simple: 1. Pick a mushroom (from the wild or the supermarket) and break off the stem. 2. Put your mushroom, spore side down, on a piece of white paper (or a 50/50 split of of dark paper and white paper to check subtleties in the color). 3. Put a glass over the mushroom and wait 24 hours. The next day you should have something that looks like the picture above. Spore...

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Oatmeal: It’s Not Just for Breakfast Anymore

(we’ve really gotta get us a live-in food photographer) Mrs. Homegrown Here: Okay, this is one is a little weird.  I’ll tell you right off that Erik won’t eat this stuff (it just seems wrong to him), but I love it. I’m exploring the world of savory oatmeal. I’m sure there are savory oatmeal recipes on the web, but I haven’t looked because I’m enjoying working without a map. What I’m doing...

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Plum Lemon Tomato Power’s Heirloom Tomato

...sh gardening efforts, we somehow mislaid the names of the tomatoes we planted making our reporting efforts incomplete. We do know the name of the wondrous plum lemon tomato pictured above, well worth planting again next year. It’s a meaty, sweet, yellow tomato delicious both fresh and dried. Allegedly the seeds for this tomato originally came from an elderly seed seller in a bird market in eastern Moscow which the Russian police have since...

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Moonshine

...ome legal fermentation experiments, but we can’t help but feel envious of some comrades of ours in France we visited a few years ago who recounted how their families used to ferment the excess fruit in the yard and take it to a licenced farmer to distill into the French version of moonshine, eau de vie. Here in the states it’s illegal to distill anything yourself but perfectly o.k., as a recent article in the Wall Street Journal point...

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About Us

Root Simple is Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen, authors of The Urban Homestead (Expanded and Revised Edition): Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City (2008) and Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World (2011).  They live in the heart of Los Angeles, in a little bungalow set on a 1/12 acre lot where almost all of their land is devoted to growing edible or otherwise useful plants and trees. Their obsessions include...

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Fruit Tree Update: Flavor Delight Aprium

One of my big regrets is not planting a bunch of fruit trees when we first moved into our house in 1998.* Thankfully though, we got our act together eventually. In 2011, we put in a call local fruit tree expert Steve Hovfendahl for some suggestions. His advice was based on what would grow in our warm climate as well as fruit tasting results conducted by the Dave Wilson nursery. It’s been over two years since we planted the trees Hovfendah...

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