Slaughtering Turkeys for Thanksgiving

...view of a turkey slaughter. I didn’t write this to be a how-to guide, just an orientation to the concepts. It’s slim on details, but big on pictures. We describe the chicken slaughter in more detail in our upcoming book, Making It, which comes out in the spring. The first step is to collect the turkey, quiet it with gentle words and petting, and hang it by its feet. Birds don’t seem to mind hanging like this–they are re...

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Making It e-Book Corrected

To those of you who purchased an e-version of our book Making It and had trouble reading it, I just received a note from our publisher Rodale: The “disappearing words” are actually words that appear in a faint gray color that was hard or impossible to see over light background color settings on some devices, especially the Kindle from Amazon. We have corrected the e-book files and re-released them to all retailers. The corrected vers...

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How to Make Stock

...ndrik Valkenburg, 1872 (image courtesy of Wikimedia) By reader request, we’re going to cover the basics of making soup stock today: how to make it and how to use it. Let’s start with the why you’d make it and how you use it. Why you make stock: It is the basis of good cuisine: everything tastes better with stock It boosts the nutritional value of anything you cook with it. It’s thrifty: it puts all your odds and ends and...

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Lila Downs Video Showing Tortilla Making in Oaxaca

Gloria En la Huerta from the Los Angeles Bread Bakers sent me a link to this music video that shows tortilla making in Oaxaca. The song is “Palomo Del Comalito” (Dove of the Comalito) by Lila Downs. Note the huge corn tortillas, proof of the regional diversity of Mexican cuisine (and one of the many details I got wrong in my tortilla press post–thanks for the corrections Gloria). Lyrics in English after the jump. The beautif...

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A Homemade Mattress?

...is the story of my life. I read about some old domestic technology or product that makes a lot of sense. Perhaps it is obsolete. Or perhaps it is only done/made in more enlightened countries. Nonetheless, I want it. So I have to make from scratch. Yesterday we met a great couple, Renae and Dimitri. Renae mentioned she was thinking about making her own mattress. I was intrigued because just that morning I’d woken up with low back pain. Our m...

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New Project: Making Bitters

...rently steeping. In future posts I’ll share the recipes I develop as I follow this path. In the meanwhile, making your own bitters is really easy. You may be able to throw a few experiments together just using things you find in your spice cabinet. Since these are flavoring, not medicine, you don’t have to be as careful with the quantities and timing as you must be when tincturing herbs for medicine. Yet at the same time, it’s a...

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2011 in Review: The Garden

It’s was a difficult year in the garden. A lead and zinc issue screwed up my winter vegetables garden plans. At least we managed to find some river rocks and put in a path. I found this photo from December 2010. I was certainly a lot more organized that year. For 2012, I’m putting in raised beds to deal with the heavy metal issue and we’ve already planted more native plants. But most importantly one of my New Years resolution...

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Poultry Houses of the Ultra Wealthy: Part 2

Are $100,000 chicken coops a sign of an empire on the verge of a decadent downward spiral? If so it’s time to get that bug-out location ready because Neiman Marcus publicity flacks just announced a $100,000 “Heritage Hen Mini-Farm.” From the description on their website: Dawn breaks. The hens descend from their bespoke Versailles-inspired Le Petit Trianon house to their playground below for a morning wing stretch. Slipping on...

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The Chicken and the Egg

...backyard in their ongoing search for seeds, bugs and the need to sort out the pecking order. After many hours of poultry behavior viewing it’s no surprise to us that some anthropologists believe that the chicken was first domesticated to provide entertainment (through cock fighting) rather than eggs or meat. But more important than the entertainment value backyard chickens provide is the far superior taste and nutritional value of eggs from...

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