Build a Solar Dehydrator

...ttom and the top of the contraption create an upward airflow through natural convection (hot air rises). You put the food on screen covered trays in the upper box. With sliced tomatoes it takes about two full days of drying and you have to take the food indoors at night to prevent mold from growing (a minor inconvenience). We built our dehydrator several years ago and have used it each season for tomatoes, figs and for making dried zucchini chip...

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Beans 101 (Return of Bean Friday!)

Simple is good. As a follow up to the “Dollar Supper” post,  this post is about is the simple act of making a pot of beans. I make beans about once a week, the goal being to always have beans in the fridge. For us, they’re an essential staple. (Readers new to Root Simple should note that we’ve done a lot of posts about beans, and have gathered favorite bean recipes from our readers. So if you’re l...

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Homegrown Evolution Visits the Los Angeles County Fair

...ion. Mr. Homegrown Evolution marveled at a tablescaping entry that managed to incorporate LA subway maps. Sadly, there was a lot of lame stuff at the fair as well. Los Angeles was once the wealthiest agricultural county in the United States. Now, as one local agricultural official put it to me, “we grow houses” and our county fair that reflects that fact. Out went the 4-H clubs and in comes the corporate sponsors. Taking the place of...

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A Parvati Solar Cooker

...er. A five gallon bucket made a convenient stand and did not have to be rotated in the two hours it took to cook the rice. Longer cooking times would require re-aiming the cooker as the sun moves across the sky. Temperature in the pot quickly went over 180º F, the point at which food begins to cook. The two hour cooking time is much longer than it would take on a conventional stove, but with a solar cooker there is no danger of burning, making t...

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Spent Grain Bread–We Brew Econo

...it’s worth drinking or if it’s compost. We’ll do a taste test and report back on the whole process when we crack the first bottle. What we do know was a success is using the spent grains, the leftover malted barley and crystal malt that we used in the beer recipe, which are strained out before the beer is put away to ferment, as a flavoring for our wild yeast bread (recipe and instructions for making that bread here—we added 4.5 ounces of the spe...

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Vote Yes on 2 (if you’re in Cali)

...y of California veterinarians, supported by our tax dollars (not to mention our past tuition dollars), have lent their support to the anti-prop 2 campaign alleging that removing animals from confinement will lead to disease outbreaks. Since these researchers get their funding from industrial agriculture, one can’t expect anything but biased, junk science. Given the funding situation, it’s also wise to view all extension service advice...

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An open letter to Trader Joes

...or are we even vegetarians. We’re just people who like honesty in packaging. So let’s take a look at the carton for your Grade AA Cage Free eggs and assess the truthfulness of the illustration on its cover. Now conventional wisdom says that you are to be congratulated for selling only cage free eggs in contrast to many other food retailers who continue to sell eggs produced by hens living in cramped “battery cages“. Batter...

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Mead!

.... 3. Take the water off the heat and add 3 pounds of honey (we used orange blossom honey) to make what is called the “must”. 4. Add 3/5ths of a gallon of refrigerated water to cool the must. 5. Pitch in the yeast once the must has cooled below 80º F. We used a wine yeast called Lalvin 71B-1122 which we also picked up at our local home brew shop. We rehydrated the yeast according to the directions on the package, letting it sit for 15...

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Cargo Bike Roundup

...y in our corner of Los Angeles we have both big hills and angry motorists, which is why Homegrown Evolution uses the amazing Xtracycle for our cargo trips since I can’t imagine riding a wide cargo trike in L.A. With the Xtracycle, cargo cinches up tight in the back making for a narrow profile. This allows passage through tight spaces, such as our substandard bike lanes and busy traffic. You pretty much ride it like you would any other regul...

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Allium ursinum

...llium ursinum, a.k.a. Ramsons (in English), and Bärlauch (bear leeks, or wild garlic in German), are a member of the chive family so named because they are a favored food of bears and wild boar. People can eat em’ too, with both the bulb and leaves making a tasty addition to a number of dishes (see a detailed report on Allium ursinum in the Plants for a Future website). Favoring semi-shade, Allium ursinum thrives in moist, acidic soil–...

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