Choosing the Perfect Tortilla Press

When we moved into our house back in 1998, we used to frequent a neighborhood Mexican restaurant down the street. The decor in this place had accrued like barnacles over the many years it was in business: dusty paper flags, Dia de los Muertos trinkets, waiters with pompadours wearing toreador outfits, and mirrors, lots and lots of mirrors. When you had their stiff margaritas (the strongest in town) the room would spin. Combined with those mirror...

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Prickly Pear Jelly Recipe

k at makinga batch of Tiswin, the sacred beer of the Papagos Indians of central Mexico (usually made with saguaro fruit but prickly pear fruit will do in a pinch). This August we’re making jelly. Here’s how to do it: 1. Taking reader Steven’s (of the fine blog Dirt Sun Rain) suggestion, burn off the nasty spines by holding the fruit over a burner on the stove for a few seconds. Using the non-cutting edge of a knife held at a...

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Our Books

Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World , by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen This book, written by a husband-and-wife team of die-hard DIYers, will leave you thinking you can take on the world and win. –Milwaukee Journal Sentinal My favorite of all these recent books by far… — Kirkus Reviews A how-to book providing you with all of the tools you need to become a producer instead of a consumer and transform your h...

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The Making of a Great Olive Oil

...e At the end of all this machinery the oil pours out of a spigot and into a steel drum: We all had the great privilege of tasting the freshly squeezed oil. I won’t soon forget that heavenly flavor. Matt told us that it takes around a ton of olives to make 25 to 30 gallons of oil. The olives come from a thousand trees that are tucked around the vineyards. If you’re ever in Northern California the Preston Vineyard is well worth a v...

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Saturday Linkages: Making Things and Herding Ducks

Herding ducks. Via The Tangled Nest. DIY Simple Swiss fences for the homestead: http:// dirttime.com/?p=2687 via Practical Parsimony Build-It-Solar Blog: Comparing the Performance of Two DIY Solar Water Heaters http://www. builditsolarblog.com/2012/07/compar ing-performance-of-two-diy-solar.html?spref=tw  … Build-It-Solar Blog: Using Your Lawn Sprinkling Water to Cool the House… http://www. builditsolarblog.com/2012/08/using- yo...

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Using Kosher Salt for Making Pickles

...t for fermented pickles, you must weigh out the proper amount.Weigh out 73⁄4 ounces (220 grams) of flaked salt, and you will have the equivalent of 1 cup of canning and pickling salt. This same publication also notes how easy it is to find pickling salt and how hard it is to find kosher salt. It’s just the opposite here in Los Angeles. So what kind of salt do you use for pickling and fermenting? What’s the easiest to find where you l...

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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 Roast Your Own Coffee in a Stovetop Popcorn Maker

Thanks to the Institute for Domestic Technology, I learned roast my own coffee at home in a Whirley-Pop Stovetop Popcorn Popper. It’s a simple, if smokey, process. You heat up the popper on your stove top over a medium/high heat and dump in 10 ounces of green coffee beans. The beans we used were ordered from Sweet Maria’s who carry a wide selection of high-end beans at inexpensive prices. The only trick with the Whirley-Po...

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A Parvati Solar Cooker

Damn, is solar cooking easy! Put some rice in a pot, place the pot in this simple panel cooker, made with cardboard and aluminum foil, stick it out in the sun and two hours later you have lunch. We built our “Parvati” solar cooker with plans designed by Shobha Ravindra Pardeshi that can be found here. Pardeshi, who runs an “appropriate technology” company with her husband in India has another design for a similar dish-sha...

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Beans 101 (Return of Bean Friday!)

. Check the recipes tag, too.) A pot of beans, I’d argue, is one of the keystones of cheap eating. A big pot of beans costs little, and can morph into many meals over the course of a week. This not only saves money, but it saves time. It rescues you from the dreaded “what’s for dinner?” question. Beans got your back. Skeptical? Here are a few very simple dishes you can throw together if you’ve got cooked beans in the...

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