Teflon Coated Light Bulbs Deadly to Chickens

...to airborne toxins. I can’t help but wonder about the effect of these fumes on humans too. Several years ago, Dupont was unsuccessfully sued over the toxicity of Teflon in cookware. Sylvania, apparently, has a warning label on their Teflon coated bulbs, “WARNING: This product contains PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene–”Teflon” is a brand name). When heated, it creates fumes potentially fatal to confined birds.” G...

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New Health Food Trends at the Natural Products Food Expo West

...rise of gluten free products. Gluten intolerance is a problem for many people. One out of 131 people have Celiac diseases and a great many more probably have some sort of wheat allergy. However, someone tell me why we have to label products like tomato sauce and raw chicken as being “gluten free?” Most new gluten free products, everything from pasta to crackers to power bars, use quinoa. The Natural Products Expo’s own trade pub...

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Failed Experiment: Bermuda Buttercup or Sour Grass (Oxalis pes-caprae) as Dye

...#8220;Cover with water” is not a helpful instruction, especially when the plant matter you’re working with floats. But I added water as best as I could judge. There were two steeping options–with heat on the stove or by a long sun steep. I opted for the long steep, put a bowl in the soaking pot to sink the plants beneath the water, and put the pot on the front porch. The day turned out to be cloudy and cool, so I don’t bel...

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Citified Parched Corn

...rn. Sprinkle in some salt, spice or sugar if you like. I just used a little salt. Shake or stir the skillet pretty constantly, as you would for popcorn, so the corn gets toasted on all sides. It happens fast. Do not leave the stove! These citified nibblets won’t swell and crack like whole corn, but they will dance a little in the pan. Take the corn to a nice toasty golden brown, dump that batch into a bowl that you’ve got waiting next...

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It ain’t “eco” if you can’t fix it

In the past month I had to repair two kitchen appliances–a 50 year old O’Keefe and Merritt Stove with a broken door spring and an expensive 1990s model “eco-refregerator” called a Conserv, with a torn freezer gasket. The winner: O’Keefe and Merritt! Why? The torn freezer gasket of the Conserv, as it turns out, is an integral part of the door. After a painfully long call to the parts distributor’s Indian ca...

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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

...ire 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 the process, in our opinion, easier than stove-top cooking. Consider a solar cooker a kind of low-powered crock pot for lazy and cheap people–good fo...

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Beans 101 (Return of Bean Friday!)

...ger than fresher beans. Smaller beans cook faster than larger beans. Figure on this being a two hour project, but let your senses be your guide. Sometimes I let them stew until I’m ready to eat. They’ll sit on the stove for hours. Which brings up… Bean aesthetics.  Some people insist that beans must be firm yet meltingly tender, with delicate but intact skins. Achieving this perfect consistency–and perfect look–is a...

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Learn How to Compost Via the Humanure Handbook

Composting ain’t rocket science but it does require some finesse. Following up on an earlier post which contained a comparison of different composters, I thought I’d mention my favorite written resource on how to compost. In my opinion, the best writing on the subject comes from a surprising source, the Humanure Handbook by Joeseph Jenkins. Best of all, an edition of this book is available online for free. Even if you have no intenti...

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How to Make a Bee Skep

I was in a local thrift store a few years ago when, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted an intriguing object. It was a bee skep. Trying to keep clutter in our house to a minimum I considered not buying it. But I just couldn’t pass this one up. In my mind it goes into my pantheon of epic thrift store finds along with Mr. Spock’s Music From Outer Space and a classified 16mm film rocket test film from the 1950s. Should you not be so...

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