Teflon Coated Light Bulbs Deadly to Chickens

...go, 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.” GE does not have a warning label. I let the ladies take the winter off of laying and it never dips below 40ºF here...

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New Health Food Trends at the Natural Products Food Expo West

This weekend I attended, for or the second year in a row, the Natural Products Expo West. At this massive convention, health food, natural supplement and cosmetic concerns pitch their products to retailers. And, again this year, I did a lot of intemperate sampling. For the sake of you, our dear readers, I ate every known power bar, sports beverage and processed soy/hemp/chia meat substitute so you won’t have to. It was...

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

The “dyed” t-shirt is on the left. The shirt on the right is a basic white tee. I could have achieved similar results by entropy alone. Chalk this one up to the failures column. In an attempt to use Bermuda Buttercup (aka Sour Grass) and various mordants to dye a couple of white t-shirts yellow and green, I succeeded in dyeing both snowy white shirts a pale shade of …let’s call it ecru. Let’s not call i...

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Citified Parched Corn

...y 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 to the stove and start the next batch. It’s a fast, easy process. Blueberries! After I was done, I realize...

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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-Pop...

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A Parvati Solar Cooker

...int 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 for things like rice, beans, soups and stews, but not good for sauteing. Just remember the oven mitts–this th...

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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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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. S...

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