The Energy Environment Simulator

...stumbled on the Energy-Environment Simulator. We couldn’t stop laughing and we realized that we had to buy it. How often do you run into an Energy-Environment Simulator in working condition? t’s been the centerpiece of Nik’s living room ever since, even making a cross country move. The device demonstrates energy inputs and demands. Depending on how you turn the knobs, you can either engineer a future of never-ending power or, on...

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Does Sourdough Offer Hope for the Gluten Intolerant?

...myces cerevisiae, to make bread rise quickly. But even before Pasteur, bakers used the yeast remaining from beer making (also a strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae) to make doughs rise. Sourdough cultures are not as powerful and predictable, so it’s understandable that commercial bakers would want a more dependable alternative. What is in a sourdough culture? There are many strains of yeast in sourdough cultures, but the main one is Candida...

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Can Whole Wheat Solve the Wheat Allergy Problem?

...asses for amateur bakers, is showing how tasty baked goods can be that are made from real whole wheat flour. But it’s tricky. High extraction whole wheat flours are a lot less uniform than white flours. And they suck up a lot of water when you use them for making bread. As the co-founder of the Los Angeles Bread Bakers I get the gluten sensitivity question a lot which is why I’m interested in hearing from readers. Do you have a wheat...

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Eight Things to Consider When Saving Vegetable Seeds

The directions for seed saving in our last book, Making It, almost got cut. Perhaps we should have just changed those directions to “Why it’s OK to buy seeds.” The fact is that it’s not easy to save the seeds of many vegetables thanks to the hard work of our bee friends. That being said, Shannon Carmody of Seed Saver’s Exchange gave a lecture at this year’s Heirloom Exposition with some tip...

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Cat Litter Compost, Installment #3

...ttle support legs. You could of course DIY this system. See some notes at the end for tips on that. I considered it, but for various reasons decided to throw money at the problem instead of making it a project. I really like this system because a) It’s much neater. Pine litter is less dusty than clumping litter, which means less tracking, less dust on surfaces, cleaner cats. b) And it’s cheaper. Pine litter cost less than clumping bra...

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The Lament of the Baker’s Wife

This our flour collection, The Leaning Tower of Pizza.  Erik collects flour like Emelda Marcos collects shoes. The collection is  taking up a good deal of the floor space in our kitchen. Supposedly it will one day be moved to our garage–after the garage is remodeled–but waiting for the garage remodel is somewhat like waiting for Godot, or the Armageddon. Speaking of which, if Armageddon does arrive, you know what...

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Fabulous Postcards from HenCam

From Vintage Chicken Photographs. Terry says this picture reminds her of Erik. It reminds me of our friend Craig at Winnetka Farms. Whichever! Let’s hear it for tall handsome gentlemen holding poultry! Our friend Terry over at the great chicken site HenCam has produced three lovely sets of postcard books based on antique photos of people with animals. One set is people and chickens, the second is people with other livestock, and the third...

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An update on Phoebe

...s a really good run for a cat born with a ridiculous handbag for a heart. We can’t hope for too much more. It is possible that her heart simply can’t function well enough any more to sustain her, but we’re hoping that an adjustment of her meds will buy her a few more good months, and we’ll be able to bring her home tomorrow night. We won’t know until tomorrow. It’s hard to leave a pet behind in a vet’s of...

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Straw Bale Gardens

Tasha Via’s straw bale garden. Michael Tortorello (who profiled us when Making It came out) is one of my favorite writers covering the home ec/gardening subjects we discuss on this blog. He had an article last week in the New York Times, “Grasping at Straw” on straw bale gardening. We’ve very tempted to give the practice a try in our backyard. Why? We have lead and zinc contaminated soil so growing veg...

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I like my chamomile stressed

...Mrs. Homegrown here: I made a mistake–I predicted a while ago that this would happen, and here it is. When we remodeled the yard and I set aside space for The Phan of Pharmacy ™ my goal was to maximize the production of herbs and flowers.  I prepped the ground in the fan like a fine flower or veg bed: double dug and richly amended. It was only after I planted my chamomile starts in it that I realized the soil was way too r...

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