Made in the shade- Passive cooling

...re adapted to local climate conditions. Current construction practices tend to favor the same type of ramshackle 2×4 and drywall buildings from California to Long Island, and all the climate zones in between. Just stick an air conditioner on top, put in a heating unit, and you’re done. Sadly, most buildings are an energy efficiency disaster. Poor design is so prevalent, it is shocking once you know what to look for. Have you ever leane...

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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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Dave Miller on Baking with 100% Whole Wheat

...ance between elasticity and extensibility. Our job as bakers, Miller suggests, is to understand what gives bread its form and to shape and bake dough at the best possible moment. Much of the weekend was spent analyzing what can go wrong and how to fix it–the causes of over-proofing, under-proofing, bad color etc. If you’re scaling ingredients, noting the temperature and controlling variables as best you can, it’s a matter of ded...

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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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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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2013 in Review Part I

...got a lot of work to do. Thankfully, I’m back to running and fencing. February In February in Los Angeles it should rain. It didn’t. The year was the driest on record: 3.6 inches, making it a desert not the Mediterranean climate it should be. It seems to be a dry winter again this year and I’m worried. March A texting music video producer totaled our car and thus began a six month experiment in living without a car in Los Ange...

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Recipe for the World’s Best Whole Wheat Pancake

...217;s a soft, winter wheat traditionally used for tortillas. Recipe (based on Nancy Silverton’s pancakes) 210 grams starter 2 tablespoons maple syrup 3 tablespoons safflower or corn oil 2 eggs 1/2 teaspoon sea salt 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon baking powder The night before making these pancakes I take a tablespoon of mature starter and add it to 100 grams of freshly milled Sonora wheat flour and 110 grams of water. This mixture wil...

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It’s Calendula Season!

...oil, of course– as I’m doing above, with inevitable feline assistance. Well, that’s why I grow it. Calendula infused olive oil is the base of all my lotions and potions, because it is such a potent healer of dry, itchy, burnt or otherwise irritated skin. I’m using it right now to treat my sunburn–which is what made me think of this post. But outside of this, it’s an all around useful herb.  Here’s a coupl...

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Advances in Gardening Series: Thoughts on The Fan, and the problems of overabudance

...arlier photos of The Fan here. Mrs. Homegrown here: Last fall we dug up a sort of feral herb bed and replaced it with a more formal, three-part bed that I call The Fan. The idea is to use this bed to plant annual herbs and flowers. While some of these plants are medicinal, it is also a bed dedicated more to aesthetics than the rest of our garden, so it’s also a place where I particularly want to plant flowers and plants of strong visual...

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Mud for the People! Building an Adobe Garden Wall

...and/clay mixtures drying in the sun. You can also make a brick out of whatever soil you have on hand and see how it holds up. The first test Kurt did was drop one on a corner from about waist high. It didn’t break and thus passed the test. Another test is standing on a brick. Even though the brick we used weren’t really finished drying, they still passed. For a building that will be inspected you will probably have to send bricks to...

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