The Sundiner–A Groovy 1960s Era Solar Cooker

...t in thermometer lets you know when you have hit cooking temperatures. The unit is so efficient, that when I set it up at noon it hit 350° F within minutes (in February!). The Sundiner has one big disadvantage. There’s only enough space in the business end to fit a 9 inch square shallow baking tin. And that tin, depending on the time of day and year, may be at a steep angle. Thus the Sundiner is more of a solar grillR...

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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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Compost and Pharmaceuticals

...residues in compost were significantly lower, if compared to the relevant concentrations in sewage sludge . . . It is concluded that before using the sewage sludge compost as a fertilizer it should be carefully tested against the content of different pharmaceuticals. The content of pharmaceuticals in the compost made from sewage sludge may easily lead to the elevated concentrations in food plants, if the compost is used as a fertilizer. A slight...

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Is Our Furniture Killing Us?

...orces the occupant to think about each and every step.They promise eternal life (an exaggeration for the sake of making a point) and a return to youthfulness. “At least one tenant says he feels a little younger already. Nobutaka Yamaoka, who moved in with his wife and two children about two years ago, says he has lost more than 20 pounds and no longer suffers from hay fever, though he isn’t sure whether it was cured by the loft.”...

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How to make your soup wonderful: Wild food soup stock

...than a bunch of finely chopped vegetables, herbs and greens (wild or not) mixed with plenty of salt to preserve it.  I made mine with onion, celery, parsley and those nettles. It makes a strong, salty paste that keeps well in the fridge. My first jar is almost finished, and I’ve been using it for months. It still looks good. Pascal says this is a traditional European method of making instant soup stock, but instead of using it as a stock b...

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Supper for a buck?

...dried yeast. 636 theoretical loaves. Problem is I don't know how exactly much we pay per pound of yeast.  We buy it in vacuum-packed 1 lb bags for about 4 or 5 dollars, I think. In any case, yeast costs are less than a penny a loaf.] Suffice it to say our bread doesn’t cost much. 75 cents per loaf would be an overly generous estimation. And it’s crusty, chewy, beautiful and delicious. Here in LA, I would expect to pay $6.00 to $8.00 f...

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Saturday Linkages: Alphabet Birdhouses, Ancient Cheese and the World’s Worst Cookbooks

Aviary Alphabet: Birdhouses Shaped Like Letters http://dornob.com/aviary-alphabet-birdhouses-shaped-like-letters/ … How much does it cost to decorate your house with Christmas lights?: http://boingboing.net/2012/12/10/how-much-does-it-cost-to-decor.html … Archaeologists Find Ancient Evidence Of Cheese-Making http://n.pr/TUyVLZ New Research Links Pesticides in Tap Water to Rise in Food Allergies http://inhabitat.com/new-resear...

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There Will Be Kraut–Lecture on Fermentation at the Historic Greystone Mansion

...rator cabinets to pricy “pro-biotic” supplements. Erik Knutzen, co-author of The Urban Homestead and Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World, will give an overview of the world’s fermented foods and discuss how you can make your own. He’ll cover everything from sauerkraut to pickles to sourdough bread to the great kombucha controversy to the health benefits of fermented foods. He may even discuss arctic explor...

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Garden Design: Quantity vs. Quality

...over quality principle to laying out a garden–especially since you often get only one chance a year to get it right? Above you see some of Kelly’s ideas for the parkway garden we planted in the fall. I think it is at this first point in the process–when you’re just sketching out ideas–when it’s best to generate as many drawings a possible, stick them on a wall and see which ones pop out. I think Kelly made more...

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Toilet Paper Roll Tower for Cats

Photo: FourWhitePaws At the risk of turning into one of those people who does nothing but post cute cat pictures to Facebook–oh wait a second, I’m already that person–here’s a tip from a friend Christine on how to keep cats busy with toilet paper rolls. Christine sent me a link to the FourWhitePaws blog on making a toilet paper tower that you put treats in. She also sent a link to a stock photo service...

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