How To Dry Food With the Sun

. But there’s a catch to sun drying: humidity. Food dries best when temperatures are above 85º F and below 60% humidity. If you live in a desert, humidity isn’t a problem. But in most other places in North America it’s simply too moist to set food out under the sun. It will rot before it dries. In Los Angeles, due to the influence of the ocean, it’s slightly too humid most of the year for sun drying to work well. But there...

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Making Salves, Lip Balms & etc.: Close of the Calendula Series

...an also use essential oils to bring herbal essences into a plain salve.  Once you know how to make salve, you can not only make skin salves, you can make lip balm and headache balm and stick deodorant and homemade cosmetics. It’s a simple technique, but it opens a lot of possibilities. My favorite herbal salve is made out of a mix of equal parts Calendula (pot marigold), chickweed (Stellaria media) and plantain (Plantago major) oils. These...

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How to Make Stock

The Old Kitchen by Hendrik Valkenburg, 1872 (image courtesy of Wikimedia) By reader request, we’re going to cover the basics of making soup stock today: how to make it and how to use it. Let’s start with the why you’d make it and how you use it. Why you make stock: It is the basis of good cuisine: everything tastes better with stock It boosts the nutritional value of anything you cook with it. It’s thrifty: it puts all...

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Making Tofu From Scratch at the Institute of Domestic Technology

Around once a month I teach a bread class at the one of a kind Institute of Domestic Technology, founded by our friend Joseph Shuldiner. The IDT is not your usual cooking school and its offerings are difficult to define succinctly. If I had to take a stab at explaining what the IDT does it would be that it teaches things worth doing from scratch that most people haven’t attempted since the pre-Betty Crocker era: cheesemaking, home coffee...

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Another Panel Solar Cooker

Poyourow demoing her solar cooker design There’s no one size fits all solution when it comes to the world of solar panel cookers. All have their advantages and disadvantages. I got an email from author Joanne Poyourow, leader of the amazing Los Angeles Environmental Change Makers, with a simple and effective design she came up with. Pouyourow’s cooker comes together much faster than the CooKit design that I blogged about earlier th...

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Build a Solar Dehydrator

Like many of you, I suspect, we’ve got a few too many tomatoes at this time of the year. One of our favorite ways to preserve our modest harvest is with our solar dehydrator. There’s nothing like the taste of sun dried tomatoes, but unless you live in a very dry desert climate like Phoenix, Arizona you can’t just set fruit out in the sun and expect it to do anything but go moldy. In most places in the world, including here in...

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CooKit Solar Panel Cooker

I’ve been experimenting with a nice panel solar cooker for the past week and, so far, the results are impressive. Called the CooKit, it was developed in 1994 by a group of engineers and solar cooking enthusiasts associated with Solar Cookers International and based on a design by Roger Bernard. It has a couple of nice features: It produces ample heat to cook rice and simple casseroles. When you fold it up it takes up no more space than a...

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How to make a Calendula oil infusion

Love that golden orange color. It’s prettier in real life. So finally I get around to finishing off this mini series on Calendula (pot marigold). This post will be on infusing oil, and next week we’ll have the one on salves. We’ve already covered the growing and drying Calendula: Why not plant some Calendula Harvesting and drying Calendula Oil infusion is as simple as can be.  Oil infusion is soaking. Think of...

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Saturday Linkages: Battling Herbicides, Solar Wall Ovens and Jaywalking

Solar wall oven. Photo: Natural Building Blog Rachel Aviv: The Scientist Who Took on a Leading Herbicide Manufacturer http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2014/02/10/140210fa_fact_aviv?currentPage=all?mbid=social_retweet … Consider the Cane Toad http://ensia.com/voices/consider-the-cane-toad/ … Commercial Solar Wall Ovens http://feedly.com/e/nrC8gJXU  Wilson Solar Grill for outdoor cooking http://www.examiner.com/article/wilson-solar-grill-for-out...

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Solar Light Hack

We wanted a solar powered light over our new entrance arbor. The problem is that most of the lights available are just plain ugly. And the solar panels on the cheaper models are usually mounted on the light itself making it impossible to place them in a shady spot. I came up with a simple solution. First, I bought an inexpensive solar light intended to be mounted on a fence. I took it apart and desoldered the LEDs off the circuit board. Nex...

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