The Making of a Great Olive Oil

Kelly admires the olives Thanks to our good friend Dale Benson, Kelly and I got to see how a really high quality olive oil is made. Dale knows Matt Norelli, the wine and olive oil maker at Preston Vineyards of Dry Creek, an organic family farm near Healdsburg in Northern California. Matt was nice enough to let us watch the complicated olive oil machinery in action. First the freshly picked olives go into a big hopper (above). They are...

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Our Books

...hat’s the difference between these books? We get this question a lot. The Urban Homestead has projects in it, but overall it is more of an inspirational book, a book to get you thinking about the possibilities of do-it-yourself living. It’s a great place to start. We wrote Making It because we’d had comments from readers of The Urban Homestead that they wanted more projects. Making It is a 100% pure project book. It’s for...

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Broom Corn–or is it Broomcorn?

...mer I suggested we plant broom corn for no other good reason than I saw the seed pack at the nursery and thought it would be fun to make a broom. (This sort of temporary insanity often overtakes me in the seed aisle.) So without knowing anything at all about broom corn or broom making we planted a block of the stuff. Maybe I should have done a little research into broom making before planting, but I let it slide ’til harvest time. It’...

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DIY Solar Space Heating

Photo: Build It Solar. Mrs. Homegrown, who spent her formative years in the mountains of Colorado, made fun of me this morning as I noted the “cold” temperature . . . 60°F. It was the first ironic “brrrrrr” out of her mouth, letting me know that we’ve transitioned from the hot smoggy season to the the less hot smoggy season here in Los Angeles. In the northern hemisphere it’s time to conside...

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Back on the Yogurt Train: How to Make Yogurt

...to make yogurt. In fact, I do believe we covered it in our book. Thing is, back in the day when we made yogurt, it was Erik’s job. When he slacked on it, I didn’t even consider picking it up. Chalk it up to the mysteries of division of labor in a household. Anyway, we went to see Mark Frauenfelder talk about his great new book, Made by Hand , and one of things he mentioned was how much he and his family are digging making their own...

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Saturday Linkages: Black Soldier Flys, DIY Power Bars and CDFA Thugs are Killing Bees Again

...y http://greenroofgrowers.blogspot.com/2013/02/are-you-chicago-gardener-take-this.html#.UTo_UPrAm4A.twitter … My Solar Adventures- DIY solar and arduino projects: How to : DIY Solar Backpack with Solar Mobile phon… http://mysolaradventures.com/2012/06/how-to-diy-solar-backpack-with-solar.html?spref=tw … Cookin’ How to Make Easy 3-Ingredient Energy Bars at Home Cooking Lessons from The Kitchn http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-easy-...

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Sundiner

Beekeeper Dennis made one of those once in a lifetime garage sale finds earlier this year: a solar oven from the 1960s called the “Sundiner.” I couldn’t find much on the interwebs about it except for a brief mention in the  April 1963 issue of Desert Magazine, “Here’s a new product that suits desert living as few others can—it collects and concentrates the heat of the sun and allows outdoor cooking without fuel...

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The Secret to Japanese Cooking: Dashi

...We conclude our Japanese themed week with the sauce that’s sort of the unified field theory of Japanese cooking: dashi. It’s in everything from noodle dishes to sauces to miso soup and it cooks up in just minutes. Dashi contains two ingredients, kombu (a kind of kelp) and bonito (shaved, fermented fish flakes). It’s the backbone of Japanese cooking, but we think it’s gentle, savory character could adapt well to Western-...

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Beans 101 (Return of Bean Friday!)

...top of beans. We tend to forget this, outside of huevos rancheros. If you like runny yolks, poach an egg and put it on top of a bowl of hot beans and let that yolk mix with the bean broth. A fried egg with a more solid yolk is good, too. Or even chopped hard-boiled egg. Add cooked beans to soup. Maybe to a ready-made soup, to beef it up. Or maybe you’re cooking a soup from scratch. Just drop the beans in at the end, so they have long enough...

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Low Tech Solar Heating with a Thermosyphon Collector

Yet another great post from the folks at Build It Solar: a simple and low tech solar heating system called a thermosyphon collector mounted in the wall of a garage. It uses the same principle as the solar dehydrator we have on our garage roof–basically it’s just some clear plastic and a heat collector made out of black window screen. If your climate is cold and sunny (think Colorado) this would work nicely. Read the post to see a r...

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