My Trip to Maker Faire

...ng elsewhere. To add to the low tech/high tech irony, I was not able to use my PowerPoint and had to speak extemporaneously. This worked out for the better, as I was able to pull up a member of the audience to demonstrate her solar cooker–much more fun than showing pictures of solar cookers. And, after all, maybe it’s time we retire PowerPoint. Some of the things I spotted at Maker Faire: Long lines for the tiny house. I’ll re...

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Prickly Pear Fruit Chips

...ich are barbed and much more painful than the spines on the pads). I disarm the glochids by burning them off over a burner on the stove. Cut the fruit into thin slices and hack off the skins. Place in a dehydrator. We have a solar dehydrator, but a commercial one will also work, of course. If you live in a dry desert climate you can dry fruit in the sun under screens, but here in Los Angeles the air has too much moisture in it. Fruit would mold...

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The Pressure is On

My pressure cooker is my new best friend. Especially when I’m not in the mood for cooking, I can toss a few ingredients in, lock the lid down and come back to a healthy, nutritious supper in just a few minutes. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a pressure cooker cookbook up to my standards. All of the ones I checked out from the library, even those newly published, seemed stuck in the 1950s tuna noodle casserole era, when pressure cooki...

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Book Review: A Feast of Weeds by Luigi Ballerini

The evening a review copy of A Feast of Weeds: A Literary Guide to Foraging and Cooking Wild Edible Plants came in I couldn’t put it down. I chased Kelly and our guest Nancy Klehm around the house to read excerpts: on the obscene etymology of the Italian word for the Strawberry Tree (Arbutus unedo), on the history of Mallow (Malva parviflora). And who knew that Italians eat red poppy leaves? Ballerini is a professor of Italian at the Univ...

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The World’s First Lamp

...f candles. One reason I burn little shell lamps like this because I like candlelight, but candles are expensive, especially beeswax candles, which I prefer over petroleum-based candles. Since these lamps use olive oil or any cooking oil for fuel, they’re a great way to us up those rancid or off-tasting oils which tend to clutter the back of our cupboards. I save the stale or otherwise suspicious olive oil from my herb-infused oil experimen...

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Return of Bean Friday! Chickpea, Pasta and Tomato Soup

...lled Pasta e Ceci alla Toscana. The quantity made by the recipe was pretty small, and when I make soup, I make a lot, so I doubled their quantities. This is my interpretation. ———— Allow three hours of cooking time You need: 2 cups dried chickpeas. Please don’t use canned beans for this recipe–I don’t think it will work. I also doubt other types of beans would work quite as well.1 28 oz. can of chopped to...

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Tippy Tap, Beta Version

...asts that long. If I do another tippy tap in plastic, I’ll use a water jug or a bottle which held something edible, like cooking oil. Next, I gave the bottle a quick coat of paint because I couldn’t scrape off the label and couldn’t stand to wash my hands while that psychotic, chemical peddling teddy bear stared up at me. The mechanics of building a tippy tap are quite simple, but fairly situational, so you’ll have to impr...

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Appropriate Tech is the New High Tech

On his blog, the Archdruid Report, John Michael Greer has a provocative essay, “Seeking the Gaianomicon” that includes a link to a collection of 1970s/80s era appropriate technology handouts. The 190 page pdf Greer mentions (accessible at http://www.culturalconservers.org/apptech.php) includes information and how-to advice on insulation, storm windows, solar water heaters, super-insulated homes, simple photovoltaic systems and more....

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June: National Bathroom Reading Month

...ehm. Nancy explains how to make dandelion wine and extols the virtues of urine in your compost pile. Real Goods Catalog. This is sort of a Sky Mall for environmentalists. Produced by the same folks who put out the worthwhile Solar Living Source Book, most of the items in this catalog are beyond our modest writing-derived income level. Some things look useful, but there’s a lot of dubious stuff such as solar hat fans and electric scooters....

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Essential System #9 – Hydration

...r invest in an expensive and heavy reverse-osmosis system like boats have to turn seawater into drinkable water. Lastly we must put in a plug for the geniuses behind the artistic collective Simparch who are experimenting with solar stills to distill water as a method of purification. Distillation takes care of 99.9% of the bad stuff and the Simparch folks have created a solar still as a part of the border art shindig InSite. Solar stills can als...

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