Have you ever wanted a uniform?

...e strange local characters, like “the kilt guy” or “the bathrobe lady.” Still, I do like the idea of fashioning a garment which suits all of my needs (fit, comfort, pockets, good fabric etc.) and making it my very own. I also like to think that having a uniform would eventually save in laundry and reduce material waste over time. It would harken back to the days when people simply didn’t have more than a handful of o...

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Virtuosic Bread Shaping

...t repeat it 10,000 times. That was the advice of a chef friend when I asked her how she learned to shape pizzas. The bread being shaped here is called Markook, In Arabic, مرقوق، شراك. It’s a flatbread found throughout the Middle East (an Armenian friend who grew up in Lebanon told us about it). A casual Youtube search will reveal many different Markook shaping techniques. Here’s a pillow free version making the rounds on Facebook:...

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Get Baking and Share the Loaves

...Monday, moderated by KCRW’s Evan Kleiman, Baker announced that he’s working on an Einkorn baguette, the bread geek equivalent of proposing a new route up K2 sans oxygen. At both events he dropped a lot of advice for home bakers that I thought I’d share: The refrigerator is your friend. Do a long proof in the refrigerator. This deepens flavor, allows flexibility in your baking schedule and can help a hearth loaf hold its shape...

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Flowers from Vegetables

Whenever possible I let vegetables go to flower, sometimes to save the seed, but more often to share the bounty with insects and birds. The usefulness comes in two waves: the first being the pollinators attracted to the flowers, and once the flowers go to seed the birds will move in. Of course this means that I’m “wasting space” and making my garden “unproductive” but the rewards outweigh any inc...

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Party in the Bathroom!!!!!

...omptu party. Yes, I close the door. But Phoebe, our little heart-challenged female, is a genius. She understands the principles of force and acceleration and all sorts of things I don’t even know the names of, and can send the bathroom door swinging inward with one precise smack of her dainty black paw. If I do lock the door, she scratches on the other side in protest–tirelessly– making a noise so annoying that I have to submit...

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How To Make a Sourdough Starter

Here’s the first in a series of Root Simple how-to videos. Look for them on the blog and, soon, on your mobile thingies. I started with a little edit on how to make a sourdough starter. And I take requests–if there’s a topic for a video you’d like to see just leave a comment.  Making a sourdough starter is as simple as mixing flour and water. There’s no need for all the crazy things I’ve heard suggested: a...

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The Theme of a Great Garden

...rough stonework and the use of California native plants. The garden feels as if exists in a time before humans. It got me wondering how thematics would play out in a more modest home landscape. Perhaps, when it comes time to design a garden it would be useful to toss around a few abstract words and ideas to help unify the design vocabulary of the garden. Picking a theme or several related themes could make it easier when it comes to making plant...

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Online Adobe Classes With Kurt Gardella

...Kurt Gardella, who built our adobe oven, will be teaching a few online classes. More information after the jump. Dear adobe friends, I wanted to remind you that I am teaching 2 Adobe in Action online classes beginning next Monday, March 17th. The History & Basics class will give you all of the skills you need to find and test soils for use in adobe construction and also take you through the process of making your own adobe bricks: C...

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My Brand New Homebrew Soda Carbonator

Erik won the good husband award this Valentine’s Day. He surprised me with my very own soda making machine. This is not a SodaStream–it’s better. It’s an industrial strength CO2 tank topped with sturdy dials and valves and whatnot, all sourced from the local homebrew shop. He’s going to do a how-to post soon (tomorrow maybe?) on how to put together the parts, and how to use it. So hold on for tho...

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Ten Uses for Palm Fronds

...palm fronds can be made into creepy masks. Get good at this craft and open an Etsy store. 2. Make a roof. Weave them together and you’ve got the perfect roof for your tiki hut. Warning: you’ll need a lot. 3. Make a low quality mulch. Using palm fronds as mulch is somewhat controversial. The stuff takes forever to break down. Our arborist told me that some conventional citrus growers use palm frond mulch specifically because it takes...

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