Essential System #4 – Illumination

It’s all about LEDs my friends. LEDs are the way to go, lasting nearly forever and using very little battery power (make sure, of course, that you have batteries on hand). We have LED headlamps in our grab and go bags, but we also are looking into a new generation of LED bulbs for our Urban Homestead’s interior lighting. As far as house lighting goes, while LED efficiency is rapidly advancing, compact fluorescents are still better fr...

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An Earth Day Rant

There’s a logical fallacy called argumentum ad novitatem or the appeal to novelty, i.e. if something is new and clever it must be worthy of attention. It’s the fallacy that the mainstream media inevitability falls into when discussing bicycles. Witness an article in the LA Times, Going Beyond the Basic Bike, wherein we learned about the treadmill bike pictured above–a bargain at $2,011–the kids can use it in a science f...

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Citified Parched Corn

Dried corn on the left, parched corn with peas and blueberries on right I was thinking about trail food, and wishing for a portable snack which was not based on nuts and chocolate chips (though there’s nothing wrong with that!) or too sugary, like dried fruit or energy bars. Then I recalled parched corn. Parched corn–dried corn which has been roasted–is one of those legendary Native American foods, like pemmi...

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The Urban Homestead

“The contemporary bible on the subject” — The New York Times The Urban Homestead (Expanded and Revised Edition): Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City (Process Self-reliance Series) by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen  (Process, 2010) ISBN: 978-1934170106 (The first edition, the one with the “American Gothic” cover, was released by Process on June 1, 2008) Buy it at:  Amazon •...

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Village Homes: A Model for Sustainable Suburbs

I’ve recently discovered a truly inspiring housing development in Davis, California. This is not new news–it was built in the 1980′s, but it’s new to me and worth sharing. Village Homes is the brainchild of architect/developer Michael Corbett. It encompasses 70 acres and 200-some homes. It has all the space and privacy that brings people to the suburbs, but it’s designed with considerable intelligence. For instan...

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Saturday Linkages:

The Japanese art of Furoshiki–a way of making packages with a reusable cloth. Via No Tech Magazine. Zero waste shopping in Japan with Furoshiki: http://www.notechmagazine.com/2014/04/furoshiki-zero-waste-shopping-in-japan.html … A solar powered grain grinder: http://www.notechmagazine.com/2014/04/solar-powered-grain-mill.html … Bee Friendly Gardening In The Pacific Northwest http://www.nwedible.com/2014/04/bee-friendly-g...

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Saturday Linkages: Fire Plows, Kite Fishing and Roundup-Ready Turfgrass

Tell Me You Wouldn’t Buy This Snow-Fighting Fire Plow http://paleofuture.gizmodo.com/tell-me-you-wouldnt-buy-this-snow-fighting-fire-plow-1519897386 … Tear Down These 10 Freeways! (And Then Tear Down Some More) http://feedly.com/e/5TEe4eBI  Mineral waters à la carte http://shar.es/QRHOf  Google hangout with Lloyd Kahn, master urban homesteader: http://boingboing.net/2014/02/12/google-hangout-with-lloyd-kahn.html … 3 MAK...

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So-So Tomatoes Become Excellent When Dried

...isk for 4 days to kill moths and their larvae. How did we dry our tomatoes, you ask? Usually we use our homemade solar dehydrator, but this year we’ve got a friend’s electric dehydrator on loan. It seemed wicked to run the thing day and night, but it dries a lot faster, and with less work overall, than our solar set-up. (Oh, the wonders of Modern Living!) The one thing I did not like, though, was the constant noise. The dehydrator sou...

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Scarlet Runner Bean Stew

...falling apart. So to cook the scarlet runner beans I placed them in the 3 quart enameled pot that goes with my solar cooker, filled it the rest of the way with water and let the beans soak overnight. The next day I admired the fat, swollen beans. I threw in a few bay leaves and put the pot in the solar cooker around 9 a.m.. I arrived home around 4 p.m. and my beans were done. They are big and meaty, but still rather bland. I’m going to ea...

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