Time Banking

So what is money but an abstract representation of misery, time spent doing things we’d all rather not be doing? How about an alternative? How about taking all of our hard earned capital away from the Wall Street types? Get ready for time banking. With time banking, you get together with your local community members, friends and family and exchange hours rather than currency. Time Bank USA describes the concept succinctly: “For ever...

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Tame the Email Beast and Have Time To Run Your Urban Homestead

The original smart phone? When Kelly and I do a book appearance one of the most common questions is, “How do you have time for all this stuff?” Our response is two parts. The first is to say that we don’t recommend people try to do everything in our book but, instead, focus on the things you like to do most. The time will appear as your interests and priorities shift. The second is that we don’t watch TV. That b...

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Remember to Label Those Jars!

Label, label, label!” This was one of the most important lessons I learned in my Master Food Preserver training. You’ll note, from the jars above, that I’m not very good about this. When were those jars canned and what’s in them? I have no idea. They were probably the result of some late night canning frenzy two years ago. At the time I probably thought to myself, “I’ll label them in the morning.”...

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Back on the Yogurt Train: How to Make Yogurt

...cooler to keep the yogurt warm while it ferments. I’m sure there are many ways to keep yogurt warm, but I find the cooler straightforward, and that’s what I’m going to describe here. We make two quarts at a time in a little six pack cooler. Very clean canning-type jars Hot water bottle (optional) Towel(s) for insulation Your last store bought container of yogurt. You need live yogurt to start the culture, only a few spoonfuls....

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Looking for the Union Label

he socks and underwear we ordered from Union House arrived promptly and are of superior quality. Homegrown Revolution hecklers will, no doubt, shout us down for not sewing our own underwear and socks, but we’ll save our time for more complicated sewing projects such as the shirt we sewed a few years ago. We’ve all got a lot of moral geometry to perform in this globalized world–the keyboard we’re tapping this missive out on...

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Harvesting and Drying Calendula

...n full bloom. Don’t try to “save” the flowers. The more you harvest, the more flowers each plant will put out.  After the first cutting, you can probably return to harvest more every 3 days or so. The ideal time to harvest is in the morning, before it gets warm, but after the dew dries. You want them all fresh and perky and at their peak. This is traditional wisdom. However, I believe it’s better to harvest when you can t...

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On Living in Los Angeles Without a Car: A Debate

...urban landscape.  I stand in the pole shade, wondering if the bus will ever come, and I seethe about the way this city treats its pedestrians. Erik: It’s a stereotype that LA is car-centric. If I had a dollar for every time some out of town journalist drops in here for a weekend and files a report repeating the “nobody uses public transit in LA” mantra I’d be a millionaire. LA has a very extensive public transit system. I...

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Warning: This Blog is Based in a Mediterranean Climate

A fresco from Pompeii depicting many familiar plants. I’ve been meaning to do this for a long time: write up a sort of this-blog-is-in-a-Mediterranean-climate disclaimer. There’s a certain amount of awkwardness when discussing vegetable gardening in the Northern Hemisphere’s winter months. I imagine that most of the readers of this blog are either taking some time off from gardening or gardening under a hoop house. But for us h...

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Beans 101 (Return of Bean Friday!)

...he recipes tag, too.) A pot of beans, I’d argue, is one of the keystones of cheap eating. A big pot of beans costs little, and can morph into many meals over the course of a week. This not only saves money, but it saves time. It rescues you from the dreaded “what’s for dinner?” question. Beans got your back. Skeptical? Here are a few very simple dishes you can throw together if you’ve got cooked beans in the fridge:...

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Gourmet Foraging and Advanced Acorn Processing

...ere we learned some valuable tips regarding acorn processing, and were privileged to eat the finest vegetarian burgers we’ve ever tasted — sliders made with acorns. I’ve downed a lot of veggie burgers in my time, and I’ve come to think of them mostly as excuse to eat bread and condiments. I’ve never had a veggie burger good enough to eat on its own. The acorn burgers they treated us to were not just “good for...

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