How to Juice Prickly Pear Fruit

Joseph working the thrift-store mill I always know it’s prickly pear fruit season when questions start coming in on a recipe I did for a prickly pear fruit jelly. Unfortunately, the mucilaginous and seedy texture of the fruit makes it difficult to work with. The only tested recipe I could find, for a prickly pear marmalade in the Ball Blue Book, says nothing about how to seed or juice the fruit. With the assistance of two fellow...

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Beekeeping Class at the Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano

I’ll be teaching a two hour introduction to natural no-treatment beekeeping at the Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano this Saturday at 1 pm. To sign up buzz over here. Here’s the class description: Become a backyard beekeeper and enjoy a healthy garden full of pollinators. Understand beekeeping tools, materials, and techniques to get started. Beekeeping, or apiculture, is said to have begun with the Egyptians who used logs, boxes...

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Farmstead Egg Guide & Cookbook Giveaway

You probably know Terry Golson from her addictive website hencam.com. We were lucky to meet Terry when she was on a book tour here in Los Angeles a few years ago. She’s got a new cookbook out, The  Farmstead Egg Guide & Cookbook. The book begins with a purchasing guide to eggs followed by a brief introduction to what’s involved in keeping chickens. Recipes–everything from omelettes to deserts–make up the majority of...

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Our Winter Vegetable Garden

Favas n’ peas It’s a blessing and a curse to live in a year round growing climate. Winter here in Southern California is the most productive time for most vegetables. It also means that there’s no time off for the gardener or the soil. In the interest of better note keeping, what follows is a list of what we’re growing this winter in the vegetable garden. We’ll do an update in the spring to let you know how...

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Slaughtering Turkeys for Thanksgiving

A noble Royal Palm tom. This photo by Kevin Saff. The rest are ours. This post is not for everyone, so we’ve concealed most of it behind the jump. This week we helped our friend, Steve, slaughter and dress four turkeys for Thanksgiving. There will be pictures, so those of you who are interested can get some idea of what the process involves. Steve is an especially conscious carnivore, because he raises and slaughters all the m...

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Behold the Western Electric 500

There’s much to love about the Western Electric 500 telephone. It’s easily serviceable and built like a tank. Why? When it was manufactured you didn’t own your phone, the telephone company leased it to you. This relationship served as a powerful incentive to manufacture a device that would last. In the 90s I went through three or four cheap cordless phones that broke after a few months of service. I switched back to an old tou...

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How to Process Carob

Before. Photo by Bill Wheelock. Our neighborhood has an abundance of carob (Ceratonia siliqua) trees that, around this time of year, drop thousands of pounds of pods. Now many of us may have unpleasant associations with carob as a 1970s era chocolate substitute, but the tree has a long history in the Middle East, where it’s used to make a tea, as a source of molasses, as a vegetable and as animal feed. The “locusts” th...

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Is Kombucha Safe?

We love to ferment things, with one notable exception: kombucha. During the last kombucha craze, in the mid-90s, we picked up a “SCOBY” blob and dutifully fed it tea and sugar until we stumbled upon an article written by mycologist Paul Stamets, “The Manchurian Mushroom: My Adventures with “The Blob.” In that article Stamets tells a convoluted story of having a kombucha culture tested by a lab. He didn’t tell...

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Moving Bees Out of a Meter Box

Nuc box (new home) on left–utility box enclosure (old home) on right. I got an email the other day from someone who had a beehive in his electric meter box, a popular destination for bees in this area. It was a very small hive that had taken up residence just a few weeks ago. The house was about to be put up for sale so I had to get them out pronto. I brought along a cardboard nuc box–a temporary hive box used to transport b...

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New Year’s Resolutions

It’s a week for formulating New Years resolutions and I have two that stem from reading Ferran Adrià’s A Day at elBulli . Adrià is one of the main proponents of “molecular gastronomy” (though he rejects the term) a style of cooking that involves not just unusual ingredients, but the creation of entirely new forms of cooking. Think dry ice, freeze drying and culinary thoughtstylings such as “Spherification.” B...

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