CooKit Solar Cooker Made Out of Wood

The nice folks at Solar Cookers International gave us permission to reprint plans for their CooKit solar cooker in our book Making It. You can access those plans, as well as many other solar cooker projects, for free, on their website here. I’ve made CooKits out of cardboard and aluminum foil a couple of times. One problem is that I eventually bang up the cardboard and I’ve got to make a new one. This summer I had a lot of  1/4 inc...

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Philosophical EDC: Seneca

...hough the virtues, which it is now neither possible to expect nor profitable to possess, had been overthrown, there comes overwhelming gloom. We ought, therefore, to bring ourselves to believe that all the vices of the crowd are, not hateful, but ridiculous, and to imitate Democritus rather than Heraclitus. For the latter, whenever he went forth into public, used to weep, the former to laugh; to the one all human doings seemed t...

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Seed Mania

...was introduced to it by my friends at Tularosa Farms. It’s difficult to germinate so that plan is to gift the seeds to the TF folks and hope that they give us seedlings (an evil plan, I admit). I also picked up some crimson clover and globe artichoke seeds from the Bountiful Gardens folks. Desert Chia from Native Seed Search. Yes it is that chia, of Chia Pet fame. Chia is an ancient herb used by Native Americans for medicine and food. Cha...

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Simple Tech

...locally. There can also be a considerable amount of arrogance in asking poor folks living in places decimated by the legacy of colonialism, and our rapacious WTO/World Bank/global economy to “make do” while we in the first world bleed them dry for the raw materials that keep our SUVs, plasma screens and iPhones running. Isn’t it time we in the first world used some of these low-tech ideas–say by replacing our iPhones with...

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Nuts!

...still say “raw almonds but they will have been subjected to high heat and a five log kill step…that they are calling Pasteurization”. This lie is being permitted by the marketing order!! But there’s even more bad news since pasteurization, according to the Almond Board of California, involves a choice of steam, high heat or, we kid you not, highly toxic and carcinogenic propylene oxide once used as a racing fuel, an insec...

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Have We Reached Peak Kale? Franchi’s Cavolo Laciniato “Galega De Folhas Lisas”

I’ve heard murmurings of a kale backlash. Apparently, too many restaurants have kale salads and fancy city folks like us are losing sleep worrying what the next hip vegetable will be. I have a proposal. Let’s keep with the kale for awhile longer. I propose a Franchi kale “Galega De Folhas Lisas” as the new big thing. Translated, the variety name is something like “Galacian smooth leaf.” To...

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Self-Righteousness Fail: We Bought a Car

...tinue to use public transport frequently–and I always love to walk. I will admit that I was gleeful to get the car. I didn’t think we’d ever get one again, because the combination of our innate cheapness, our environmental guilt, and our hatred of used car lots would conspire to prevent any forward momentum. In that light, our friend’s offer was like a gift from the sky. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever been s...

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Extreme Low-Tech Communication

This has to be the ultimate achievement in low-powered long-distance communication. Ham radio operator Michael Rainey, AA1TJ, transmitted a message over a distance of over 1,000 miles by yelling Morse code with his own voice into this primitive home-made transmitter, nicknamed “El Silbo.” No power was used other than that generated by his own voice vibrating the microphone (which was a re-purposed speaker). If you...

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The Africanized Bee Myth

...many hives here from walls, trees and kitchen vents to people who have wanted to have bees. Most likely, all of the hives I have moved have been Africanized. I have yet to encounter a feral hive that I would consider aggressive. Africanized bees should not be used as an excuse to ban beekeeping in Los Angeles or anywhere else that has Africanized bee populations. The people fanning the Africanized bee hysteria all have agendas (and, I’ll p...

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What I’m Growing this Winter

...hose this particular arugula. Chicory “Pan di Zucchero” I chose this chicory on the recommendation of Franchi’s West Coast distributor The Heirloom Seed Store, who had a booth at this year’s Heirloom Exposition. The owners of the Heirloom Seed Store, who run a farm in the Santa Cruz area, raved about this particular chicory. It’s a large-leafed variety that can be used in a salad or cooked....

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