Why are the pockets on women’s clothing so lame?

Trout likes himself a sewing project. Especially one he can lay on. Or gnaw on. What is with women’s clothing? Why are all of the pockets sized somewhere between tiny and non-existent? There seems to be some misguided belief that women inherently carry lots of stuff, therefore must carry bags, therefore do not need pockets. This is false. Women carry bags because we have inadequate pockets, and we figure we may as well carry extra stuff...

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Biochar: Miracle or Gimmick?

Cornell University illustration showing biochar as a means of sequestering greenhouse gases. I’m always skeptical of what I call the “notions and potions” school of gardening. Every few years there is some new substance touted as the secret to a lush vegetable garden. One such substance is biochar, a kind of charcoal used as a soil amendment. The University of Minnesota Extension service is in the midst of a four year study to...

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Does Sourdough Offer Hope for the Gluten Intolerant?

Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis. In the last 20 years bakers around the world have revived the art of baking with a sourdough culture. At first this revival was related to flavor, but increasingly bakers are turning to sourdough cultures in the interest of health. It’s possible that the unique qualities of sourdough cultures may offer hope to those who think they are gluten intolerant or have an allergy to wheat.  A very short history of br...

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Composting the Deceased/ My DIY Funeral Fantasies

When I die, I want to return to the elements. In the best case scenario, I’ll be food. I mean, I suppose the bacteria get us all, unless we’re cremated, but I don’t want to be locked inside a coffin, with most of my potential nutrient value going to waste.  This obsession has led to several funeral fantasies, which I like share with Erik spontaneously, usually while we’re grocery shopping or something, much to his dismay...

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Sourdough Bread Class at the Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano

Ditch the preservatives and plastic wrap. Join us and learn how to make homemade, all-natural bread from scratch. Learn to bake bread the natural way, with a sourdough starter. Sourdough cultures make breads with bolder flavors, a longer shelf life and deliver the health benefits of living, fermented foods. In this hands-on workshop we’ll make a simple loaf using a version of the miraculous and easy Chad Robertson Tartine recipe. By bakin...

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Sourdough Rye Bread Class at the Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano

Ditch the preservatives and plastic wrap. Join us and learn how to make homemade, all-natural bread from scratch. Learn to bake the healthiest bread on the planet: a 100% whole grain sourdough rye. In this class you’ll learn how to start and maintain a sourdough starter and how to work with whole grains. We’ll reveal the secrets of whole grain baking, plus you’ll learn how you can grind your own grains. In the end, you’ll take home a loaf...

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What Epuipment Do You Need to Bake Bread?

We get a fair amount of spam comments on this blog. Exterminators, search engine optimization purveyors and even, this morning someone promoting gossip news about Beyoncé and Jay-Z (a bit off topic for an appropriate technology blog, perhaps?). One spam comment that came in last week fascinated me. The website had an extensive collection of bread baking how-to videos. Within a few minutes, on the first video I watched, the instructor was alread...

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Home cooking advice?

Our talk about the perils of added sugar this past week has reinforced to me how very important it is to cook at home, from scratch. It’s important for so many reasons, and big reasons, too. To name just a few, it’s good for our health, it’s good for the environment, it makes us civilized, it teaches kids what real food tastes like, it reinforces cultural traditions and forges bonds between family and friends. Sometimes, thoug...

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The canning lid conundrum

How do you guys store your used canning lids and rings? We keep a lot of them around because we use canning jars for so many things other than canning: dry goods, leftovers, food-to-go, body care, etc.  My collection is driving me crazy. Never was there a set of more awkward objects than a pile of slippery, jangly rings and lids. Ideas? [Mr. Homegrown in my Master Food Preserver mode chiming in here--as per USDA advice we use two piece canning...

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Our Grape Arbor

Several years ago I demolished a crumbling addition to the house (a room you had to go through the back bedroom to get to) and replaced it with an arbor. Our neighbor generously gave us the columns that used to be on her front porch and I added a plinth to make them taller. In the background are two apple trees that provide some privacy. It’s taken a couple of years for the grapes to cover the structure. One reason is that we lost two vi...

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