The binoculars are always close at hand

A typical breakfast scene: Erik surveys the neighborhood from our “hilltop aerie.” What’s he looking at? Perhaps a lithesome jogger? Actually, no. When I took this picture he was admiring something poking out of a recycling bin over on Coronado Terrace. I’ve never quite got used to my man’s propensity to snatch up the binoculars, but I don’t really disapprove either. Erik is a peculiar peeping tom. His viewin...

Continue reading…

Thirsty bees

...r friends (and a host of other wildlife) by keeping a bird bath or even just putting a saucer of fresh water out for them. You can do this even if you don’t have a yard–try keeping a saucer of water on, say, a balcony railing or in a window box. If you keep it full, and in the same location, word will spread and the bees will come and belly up. It may take a couple of weeks for a worker to discover the water source, but once she does,...

Continue reading…

Grow Biointensive Videos

...how you plant radishes . . . Wherever I fall in the diagnostic manual, the vegetable gardening method I’ve used for the past few years has been based on John Jeavon’s “Biointensive” method as described in his book How to Grow More Vegetables. This past weekend I made the pilgrimage to Jeavon’s Willits, California headquarters to drink the Kool-Aid at the foot of the master and take a three day Biointensive workshop....

Continue reading…

Friday Quiz Answer

The answer to our “Freaky Friday Fungal Quiz”: slime mold. And I should not have used “fungal” in the title. Slime molds are no longer classified as fungi. But I’ll stick with “freaky.” According to UC Berkeley, slime molds fall into three categories, Plasmodial slime molds, like Physarum . . ., are basically enormous single cells with thousands of nuclei. They are formed when individual flagellated ce...

Continue reading…

Going Wired

...lly warmed to my eccentricities and kind of got into the project, looking up things on the internet in the store for me. After a few hours on the phone with AT&T tech support (located in the Philippines!) we went fully wired. Like the Radio Shack clerk, Mrs. Homegrown also thinks I’m crazy but I hope she appreciates the non-ethereal benefits of our wired network: greater security and higher speeds. For more on the advantages of an eth...

Continue reading…

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...

Continue reading…

99¢ Store Proofing Basket

For years I’ve used a special wooden basket called a banneton to proof my round loaves of bread in. I’m teaching a bread baking class this weekend and needed a bunch of proofing baskets for the class. Bannetons are nice but expensive so I decided to try using a canvas lined proofing basket as a more economical alternative. I got some metal bowls from my local 99¢ store. Wicker baskets or a plastic colander would also have worked,...

Continue reading…

Sunflowers and Squirrels

...n see from the animation above, one pesky squirrel managed to figure out how to open one of the bags. Perhaps he used the adjacent tomato cage for extra leverage. Maybe this bag worked because the Whole Foods logo scared the squirrels away with the thought of high prices and angry Pruis drivers. I thought I had solved the problem by putting one of those ubiquitous and annoying cloth eco bags over the sunflower. Not even the City of LA logo on...

Continue reading…

Why we moderate comments

...rom the inanities of spam. We thought you’d might like to see some of it, so you know why you have to wait for your comment to go up. The majority of the spam is of the False Reader sort. These comments are always agreeable and sometimes almost slip past us. Variations on “Thanks for sharing” are a real tip-off, though. Most of these types of spammers will use it, while I don’t know if any real reader has ever used that p...

Continue reading…

Cornmeal Zucchini Pancakes

.... This is the first thing we’ve cooked from it, but we liked it a lot. These are savory pancakes that suit for breakfast, brunch, or even dinner. I imagine if you made them without the onions they could be served sweet, with syrup or jam, as a veggie-infused breakfast pancake.  Note: She calls for yellow zucchini or summer squash, but we used green zucchini. Cornmeal Zucchini Pancakes 1 1/4 cup cornmeal 3/4 cup all purpose flour 2 1/2 t...

Continue reading…