Don’t store your cucumbers in the fridge

Image courtesy of UC Davis. Photographer: Don Edwards Just in time for cucumber season, some news that surprises me. Did you know that you should store cucumbers at room temperature? Credit for my enlightenment goes to UC Davis. (May I just say bless UC Davis for all the good it does?) In this case I’m referencing their department of Post Harvest Technology. According to them, cukes should be stored at room temperature. If you do...

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The Sacred Chickens of Ancient Rome

I stumbled on an odd historical anecdote last week: the use, by the ancient Romans, of sacred chickens as a form of divination. From the Encyclopedia of Diderot & d’Alembert: Sacred chickens were chickens raised by priests in Roman times, and which were used for making auguries. Nothing significant was undertaken in the Senate or in the armies, without omens being drawn from the sacred chickens. The most common method of drawing...

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A Review of Williams-Sonoma’s Agrarian Line

...ough to justify the price difference, in my opinion. Personally, I’d suggest saving even more money and going with the “migratory” boxes used by commercial beekeepers. Our local supplier, LA Honey sells them for a fraction of the cost of English style boxes. Three ten frame unassembled medium supers, a lid and bottom board run just a little over $100 at LA Honey compared with $500 for Williams-Sonoma’s three hive boxes. Hi...

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Candied Grapefruit Peel

Erik sourced some nice grapefruits from our friend’s tree and used the flesh to do some homework for his Master Food Preserver program. This left a big pile of organic, unwaxed grapefruit rind on our counter, so I decided to do something about it, and set off to make candied grapefruit peel. This is the technique I came up with by mashing together a bunch of different internet recipes and making two batches of the stuff. The results are d...

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Eco Blogging, Tin Foil Hats and Convention Mania

Yesterday’s post on the Natural Products Expo West reminded me that I never published a post I did on a large “Eco” convention I attended last year. I have a secret and embarrassing fondness for conventions of any kind. So, at the risk of never being invited to a convention again, here’s that old post I failed to publish until now: Most of the “eco” conventions I’ve attended in the past, to be honest, b...

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Cheap and Natural Handsoap–and a rant

...ably cheaper to buy one at the supermarket, use up the soap and then start refilling with liquid castile soap. The one in our bathroom is an old Method pump and is still working fine after three years. The secret of the soap formula used in foaming pumps is that it’s super-diluted. It has to to diluted because full strength soap clogs the pump.  It’s kind of a scam, when you think about it, that when you buy a foaming pump you pay as...

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Peat-free Planting Mix Recipe With Coconut Coir

Nancy’s coconut coir-based planting mix. Here she’s doing the squeeze test, which we talk about below. From an environmental perspective peat moss is a nightmare. Mining of this material is unsustainable, contributes to global warming and destroys habitat for many plants and animals. But, for starting seeds, we’ve used it for years. Our friend Nancy Klehm taught us recently how to make a seed starting mix with coconut...

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Mellow Yellow: How to Make Dandelion Wine

...ink concentrate. I poured it out next to my tent, returning it to the earth where she could compost it. I was sure that I’d never get close to it again. That was fifteen years ago, and now I have been drinking dandelion wine for about two years. The new stuff is stuff I’ve made myself from dandelion blossoms gathered in Chicago. I’m happy to say that it is divine. I am sure now that the colonists actually keep the good stuff in their private cab...

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How to Roast Your Own Coffee in a Stovetop Popcorn Maker

Thanks to the Institute for Domestic Technology, I learned roast my own coffee at home in a Whirley-Pop Stovetop Popcorn Popper. It’s a simple, if smokey, process. You heat up the popper on your stove top over a medium/high heat and dump in 10 ounces of green coffee beans. The beans we used were ordered from Sweet Maria’s who carry a wide selection of high-end beans at inexpensive prices. The only trick with the Whirley-Po...

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