How to Make Soba Noodles

Last month I took an amazing class with author and chef Sonoko Sakai on how to make soba noodles by hand. She’s a great teacher and I managed to make a halfway decent couple of servings of noodles during the class. Like many Japanese arts, soba making has a series of very precise steps. The recipe itself is simple (just buckwheat flour and water), though you do have to pay close attention to the temperature and humidity in the room. Whil...

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Mandrake!

grown Revolution suffered through the first film based on these kid’s books on a transatlantic flight a few years ago, finally falling asleep during an endless video game inspired broom chase scene). Apparently wherever it appears in the world, mandrake (Atropa mandragora) has always inspired unusual beliefs. Buhner says, Though all indigenous cultures know that plants can speak with humankind, mandrake is almost the only plant from indige...

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Looking for the Union Label

We’ve got a bad case of Ohrwurm, a German expression translated as “earworm” and used to describe a song stuck in your head. Our earworm came after a search for union made socks and underwear on the internets recalled a highly catchy ad jingle from the roller disco era, “Look for the Union Label” (youngsters can watch it on youtube here). We looked for the union label and we were surprised to find it via a company c...

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Water Conservation

“the price we paid was the price men have always paid for achieving a paradise in this life — we went soft, we lost our edge.”-Frank Herbert Dune SurviveLA was planning on discussing rainwater collection today, but we realized that we would be getting ahead of ourselves without first discussing what we call BOC, or boring old conservation. So before delving into greywater and rainwater harvesting it’s time to assess where yo...

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California poppy tea

ly in your yard or general area, rather than trying to coax more exotic species along. There are many herbs that can be used to make relaxing teas (valerian, catnip, linden, chamomile, etc.), but this one intrigues me because it’s essentially a weed where I live. If it doesn’t grow readily where you live, I’d encourage you to investigate other herbs which grow more easily in your area.  But for those of you who can grow Californ...

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Make Your Own Damn Cheese

We live in a country where buckets have warnings on them, but the greatest indignity of our present nanny state is that the Man does not want us to eat raw cheese. As Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin put it, “A meal without cheese is like a beautiful woman who lacks an eye” and if that cheese was made with crappy pasteurized, homogenized and sterilized milk it ain’t worth eating. That’s why you’ve got to make your own...

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Gluten Intolerance . . . Is It All In Your Head?

a bread club, after all) smacks of religious zealotry. We know with a great deal of certainty that gluten intolerance in the form of celiac disease effects slightly less than one percent of the population. That actually makes it one of the most common disorders related to food. But a much larger percentage of people self-diagnose as gluten intolerant who do not have celiac disease. Peter Gibson, a professor of gastroenterology at Monash Univers...

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Ten Uses for Palm Fronds

...t. 3. Make a low quality mulch. Using palm fronds as mulch is somewhat controversial. The stuff takes forever to break down. Our arborist told me that some conventional citrus growers use palm frond mulch specifically because it takes forever to break down. 4. Paint stirrer. I’m proud of this Root Simple innovation. While I was painting the garage recently, I couldn’t find my paint stirrers. Watching the fronds fall as I was up on th...

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The Rag and Bone Man

211;a layer of cotton will make a good first layer. We’ve used newspaper in the past with organic material on top, but in our dry climate here in LA the newspaper can actually prevent water from getting to the soil when it rains. We’re guessing that cotton might work better. 3. Household cleaning–this is obvious, but we do go through quite a few rags with our too few household cleanings, not to mention keeping the bicycle chains...

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Mead!

While we’ve tasted the Ethopian honey wine known as Tej, we’ve never had mead, so we decided to cook up a batch. It’s way too early to tell if we have a tasty beverage or a gallon of home brewed Listerine–it will be many months before the stuff is drinkable. But we thought we’d note how we made it, based on a recipe in Ken Schramm’s book The Compleat Meadmaker. We downsized the recipe from five gallons to one...

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