Failed Experiment: Bermuda Buttercup or Sour Grass (Oxalis pes-caprae) as Dye

...ow to a sort of acid green, depending on which additional mordants you might use. Used straight, it was supposed to yield a very pale yellow. So I thought, why not play with it and see what happens? My only information source for this project was The Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes by Sasha Duerr. This, also, was a mistake. I usually use more sources when I start a project, but I felt lazy. I don’t know if this is a flawed book or not–...

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A Primitive Bow Workshop

After spending an entire week staring a computer screens to update this website, it was a great relief to spend a Saturday carving primitive bows in a workshop led by local self-reliance expert Christopher Nyerges. Kelly and I have been into archery for many years, off and on,  but we’ve never tried to make our own bow. Root Simple pal John Zapf carves a bow to match that stylish hat A bow seems like a simple device until you try to make...

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Citified Parched Corn

Dried corn on the left, parched corn with peas and blueberries on right I was thinking about trail food, and wishing for a portable snack which was not based on nuts and chocolate chips (though there’s nothing wrong with that!) or too sugary, like dried fruit or energy bars. Then I recalled parched corn. Parched corn–dried corn which has been roasted–is one of those legendary Native American foods, like pemmican, which you hear...

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Choosing the Perfect Tortilla Press

#8217;s recent closing described it as, “like ‘Taco Tuesday’ at an elementary school in Kansas.” One of the many reasons the food at this place was substandard was the store bought tortillas they used. For some reasons, few Mexican restaurants here make their own tortillas. Tired of substandard Mexican fare, I resolved to make my own tortillas. Thus began Root Simple’s “Taco Tuesday.” The first step was t...

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You’ve probably never met a soup like this

Mushroom and Fruit Soup. Yep. I don’t know if you’re going to like this recipe. I did. Erik made it, which shocked me, because he has a general prejudice against savory fruit preparations. In fact, he has a general prejudice against soup, seeing it somehow as being a substandard food form. Nonetheless, he cooked this soup.  I smelled it first, as it was cooking, and it smelled really good. Then I saw it in the pot, and said, “...

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A Warning About Straw

Claude Monet used straw (or is that hay?) for art. We use straw to catch chicken droppings! Straw is a very inexpensive and useful material for composting, mulching and animal bedding (we use it for all of these purposes). If you use it for mulch you’ll probably get some seeds that will germinate, but I’ve never found it to be a big problem in a small vegetable garden. I get my straw from the feed store, but you can often get it fo...

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What is Killing the Bees?

sticides interfere with honeybee’s resistance to a common parasite Nosema ceranae. Bees exposed to a widely used agricultural fungicide, chlorothonatil, were more likely to succumb to nosema. The most provocative result for me was that bees exposed to fluvalinate, a miticide used by beekeepers on their own bees, were also likely to get nosema. Perhaps the villain in CCD is the beekepers themselves. Don’t get me wrong, pesticides proba...

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What’s the dirt on soap nuts?

know that, too! I’m wondering where they sit in the general public awareness. Soap nuts are saponin-rich fruits, usually of a tree called Sapindus mukorossi (though all Sapindus make soaping fruits), which can be used for laundry and other cleaning purposes. They’re usually sold only lightly processed: seeded and dried. A handful of these dried fruits, which look somewhat like small dates, are put into a cloth sack and thrown in wit...

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Make Your Own Damn 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 cheese. We forget, in our age of individually plastic wrapped crap-ass single-sliced cheese, that the act of cheese making is a way to preserve dairy products and that it’s well within the capabilities of the do it yourself kitch...

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Our Rocket Stove

  Editor’s note: we have a new design for a portable rocket stove here. Low-tech is the new high-tech, and the best example of the low-tech revolution is the miraculous rocket stove–a stove that makes it possible to cook with small twigs–no logs needed! Best of all rocket stoves are easy to build. We liked the idea so much that we decided to build a permanent one just off our back deck for entertaining and as a backup to o...

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