The Energy Environment Simulator

...stumbled on the Energy-Environment Simulator. We couldn’t stop laughing and we realized that we had to buy it. How often do you run into an Energy-Environment Simulator in working condition? t’s been the centerpiece of Nik’s living room ever since, even making a cross country move. The device demonstrates energy inputs and demands. Depending on how you turn the knobs, you can either engineer a future of never-ending power or, on...

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What laundry detergent should I use for greywater applications?

...cause salt burn on tree leaves. (This appears as leaves with browning tips, as if they’ve been sunburned.) It’s worth adding that the drier your climate, the saltier the soil, because there is not enough rain to help percolate it away–so if you live in a dry climate it’s even more important to be careful with salts. Homemade detergents–the ones based on soap and washing soda–are also not an option, again becaus...

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2013 in Review Part I

...got a lot of work to do. Thankfully, I’m back to running and fencing. February In February in Los Angeles it should rain. It didn’t. The year was the driest on record: 3.6 inches, making it a desert not the Mediterranean climate it should be. It seems to be a dry winter again this year and I’m worried. March A texting music video producer totaled our car and thus began a six month experiment in living without a car in Los Ange...

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Does Sourdough Offer Hope for the Gluten Intolerant?

...myces cerevisiae, to make bread rise quickly. But even before Pasteur, bakers used the yeast remaining from beer making (also a strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae) to make doughs rise. Sourdough cultures are not as powerful and predictable, so it’s understandable that commercial bakers would want a more dependable alternative. What is in a sourdough culture? There are many strains of yeast in sourdough cultures, but the main one is Candida...

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The Lament of the Baker’s Wife

...d for a month. Those are 50 lb bags. They are propped against 5 gallon buckets. A five gallon bucket holds about 30 pounds of flour. I think we’ve got at least 200 lbs of flour piled up here. And where will it all go eventually? Straight to my hips, sweetheart! And I know I shouldn’t complain. “We have too much food!”  “There’s nowhere to put it!” “All this artisanal sourdough is making me fat!̶...

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Eight Things to Consider When Saving Vegetable Seeds

The directions for seed saving in our last book, Making It, almost got cut. Perhaps we should have just changed those directions to “Why it’s OK to buy seeds.” The fact is that it’s not easy to save the seeds of many vegetables thanks to the hard work of our bee friends. That being said, Shannon Carmody of Seed Saver’s Exchange gave a lecture at this year’s Heirloom Exposition with some tip...

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Fabulous Postcards from HenCam

...er livestock, and the third in people and their dogs. (She promises she’s trying for a cat collection, but it seems kitties were a little too sly for early cameras, making good pictures (as opposed to cat-shaped blurs) hard to find.) She tells us she spent two years collecting pictures for these collections, searching everywhere, from flea markets to eBay, parsing through thousands of photos. Her favorites are collected in books of 30. She...

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An update on Phoebe

...s a really good run for a cat born with a ridiculous handbag for a heart. We can’t hope for too much more. It is possible that her heart simply can’t function well enough any more to sustain her, but we’re hoping that an adjustment of her meds will buy her a few more good months, and we’ll be able to bring her home tomorrow night. We won’t know until tomorrow. It’s hard to leave a pet behind in a vet’s of...

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Can Whole Wheat Solve the Wheat Allergy Problem?

...asses for amateur bakers, is showing how tasty baked goods can be that are made from real whole wheat flour. But it’s tricky. High extraction whole wheat flours are a lot less uniform than white flours. And they suck up a lot of water when you use them for making bread. As the co-founder of the Los Angeles Bread Bakers I get the gluten sensitivity question a lot which is why I’m interested in hearing from readers. Do you have a wheat...

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Federico Tbn’s Self Irrigating Pots

...was surprisingly pliable; I was able to mold the top edge to fit the 5 gallon bucket better by carefully heating it with a propane torch.  The art is just for fun, sometimes it is hard for me to leave things unpainted. The second pot uses a sock to wick water up into a container full of cat grass. Kitty looks happy. I’ve used SIPs for years and they are a great tool for landless gardeners. Federico has taken the SIP a st...

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