Kevin West’s Saving the Season

I’m thinking of throwing out all my picking and preserving books. Why? Kevin West’s new book Saving the Season: A Cook’s Guide to Home Canning, Pickling, and Preserving blows all those other books out of the water bath. Full disclosure here: I’ve tasted a lot of West’s jams. I teach a bread making class at the Institute of Domestic Technology. After my bread demo West does a jam making session and I stick around t...

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How Much Can You Carry on a Bicycle?

...;s often lauded as the transportation of tomorrow and the savior of cities. It is not. It is called transportation. It is not. That’s because the bicycle is not, strictly defined, a transport device. Ever try to carry a watermelon on a bicycle? (Yes, it can be done, but how much else could you carry?) How much else can you carry on bike? On a recent trip, in addition to a watermelon, I picked up a gallon jug of vinegar, a 12 pack of toilet...

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LA’s Parkway Garden Dilemma: Not Fixed Yet

...blowers in this city. Get rid of the permit fees. Why should someone be charged to do the right thing, i.e. plant an attractive set of either edible or drought tolerant plants? There’s currently no permit fee to plant a water hungry lawn that needs to be “mowed and blowed” every week. It gets down to the simple fact that a human being has to decide what is a “nuisance.” Untended Bermuda grass with a couch and buste...

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Tips on growing great garlic

...I met yesterday how to grow garlic he said, “It’s like giving a credit card to your wife . . . you’ve got to give her all she wants.” When I asked him to clarify, he told me that garlic requires as much compost, nutrients and water as you can spare. Nekola said he doesn’t even plant garlic unless he’s prepped his beds for at least two to three years and noted that one of the best heads of garlic he ever grew took root accidentally in a compost pi...

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New Project: Making Bitters

...sted in creating an arsenal of interesting flavors to create sophisticated, adult-palette mocktails by using homemade bitters to add interesting flavor notes to drinks created with fruit juices, homemade syrups, teas and soda water. My first set, a few of which are in the photo above, are currently steeping. In future posts I’ll share the recipes I develop as I follow this path. In the meanwhile, making your own bitters is really easy. You...

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Fruit Tree Maintenance Calendars

Where we live, it’s the time of year to prune and deal with pest issues on fruit trees. The University of California has a very helpful page of fruit tree maintenance calendars for us backyard orchard enthusiasts.  The calendars cover everything from when to water, fertilize, paint the trunks and many other tasks. You can also find them in one big handy set of charts in UC’s book The Home Orchard. The permaculturalist in me likes ou...

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Raised Bed Vegetable Gardening

...ated soil. Good for disabled or elderly gardeners. Neat. If high enough, can keep out some critters–and keep veggies above the dog pee zone. Plug and play–no need to build or improve soil. Keeps roots from getting waterlogged in a wet climate. Cons Requires materials to construct. Might need to buy soil–gardening in the ground is free. Roots dry out quicker in a hot climate. Lack of mineral content in bagged soils. Use of peat...

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Dudley brittonii “Giant Chalk Dudleya”

...t Dudley brittonii requires excellent drainage, can be grown in pots and is suited to USDA zones 9 to 11. Given our Arrakis like conditions here in California, an excellent bonus is that this plant does well with only monthly water. It also thrives in a pot. Mature, it’s around 18 inches across. Annie’s does mail order and we’ve had a lot of luck with their plants. I visited the nursery on a blogger junket last year and was very...

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Choosing the Perfect Tortilla Press

...the smaller, 6 1/2 inch press as small tortillas are used in authentic Mexican street food. Making corn tortillas is much simpler than I expected. All you do is get masa harina (a limed corn flour), mix it roughly 50/50 with water and let the dough rest for a half hour to an hour. Next, you roll the masa into little 2 inch balls and press them between a plastic bag inserted into the tortilla press. The last step is to heat them on the stove for...

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