Rain Barrels

Constructing a cistern large enough to supply potable indoor water is an ambitious project involving pumps, filters, UV purifiers, and very large and expensive tanks. We don’t want to discourage anyone from making an attempt at it, but for most urban homesteaders it won’t be economical or practical given the space requirements and weight of thousands of gallons of stored water. Thankfully, there are simpler strategies for harvesting...

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Return of Bean Friday: Bean Broth or “Tuscan Crazy Water”

Yep, Bean Friday rears its head again–or is it Frugal Friday? Whatever it is, I’ve got this thrifty idea for you. I read about in The Italian Country Table , by Lynn Rossetto Casper. We’ve had this book for years and years, and it has some really good recipes in it that have become standards in our house, along just with a couple of duds. I’d not paid attention to her entry on “Crazy Water” before, but by her...

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Beans 101 (Return of Bean Friday!)

...and cook them the next morning. Soak your beans: Pour your beans into a very large vessel and cover with lots of water. Beans swell like crazy. There’s no need to be stingy with the space or the water.  Just leave the bowl on the counter. No need to refrigerate it, or even cover it. If you soak your beans and find you don’t have time to cook them after all,  just pour off the water and put the beans in the fridge. They’ll keep a...

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Gourmet Foraging and Advanced Acorn Processing

...ypes of leaching: hot and cold, and which one you choose depends on how you plan to use the acorns. You use cold water leaching to make acorn meal suitable for baking. The cold water preserves the starchiness of the acorn meal, which makes it work well in breads and pancakes and muffins and such. Hot water leaching removes the starch, but seems to bring out the nutty flavor more, which makes it better for using the acorns in savory foods, like ac...

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Making Tofu From Scratch at the Institute of Domestic Technology

...ute of Domestic Technology, founded by our friend Joseph Shuldiner. The IDT is not your usual cooking school and its offerings are difficult to define succinctly. If I had to take a stab at explaining what the IDT does it would be that it teaches things worth doing from scratch that most people haven’t attempted since the pre-Betty Crocker era: cheesemaking, home coffee roasting, bacon curing, bread baking, jam and exotic projects like maki...

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Make a Sourdough Starter

...ups of starter. Don’t use metal. 2. Put into this container one cup of white flour and one cup of lukewarm water and stir until mixed. Put it in a warm place. We use the top of our stove which has a pilot light. 3. Every day, pour off one cup of your starter and add a half cup of white flour and a half cup of lukewarm water. 4. Your starter should begin to get bubbly in a few days. A layer of liquid, known in sourdough fetish circles as &#...

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Rain- The Best Gift of All

...ly to the barrel. There is screening over the top of the barrel but it isn’t a very fine mesh. I meant for it to keep leaves and large debris out. I forgot about mosquitoes. It would be ideal if the spout was attached directly to the barrel and there was no point of entry for the bugs. But these are home made rain barrels and I have lived and learned from my mistakes. But I do get to harvest a decent amount of water and it feels very satisf...

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New Project: Making Bitters

...made 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 may be able to throw a few experiments together just using things you find in your spice cabinet. Since these are...

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Saturday Linkages: Making Things and Herding Ducks

...:// dirttime.com/?p=2687 via Practical Parsimony Build-It-Solar Blog: Comparing the Performance of Two DIY Solar Water Heaters http://www. builditsolarblog.com/2012/07/compar ing-performance-of-two-diy-solar.html?spref=tw  … Build-It-Solar Blog: Using Your Lawn Sprinkling Water to Cool the House… http://www. builditsolarblog.com/2012/08/using- your-lawn-sprinkling-water-to.html?spref=tw  … New video series from MAKE: “DiResta”:...

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Remember to Label Those Jars!

...ult of some late night canning frenzy two years ago. At the time I probably thought to myself, “I’ll label them in the morning.” Not only should the jars be labeled, but it would also have been nice to have some notes on the recipe I used and where the fruit was sourced from. To this end I’ve started a preservation diary in a useful program called Evernote. Perhaps I should get a tattoo on my forearm that says, “Lab...

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