Irish Soda Bread

...cipe my comrade in arms decided to post as representative of the best of quick breads. For years I’ve been making a much better whole wheat-ish quick bread (which he seems to have forgotten) and this is how it goes: Irish Brown Soda Bread 1 3/4 c. all purpose flour1 3/4 c. whole wheat flower3 T. toasted wheat bran3 T. toasted wheat germ2 T. old fashioned oats(note: change up or skip these nuggety bits as necessary–they just add textur...

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Our New Earth Oven and How We Built It

...he adobe bricks–with the addition of two stabilizers to help repel water: fermented prickly pear juice and wheat paste. The prickly pear juice we made by chopping up some cactus pads from our front yard, adding water and letting it sit in a five gallon bucket. The finished material is lurid green, slimy, and stinks to high heaven. The wheat paste is just flour and water. We’re going to let the oven dry for a few weeks before applying...

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Making It e-Book Corrected

To those of you who purchased an e-version of our book Making It and had trouble reading it, I just received a note from our publisher Rodale: The “disappearing words” are actually words that appear in a faint gray color that was hard or impossible to see over light background color settings on some devices, especially the Kindle from Amazon. We have corrected the e-book files and re-released them to all retailers. The corrected vers...

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A Homemade Mattress?

...is the story of my life. I read about some old domestic technology or product that makes a lot of sense. Perhaps it is obsolete. Or perhaps it is only done/made in more enlightened countries. Nonetheless, I want it. So I have to make from scratch. Yesterday we met a great couple, Renae and Dimitri. Renae mentioned she was thinking about making her own mattress. I was intrigued because just that morning I’d woken up with low back pain. Our m...

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How to Make Stock

...ndrik Valkenburg, 1872 (image courtesy of Wikimedia) By reader request, we’re going to cover the basics of making soup stock today: how to make it and how to use it. Let’s start with the why you’d make it and how you use it. Why you make stock: It is the basis of good cuisine: everything tastes better with stock It boosts the nutritional value of anything you cook with it. It’s thrifty: it puts all your odds and ends and...

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Lila Downs Video Showing Tortilla Making in Oaxaca

Gloria En la Huerta from the Los Angeles Bread Bakers sent me a link to this music video that shows tortilla making in Oaxaca. The song is “Palomo Del Comalito” (Dove of the Comalito) by Lila Downs. Note the huge corn tortillas, proof of the regional diversity of Mexican cuisine (and one of the many details I got wrong in my tortilla press post–thanks for the corrections Gloria). Lyrics in English after the jump. The beautif...

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New Project: Making Bitters

...rently 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 flavoring, not medicine, you don’t have to be as careful with the quantities and timing as you must be when tincturing herbs for medicine. Yet at the same time, it’s a...

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2011 in Review: The Garden

It’s was a difficult year in the garden. A lead and zinc issue screwed up my winter vegetables garden plans. At least we managed to find some river rocks and put in a path. I found this photo from December 2010. I was certainly a lot more organized that year. For 2012, I’m putting in raised beds to deal with the heavy metal issue and we’ve already planted more native plants. But most importantly one of my New Years resolution...

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Reasons and Resources for Growing Your Own Grains at Home

...all). The main problem, as with a lawn, is dealing with weeds. I can weed by hand the ridiculously small Sonora wheat patch I planted in January. When dealing with a bigger piece of land, the traditional, organic approach is to grow some sort of weed choking, nitrogen fixing plant such as cowpeas the season before planting grain. In Southern California, wheat is planted in January, as far as I can tell. In most other places it is planted in the...

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