new kitchen economy

I follow the blog Miss Moss pretty regularly and am always enamored with her posts. A while back she posted these gorgeous photographs by Nina Leen that she found in the Life magazine archives. I wanted to repost them here for you to enjoy.


I’m so excited to be finally getting to read the second half of Ashley Adams English’s Homemade Living Series, Keeping Bees and Home Dairy. The first half of the series were the books Canning & Preserving and Keeping Chickens, remember? I admire Ashley; her blog Small Measure is fantastic, she has an informative and fun regular column on Design Sponge, and she is all around a sweet generous person. I like that in an author!

What I love about her books is, well, everything. The design is great – from the deceptively simple covers, to the colors inside the books to the excellent photos. There is a consistency in these books that lends a supportive feel to the newbie embarking on bee keeping for the first time, or  to the city dweller about to make their first batch of ricotta cheese. There’s something about Ashley’s work that just makes you feel like she gets it. She gets how to present information so you actually feel like you can pull off whatever project you are reading about. The photos are clear, instructive and well styled – a hard triptych to find!

The books are the perfect blend of super nerd (and I say that with high regard) with a great and somehow not boring at all comprehensive history of beekeeping and dairy farming, and extremely practical salt of the earth type advice and instruction. If you just want to read about these topics you’ll be happy. And likewise if you are wanting to buy the book (here) and then immediately begin building hives or making your own yogurt that day, well you will be happy as well!  Each book in the series also has a bunch of recipes that are drool worthy in the back. Lovely. Another feature that I love is that each book has profiles of beekeepers or dairy makers scattered throughout, and their stories and advice are well worth reading. It’s hard for me to keep this review concise because I feel like these books are so dense and thoughtful that ultimately I would like to point out all the little details. But I’ll let you explore!

The series is published by Sterling Publishing and Lark Press, are hard cover and are extremely reasonable priced. They will be well used, I assure you.

Photos by G Bucci

I know, I know. Chickens are passe’ in Portland; goats are hot. But since I’m new here I am loving seeing chickens free ranging down alleys and sprawling under heat lamps in custom built coops. And you have to admit, this jigsaw/chicken wire combo is pretty darn cute. Turns out it’s the coop for a Waldorf school.

I have some experiments going on in my kitchen. I’m a little cautious, excited and overwhelmed at once. You see, I’m taking care of all these little micro-organisms all of a sudden. It started with going over my friend’s house last week. He handed me a wine glass of bubbly, pink hued, slightly sour, slightly sweet kefir water. It was so refreshing, and do I need to mention again pink and bubbly? I nonchalantly mentioned I would love to learn how to make it, and two seconds later I had a mason jar of kefir water grains with a plum floating in it and a black sharpied heart on the lid in my hands. Uh-oh. Responsibility for tiny lives. You can get a bubbly beverage in about 24-48 hours and I’m on my 5th batch now. The first time I opened up a batch and it made the carbonated sound I was so excited! I would give you  instructions, but this website is great and detailed; she even made you tube videos so check it out. Kefir is an amazing source of probiotics for healthier digestion and it is so inexpensive to make this drink. Just a tablespoon of sugar, some water and some fruit. Easy.

That being said, I know fermentation can seem a little contradictory of how a lot of you grew up. Encouraging something to rotten and bubble? No thanks, many of you may say. And I have to say that I had my doubts as well. The picky eater in me came out. The squeamish side of me balked. But then I took a drive through the agricultural belt in central california. I saw the huge monocrops and the massive silos. I saw one two story silo just for sunflower seeds. And it was good to see, because I forget about these monstrosities, what with my local farmer’s markets and front yard grazing. Compared to that silo my little jar of kefir creatures seems pretty harmless.

I’m also now in possession of a sourdough starter… but more on that later… I have to go feed everyone!

Beautiful gardening weather this weekend. We harvested huge bags of favas and after a truly labor intensive shucking, boiling, peeling session really enjoyed them. At the farmer’s market this weekend I saw a recipe for fava leaf pesto which sounded really good. Basically just follow your traditional pesto recipe but sub out the fava leaves for the basil. I have a bag in the fridge waiting for the experiment!

Two posts in one morning?! Can you tell? I’m out of school! I came across this great We Like It Wild article by Studio Choo last week on Design Sponge. I feel so lucky to live close enough to Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. to go and visit. Look at these pictures! And please click the link to the blog entry to read the piece, it’s so good – they even talk about seed viability and give reference lists for the life spans of different seed varieties.

They have over 1200 different seed varieties and they are committed to of course, heirloom seeds! The third picture down is of their potato starts. Want to go with me?

I’m in love with the favas in my front yard, they’re so stunning. The delicate flowers with the black tinged petals, mixed in with the reseeded calendula flowers is quite a combination.  Over the past few months they have grown taller then me, which is strange but welcome, and yes, I am over 5′ tall. I planted them in the bed that held my tomato plants last summer to get the soil primed with extra nitrogen for this years tomatoes. Favas are a legume and like the rest of their family fix nitrogen in the soil so they’re a good winter crop for areas where you will be planting heavy feeders like tomatoes. Then they’re so pretty and delicious to eat as well, it’s a win-win. Recently my neighbor showed me that you can pluck the new growth from the favas and eat it directly in salads or just graze the leaves as you pass. I’d highly recommend these if you haven’t grown them already!

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