Revisiting Cast Iron

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The other day Emily and I went to the antique store and, as usual, did  more looking than buying. I go and have eyes only for old tools, cast iron cookware, and generally old rusty metal. When I go to look for a cast iron  I love the shops where half the inventory is outside of the building and 90% of that is covered in rust. This is the way to get good deals. Unfortunately, this was not that kind of store but the more typical sort where most things have a price tag that make you want to put them back on the shelf and walk away slowly. I had looked through a shelf of exciting yet expensive cast irons and was about to move on when there on the bottom was lovely little 6″ pan covered in rust and totally unappealing. It was 4 bucks and  I bought it. Continue reading

The Lost Art of Sharpening

Grinding.

Grinding on a  grit Japanese waterstone.

I like sharp things. They are useful beyond belief. Sharp edges were one of the first tools of mankind. They have been adapted in many ways to be many tools: knives, axes, chisels, and so much more.

I think that the vast majority of american culture has lost respect for the value of sharp things. It is easy and quick in our culture to replace a dull tool with a new one. There are endless outlets for purchasing cheap tools made of soft metal. The classic characterization of this is the disposable razor. So instead of fixing, we throw away and buy more stuff.

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Best Vanilla Icing Ever!

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Cinnamon rolls from scratch.

The other day I decided to make a batch of totally from scratch homemade cinnamon rolls. I quickly realized that this is not an everyday kind of thing, it is a bit on the intense side of baking. Fun, no doubt, but intense. The bun  recipe is actually quite amazing and can be found here.

As often happens to me I got so excited that I forgot to make sure I had all the ingredients before I started. I had the buns rolled and cinnamon-ed before realizing that I had no powdered sugar, nor anymore butter for the icing. Living on the top of a mountain  I can’t just stroll down to the corner store and get some. I pored over the internet looking for an alternative and found bupkiss. At this point, with the aromas already coming from the oven I said to myself “The hell with it” and just started winging it.

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Joel Salatin’s “Folks, This Ain’t Normal”: a book review.

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Hello folks!

I just finished reading Joel Salatin’s book Folks, This Ain’t Normal and am eager to infect some more souls with the knowledge and excitement that I came away with. If I could force the entire country to read just one book this would be the one. People might just realize how messed up our world has become, or as Joel says repeatedly “Folks, This ain’t normal.” Continue reading

Strawbale Building Work Party

Shaping bales with an electric chainsaw

Shaping bales with an electric chainsaw

Hello, Tony here! This past weekend Emily and I had the pleasure of attending a work party at a developing site. We heard about the event through a fellow named Erik, whom we met at the San Diego Permaculture convergence. He was filming the whole shebang, and hopefully that footage will be available in time. This guy is a big personality, and seems to have some big dreams for Permaculture and changing his corner of the world in southern California. It is exciting when talking with him, because change just seems so DO-able. He is one who has the energy, the ideas, and perhaps most importantly, a huge web of personal and professional friends. More and more often I am seeing that it takes people working together to get great things done. Eric was able to wrangle Emily and I, and about 35 other folks into attending this Strawbale party over the course of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Continue reading