food (198)

The Shelter Blog ( is Alive!

Rick Gordon has built it and we’ve been tinkering with it for a few months, and finally it feels ready to go. Whereas my blog is all over the place, The Shelter Blog will focus on homes, building, carpentry, gardening, farming, foraging, fishing, homesteading and the home arts. Check it out here:

Note: it’s, not You need the article the.

I’m really excited by this. It’s as important — maybe in the long run more so — than one of our books. We have no competition here, since we have feedback from our 40 years publishing books on the subject of shelter. Plus we can share brand-new incoming photos and stories rather than wait years to get same into a book. It’ll be complimentary to our books.

We guarantee at least one new post per day, hope to get multiple posts daily as we get rolling.

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I Pulled Into Nazareth…

Well actually, NYC and her hot cousin, Brooklyn…

This was, from start to finish, a great trip. I had biz class ticket due to frequent flier miles and it was a Boeing 757-200, a great model plane, the biz class seat reclined so you could lie flat + an individual monitor for each seat (for all seats in the plane) and maybe 50 movies plus TV programs to choose from. I watched “Tim’s Vermeer,” a documentary about an incredible guy who had a theory about Vermeer’s use of a camera obscura…Staying in the Village was fantastic. It’s still a village, albeit inhabited I would guess mostly by richos. You can get into very quiet cul-de-sacs, lots of leafy trees, tons of restaurants…speaking of which here’s where I ate. Often as not these were places I’d sussed out by walking by:

-Buvette, 42 Grove, French bistro, unique, stylish, also pretty well known

-Taverna, 63 Bedford, Greek food, genius chef. Great Feng-shui due to eye-level mirrors all around room…BTW, around the corner was Nakazawa Sushi, no window menu, obviously expensive, filled with smug looking youngish people; ah, to have a salary of 300K/year…

-Yerba Buena, 23 Avenue A, East Village, chef from Mexico City, Latina fusion

-Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop, Gotham West Market, 611 11th Ave. Good, inexpensive. Another place in this complex has over 400 types of beer, which you casn buy and take to the Slurp Shop.

-Mo Mo Sushi in Bushwick, totally excellent. Unusual.

-Gastromarket, 315 10th Ave (near Highline), cask conditioned beer and great food

Read More …

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Building a $300 underground greenhouse for year-round gardening

“Growers in colder climates often utilize various approaches to extend the growing season or to give their crops a boost, whether it’s coldframes, hoop houses or greenhouses.

   Greenhouses are usually glazed structures, but are typically expensive to construct and heat throughout the winter. A much more affordable and effective alternative to glass greenhouses is the walipini (an Aymara Indian word for a “place of warmth”), also known as an underground or pit greenhouse. First developed over 20 years ago for the cold mountainous regions of South America, this method allows growers to maintain a productive garden year-round, even in the coldest of climates.…”

On Treehugger, click here.

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Chicken Coop In the Spring

I know I’ve said this before, but it’s really paid off to build a tight, rat-and other critter-proof chicken coop plus yard. Billy Cummings did the honors here: concrete floor for their nesting room and feed room, aviary wire on the sides and top of the yard; wire down into the ground a foot or so at bottom edges of yard for digging critters like skunks or raccoons. The yard works so well we don’t even bother closing the little door to their nesting room at night. I probably built five funky chicken coops over the years before this one.

   The bantam hens work really well for us; the Golden Seabrights are not only (in my opinion) the most beautiful of chickens, inquisitive, perky, and friendly, but they lay surprisingly well. Once you have your own fresh eggs, you can’t go back to store-bought.

  The sod roof is doing well after the late rains.

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Out & Around in Hong Kong

I’m on the 22nd floor of the BH International Hotel in the Kowloon District. It’s a mid-range hotel, no doormen, you carry yr. own bags, etc. Right down the block is Parkes Street, which must have 50 restaurants in 2 blocks. Kowloon is rich, colorful, old, funky in parts as opposed to the glitter and elegance on the other side of the water, the mall of all malls on Hong Kong island…two places to eat: (1) Mak Man Kee, 51 Parkes St., world-class won-ton soup and noodles, chef  working in 12 sq. ft. kitchen, always crowded, you sit at small tables with other people, every seat taken (2) my sussing out of restaurants paid off last night; this place on next block down Parkes St., no name or street number in English — hip, friendly, no gringos in sight, fabulous (hot) hotpot w/ noodles, clams, San Miguel beer…bamboo scaffolding still famously in use in HKG…At a time like this, the limitations of this method of blogging bugs me; I really want to do a book-page-type layout, but don’t have coding skills, so am limited to one pic under another — going to change this soon…Trevor and I catching ferry to Macau today…

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Straw Bale Gardening

Sometimes I post really good comments because I don’t think many people read comments on older posts:

“Anonymous has left a new comment on your post “Straw Bale Gardening”:

well, it is getting time to think of garden stuff. thought someone might find this interesting..

https://www /

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Great Food & Company at Bibi’s Restaurant, Monroe, NC

I got to the restaurant just after closing time Monday night, but Jason, the owner, asked if I’d like a burger. He made me a great burger with melted cheese and a cornbread salad. Katie, the waitress, and Jason sat with me while I ate and we talked about organic food and farming and homesteading. Katie has two kids and she and her husband want to find a place in the country and plow the land with mules, be off the grid, and raise their own food. I told her she sounded just like a hippie girl from the 60s. Jason gets local food for his restaurant and prepares vegetarian and vegan meals as well as burgers and chicken. He’s the one who turned me on to the Palace restaurant, where I had breakfast the next morning. Here’s Jason’s Facebook page.

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Valley of the Elves by Ellie Pritts

“In November 2010, my best friend and I found ourselves nearing the end of an impromptu and underfunded trip to Europe. With just 80 Euros to our names in Florence, we relied on a network of friends of acquaintances to secure lodging for a long weekend before we moved on to Athens. We had only a vague understanding of where we were going to spending the next few days. All we really knew was that we were going to be staying in a non-traditional community in the mountains northeast of us. The author J.R.R Tolkien and “elves” were mentioned, but we weren’t sure how much of what was being told to us was simply lost in translation.

   We boarded a train, a bus, a Jeep and finally walked on foot to reach our destination. It was breathtaking. We were greeted by a herd of cattle wandering the valley as we made our way to the dwellings. We learned that the community was nearly entirely self-sufficient; all their food was grown there. There were many cows, goats and chickens being raised as well. We also learned the name of the community, which translates to the Valley of The Elves in English.…”

Click here.

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