Vermicompost at Squiggle University and the Great Snail Wars of 2012

The first time we met the garden it was more than wild.  It remained wild until a profound thing was said to me, to be a great gardener feed your dirt.  Feed it and turn it into rich soil.  The problem with composting for many is that to generate adequate heat to transform food waste into rich organic matter more space is required than most people have.  Enter Vermicompost, which I’ve touched on very briefly before.  Vermicomposting requires very little space, is tidy enough to be done indoors if space is truly limited.

Vermicomposting is also very fast, 10 weeks, compared to regular Composting which can take 6 months or more.  Vermicomposting requires no turning, only that food be buried under soil (this keeps unwanted guests such as flies from visiting) and the worms will do the rest.  Regular composting also requires watering to the consistency of  a wrung out sponge, again not necessary for Vermicompost where the worms create their own moisture.  Make sure you situate your worms under some shade so they don’t dry out.

Red Bread and our own Test Kitchen keep our worms happy with regular food scrap feedings.  We’ve become quite fond of them and refer to their little corner of the garden as Squiggle University.  We even have a fight song. Continue reading

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Introducing….Another JAM Giveaway

This past weekend at the Meet the name of the game was Jam Tasting!  We had all our flavors on parade and people were more than happy to get a little sticky.  In addition to our Lemonilla Marmalade and Strawsilberry Jam that were a hit at the May Meet, we debuted three new jams!  After being wiped out of our stock at the Meet, we spent this week whipping up more small batch jams using fresh produce from our favorite farmers at the Santa Monica Farmers Market just for you!

As usual, with the debut of new jams we have a JAM GIVEAWAY.  Leave a comment about a memory involving jam and vote for one of the two new flavors below.  Sunday we will draw a winner!  Happy winning!

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A Wild Harvest or Cream Flower Soda

A few months ago I caught an article about the West’s DIY Food Crafters.  Among them was a soda maker named Emily Ho who made sodas out of wild and fresh ingredients. As a likeminded soda hater but carbonation lover I had an instant hero. Life only got better when it turned out we were in the same Master Food Preserver Class (Graduates Tonight!), and just as I suspected she is awesome.  Like all great friends, she has introduced me to a new vice: Elderflower Syrup.  I have been hooked since she brought it in to share one night. I am fairly certain I was responsible for drinking half the bottle, which amounts to 5-6 glasses of a floral fizzy dream.

Unfortunately I don’t have Elderflowers in my neighborhood.  But I had something that very much looked like Elderflowers growing rampant in my neighborhood.  I asked gardening and foraging peers and no one could quiet decide.  But the honey bees seemed to love it, the scent was divine and I am a brave sort. How else will you discover things? I also had a good lead that even with toxic stems, leaves or roots, blossoms are rarely toxic hence the bee love.  In the end all I know is this little bud combined with sparkling water is the best cream soda I have ever had.  And it keeps delighting all those I bring it too.

If you decide to be similarly bold,  I encourage you to ‘gather ye flower buds while ye may’ I have already begun to see these tiny white flowers begin to wilt. Take this opportunity to have a wild harvest by following some simple guidelines:

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Rocking the Meet and Kicking Out New Jams (Giveaway)

Red Bread recently popped up at The Venice Meet in May.  It was wonderful to be out in the community and meet so many new Venice folk!  We had our Garlic and Beer Baguettes out, and premiered a Classic Half Loaf.  A young french man stopped by to tell us there was only disappointing bread to be found in the city.  After tasting Red Bread, we received congratulations and comparisons to his hometown in France.  Then he had an Apple Cake, and  it was better than the cakes his mother made when he was a child! We are always thrilled when food can take you places.

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Tsuke:Suno:Mono

I am obsessed with pickles right now.  Counter space is being steadily lost to the army of jars containing pickling experiments: carrots, beet steams, watermelon rind, herbs oh my!.  However, the cucumber, the most well known vegetable in America to pickle is missing.  For me a cucumber pickle has to be fermented or it tastes dull and limp. Vinegar never seems to be able to match that  unique tang and fizz that comes from a properly brined cucumber.

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Under the Supermoon

I have a history of taking us on vacation to beautiful places with chaotic and sometimes traumatic results.  We have great vacation horror stories to delight and amuse.  So this vacation I was not in charge, not even aware of the plan till it was already underway.  And it was bliss.  I have been (ecstatically!) permanently demoted to mere vacation goer.

Tips For A Restful Vacation:

1.  Wake up late.  Walk outside breathing clean air deeply.   Try to not look stunned and giddy at all the beauty and fruit growing all around you.

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Renegades and Carrot Top Tea

Last weekend the Los Angeles Bread Baker‘s hosted a Renegade Bake Sale in Echo Park to support AB 1616, the California Cottage Food Law.  Over the course of the day the Los Angeles Bread Baker’s raised over $3,000 to support the Cottage Food Law!  Bread, cookies, jams, pizzas, scones and gluten free alternatives were laid out across 8 tables in a massive banquet showcasing the incredible home artisan talent in Los Angeles.

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