Fermenting is not Scary

Lately, I have started fermenting vegetables. The largest reason for this is that it is fun. It is like vegetable gardening, but what you are growing is microbes that preserve, flavor, and possibly nutritionally enhance your food. Rather than wait months for your garden to grow, your ferments will be ready in days or weeks. Rather than go outside and get dirty, you can do all of this inside whenever you feel like it. It doesn’t require watering or anything. It’s like magic.

Even better, fermenting is almost foolproof.
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Best Gluten Free Flour Recipe (and how to use it)

My wife is celiac and therefore cannot eat gluten. Gluten-free flour is either (a) really expensive, or (b) made with ingredients you don’t really want to each, or (c) made with corn flour (she also has a corn allergy!).

Therefore, we grind our own flour. Anyway, this is a derivative of a recipe (mixture #1) found in this book, but made for ease of memorization, and tailored to both what we normally buy for grains, and what we like to make with it.

Simple Gluten-Free Flour Recipe

The recipe is very simple. It is equal parts (by weight) of:

  • Brown rice flour
  • Sweet brown rice flour
  • Sorgham flour
  • A start (potato starch, tapioca starch, whatever you want – we usually use tapioca)

We just add equal parts of these into a container, and then shake vigorously, and viola, out comes a great gluten-free flour.

However, what is just as important as the flour is what you use it for. It is perfect for pancakes and waffles. I wouldn’t make actual bread with it. It works for pretty much any non-loaf usage.

Simple Fast Pancakes with Gluten-Free Flour

I also have a very simple pancake/waffle recipe (works perfect for either) that uses this flour. It is based on the basic pancake recipe from, if I remember correctly, The Joy of Cooking. Here is what I do. I have two bowls, a large bowl for dry ingredients, and a smaller bowl for wet ingredients.

Dry Ingredients:

  • GF Flour (4 cups)
  • Sugar (6 tablespoons)
  • GF Baking Powder (2-3 tablespoons)
  • Salt (a pinch or three)

Wet Ingredients

  • Eggs (6)
  • Milk (4 cups)
  • Butter (optional – can use any amount of melted butter or none at all – I think I use about half a stick)
  • Vanilla (optional – a splash or two)

So, I stir together the dry and the wet seperately, and then pour the wet into the dry and mix them all together vigorously. Then I pour out each pancake into the griddles that are set to medium/medium-high (a pancake is about a half a ladle, and the waffles are a little more). You need to use butter for the first pancake, but after that it usually isn’t necessary, at least for me (I’m using iron skillets). When they start to firm up on the bottom, give them a flip.

This recipe makes a *LOT* of pancakes. I usually pour out a mason jar’s worth and keep it in the fridge for later in the week, and then feed my family of 5. The ingredients will separate in the mason jar, but you just have to re-stir them.

Grinding Grain and Food Secession

The nice thing about grinding grain from a MicroSecession standpoint is that the unground grain will last longer than the flour ever would. However, grinding requires electricity, unless you have a hand-grinder (I’ve never used one, so I don’t know how well they work). But nonetheless, even if you didn’t have one, the grains can be used even if they can’t be ground into flour (soaking them, boiling them, sprouting, them, etc.).

Joel Salatin Leads the Way Again

I am a big fan of Joel Salatin. His book Everything I want to do is Illegal rang so true for me, that much of my political thought is based on the ideas he put forth for consideration. Who are we that we are making being a community and doing good for each other and raising our own food illegal? The point is not that the bad stuff we want to do is illegal, but rather the good stuff that we would like to do for each other is so mired in red tape, regulation, and legislation that we are not free to do good (you must be properly licensed for that), but only free to do bad.
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My Chicken Coop

I’m rather proud of my chicken coop. Most chicken coops are either purchased or built from scratch. Mine is neither. Mine is a repurposed structure, which also hasn’t lost its original purpose! My children have a playset in the backyard which has a ladder, a fort, and a slide. However, they never played underneath the playset. Therefore, I simply enclosed the bottom with chicken wire and added a door. Viola! A perfect chicken coop. And the kids can still use the fort and the slide.




Rooftop Gardening

I tried to do a rooftop garden at my office. I ran into several difficulties:

  • Water – I had to carry water to the roof by bucket – lots of work!
  • Distance – it took a while to get to the rooftop
  • Heat – in Oklahoma, in the summer, it gets really hot
  • Time – since this was at the office, I didn’t always have the time I needed to tend the garden
  • Containers – I used cheap plastic containers. They didn’t really stand up to the heat. Not sure what the best thing to use is. Probably clay pots, but they are expensive. Perhaps building a raised bed and adding dirt would work, but that sounds like a lot of time, effort, and money.

I’d like to give it another try, but I have to think around these issues. If anyone is curious, I got a teeny-tiny crop out of my vegetables, but I don’t now remember what exactly it was that I planted.

Urban Homesteading in Denver

A friend sent me this link – information on a year-round farmer’s market and livestock exchange for Denver-area urban homesteaders. It gives some good inspiration to people who might want to petition their local governments for expanded homesteading rights:

Bertini has put his legal knowledge to work on behalf of urban agriculture before. He was a driving force in the successful effort to overhaul the tedious and costly permitting process required for residents to raise chickens and other animals in Denver. Before 2011, residents had to complete a permit process requiring them to notify neighbors of their intent to own the animals and pay a one-time $100 permit fee and an annual $50 fee for chickens, and $100 a year for livestock, such as goats.

Bertini figures those excessive restrictions stem from Denver’s efforts years ago to shed its “cow town” image. He set about generating support to ease the barriers to owning chickens. That included his production of a YouTube video featuring testimonials of urban chicken owners and his tongue-in-cheek assertion that, “We don’t refer to them as illegal chickens; we call them undocumented chickens.” At the height of the debate Bertini showed up for a city council meeting in a chicken suit.

Ultimately Denver’s city council voted seven to three to ease the restrictions. Denver residents can now own up to eight chickens and/or two goats and pay only a one-time $25 fee.

If you don’t make noise, nothing will get done.