Blogs

Nothing but Nettles

One of the earliest foraged foods of spring, stinging nettles are cropping up in forests and alongside streams all over. These prickly plants require a little special handling (they're called stinging nettles for a reason, after all), but once their formic acid-laden hairs have been tamed, nettles are quite delicious, and remarkably nutritious, making them one of the best foraged foods around.

Foraging Nettles
Foraging Nettles
Know how and where to find and identify wild nettles, and how to process them once you harvest them -- and don't forget the gloves! (Image via Make and Rake)

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Three Things Thursday: The Goodness of Guinness

Once again it's Three Things Thursday. This week, I'm focusing on ways to use the classic Irish stout Guinness in other ways than simply drinking it. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

Guinness Chocolate Spread
Guinness Chocolate Spread
Everyone's favorite chocolate-nut spread gets a grown-up twist with a shot of Ireland's favorite dark beer. From Larder Love.

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DIY Maple Syrup: We'd Tap That

When the nights are still cold but days begin to warm, sap rises in the maple trees, and it's time to tap into this sweet resource. Even if you live in a fairly urban setting, you may be able to tap your own and boil it off for some DIY syrup. Your pancakes will thank you.

Maple Tapping
Maple Tapping
Drill a hole in the maple trunk, hammer in a tap, hang a bucket, and wait. Each day you'll collect a bucket of maple sap. (Image via Homegrown.org)
Sugaring Off
Sugaring Off
The sap is drinkable (and delicious!) on its own, but if you want to turn it into syrup you'll need to boil it off. It takes a lot -- about 40 parts sap will become 1 part syrup. (Image via Putting Up With the Turnbulls)
DIY Maple Evaporator
You can do the boiling in your own kitchen, but odds are you don't have enough space, and the amount of steam it kicks off can peel wallpaper. Make your own evaporator outside and boil off in big batches. Here's how. (Image via From Scratch Club)

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Tend Your Garden

Even if you're still buried in snow, it's a good time to start planning ahead on your garden so you can hit the ground running, er, digging when the spring thaw comes. 

Garden Planning
Garden Planning
You know what they say: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Before you do anything in the garden, make a plan, map it out and think about what you want to grow for the year. (Image via Seattle Seedling)
Seed Selecting
Seed Selecting
This is the fun part! But first, take stock of what you've got, including maybe some seeds you saved from last year, and shop or trade for the rest. (Image via Sweet Domesticity)

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Cajun and Creole from the Bayou and Beyond

We've got a bead on the best DIY Cajun and Creole food projects from the bayou and beyond. Laissez les bon temps rouler!

DIY Tabasco
DIY Tabasco
This fermented hot sauce has a lovely sharp tang that complements the peppers' hot spice, lending a musky undertone that is all too familiar in the popular Tabasco brand pepper sauce. (Image via One Tomato Two Tomato)
Creole Style Black Eyed Peas
Creole Style Black Eyed Peas
Dry black eyed peas come to life in the jar when pressure canned with onions, peppers, liquid smoke and of course a dash or ten of hot sauce. (Image via Putting Up with Erin)

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8 DIY Food Books You Should Pre-Order Today

Just when you think the offerings in the DIY food book space couldn't get better (truly, 2013, 2012 and 2011 were all pretty fantastic), 2014 is shaping up to be a bellwether year for top-notch works. I'm proud to call all of these authors friends and colleagues, so in the interest of fairness I will list them in order of publication date. All are currently available for pre-order. (Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links for Amazon.com from which I may derive a nominal amount of revenue.)

Modern Pioneering
Touting "self-sufficiency is the ultimate girl power," Georgia Pellegrini's latest work espouses a soup-to-nuts DIY lifestyle that ranges from Martha (Mason jar lanterns and homemade notecards) to MacGyver (assembling a 48- hour survival toolkit in an Altoids tin). Georgia demonstrates how to conquer basic self-sufficiency skills, and look faaabulous doing it.

Publication date: March 4, 2014.
Pre-order now >
Preserving by the Pint
Marisa McClellan of Food in Jars lives in a small urban apartment, but that didn't deter her from pursuing the preserving bug. Undaunted by recipes that called for bushels of fruit, she worked to scale recipes down to make them accessible to even the most compact domicile. Organized seasonally, these pestos, sauces, mostardas, chutneys, butters, jams, jellies, and pickles are speedy, too: some take under an hour.

Publication date: March 25, 2014
Pre-order now >

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Home Brewing: Hop to It

Beer here! Home brewing is fun even for the novice brewer, yet offers endless opportunities for exploration and experimentation as your expertise grows. Whether you're a first-time brewer or a master of the hops, we've got ideas on what to brew and how to brew it -- and what to do with the final product (besides, you know, drink it.)

One Gallon Beer Making Kit with Equipment & Ingredients
One Gallon Beer Making Kit
You want to try home brewing, but you don't want to own two 5-gallon carbuoys and a bunch of other wonky equipment. Our friends at FarmCurious have solved that problem with this one-gallon beer kit. Choose from two different flavors: German Oktoberbest and IPA. Take 5% off by entering the code punkdom at checkout.
Beer Making 101
Beer Making 101
Ready to dig deeper? Delve into this in-depth online course in home brewing from our colleagues at Old School to get the skinny on the craft. Wanna brew for two? Enter the code COUPLEBREW at checkout to get two classes for $60 -- a $120 value -- through March 15, 2014. (Image via CHOW)
Get Creative
Draw inspiration from the community by checking out what they've been brewing, like a melon IPA, a hoppy pale ale, beer brewed with honey, and more. (Image via Leave Me the Oink)

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Come One, Come All for Kumquats

How about a kumquat, my little chickadee? This diminutive member of the citrus (or, technically, fortunella) family stands apart not just for its diminutive size, but for being an inside-out fruit: Its pith is mild, whereas the fruit within delivers the bitter punch of a citrus rind. Its intense, bright flavor is the backbone of many bright winter confections.

Kumquat Marmalade
Kumquat Marmalade
Move over, oranges. Kumquats' natural bright bitterness are a perfect base for marmalade, whether sweetened with vanilla or punched up with peppers. (Image via rcakewalk)
Kumquat Jam
Kumquat Jam
Kumquats play well with plenty of other fruits to make sumptuous jams, like cranberry, blackberry, tomato and another tart player, rhubarb. (Image via The Tomato Tart)

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Three Things Thursday: Love, Love, Love

Once again it's Three Things Thursday, where I highlight three things that ran on the site recently that made me feel the love.

Persimmon Lover's Jam
Lover's Jam
A sugar-free conserve chock-full of aphrodisiacs: Sweet strawberries, tart pomegranate, zesty ginger and piquant chiles and cinnamon, all with the alluring crunch of almonds. From Larder Love.

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All About Kombucha

Kombucha, a fizzy, slightly tart fermented beverage, is believed to have healthful properties, aiding digestion and even possibly improving the immune system. A bottle in the store will set you back a few Georges, but you can brew it at home for a fraction of the cost.

Brewing Kombucha
Brewing the 'Booch
Kombucha's fermentation comes from a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, aka a SCOBY. It ain't pretty, resembling a slimy slab of rubber, but it is pretty easy to develop. All you need is tea, sugar and patience. (Image via Eating Rules)
Coffee Kombucha
Coffee Kombucha
Tea not your thing? You can make kombucha with coffee, as well. Here's how. (Image via Sarah99)

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