The Real Know How

How-Tos, Videos, Tutorials — Ramping Up for the 21st Century

Archive for the month “February, 2012”

Crop Rotation and Using Livestock to Improve Soil Fertility

Dave Tepfer talks about rotating crops and using grazing animals to improve soil fertility.

Earth Bag Construction

A presentation by Thalia Kazakos-Resh, a student in the UMass Sustainable Living Class on building a home in Mexico using earth bag construction.

Pine Resin and Pine Needle Tea

Puma talks about the many uses for pine resin and pine needles. He says “A lot of people don’t know how many uses there are for a pine tree.”

Even more uses of pine trees from thejourneyoutdoors in Michigan. He emphasizes being sure of your identification of the trees before you even think about eating from them.

About Labrador Tea

Labrador tea is an important wild, native North American group of medicinal plants. I say group because there are actually three closely related types of rhododendron that are identified as Labrador tea. They are evergreens that grown mainly in wetland areas.

People drink Labrador tea as an all-around tonic (maybe like how some people drink nettle tea), and it’s loved for its flavor both as a tea and as a flavoring for meat.

Note that it can have a narcotic and even toxic effect if it’s taken in large quantities.

Here’s a joeandzachsurvival video explaining where to find Labrador tea , how to identify it and its uses. Joeandzachsurvival film in Minnesota.

Elder Bertha Skye, who is Cree from Saskatchewan, is associated with McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, talks about Labrador tea’s important to indigenous people in Canada.

How to Make India Ink

The ingredients to make India ink are char (wood and bone were traditionally used), water (or water with drops of vinegar for stability) and a binder such as shellac, gelatin, agar-agar, a gum or resin. You can also use lamp black from an oil or kerosene lamp. Note that these burned items contain carcinogens so take precautions like wearing gloves and not breathing in their dust.

Full instructions for making India ink are here.

The ink produced by these instructions can be kept in liquid form or dried into cakes for use with a brush (as for Chinese and Japanese calligraphy).

Here is Lemoine de Gascogne in Texas making bone black from pieces of deer bone:

Snails: From Farm to Kitchen and from Garden to Kitchen

I got interested in this topic after reading about the taste for snails that Italian immigrants to New York City in the 1800s brought with them in 97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families. I had known that escargots featured in classic French cuisine but I hadn’t gotten much further than that. I was curious, though.

Curious again, I looked into religious dietary restrictions. Snails, as a mollusk aren’t Kosher — so as well as being out for Jews, they wouldn’t be allowed for Christian groups that follow Jewish eating laws either. Snails are haram for Shia Muslims and for strict Hanafis but are permissible for most Muslims. It actually seems to have been a controversial subject amongst Muslims.

A little Googling showed quite a few snail farmers in the UK, like H & RH Escargots in Canterbury, Kent. Their welcome page says “We are a mother and daughter business farming edible snails: Helix aspersa maxima, since 2006, supplying you with delicious snails through local restaurants, gastropubs, farm shops and farmers’ markets.”

I found an interesting video from a segment of Brit chef, Gordon Ramsay’s The F Word in which he tours a UK snail farm, samples snails in garlic butter from the farmhouse kitchen and then after finding out that the farmed snails are literally garden variety has his kids hunt down about a dozen in his backyard and walks us through a new way to prepare them.

**In the video, he mentions the steps that you need to take if you intend to eat snails from your garden, as you need to ensure that any toxins they may have eaten clear their systems.

Note: Since this is Gordon Ramsay and the clip is taken from British TV where swears are allowed, he swears once during the clip.

I noticed that the UK snail farmer had mentioned that his farm operation was very labor and water intensive. This didn’t sound very sustainable to me.

Then I found this video about “free range” snail farming in Australia. Looks like they’ve planted a crop for the snails.

Here is a detailed look at Stephane and Nathalie’s snail farm in France. It seems like they are the only workers on their farm and so they clock really high hours between caring for the snails and processing them.

Keeping up with Snails from iei media on Vimeo.

How to Make Compost Tea: MrTerrym1964

MrTerrym1964 shows us how he makes compost tea.

Herbs: How to Make a Decoction

Good description of how to make a decoction from herbs by Rickvanman. He stresses the need to get information on particular herbs before using them.

Fish Fertilizer for Potatoes

Francis Hill farms in Waboden, Manitoba, Canada. Here she shares a tip for using fish guts and bones to fertilize potato plants. She gets the fish bits from anglers.

Apparently fish are a great fertilizer. With all the contamination that has been showing up in ocean and especially in freshwater fish I would probably feel a little nervous about this method.

Hakusai tsukemono (Japanese Pickled Cabbage)

Probably most people have heard of kimchee by now, but I’m guessing that fewer of us, unless we have Japanese roots or have lived in Japan know about hakusai tsukemono, Japanese-style pickled cabbage.

Apparently, it’s eaten flavored with perilla leaf (shiso), hot pepper, ginger and/or garlic with soy sauce as an after-fermentation-add-in, as a snack or light meal. Here are two versions:


kenjisan makes his hakusai tsukemono which he says his family calls “koko” with chopped cabbage and perilla leaves as the base. After fermentation, to finish it offer, he adds ginger, garlic and soy sauce. Then it’s ready to be eaten with rice as a snack.


superscheu shows us how to make pickled cabbage over three days. This version sees large Napa cabbages sectioned in quarters, salted and weighted and salted and drained repeatedly. The cabbage is flavored at the end stages with red chilies.

I don’t know enough about Japanese cuisine to weigh in on which method is more “authentic.” Maybe we can have duelling chefs. Anyway, my guess is that there are all kinds of variations on this pickle, though the differences in the two remind me of whole cabbage kimchee vs. the cut-up cabbage kimchee.

Post Navigation