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Homecraft Guidebook

NOTE: This resource was created before I had begun to decolonize my way of thinking, and should be read carefully. It may present beliefs or assumption that don't match what I currently believe.

Homecraft Guidebook is a(n) guide

it is about homecraft, cooking, and gardening

Introduction

This guidebook contains the processes I follow to do my homecrafting: the work that I do to maintain my household.1

I have several objectives in maintaining my household, which can be generalized as that familiar slogan: reduce, reuse, and recycle.

I want to reduce how many materials and how much energy I need to consume to maintain a happy home. I want to reuse as much of my house's output as possible, and recyle what I can't.

I think sustainability is a prerequisite of any functioning species, and while I can't home to maintain two adults from a studio apartment, I can do a lot to make the most of the space.

This includes using the space as a means of production, to create not just food and crafts for my own use, but in surplus so I can exchange them with others.

Homecraft Guidebook

Home Maintenance

Dusting, Mopping, and Sweeping

Humidity and Temperature Control

When I first drafted this section, it was as two sections, one each for humidity and temperature. After a it I realized the two concepts were so tightly linked within a home's relatively enclosed environment, that it was more confusing to keep them separated than work them together.

Machines and Tools for Humidity and Temperature Control
TODO Rock Salt Dehydrator
TODO Clay Pellet Hydrator

Cooking

Ingredients

This section contains information about the different ingredients I use in my cooking: what I know about them, how they're used, their (approximate) nutritional value and role in my diet, and where I source them from.

Please note that the names and taxonomy of culinary ingredients is highly regional. I'll include scientific identifiers when I know them, but just be aware that what I call “kale” might be different than what your local green-grocer sells as “kale.”

Some ingredients listed to not represent a specific item, but a class of items. For example, my Pennsylvania Dutch biscuit recipe calls for “shortening,” which might refer to butter or coconut oil, but might also include vegetable oil!

Flours
Soft flour
Sugars
White sugar
Salts
Table salt

Iodized medium-grained sodium-chloride (and some other salts.)

Shortening

Shortening traditionally refers to fatty oils which are solid at room-temperature, which in western cooking are normally derived from animals: butter, lard, and tallow. Perosnally I extend the definition of shortening to include canola and vegetable oils. In fact, the term might be nearly synonymous with cooking oil, just in the context of baking.

Milk
Baking Powder
Used In

Recipes

Baking
Quickbreads
-    Ingredients

    | Ingredient                      | Quantity |
    |---------------------------------|----------|
    | [soft flour](#soft-flour)       | 1 cup    |
    | [white sugar](#white-sugar)     | 1 tsp    |
    | [baking powder](#baking-powder) | 2 tsp    |
    | [table salt](#table-salt)       | 1/2 tsp  |
    | [shortening](#shortening)       | 1/2 cup  |
    | [milk](#milk)                   | 2/5 cup  |

-    <code>[0/8]</code> Steps

    -   [ ] Preheat oven to 450f
    -   [ ] Combine dry ingreidents
    -   [ ] Cut in shortening until mix is crumby.
    -   [ ] Add milk while stirring until dough lifts from bowl. Should
        still be sticky and soft.
    -   [ ] Lightly squarefold-knead mix on floured surface until springy,
        then string to 2 inch tall roll.
    -   [ ] Let rest 2 minutes.
    -   [ ] Cut into 1 inch slices, lay sideways on baking sheet 1 inch apart.
    -   [ ] Bake 10-12 minutes on center rack.

-    Notes

    -   For more traditional texture, skip kneading, but let dough rise on
        floured surface. Cover in flour after rising then fold over, gently,
        once, and tear off small chunks.
    -   Butter is preferred shortening.
    -   Substitute or supplement buttermilk for milk.[^fn:2]
Beverages
Fermented Beverages
**_Ginger beer_** is a fermented beverage made with ginger, sugar,
water, and "composite organism" colloquially known as a **_plant_**,
primarily composed of the yeast Saccharomyces florentinus[^fn:3] and
the bacterium Lactobacillus hilgardii[^fn:4].

I use a plant originally sourced from the Deutsche Sammlung von
Mikroorganismen und Zellkulturen, DMS#2484, to produce alcoholic and
non-alcholic ginger beer for myself and my partner.

-    <code>[0/7]</code> Requirements

    -   [ ] A container of at least 8-and-a-half cups
    -   [ ] 1 sq.ft. of cheesecloth
    -   [ ] 2 quarts, quarter-cup water
    -   [ ] 2 tablespoons ginger beer plant
    -   [ ] 3 tablespoons finely grated ginger
    -   [ ] 4 tablespoons white sugar
    -   [ ] 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
    -   [ ] Some way of loosely sealing the container[^fn:5]

-    <code>[0/6]</code> Process

    -   [ ] In a bowl, mix your grated ginger and a quarter-cup of water.
    -   [ ] In another bowl, place your cheesecloth and pour the
        ginger-water over it. Strain the ginger and discard. Add the
        filtered ginger-water to your large container.
    -   [ ] Add the 2 quarts water and sugar to the container and mix until
        most has dissolved.
    -   [ ] Add the ginger beer plant.
    -   [ ] Loosely seal the container
    -   [ ] Wait 3 days and bottle for 1 for non-alcoholic fizzy ginger
        beer.
    -   [ ] Wait 5-9 days and bottle for 1 for alcholic fizzy ginger beer.
Juices
**_Mulberry juice_** is the liquid pressed from **_mulberries_**, a tart
purple berry that ripen around North Carolina through late April and
May.

-    <code>[0/2]</code> Requirements

    -   [ ] 2 pots, each capable of holding all the berries you plan to juice.
    -   [ ] 1 piece of cheesecloth large enough that the berries could be
        spread flat on it.

    **_Tip:_** roll some beeswax in your hands before you start to prevent
    the worst of the staining from working with mulberries.

-    <code>[0/7]</code> Process

    1.  [ ] Place the berries in your first pot and bring it to 30c while
        gently mashing the berries.
    2.  [ ] Line the second pot with the cheesecloth and pour the mash into
        the cloth.
    3.  [ ] Gather the corners and lift out of the pot, holding any
        openings pinched shut.
    4.  [ ] Begin to massage the mash dry, slowly twisting the closed ends
        to keep it secure. The juice will fill the second pot.
    5.  [ ] Continue until you run out of patience, then discard the dry mash.
    6.  [ ] Discard the dry mash.
    7.  [ ] Pasteurize the juice.

-    Results

    This is a record of my results with this recipe.

    | Date                                                                                         | Input  | Output | Comments                      |
    |----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|--------|--------|-------------------------------|
    | <span class="timestamp-wrapper"><span class="timestamp">&lt;2019-05-13 Mon&gt;</span></span> | 3.5 lb | 1.2 qt | Bit tart to drink on its own. |
Cheesemaking
Fresh Cheeses
Breakfast cheese is a fresh cow's milk cheese that I often eat for breakfast, thus the name.

Tools

Handtools
Appliances
Dehydrator
Mixer
Skillet (Frying Pan)
Dutch Oven (Iron Casserole)

Gardening

Using my home to produce food lets me supplement the production of my local agro-ecology2, especially with things that aren't available at local markets or can't be grown outdoors, given the season.

My current home is small and has generally poor lighting, so my ability to grow food inside is limited, but I think that's let me focus on things that almost anyone can do. And it's not like I don't grow a lot.

For example, I am currently growing garlic scallions, ginger scallions, beet greens, pea shoots, wheatgrass, and alfalfa, clover, mustard, and radish sprouts… just on one section of my kitchen counter. (It all fits on one of those folding wooden TV dinner trays, which is where I transfer it when I'm cooking.)

In addition, given the small space, I'm able to engage in relatively intensive gardening efforts, where I take efforts to do things like manage soil microbiology and do rotational companion planting.

Gardening Methods

Potting Your Plants
Sourcing Your Pots

Takeaway containers.

Talk about plastic versus terra cotta, permability. airflow matters.

Inspecting Your Plants
Watering Your Plants

Non-chlorinated water.

Watering Plants by Tray-Soaking
Watering Plants by Misting
Watering Plants by Pour

When you pour water onto a plant, you want to pour it right against the root system - it will cause the water to move to its own tips.

Fertilizing Your Plants
Making Compost Tea

Non-chlorinated water

Indoor Crops

Sprouts

An easily way to supplement your household's production of green vegetables is by sprouting certain seeds, which can grow for 3-7 days without more than water and light and provide a healthful and often tasty amount of crispy greens.

Sprouts are often grown in glass or plastic jars covered with a cloth, or in specialized irrigation trays.

The following seeds are those I sprout, either individually or as a mix. There are many more which can be sprouted.

(TODO: explain local humidity/temperature and germination risks that are why I don't do like, mung bean sprouts.)

Baby Greens

Baby and Micro-greens are plants which are grown for one to three weeks and harvested for their leafy greens. Lettuces, clovers, radishes, beets, and many other plants can be grown to make baby- and micro-greens. Unlike sprouts, these greens are normally grown in a substrate, though it's often not soil.

Pea shoots

Grow peas pinch off above the first three sets of leaves, delicious snack.

Clustered mountain mint

Clustered mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum) is

Decorating

Houseplants

There are a few criteria I have for which plants I want to use as houseplants. They should be:

A plant doesn't have to be all of these, but it should be some of them: a fair number of contemporary popular houseplants aren't.

I think houseplants should be easy to propagate because I don't think folk should be reliant on industrial or foreign nurseries for home decor.

I think houseplants should be edible because I'm pretty sure I require food, though I've never put it to extensive test.

I think houseplants should be pretty because even though I want my home to fulfill the utility I need, I think it should do so with space left over for beautiful things.

As of this writing, fall 2019, tropical and exotic plants, as well as cacti and succulents, are among the most popular houseplant. All are pretty, but few are easy to propagate and most aren't edible.

In practice, I maintain a mix of traditional and novel houseplants, because traditional ones can be found cheaply.

Pothos

Epipremnum aureum. Decoration. Easy to propagate, fast-growing, tolerant.

There are several variants. I'm personally familiar with “Marble Queen,” which has jade leaves with light chartreuse marbling, and “Pearls and Jade,” which has sections of the leaves that are white, light chartreuse, and jade.

I have observed that the variants with more varigation seem to grow slower.

Rabbit's Foot Fern

Davallia fejeensis. Daily misting. Easy but slow to propagate. Good for dim and humid areas, like bathrooms.

Parlor Palm

Chamaedorea elegans. Propagates by divison, badly. Not a good houseplant, just a popular one.

Blunt Mountainmint

Not actually a mint.

Waste Management

Composting

Vermicomposting

  1. At the moment, my household includes me, my partner, and our cat. There's also a turtle kept in an enclosure in the yard, if that becomes relevant. We live in a studio apartment that is approximately 280sqft of living space and 40sqft of bathroom. ↩︎

  2. That's my pretentious way of saying my outdoor garden. I say it this way to emphasize that agriculture is just a part of the broader ecology. ↩︎