The Urban Homestead: Your guide to self-sufficient living in the heart of the city
by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen
The young, urban couple of Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen have put together a different breed of do-it-yourself instruction manuals chock full of projects and helpful advice to help you move toward becoming your neighborhood’s first homesteader. This isn’t your dad’s workshop manual. The Urban Homestead is a refreshing blend of “how-to”s intermingled with entertaining and engaging commentary. Coyne and Knutzen, living in Los Angeles, have personally tested all of their suggestions and stand by their promises. Topics covered include gardening, foraging, raising livestock, canning and preserving your produce, creating, conserving, and reusing utilities, and transportation.
For those that aren’t familiar, “homesteading” is the act of producing everything that you consume, thus lowering your impact on the environment as a selfish, needy human and keeping the circle of life as small as possible, preferably on your ¼ acre lot. As my interests and beliefs are edging closer and closer to aligning with that weird, 70-year-old gypsy that lives in the Airstream down by the river, I’ve been starved for homesteading information. Any way that I can save money and provide fresh produce for myself and my friends, I’m all over it. I’ve lived in rentals for the past 5 years and have had little freedom in growing vegetables and “being green”. This book offers cheaper, more simple versions of projects that can easily be tackled by those that can be less committed. Consider me sold. Some examples of these projects are: chickens vs. rabbits, raised beds vs. containers, catching shower water with a bucket vs. constructing a greywater wetland. Get it? Oh, did I mention that these instructions are accompanied by little, modern, black and white illustrations? Cute.
While there are tons of great canning and lacto-fermentation recipes, I’m most excited about this one and will include it below as a bit of a mouth-watering preview of Coyne and Knutzen’s personal writing style and tasty concoctions.
L’hamd Markad (Salted Lemons)
Found on Page 175
Preserved lemons are used extensively in Moroccan cuisine, on fish and in salads especially, either straight out of the jar or cooked. We like to chop up these salty/sour lemon rinds and use them the same way we’d use olives or anchovies to add a flavor punch to whatever we are cooking. Just recently, a homesteading friend told us that she’s found that the addition of the preserved lemon pulp and rind to her homemade hummus yields fabulous results.
- Organically grown lemons, unblemished, scrubbed. Thin-skinned Myeyers are the preferred sort, but all work. Gather enough to fill at least a one-quart jar.
- Sea salt. Tons of it.
- Fresh lemon juice. Which means just a few more lemons. Don’t use bottled juice.
- Spices, optional. You could put a cinnamon stick in each jar, two or three cloves or a few peppercorns, or all three.
- A clean, sterilized quart jar with a lid.
Warning: if you have hangnails, prepare to suffer.
Pat lemons dry. Cut them into quarters and coat each slice generously with salt. If your lemons are small, you can leave them whole, slit them open with four vertical slices and stuff them to the gills with salt. Put the lemon quarters or whole lemons in the jar, pressing them as you go to release their juice. Sprinkle even more salt between layers. If you want to add spices, pack those in as you go. When you get to the top add more lemon juice if necessary to cover the lemons completely. They must always be submerged in juice.
Let the lemons sit in a dark cupboard for four to six weeks before using. Turn the jars upside down once in a while to encourage the salt to dissolve and the spices to mingle. When they are done, the rinds will be soft, and the salt and lemon juice liquid they’ve been stewing in will have turned a little vicious. You eat the rinds. You can choose to use the pulp also, or just scrape the rinds clean. Rinse the rinds if you want them to taste a little less salty. Once opened, store in refrigerator where they will keep up to six months.