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Foraging Southern California: Your Field Guide to Wild Edibles

Foraging Southern California: 118 Nutritious, Tasty, and Abundant Foods, by Douglas Kent, introduces plentiful and delicious varieties of options, from berries and fruits to roots, seeds, and even tasty aquatic options like kelp and crayfish.  Foraging for food is an engaging and beneficial pastime that anyone can enjoy. It inspires connections to the land while improving your health. Plus, many target plants for foragers are non-native, so the activity can support—if not improve—biological diversity and ecological well-being.  Expert forager Douglas Kent shares his vast knowledge in this handy guide that’s perfect for beginners and intermediates. Learn what to look for, as well as when and where to look. Key identification features, written instructions, and full-page photographs help you to comfortably and confidently know that you’re harvesting the right species. A compare section provides information on dangerous look-alikes, helping to ensure your foraging success and personal health. The “Top 10 Edibles” section provides...

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Squash

Italian Sausage-Summer Squash Soup: The Entire Family will Love It

From acorn to zucchini, squashes are delicious, and they are readily available at grocery stores, farmers markets, and in gardens. Julia Rutland, author of Squash: 50 Tried & True Recipes, shares with us her recipe for an Italian Sausage-Summer Squash Soup the entire family will love. It is easy to prepare and so tasty. We can vouch for it, as we tried it out! ITALIAN SAUSAGE-SUMMER SQUASH SOUP INGREDIENTS 2 tablespoons olive oil 1⁄2 pound sweet Italian bulk sausage1⁄2 pound spicy Italian bulk sausage 1 large onion, chopped 4 celery stalks, chopped 1 green bell pepper, chopped 3 garlic cloves, minced 1 (28-ounce) can Italian-seasoned or fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning 2 teaspoons salt 1 tablespoon sugar 4 cups coarsely chopped zucchini and/or yellow squash  GARNISHES Parmesan crackers, fresh basil sprigs  PREPARATION  Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned....

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Purple Martin

Stan Tekiela Observes a Nesting Purple Martin

Stan Tekiela, naturalist and wildlife photographer par excellence, has a whole new definition for “streaming TV. ” Here he shares his observations on a nesting Purple Martin with us. A couple of years ago, I installed a tiny color camera—complete with audio—inside one of my Purple Martin houses. This allows me to observe and study the nesting behavior of our largest swallow species. In addition, the camera also has infrared-emitting diodes that enable me to watch the birds even at night. And the best part is, the birds don’t even know it. I wired up the TV in my office to “stream” the live video of the interior of the place where the Purple Martins are nesting. And there you have it: my own personal “streaming TV.” It is better than watching Animal Planet or even the BBC. Because what I am watching is live, unedited, and real life.  Observing bird behavior...

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Blueberry Linzer Cookies Like None Others

When I received a big tub of blueberries, I decided that it was my turn to try out some of the recipes from Julia Rutland’s cookbook Blueberries: 50 Tried & True Recipes. And so I set out to make Blueberry Linzer Cookies and Simplest Blueberry Jam. Blueberry Linzer Cookies (Makes 20) INGREDIENTS 1 cup butter, at room temperature 3⁄4 cup granulated sugar1 large egg1 teaspoon vanilla extract 13⁄4 cups all-purpose flour 1 cup hazelnut meal or almond flour1⁄4 teaspoon salt1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon Powdered sugar1⁄2 cup Simplest Blueberry Jam (see recipe below) Beat butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Stir together flour, hazelnut meal, salt, and cinnamon in a separate bowl. Add flour mixture to egg mixture, stirring just until combined.  Divide dough in half and press each half into a thin disk. Cover in plastic wrap and chill several hours or until firm. Preheat oven...

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Outdoor Survival: A Guide to Staying Safe Outside

You need one vital tool to stay alive in a dangerous situation: good information! So forget everything you think you’ve learned from your favorite survival shows on TV and the movies. Outdoor Suvival by Benjamin Sobieck skips the gimmicks and parlor tricks. It is a straightforward guide for the everyday person―who most likely won’t have perfect conditions or expensive gear.  In most real-world situations, sitting tight and waiting for rescue is the best strategy. This guide covers everything that happens until help arrives. Learn some easy rules to remember, like 3-3-3 and S.T.O.P.―and why shelter, fire, and water are top priorities. Discover time-tested techniques for making yourself easier to find. Topics in this Adventure Skills Guide include everything from building a shelter and making a fire to surviving in a vehicle and administering first aid. Outdoor Survival provides the information you need in the simplest of terms. It’s conveniently sized to keep in your...

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Squash

Two Recipes for Squash Summer Soups Perfect for the Busy Chef

From acorn to zucchini, squashes are delicious and readily available at grocery stores, farmers markets, and in gardens. Julia Rutland, author of Squash: 50 Tried & True Recipes, shares with us two delicious recipes for summer squash soups. Summer Squash-and-Corn Chowder  INGREDIENTS 4 slices bacon, chopped 4 tablespoons butter 1 red bell pepper, chopped 1⁄2 onion, chopped 2 celery stalks, chopped Pinch of red chile flakes 1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth 1 cup half-and-half 3⁄4 teaspoon salt 3 medium-size zucchini or yellow squash, diced 1 cup fresh or frozen corn 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme Salt and pepper, to taste Garnish: thyme sprigs  Cook bacon in a Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium heat until crispy. Remove and drain on paper towels.  Melt butter in same pan over medium heat. Add bell pepper, onion, celery, and chile flakes. Cook 5 to 7 minutes or until tender. Add flour; cook, stirring...

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Bat Basics

Bats Have an Incredible Story to Tell

There are 45 species of bats found in the United States. All of them are amazing flying mammals that have special adaptations and abilities that help them survive. They are a crucial part of many different ecosystems, they provide people with many benefits, and bats have an incredible story to tell. Despite the many ways that bats benefit people, they’ve been feared and misunderstood for years, and this has led people to persecute bats and even attempt to destroy entire bat populations. Many of the misconceptions that people have about bats are due to superstitions and myths. Bats certainly are nowhere near the threat they’re claimed to be.  Bats are the world’s only flying mammals. In popular culture, bats are often shrouded in mystery, so perhaps it’s fitting that their evolutionary lineage is also quite enigmatic. While scientists may not yet know the full story behind their family tree, their importance to...

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Squash

Squash: A Favorite of the Summer Garden

Easy to grow and often abundant, squashes are favorites of the summer garden. Squash, a cookbook by Julia Rutland, features 50 tried-and-true recipes geared for busy cooks who enjoy great flavor. The author is a professional writer, recipe developer and tester, food stylist, and television/media demonstrator, so you can be certain that every recipe is a crowd-pleaser! From soups and salads to appetizers, casseroles, and, of course, dessert, the options presented here will become instant family favorites. The book’s full-color photography adds to the enjoyment of cooking. Plus, pointers on buying and cooking squash, along with practical tips for cutting tough-skinned winter varieties, make Squash even more useful. And when your garden is filled with more than you can eat, you’ll find simple and delicious ways to preserve those fresh bounties.  People love squashes because the flavor connects them to holidays, special occasions, and shared family dinners. Add Squash to your cookbook collection, and savor this wonderful...

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