It's that time of year again! The kids are getting ready to head back to school, why not take a few courses yourself?  

I've just added a whole bunch of classes. In addition to  the usual ones-- like handmade soap, soy candles, sauerkraut, pickling and  kombucha-- I've added  2  brand new courses  that you've been asking for:
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First, there's  Sprouted Grain Bread.  Experienced whole meal  bread bakers who  want to go to the next level will love  this class. If you haven't yet taken my 100%  Whole Wheat Bread class, I highly recommend taking that one as an introduction before trying your hand at sprouted grains. I am teaching that intro class two times  before the  sprouted grain class happens on Sunday, Sept 18th.

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Second, there's my new Vegan Yogurt Making class. I've been experimenting with a few recipes to develop a yummy dairy-free yogurt. We'll try a couple in class, and we'll even make some home made muesli using fresh oats you'll roll in class.

Click  here   for course descriptions, dates, times  and registration.


Click  here  to see the classes in a calendar format. 

See you in class!
 
 
I recently read an article claiming that we've just had an outbreak of Salmonella from backyard  chickens. Apparently, in the first half of this year, 611 people got sick, and one  person even died, from Salmonella linked to backyard chicken flocks. 

Of course, when I hear this, I have to wonder: Is it a horrible idea that we’re keeping chickens?  Are we putting our kids at risk? Is it a bad idea to encourage my customers to get a  flock at home? The more I think about it, the more questions I have... Are these “outbreaks” localized? Are they becoming more prevalent? Can I do anything to  avoid or reduce my chances of getting salmonella from my chickens if they do have  it? If we haven't caught it from them in the last 8 years, can we assume we won’t in  the future?
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The tempting conclusion to draw from this news is that we should get rid of our  backyard flocks right away (and if you were considering getting chickens, it’s easy to  read this and decide to take a pass on the whole thing). 

But before we made any rash decisions in our house, I chose to get more information. I need to know: How risky is it to keep backyard chickens  compared to, say, preparing raw chicken at home, eating at a salad bar at a  restaurant, or otherwise going about my regular business? While the news is  interesting, a little alarming, and even dramatic, the information provided is woefully  inadequate for the purpose of making an intelligent decision as to whether urban  chicken-keeping is a relatively safe activity.

So I did a bit of research, and I want to share my basic analysis with you. I’ve taken  some analytical liberties here and there, but I think my conclusions are sound, given  the data that’s readily available. I’ve put  links at the bottom of this post, if you want to look at my sources in more detail. Hopefully, this gives  enough solid information to help you decide if the salmonella risk  associated with keeping backyard chickens is worth it for you and your family.
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First, what is an outbreak? When I think of an outbreak, I think of that terrifying movie: an  army of doctors in hazmat suits tending to people quarantined under military guard.

Turns out, an outbreak occurs when the CDC concludes that 2 or more people got  an illness from the same source.

 So yes, they can report on “outbreaks” of Salmonella  as small as 2 people. One particular outbreak I found involved only 5 people. 

I started by reviewing the CDC reports of outbreaks for the last few years and found  that there seems to be a “live poultry” or “backyard chicken” outbreak of some  kind every year. When they can, the CDC specifies the likely source of the outbreak-- a  hatchery in this or that state, etc. 

In 2015, there were 252 cases; 363 cases in 2014; 990 cases in  2013; and 334 cases in 2012. That’s an average of 485 cases per year, using just the last 4  complete years. (While the 2016 outbreak is now  considered over, the calendar year obviously isn’t.) For the sake  of a broad analysis, let’s just use an average of 500 cases per year.

How does that compare to some other outbreaks?
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In 2015, 907 people got Salmonella from Mexican cucumbers (the biggest one in the last 5  years), 192 got it from pork, and 133 got it from “small turtles.” There were many  other smaller outbreaks caused, for example, by prepared products, like breaded  chicken, pistachios, raw scraped ground tuna product (what on earth is that?),  ground beef or protein shake powder, as well as from household pets, like crested  geckos, bearded dragons and hedgehogs. So, does that mean backyard flocks are  more dangerous than pork or tiny turtles, but safer than Mexican produce? Don’t  answer that yet, because we still don’t have enough information.

While it’s somewhat reassuring that this outbreak isn’t hugely bigger (in terms of total numbers) than other outbreaks, it is among the larger of the typical “outbreaks.”  Should that frighten us? 

To answer, it’s helpful to know how many people are engaging in the  questionable activity in order to determine the rate at which people get sick from any given  source. 

Even though 133 people got Salmonella from tiny turtles, it matters if only 133 people owned  tiny turtles in the first place... that would mean that 100% of tiny turtle owners  got sick.  That’s obviously not the case, but the fictional example makes a point about the relative riskiness of any given activity.

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Since it’s not possible to determine how many people keep tiny turtles (they’re  illegal because they can carry Salmonella!) or how many people eat pistachios or bought a  particular brand of vegetable, I decided to take a look at national numbers to get an  idea of the relative rates of infection.

So, off I went to get some information on chicken ownership, as well as overall  Salmonella cases throughout the US, to see if the rate of Salmonella infection could  help me answer my question. Here’s what I found out:

One FDA study of 4 cities put average chicken ownership at 0.8%. But that includes  New York, where, big surprise, it’s pretty close to zero, while Miami came in at 1.7%.  Los Angeles was 1.2%.  Homes across the US that have more than an acre are around  4%. 

So ownership is clearly going to be higher in suburban and rural areas,  compared to densely populated cities. But for the sake of this discussion, let’s  assume, conservatively, that ownership is only about 1% of households, even though it’s  likely to be quite a bit higher. 

There are 124 million households in the US, so if 1% of them have chickens, that’s about 1.24 million chicken-owning households who are playing  Russian backyard-chicken roulette. So, from our average case number above, if  roughly 500 of them get Salmonella per year, that’s.... drumroll please.... 500 divided by  1.24 million = .0004 or 4/100ths of 1 percent or 0.04%. 

Put another way, that’s one  case for every 2500 households in any given year.
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Now, I still don’t know how that stacks up against my likelihood of getting Salmonella from all other sources. Is owning chickens wildly more dangerous than,  say, just going about my daily routine? So to compare, I looked up overall infection  rates for Salmonella each year in the US. 

Turns out there are 1,000,000 reported  cases per year nationwide. Given there are 318,000,000 people in the US, that’s  1,000,000/318,000,000= .3% or one American in 318 that gets salmonella each  year. That’s quite a bit more.

It looks like I’m between 7 and 8 times more likely to get Salmonella from something  other than backyard chickens, just by living in the US. Put another way, my chance of getting Salmonella if I don’t have backyard chickens is 0.3% and my chance of getting it from my chickens alone is 0.04%. 

Therefore, owning chickens increases that risk from .3% to .34% (which still rounds down to .3% by the way). Math-minded folks out there  may point out that I’m double-counting here: Those 1 million reported Salmonella cases include backyard poultry outbreaks, but  500 out of 1,000,000 is too small to have a meaningful effect on the answer.
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Keep in mind, I think this is a very conservative number. 

Why? First, I assumed 1%  chicken ownership. If that number were closer to 2%, that extra .04% turns into  .02%. Second, the CDC sometimes indicates how many of the cases were kids under  5, and it’s usually around one third. So if you’re a backyard chicken owner and  you’re 5 or older, that 0.02% risk drops to 0.013%. That’s pretty small.

Conclusion: I’m keeping my chickens, though I am going to continue to be careful  with them. We’ve had our chickens for years now.  They're part of the family. While it's  possible to get salmonella from backyard flocks, outbreaks are  frequently linked to specific hatcheries.  It’s also possible for your hens to acquire and/or carry Salmonella without showing signs of being sick – and if that is the case, it doesn’t automatically mean they'll pass it along to humans.

So here’s what you can do to minimize your risk of getting anything from your flock:

 Don’t kiss your chickens! (If you already keep chickens, you understand why this one actually isn't as crazy as it sounds-- lovable birds can be very tempting to kiss!)

 Use separate shoes/crocs/flip flops for walking in the coop, and keep those shoes outside so you don’t track poop in the house.

 Keep your chickens outside. Agains, sounds bananas at first. But yes, some people have house chickens... and yes, there is such a thing as a chicken diaper.

 ALWAYS wash hands after handling the chickens and/or cleaning the coop.

 Don’t let kids under 5 handle them.

 Be careful and wash hands and clothes thoroughly when visiting other chicken owners, flocks, or farms.

 Keep rodents out of the chicken coop. Rats and other vermin can carry Salmonella.
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If you’ve been considering getting backyard chickens, I hope you don’t let scary news like this change your mind. 

For us, the benefits   far outweigh the minuscule Salmonella risk. This wonderful, rewarding hobby is teaching our kids about keeping animals... enjoying fresh eggs that have not been washed in chemicals and were collected from  happy chickens that live healthy, happy lives.

The other chicken owners we know feel the same way. Hopefully you will, too.
 
 

Countless workshops,  classes, and more!

We're finally installed in our new roost on Sunset Blvd, near Sunset Junction  in the heart of Silver Lake. It's a terrific spot-- a  warm and welcoming  environment with a teaching kitchen and creative workshop space.  Please come visit! We stock homesteading supplies  and the inspiration for D.I.Y. adventures of all sorts; plus we're thrilled to announce a mouth-watering schedule of new classes and workshops.
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Ever get the urge to make your own candles, soap, lip balm, body butter, or bath bombs ? How about ferment your own root beer, cider, ginger ale, kombucha, yogurt, vinegar, kefir, or home-brewed beer? Grow your own sprouts or mushrooms or sourdough starter? Pickle stuff? Make cheese? Tofu? Truffles? Keep bees, aquaponic gardens, or chickens in your yard? Mill, bake, and cook with whole grains? Design with succulent plants?  Concoct fancy cocktails? Upcycle old junk in creative ways?

We're now offering classes in all these luscious subjects... and more!  
Classes for adults meet on weekends and sometimes evenings during the week. 
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Our kids' workshop calendar has greatly expanded, as well!  We now provide after-school classes every week on a rotating schedule to make time for each kid's  busy schedule. Young folks can learn to cook (including lots of no-bake recipes), garden, and  recycle things to make cool new stuff and  creative gifts. Most classes are for children aged 6 and up, and parents are encouraged to drop off their kids, although sticking around to watch is always fine, too.

Visit our shop to pick up a calendar, or check out the listings  here.  We're always adding more, so check back regularly to see what's new.

We encourage pre-registration, as some classes fill up fast. Pop into the Roost to register. Tickets to all events and full course descriptions are also available in our online store  right here.

Don't forget! The gift of DIY makes a terrific present! We offer gift certificates for single workshops, series of classes, any item in our store, or  cash-value in any amount.

Thanks for your continued support, and see you soon at The Roost!
 
 
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WHAT: Swap food and make friends!
WHEN: Saturday, May 16, 11AM
WHERE: King's Roost Patio
HOW MUCH: $10 per  person; kids accompanied by grownups are free


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We're thrilled to announce the Eastside Food Swap, hosted by The Kings Roost with special guest, The True Spoon.

The Eastside food swap is a community event celebrating homemade, homegrown, and  foraged foods. This event aims to bring cooks, bakers, gardeners, and foragers together to  swap their edible creations, share stories, and develop new friendships. 

This event is open to anyone who pre-registers through The King's Roost (in store or  online) The only other requirement is that you bring something you made, grew, or  foraged yourself.  If you're bringing kids, please plan to supervise them. There is a $10 fee  to participate.

Most importantly you’ll be bringing food to swap. All swap items must be homemade,  homegrown, or foraged by you. Think preserves, baked goods, fruits, vegetables, herbs,  spices, condiments, marinades, and beverages. You can bring a bunch of one thing or  multiples of a few different things; 10-20 swap items are suggested (bring as many as you  may want to trade for and bring home). Keep in mind that swappers will be examining  and picking up your goods, so be sure to package them in a way that protects the food  and makes it clear the amounts you want to swap. When applicable, it is recommended  that you include food allergy information. If your food swap item is delicious, let it be  known by providing samples to the other swappers. Since swappers will be trading at will, attractive presentation and cute packaging is a great idea to make your products visually appealing.

All swap participants adhere to an honor code;  they agree to using the highest  cleanliness standards in their own kitchens and gardens to prepare their swap items. 

Swap participants also must agree to the following terms before registering  for the Eastside  Swap. By participating in these events, you are acknowledging that the food items being  traded are not necessarily prepared in commercial kitchens or spaces inspected by any  Government agency. By participating in these events, you are  also acknowledging that you will use the highest standards of safety and cleanliness in  food preparation.  

By participating in these events, you assume all liability; specifically, you agree to not hold liable food swap hosts, swap venue owners/providers or other swap participants.

If you have any questions, contact Celeste@thetruespoon.com!



 
 
This week I'm excited to bring you one of my favorite DIY projects-- SPROUTS. It's so easy and inexpensive to sprout grains, seeds, legumes, it doesn't take up much space, and the return on your effort is HUGE. Sprouts are densely packed with vitamins, minerals, trace elements, micro-nutrients, and all kinds of healthy stuff. They're versatile and delicious on salads and sandwiches,  as garnishes or snacks.

You can use all sorts of containers to grow your sprouts-- jars, tubs, trays. I have lots of options in the shop if you want to get started. In this week's video, I show you how to use a simple stacking garden system, with draining trays and covers that double as soaking bins. It's efficient and effective and will require a space on your kitchen counter no bigger than a dinner plate.

Growing your own sprouts, wheat grass, and micro-greens is anywhere from 20-100 times less expensive than buying them in the store... not to mention, the ones you grow will be even fresher. Have a peek!
 
 
Here in Los Angeles, we’re in a severe 5-year drought.  Watering your in-ground garden uses a lot of water, and might not be the most efficient use of this precious resource. When you have your own garden, it’s easy to waste water. Overwatering doesn't just use more than you need, it also washes away valuable nutrients in the soil. But under-watering can be just as bad! Have you ever had a great crop of veggies going strong, then lose it all because you got busy, you had a momentary lapse into forgetfulness, or an irrigation line broke?  For people on the go, growing food can be a lot of work and a drain on water.

Well, there’s a better way: aquaponics. If you’ve ever wanted to grow your own organic veggies but simple don’t have the space, water, time, or decent soil to work with, consider an aquaponics system.  It's like hydroponics... plus fish to fertilize the water and feed your plants... which in turn clean the water for the fish. A very cool symbiotic system.

In this week’s DIY video, Roe introduces you to the King’s Roost aquaponics system. It’s a soil-free, environmentally-friendly, self-watering,  low maintenance, water-sipping, super efficient, high-yield organic gardening system that not only gives you fresh chemical-free vegetables, but whose “by-product” is fresh, organic protein in the form of sustainably raised Tilapia! No more frozen tilapia that’s been shipped thousands of miles from an industrial farm in China where they have been fed who-knows-what.

The video below covers all the basics of aquaponics. Stop by the store to learn more or to pick up your aquaponic supplies. We'll help you get started and and answer all your questions.

 
 
If you're into baking and haven't yet discovered the pure joy of cultivating your own yeast, you are in for a treat.

The commercial yeast you've been buying in stores is manufactured, processed, refined and dried out.  You spend money on the stuff, when countless strains of feral yeast abound right in your own kitchen! All you need to do is lure those little organisms into a jar, keep them happy, and feed them. They'll reward you by creating tastier, healthier, vibrantly natural and flavorful  baked goods... AND they'll save you a bit of  dough (HA!) in the meantime. 

You may even find that the loved ones in your life who suffer from wheat belly, gluten sensitivities and other  grain-related maladies are better able to tolerate baked goods that are made with wild yeast instead of the commercial variety.

All you need to begin is a jar, some water, and a bit of flour. Watch the video below to learn how it all works... and pick up  a secret shortcut with pineapple juice!

Catching and keeping yeast is an art form that becomes pretty addictive over time. Crazy as it may sound, you'll become attached to your little yeast colony, learning its idiosyncrasies and individual moods as you play with flavor, texture, rise time, and moisture levels.  Let us know how your personal yeasty adventure is going... or stop into  the Roost to get a jump start with some of our own starter anytime.

 
 
This week we bring you a critical life skill-- picking up chicks.

It's simple and easy. Walter shows you how to woo the ladies, put them at ease, and make them feel loved.

This is vital information for anyone interested in a backyard flock! Plus, chickens and kids are adorable, so  take a minute and a half to watch. Guaranteed, it'll make you smile.

 
 
 Valentine's Day doesn't have to suck! You don't need to shell out tons of money or hours of your precious time to make your  honeylamb feel loved. You don't have to  be the most artsy, crafty, inspired and inventive person on earth to make something from scratch that's romantic, sensual, and beautiful. Because today, as our Valentine gift to you we bring you one of our favorite secrets-- you can make your own bath bombs at home... in one night... for just a few bucks... with stuff you find at the grocery store and around the house.  

Just watch the video below to get all the details. You'll need  baking soda, corn starch, citric acid, epsom salts, oil, and water. THAT'S IT. Forget expensive soap molds. You can use pretty much anything you have lying around to shape your luscious bath bombs: muffin tins, plastic Easter Eggs or Christmas ornaments, cookie cutters, you name it. Roe shows you how to slice a tennis ball in half for the perfect spherical mold.

In this demonstration, we made our  favorite flavor-- orange creamsicle, using orange and vanilla essential oils. Smells so good, you'll want to gobble it up. We also added fresh oat flour for extra soothing relaxation. But you can go nuts trying various flavors and combinations of your own, adding spices, colors, decorative touches. Present your bombs in cute baskets, egg cartons, bowls, or bags. Be sure to seal and protect them so the moisture in the air doesn't destroy their fizzy powers before they hit the bath water.

This Valentine's Day, have a blast making bath bombs and spoiling your sugarpie without breaking the bank or resorting to  commercialism and clichés.  And from all of us at the King's Roost, WE LOVE YOU, TOO!

 
 
As they say, it's the thought that counts. So who are you thinking about this Valentine's Day? When looking for thoughtful ideas for your sweetheart, look no further than the Roost. We have unique, creative gifts at every price range.  Below are five of our favorites to get you thinking of ideas. Need more inspiration? Come in and check out the shop!
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# 1:  AQUADORABLE 
MINI-AQUAPONIC SYSTEM

 With a tiny footprint and no need for a power supply, this super sweet little symbiotic fish-and-plant set-up can go anyplace. You can grow herbs, flowers, even lettuce in it. A cute little betta or goldfish  feeds the plants; the plants pull nitrates and ammonia out of the water, reducing water changes and eliminating the need for a traditional filter. We have a variety of colors, designs, and sizes  to choose from, starting at $39.95.

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#2: HOMEMADE 
ORGANIC SOAP

We have tons of flavors of our own, handmade soap. We use only the purest natural ingredients. Buy a sweet-smelling bar for your honeypie. Or create a sampler pack of your favorite flavors. Or grab our recipe and supplies to make your own from scratch! $4.75 per bar.

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#3: SPROUT GARDEN

This complete sprout starter kit comes with everything you need to grow a three-tiered sprout garden in less than a week. In a few days, you'll have a bumper crop  variety of fresh, organic sprouts, and all you need to do is add water and follow the directions. You can use and re-use it over and over-- grow sprouted grains, wheat grass, seeds, and beans like lentils, mung and adzuki!  $27.95

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#4: MUSHROOM FARM

Honestly, what could be more romantic than the gift of homegrown pink oyster mushrooms? This little kit  says "I LOVE YOU" in its own unique way, with a bamboo roll of toilet paper and a sexy pack of mushroom spawn to grow your own little mushroom garden. Other mushroom varieties (even glow in the dark ones) and farms also available!  $24.95

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#5: SUCCULENT PLANTER

Why give flowers when you can give a stunning living plant that  will last for years? We have countless varieties of succulent plants, artfully arranged in one-of-a-kind pots, bowls and planters. No plastic nursery cups here-- every plant is in a beautiful container. These guys are easy to grow and maintain. Even if your love has a black thumb, he can keep one of these alive. If not, we'll replace it for free! Starting at $4 each.

No matter how you celebrate this Valentine's Day, hope it's full of love and laughs.  And check out our  blog and youtube channel on DIY Tuesday this week for even MORE gift ideas you can create yourself. 
 

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