Monthly Archives: November 2012

Freegans and “Leftover Soup”.

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Leftover Soup

At least once a week, usually near the end, I gather all the leftovers in my fridge and try to come up with some kind of meal out of it all. Sometimes we have what we call “leftover days” where all we eat are the random foods from the fridge that look like they won’t last much longer. Other times I whip up a casserole or more frequently a pot of  “leftover soup”. I was prepared to write a short post to share my most recent recipe for “leftover soup” when I stumbled upon an Edmonton Journal article on Freeganism.

I’m guessing that most people, like me, have no idea what this term means. Freeganism is a cross between “free” and “vegan” and people to practice freeganism are typically anti-consumers, yet not necessarily vegans, in the sense that some will eat animal products. This article discussed a few local freegans who dumpster dive for their food, personal hygiene products, clothes, etc. The philosophy behind freeganism is based on taking only what you need and sharing as much as possible with others. It’s actually a pretty neat idea! Think of the sheer volume of waste that our consumerism society produces and how some of this waste can be diverted from landfills and used to feed and cloth so many people.. Simply by jumping in a dumpster and retrieving the thrown out goods. At first it sounds gross, dirty and the idea of eating something that comes out of a dumpster is pretty unappealing. That being said I’m sure if you put two cans of soup next to each other there would be no way of knowing which one came from a dumpster and which one was purchased in the store. A lot of grocery stores will throwout perfectly good food just because they need to make room for a new shipment of stock or it’s getting close to the best before date. Meaning that a lot of the food in the dumpster is perfectly good! 

It’s really frustrating to me when you hear people talk about conventional farming vs. organic farming methods and you always hear the same argument: organic farming cannot feed the world. It’s such a nonsensical argument. Clearly we have more than enough food to feed the world as it is. Seeing how obesity is fast becoming one of, if not the biggest health problem in North America I think a simple conclusion to draw is that we have too much food. I’ve heard stats that up to 2/3 of the food produced in North America ends up in the landfill and that’s not talking about food scraps or parts you can’t eat, it’s talking about wasted food. Food produced and not eaten before it goes bad. At first that number seems a little unrealistic but when you think about all the steps along the way where food gets wasted it becomes a little more believable. The grocery stores are throwing away food that doesn’t get purchased, the restaurants are throwing away massive amounts of food that doesn’t get eaten, or was incorrectly prepared. Which reminds me of the last time I ate out and they accidently put bacon on my pizza even though I had asked for it without. If you’re a vegetarian for environmental reasons it makes more sense to either eat the bacon, or pick it off and give it to a friend, than it does for them to take it back and make a new one throwing out your perfectly good meal. Then there are all the individuals who purchase way more food than their family can possibly eat and most of it ends up in the garbage. Considering all these different levels of waste 2/3 seems like a reasonable number. Whenever I’m making a meal I try to survey the fridge first then find a recipe that will use up something about to go bad. I try to buy less and make more trips to the grocery store. If something does still go a little bad, the chickens are always willing to eat it up, or I can compost it for use in my garden.

Although I think Freeganism is a great concept and I applaud those brave enough to follow the practice, it doesn’t bode well for only eating organic products. More likely the products you find in the dumpster would be over processed, and full of chemicals, not exactly what I want to put in my body. Yet the anti-consumerism at it’s core is exactly how we try to live our life. Buy only what you need, secondhand if possible, spend less, live below your means and eat “leftover soup”!  

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Leftover Soup

Approx. 8 servings

  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 1/2 red pepper, minced
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 vegetable bouillon cube
  • 3-4 med sized potatoes
  • Any leftovers from the week – I had some broccoli with cheese sauce, plain wild rice, some wilted spinach, fajita bison strips, and some vegan cheese about to go bad.
  • 1 cup milk
  • Salt and Pepper

This recipe is super easy and little to no mess other than your pot.

  1. Add onion, red pepper and butter to large pot, cook on med until onion is browned.
  2. Add water, bouillon cube and potatoes (plus any other uncooked veggies you want to add). Let simmer on med until potatoes are soft, 10-15 mins.
  3. Once potatoes are cooked add all your leftovers and milk for a creamy consistency. Bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and serve! 

Hopefully this simple recipe can help reduce waste in your household too! =)  

Vegetarian & bison fajitas, snowstorms, and my fantasy of a reusable container only world.

Fajitas with all the fixin’s!

It’s winter!!

Outside our kitchen window! First big snowfall of the year =)

It seems like the snow is here to stay for good. I thought, with the warm spell the past couple days, all the snow might melt away and we’d have a late winter this year. Alas, waking up to blizzard like conditions this morning proved me wrong. Fortunately, I love snow days. I love looking outside to see everything covered in white fluffy snow, or peeking out the window and not being able to see through the wall of white on the other side. I love opening the door to a foot (sometimes two) of snow and that giddy feeling of being snowed in. I personally think that the world should slow down on these days, and on the very bad days, everything should be closed. I think work should be cancelled on snow days as well as classes! It would be nice if we could all take this time to stay home and do nothing with our families. No running to the store, no doing errands and no working.

Wouldn’t that be awesome, getting up and sitting by the radio in the morning in anticipation of your work being cancelled for the day. Listening while they call out local businesses and waiting/hoping yours will be on the list. That used to be the most amazing feeling as a child. Sitting in your pajamas, fingers crossed, in front of the radio for your county to be called. Then an unbelievable rush of excitement and freedom! The whole day to go play outside in the snow! Snow forts, snowmen, snowball fights, snow days were the best! It’d be nice to get that feeling back every once in a while. It would also mean a lot less drivers out on terrible roads, panicking that they won’t make it to work on time and a lot less fatal crashes because of it..

My cute Teaopia ceramic travel mug, it has a removable metal screen for loose teas which I love!

There is an upside to leaving the house on a snow day.. Peppermint Mochas! I love the mix of creamy chocolate, delicious sinus clearing peppermint and caffeine! I also think it’s super important that when getting a coffee shop drink you bring your own mug. Honestly if I opened a coffee shop we would only serve people with travel mugs. Well maybe you could have a punch card and every 10 drinks you were allowed one cup for those times when you forgot, broke, or lost your mug. Or if rewarding good behaviour didn’t work what if we punished/publicly chastised people.. oh you were too lazy to bring your mug today.. Well that’ll be an extra $3 for your coffee and then a loud speaker would announce how many strikes you had against you (for repeat offenders). Imagine if the whole world did this. If we made it a hassle for people to pollute the earth. Or we made it expensive. Imagine if everywhere you went you needed to bring your own containers, or you rent the container and bring it back. No more millions of plastic bags/containers in the landfill, or worse, the ocean.. I recently heard of a gas station where you can fill up your windshield wiper fluid at the gas pump. How awesome is that? That would eliminate thousands and thousands of those plastic jugs just by doing something so simple as having a pump for that fluid as well.

Okay so I kind of got off topic for a little bit.. Watching all the people who frequently stop at coffee shops and who know they will be stopping but do not bring their own mug makes me a little insane. I try to stick to my rule of if I didn’t bring a travel mug I don’t get a delicious coffee. I’d say this self inflicted guilt trick works 99% of the time, and ensures that I always try to bring a travel mug and refillable water bottle everywhere I go. No need to mention that I have a huge bag for stashing all my necessities.

In lieu of the cold weather I decided to warm things up with a spicy meal! Homemade fajitas! Complete with handmade tortillas, locally made salsa/hot sauce and seasoned bison steak strips for my boyfriend.

I always think that everything in the kitchen takes about 5 minutes when in reality it’s usually more like 10 or 15.. Therefore sometimes I do not start prepping things for dinner until way too late (thinking it’ll only take me 5 mins to make these tortillas, 5 mins to chop all the fillings, 5 mins to cook it, and 2 mins to make guacamole..). This was one of these nights. Which also meant I was scrambling to cook tortillas, chop up veggies and prep toppings all at the same time. Disaster. I overcooked most of my tortillas, making them very brittle. Nuking them right before eating seemed to help a little.

All in all the meal turned out great! Spicy, savory, fresh, these fajitas had it all. It was also extremely filling. We both only ate one each. We still had leftovers for lunch the next day and the birds got some tortillas too. I’m sure they were glad for the non snow-covered meal.

Blue Kettle Tomato Salsa and Get Sauced Screamin’ Pequin Hot Sauce – Both made locally with real ingredients! No crazy chemicals here.

Close up of all the fajita fillings!

Healthy Homemade Tortillas:

Makes 12

by kgsoutherncomfort on September 8, 2009 in Breads, Homemade Ingredients, Quick BreadsSee this recipe post on kgsoutherncomfort’s site!

  • 3 cups Organic, Unbleached Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • ½ teaspoons Baking Powder
  • ⅓ cups Canola Oil (or your favorite organic oil)
  • 1 cup Hot Water
  1. Mix the flour, salt, and baking powder with a whisk. Add the canola oil and mix with your fingers until all the oil is incorporated and the mixture looks like fine crumbs. Add 1 cup of hot water and mix until a ball is formed. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for about 30 minutes. (I have also refrigerated it overnight).
  2. Divide the dough into 12 balls and roll out one at a time on a floured surface. Brush off excess flour. Cook on a hot, ungreased griddle over medium-high heat. Turn the tortilla when brown blisters form on the first side. Stack the totillas and serve warm.

Next for the fajitas we’ll need some spicy fillings! I used red/yellow bell peppers, onion, and bison steak. I cooked mine separately, so I wouldn’t have to pick out the bison but I’ll post the recipe for making it together.

Fajita Seasoned Bison and Veggies:

  • 1 lg onion
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 Tb oil
  • ½ lb bison steak, sliced
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Sauté garlic and onion in oil until garlic browns (2-3 mins).
  2. Add bison and brown on all sides. Add peppers and spices.
  3. Cook until veggies are soft and bison is med-well done (or however you prefer).

Fajita toppings! Time to grate the cheese, chop the lettuce and cilantro, spoon out some salsa and sour cream, open a can of organic refried beans, and whip up some guac! Did I mention that I started my meal way too late and by the end my stomach growling took precedence over fresh guacamole, also my avocado was not quite ripe enough when I sliced into it. =( Tragedy.. For those of you who want to go all the way with this recipe and who started cooking their supper at a reasonable time I love to make fresh guacamole so I’m including a super quick recipe I like to use!

Quick Guacamole:

  • 1 large ripe avocado
  • ½ cup tomato salsa
  • 1-2 tsp fresh lime juice
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  1. Mix everything in a bowl, mash, serve! Super quick and easy!

*Recipe adapted from quick guacamole on http://www.eatingwell.com

Sweet & Salty, and Salt & Vinegar Flavored Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

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My alien pumpkin!

Halloween is probably my favorite holiday of the year. I love to dress up and carve pumpkins and of course all the candy that goes along with this fabulous day. I’m very sad that it’s all over for another year but one thing that can be celebrated post halloween is all the leftover pumpkin seeds! I stole this idea from my cousin. He made sweet cayenne pepper seeds and honey roasted seeds. I’ve had a few bad experiences adding cayenne pepper to recipes (I always add too much) so I opted for sweet & salty and salt & vinegar instead!

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Pumpkin seeds to go! In my homemade reusable snack bags!

Roasted pumpkin seeds are so quick and easy to make but they’re also a yummy healthy snack, great for on the go too. I packed some of these into a reusable snack bag for a mid morning treat.

Once you’ve got all the seeds separated and rinsed lay them out on a baking tray. Sprinkle some salt and oil over top and throw them in the oven. I baked mine at 350 for 10 mins then lowered the heat to 275 for another 15 and they turned out perfect! Seeing how flavoring them was an afterthought I added my seasonings after they were baked and threw them back in the oven for another 10 mins. I think this is the best way to do them though cause you don’t want the honey getting burnt.

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Mmmm yummy roasted pumpkin seeds!

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My Heloi rice bran oil. I like to buy organic oils so I know they are GMO free. Plus they just taste better than plain old canola oil.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds:

  • 3 cups rinsed pumpkin seeds
  • 2 Tbs your favorite oil ( I used organic rice bran oil)
  • A generous pinch of sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350   
  2. Spread seeds onto large baking sheet
  3. Sprinkle with oil and salt
  4. Cook for 10 mins, reduce heat to 275 and cook for an additional 10-15mins

Once you’ve got your Roasted Pumpkin seeds cooked you can add all kinds of fun seasonings. I divided mine into 3 different flavors: Original, Sweet & Salty, and Salt & Vinegar.

Sweet & Salty:

  • 1 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • pinch sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Melt 1/4 cup honey and drizzle over roasted pumpkin seeds on a baking pan. Add a little more salt if desired. 
  3. Cook for 10 mins or until honey starts bubbling. Cool for 10 mins and serve.

Salt & Vinegar:

  • 1 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar (or any vinegar of your choice) 
  • pinch sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Drizzle vinegar over roasted seeds on a baking pan. Add additional salt if desired. 
  3. Cook for 10 mins or until vinegar is evaporated. 

I just separated my seeds into 3 sections on my original baking sheet and added the flavourings. The Sweet & Salty are my favorite so far and I’m considering turning the rest of my original ones into more Sweet & Salty!

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Sweet & Salty on the left, Original, and Salt & Vinegar on the right.

Enjoy!   

Chickens and Hedgehogs and Kittens! Oh My!

I LOVE animals! Pretty much all animals, even the creepy crawlies. I’ve been known to stop and admire a spider chillin in a corner of our house instead of freaking out and killing it. I’ve never been scared of bugs, or mice, or snakes, they all seem cool to me. As a kid I remember my grade primary teacher getting mad when she found my “pet worms” in the pocket of my raincoat. Or the time when I ran over a snake with my bike and decided I wanted to keep it, found a cage, and fed him ants for a week. Over the years I’ve had many many different pets. A garter snake, hundreds of different frogs, tadpoles, fish, a salamander, gerbils, cats, and even a dog for a few months. For about a week I even kept a bumble bee in a mason jar and used to let it sit on my finger (no lie, I have pictures to prove it!). Shadoe was the same as a kid and always had at least one cat and/or dog and usually a lizard too. So it’s no surprise that after moving in together we started slowly collecting animals. Our dream is to one day have a cute little hobby farm with chickens, pot bellied pigs, maybe some sheep or goats and of course a cat and dog. So really, we’re just getting experience for the future!

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Baby Mr. Hedgie being shy his first few days at his new home.

Mr. Hedgehog was the first pet we acquired. We were living in an apartment in the city so we knew we wanted something small that could stay in a cage. I had read online that you can litter train hedgehogs and let them roam free in your apartment, but no matter how hard we tried our hedgie was untrainable. We’ve done some cool stuff with him over the past year. I built a big maze and tried to train him to run it for worms, his favorite treat, but he never really got the hang of it and tended to curl up and sleep instead.. We built him a paper mache house and eventually a platform making his cage two stories. We still let him out to run around so he doesn’t get bored always in his cage but he usually just hides. Hedgehogs are kind of a strange pet, and I don’t know if I’d recommend them for everyone. Even though they can learn who you are and not to be scared all the time they still have a strong fear of predators. Which includes you in their eyes. Any sudden movements or loud sounds and they curl up into a ball and have to be coaxed back out. You need to be very patient with them and let them do things on their terms.  That being said Mr. Hedgehog is absolutely the cutest thing ever and can be very amusing to watch. Hedgehogs self anoint meaning they like to chew up something that smells good to them, foam it, and spread it all over their quills which is hilarious to watch. Giving them treats is also fun. Mr. Hedgehog loves carrots, cheese, banana pancakes, and most importantly WORMS! He gobbles them up as quick as you can dig them out.

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Checking out his new digs, just in time as he out grew his old house.

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Lazy lazy hedgehog..

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Photo shoot. He’s not the best subject, kept running away to explore.

Once we moved out to the acreage we added a kitten to our collection. Being out in the country there are lots of wild cats all around, and on our property, and that means lots of kittens! I had found one litter sleeping in some insulation when we went to clean out the chicken coop. They all had eye infections, probably from insulation getting in them so I took them home and washed their eyes out every day. My friend suggested I give them some antibiotics since they weren’t clearing up on their own and it looked like they may loose their eyesight. I gave them a tiny dose and put them back in the old barn where the mom had moved them to. Then they disappeared. I was so sad, and thought I had killed them somehow for months (eventually we spotted all of them grown up, I was so relieved!). The next day when I went out to check on them there were different kittens sleeping in their spot! A tortoiseshell calico and an orange tabby. I instantly fell in love with the little calico who I knew from my genetics courses had to be a girl. Thinking the other kittens were dead and that she would probably die too if left out there I stole her from the barn! The first two days were terrible she cried and cried and wanted her mama. I almost put her back so many times but now I’m so happy that I didn’t! We named her Nuri and she was the cutest, tiniest little ball of fur and energy. Mr. Hedgehog and Nuri actually get along a lot better than we thought they would. He pretty much ignores her and goes about his business and she just likes to watch him since she learned he’s prickly to touch. Almost every day I end up laughing so hard at something Nuri’s doing. She’s super smart and even learned to play fetch! Pets in general just make life so much more enjoyable and I couldn’t imagine not having her now.

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Baby Nuri

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She grew up so fast! A month after taking her home.

Last but not least.. The Chickens! I’ve got 6 of them, rescued from battery cages. When I picked them up I couldn’t believe the environment they lived in.. it reeked of ammonia in the large barn with no outside light coming in and there were 5-6 chickens crammed into each tiny cage. Almost all of them missing feathers, all of them looking ragged and terrified. When I brought them home they were so scared of me. The first time they ever went outside they did so very cautiously and walking very funny, lifting their legs up way too high. It was super funny to watch them running around and rolling in the dirt and pecking everything. They love it outside now! Being layers they lay about 5-6 eggs every day! I give a dozen to my landlords for letting us use their old chicken coop and the rest that we don’t use go to friends when they visit or the neighbours. I love hanging out with the chickens now. If I’m in a bad mood, I just go over there and watching them always makes me smile. They’ve gotten so used to me now that when I go into the coop I call out “here chickens” and they all come running! I usually bring treats with me when I visit and a few of them have gotten so comfortable with me that they will “sit” in front of me and let me pet them or pick them up. I can’t wait until one day when we have our own land and I can have a big chicken coop and chicken garden for them.

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Everybody drinking water, and a messy coop..

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Escaped from the front door! They’re pretty easy to round up though.

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Their first day outside. Rolling around in the dirt. You can see how they’re missing a lot of feathers. They’ve grown in quite a bit now.