Coffee time with my awesome Grumpy Cat mug 🙂
This is the first of a weekly series where every Friday I’ll share a tip for being eco-friendly or some environmental news. Whether it’s a DIY project or something you can do in your home I’m hoping these posts will help in simplifying and greening up your life.
Today’s eco-friendly tip:
Swap out your coffee maker to a non-electric appliance. I’m a huge fan of the French press! Most of us leave coffee makers plugged in and turned on all the time. Especially when they have a clock on them or a timer so that it makes coffee for you on schedule. I agree it does sound totally amaaaazing to wake up to fresh brewed coffee everyday but this can waste a lot of electricity. Electricity that’s not going into heating the water for your coffee. If you want to keep your old machine you could unplug it after every use. It would be better but traditional coffee makers also use paper filters and most have a heating pad underneath to keep coffee warm (another energy waster). Swapping it out completely, I think, is the most environmentally friendly choice.
Some people think that the single serving coffee makers are better since they only heat up enough for one cup but most models on the market are meant to be left on and do keep the water warm at all times. Plus don’t get me started on those disposable cups.. Worst invention ever. I recently read an article on Treehuger.com that showed that even when those little cups are recyclable (which most aren’t) most recycling centers aren’t equipped to keep them from going to the trash (due to their small size). As well as another more in depth article called Waste: The Dark Side of the New Coffee Craze. If you do opt for the single serving machines or already own one there are reusable cups available made out of wire mesh and if you always remember to turn off and unplug the machine it may be better than a regular coffee machine.
Now onto my pick. The French Press. With a French Press the only energy required is to heat up the water, which can be done in a kettle or on the stove. It has a mesh wire strainer that separates the grinds from the coffee, no paper filters required. Plus they look so fancy! The only issue I’ve had with my French Press is due to the fact that I usually buy whole beans which means I grind them at home with my magic bullet.. A technique which is far from perfect at getting a consistent grind. I normally end up with sediment in my coffee due to some of the beans having a more fine powder-like grind than others. Once I run out of the coffee beans I have on stock I want to try grinding it at the store to see if that makes a difference.
Tip: Only heat up the amount of water you need instead of wasting energy heating the full kettle.
I own the Bodum Chambord. I bought it last year and it’s still going strong even after being knocked over a couple times.
My French Press. You can see me and Shadoe in the reflection lol
There are also other options like this beautiful Chemex:
photo from Chemexcoffeemaker.com
Also when selecting coffee beans try to buy as local as possible, even if that just means locally roasted and fair trade! I love Kicking Horse coffee. They use fair-trade, organic, shade-grown and bird friendly (insert many other environmentally friendly sounding terms, just kidding..) sources for their beans. It’s roasted here in canada and they support the Nature Conservatory of Canada. Yay. Plus it’s delicious.
Hope you all have a wonderful Friday and pre-Halloween weekend!
So I’ve been pretty stressed out about work lately. The can’t relax but exhausted, can’t shut your brain off kind of stress that is ridiculously unhealthy. In my home life stress is never really an issue. Shadoe and I are both very go with the flow people. We don’t fight about little things around the house or worry about money. In fact I love being home, it’s probably the most stress-free environment possible. Except for when I can’t seem to leave work problems at work. I used to be able to come home and completely switch off my brain from anything work related and just be at home. I really need to get back to that. I was having bad headaches for over a month and finally went to the doctor. I left with a prescription for massages and a diagnosis of stress headaches. The massage therapist I went to confirmed that I was way, way too tense and gave me some tips for relaxing. I knew it was really getting to be a problem when I had to call in sick twice in two weeks, spent my days off exhausted and feeling terrible, was becoming less and less productive at work, and started abandoning yoga videos after 10 minutes cause I just couldn’t get past this overwhelming feeling of stress. The more I got stressed out the less I wanted to do anything to alleviate that stress. Not to mention I noticed myself making bad food choices and not wanting to cook.
I finally decided that I just can’t do it anymore. So stating today project de-stress is commencing. I guess downsizing went along with that as well since I always get a sense of freedom from getting rid of stuff. I recently read “Finding Ultra” by Rich Roll and then watched “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” last night on Netflix. They both had one thing in common. Diet changes leading to an increase of energy, which lead to an increase in exercise, which relieves stress and tension. So this morning I got up earlier than usual and instead of lazing about for the first hour or so I made a green smoothie and went for a run. Then I did a quick yoga class on yogaglo. Finally I felt that sense of calm returning, slowly, not quite 100% but it’s a start. Next I cooked some chickpeas and made hummus for a healthier lunch at work. Then I snuggled up in some comfy blankets and had a nap before getting ready for my nightshift. Before heading to work I made sure to eat a healthy “breakfast” of oatmeal. For the first time in a long time I actually felt okay heading to work instead of the usual “ugh I do not want to be here” feeling I’ve had lately. Maybe I can turn things around just by changing my thought process and making better food choices. I guess we’ll see!
Also today is the one year anniversary of my blog! It looks a lot different than it did one year ago!
My happy place. I want to go back!
Do you have any tips or ideas for dealing with stress?
I just had to share this article from Treehugger.com this is one of the reasons I refuse to eat chicken or eggs not from my own birds.
“Chickens out-perform toddlers in math tests
The most recent outbreak of salmonella has got people talking a lot about poultry. With chicken still being shipped out of Foster Farms, the contaminated factory in California, and put onto supermarket shelves, it’s clearer than ever that consumers need to take responsibility for the quality and safety of the meat they consume (if they choose to eat meat at all). The industry only cares about itself. As Mark Bittman wrote last week in the New York Times, ‘This is not a shutdown issue, but a “We care more about industry than we do about consumers” issue.’
The reasons to buy high quality, ethically raised chicken go beyond the risk of salmonella. In an article titled “Are Chicks Brighter Than Babies?” Nicholas Kristof challenges the inhumane way in which most poultry is raised. Perhaps it’s harder to feel sympathy for a clucking, pecking hen than it is for a brown-eyed calf, but chickens and geese are truly fascinating creatures. While reading the following list, you’d think I’m talking about monkeys, not hens and geese.
- Geese mate for life, share family duties, and even try to comfort each other when approaching the chopping block.
- Hens can count at least to six. Even chicks can do basic arithmetic, so if you shuffle five items in a game, they mentally keep track of additions and subtractions and choose the area with the higher number of items. They do better than toddlers in these tests.
- Hens can delay gratification. Researchers gave hens the choice of two keys, one that waited two seconds and gave the hen 3 seconds of food, and the other that waited six seconds but offered 22 seconds of food. Soon 93 percent of hens opted for the longer delay with more food.
- Hens can multitask, using one eye to forage for food and the other looking out for predators.
- Hens are social animals and recover more quickly from stress when in the company of others.
- Hens have a “Machiavellian tendency” to adjust what they’re saying according to who’s listening. They can share precise information about the location of food and presence of predators using specific sounds and calls.
- Hens have an intriguing ability to understand that an object, when taken away and hidden, continues to exist.
- Hens can also recognize a whole object even when it is partly hidden. It was thought only humans could do this.
I’m not tackling the basic question of whether or not to eat meat, but I’m sure we can all agree that animals should not be hurt unnecessarily. These are not “birdbrains” that we’re dealing with, but intelligent creatures who do not deserve to spend their lives “jammed into tiny cages in stinking, fetid barns.” If our consumer habits are creating horrible environments for animals in captivity, then those habits need to change.”
© Katherine Martinko
My old chickens enjoying a treat of Saskatoon berries.
My vegan cheese making book “Artisan Vegan Cheese” By Miyoko Schinner came in the mail a couple weeks ago and I couldn’t wait to try out the recipes. Some are very complicated and require weeks from start to finished product while others are instant cheeses or cheese sauces for everyday use. There are quite a few strange ingredients that I had to pick up before my cheese experimentation could commence. I’ve located most of them so far. I found Agar powder, nutritional yeast, xanatham gum and tapioca flour in the local health food store but I have yet to find carrageenan, vital wheat gluten and a couple other ingredients I’ll need to be able to make any recipe in the book.
I decided to start with the most basic recipe which was cashew cheese. It’s the base for a lot of the other cheeses in the book as well. To make the cashew cheese you first have to make rejuvelac, a probiotic liquid made from fermenting sprouted grains, which will serve as a culturing agent for the cheese. Once that’s done (it takes a few days) you just soak some cashews, add salt, blend it all together and let it sit on the counter for a couple days to culture. I think I may have left my cheese out on the counter for a little too long.. I kind of forgot about it for about 3-4 days so it developed a very strong flavor. At first taste I thought wow this is really cheesy. Although the flavor wasn’t like any cheese I’ve ever had before it tasted tangy and creamy like an exotic cheese. I had it on a sandwich and it was pretty good, not fantastic, but still added a cream cheese like taste and texture. I wanted to add in a bunch of herbs and spices to make the boursin cheese. It uses the basic cashew cheese as a base but reading the recipe it afterwards it said not to let the cheese culture for too long so I want to wait to try another batch which hopefully wont taste as strong. Over time I hope I can hone my cheese making skills by using various grains to make the rejuvelac (I’m guessing each would produce a slightly different flavor) and find a vegan cheese that’s a knockout. I’m excited to try some of the instant cheese recipes as well!
On a different note we just spent the past week trying to downsize. I had always prided myself in only owning enough stuff to fit in my car but over the past few years that we’ve been living together Shadoe and I have started to accumulate quite a bit of stuff.. We decided to nip it in the butt and take action before the winter sets in. A majority of the furniture we have was picked up in a hurry from thrift stores and yard sales and selected more for purpose than anything else. That means a lot of it is not exactly what I want for our home. This weekend the town we live near was hosting a “reuse it or lose it” event where everyone from the county can bring in all their unwanted stuff and other people can come take what they need. At the end of the weekend the town will drop off all the unwanted items at local charities, thrift stores or take it to the dump depending on the items and their condition. We decided to take advantage of the event and get rid of all the furniture and stuff we don’t want and let someone else use it. That way we can either replace the items we weren’t completely happy with or realize that we didn’t really need all those things after all. This will also help us out when we have to move in the future. We loaded up the trailer and within 5 minutes of arriving at the drop off our trailer had been emptied by people in need of those items. It was amazing to see and a win win for everyone.
We’ve also been slowly going through all of our stuff and getting rid of things we don’t use often enough. Last month I finally separated with clothes that I had been hanging on to for over 6 years mostly due to sentimental reasons. I was sad to see some items go but now that they’re gone I honestly haven’t thought about it. There really is no use keeping old clothes you no longer wear just for the memories. Next we moved onto books, cds, and other stuff we’ve collected. It’s taking a long time to sort through everything but every time we do we end up with less and less in the keep piles and more to give away. Already our tiny house is looking less cluttered and it feels really good. Now to clean up and reorganize after a weekend of tearing the house apart.. Good thing I still have another day off from work!
I’m not quite sure how many parts there are going to be to my preserving adventures saga.. I feel like I’m getting hooked! There are just so many things that you can preserve. Yet even though having a pantry full of homemade pickled goods, sauces and jams sounds amazing I’m trying to stick to things that we eat on a regular basis. Last year I pickled some string beans but since I’d only ever eat them in a Caesar (a Canadian drink similar to a bloody mary not the salad) they just sat there all year until I finally just got rid of them so I could reuse the jars. To be honest they didn’t turn out very well either, kind of mushy, so I’m trying to be a little more cautious when canning this time around. I also made a bunch of raspberry jam last summer and although I gave a lot away the jars I kept sat there for a long time. We did finally use it all up but now I know that in my household we just do not consume a lot of jam.
Tomato sauce, pickles and salsa on the other hand.. It’s hard to keep those things in stock! Which brings me to my next canning adventure.. Salsa! The process was similar to making the tomato sauce but a lot less work. I still had to blanch and peel the tomatoes but once that was done you just dice them and throw them into a large pot with all the other ingredients and let it boil for 15 mins. That’s it. For my salsa I looked at a few different recipes but eventually ended up creating my own. I like salsa to be chunky and taste super fresh with not too much seasoning. This is what I came up with:
Sara’s Fresh Chunky Salsa
- 35-40 Roma Tomatoes
- 5 Assorted Peppers (I used green, yellow and orange)
- 3 med sized onions
- 5-7 Jalapenos depending on size and how spicy you want it.
- 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ C apple cider vinegar
- ½ C lemon juice
- 1 can tomato paste 156ml or 5.5oz
- 1 TBs salt
- 1 TBs fresh ground pepper
- Blanch and peel tomatoes then dice and add to large pot
- Chop and add the rest of the ingredients. I used a food processor for the jalapenos to get them super finely chopped.
- Bring to a boil over med heat and let cook for 15 mins.
I had a little salsa leftover that didn’t fit into the jars and so far it got good reviews. Hmm what to can next… My vegan cheese came out pretty good too. I’ll post an update on that later this week 🙂
Nuri enjoying the fall weather!
I’m finally getting around to sharing my canning adventures! My past two weekends have been spent in the kitchen prepping, cooking, and attempting to make some preservatives for the winter. I ordered 10lbs of pickling cucumbers, dill, garlic, and 40lbs of canning tomatoes from my local organic box. The first weekend I did up my pickles. It was really pretty easy! I followed some online instructions and it literally only took about 30 mins for all my pickles (five 1L jars). I found a ton of different ways to make dill pickles from fermenting them first to super easy fridge pickles but I settled on a canning recipe. Maybe I’ll try a different method next year, depending on how these turn out.. The recipe/instructions I followed is here. Making pickles is definitely something I want to do every year, hopefully with my own home-grown cucumbers next year! I can’t wait to taste them. Seeing them sitting on the counter everyday yet having to wait a whole month to eat them is probably the worst part of doing it at home.
All my cukes. Washed and ready!
The jars looked so pretty with just the dill and garlic in them.
Finished pickles! Waiting to be eaten..
Next up was homemade tomato sauce. My friend is Italian and every year at the end of the summer her mom, and pretty much entire neighborhood, spend days upon days making enough tomato sauce to last for the entire year. We got the recipe from her mom and set to work. This was much more labour intensive than the pickles.. We set up stations in her kitchen for each step. The first station was for rinsing the tomatoes and prepping them for blanching then the blanching station (a pot of boiling water and a pot of ice water). Next was the peeling station where the skins were removed from all the tomatoes. After that came the blending station and finally the cooking station. It took us 5 hours the first night to finish cooking most of the tomato sauce and get about half of the sauce into jars and those jars processed. After about a half day total of work we finished with 12 500ml jars each. Not too bad for our first time! I tested out an unsealed jar that night on spaghetti and it was delicious. I can’t wait to try it out for pizza too!
Finished tomato sauce. We also added fresh basil leaves to each jar. Yum.
Next on my list for home made food is salsa and vegan cheese. So far I’ve got some sprouted grains fermenting as a starter liquid for my cheese. Hopefully that will be ready to use either today or tomorrow. It’s such a satisfying feeling making everything from scratch. A lot of work but so worth it!