Tag Archives: secondhand

Homemade vegan cheese and downsizing

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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!

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10 Tips for going green in the New Year!

Here’s my 10 tips for going green in the New Year! We started out slow, making changes as we could. In the end it’s all about doing things that you’re comfortable with and that you’ll actually commit to doing long term!

1) Don’t use disposable items! This one is huge, and can make a big difference. This one also covers a lot of bases. By disposable items I mean plastic grocery bags, paper/Styrofoam coffee cups (both from shops and at work), bottled water, coffee filters, feminine products, etc. Instead invest in some quality reusable items, maybe a couple of each if you think you won’t remember to bring them with you. One for at work or stashed in your car and one at home!  After a while it becomes second nature to always have these things on you.  Some reusable items I like to use: A good metal water canteen, canvas grocery bags (there are some really cute ones on Etsy and I also have compact bag I keep in my purse at all times for general shopping), a travel mug / thermos, for feminine products check out the Diva cup and cloth liners.

2) Buy local, organic, non processed food! Sign up for a food delivery service if available. Buying local not only helps the economy it’s also great for the environment seeing how your food isn’t being shipped around the world. Buying organic food is important for reducing not only the toxins in your body but also reduces the amount of pesticides, herbicides, and synthetic fertilizers being used. If you can’t afford to buy all organic produce print out a wallet sized copy of “the dirty dozen”, a list of the foods with the highest and lowest concentrations of pesticide.  Buying non-processed foods with minimal ingredients is also important not only for your health but also the environment. The plants producing these foods use up a lot of resources, energy and normally use GMO corn and soy, which has had few, if any independent food safety studies.

3) EAT LESS MEAT! This is seriously so important. On so many levels.. The environmental impact of the meat industry is insane, (click here to read an article in scientific american). Not to mention most of the meat on the market is produced inhumanely, full of hormones and antibiotics. Reducing your meat consumption is probably the number one way to make an impact on the environment and it’s healthier for you! I’ll be posting lots of yummy vegetarian recipes throughout the year so hopefully you and your family can commit to at the very least Meatless Mondays!

4) Stop buying everything brand new. This one is also great for your wallet! Check kijiji, craigslist, freecycle, or any other local website that allows users to sell, swap, or give away items! I also like to frequent local thrift stores whenever there is something I need. If I can find it at the thrift store I usually save at least half the cost.

5) Obviously follow reduce, reuse, recycle! I try to reduce waste by buying products with minimal packaging and I don’t use those plastic produce bags for my produce (I never really understood them anyways). I also try to buy products in glass containers over plastic ones so I’ll be able to reuse them in my pantry. I also wash any yogurt or other plastic containers and keep them for storing stuff later. Finally Recycle. Set up bags for recyclables, compost, and bottles to be returned for cash. It’s really not that much extra work once you get in the habit and as a bonus you won’t need to change your garbage as frequently.

6) Stop throwing away all your old items. Someone else may have a use for that old toaster, or your unwanted clothes. Instead donate them to a local secondhand store, as long as it’s in decent condition they’ll be happy to take it off your hands and it saves these items from the landfill.

7) Invest in quality items. When you’re purchasing things for your home, or clothes, shoes etc make sure you’re buying good quality products. They last longer, can be repaired instead of thrown away, and in the long run replacing cheap items will actually cost you more than investing in more expensive ones. Also, if possible try to shop more locally, at little shops in your town rather than big chains. Or look on Etsy! You can find some great homemade products there!

Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps! They also make all kinds of other great bath products.

8) Use environmentally friendly products in your home! For cleaning supplies I started making my own using simple ingredients like vinegar, essential oils, borax and Dr. Bronner’s magic soaps.  I even made my own laundry and bath soap, so much cheaper! If you’re not into making your own soaps there are lots of other environmentally friendly options. Just check at your local “green” store. I also love Lush soaps but they’re pretty pricey!

9) Try to stop using energy draining appliances like dishwashers and dryers. I find dishwashers never really get dishes as clean as hand washing anyways. Instead just hand wash all your dishes and let them air dry. If there are lots of people in your family take turns or have one person wash and one dry after meals. Instead of drying your clothes set up a clothesline or dryer rack. Clothes smell amazing after being dried outside in the summer and for the winter months I set up a clothesline in my basement.

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The first seedling to appear in my garden last summer!

10) Start a garden! Planting a garden is so rewarding! Yeah it’s a lot of work, but when you get to eat free food that you produced it’s totally worth it! Plus now you have somewhere to use all your compost and you’re helping produce oxygen! Win win!

Hopefully these tips will help you start making little changes in your life in order to live more sustainably! Let me know what other tips/tricks you’ve picked up along the way =)