Archive for August, 2007

Greening My Kitchen(ware)

kitchenware.jpg

No, I’m not painting my kitchen green…though that might be a nice change. I have been working to replace many of my not-so-environmentally friendly kitchen items with items that are more “green” and healthier for my friends, family, community, and ultimately the earth. This is an ongoing process as I am not greening my kitchen overnight. I’m scouring local thrift stores for second-hand alternatives and at the same time purging the unhealthy items as I go.

Cookware
The first to go was all my Teflon™ coated pans. Why oh why were these in my house in the first place???

It has been reported as far back as 1997 that tetrafluroethylene – a major component in Teflon™ – causes “carcinogenic activity” in rats and mice. Apparently this chemical doesn’t leach into foods from cookware but to be on the safe side I am getting it out of my kitchen. You can read more about this here.

I am moving to cast iron for my cookware. I have found a few second hand cast iron pans and love them. Don’t be scared by the idea of having to season your pan, it’s actually really easy. For my baking needs I am moving to glass dishes such as these new ones and these great vintage ones.

Glass, stainless steel, and cast iron are all tried and true for safety. In fact, cast iron can add needed iron to your diet.

Reusable Kitchenware
Durable, reusable and longlasting kitchenware will significantly reduce my consumption of resources saving us a great deal of money (getting items second-hand only adds to this cost savings). The following are some ideas for reusable and longlasting items to use instead of disposable kitchenware:

  • Reusable Coffee Filters – I love my reusable filter that I have been using for over 6 years. Yes, it gets washed. Paired with my favourite organic fair trade coffee makes for a great morning ritual.
  • Cloth towels and napkins – I’ve mentioned this one before. To cut down on excessive washing we share one napkin (the family napkin) during casual dinners with the hubby and little one. When we have guests everyone is offered there own.
  • Glass baking dishes – I’ve found a number of these at my local thrift store.
  • Cloth bags for shopping – don’t forget to take your produce bags too!
  • Reusable lunch and water containers – Love the laptop lunch bento box and Kleen Kanteen for the little one. I am enjoying my Sigg water bottle.
  • Glass or stainless storage containers – I’m working on replacing my vast Tupperware collection with glass storage containers and stainless steel bowls with lids
  • Rechargeable Household Batteries – are there any other kind!

Any other suggestions or ideas for me?

August 29, 2007 at 9:18 pm 2 comments

Adventures in Canning

peaches.jpg

In an effort to eat as local as possible and savour the bounty of summer well into winter, I’ve been picking, purchasing and preserving large amounts of my favourite fruits. I’ve made strawberry jam, blueberry/raspberry jam and today my neighbour and I canned 40 lbs of peaches (20 lbs each).

The How:

1 – You can use a “syrup” to can the peaches or you can simply use water. Sugar has no preserving qualities and is used mainly for taste. I decided to use a very light sugar syrup. To 6 cups of water add 2 cups of sugar (yes this is the light version!). Heat to simmering. Next year I would like to try a honey based syrup.

2 – Wash peaches while you boil water in a large pot, enough water to cover a the peaches. Reduce water to a simmer after it boils.

3 – Dunk the peaches in the hot water for 20 – 45 seconds. Move them into a bowl of ice water. Skins will come right off after they cool for a few more seconds.

4 – Cut and pit peaches into whatever size you would like.

5 – Hopefully you have started your canner water to boil and washed your jars. If you haven’t, now is the time. Simmer the jar lids and rings, then cover and set aside. Scald the quart jars in the boiling canner water or run them through the dish washer.

6 – Pack your peach slices into the jars as tightly as possible, leaving about 1/2 inch of space at the top.

7 – Using a ladle or large spoon, fill the jar with the syrup to ½” of the jar top.

8 – Using a small spatula, try to remove as many air bubbles as possible from the jar. Slide the spatula down the sides of the jar to remove the bubbles.

9 – Remove a ring and lid from the hot water and tighten on the jar.

10 – Place in the boiling water canner and process for 20 minutes.

11 – Remove the jars and let cool overnight. In the morning, check the seals, remove the rings, label and store in a cool dark place.

I can’t wait to open a jar on a rainy day in December and think back to summer.

August 11, 2007 at 11:45 pm 1 comment

Halve It

summerbanner.jpg 

This post is inspired by Sharon at Casaubon’s Book. If you haven’t stumbled upon her site via the Riot for Austerity it is full of extremely well thought out and well written posts. A word of caution…be prepared to spend a lot of time there!

In Sharon’s recent post she talks about something I have been trying to do for awhile now…using half as much. Using half as much quite literally translates into half as much pollution, half as much waste, half as much money spent, half as much STUFF in our lives. What a simple way to reduce our consumption and have a positive impact on our environment.

True we cannot cut everything in half, however, for many things (like detergents) using half the manufacturers recommended amount will still get your clothes, dishes, toilet just as clean. In fact the product will last twice as long and chances are you won’t notice the difference. I took Sharon’s advice and watered down my dish soap and have been really conscious of using less shampoo when I wash my hair and less laundry soap when I put a load of clothes in. Just for the record my dishes, hair and clothes are all coming up clean.

With the lovely summer weather I have been hanging more and more of our laundry outside to dry and reducing our dryer use by much more than half. In fact for the month of August I have challenged myself to see if I can go without the dryer. Going without a dryer won’t work for us all year (we live in very damp Vancouver, BC) but could we go without the dryer for half the year?

What about the clothes in our closets? Could we cut that in half? Toys? Books? You get the idea. Sara at Walk Slowly, Live Wildly had a great post recently about STUFF. It got me looking more closely around our place and resulted in a purge of STUFF.  The amazing thing is I can hardly notice that I cleared out 2 full garbage bags of clothing, toys and books.

The other area I am trying to cut is my use of the car. I have committed myself to riding my bike to the office one day a week…not an easy task as it involves a 10km ride with numerous hills and going over one of the scariest bridge I’ve ever ridden across. But One Day can and will make a difference.

What can you halve?

August 1, 2007 at 5:20 pm 2 comments


About


I am passionate about reducing my impact on the environment and am learning to live simply and live green. I am learning the age old arts of home food preservation and cooking from scratch. This is yet another eco-blog and a place for me to really channel my passions for writing, photography and sustainable living.
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