Friday, January 30, 2009

To save or not to save? Eco friendly #2

I remember my great-grandma having drawers full of plastic containers- empty yogurt, cottage cheese, sour cream and butter tubs. She had so many glass canning jars that she used to keep her beads, polished rocks, oddly shaped sticks and other odds and ends for her craft projects in. She kept everything!

My grandma holds on to old tubs to store leftovers, sewing supplies and small things around her house.

My mom and my aunt both keep plastic containers and those plastic gallon tubs from ice cream (we ate a lot of ice cream as children). When we were little there were always plenty of plastic tubs to use while playing in the dirt, mud puddles, picking berries, gathering plants or for holding the random insect that we found outside. There were boxes of canning jars saved for the next season's canning, for drinking out of, for catching minnows in the creek, and they worked really well as bug holders too!

When I got my own place, I told myself that I did NOT want a drawer full of plastic tubs and lids that didn't have matches. I didn't want to search through it to store leftovers and go through the trouble of labeling them. So, I tossed all the plastic and glass containers for years.

But now, with the eco friendly ideas seeping into my brain, I've started saving. Slowly and carefully though, so as not to overwhelm my cupboards (or my husband with leftovers stored in sour cream, yogurt and cottage cheese tubs).

I've started saving glass. My husband loves Ragu spaghetti sauce (eventually I'll make my own, I just need to transition him into it). So, all those glass jars were being thrown away. In the past two weeks I've saved three of them! (We don't really eat that much spaghetti- I made two lasagnas last week, one to eat and one to freeze.)

Since they are glass, they work really well for leftovers- they freeze and they are dishwasher and microwave safe. And the label comes off so I can relabel it easily.

So, there's another step that saves some garbage and gives me more options for storing leftovers!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Eco change numero uno!

Okay, my first post about a change I've made that reduces my impact on the environment. And probably something that will make me healthier!

I don't have time for breakfast at home in the mornings. But, it's important that I eat it otherwise I will snack all day at my desk. So, I was buying those Quaker oatmeal packs and eating them soon after I came to work in the morning.

It's about $4 for each box of 10-12 packets I think. That's not too much money. And sometimes when Grocery Outlet had them, I'd buy several boxes and save a few dollars. I never did check the nutritional value on them. I mean, oatmeal is good for you, but I can't imagine how much sugar was in each of those packets! Plus, there was the box that went in the trash and each little packet that was thrown away, so definitely not eco friendly.

So, when my most recent box ran out, I decided to try to mix my own. Here's my recipe that I've hashed out so far. It might change a little as I continue to eat it. But, this morning's oatmeal tasted great!

Emilie's instant oatmeal
1/4 cup instant oats
1 Tbs each, milled flax seed, toasted wheat germ and brown sugar
Handful of raisins or chopped dried fruit (I'm going to try mangos next!)
Spices to taste (I add a sprinkle of cinnamon)

Mix thoroughly and seal in small container until you need it (for now I'm using a ziploc baggie that I will reuse until I can find a glass container it fits well in.) To make, heat about 1/2 cup water in microwave about 1 minute. Mix in oatmeal and stir. Let sit about 2 minutes until it's thickened. Enjoy!

It does taste different from the Quaker oatmeal, obviously. But, I kind of prefer less sweetness and I really like the raisins in it. Fruit and whole grains!

I'm going to go to Goodwill and see if I can find small glass containers to keep it in Five would be good because then I could make five portions for the week each weekend and just keep them in my desk. Then take home the containers as I use them, wash and reuse!

Some eco friendly thoughts

So, I've never been too bothered by the ecological impact I have on the world. It just wasn't something I thought about. And with the "green movement" that is in vogue now, the media had me believing that going green meant lots of money- you had to buy new and more expensive products.

Well, I've been lurking on an eco friendly Web site. I have learned SO MUCH! Apparently, going eco friendly is not expensive. In fact, if it's done right, it usually saves you money!

So, I've been thinking about ways I can reduce my impact on the environment and save money in the process!

We'll see where this leads me... and we'll see if I can get the husband to follow along!

Monday, January 26, 2009

A craft picture!

Okay, I'm finally posting a picture of a craft I did! I made this little guy out of old yarn I had. No pattern, just made it up as I went along. I think he turned out adorable.

I took the picture with my phone so it's a little blurry. But, still cute! He's pretty small, that's my coffee cup handle to the left.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Today I'm also

Feeling very crafty.

I want to go home and make something. I've been browsing craft blogs lately and have so many great ideas that I'd like to make my own.

I recently started making amigurumi animals. I know, I'm a bad blogger that hasn't posted any pictures of them. So far I've made an elephant, turtle, frog, snake, octopus, bear and a bird. I think my favorite is the elephant. I have plans to add a pink flower to his trunk and I will call him Horton. I searched blog after Web site after blog for ideas and patterns. I'll post pictures later, promise!

But, today I've been looking at blogs that have quilts, purses, toys and so many sewn things. It makes me want to get out yards of pretty fabric, thread my sewing machine and just sew all day long.

And all those projects gave me an idea. I want to try new things this year in the crafting arena, so, I made a crafting resolutions list.

This year I want to (in no certain order):

  • Make a quilt
  • Sew baby/ children's toys out of fabric
  • Sew t-shirt designs (actually my husband's idea.)
  • Knit or crochet a sweater (maybe just a baby one)
And make many other little things. These are things I haven't tried before. I also plan to continue the crocheted animals because I think they are great little gifts. And I'll make the odd scarf or afghan as the desire strikes me.

With all these plans, I might have to open an Etsy shop to unload the extra craft projects.

Today I am...

A doorman apparently.

Or door woman.

Either way, everyone at work was born in a barn. At work I sit with my back is to the door that leads into the employee break room/ bathroom. They tell me there used to be a sign asking that the door be kept shut, but it was never put back up after they painted (years ago). The open door wouldn't be a problem if the soda machine didn't sound like it was a plane taking off. But, instead, when the door is open, I hear a constant roaring behind me.

So, I've been at work for two hours and have gotten up to shut the door six times. This is definitely cutting into my internet surfing time.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The most amazing banana bread ever!

My sister gave me this recipe awhile ago and I made it then. I remembered it being really good but hadn't made it since then. This weekend I had some bananas going bad so I decided to pull out the recipe. OH MY! So much better than I remembered it being... So, I thought I would share the recipe.

Banana Bread
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
four bananas (mashed)
1/2 cup yogurt
2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
Wheat germ/ flax seed (if desired)

Directions: Preheat oven to 350. Butter two loaf pans or muffin tins.

Cream butter and sugar. Add egg and continue beating. In another bowl, mash bananas and yogurt together until smooth (or leave some chunks if you like your bread that way.) Mix with butter and egg mixture.

In another bowl, sift flour, baking soda and baking powder together. I added 1/8 cup wheat germ and milled flax seed to mine, but it's up to you!

Add flour to the wet ingredients and stir until flour has disappeared. Don't overmix! Pour or scoop into your pans. Bake loaf pans 50 minutes, muffin tins 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out mostly clean.

My house smelled so yummy while it was baking. It's perfect by itself but I'm sure it would be very good with butter and honey as well!


Friday, January 2, 2009

Recipe post: Chicken adobo

I love to cook. Have I ever mentioned that? That fact is responsible for the extra 15 (OK 25) pounds on me right now.
So, I thought I'd post a recipe that I make a lot for my husband.
Chicken adobo is a Filippino dish that my husband LOVES. He says the way I make it is better than his mom (who actually agreed with him when she visited- talk about a nice mother in law!).
So, here it is. Try it with steamed rice and vegetables.
2 or 3 chicken breasts, thawed and cut into strips (you can use any part of the chicken really, I use chicken breasts because that is what I have.)
Half an onion, sliced into rings
3 cloves garlic, diced

2/3 cup vinegar (any kind is fine)
1 1/3 cup soy sauce
1 Tbl black pepper
1 Tbl garlic powder

Heat a little oil in a deep skillet and brown the chicken. Remove the chicken and put it on a plate (it will go back in to finish cooking once the sauce is ready so don't worry about pink insides!) While your chicken is browning, mix your soy sauce, vinegar, pepper and garlic powder in a bowl (I use a 2-cup glass measuring cup).
Once your chicken is removed, soften your onions in the same pan.

Add the garlic and saute until fragrant- about a minute. Make sure to stir it so it doesn't burn!
Pour in your soy sauce mixture and bring to a boil. Add the chicken back to the pan, reduce heat to low and simmer until the chicken is cooked through.
Serve with steamed rice and enjoy!
Note: With a tablespoon of pepper it is pretty spicy. If you don't like as much spice, use less pepper, if you want more, use more!
Also, this makes enough sauce to double the amount of chicken you put in without having to double the sauce! My husband likes to pour it over his rice while I prefer my rice clear of sauce to balance the spice!