Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Looking for a Cold Weather Cure?

I found one for you, compliments of my cousin Twigger.
Twigger's Cold Weather Cure
Twigger's Cold Weather Cure
32 ounces cranberry juice
16 ounces pineapple juice
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cloves
dash of nutmeg
1 3" stick of cinnamon

  1. Combine all ingredients and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until ready to serve.
  3. Strain into mugs and enjoy! Bottoms up!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bison Farms

Local grass fed beef in Maine is not hard to come by. However one unique farm that is close to my home is a Bison farm. I just posted a Bison recipe on my other blog, and thought it was time to give another shout out to a local farm! The history of the bison makes supporting this type of farming even more important. The mighty bison, now safely retrieved from the brink of extinction, is a living symbol of North America's past (from prehistoric times extending through post-Civil War). Once the mainstay of the Plains Indians, bison are again gracing the prairies with their majesty. Take the kids for a visit - it is well worth the trip!

Beech Hill Farm and Bison Ranch
Working Bison into your family diet is also a very healthy choice to make. Comparison of Bison to beef and chicken shows what a healthier choice it is. Lower in fat, cholesterol and calories; Bison offers more Iron and Vitamin B12 than all others (although salmon does offer more B12).


(grams )
Vitamin B12
Beef (choice)
Beef (select)
Sockeye Salmon 10.97 216 87 0.55 5.80
Source: USDA
Come on home to Maine!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

3 bags of Wyman's berries...

...yielded 6 jars of jam! The baby has been yammering all afternoon, "I want jelly! I want jelly!" which either means he can not handle one more peanut butter and (local) honey sandwich, or else I make the best darn jam in the whole wide world. I am going with the latter, because my house smelled lusciously of raspberry-blueberry-strawberry-blackberry-sugar simmer and boil that even SP came home and said wow! Now, watching those six jar cooling on the counter, I too can not wait until breakfast so I can sample it, and maybe, just maybe, I will make another loaf of acorn bread tomorrow and discover that I really have created my own piece of heaven on earth!

Make your own Silver Dip

Last night, SP ran the dishwasher with a little bleach in it for it's monthly cleaning cycle. Unfortunately, there were some silver baby spoons in it and they came out pretty tarnished and messed up. The good thing is, we have an Eco-friendly recipe for silver dip. So farewell harsh silver chemicals, and hello homemade! Caution: Do not stack the pieces - lay them out separately. So not use on plate, raised patterns or cemented knives.

aluminum foil
non-aluminum pan
2 Tablespoons baking soda
1 Tablespoon salt
boiling water

  1. Place your silverware on some aluminum foil in a non-aluminum pan.
  2. Add baking soda and salt.
  3. Pour boiling water into the pan, enough to fill it up and cover all the silver.
  4. Take out, using tongs, after about five minutes.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Make Your Own Play dough!

Who needs Hasbro when you can make your own play dough at home! Turn a kid friendly cooking recipe into a project in sustainability! Save money and cut down on plastic consumptions by making your own, unique, play dough at home!
Homemade Play Dough

Homemade Baby Wipes

Our good friends just had a baby girl named Asher, who is having some sensitivity to wipes. I offered to change her diaper this morning, and when Dad handed me one wet paper towel and one dry paper towel, I remembered that I too had used paper towels for a sensitive child. I went and quickly dug up my old homemade baby wipes recipe and realized that that was one of my earlier efforts in sustainability. So in honor of Asher, I can't think of a a better post for today than this recipe.

1 3-quart lidded plastic container (like Rubbermaid or Tupperware)
1 roll of paper towels
1 Tablespoon any baby shampoo
2 Tablespoons any baby oil
1.5 cups boiling hot water

  • Cut paper towel roll in half. (you will use 1/2 per recipe so reserve second half for next time)
  • Place half of roll, cut side down, in the plastic container. (do not remove cardboard center)
  • In a bowl, combine all ingredients.
  • Slowly poor over 1/2 paper towel roll.
  • Put lid on, and let towels thoroughly absorb liquid.
  • Remove cardboard center and enjoy many happy diaper changes.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Making your own Mozzarella

I saw this article in January's Gourmet magazine and now know that I will start making my own cheese sooner than I thought. In case you find yourself ready for such an endeavor, I hand you this article in the hopes that it inspires you to do something more sustainable than buying plastic wrapped mozzarella. All you need to buy is salt, citric acid, rennet, cheesecloth, a thermometer and milk.

Make your own Mozzarella

The Recipe.
  • 1 gallon whole milk
  • 1 1/8 teaspoon citric acid
  • 1/4 tablet rennet, crushed
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • Equipment:

    cheesecloth; kitchen string
  • Heat milk and citric acid to 88°F in a 7- to 8-qt heavy pot over low heat, stirring occasionally, then maintain a temperature of 88 to 91°F on an instant-read thermometer, returning to and removing from heat as necessary, for 1 hour. (Mixture will begin to curdle.)
  • Dissolve rennet in warm water, then stir into milk mixture. Let stand, uncovered, maintaining 88 to 91°F, until the consistency of soft pudding, 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Using a long knife, make cuts across stiffened milk mixture at 1/2-inch intervals, reaching down to bottom of pot, then make similar cuts in stiffened milk mixture to form a crosshatch pattern (small squares) on top. Let stand, undisturbed, 5 minutes. Keeping temperature between 88 and 91°F (reheat when necessary over very low heat), gently stir curds every 10 minutes for 30 minutes, then let curds stand, uncovered and undisturbed, maintaining temperature, 30 minutes more.
  • Line a large sieve with cheesecloth and set over a bowl. Using a ladle or slotted spoon, transfer curds to center of cheesecloth. Gather sides up over curds to form a sack and tie sides together with a long piece of string as close to curds as possible but without squeezing curds. Suspend sack from a knob or cupboard handle, using string, at least 4 inches from bottom of bowl (sack should not sit in any whey that accumulates; if necessary, discard whey as it accumulates). Let hang 3 hours at room temperature.
  • Heat a large pot of heavily salted water (1/3 cup salt for 5 qt water) to 170°F. Place one fourth of the curds in a shallow bowl, then ladle about 6 cups hot water over curds and let stand until curds start to meld together, about 2 minutes. Gather curds together with a slotted spoon and remove from water. Working over the bowl of hot water, gently fold the mass of curds over itself in your hands, stretching as you fold. Reheat in hot water as necessary (3 to 5 times) to maintain temperature, folding and stretching until curds become a smooth and elastic disk.
  • Form into a ball by tucking outside into center, then pinch edges together. Place mozzarella in cool water to cool completely before eating. Make remaining cheese in same manner, reusing hot salted water for subsequent batches.
Cooks’ notes:
  • Curds can be made and drained in cheesecloth (3 hours) 1 day ahead, then chilled in a resealable bag.
  • Mozzarella is best the day it is made but can be kept, covered with water, in refrigerator up to 5 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Friday, February 6, 2009

How sustainable is silver?

This is a serious question for me, not in terms of how long it lasts, but in terms of how good or bad it is for the environment. In my craft work, I am trying to understand if silver wire is the wire I want to use for jewelry because of it's ecological ramifications. I understand that it needs to be mined like any other ore which is degrading the environment in one way or another, but my greater concern lies in the smelting process (if that is what it is actually called). I know that aluminum smelting is horrific and kills whole swaths of forests down wind. I have been handed down a piece of silver that has clearly lasted many generations. This one piece I am posting on my recipe blog, dates from the 1800's and is still used regularly in our house. I know that if I chose, I could recycle it, so in that way silver is sustainable. I will never recycle this, but I want to know what it took to make it.

Monday, February 2, 2009

How green is it?

SP and I went away this weekend to Jay Peak Resort in Vermont. They served their drinks in plastic cups, made by a company called Greenware. These cups claim to be 100% Annually Renewable Eco-Friendly packaging. What confuses me, and I am no environmental engineer, is how does a Eco-friendly cup made entirely of plants also become a #7 plastic? What #7 means is that it is an "Other", and this is no reference to LOST, but instead, this code indicates that a package is made with more than one resin and used in a multi-layer combination. Furthermore, it can be composted? I think this little cup I brought home is going in my compost pile instead of my recycling bin because I want to see if it is true. Does this mean that I could eat the cup too? That's a bit facetious but I am a bit of a skeptic today. Before I say more, let me tell you how happy I am that it is all Made in America. That is the biggest bonus of all of this. Are companies taking this Eco-Friendly thing too far and finding loopholes to claim sustainability when in fact they are not? It's made from corn, but just as other things in my life like HFCS, just because it's manipulated out of something natural does not mean it is a good thing. The website states, "Our material expertise extends beyond traditional plastics and into environmentally sustainable or recyclable alternatives such as Polylactic Acid (PLA) and Recycled PET (RPET). PLA is made entirely from corn and is 100% compostable. RPET combines pre and post-consumer resin (like water bottles) to reduce the reliance on new material, conserving resources." What are the byproducts of manipulating corn into clear #7 plasticine drinking cups? How much fossil fuel emissions are there to turn a field of corn into a drinking cup at a mountain restaurant? What good is a compostable drinking cup when it ends up in the garbage and sent to a landfill or incinerator? And if all these cups end up being burned, what are their emissions? Now please don't get me wrong, I still love and support each and every step we are taking towards greater sustainability and reducing our impact on the earth, I just can't help but think that some of these steps are akin to a parallel promotion. The mission of Fabri-Kal does not dissuade my skepticism, "The mission of Fabri-Kal is to:
  • Be a world class manufacturer of quality plastic parts and packages
  • Be recognized as a leader in customer satisfaction
  • Be a growing and financially sound company, providing a fair return to shareholders
  • Assist employees in achieving an attractive lifestyle
  • Manage operations and create products in a safe and environmentally responsible manner"
Plastics are A numero uno in their mission, not the environment, so I think my intuition may be on to something here. So Fabri-Kal, if you read this, what is your carbon footprint and what are you doing to offset it?