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Since I began this project my kitchen has slowly become a more efficient workspace. Food moves from the grocery tote to the plate through a well-organized system. At this point, I’m not producing any spoiled food. Everything edible in the kitchen is consumed and the only things going into the compost are peels, shells, skins and tough stems. I went through all the tools in the kitchen and donated every item that was not essential. It’s amazing how the drawers, cabinets, and shelves of a room will fill up over time. I found that I had many multiples of the same tool (three cheese graters for example) and many pots, pans, dishes, and utensils that were never used but for some reason traveled with me through multiple home moves.  Eliminating the clutter has been great. Prepping, cooking, and cleaning routines are simpler. Unloading the bulk of the kitchen items I had been storing for so long has allowed me to focus on finding the right tool for each job. I find a lot of enjoyment in scavenging high quality items made from sustainable materials and I’m slowly weeding out the poorly made, the dysfunctional, and the plastic. Incorporating objects that meet my personal standards of form and functionality has made daily practices more satisfying. Filled with wood, steel, and glass, the dish drying rack has become very photogenic.

Last week I checked another item off the No Trash Project wish list–an immersion blender. My tabletop blender quit several months ago while I was making hummus (it went out with a loud groan and some smoke), so I had been looking for the immersion variety for a while. I hemmed and hawed over what brand to buy and how much to spend. I regularly checked craigslist to see if anyone nearby was selling one used. No such luck. So, I finally took the plunge and bought one new. I decided to go with a high-end product that could stand up to heavy use. In addition to all the foods I’ll be mincing and blending, I’ll also be using it to make recycled paper at home, so I needed to find one with lot of power. I’ve now used mine to make soup and I love it. Because I don’t have to transfer batches to and from a tabletop blender, fewer dishes are dirtied, and less water is used to clean up. I look forward to making a wider range of dishes than I was able to produce in the days of the hand mashing, blender hiatus. Both of the trash-free, puréed soups pictured above were made without set measurements, but I’ve written up a basic recipe for each.

Butternut Squash Soup

1 large butternut squash peeled, seeded, and chopped into 1-inch pieces

4 cups homemade vegetable broth

My most recent batch was made with water, carrots, celery, onion, fennel seeds, and cracked red pepper (combined, boiled, and strained)

1 medium yellow onion finely chopped

1 clove of garlic minced

2 Tbs. canola of oil

1 Tbs. curry powder

1 tsp freshly ground cinnamon

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Heat canola oil in a large pot.

Sauté the onion until translucent (about 5-7 minutes).

Add squash and garlic and cook for two more minutes.

Add broth. Bring to a simmer and cover.

Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for until the squash is tender (about 20 minutes).

Blend soup.

Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, cracked black pepper, and fresh thyme (or sage) leaves. Salt if desired.

Cauliflower Apple Soup

1 large head of cauliflower chopped into 1-inch pieces

1 to 2 tart apples chopped (6 cups)

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 medium yellow onion finely chopped

1 clove of garlic minced

1 tablespoon curry powder

4 cups homemade vegetable broth

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

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Heat canola oil in a large pot.

Sauté the onion until translucent (about 5-7 minutes).

Stir in the apple, curry, garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.

Add the cauliflower and broth. Bring to a simmer and cover.

Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for until the cauliflower is tender (about 20 minutes).

Blend soup.

Stir in the honey and vinegar.

Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and cracked pepper. Salt if desired.

Because these recipes are so basic, they are both very adaptable. I used spices are stocked on my shelves (I love curry) but there are many substitutes. Trash-free cooking often calls for creativity. I’m learning to be resourceful while shopping and flexible while putting together a meal.

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