Archive | February, 2013

Natural Home Solutions

coconutdeodorant

This evening, I’ll be giving a Natural Home Solutions workshop with some wonderful folks at Fertile Underground in Providence. I will demonstrate how to make homemade moisturizing lotion and deodorants. Jillian McGrath is making a raw avocado/cacao edible face mask. Yeah, that’s right, double duty. And the folks from Karma Clean will be there with samples of their raw soap nuts laundry detergent. So excited! If you live in the area, come in and see us from 5:00-7:00pm for some how-tos and free samples!

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Cereal love

breakfastcereal

I’ve never been too big on sizzling, savory breakfasts in the early mornings. I’m a cereal lover. Upon waking, I crave sweet carbs. I love cold mik over crunchy granola or warm bowls of cooked grains like quinoa, amaranth, and oats. I always add generous amounts of fruit, seeds, and nuts for varied texture and flavor. Most of the breakfast dishes I make happen to be vegetarian or vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free. It’s important to me that my first meal fuels many working hours before I have to break for lunch, so I focus on using ingredients that are protein-rich and high in vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and essential amino acids. This morning I enjoyed some homemade granola (this time adding pumpkin seeds to the basic original recipe) flooded in a fresh batch of hemp milk with a diced bartlett pear. I tend to get pretty blissed-out over even the simplest homemade meals. This morning’s bowl of goodness was no exception, so I had to share it.

breakfastcereal2

Mmmmhmmm, look at all those delicious, package-free ingredients.

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The Local Catch

yellowtailflounder

I rode my bike over to the Wintertime Farmer’s Market at the Hope Artiste Village in Pawtucket this afternoon to pick up some fish for dinner tonight. Rich and Ann from The Local Catch take a stainless steel container from me each week and fill it with something fresh caught. I never know exactly what I’m going to get. But they know a bit about my preferences and I’ve never been dissatisfied with an order. They always give me something low on the food chain and it’s always really fresh and delicious. This week it’s yellowtail flounder, which I love. It’s sweet and mild. I’m going to prepare it with some long grain wild rice, celeriac mash, and greens.

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Plot twist

twist

So, it turns out you don’t need clothespins to line dry laundry. I gleefully stumbled upon this ingenious technique during a meandering internet search. How is it that I never thought of this? It’s so simple and efficient. The twisted line seems to hold garments even better than my wooden spring clothespins. And I like the snapping sound it makes when I pluck the dry clothes from it’s grip. This method is especially good for my indoor setup, which I hang up and take down with each load I dry. Outside in the garden, the line I share with my landlady is a more permanent, untwisted setup. I imagine that in an open air situation, a twisted cotton line might be prone to growing mildew after a rain. At any rate, the pin-less approach will be my new indoor jam for the remainder of the cold season.

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Snacks

kalechips

I’ve been getting some delicious organic Kale from the Wintertime Farmer’s Market lately. I like to eat it raw, in stir fries, or as a delicious snack in chip form. Kale chips are really easy to make at home. And you don’t need to own a dehydrator. Just rinse and dry the kale leaves, remove the center stems (which hold a lot of water) and cut them into bite-size pieces. Lightly coat them in cooking oil and bake them in a shallow pan or on a cookie sheet for 10 to 15 minutes or until the leaves are dry and crispy but not brown. Shake or turn them in the pan periodically so they crisp evenly. I usually sprinkle a little cayenne pepper on mine. I like to use the discarded stems to make vegetable broth.

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Love

valentine

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Chia seed drink

chiaseeds

This morning I fixed myself a chia seed drink from seeds I purchased in bulk. Chia seeds are considered a “super food” for their nutrient content. Like hemp and flax seeds, they are a great plant source of omega-3 fatty acids. They’re also high in calcium, phosphorus, and fiber. Chia seeds can be used like any other seeds you might cook with, sprinkle over a meal, or stir into cereal or yogurt. Because they are high in soluble fiber, they absorb a lot of water and can be used to make a “gel” that can be stirred into  drinks. I decided to give this a try. I mixed 2 tablespoons of chia seeds into 1 cup of water and stirred them occasionally over a 15 minute period so that they wouldn’t clump. Then I made some ginger  lemon tea and mixed in a couple spoonfuls of the gel when the tea was warm, but not hot. I rather like gelatinous foods so I really enjoyed this textured beverage! Chia seeds are said to keep you hydrated and energized so it ‘s not a bad way to start the day. I think I’ll add it to my regimen for a while.

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Granola

granola

Homemade granola! Quick and easy to make. Granola is so delicious when it’s fresh and I love having the control over what goes into it. This batch is very simple—a good base to add any kind of fruit and nuts to. All the ingredients below were purchased in bulk. And as usual, my recipe is pretty freeform, so go nuts!

4 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1/2 cup sesame seeds

1/4 cup flour for “clumping” (I used rice flour because that’s what I had on my shelf, but oat flour would probably work even better)

1/3 cup honey

1/4 cup canola oil (other oils can be substituted)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 300˚F. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Mix the honey, oil, and extract together in another bowl. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Spread the granola in an oiled shallow pan and bake for about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and turn the granola over with a large spatula, being careful not to break it up too much. Return to oven and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes. Allow the granola to cool completely before removing it from the pan to serve or store.

granoladetail

Mmmhmmmm, so delicious. Store in an airtight container to preserve freshness. It will keep at room temperature for up to 10 days but because it contains oil (which can become rancid), it should be refrigerated or frozen after that point.

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Homemade lotion

lotion

I love getting snowed in. It’s a rare event I always welcome. I love that it’s a collective experience shared by everyone in the affected region, but also private as we’re each marooned in our own homes. As highways, businesses, and schools close, time seems to slow down. I’m feeling very lucky that I didn’t loose power and heat in the storm, as that can quickly take the pleasure out of the experience. I took advantage of being confined to my apartment to get into some projects that my work has been keeping me from. Today I made moisturizing lotion based on a very simple recipe a friend recently shared with me. It was remarkably easy and I’m so pleased with the result. I’ve made salves before with a similar process but I love the texture and “slip” of the lotion—perfect for dry elbows, knees, hands, and feet. It absorbs into my skin well and has a pleasing, mild scent. Here’s the recipe I ended up using…

4 tablespoons grated beeswax

4 tablespoons coconut oil

1/3 cup olive oil

1/3 cup grape seed oil

1/3 cup sweet almond oil

8 tablespoons water

In a double boiler setup (I use a stainless steel bowl set over a pot of water) melt beeswax. When beeswax is almost completely liquified add coconut oil. Pour in slightly warmed remaining oils (one cup total) and whisk with a hand whisk, fork, or immersion blender. Remove the mixture from heat and slowly add water while stirring. Continue whisking for a minute or so until the mixture is homogenized. While hot, the lotion will be very runny. Allow it to cool, mixing it periodically as it sets up. 

The recipe makes about 16oz of lotion. Store in a glass jar in a cool dry place. I scooped some into this little 3 oz jar to give to my friend to sample. Many oils could be substituted in this recipe. And you don’t have to use more than one. I chose to mix the three together because I had them on hand. The oils are available to me in bulk at a couple nearby sources. I’ve seen beeswax sold in brick form without any packaging before but when I went to purchase it for this project I could only find plastic wrapped bricks. So instead I picked up a 100% beeswax package-free candle and grated that. Once I’ve gone through all the beeswax I’ll be left with wick, which I can compost or burn in the wood stove. The one ingredient that did come in packaging is the coconut oil. It came in a 14 oz glass jar. I only use the coconut oil for homemade hygiene products and it lasts a long time. Once it’s empty, the jar will be used again and again to store bulk goods. But the plastic seal that came around the jar lid when it was purchased is landfill waste.

I’m always interested in using less personal hygiene products. Caring for skin from the inside out is something that appeals to me very much. Of course diet, hydration, and exercise all play a roll in skin health and texture. I’ve been trying to drink more water in these dry winter months, but my skin appreciates a little extra help from a topical source in this climate.

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Tiffin

tiffin

I have amazing friends. Just received this fantastic gift from two dear ones—a 3-tier steel tiffin with two plate separators. Can’t wait to test drive this beauty once the winter storm stops. It will be so perfect for take-away and picnics!

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Hemp “pesto”

pesto1

Today I used the hemp meal leftover from Monday’s hemp milk to make hemp “pesto”. I initially intended to use basil for this recipe but I couldn’t find any without packaging. All the basil at my nearby markets is currently being sold in PET plastic packs. I was able to find loose parsley tied with a rubber band so I grabbed a bundle and decided to improvise with that. I used 1/2 cup hemp meal (all that was strained out of the milk), 3 cups chopped parsley (stems included), 6 medium size chopped garlic cloves, 3/4 cup olive oil, and generous amount of cracked pepper. I combined the ingredients in a mixing bowl and pulsed them with my immersion blender until I had a paste. The total time to make the pesto was less than 10 minutes.

pesto2

The hemp meal provided the body that cheese and pine nuts give to traditional pestos. Hemp has a nutty flavor of it’s own that compliments the parsley well. And what a vibrant color! Because I love the taste of parsley, it’s a fine substitue for basil… but I can’t wait to make this with homegrown package-free basil this summer!

pasta

For lunch I cooked some pasta (this one happens to be a gluten-free quinoa fusilli I found in bulk at Karma Co-op in Toronto) and tossed it with a tablespoon of pesto and fresh chopped tomatoes. Oh man, it was delicious! I think this will become another go-to package-free meal.

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Hemp milk

hempmilk

A dairy sensitivity I developed in my adulthood led me to kick the cow milk I was raised on. Before starting the No Trash Project, I was purchasing nut, seed, and grain milks in Tetra Paks, which are difficult to recycle. After swearing off food packaging, I still craved some kind of milk to add to my granola or incorporate into recipes so I began making my own non-dairy milks at home. I’m always thrilled by how easy and rewarding it is. Every kind I’ve made has been far better tasting than anything I could buy off a store shelf. Inspired by a reader’s suggestion, I made hemp milk today. It was the quickest and easiest yet! It seriously only took about 5 minutes to make. I used hemp seeds purchased in bulk from Alternative Food Co-op. The ratio I used is one cup hemp seeds to 4 cups of water (the same ratio I’ve used for the oat, almond, coconut, and cashew milks). The seeds don’t require any soaking prior to blending. Because hemp is soft, the seeds and water homogenized very quickly with the help of my immersion blender. I chose to strain it for smoothness, though much like the cashew milk, the meal is so fine that you can drink it without straining. I would describe the taste as sweet and grassy. Delicious. Of course, it can be sweetened or spiced. I saw one variation online with orange zest that I plan to try.

Hemp seeds are very nutritious. They are nature’s highest botanical source of essential fatty acids (EFAs) and they offer a very desirable omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 3:1. They’re also a fantastic source of protein, fiber, and amino acids—including all nine essential amino acids our bodies can’t produce on their own.

hempmeal

I love experimenting with the strained nut, seed, and grain meal I’m left with when making the milks.  I think I’m going to use the hemp meal to make a “pesto” with garlic, basil, and olive oil. Stay tuned for that experiment!

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Glove love

gloves

The index finger on the left hand of my beloved SmartWool gloves gave out this winter. It started to unravel at the beginning of the season and I tried to tie it off but it didn’t hold and now I’m exposed to halfway down my proximal phalanx. It’s been fine when I’m on foot and can pocket my hands, but on really cold days while I’m riding my bike, it can get pretty uncomfortable. I’ve been trying to buddy up in the middle finger, but it’s a tight fit. So it was time for new pair. I searched around for some used gloves in local thrift and consignment stores but couldn’t find any that had much life left in them. So I picked up the above beauties from the Moonlight Rose Alpacas stand at the Wintertime Farmer’s Market. Moonlight Rose breeds and raises alpacas in Swansea, Massachusetts less than 20 miles from Providence. I’ve long admired their hats, mittens, gloves, scarves, and socks on display at the markets. The grey, brown, beige, and white colors are the natural alpaca fiber colors. No dyes are used. Unfortunately the gloves did come with a plastic tagging barb (not recyclable) that holds the company’s paper tag to their products. I find it’s really hard to avoid these little guys when shopping for clothing, even when you are buying used garments. They are so soft and warm and I’m really happy with my purchase. It feels good to buy a locally sourced and produced pair. Hopefully with proper care they will last a long time!

Meanwhile I have to decide what to do with my old pair. I considered the possibility of composting them but they contain 1% elastane and 4% nylon (the other 95% of the yarn is merino wool). I’m trying to figure out if there’s a way to cut the rest of the fingers off and sew the ends well enough to prevent unraveling and make them fingerless gloves for warmer weather or for working in the cold studio or archive. I’m determined to stretch their life out, repurpose, or recycle them somehow.

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A bowl of energy

amaranthbreakfast

My protein-packed breakfast this morning. Bulk amaranth with grated ginger, galangal (given to me by a dear friend), chopped apple, pepitas, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, and olive oil. Amaranth is one of my favorite grains and I often have it for breakfast. I love the nutty taste of the tiny snappy seeds. Just a quarter cup of the dry cereal cooked in water (1:3 ratio for a fluffy texture or 1:4 ratio for a more porridge-like consistency) with some fruit, nuts, and seeds fills me up and keeps me going all morning and well into the afternoon. It’s a high quality source of plant protein and two essential amino acids, lysine and methionine. And it’s a great option for anyone with gluten sensitivities or allergies. Such an impressive little grain.

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My bathroom

bathroom1

I live in a beautiful space. I smile most times I enter my home. The apartment is located on the second floor of a house that was built more than 220 years ago. Of course there are many features throughout that are more modern, but some of the original details remain intact. It’s easy to see where the building has settled over time and the crooked lines give each room so much character. This place has great bones and shows signs of the many who have loved it before me. The few carefully curated things I’ve chosen to fill it with make it mine for now.

I love my bathroom. I love the old built-in medicine cabinet and the large 12 pane window. It looks out over a small alley and across to the siding of my neighbors’ house. None of their windows are visible from this spot so I don’t have to hang any curtains or blinds and all the natural light that reflects off the pale yellow clapboard floods into the room. My plants love it.

bathroom2

I’ve written a lot about how beautiful food looks when it’s stored in glass or stainless steel. I think the same is true for personal hygiene products. Bulk shampoo, liquid castile soap, baking soda, and package-free bar soap sit on the shelves of my shower. My linen bath towel and hand knitted hemp washcloth hang beside it.

bathroom3

In my medicine cabinet I keep my homemade spray deodorant, bulk carrier oils (sweet almond and grape seed) used as skin moisturizer and hair conditioner/detangler, homemade salve, bulk cornstarch for sockless sneaker wearing, bulk body lotion, an eyelash curler, a terra cotta body buffer, and bar soap. A ceramic dish holds my barrets, bobby pins, new razor blades, and a spool of floss that was once in a paper box dispenser—but the box got a little crushed and ended up as firestarter for the wood stove. The floss is wound around a small plastic spool, which will become landfill waste. The paper and cotton swabs are leftover from before the start of this project. I use them very seldomly because I just use gentle soap and water to clean my outer ears.

bathroom4

A cup of grooming tools (my toothbrush, gum stimulator, safety razor, tweezers, cuticle trimmer, and nail brush) sits on my windowsill next to the jar of baking soda I use to clean my teeth. I use the small stainless steel spoon to scoop a tiny bit onto my compostable toothbrush.

It has taken me some time to pare down the products in my routine to a few package-free essentials that work for my individual skin, hair, nail, tooth and gum care needs. But my space has become very functional and I love my daily rituals.

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