Tag Archives: no waste

No Plastic July – The first days.

As you know I have pledged to give up 5 areas of plastic consumption for No Plastic July.

I have been watching blogland and the key to all these challenges (No Plastic, No Waste, Buy Nothing New, Give Up Supermarkets) is research, planning, organisation and preparation.  Sometimes something unexpected will upset those plans, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing, it just means sometimes you have a blip.

This is day 6 of the challenge but there is already plenty going on …

1. Crisps and Savoury Snacks.

I already have a selection of tins and airtight contains to keep the homemade ones in and Josh has been getting very excited about trying to make our own corn tortilla wraps and turning those wraps into tortilla chips.  The problem being that we would still have to buy the cornmeal in a plastic bag but it would probably be less plastic than bags and bags of tortilla chips.

As soon as I thought of this challenge I knew I wanted to make cheese straws.  They are delicious, we both love them and I also wondered how cheap they would turn out to be.  They were a huge hit and far from feeling like No Plastic July was deprivation at this moment it felt like luxury.

I used this recipe and made a very large amount of very rich cheese straws (which are more filling than the ones you get in foil, plastic packets in the shops).

But the problem I am hitting is that even making things from scratch does eliminate plastic.  I don’t have a co-op type shop nearby where I can take my own containers and weigh our flour from  big bins.  So the local supermarkets supply butter, baking powder, cheese, cornflour etc.

I think I can take my own container to the cheesemonger in town and I’m going to give that a go next week when I go to the market with my own bags.  I’ll report back!

We also went to a local farm shop with lots of lovely artisan cheese crackers.  As we have guests coming at the weekend we would normally pick some up.  Not this time as every single variety had some plastic in the packaging.  Crackers are next on the “to make” list.

2. Children’s toothbrushes – “I’ve found only one bamboo toothbrush in a child’s size.  I’m going to give it a go but he will only be 1 so it might still be too big for him.”

I wrote the above sentence in a fit of hubris.  I didn’t buy the lovely bamboo one I bought the silicone baby brush.  Is silicone plastic.  If so then I have already failed a little.  Basically R has decided to meltdown every time someone tries to brush his teeth.  He doesn’t really object to the toothbrushing, he objects to relinquishing control of his toothbrush.  He had to have a bath with it the other day so close is his attachment.  The baby brush is supposed to allow him to clean his own teeth so I don’t need to hold his toothbrush for him.  I’m hoping this doesn’t boot me out of the challenge – we have speculated it might be better than a plastic one as it might last longer… but who knows.  We will be trying bamboo again when this interesting phase is over.

[Update: I really not convinced that the baby brush is working.  R loves chewing on it but he doesn’t seem to be working the actual bristles into his actual gums and teeth. I knew there wasn’t going to be an easy solution to this.]

3. Yoghurt – I’ve already got some recipes for this and as I posted about here, in a recent charity shopping trip I found an original vintage 70s Yoghurt thermos flask for £1.95. I had one go at making yoghurt as a test run.  It was a total disaster.  Turns out a) you don’t need to sterilise your yoghurt making equipment and b) you can’t sterilise a vintage 1970s yoghurt maker.  I just made a £1.95 donation to the charity shop as I killed the yoghurt maker and will be going back to the glass jar in a haybox idea.  I also learned that Greek Yoghurt doesn’t have the cultures to get you going, milk powder can curdle! and my sugar themometer says 180F but this is a lie.  Luckily I did all this learning before the challenge.  I am now ready with some definitely bio yoghurt, more tips from the internet and a glass jar in a haybox!

4. Bottle Drinks – Well I didn’t buy lots and lots of bottled drinks to get me through the next month in my last shop.  That would obviously have been a cheat.  In fact I’ve been trying to get through my stock to make this a real challenge.  My key piece of preparation was getting a jug (I broke our last one).  My Mother Out-Law had a heavy glass jug which was too heavy for her to life and so I gratefully took it home and filled it with warm water and herbal tea bags.  It has been chilling overnight and I can now enjoy iced spearmint and chamomile tea whenever I like.

For people coming at the weekend I ordered juice in a glass bottle from Abel & Cole and a couple of posho drinks like “presse” which come in glass bottles.  But I am disappointed to learn via polytheenpam that they all have plastic in the caps of the bottles.  I’ll also be using the juice in some homemade hummous later in the week.

5. Handwash – I took the plunge and ordered some Dr Bronner plain organic soap (it is the baby soap so R can use it as well).  I already have a huge stash of essential oils.  I’ve been using them since I was about 17! and I’ll use boiled water from the tap to make up the handwash according to this recipe and just put it in my existing dispensers.  I’ll be posting more about it when I make it but so far I’m impressed because the soap bars come in paper wrapping only and the company I ordered it from  (The Ethical Superstore) sent it through the post with recycled cardboard wrapping in a recycled cardboard box and although there was a little bit of tape to keep it closed even the invoice didn’t have the stupid plastic backed peel off bit on it.  A win all round!

Green, Frugal, Sustainable Round Up

What have we done this week to live sustainably!

1. Some of our neighbours came round to have another look at using our orchard to site their beehive.  They kindly brought us a box of 6 eggs from their rare breed Derbyshire Red Cap hens!  Huge thank you all round. Then, later in the week, when we went to pick up some pig feed our pig mentors also gave us eggs from their Light Sussex Hens.  We eat a lot of eggs so this was all very welcome! Since moving here we have been given lots of eggs from local smallholders and I’m looking forward to having our own flock so we can reciprocate.

2. Sock Mending – the sock mending saga continues I am now down from 13 outstanding pairs to 7 pairs. I’d have done more but I got waylaid by successful patching some jeans for the first time.  I won’t talk about that too much as I have a whole exciting How To! blog post planned.

3. A free bottle of wine! – some lovely friends of ours are moving to London and they don’t have time to drink all their homemade wine before they leave and they don’t want to take it with them… So we are the lucky new owners of a bottle of elderberry wine from last Autumn.

4. A few months ago our neighbours (with a chain saw) trimmed our ornamental Cherry Tree to within an inch of its life.  I asked them to leave the cuttings with us and earlier this week I spent one hour (of many), stripping the long straight branches into bean poles, cutting some of the bigger bits into kindling and shredding the thinnest branches into mulch for our fruit bushes.  This is part of my work to reduce what we bring on to and take off the property and trying to close the cycle of waste, my new saying… Nothing Green is Waste!

5. Filling the cake tin – I made a big pile of cinnamon sugar and thumb print biscuits for the cake tin.  We haven’t bought any cakes or sweets from the mini-tescos all week.

As well as all the other things we have already blogged about with the compost, the charity shop finds and using up leftovers.

Mostly above we have been given things rather than done things to live sustainably.  Part of sustainable living is great community.  This week we have really benefited from our community which means that in the next few weeks it is on us to find ways to support our neighbours, be generous and give back to others.  The wonderful cycle of living side by side with people.

Use it or Lose it: Milk

Today’s Use it or Lose it Post is Milk and it has two recipes for the price of one blog post.

I had a 2 litre bottle of Organic milk which was *cough* a couple of days past it’s sell by date.  But I used my nose and it smelled fine so I set about using it up.

Too much milk!

Too much milk!

My big hitter for using up milk is always pancakes because we always have eggs and flour on hand. I use a really simple recipe:

1 mug flour (any kind)

1 mug milk (any kind)

2 medium eggs

I whisked all of them together and then left it to rest for 30 minutes.  Then fry in butter in a frying pan.  I always fry big crepe style pancakes in a huge frying pan and then cut them in half (you cook breakfast faster that way).

My real recipe here though is Rice Pudding.  I was never a fan of rice pudding until I met Eliza Acton’s Rich Rice Pudding (from Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course).  This I love, it comes with a creamy, custardly layer on top.

I have tweaked Delia/Eliza’s recipe to make a chocolate/orange version instead of a lemon/nutmeg version.


110g short grain rice

850ml milk

75g sugar or 125g of chopped apricots soaked in orange juice and then blitzed in the food processor.

50g Butter

3 eggs

Grated rind of 1 orange

3 squares of dark chocolate


Preheat the oven to gas mark 2/300F/150C.

Butter a baking dish.

Put the rice and milk in a saucepan and bring it slowly to simmering point and heat slowly until the rice is almost cooked (Delia says about 10 mins). Add the sugar/orange and apricot mixture the butter, the orange zest, and the chocolate.  Heat slowly and stir until the chocolate is melted throughout the pudding.

Leave it to cool a little.

Whisk the eggs and stir into the pudding.  Then pour the whole mixture into the baking dish and bake in the oven for 30-40 mins.

Chocolately rice pudding goodness

Chocolatey rice pudding goodness

Serve with cream (always – this part of the recipe is not optional!).

I’ve given two recipes here because although the rice pudding is lovely it contains ingredients you might need to buy.  If you are in a Use it or Lose it situation you probably don’t have lots of other ingredient to play around with like in the rice pudding.  I do find it frustrating when I see “leftovers” recipes calling for a bunch of unusual or expensive ingredients.  If I need to use something up in a hurray I won’t have some other weird and wonderful things. Therefore the pancake mix at least is full of simple staple ingredients.

In other news we dug up our first potatoes.  I think you’ll agree we were a bit early.  We’ll be waiting a bit longer for the next lot 🙂

Earlies are a bit too early :(

Earlies are a bit too early 😦

I also harvested all our redcurrants.  I’ll be making some redcurrant pies shortly to swap with my Dad for some redcurrant jelly.  We got 965g out of the fruit bushes.  I had a quick look on line and the best price I could find for fresh redcurrants was £2 for 150g.  My harvest would have cost us £12.86 in the shops!  That will be some lovely pies in the Winter for just the cost of the pasty.

Use it or Lose it – Mushrooms and Stilton.

This post is following on from my previous Use it or Lose it entries here and here.

If you are going to use every scrap of what you buy I think it is key you have a set of recipes which play to your strengths, your tastes and your needs. We love mushrooms and Stilton and we often buy Stilton to have as an eating cheese for lunch. We grow many (but not all sadly) of our own herbs – so it is easy to chuck some sage, lovage or fennel in a recipe.

This is a recipe which evolved from having a few crumbs of Stilton and half a pack of mushrooms left and we have made it many many times.

Mushroom, Stilton and Sage Pasta Sauce



Ingredients (Feeds two adults and one child)

1 small onion sliced

1-2 cloves of garlic minced

Olive oil

250g Mushrooms

40g Stilton cubed

125ml Cream

10 Sage leaves sliced.

150g pasta for the adults and

pasta portion appropriate for the child’s age

Pinch of nutmeg to taste

Seasoning to taste

Cheese to sprinkle on the top (parmesan, pecorino, cheddar – whatever is leftover)

Boil water for the pasta.

Fry the onion in oil until they are melting and soft, then add the mushrooms and garlic and cook until the mushrooms are browned. Then add the sage and stilton and stir until the stilton is mostly melted.  Add the cream, pepper and nutmeg.

When the water is boiling add the pasta and cook according to the instruction on the pack.

Serve sauce on top of pasta, sprinkled with cheese.

It is also great on baked potatoes or rice.





Use it or lose it… food waste

So one of the areas we are working on is food waste.  I’d like to think we are pretty good about this and yet it often seems that a bit of hummus or a bowl of leftovers ends up going to waste.   I hate the idea of throwing away food especially since out of the 15 million tonnes of food the UK throws away annually – half is from households!  But on a personal level, throwing away food is  throwing away money and I can’t be doing that.

Statistics are from the excellent “love food, hate waste” website which is a goldmine of useful information and recipes.

Now we are growing more of our own food (especially the meat!) waste seems more and more unpalatable.  This food represents something more valuable than money, it represents our time and in the case of our animals it represents their lives.  These are big incentives for me and I’m proud to say that in the case of our pigs we have been careful to really stretch the meat and use every bite.

It is shop bought food that suffers worse though.  My main offenders are bags of herbs (some it always goes off before it is used), celery (why does every recipe call for one or two sticks only!!!) and bowls of leftover meals – good intentions literally gone bad.

So one of my goals in the coming months is to get our food waste down to nothing (or as close to nothing as we can get it).

To this end I’m sharing today’s Use It or Lose It Recipe.

Milk – it is feast or famine with milk in this house.  We either have loads about to go off or I’m popping over the road for a cheeky pint from the expensive mini-Tescos.  Eventually our milk consumption will level out (I hope!) or we’ll work out how to order just the right about.

I had about 300ml left of some full fat milk which was two days out of date today (but NOT off.  When I have too much milk I usually make one of two things Pancakes and Yorkshire Pudding.  This is probably a cheat since in a way a Yorkshire Pud is like roasted pancake.

Today I made Orange and Vanilla Pancakes for breakfast.


Tasty breakfast ready to go.
Tasty breakfast ready to go.

Makes 3 pancakes the size of dinner plates – enough to feed 2 adults and 2 children.


2 medium eggs whisked together

1 mug milk

1 mug flour (plain or self-raising whatever you have)

zest of one orange

1 tsp of vanilla extract/essence

butter for frying

Whisk together the milk, flour and eggs until you have a smooth batter then rest for at least 30 mins and add the vanilla and zest.  The resting time allows the flour to absorb the liquid and apparently makes it nicer. Either way I’ve always done it and feel superstitious about the resting time.

Breakfast parts about to be assembled.
Breakfast parts about to be assembled.

Melt some of the butter in a large frying pan until hot.  Then add enough of the batter to cover the base of the large frying pan (about 3 ladles for me). You should get 3 giant pancakes using this method.

We ate ours with the rest of the orange cut into slices and some strawberries that were about to go off.

Making a giant pancake cuts down on cooking time and I hate standing around making pancakes for ages whilst they get cold and soggy or whilst other people are eating them and I’m cooking.  Make 3 really big ones then cut into slices as you need to like a pizza.  Less cooking time, less gas/electric used, less stress.