Tag Archives: zero waste

Mending – a Radical Act of Value

Another Vlog post is up.

Josh (having listened to my rants on long journey’s far too often!) suggested that I talk about some of our values and philosophy behind our choices.

So I did…

 

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Zero Waste Week: Use it or Lose it

This week has been zero waste week, I’ve been remiss in marking it on the blog but not at all remiss in observing my part of it at home

I think I might even be an Ambassador for ZWW which makes my shame all the greater.  Quick go over there and check out the cool stuff I keep forgetting to blog about!

The view from our local park.

The view from our local park.

I chose to focus on food because whilst I work hard to reduce waste there are always things I could do better and new tips and tricks to try out. This culminated in an ultimate Zero Waste Meal that I am incredibly proud of because almost all the ingredients were grown or made by me!

The meal was Potato and Kale stew and my ingredients looks liked this:

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Shallots (grown by us)

Garlic (grown and preserved by my Dad)

Cavelo Nero (grown by us)

Potatoes (grown by us)

Borlotti Beans (grown by us)

Parma Ham (grown and made by us)

Leftover shredded chicken (remnants of 4 chicken carcasses I used for stock)

2 cubes of chicken stock (made by me, reduced until concentrated and frozen in ice cube trays)

1.2 litres of whey (leftover from cheesemaking I used it to rehydrate the stock cubes)

Smoked Paprika (shop bought)

Olive Oil (shop bought)

The method was pretty simple after that..

Fry the shallots and garlic in the oil until softened and add the potatoes and ham.  Then add the paprika, chicken, whey and stock cubes and simmer for about 20 mins or until the potatoes are done.  Then add the cavelo nero (destalked and roughly chopped) and the beans – cook for another 10 mins.  Voila!

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It was incredibly flavourful and highly nutritious with all the extra protein from the whey and of course that Superfood darling – Kale!

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Growing your own food is really waste saving in so many ways, there is no packaging and no air miles, you only pick exactly what you need so nothing rots in the veg drawer and any trimmings can go on the compost heap to be put back into the soil.

Over the week I’ve been looking out for more food waste saving tips to pop down here:

1. Chillis – my chilli plants failed this year so I’ve had to buy them from the Supermarket.  I always get more than I need in a pack.  So I read online that you can just throw chillis straight in the freezer in a container and when you need them, get them out and use them as if they were fresh.  I have about 4 chillis in the freezer right now!

2. Milk – I over ordered milk recently and ended up with double what I needed.  I froze one of the bottles and use the other to make Paneer Cheese.  I used this blog post and the final recipe in it is for Queso Blanco which (as it turns out) is the same as paneer!  I used some of the whey in the above stew instead of water and the rest I’m freezing in portions for baking.

3. Preserving – as a Gardner with a lot of fruit trees at this time of year I am rushed off my feet trying to preserve the harvest.  Currently I’ve made two plum cakes, 7lbs of Damson Jam and nearly 3 litres of Blackberry Cordial.  There is much more to come this weekend.  There are lots of good jam and chutney recipes online and if you use homegrown or foraged produced they will often cost pennies.  Our 3 litres of Blackberry Cordial cost under a £1. I can’t bear to see blackberries rotting in the hedgerows near to a supermarket where they are being sold at £1.75 for 150g!

4. Pizza Sauce – I love this idea by A Girl Called Jack for making pizza out of leftovers.  I often have a couple of tablespoons of veggie stew, chilli, bolognese leftover and nothing to do with it.  How come I didn’t realise I could use it as pizza sauce!

Use it or Lose it: Cheese

We love cheese – we eat lots of it and lots of different types.  But there often seems to be a little dried out husk in the fridge or even several.  Parmesan and Pecorino are fine, I save the rinds and add them to soups and stews to give extra flavour. But there are so many other delicious cheeses in my life and in my fridge.

Jenga cheese straws

Jenga cheese straws

I originally made these cheese straws for No Plastic July but even as I was making them I realised they were a great way to use up those little hard ends of cheese.

Recipe is here but I have tweaked it as usual.

Cheese Straws

Ingredients

(Recipe says it makes 36 straws.  I got a lot more out of the recipe!)

  • 375g/13oz plain flour

  • 225g/8oz butter, diced

  • 150g/5½oz assorted grated hard cheese (cheddar, double gloucester, wensleydale, cheshire etc.)

  • 50g/1¾oz freshly grated parmesan cheese

  • pinch English Mustard powder

  • small pinch cayenne pepper/paprika

  • 2 free-range eggs, yolks only (beaten)

  • Ice cold water 4-5 tablespoons.

Method

This is essentially a pastry recipe and I am generally very bad at making pastry on account of having hot hands.  So I make all mine in a food processor and the results are always lovely.

Sift the flour and put in the food processor with the butter.  Whizz until it resembles bread crumbs.  If you don’t have a food processor then rub the butter into the flour until it resembles bread crumbs. If you run the mixture through your (clean) fingers for a bit you should be able to feel if the butter is evenly distributed. Add all the other ingredients except the water either to the food processor for a final blitz or just stir into the mixture.

Then add the ice cold water a little bit at a time stirring/blitzing until it comes together in a ball.

Put the ball in a bowl with a plate on top and put it in the fridge for at least 30 mins.

Pre-heat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5.

Take the dough out of the fridge and roll out on a floured surface until it is the thickness of a £2 coin (maybe 1/4 inch if you are not British). Then cut into strips the desired length and width of your cheese straw and place on a baking tray with a sheet of greaseproof paper on it.

Brush a little milk on the tops of the straws and then bake for 10-15 mins until they are golden brown on top.

I apologise about the eggs yolks only instruction – I should definitely do a Use it or Lose it Egg Whites edition soon.  Throwing away eggs whites is a guilty secret of mine, I know I could make meringues but do far I haven’t.

No Plastic July – starts here!

Well today is the first day of No Plastic July and as you know I am trying to lose plastic in 5 areas of our life.

Plastic Free July

Plastic Free July

I’m doing this because plastic doesn’t break down for years and years and years.  When you have single use, disposable plastic we are just putting it somewhere out of sight and out of mind but it still exists.  It sits there in landfill somewhere – but that landfill is filling up and in world with a huge and growing population I can’t think of a more disgusting waste of land. Or worse it is getting dumped into the ocean and damaging the wildlife.

Unlike my compost heap this stuff isn’t being broken down it is just a giant bin which keeps on growing. Recycling just isn’t as good an answer as we think, it isn’t as widespread as it needs to be, it doesn’t cover all types of disposable plastic, it uses more energy (than just not having the disposable plastic in the first place) and reading No Plastic July website it is being recycled in “third world countries with substandard conditions for the world’ poorest people”.

There is a potential impact on our health with BPA chemicals getting out of the plastic and into our bodies and there is a growing impact on the oceans which I had no idea about until recently.

Yikes!

It is interesting to me how issues aren’t just about “the environment’ anymore, there is always a very human impact, often on the poorest and most vulnerable people and BPA affects everyone.  That is why I embrace ‘sustainability’ as a term.  It covers everything and reflects the fact our actions impact in lots of different ways.

So the journey to give up disposable plastic starts today.

One of things we are giving up is crackers and crisps and savoury snacks in plastic wrapping.  So today I’ll be whipping up a batch of these cheese straws to eat instead. I want giving up plastic to mean we eat better and enjoy life more whilst saving the planet. There will be dancing (and eating cheese straws) in my revolution!

Alongside my 5 things, I’m also going to be watching some documentaries and learning more about the issues and writing to a few companies to ask them to change their packaging.

A little example – I like to buy organic butter because organic farming is more sustainable and less oil dependent than other types of farming.  But the foil wrappers on most organic butter – (Yeo Valley, Sainsburys Organic and Rachels – I am looking at you!) contain a thin layer of plastic.  So do I go plastic free or do I by the more sustainable organic option!  My solution is to lobby Yeo Valley and others to change their packaging so I don’t have to work out the lesser of two evils.

There are some other amazing bloggers, going even further than me and I’m going to get a lot of inspiration from them over this month.

Check out their links and cheerlead them to the finish line!

Westywrites

EcoThrifty

Plastic is Rubbish

Plastic Free UK

Sustainable Witney

Plastic Free July In Croydon

My Zero Waste

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

Ingredients

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.

 

Voila.

Voila.

 

Use it or Lose it Recipe – Breadcrumbs

Shelling peas in the sun.

Shelling peas in the sun.

Today had its ups and downs (R took a little bit of a tumble, nothing serious but a bit of a shock and a sore bump for an already cross, teething baby). But there was a moment in the sunshine when I felt very happy and at peace.  I’d just picked our first pea harvest; mangetout are the yellow ones and Dwarf Early Peas the green ones.  I sat and shelled them by the veg patch so that I could toss the pea pods into the pig pen.  Pigs love things like that but they can’t eat food scraps that have been in a kitchen because of cross contamination.  So I made sure I shelled the peas in the sun, by the veg patch and the hedgerow while the pigs wuffled in the background.  It was lovely.

I’ve decided to make Use it or Lose it Recipes a regular feature on the blog.  I talked a little bit about food waste in the first Use it or Lose it Post.

We make our bread in a bread machine and whilst we use most of it up, there is often a crust or two leftover.  I save them up and then blitz them in the food processor for breadcrumbs.  Then I freeze them.  Breadcrumbs last ages in the freezer and if the bread is sufficiently stale they don’t seem to freeze together in one clump – this means you can take out one portion at a time and leave the rest of the bag in the freezer.

This recipe is for using up stale bread. There are lots of ways of using up stale bread as it happens and I’m sure I’ll come back to this particular type of leftover in the future. As a child my Dad made the most amazing stuffing for Sunday lunch.  He experimented with all sorts of flavours and herbs from the garden but my favourites were the sweetcorn stuffing and his mushroom stuffing.  The other day I was thinking about the huge bad of breadcrumbs sitting in the freezer and remembering the stuffing of my childhood.  I realised that stuffing doesn’t have to be relegated to a Sunday lunch side dish but would make a great lunchtime dish – especially as a good finger food for fat little baby hands. At the same time someone posted a recipe up on a baby-led weaning group on facebook which was basically stuffing and with a bit of tweaking from me I think I’ve got something just right.

So this is my Lunchtime Special Stuffing – good for using up stale breadcrumbs AND wilted veg from the fridge.  Doesn’t that sound appetising? I’m sure Nigella Lawson would describe it as the mouth-crunchingly-perfect miniature beads of bread with juicy sweet carrots and sunshine-jewelled sweetcorn kernels.

Tasty lunchtime meal.

Tasty lunchtime meal.

This should serve 2 adults and 2 children for lunch with a salad/fruit.  It makes great picnic food for going out and about as well.

Ingredients

230g of shredded or finely chopped vegetables/herbs (I used carrots, sweetcorn, fresh basil and fresh parsley)

30g grated cheese (e.g. cheddar)

2 big handfuls of  breadcrumbs

2 medium eggs beaten

tablespoon butter

2 and 1/2 tsp of mixed dried herbs/spices

(I used 1 tsp dried thyme, 1 tsp marjoram, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika but use what you have – this is supposed to be a recipe about using things up – not buying lots more things)

Bowl of ingredients ready for mixin'

Bowl of ingredients ready for mixin’

Method

Preheat the oven to 190c/180fan/Gas Mark.

Mix all the above ingredients together until well combined.  Then either shape into individual patties or press into an oven dish. Personally I usually press it into an oven dish.  Sometimes I have the time to make ultra-cute baby sized portions of things, but this mixture is fiddly and messy and easier to put in a dish.

If you do make one big oven dish then dot the butter over the top.

 

Dotting with butter

Dotting with butter

Bake for about 25 mins until golden brown on top.

If you used an oven dish then now is the time to cut it into slices, otherwise just serve with fruit and salad.