Monday, November 9, 2009

Pumpkins Galore

Please note: I wrote this and then for some reason didn't publish it?

My kitchen table has been taken over by pumpkins. It annoys Shinerman, but all I see is the yummy goodness I'm going to make. Can you say BPA-free Pumpkin Pie?
We've been going to the Coppell Farmer's Market for a while. They have a couple of organic produce vendors and it's all local. Except for the Wild Alaskan Salmon people, which they said is fished by a local family, but I think is a little out of place. The fish was fished by locals not Salmon People. sigh...I'm tired.

We've gotten most of our produce from there since we stopped getting the organic co-op. Oh, I didn't tell you about that? After our friends with whom we were splitting a share decided to stop, the delivery spot we went to dwindled and it was no longer cost-effective. Then we couldn't get a delivery close by on the weekend, yada, yada.

We also have been getting our meat and eggs there, it really has been great. This last weekend was bring the weekly email and get a free pumpkin promotion. So of course I did! And here is how we came to have a table-full o'pumpkins:
Me:Hey, I brought my email for my free pumpkin, can I just pick one out?
Market Man: Sure(he waves towards them) you want more? Take more.
Me: looking as if I don't believe him
Market Man: You want 3 take 3. You can have 10 if you want, we gotta get rid of 'em.
Say the above in an old Jewish Man's cadence; I don't know if he was or not, but that's how it sounds when I replay it in my head.

I took 3 'cause that's all I could carry and went and enlisted Shinerman and the Man. We got 9 total; I felt 10 would be too selfish. Add that to the two we already had and we had a table full!

We've now pureed several and started pumpkin wine out of a few, as well.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Thinking of you...

I know it's been a while since I've written. It's not you - it's me. I've thought about you often in my absence and so much has happened. I'll catch you up with some pictures...

picked blackberries - made wine - made freezer jam...yummm

homemade chicken stock

organic produce at the Coppell Farmer's Market

fancy composting system designed by Shinerman

best winery ever

local produce - cheese - bread - wine + Michael Pollan = best snack ever

love this wine

took the Man to the beach

foraged food from the backyard

started Pre-K

festivals (this one is Oktoberfest)

cooking with the Man

So you see, I've been gathering pictures for you the whole time I've been gone.

What about you? Have you done anything along these lines? I'd love to hear about it!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

smells like no mind

I smell like patchouli. No offense intended for anyone who also smells like it and enjoys that smell, but I do not. My first memory of this smell is from Fry St Fair my freshman year at UNT. I was walking by that old house next to Lucky Lou's, only when it was just a beer store before it was a bar. They had random shit strewn around the yard and the smell of patchouli was coming out of the house in unending waves. It was gross, and it is still gross.

So why then do I smell like patchouli? I've been on a quest to reduce the trash we generate. I buy what I can in bulk and TRY to remember to bring my own bulk bags. I'm not ready to go the 'no-poo' route so I figured I would try the bulk shampoo and conditioner on offer at The Cupboard. I noticed before that it was Nature's Gate, which I was using anyways, so I didn't look at the label any further to see what version it was and made plans to use it the next time I needed said shampoo and conditioner. Let me say one thing about Nature's Gate - it does have many unpronounceable ingredients, but none that I recognize as nasties(parabens and such) and it's much cheaper than the Shikai that I LOVE!

Off to the Cupboard I went for food and bulk shampoo and conditioner...I got it home and put the conditioner in the bottle I ALREADY had - making progress already. Then I smell it...the PATCHOULI...blech. I thought maybe it wasn't so bad, maybe it'll wear off as soon as it's rinsed out, maybe...but no, I smelled like it all day and actually got a headache from the smell (psychological I'm sure). I asked Shinerman about it and he said it smelled fine, what does he know?
So, now I'm stuck with half a bottle of patchouli smellin' conditioner. I can't bear to throw it away so I'll be smelling like this for a while, if I happen to see you, no mind.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Clothesline promised

We had a HUGE storm after Shinerman fixed the clothesline and one pole ended up a few feet away, but nothing broke and the line itself actually stayed connected. I'm just glad that there weren't any clothes on it! He fixed it again and it's been serving us well since then. We haven't used the dryer since May! So, I think we're doing very well for this year's Clothesline Challenge.

I left you hanging a bit on the Green Party Plans, though, didn't I? It was great, a little less green than I would prefer, but not too bad.

We did do paper napkins, with a pirate theme, of course. Unfortunately, we had a whole package left over - I hate that! I guess they'll be used at a later date though. For the plates I used Chinet. They are 100% recycled material, not post-consumer material, but better than the competition. And they can be composted at home - double nice! The tablecloths were these really cute striped indoor/outdoor fabric that I think will really get used - I bought them at Target.

The Man asked for chocolate cupcakes for his class party. I'll have to find the recipe to post - they were apparently the BEST CUPCAKES EVER. The frosting was for sure, I just used the recipe for cream cheese frosting in my Joy of Cooking book. I finally had to pour water in the food processor because I kept putting my fingers in there to taste the leftovers! Step away from the frosting, mmmmm... I used the same recipe for his party cake, just used a cake pan. I found some India Tree sprinkles and food coloring at Whole Foods. The colors weren't as bold; I couldn't get the water to look blue for the life of me, so lavender it was - I think I was the only who noticed. Even then, I love that they are all natural and will use them from now on.

No change in the favor bags, except I did get some organic lollipops from Yummy Earth to put in there. I used small paper tote bags (yeah to no plastic!!) and we put stickers on them.

So like I said a little less green than I would prefer, but not too bad...

Monday, June 8, 2009

My grand experiment

For a little over a year now we've been getting our produce from an organic produce co-op. This whole time we've been splitting it with another couple. Recently, they decided to no longer get their portion and instead see how they fare at the Cupboard (GREAT local store). Oh by the way, the Cupboard has fresh LOCAL pastured chicken eggs. yummy!!

I decided that, rather than trying to find someone to share the co-op produce with, we would see how we do with a full share. There have been a couple of times that we've run out of things. With the last shared delivery we had to go to the farmers market to get some food for the next week!
I'm really hoping this will work, but if it doesn't I think we'll look into getting a half share of a CSA. I'll have to do some research when the time comes for that, though.

But the thing is, we don't eat at home every night. Usually at least one night a week I go out with friends and Shinerman goes out another night. On those nights we either eat leftovers or, more often than not, go get sandwiches at a local sandwich shop. And then even on nights when we are all home, it seems I always forget to take something out or get home too late to start dinner.
This week, I got home late on Monday, Tuesday we had dinner at the in-laws for an early Father's Day, and tonight is Shinerman's night at the bar. That leaves just 9 days left to eat all the food! And of course the key is also to be able to do something with it before it goes bad. Bright spot? Two mangoes that will be frozen soon to be made into mango daiquiris, Shinerman's idea and a great one right?! I cannot wait.

I started tomorrow's dinner already - sirloin tip roast in the crock pot. But, I've got to do some serious meal planning. I'll be using this website, You enter in all the ingredients you have in the kitchen. It sounds like that would take a while, but it doesn't. They suggest things as you go and that helps remind you of things you have. The system consolidates recipes from different websites based on the ingredients you have in the kitchen.
My usual process is to write a list of everything in the fridge, freezer, and the cabinet and then troll the cookbooks and websites for something to make. I think the supercook site will seriously save me some time.

I'm off to do some meal planning...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Party Planning, the green way

The littlest man's birthday is coming up. I've been thinking about what we would do for several months now. So many factors have to be considered:
  • Theme
  • Venue
  • Cost
  • Greenness
And of course it must all make my son happy, sigh...

The man finally decided on a pirate (yea! no Thomas!) theme. I toyed with having it at a local park; it would have been free, but it would have been on a first come basis. So that was an issue and the man went to a party at a gym place and got really excited about a dragon inflatable - and that pretty much sealed the deal.

I found some wicked cute invites on at AnneMadeArt. I bought a .pdf that I can print off, and I already have some postcard paper from his first birthday I can use. The .pdf includes thank you's and a coloring page. The coloring page will work great in the goody bag, especially since I'm including some of these CUTE eco-friendly crayons. One thing I really don't like about kids parties is the plastic baggie full of more plastic and candy, so I'm going to really try to avoid that trap this year. I'm making eye patches, too! I found a pattern online and bought some black felt and elastic at the store. I'll have to get started on that soon if I plan to get them all made in time! Not sure what I'll put all this in...

So decorations and tableware...Obviously we'll use cloth tablecloths, that's a pretty easy choice. But I think we'll do paper napkins. I just think it'll be more hassle than it's worth to do cloth napkins, plus that's an easy way to work in the theme.

My biggest issue right now is what plates to use. I really wanted to buy some Preserve durables, but I'm not sure if this year is the best time to spend the money. Not only would we use them at this party of course, but also anytime we need extra plates for parties. So, I'm going back and forth on this one. They would come in handy often, but perhaps more than we need to spend this month. I'll let you know what I decide :)

The littlest man hasn't decided what kind of cake or cupcakes he wants, but I already know what I'll be using to color them. India Tree has a set of primary colors you can mix to create a bunch of other colors. Since we don't buy much processed food that's not organic, we don't worry about artificial colors in our food. But take a look at your food labels, you'll be surprised at what's been colored. I bought some pickles the other day, and besides that the first ingredient was High Fructose Corn Syrup, they also included artificial coloring. I'm not sure why...

So I'm tired, it's late and I've got laundry to fold...I'm sure I'll be updating ya'll on the green party plans soon!

If you have any ideas, just let me know!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Clothesline Challenge 2009 Update

Just wanted to pop in and let you know we are a go for line drying! Shinerman fixed the clothesline by adding some braces to each post. We've already done quite a few loads. It's a good thing, we were running out of clothes! I stopped by Gift of Green's blog and there are a bunch of folks signed up for the Clothesline Challenge. You should sign up, c'mon, you know you want to - no pressure :)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

And the sun shines...

The last couple of days have been gorgeous! Unfortunately, the clothesline is out of commission again. Shinerman had it fixed for a couple of loads of laundry before the rain knocked it out. We're hoping the ground will dry up enough to really fix it later this week, 2x4 braces may be in our future.

For a few months now I've been doing a knitting night with my much more crafty friends. I decided that I wanted to learn to knit and what better way to do that than with good friends and wine (or beer)? So far I've made two dishclothes, one mishap that was supposed to be a
fingerless glove, and an ACTUAL fingerless
glove. I wore it for the first time today.
Yes, it was 80 some-odd degrees outside, but inside my office it was a wintry 65 degrees. My cube neighbor was jealous of my one glove.

We also had a napkin party. My really nice friend let me use her sewing machine to make three new napkins. I'm still using the winter ones and am looking forward to a change of pace; the ones I made are really cute and spring-y. We stopped using paper towels the winter of 2007 (wow, I can't believe it's been that long!!). At first we just used dish towels at the dinner table, and that worked fine. Then I remembered that I had a bunch of napkins in the buffet and that was more socially acceptable. I must say this green choice was much easier than I thought it would be. There isn't a noticeable increase in the laundry amount. I clean any really nasty messes with old rags and either rinse them out or, if it's beyond bad, just throw it out.

You make anything lately? Do tell...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Clothesline Challenge 2009

The new clothesline challenge for this summer has begun!

We began drying our clothes outside last spring; read about the ghetto-fabness and then the sweet clothesline that followed. We've cut our electric bill by about 2o% and we no longer have to run the clothes over and over in the dryer to get them dry - so annoying.

But, with all this rain the last few weeks - the clothesline is out of commission. Not because of the rain itself, but the ground is so soaked that one of the poles started leaning like the Tower of Pisa. Shinerman pulled it out and said there was a big 'ol puddle under it. Now we have to wait until it stops raining and the ground dries to fix it. In the meantime, I think we're going to work the shower curtain and hanger action. But I did put some clothes in the dryer tonight...sigh, the eco-guilt cometh :)

But YOU should take the plunge. Gift of Green has several levels for your choosing. We are trying for Super Star, but that was before the clothesline crisis.

Gift of Green's Clothesline Challenge 2009

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Breakfast for Dinner

Tonight the littlest man asked for pancakes for dinner. I did this randomly last week and the look on his face was priceless. He was so excited. So when he asked for it tonight, I figured I can get dinner tonight and breakfast tomorrow out of the way. I essentially use the buttermilk pancake recipe out of the Joy of Cooking. I love this book, I got it for the first Christmas after Shinerman and I were married from my mother-in-law. I use it so much that I rarely put it away.

I usually put vanilla extract in there, but we had some orange sections I needed to get rid of, so I decided to use those instead. It turned out well, just a hint of orange in the after taste. I think that next time I would add in some orange zest and see how that goes. When I have blueberries I add those in at the stove. If you sprinkle them on after you pour the batter in the pan, you avoid any crushing or juiciness in the batter - plus you get to decide how many you want!

The littlest man helped, of course. He's gotten much better at measuring, he doesn't fling the measuring cup up out of the canister as if it's empty, thus spilling {insert ingredient here} all over the counter. He's also able to name the ingredients, including the baking powder and baking soda.

You can use regular milk for this recipe, but I highly recommend trying the buttermilk. If you use regular milk, skip the baking soda.

Orange Pancakes
1 1/2 cups flour
3 tbl sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3 tbl butter, melted
2 large eggs
3-4 tbl fresh squeezed orange juice

Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk wet ingredients together. To make sure the butter doesn't seize when you mix it in with the cold milk, mix in a little bit of milk in with the melted butter. This will make sure they are closer to the same temperature. Pour wet ingredients into dry, whisking until just combined - as Alton Brown says, lumps are ok!

I heat a comal (a small flat round griddle) on med-low heat sprayed with a bit of olive oil, then use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to pour the batter onto the pan. Cook until the top of the pancake has a few popped bubbles and then flip to cook the other side.

These are so yummy that I only have a few left over each time, the littlest man has been known to gobble down 4-5 in one sitting. I always want to have enough left over so that I can freeze some for breakfast, but usually it's only a couple left to freeze. You have a couple of options to freeze any leftover pancakes. I usually stack them, separated with wax paper and put them in a bag in the freezer. Or you can put them on a cookie sheet in your freezer, then when they are frozen just put them in a bag. You won't have any sticking together with either of these methods. I guess using wax paper creates more waste, though...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Sooo, Earth Day?

I've been pretty stoked about Earth Day this year. What would we do, I wondered. Last year I took the day off and the littlest man and I went to the Arboretum. Maybe we could do something more giving this year, clean up litter maybe?

But, alas, work had to take over the day this year. Too much to do and too many other days taken off; plus, I had to go to the Dr about a weird rash on my back - boo. Adding to that, I really was beginning to feel very blah about the whole thing. Taking just one day to do something green? We're pretty Green all year-round.
A list of green stuff we do everyday of the year:
  • No paper towels - ever.
  • 100% recycled toilet paper; except once when we had people over, it was late at night and we were about to run out - bad combo
  • We haven't bought plastic baggies in a year and a half
  • Only using natural cleaners, mostly baking soda and vinegar
  • Making our own homemade laundry detergent
  • Making our own hand soap - verdict is still out on that one so no post, yet
  • Buying almost all organic food
  • Line dry clothes year round, we've used the dryer only a handful of times since we started a year ago
  • Composting everything we can
  • Recycling everything we can
This list isn't exhaustive and also isn't meant to be a 'nanana-booboo' either. Perhaps I'm trying to assuage my guilt over not doing anything today to celebrate.

So, what did you do for Earth Day? Or what do you do everyday that makes you feel better for not doing anything today?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easter, naturally

Every year for Easter we go to Houston to visit Shinerman's family. It's a weekend of fun and eating way too much. Usually it means we bring a ton of 'stuff' back, too. But I guess my and my sister-in-laws frustration with the overflowing Easter baskets got through. There were no Easter baskets, just some crafts. Which is even better, because then they are creating something themselves. I think we actually came back with less than we took. This was because we took some naturally dyed Easter eggs that we, obviously, didn't bring back.

This was our first year to dye the eggs using natural dyes, and I think our last using conventional eggs. In the past it just hadn't made sense to me to pay so much for eggs we weren't going to eat. But this year, I felt really guilty buying the conventional ones. I don't just buy the farm raised eggs because they are better for you, but also because they are better for the chicken. I'm really just so done with factory food. Of course this means that we'll be eating the eggs next year, deviled eggs anyone?

I was really impressed with the outcome of the natural dyes. I didn't take pictures, sorry. Just a few days before I made some black beans from scratch and used the left over water from their soaking. This made an absolutely beautiful purple-blue color. I also saved the brown skins from a dinner's onion. This made the eggs orange-yellow. They also ended up splotchy from air bubbles - not sure why that happened. I also used some turmeric that made the eggs a really bright yellow - those were great and I wish we did more of those. The only disappointment was the chili powder; I had some leftover from a chili packet. But it just left the eggs a light, light beige - unimpressive. The littlest man was full of wonder at figuring out what color things would turn out. So much more fun than the chemical dye pellets!!

So, how did we do it? Just bring the items you are using to create the dye to a boil. Boil until you get the color you think you want. I did these all for about 15 minutes, except the bean soaking water since that was already really deep purple. Drain any solids from the liquid, unless you want to see what sort of patterns they'll give. Stir in a teaspoon or so of vinegar. Put in your hard-boiled eggs. Leave in the liquid until they reach the color you like. We left ours in overnight, mostly for simplicity sake. If you're eating these, be sure you do any overnight soaking in the fridge. I liked the matte look of the eggs, but you can shine 'em up with some vegetable oil if you wish. You can also boil the eggs in the liquid themselves, but I always have a hard time boiling eggs so I decided to do it separately. Yes, I can cook really well but can't boil an egg - crazy, I know.

We also replaced the plastic green grass this year. I have always hated that stuff! It seems like you're still finding it on the floor and in crevises in July. I had some leftover green felt from the littlest man's strawberry Halloween costume. So we just cut that up into strips - perfect!!
We did have to do plastic eggs for the daycare party, though. I made sure that instead of going into his playthings, they went went into a baggie with the felt grass to be used again next year. I may have to find another option for his basket next year, though. He used his 'baby' one again this year and I don't know if a hippopotamus basket will fly for a four-almost-five year old.

How was your Easter? Do anything fun and/or eco-friendly?
I'm testing the mobile post feature

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A few homemade, from scratch items

Where does the time go? I told myself that I would post more than just once this week and I can't believe a week has already passed by! This week has been pretty crazy with work, I had a big deadline and and short week - because I'm taking tomorrow off!! oh, yeah!

Anywho...I didn't just do work business, but home business, too. Our outside fridge's freezer is now home to jars of black beans, kidney beans, and chicken broth. In an effort to reduce our grocery bill, I've made a commitment to make more of our food from scratch. To accomplish this I bought dry beans from the bulk bins and ordered a whole free range chicken from Burgundy Pasture Beef - this isn't it, just all that I'm focusing on today.

Dry Beans

I'll be honest the dry beans take planning, something at which I do not excel. I tried the 'quick-soak' method on the black beans, because I wanted them for dinner. I was making chicken enchiladas and wanted them as a side. With the quick-soak method you bring the beans to a boil in a big pot, boil for a couple minutes, and then you let them soak for an hour. I'm not really sure what I did wrong, but they didn't work out so hot. Even though I soaked them for the right amount of time, it took them forever to cook. The other method is long-soak. You put the beans in a pot, cover with water and let 'em sit for at least 8 hours. Don't put them in the fridge, though, I discovered that slows down the process during another batch.
The kidney beans went easy-peasy. Funny enough, they were my first attempt. I did the long-soak method, put them on before I left for work so they would be ready to cook when I got home that night. After soaking, drain them and put them back in the pot with more water. Bring the beans to a boil and then simmer until they are tender. Since I was cooking these to be used in various recipes, I didn't season them, but you could if you wanted.

After I cooked the beans I put them into quart-size mason jars. As long as you don't fill them past the line there will be enough expansion room. Now, I've got BPA-free beans at the ready and the actual labor involved was minimal.

Whole Free-Range Chicken

I've cooked whole chickens before, usually to lackluster results. I mean they were ok, but you know, just ok. I didn't actually use a recipe this time, so I'll just tell you what I used. I had a bit of a surprise with the free-range bird. There wasn't a plastic bag full of neck and gizzards. The gizzards weren't included and the neck was still attached. So, my first act of business was to remove that. I just snipped it a bit with the scissors, cracked the neck and pulled it off. I froze it to put in the garbage on trash day, but I'm sure you can actually use it for something.

This recipe is really just about what you have on hand. I used the herbs I did because that's what was growing in the garden.
Preheat oven to 350. Mix together salt, pepper, rosemary, and thyme in a bowl. Pour olive oil over the chicken and rub it all over. Rub the salt mixture all over the chicken, be sure to get that yummy-ness under the skin. I also put some of the leftover seasoning into the cavity along with some fennel from the garden.

Bake in the oven until the meat's internal temperature is 180, it took about 40 mins for my bird and it was over 4lbs. This was the best chicken I've had. I'm sure the free-range aspect had something to do with it, but I like to think that I did, too. Dinner is served!

The carcass? well...that's another post for another day.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Homemade Laundry Detergent - the math

I had a couple of requests to talk about my laundry detergent, so I decided to focus on the money aspect in this post. With the economy like it is I know everyone is trying to save where they can. Be forewarned - I am not a math person, there is a reason I write for a living, so do not expect all of the numbers below to be 100% correct. Thank you for your understanding.

I've been making my own laundry detergent since August, here is the post where you can find the laundry detergent recipe I use. I really like it, it works great on the littlest man's clothes. He's 3 going on 4, so that's saying A LOT! It also lasts forever. I just made my third batch, so that works out to four months per batch. We average three loads a week, so that's 48 loads . The ALL Free & Clear we used to use says it has 32 loads. That's over a month's worth of laundry more! The ALL is about $8, so $.25 a load. Compare that to the numbers below.

Most of the stuff I just got at my local store, including the Dr. Bronner's for my first two batches. For this last batch, I ordered the last Dr. Bronner's from Their prices are great and they have $4.99 shipping no matter how much you get. The soap I ordered was $2.80 per bar. I saw later they had a three pack for 2.39 per bar. I will definitely buy this one next time. That would make it $.08 per load!!

Conclusion - The homemade laundry detergent is DEFINITELY a good buy!!

The batch itself is a bit more than can fit into my biggest mason jar, so I put the extra in a smaller jar and gave it to a friend. She shared it with her mom and now they both are making their own laundry detergent. I cannot tell you how excited that makes me! I love hearing how I'm making an impact on people and how they view greenness and the planet.

I've been creating some other homemade things at the Green H - those posts will have to come later, it's late here and Shinerman has fallen asleep on the other couch - sorry Mom, sofa :)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Local Climate Change Forum

The Denton County Dems are hosting a climate change discussion Saturday March 28 from 9-12. Dr. La Point, Biology Professor from UNT, will be leading the discussion of issues and an overview legislation.

Earth Hour 2009

This upcoming Saturday is Earth Hour. Earth Hour started in Sydney in 2007, last year it had spread across the globe, and this year looks even bigger. All it takes is turning off your lights at 8:30pm local time for an hour. And don't forget to let the folks at Earth Hour know you're on board! Turning off your lights will not just save energy, but will let our leaders know that we care about our planet and they need to act to protect it.

There is a whole section of the site for kids and schools. I think I'll print out some pages for the littlest man to color.

Last year, Shinerman went a step (or two) further and turned the electricity off at the panel. The house was so quiet! We were babysitting a little girl and we all had a candlelight dinner and even did some crafts by candlelight. We left everything off for more than the hour, so after crafts we read several books by candlelight and the kids fell asleep on the couch. All in all it was a very fun and relaxing night. I'm excited about this year's Earth Hour. I think we'll play a board game this time as well as the crafts and coloring.

What will you be doing this Saturday at 8:30pm? I hope you join us in turning off the lights and giving the Earth your Vote!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Night of From-Scratch Cooking

I am super excited!

We've been trying to cut back our grocery bill here at the Green H. January's bill was outrageous! But I don't want to cut back on the quality, I told Shinerman I refuse to compromise on that. That was essentially the end of that argument. But, we DO need to watch the amount we spend. Especially in these times when it seems the economy is falling down around our ears. No layoffs here, knock on wood, but I did just lose half my team. NO FUN. my solution? Make more from scratch. I made my first pot of dry beans last week, pretty good. We ate some that night and I froze the rest in a mason jar. I'll use them this week in some Taco Soup. I've also started making bread, but I did buy some organic frozen biscuits and whole-wheat rolls the last time I went grocery shopping. I think it'll be the last time, though; those frozen biscuits are YUMMY, but expensive. More than $4 for 7! I'll definitely be trying to make those before I buy the frozen ones again! The bread's another post for another day, though.

The reason I'm so excited is because I made CRACKERS! From Scratch! Did you know you could make your own crackers? It never occurred to me until I read my latest blog discovery. The internet black hole led me here to a Rosemary Garlic Crackers recipe. I mentioned to a woman at work that I was making some crackers tonight and she matched my surprise that you can do this on your own.

The recipe as I made it is below, but I recommend visiting her site. I really like it!

Rosemary Garlic Crackers
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 tbsp milled flax seed
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp rosemary, chopped
1 rounded tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper, optional
1/2 cup water
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
more salt for the tops

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. In a bowl or food processor, mix together the flours, milled flax seed, baking powder, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper. Add the water and oil, stirring until dough comes together. If dough is too dry to mix, add another tablespoon of water or as needed. Divide dough in half.
3. Roll the dough out very thin, cracker thin. They will puff and rise a bit while baking, but not a lot. Roll them thin. Transfer the dough to a
Silpat or parchment-lined baking sheet. I used a pizza cutter to cut the crackers into squarish shapes. Sprinkle salt over the tops of the crackers and lightly press into dough.
4. Bake crackers in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, or until golden and crackers look crisp. Check them at 12 minutes! They will crisp up a bit as they cool. If crackers are still soft after cooling, place back in oven and bake for another couple of minutes.

They turned out really well. Although, I will say it takes a lot of pressure to get them thin. I pushed as hard as I could and they were still not as thin as you'd expect. I think next time I'll roll them out in smaller batches. I only changed a little from the recipe I found. I didn't have the nutritional yeast or granulated garlic she used. I'm glad this called for rosemary, because we are always trying to find a way to use the rosemary we have in the herb garden. Two plants that never die back produce a ton of herbs! I think I'll try this with the thyme and sage from the garden, too. Oh, and I was cooking with the littlest man and accidentally doubled the recipe; I guess it's a good thing, now I have some dough in the fridge to make tomorrow.

This took about 15 minutes, even with the kid helping, plus the time in the oven. I came out with yummy crackers that I know what's in them and how they were made, saved money AND had a fun time with my son. And really, it doesn't get much better than that.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Energy Rebates

According to the DRC, the Denton Municiple Electric will be explaining the GreenSense energy rebate program this Saturday . The DME reps will be at the South Branch library at 1pm.

Go, Learn, and save some GREEN!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Open Eco-House

Starting this weekend the Colleyville Eco House will be having open house hours. The house will be certified LEED-H Gold, Energy Star, and a list of others certifications and acronyms. The house is enormous. Honestly, I'm not sure how I feel about such a huge house but it does have something I'm really looking at in a new house. A huge open kitchen that can accommodate large groups. I would say two thirds of the first floor is the kitchen/dining/living open area. And the pantry? Nice!

The house is open every weekend this month, and with everything else we have going on, I'm hoping we'll be able to make it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I'm really not an angry Hippie

So a friend of mine who read my last post (and didn't leave a comment) said she's worried I've become an angry hippie. She thinks I need some yoga, which isn't a bad idea anyways!

All kidding aside...
I do get angry sometimes reading about how big corporations and the government are just messing with our food and other things my son comes into contact with on a daily basis. I was reading today that the FDA is having another meeting about BPA. This chemical has been proven in study after study to mess with hormones and reproductive systems, but the FDA is still listening to the industry telling them it's really just fine. Other countries have already banned it's use and retailers have removed it from their shelves, but the FDA says it's still just fine...

but anywho...on to what I'm not angry about. Since I've started on the Green Journey there are tons of things that make me happy!
  1. Cutting our trash down to a not-full-bag a week
  2. Venturing out and eating way more vegetables than my parents ever thought I would
  3. Making my own laundry detergent
  4. Local food!!
  5. Discovering wonderful handmade items
The best thing? Hearing my son talk about keeping the Earth clean, not wasting electricity and gas, recycling, and about organic ('ganic) food. Just today, he was talking about keeping the Earth clean. It just makes my heart full to the brim.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Things I can't stand...

So, a few weeks ago on a bulletin board the question went around "what can't you stand". I didn't think about it again until tonight while watching TV.

I've noticed that I have a problem watching all those ads that are trying to sell us things we don't need and are horrible for the us and/or the environment. (This includes a stupid ad on Facebookfor Tide that won't go away) What set me off tonight was the new Soft Scrub scrubby pads.

They are pre-loaded with Soft Scrub and you get them wet, then scrub away on your appliance. In the commercial, the woman is scrubbing away while the stove makes suggestive sexual comments. But that's not what bothers me. No, what bothers me is that once she is done molesting :) the stove she just THROWS AWAY the scrubby. And that's what the website says to do, "just throw away when the job is finished" GRRR!

Beyond the fact that I don't think you really need to use the cleaning chemical, can't you just buy the bottle and use a scrubby pad that you don't just THROW AWAY?

I've included some other things that really annoy me.
  • Trash day and having to drive by all the houses with literally dozens of trash bags full of stuff that could probably be composted, recycled or freecycled
  • Plastic packaging that can't be recycled - just make it recyclable people, it can't be that much different!
  • Every time my MIL talks about how we don't have paper towels - I KNOW she didn't have them growing up, why are they necessary NOW?
  • Having the cashier search for the UPC on my reusable bag that I just pulled out of my purse, and then asking if I know what this is and how much it costs

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

HFCS: More Not So Sweet news

I've posted about High Fructose Corn Syrup before - here and here. Now it's come out that in many cases it is contaminated with Mercury. You heard that, MERCURY! This contaminated Mercury was found in 31% of the random products tested by The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and 45% of the straight HFCS samples tested by an FDA researcher - in 2005. But this research wasn't published by the FDA. No the FDA, I guess, decided that we didn't need to know that much of the processed food on our shelves might be contaminated with mercury. She quit last year and began working for Environmental Health, who published the study this week. So three years has passed with the FDA aware of products on our shelves containing mercury-laced HFCS. has a great article about how the mercury probably got into the HFCS so I won't go into it here.

I must say that I am getting very frustrated with the government agencies that are tasked with keeping the food supply safe failing the job miserably, either through poor knowledge OR on purpose. Neither of these two possibilities are OK with me.

One more thing, you know how HFCS is supposed be "natural" (according to the FDA) and really just the same as sugar? Did you know that the following chemicals are used to MAKE HFCS? Caustic soda, hydrochloric acid, alpha-amylase, gluco-amylase, isomerase, ilter aid, powdered carbon, calcium chloride, and magnesium sulfate.

soooo, natural, right?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Take our Planet Back

I've liked for a while now - everytime I hear him speak it's about important things and he actually has something to say.
Here's a new song and video he's done - I really like it and hope you do, too!

PS I got the video code from - a site I cannot recommend strong enough!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Rebates, Get your red hot Rebates!

The Denton Municiple Electric has begun GreenSense program and is giving rebates to residents who make energy-saving improvements to their homes. So, now's the time to install those solar panals you've been eyeing. But if that still isn't in your budget even after up to a $15,000 rebate, you can also get rebates on programmable thermostats, solar screens, and even insulation. 

The energy rebates only apply to work done after the 1st and the money is given on a first come, first served basis. Once it runs out, it's gone - until the program gets more funds in October. 

Hurry up and get your red hot rebates!! Program information and forms can be found at the Denton Municple Electric website.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Electronic Recycling

A few weeks ago when the Green H went to the Denton landfill to recycle our glass, we noticed the HUGE container for the electronic recyclables was missing. In its place was a sign informing us that the City of Denton would soon be charging for taking in TVs and monitors, $15 to be exact. Shinerman said he was surprised it took so long, that it was overflowing the last time he was there. They started charging the 1st of January.

The apparent reasoning behind the move was the immanent change over to digital TV - February 19th, that is unless the Obama transition folks get it delayed. I understand the reasoning, but really if people won't/can't pay the 15 bucks, they'll just put it on the curb for trash pick-up. In my view that's not taking care of the problem, it's just shuffling it to another area. Plus, the city won't be able to make money from the (shrinking) commodities market off all those TVs that end up in the landfill. Granted it's not the kind of money they would have made last year, but it's better than nothing.

Don't despair fair Denton recyclers, they will still be accepting most electronics for free for city residents. 

OT - I love that esurance commercial with the peppy song "Lucky Today"  - it just played so thought I would mention it.