anyway, cast iron is easy to clean, provided that it's well seasoned and that you don't use soap--my good friend kelli is super grossed out by this, but using soap would strip the oils from the pans, taking away every last bit of their non-sticky functionality. you also can't put them into the dishwasher--something i learned about 8 months back. the result, if you don't know, is a highly rusted mess that needs to be scrubbed, sanded and seasoned multiple times to get it back to good.
what's the deal with nonstick pans? here's what i've found:
1. nonstick cookware is coated with a chemical called polytetrafluoroethylene (ptfe). when ptfe gets very hot, it released hazardous fumes.
2. the synthetic chemical (perfluorooctanoic acid) used to make ptfe is linked to cancer & birth defects in animals and "may" pose a risk to humans. the "society of the plastics industry" found perfluorooctanoic acid in the blood of 95% of the u.s. population.
3. dupont teflon, the best-known brand of nonstick cookware, recommends that users not heat pans over 500 degrees--which one can only assume is to prevent the release of chemical fumes. they also recommend cooking with their products in a well-ventilated area.
4. according to the environmental working group (a non-profit environmental research organization), "a preheated pan on high heat can exceed 600 degrees in 2-5 minutes."
5. birds cannot tolerate the toxic chemicals released by overheated nonstick cookware. the same fumes that can cause flu-like symptoms in humans can easily kill a pet bird.
all of our nonstick cookware (except our pancake griddle) has found a brand-new home in the garage for now. when excellent alternatives are right at hand, i don't feel there's any reason to use something that "might" be harmful, or that i have to "watch carefully to avoid overheating" and "use in a ventilated area." don't you think?
i've been changing out my nonstick bakeware over the last few years with enamelware and glass, just because they look nicer in my kitchen. now i'll have my eyes out for a loaf pan or two, and probably a cake pan, along with a used cast iron pancake griddle. maybe i'll find something at the next antique fair.
and then i will worry no more about the ick of nonstick!
~community: how can we help connect people, build communities and protect unique cultures?
~opportunity: how can we help people better provide for themselves and their families?
~energy: how can we help move the world toward safe, clean, inexpensive energy?
~environment: how can we help promote a cleaner and more sustainable global ecosystem?
~health: how can we help individuals lead longer, healthier lives?
~education: how can we help more people get more access to better education?
~shelter: how can we help ensure that everyone has a safe place to live?
~everything else: sometimes the best ideas don't fit into any category at all.
google is committing $10 million to bringing the winner's ideas to life. they'll select 100 candidates, which the voting public will whittle down to 20. (i'm getting my reality show fix without a t.v.here!). then google will select up to 5 winners, based on the expense of their ideas.
i don't have an idea, but i'm looking forward to following this contest. entries must be submitted by october 20, voting begins on january 27, 2009. you can sign up for reminders to vote and read more about the contest by clicking here.
i found all of those things (and then some) in bee-hair-now. i went with the organic holistic honey blend. as you can (partially) see, the bottle has a lot of info--here's the lowdown:
~no synthetic fragrances
~87% certified organic ingredients
~fair trade certified
~#1 pete recyclable plastic bottle
~not tested on animals
~portion of profits donated to save the bees
~ingredients like green tea, white grapefruit essential oil, bee pollen, molasses, royal jelly extract, chamomile & calendula extracts. plus parsley, sage, rosemary & thyme (serious)!
a few questionable-sounding ingredients are explained on the bottle--such as cetearyl alcohol (coconut oil emulsifier) and glyceryl stearate (vegetable derived).
this left phenoxyethanol and stearalkonium chloride as the only eyebrow-raising additives. i used the skin deep cosmetic safety database to check out both of these ingredients/chemicals. skin deeps rates on a scale of 0-10, with 0-2 being "low hazard," 3-6 being "moderate hazard," and 7-10 being "high hazard." phenoxyethanol (used as a preservative in place of parabens, and often found in vaccines) scored a 4, while stearalkonium chloride (used as a detangler) scored a 1. sounds good to me.
the best part? this conditioner works. it gets the tangles out of my very thick hair and leaves it soft, shiny & subtly fragrant. i'm sticking with this one for sure... and hope to try the shampoo when i run out of the stuff i'm currently using.
my 12 o.z. bottle was (i think) $8 or $9 at elephant pharmacy. it can also be purchased online.
"kaiser permanente would like to take a moment to honor the locavore. what, you may ask, is a locavore? simply, a locavore is someone who only eats food that's grown locally. because it's fresher, it supports local growers, and requires less energy to transport. and while some people may call this a radical culinary agenda, we believe one's person's fanaticism is another person's lunch. so we say, 'stand tall, indigenous epicures and gastro-regionalists. all hail the noble locavore for vision, environmental awareness and nutritional good sense. because of you more people are eating fresh, delicious, healthy fruits and vegetables from local growers at the farmer's markets in their communities.' so to all local eaters everywhere, we offer you this 21-grain salute for your good taste and extra effort. because healthy food is what communities need to live healthy. and living healthy is what we stand for. we are kaiser permanente, and we want you to be well and thrive."
21-grain salute. how cute is that?
totally related: i haven't purchased a piece of non-local produce for over 2 months now. we've had all kinds of yummy summer fruits and veggies: pluots, green beans, cilantro, tomatoes, garlic, spring mix, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, peaches, nectarines, potatoes, peppers, zucchini... the list goes on and on. not one piece of it shipped from out of state, and the vast bulk of it within reasonable driving distance (under 100 miles) from our home. it's been a delicious summer. and now, with autumn finally here, i'm sure we'll begin to notice the changes at our local farmers markets (apples, anyone?) very soon. just today i spotted the first of the butternut squash, a sure sign that the seasons are changing. can we go on like this through fall & winter? will i ever buy another banana? what about pineapple? and what on earth will we do when lucy starts solids in november? stay tuned to find out!
what is GOOD? (here's some info taken directly from the sheet):
"a collaboration of individuals, businesses and nonprofits pushing the world forward. we make a magazine, produce videos, curate a website, and host events around the country. you are holding the first GOOD sheet, part of a series of graphical explorations of some of the major issues facing us this election season and beyond. we hope that the GOOD sheets will help inform you and stimulate conversations as you head to the polls on november 04. for us, this is not about red states or blue states, democrats or republicans. this is about every american making them most informed choice possible, no matter what that choice may be."
issue #01 of "the good sheet" is dedicated to carbon emissions, and calls itself "a field guide to america's favorite greenhouse gas." it's basically a sheet of newspaper, folded compactly into a little brochure-type thing. when unfolded, it's an at-a-glance fact sheet about all things carbon: charts, graphs & quick facts. totally user-friendly. pretty much dumbed down for the general population--and i mean that in a very good way. it's accessible information for your average coffee drinker. i'll be the first to say that i learned from "the good sheet." so i LOVE this.
here are a few quickie pieces from the sheet:
"c02 world... carbon dioxide (c02) is the most prevalent greenhouse gas. it is emitted when fossil fuels--such as gasoline, oil and coal--are burned, and it traps heat in the atmosphere. we produce more c02 than the environment can process, raising the temperature of the planet. it's getting hot in here."
"for every gallon of gas (~6 pounds) that a car burns, it releases 20 pounds of c02."
"in 2006 alone, the u.s. produced 13,083,000,000,000 pounds of c02."
"after fossil fuel consumption, the largest source of u.s. c02 emissions is cement manufacturing."
"the wind in north dakota alone could produce enough energy to provide 1/3 of the u.s's power."
and here's the one that got me best:
"the safe level of atmospheric c02 is no more than 350 parts per million. we're currently at 385 parts per million."
there's much more information provided, but i won't post it all. you can pick one up if you happen by a starbucks, but it also seems that you can subscribe to the year-long series by visiting www.good.is/join and making a donation of any amount to the non-profit organization of your choice. i personally couldn't visit the website because i'm running an older version of internet explorer. you might have better luck. if so, let me know!!!
installment #02 of "the good sheet" will be dedicated to the topic of healthcare.
starbucks gets a cheery one-thumb up from me for their part in making this publication happen. (both thumbs up will come on the day they serve customers their drinks in biodegradable cups). it's my sincere hope that the information provided on the sheet will serve to convince someone who "doesn't believe in global warming" to begin to think differently. facts are facts, after all. and when presented so, well, matter-of-factly, facts are hard to ignore.
i like the idea. i'm not sure i can jump in 100%, but i'm already planning on making the bulk of my gifts this year. i'd list them out for those that might be interested, but i don't want to spoil any surprises for the recipients that might be reading. lets just say there's a lot of work involved and i need to get going on everything soon!
as for what i'm not making, would it be possible to buy only handmade stuff for gifts? i don't know. i've fallen in love with etsy, a website that sells only handmade & vintage items. but i don't want to push this love affair on to those that might better appreciate something more... easily returnable, just in case it's not the perfect little gift.
as for "requesting" that others buy only handmade for me, well, i haven't given much thought at all to what i'd even want for the holidays. i mean, it's still summer until monday, right? (what the heck am i doing talking about christmas???) anyway, putting myself aside, i think it's more important to ask for something along these lines for lucy. we've got a small, small house, with lots and lots of "stuff" already. i'd much rather have one or two carefully picked things for her than a gazillion plastic toys. but that's just me. and if i'm bossy about what's "okay" and "not okay" to give her, doesn't that kind of take the gift-iness out of the whole process?
anyway, i didn't take the pledge yet. i'm still thinking about it.
i doubt we'll get our bill any lower than this. though we typically have nice weather well into october, mornings can be chilly and with lucy and myself at home, we'll might need to run the heater a bit some days. also, i've been sewing a lot (diapers, & i'm finally getting started on a few christmas gifts). all that new fabric has to be washed and machine dried, so i've been using the dryer here and there as needed. a few sprinkles today had me rushing to bring the diapers in, and reminded me that line-drying is not a year-round sport, unless you like laundry strung all across your house (i'm not so into that, i don't think). we'll see. i might be able to rig something in the garage. i'm also making my way to bb&b this weekend to buy a proper drying rack. my old one from college finally took a sad turn for the worse, and even jeremy's fixing didn't stick.
as far as our electricity usage being up... well, what's up with that? it's something to work harder on, i guess. but "whole-food september" has us cooking at home a LOT more. especially baking. which, of course, requires electricity. i guess you just can't win!!!
kind of related: check out the new "patch" on the sidebar of my blog. posting the patch links me to the 350 challenge, which has been put together by betterplanet.com and 350.org. posting the patch also offsets 350 pounds of carbon in the name of valley girl has baby, goes crunchy. that's the equivelant of not driving around in my car for 2 weeks. just by posting the patch. if you have a blog of your own, please consider doing the same... it doesn't have to be eco-related. any kind of blog will do. i like my little patch. it kind of reminds me of my days as a brownie, before i quit. (i totally didn't dig that uniform).
i got a cute (organic!) shirt for volunteering. and as a really nice bonus, the reverb coordinator (who, in my opinion has the coolest job EVER... they travel on the tour buses & everything) slipped me an extra ticket she had, upgrading me from a random spot on the lawn. i got to sit in row "l", which was as close as i've ever been to the stage at a counting crows concert, or any concert for that matter, i think. she might have felt sorry for me because i was the only volunteer there by myself. anyway, it was an excellent surprise!
i missed my little lucy, but i still managed to have quite a good time. strange to be on my own out in the world after so many months with her attached to my hip! the three of us are hitting up the concord show tonight. after another late night like last night, i'm sure we'll all be thoroughly exhausted.
oh, and i won't forget to hit up reverb's both and give another $3!!!
i made the diaper itself from super soft organic bamboo velour and bamboo fleece, with a flannel outer and of course, the iron-on decal. totally cute or totally cheesy? or both? what do you think? i can't decide... but you know i love it anyway.
the answer to the question of course is "no, darling. you're just super-fluffy today..."
i'd kinda given up on the idea because i didn't hear anything back from reverb for so long after submitting my request. but i guess that things like this are very last minute. at any rate, i have no idea what i'll be doing but i look forward to finding out! my only issue is leaving lucy--she'll be in wonderful hands with jeremy but i will miss her terribly, i'm sure. i haven't been away from her for more than 2 hours at a time. she's like my fifth limb. but cuter.
check back to see how it goes!
1 1/3 cups water
2 tablespoons butter, softened
3 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/3 cups whole wheat bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup flax seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
place all ingredients (except sunflower seeds) in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. select basic white cycle; press start. add the sunflower seeds when the alert sounds during the knead cycle.
here's the granola:
1 cup safflower oil
1 cup honey
8 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup sunflower seeds (jeremy thinks we could go less on this)
1/3 cup wheat germ
1/3 cup oat groats (i had never heard of this before, but they taste pretty much like oatmeal)
1/3 cup wheat meal
1/3 cup flax seeds
1/2 cup raisins (i used more like a cup)
1/3 cup slivered almonds
combine everything into a large mixing bowl. taste it, and add more of whatever strikes your fancy. divide in half and spread onto 2 greased cookie sheets (don't forget this step or you will be scraping your pans like me!). bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or so, then check. stir it up and put back to bake for another 3-5 minutes, or till oats are just starting to get a touch of golden color. cool & store in an airtight container.
and just for fun, here's a few pictures of miss lucy trying to get at the granola..."bring on the milk, mom!"
for some reason it feels like it's going to be difficult to get through the rest of the month without eating out. i mean, i know i'll be successful b/c that's what i said i was going to do, and i'm totally stubborn when it comes to this kind of thing. but the idea of making it to october without going out for lunch or dinner seems... sad. the whole point of doing this (although it's not necessarily "eco-friendly") is to make eating out more of a "special" thing. so in that sense, i guess it's working. we did have a very good time tonight, since we knew we wouldn't be doing it again for awhile.
on the list of things to do tomorrow: i'm making tortillas! corn or flour? i can't decide. i'll also post the granola recipe i hodge-podged together based on what was available at the market i shopped at. we had granola cereal all this week for breakfast! it was pretty darn good. so i'll be making more of that too.
making diapers for little lucy. i've moved on from making fleece covers to making the actual diapers themselves. it's hard work, since i'm mostly self-taught when it comes to sewing. but i'm learning a lot! the diapers themselves are totally functional, though each a little wonky in some way or another--uneven elastic, crooked soaker, imperfectly placed velcro. but they're cute from about 18 inches away. and i'm getting better and better as i go along. the last one i made (shown in the final photo below) turned out really, really well!
directly above is my absolute favorite--both the picture & the diaper that's in it. the diaper is made from organic bamboo velour and bamboo fleece, both of which are incredibly soft & absorbent fabrics. the outer is flannel, topped by upcycled piggie embroidery that i cut out from a vintage baby blanket i picked up at the alemeda antique fair. the picture itself... well, lucy's not got the rolling thing perfected yet. sometimes she gets a lil' stuck! or maybe she was just showing off her fancy diaper???
lucy & maizy (well, her nose anyway). total cuteness...
all of these diapers are "fitteds," meaning that they require a cover to be waterproof. but they're really absorbent... if we're just hanging around home i let her go without a cover, and make sure to change her when the diaper starts to feel damp. the upside of this is that fitteds are made of all natural, breathable materials. good for the little tush.
that being said, i did order some PUL (polyurethane laminate) to try my hand at making a waterproof diaper. we'll see how that turns out. wish me luck, i'm sure i'll need it. along with a good seam ripper or two.
“In 2005, Americans used and discarded 14.4 billion disposable paper cups for hot beverages. If put end-to-end, those cups would circle the earth 55 times. Based on anticipated growth of specialty coffees, that number will grow to 23 billion by 2010—enough to circle the globe 88 times. Based on hot cup usage in 2005, the petrochemicals used in the manufacture of those cups could have heated 8,300 homes for one year.”
"but," says i, "i forgo the little plastic lid, and i take my cup and i throw it into my compost bin at home, where it turns into lovely dirt for my garden. doesn't that kind of help offset the fact that i am indulging in serious disposability?"
the answer is not in my favor:
"Today, there is no way to compost or recycle the billions of disposable coffee cups used in the U.S. each year. It’s all due to a simple fact: the cups are lined with a petroleum-based plastic (polyethylene) to prevent leaking."
are you serious?
anyway, further research led me to cups lined with corn, instead of plastic. not widely used, and certainly not used at any of the big chains. plus, once a little light has been shed on just how much energy is needed to produce a mass amount of coffee cups, corn-lined or otherwise, it's hard not to feel more than a bit guilty. (starbucks cups are made of 10% post-consumer recycled cardboard. the other 90%, i guess, is brand-spanking new). let's not even get started on fair trade issues. i just really want my coffee, and i don't want to make it at home because it's never the same. i guess i could start bringing my own container but i'm not even sure how this works if you're going through the drive through... though trips through the drive through are rare these days, as both places i frequent the most often don't have them. so maybe i should give it a try.
sigh. can anyone recommend a travel mug?
the clothes seem just as clean as they are with my regular detergent (planet, which is also eco-friendly). and i love the idea of supporting a work-at-home mom. crunchy clean is available on etsy.com. clicking here will take you directly to the crunchy clean store. she also makes a detergent that's safe for cloth diapers, but since i'm having tremendous success with seventh generation delicate care, i'm not in the market to switch.
all detergents offered by crunchy clean are scented with either fragrance oils or essential oils (there's also an unscented offering too). fragrance oils are synthetic, while essential oils are 100% natural. that's my understanding of it, anyway. the monkey farts blend is scented with fragrance oils... which must be why it smells so delicious!
in the future i'll probably try to fall in love with a scent that uses essential oils, since my constant goal is to cut back on unnecessary chemicals within our home. but there's no doubt that even with the fragrance oils, crunchy clean is a greener, safer, alternative to most store-bought detergents. at .12 per load, it's a totally affordable indulgence. i totally recommend it.
part of "whole-food september" is limiting eating out to only twice during the month. not very far in and i'm already down to one more occasion. lucy and i went to visit my lovely friend kelli on friday night. we went to a very yummy barbecue joint and i had a VERY yummy salad that could not be, in any way, shape or form, actually considered healthy eating. but it was good!
things have been shaking out pretty well here at home though. i baked bread and found a tortilla recipe (now i just have to make them!). i've also got homemade pizza dough in the freezer that i haven't yet tried. running out of cereal on day #03 was a bit depressing. in general my morning revolves around trader joe's organic raisin bran clusters... not to be confused with trader joes raisin bran which i find pretty tasteless and horrible. anyway, i can kind of put away 1/2 a box of the clusters in one sitting. but there's a natural foods store a few miles down the freeway that i've never been to, and i'm thinking that they sell fresh grains, the kind where you scoop your own. i'm hoping to make my own granola.
it doesn't get much more crunchy than that, does it?
there was also a compost station. leave it to me to get excited about dirt, but this was a great way for people to see and learn about the process of composting. gloves were out for the daring--event-goers were urged to "dig in" to the soil and feel the heat that helps to speed decomposition. there was also a vermicomposting (worm composting) station. i poked a bit at the wiggly worms, curious as to just how many it takes to break down scraps (a LOT!). i have to say, though, that slow food compost looks much nicer than my compost at home. i guess the experts know exactly what they're doing!
along with having offering only compostable plates and utensils, plastic water bottles were not sold at the event. people were encouraged to "take back the tap" by bringing their own reusable water bottle. there were canteens for sale for those that didn't have a bottle. the "fill station" provided good, old-fashioned san fransico tap water for free. we hit up a few of the gourmet "slow food on-the-go" vendors for an early lunch (ham & biscuts with sweet jam, and an amazing sausage sandwitch with grilled peppers & onions) before heading back to the car.
in short, a really lovely and educational event. it's a good sign that it was crowded, don't you think?
here's what it means for us:
buying only local produce (we're already doing this)
buying only 1-ingredient foods, or foods that cannot reasonably be made by us at home (like chocolate, cheese, etc).
preparing all meals at home, unless we are invited to eat with family. i'm also allowing myself 2 "restaurant" meal for the month.
went shopping today to start us off. here's the list:
from the farmer's market:
mixed salad greens
from trader joe's:
organic chicken breasts
i must have looked like i was on a no-carb diet, don't you think? anyway, that doesn't look like very many groceries to get us through the week. but jeremy and i are pretty simple eaters. tonight for dinner we had ravioli (from the fridge) with pesto (from the fridge) and a mixed green salad with olive oil & balsamic vinegar.
tomorrow i'll be baking bread, and will try to find a good flour tortilla recipe. i'm also hoping to stop by my parents house for enough tomatoes to make salsa... though i forgot cilantro at the market.
i look forward to trying out new recipes, learning to make things i didn't know i could make, cutting down on packaging, cutting out preservatives from our diet, and hopefully even losing a couple of pounds. we'll see.
each festival had waste bins set up throughout, which were monitored by volunteers. these kind people played the part of educating fest-goers on just where to put their garbage: recycle, compost or trash. it's not often, even as awareness of the detriment of single-use products rises, that one can feel mostly guilt-free about using something for a few moments & tossing it. i mean, yes, energy & other resources are required to manufacture all products (that's where the *ick* of single-use comes in). but knowing that my garbage will turn to nice, rich dirt with the passing of a few months (under the right conditions) feels really, really good. in a perfect world, we'd all bring our own resusable dishes out with us for dining, toting them along in one of our reusable bags. but i think the likelihood of something like that happening is zilch. compostable disposables really are the next best thing.
and something i noticed after using all of this stuff for the last few days? it's good! the "tater"ware feels sturdy, the cups are nearly identical to plastic, and the plates are much thicker than those flimsy paper ones. side note: while those "flimsy paper ones" are technically compostable, they're also treated with chemical binders, bleaches & fillers... not something you want turning up in your soil... or your food. the colorful, patterned plates that look so pretty on a backyard table contain nasty inks and dyes, the manufacturing of which is harmful to our environment on many counts. in general, food-soiled plates are not considered recyclable.
so major, MAJOR kudos to slow food nation, oakland art & soul, and dennis & renee (who will be sending away a heap plates, cups, napkins & cutlery in their green bin). you guys all have my seal of approval! and lucy says thank you too!