Posts Tagged Recycling
Our recent post titled The Act of Doing sparked some soul-searching this weekend as I spent three days away from home and did not bring my own food this time.
I felt too busy to plan the meals for the weekend, grocery shop for the occasion, set aside a bit of time to put fresh fruit in the food dehydrator, portion everything out and pack it, which is what I normally do over the days leading to a getaway. I have a large collapsible, rolling food carrier that I proudly use for these occasions each year. This time, I left it behind.
Food in great abundance was immediately accessible. Why bother packing my own? By the time the fantastic three-day weekend ended, I had spent well over $100 to feed myself (this is close to what I usually spend in about a month) and was left with a lot of packaging that was not fit for the compost bin and not recyclable. Double whammy.
Sure, I saved a lot of time before leaving for this little excursion by not preparing my own meals or bringing the items I would need to make my own sandwiches. And it was nice to not have to haul a backpack all day, but what did I really gain?
If you say a few pounds, you are probably right. I do not want to dwell on this, however. What I gained, mostly, is a feeling of guilt. I disregarded consequences that are normally important to me. I realized this when I purchased a bag of dried fruit at a local shop. The outer bag was made of material even the red wigglers in a Worm Factory Composter might wiggle away from as if it were a scarecrow, disregarding the sweet and delicious smears on its inner surface. In addition to this, it was filled with 10 individual bags containing less than a handful of fruit each. Waste. Waste. Waste.
Was it worth the time I saved before leaving for the weekend? To me, no, it was not. I spent money I did not want to spend and I spent it with disregard for values I otherwise hold dear in my daily life. So yes, I may have come home with a few extra pounds. The daily workout will take care of that in no time. The guilt from discarding less-than-green packaging will weigh down on me longer.
Which brings me to the expression, “Time is money.” Yes, our labor is worth something. When we work for someone else, that something typically shows up in the form of money. When we put time and effort into our personal upkeep, which includes growing and/or making food, the reward is tangible also, but not visible to the naked eye.
Note to Granny: Think about consequences. Second note to Granny: What would red wigglers do?
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It finally arrived. Your new dehydrator, juicer or grain mill showed up at the door or at the post office. If you are like me, you brought it home and set the box aside for later, after work, when chores are done or after the kids’ dinner. But it is hard to resist a new toy.
I usually give in and find excuses. I was going to break for tea anyway, so I might as well take the juicer out of the box, just so that’s done. Or I can’t focus on my work or the chore I am trying to complete, so I might as well take the dehydrator out of its box. In fact, I might as well plan on dehydrating some fruit today for the dessert I will make for a weekend potluck.
We know exactly what the new appliance looks like and what it does. We’ve done our homework and found everything there is to know about the grain mill and how it adjusts to any desired coarseness or how easy it is to clean the juicer, but we absolutely cannot resist touching it. It is here. We’ve earned it. We commune with the things we bring in our lives. We embrace them. We have worked hard and this is our reward. This, I think, at least partly, is where we re-channel our childlike wonderment.
As for the box, by now we know the drill: break it down and add it to the recycling. End of story. May I suggest another storyline, while we’re in a childlike mood anyway?
There is another common trait amongst Americans in the kitchen: We use the refrigerator as a billboard and art display. Here is what you can do with the dehydrator, juicer, grain mill or other appliance box and here is what you will need.
An old garden catalog
Magnets (I recycle mine)
And Children (though it is perfectly acceptable to do this by yourself)
- Cut the box by roughly separating each panel. If it is a large box, cut panels down to about the size of a sheet of paper (8 1/2 ” x 11″).
- On the plain side, use a marker to draw the outline of a figure, as if you were drawing one of those paper dolls to dress up. Draw a face (preferably smiling) and hair.
- Cut out the figure.
- Select colorful pages from the gardening catalog.
- Use the cut out figure to outline pants, a shirt, a skirt, a hat…
- Cut out the clothing items and glue them on the figure.
- Glue magnets on the back.
- Proudly display on your fridge door.
- Make a smoothie or dried fruit snack. Stand in front of your artwork. Enjoy the moment.
Each figure could represent a member of the family.
A variation: Affix a small paper envelope to each figure where you can leave each other memos and thank you notes.
Another variation: Add twigs, twine, dried leaves and flowers…
Melon & Other Rinds
When you entertain guests, scooped out honeydew, watermelon and cantaloupe make attractive serving bowls for salads, and scooped out acorn squash is perfect to serve the delicious squash soup you made for the occasion. When the party is over, everyone will talk about your clever serving dishes, which you can take directly to the compost bin so you spend less time cleaning up and more time enjoying good company.
Also use scooped-out avocado shells as biodegradable pots to start seedlings before you plant them in the garden. You can even plant the pot along!
Smoothies on Demand
Salad kits are making their appearance in office lunch rooms, but how about a smoothie kit? Sounds so delicious, let’s jump right to it. You will need:
A muffin tin, cutting board, knife, baking sheet and food storage baggies or containers of your choice, plain or flavored yogurt (I like to use vanilla) and 3 to 4 fruits of choice. I like to include bananas because they are a good source of protein and potassium and because they provide a very smooth texture.
You will need a bit of room in your freezer to work this out, but it is well worth it.
Cut enough fruit to fill about 12 cups. Lay it out on a baking sheet in rows so that each fruit has its own row and so that they are not all clumped up together. Pop this into the freezer. Meanwhile, fill each muffin tin with yogurt. Freeze this as well.
After a few hours, select assortments of fruit from the baking sheet (about 2 cups per assortment) and pop into individual servings containers or baggies with at least 2 yogurt discs per mix. The yogurt will pop out of the muffin tin easily if you let it sit for a few moments first.
Store the mixes in the freezer. When the urge to savor a hearty smoothie surfaces, pop a mix in the blender with your choice of juice. Though the juice is cold, it is warmer than the frozen yogurt and thus will help soften it.
I thought I was done here, but another idea pops to mind: Make frozen fruit mixes without the frozen yogurt. Mix into a yogurt of your choice and serve in an emptied-out cantaloupe half.