Three years ago, when Jay and Chantal from the online store Life Without Plastic sent me a sample of their new HUGE rectangular airtight stainless steel freezer container to review on this blog, I couldn’t think of anything I would use it for. They touted the container as useful for freezing large quantities of produce prior to canning because the silicone seal will keep veggies and fruits from getting freezer burn.
Note: I have joined the Life Without Plastic affiliate program, which means that if you purchase from Life Without Plastic via links in this post, you also support My Plastic-Free Life.
The thing holds over a GALLON (over 4 litres), but since we have year-round farmers markets in the SF Bay Area (reducing the need to preserve large quantities of produce for the winter), I didn’t have (or didn’t think I had) a gallon of anything to put in it.
So the container sat in my never-ending “to do” pile for probably… Read the rest
How to buy and store bread without any plastic bag. Plastic bag clips are dangerous. Bake your own bread or buy it fresh and store in cloth bag in metal tin.
When I talk about buying in bulk, I’m not talking about huge containers of dried oregano from Costco or massive bags of chips. I am talking about this…
Rows of bins containing pasta, beans, grains, flour, sugar, chips, dried fruit, cereal, and sometimes tofu, peanut butter, olive oil, and personal care products like shampoo or soap, from which you can fill up your own reusable bags and containers, eliminating packaging waste. Last Week, Chicago blogger Jeanne from Life Less Plastic wrote about being envious of San Francisco Bay Area stores that provide so many of these bulk options.
But even here in the Bay Area, we could use more bulk options. Just this week, I wrote to a co-president at Whole Foods asking that they expand their bulk section to match some of the other bulk food stores in the region. (I asked, of course, for my own selfish reasons. Whole Foods is closer to me than Berkeley Bowl, the king of bulk in the East Bay.)
And then I got … Read the rest
Last Friday, Arduous wrote a hilarious piece in response to Michael Pollan’s request for readers’ “food rules”. Instead of healthy rules for eating, her post, “Things That I Call Dinner,” confesses menu items such as candy, s’mores, and plain spinach with apples.
My own rule for Michael Pollan, which I left in a comment to his article, is “Real food doesn’t come packaged in plastic.”
That’s all very well and good. What I didn’t say was that sometimes days go by during which I’m too busy or lazy to eat anything but plastic-free bread. That can’t be healthy, can it?
Granted, we do have the best bakery in town. La Farine on College Ave bakes fresh, whole grain, organic bread every day. And I bring my organic cotton ecobag to carry it home… avoiding all packaging, paper or plastic.
Keeping it fresh is another story. Once home, I store the bread inside the… Read the rest
I’ve been having fun with my new-to-me crockpot. Thanks to everyone who suggested recipes. One of the perks of having a blog is all the free advice from readers. My first easy project was froghair’s black bean chili. Confidence boosted, I tried vegan lasagne a few days later. Here are the ingredients:
Thanks to my friends Jen and Red for the Rainbow Grocery gift certificate they gave me for Christmas. Most of the ingredients came from bulk bins at that amazing store. Thanks also to JessTrev who told me about Bionaturae tomato paste that comes in a glass jar rather than BPA-lined can and who also told me I could put regular dry lasagne noodles (not necessary to buy the quick kind) into the crockpot if I used enough liquid.
This recipe is mostly a product of my own imagination. We love it. I hope the inspiration keeps coming!
*Dry lasagne noodles (from Rainbow bulk bin, brought home in my own cloth bag)
*1 glass jar Bionaturae… Read the rest
Once upon a time, there was a young guy, let’s call him “R,” who was courting a beautiful lass we’ll call “B.” She invited him to her house for dinner and cooked him frozen broccoli smothered in Cheez Whiz. It was love at first bite. They got married and had 5 kids, the oldest of whom believed for many years that veggies came from the freezer and that everything tastes better with cheese. She’s learning that veggies come from the ground and that she won’t die without cheese. But it’s a process and she’s still taking baby steps in the slow food department.
Why did I start with that story? Because a few weeks ago, The Biscuit Queen, who is also blogging about her quest to live plastic-free, asked to see a list of everything I eat for a week because she’s having trouble finding the types of plastic-free bulk foods that I have access to here in the Bay Area. And my first thought was, “Oh,… Read the rest
This dish is about 90% homemade. I didn’t lay the eggs or grow the vegetables or make the butter (although I could have using Crunchy Chicken’s instructions) or broth. But I did everything else by myself. And just to be clear, the reason for including these weekly recipes is not because I’m a great cook, as some other bloggers truly are, but to show that if a novice like me can cook from scratch with minimal plastic, then anyone else with the desire can do it too.
So, this meal is actually 3 different recipes combined: ranchero sauce, refried black beans, and whole wheat tortillas. Oh, and the fried eggs, but you can probably figure that part out for yourself. (Can you?)
(modified from Emeril Lagasse’s recipe.)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped white onions
A bunch of chili powder and dried cayenne pepper (this is the main deviation from the original recipe, which calls for bell and jalapeno… Read the rest
I’ve mentioned Rainbow Grocery in quite a few posts, and now I’m going to explain it, so those folks who are not lucky enough to live in the SF Bay Area will know what I’m talking about. Rainbow Grocery makes me wish I still lived in San Francisco. There’s a certain familiar smell and feel that I can only describe as “crunchy” that takes me back to the early 90’s when I’d first moved to San Francisco from Maryland and everything was new and wonderful. And even though Rainbow is no longer in its former location in the Mission District, it still has the same dreadlock-sporting, tattoo-wearing, shaved head, tie-dyed, just rolled out of bed looking staff and customers that make me feel so at home. (Even though I don’t actually look like any of them anymore.)
See the “staff” are all owners of this co-op grocery store, as well as workers. So it’s like it kind of is their home, sort of.… Read the rest
My friend Mea, in response to my lament about not being able to find pitas without plastic, sent me a recipe so I could bake them myself. Mark, do not laugh! I did not mistake BisQuick for flour this time. I did, however, misread 1 1/4 cups of water as 1/4 cup of water and was very confused about why the “dough” would not get doughy. (I kept adding water, thinking I was doing the wrong thing but not knowing exactly which wrong thing I was doing.) But okay, even before I put in the flour, the yeast would not do much of its yeast thing. And after letting the breads rise for the prescribed 45 minutes and finding that no rising had actually taken place, I put them in the oven to see what would happen. And what happened are these little bread stepping stones. The outside is hard. The inside is heavy and doughy. And the pocket… um… let’s just forget that they were supposed to be pockets. They taste okay.
Oh, and by the way, in my attempt to bake… Read the rest
The Pasta Shop in Market Hall Foods. Or as my friend calls it, Markup Hall. It’s pricy, alright. But they do have bulk pasta! All different shapes and sizes! And Market Hall is only a few short blocks from my house right near the Rockridge BART station. Unfortunately, they only offer the standard roll of plastic bags near the bulk pasta. But if you ask at the counter, they will give you paper bags. It was very crowded today, so I didn’t want to try and get into a discussion about bags. I’ll find a less busy time (if there is one) to approach the manager about putting out paper bags as an alternative to the plastic. Most customers will simply take what’s available rather than ask for something different.
At Market Hall’s Cheese Shop, I asked to have my cheese sliced to order and wrapped in paper. However, the merchant wasn’t really clear on the concept. When I got my paper-wrapped cheese home and opened up the wrapper, I … Read the rest