It’s super easy to make your own beef jerky. But before I get into how, let me explain why. Beef jerky (or any kind of jerky, for that matter) is not something I normally eat or even think about. But in 2015, while planning for the annual Burning Man festival in the Black Rock Desert, I wanted to find a good source of protein that would hold up in the weather without refrigeration or plastic packaging. And knowing that I would be camping with Zero Waste guru Bea Johnson (a very exciting story for another day), I wanted to do more than simply stock up on trail mix and dry soups from the bulk bins, which is what I’ve lived on in previous years.… Read the rest
Back in April I promised a post about making broth. Well, here it is. Actually, this is more like two posts in one. There’s broth that you make from scratch in order to get all the nutritious goodness out of the food scraps you have left, and then there’s broth (or stock) that you need in a hurry for a recipe when you don’t have time to make broth from scratch and you don’t have any on hand.
(The word broth is starting to sound really funny after saying it in my head a whole bunch of times in one paragraph. If I capitalize the first letter, it could be the name of a new Game of Thrones character.)
Better Than “Better Than Bouillon” Vegetable Broth Concentrate
Five years ago, I touted the goodness of Better Than Bouillon broth concentrate that comes in a glass jar and eliminates the need for broth in a BPA-lined can or plastic-lined box. Using a concentrate helps prevent waste and saves money since you’re… Read the rest
For four long years, I ate only a vegetarian diet, and the only meat I bought was for our cats (who are obligate carnivores.) In fact, I wrote a very reasoned and heartfelt blog post about why I decided to become a vegetarian. But while my heart and mind loved the idea of being a vegetarian, my body didn’t.
Two years ago, I started doing accounting for a family-owned, local, sustainable Bay Area meat and restaurant company. For the first six months, I remained a vegetarian, despite being surrounded by meat. And when I say “meat,” I mean whole animal carcasses brought in from local farms to be processed by the skilled butchers at our company. Somehow, seeing the actual animals and knowing where they came from made it easier to consider eating meat again. And one night at work, exhausted and hungry, I went ahead and ate some organic, pastured, heritage turkey leftover from the holidays. And I noticed that I actually … Read the rest
Homemade stock, broth, soup base (whatever you call that watery stuff that is the basis for so many recipes) is delicious and certainly healthy. But it takes time to make, and apparently I’m not the only one who often doesn’t have the time to make soup stock from scratch. I discovered several others like me this weekend while posting a whole slew of Show Your Plastic Trash Challenge tallies. A handful of people ended up with plastic-lined cans or plastic-coated tetrapaks of chicken or other broth in their weekly plastic waste collections. And after leaving the same advice three times in a row, I thought I ought to post it here.
My favorite store-bought broth is called Better Than Bouillon.
Better Than Bouillon is a concentrated paste that comes in a little glass jar with a metal lid. Of course, there is a plastic coating inside the lid (as there is inside all metal lids), and as I recall, there may have been a clear plastic security seal around… Read the rest
On Friday, I was happy to hang out with a journalist who is writing a book on plastic and wanted to know what it’s like to try and live plastic-free. So we had lunch together and chatted, and then she followed me to the butcher shop where I take my stainless steel pot to buy chicken for my cats. At some point after I’d handed the butcher my container, she asked if I ever get embarrassed. I guess she was referring to my being the only customer bringing my own container and asking for this kind of special service.
My flippant answer was, “No. Once I turned 40, I stopped being embarrassed.” And while I do believe that with age and experience many of us give up worrying so much about the opinions of strangers, there is always a certain amount of discomfort inherent in being the first to do anything. We want to know we’re not alone. We want to feel assured that someone else has had the same or similar ideas as us and that while our choices may… Read the rest
This is the amount of waste we have been generating each week to feed our cats since they came to live with us in December of last year. 21 BPA-lined cans to be recycled, as well as a cardboard case covered in plastic wrap. The cans never made it to my tally. While I avoid canned foods for us because of the BPA issue, I don’t include them in the tally because it’s impossible to separate out the weight of metal vs. plastic. Still, regardless of the plastic lining, this is a lot of waste. Yes, the cans can be recycled. But imagine how much energy could be saved if we could avoid the cans altogether!
(Our cats could never tolerate dry food.)
So, I went in search of homemade cat food recipes. I found all kinds of conflicting opinions. There are those who insist cats must eat raw meat to be healthy. And there are those who feel that cooked meat and grains are fine. Not wanting to short-change my pets, I called the Nutrition Clinic at the U.C. Davis Veterinary Medical… Read the rest
The nice thing about pumpkins is that they last a really, really long time. We’ve had this one since Thanksgiving and finally got around to doing something with it. We also had some cabbage that was getting old, so I Googled “pumpkin cabbage recipe,” not really expecting to find much, and ended up with this fun meal called Dinner In A Pumpkin. Apparently, it’s something people serve to their kids on Halloween because, you know, that’s the only time of year Safeway has real pumpkins.
The original recipe calls for ground beef. I opted for ground turkey instead and brought my own container with me to the butcher counter at Whole Foods, where they didn’t bat an eye when I handed it to them. And yes, this container is plastic Tupperware, which I already had. I’d like to find something made of stainless steel for buying meat but haven’t gotten around to looking for an alternative. [2016 Update: Here’s… Read the rest