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
Happy almost Thanksgiving, Americans. For those of you for whom Thanksgiving just wouldn’t be right without green bean casserole, I present: DIY organic condensed cream of mushroom soup that honestly tastes better than Campbell’s. It’s so good, I was eating it straight out of the pan with a spoon last night. I hope I still have enough tomorrow to make my casserole. (Only sort of kidding. This recipe makes a lot!)
Three years ago, I confessed to my weakness for casseroles that contain Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup. Now, there’s all sorts of badness associated with that product: from the BPA and/or other mystery plastic lining the can to the non-organic, factory farmed ingredients. Still, I couldn’t imagine living without it…
My new favorite thing this summer is making tomato sauce from scratch using fresh tomatoes and my toaster oven. Why would I need to do that when it’s easy to buy tomato sauce in glass jars? Well, several reasons. First, even plastic-free packaging like glass has an environmental footprint. (I’ll write more about that in my next post.) I’d rather avoid most kinds of packaging (especially when the homemade alternative is as simple as this one is.) And second, homemade tomato sauce from fresh summer tomatoes is delicious. In fact, it’s so good, I sometimes just eat it with a spoon directly from its repurposed jar.
Two tools make this recipe super easy for me: my ancient toaster oven and a secondhand stainless steel food mill I found at a yard sale several years ago.
First, I spread out the tomatoes on the toaster oven baking sheet and drizzle olive oil over them. With bigger tomatoes, you’d want to… Read the rest
When you read this, I’ll be (hopefully) on the road to Burning Man. Being without a cooking stove for a week will mean a change in my diet… but no change in the way I drink my coffee because I don’t heat it anymore anyway.
Making cold brewed coffee
I think I learned about cold brewed coffee from my friend Tracey TieF (with whom I went to Burning Man last year), and the idea intrigued me. Checking on Google (because that’s my first impulse any time I learn about anything new these days), I learned that brewing coffee cold produces a full-flavored but mellower, less bitter cup.
Some people use a French press to make cold brewed coffee, and in fact Frieling makes one that is entirely plastic-free. Impulsively, I almost bought one a couple of weeks ago, but I thought better of it in time to cancel the order. Because despite some of the products I have endorsed, my plastic-free life is not about buying a bunch of new stuff when I don’t… Read the rest
About a month or so ago, I realized I wasn’t getting enough fresh produce in my diet. I wanted to eat more kale and other fruits and vegetables. And I figured blending a whole bunch of things together in a smoothie every morning would be fast, easy, and painless. But despite the Ecology Center’s instructions for storing produce without plastic , I couldn’t manage to keep kale from turn yellow before I could eat the entire bunch. I was avoiding plastic waste but producing food waste!
And then, one morning on the bus, it hit me: I wonder if you could freeze kale. I Googled “how to freeze kale” and bingo, there were instructions. I just had to figure out how to do it without Ziploc bags.
First, I washed and spun the kale and then cut it into pieces and laid them out on a tray in my freezer to freeze individually so they wouldn’t stick together after I put them all together in a container. (This step is especially necessary… Read the rest
This post is Part 2 of 10: Preparing Mark Bittman’s ten Recipes for the Semi-Vegan without plastic. Back in January, I posted the first delicious dish: Saffron-and-Mushroom Barley Risotto, which was out of this world yummy and creamy. Next up:
Recipe #2: Spinach and Chickpeas
If risotto takes a long time to prepare, chickpeas take even longer. The difference is that with chickpeas, most of the work happens while you’re asleep. Soak dried chickpeas in a bowl of water overnight. As Katie from Kitchen Stewardship recommends in The Everything Beans Book, the longer you soak beans, the more easily digestible they are.
Once they are soaked, empty the water, and cook them on the stove for an hour or so until they are tender.
I like to make big batches of chickpeas and store them in mason jars in the freezer because they are so handy to have available and can be added to so many dishes. Those of you who are new to this blog may be wondering why I don’t… Read the rest
The following is a guest post from 17-year old Mary Katherine from Mountain View, CA who has been participating in the Show Your Plastic Trash Challenge since October of last year and has done an incredible job reducing her plastic waste. See her trash challenge posts here. Recently, she started her own blog called The Plastic-free Chef to share her strategies for cooking with less plastic.
My name is Mary Katherine and I’m 17. I love to cook. I love everything about it (except cleaning). I do most of the cooking in my house. My quest to banish disposable plastic from my life began in August in the toilet paper aisle of Safeway. My mum was going on about the wastefulness of the plastic wrap around the toilet paper. Something just changed all of a sudden for me. My mum always talked about plastic packaging, but we didn’t really do anything. Truth be told, I was apathetic and ignorant of the problem. Sure, we brought reusable bags to the store… Read the rest
Two weeks ago, food columnist Mark Bittman published ten Recipes for the Semi-Vegan in The New York Times Magazine along with photos that left many of us salivating.
What a great source of inspiration, I thought, for those of us who aspire to eat more plants and fewer animal products. I, in particular, need help. See, in May 2010, after reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s book Eating Animals,I resolved to stop eating meat. My reasons were personal. (You can read them here.) And I kept my resolution until the end of February 2011.
Then my mom died.
After the memorial service, my sister came home with a giant sack of Wendy’s cheeseburgers, Mom’s favorite food, and, dumping them out on the kitchen table, she announced, “Everyone must partake.” I couldn’t refuse this ceremonial gesture. I ate a cheeseburger. And then another. And then for the rest of my trip home it was all meat all the time. Something … Read the rest
On New Years Day, I decided I needed some fried potatoes to go with the homemade ketchup my friend Mark and I had made the previous week. And not just any fried potatoes. No siree. I wanted the king of fried potato junk food goodness: greasy, crispy Tater Tots. But authentic Tater Tots come in a plastic bag, so I’d have to see if I could make them myself. As always, Google was right there with the answer. J. Kenji Lopez-Alt from Serious Eats had reverse engineered the tater tot and provided an easy-to-follow recipe, one that looked like it would win the Napoleon Dynamite stamp of approval.
But making homemade Tater Tots turned out not to be the plastic-free, waste-free process I had hoped for. I’ll explain what I mean further in this post. First, the recipe:
Homemade Tater Tots: Step by Step
Ingredients2 pounds russet potatoes (I actually used 2 large potatoes, about 1-1/2 pounds) 2 quarts peanut, vegetable, or canola oil (I actually used a… Read the rest