Posts Tagged ‘green living’

Cuckoo for Coconut Oil

I really am, I love the stuff. If I could get away with slathering myself with it on a daily basis I would. But alas, until my financial situation improves I’ll have to stick to using it in more…. conventional ways.

Why coconut oil you ask? What makes it so great? Truth is the more I learn about it the more impressed I am with all its properties. Nutritionally, it’s made up of whats called a Medium-chain fatty acid. Yes I know I said the “F” word, I’m even going to add the “S” word too. Truth is these are actually Saturated Fats *gasp*. Now before you get all pseudo-nutritionalist on me, these are not the same fats that McDonald’s was using to expand our waistlines. The fatty acid in Coconut oil actually is proven to help kick start your metabolism, and in moderate amounts can help you work off those french fries. It is also known to increase HDL (good cholesterol) and help decrease LDL (bad cholesterol). Try getting that out of a stick of butter! It’s high in vitamin E, and is naturally anti-microbial and anti-fungal, that’s why I use it when I make Max’s baby wipes. (I have also been known to use it as a moisturizer myself from time to time)

It is solid until about 75 degrees and it’s smoking point is about 350 degrees making it great for cooking. I use it instead of butter to scramble eggs, deeelish! I don’t recommend using it in dressings or marinades due to the fact that it solidifies at relatively high temperatures. It can however, be used as substitute for butter or shortening in most baking recipes. A good rule of thumb is a 3/4 to 1 conversion although I have used a 1 to 1 conversion without any problems.

Here is a simple cookie recipe that is out of this world!

Coconut Oil Sugar Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the coconut oil and sugar until smooth.

Beat in egg and vanilla.

Gradually blend in the dry ingredients.

Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls, and place onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden.

Let stand on cookie sheet two minutes before removing to cool on wire racks.

When finished dust cookies with a little extra sugar.

Variation- Consider adding 1/2 tsp lemon zest to batter, or dusting with a flavored sugar like vanilla or rose.

Enjoy!

Thanks for reading:)

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HOT today CHILI tomorow

Wow, what happened to the summer?!? Can you believe it’s the middle of August already? With the temps reaching record highs over most of the country I’m sure there have been thirsty gardens everywhere. Between my sad tomatoes and my lettuce bolting and dying, this year has certainly been a learning experience. However, there is one member of my garden family that has produced leaps and bounds over previous years.

CHILI PEPPERS!

so many chilis so little time

Hot, sweet, bell, it didn’t matter they did wonderful! Leaving me scratching my head wondering what to do with these mounds of green and red gems. Different chilis, require different preserving methods. Some are best dried or smoked, some frozen or canned.

Lets start with old faithful Jose Jalapeno (not on a stick;).  I found a fantastic salsa recipe that is easy enough for a beginner and will last all year long.  It’s adapted from a recipe found in the Ball Blue Book of  canning.  (For those of you unfamiliar with home preserving it is important to familiarize yourself with a few techniques.  Find the basics here.)

This recipe makes about 3 pint jars, however, my three jalapeño plants produced enough peppers to double the recipe, and make it twice!

Hot Jalapeno Salsa

3 cups tomatoes peeled, seeded, and chopped

3 cups jalapeño chopped (I removed the seeds and membrane from about half of the peppers and it is still quite spicy)

1 cup chopped onions

1 1/2 Tbs minced garlic

1 cup vinegar

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp rosemary

2 Tbs fresh cilantro chopped

1/2 tsp cumin

WARNING! When preparing the peppers, WEAR GLOVES AND DO NOT TOUCH YOUR FACE!!!

After seeding the selected number of peppers, place them in food processor and pulse until desired size.

Note- some of my jalapeños had turned red on the vine. I don’t know if that makes them hotter or takes away some of the heat, in my opinion they add nice color to the salsa so I left them in.

Combine ingredients in large pot. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 10 minutes till all flavors are melded together.

Processing

The basic water canning necessities are a large stock pot, wide mouth funnel, magnet (on a stick;) for removing lids from boiling water, and tongs for placing and removing jars from water bath.

Fill hot jars with finished salsa. Wipe rims clean with damp cloth and assemble 2 piece lids.

Place in a “Granny bath” with one inch of water covering jars. Bring to a boil and process for 15 minutes.

Carefully remove and leave undisturbed till cool. Check lids for seal and for the tops to be concave.

They can be stored in a cool dry place for up to a year and must be refrigerated after opening:)

ENJOY!

My little Garden

Thanks to my father-in-law, who drove down from WV to help me get my plot ready, I was able to start my garden around April 25’th this year. Because it seems to have a high clay content I amended my soil with some local compost, I would have added peat and Vermiculite but at the time cost was an issue. So with fingers crossed I planted away.
This year, I made the plot a few feet wider and longer because last year sometime around mid July it went from tidy little garden to untamed jungle. My cucumbers kept trying to eat the tomatoes, I lost half a row of romaine to some savage zucchini that didn’t know when to stop growing, and don’t get me started on the wildlife!

This year was going to be different! I will not get carried away! I will stick to my garden plan! I will…….. I will…….. *sigh* I will recognize that I have absolutely no self-control. After all, the more space I have the more I can cram more into it right? Besides what’s so bad about having a bit of suburban jungle in the backyard anyways.
So this years lineup includes tomatoes, hot peppers, sweet bell peppers, banana peppers, cauliflower, radishes, yellow squash, zucchini, cucumbers, and lettuce. I do my herbs in pots so that they’re close to the house when I need to grab a handful. Of them I plant the usual suspects, basil, parsley, chives, dill, tarragon, and thyme (you can never have enough “thyme” in the garden. hehehe).
So far so good, I have only had two casualties. The romaine never sprouted and one of my tomato plants needs put out of its misery (I just don’t have the heart to do what must be done). Not to bad considering the dog dug up one of my squash plants, and I clotheslined another with the garden hose (the later is still under observation). I’ve sown some red leaf lettuce in place of the no-show romaine and have already had a small harvest of radishes. So we’ll keep our fingers crossed!

Thanks for reading:)

Eating fresh vs. the Magic Spatula

I really wanted to eat healthier, no, not diet, the “D” word is not allowed in my house. Just healthy, REAL food. However, like many I fell into a cycle of unhealthy habits. First, I loooove food, I love to cook it, I love to eat it, I love to look at pictures of it, I pretty much love everything about it. Second, my darling Hubby only eats a total of 5 vegetables, and that’s if you count potatoes and corn as veggies. That doesn’t sound so bad you say, if I love food so much I could just wave my magic spatula in the air and

*poof*

*poof* there will appear an endless supply of meal ideas consisting of a protein of some sort (meat, fish, occasionally the unfortunate chicken) and a combination of one or more of the 5 allowed vegetables. For the most part you would be right. With the Internet at my fingertips and the guts to attempt almost any dish, we ate like kings! Food was rich, swimming in butter and cream topped with cheese and washed down with gravy. Nightly dinners were bacon wrapped and smothered in béarnaise (as proven by our waistlines).

Then I got pregnant (reality check) then I lost my job (reality punch in the face). Suddenly it was super important that I eat fresh and healthy, super important that I become one with the produce aisle………… $2.50 for a single green pepper!!?!!! Holy smokes!! It seems that sometime during my years of ignorant bliss ( and disposable income) the price of food skyrocketed! Now that both of those things are gone (well, the ignorance still reappears now and again) I find myself in shock of what the cost of fresh food is. How is a family to eat healthy with out having to auction off their kidneys?

Time to get creative.

Turns out there are several options when it comes to produce that not only are better for your wallet, but also our bodies, and the planet!

Find a local Farmers Market (or road side stand if you’re in a rural area). Many urban areas will have them at least once a week, and some run daily. Find out what’s in season in your area and try to purchase those items. If vendors have had items shipped in, find out from where, and when the produce was harvested. Remember, buying local produce means it hasn’t spent days or weeks getting to you, and therefore more of its nutrients are alive when it reaches your table. The reduced travel also means less greenhouse gasses into the ozone (it’s a win-win:)

Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). I have only recently become aware of this option and while I haven’t tried it out myself yet I can’t wait to give it a go. A CSA is a group put together by one or more farms from whom you buy a “share” of their harvest. Meaning once a week you go pick up a box of whatever produce they are growing right then, a lot of times the items were just harvested that morning! I first learned about them from this blog. Each group will vary greatly so take some time picking the right one for you and your family. Some you will pay for monthly others a lump sum for the whole season. Others have work requirements, most (in my area) do not. To find out what’s available in your neck of the woods check out localharvest.org, along with a list of participating farms they also have tips on finding one that will suit your needs.

Last Summers Garden Heart<3"

Grow your own!!!!! I LOVE this!! Before you blow this idea off as taking too much work, time, space, ect. ect. Trust me, as a former apartment tenant and someone who currently rents her home, it’s not as daunting as it appears. Many vegetables and herbs thrive in containers or small spaces with minimal upkeep. Need more motivation? Remember that green pepper that was $2.50 at the local grocery store? Well, I was able to get three plants for $1.97! Not to mention it is deeply satisfying to eat foods that you have grown yourself.

So, we’re trying to eat healthier. I still Looooove food, in fact I love it more. While Hubby still only eats 5 veggies I no longer let that stop me from preparing others for myself and the children. I am understanding food better, I don’t need to drown it in sauce to make it delicious. Its time to let the fresh flavors of meals shine on their own,  to do that you have to start with fresh ingredients. It May take a little effort but I promise it will be well worth it!
Thanks for reading:)

Never use a serrated knife to cut paper towels: a how-to & how-not-to on baby wipes

“We’re out of baby wipes.” says my darling husband. I take a deep breath, I had just come in from a long day at work and had absolutely no intention of leaving the house again that night. Well, I’ll just make my own. How hard can it be?

Now, I had reason to be optimistic, I had been making my own wipe solution for sometime. The thing is, hubby and I see things differently when it comes to reusable diaper supplies. I believe in them, he doesn’t. He, being the primary care giver, generally gets the last say. On this though we compromise, and by that I mean he buys disposable wipes that he uses and I use cloth wipes in a homemade solution. I had thrown around the idea about making my own disposable wipes for quite a while but I could never find the time or motivation. The thing is, that same morning after I stumbled out of bed to change snuggle bugs diaper I happened to be out of cloth wipes (laundry not being one of my strong points). What I didn’t realize was overnight a blister on my thumb had burst. I reached for the generic store bought wipes, bleary eyed and half comatose, Holy searing pain Batman!!! I threw it down.  What the heck is in these things, hot acid?!? No wonder the kid didn’t like having his diaper changed.  So later when I got home and learned we were out of the skin eating, scream inducing baby wipes, my decision was made.

Ok, here is the recipe for my solution, I have tried a couple different ratios and this is the one that I like the best:

2cups boiling water
2tbsp extra virgin coconut oil (or olive oil)
1tbsp Castile soap (I like the tea tree or rose scented)

Easy enough, easy to double if making a larger batch, AND will NOT sting even if used on an open sore. On top of that both coconut oil and tea tree are naturally anti-fungal and super good for baby’s skin.

Now, what to use for the actual wipes. As I  previously stated I have used cotton wash cloths soaked them in the mixture and stored them in a wipes warmer. Works like a charm. But what about those who want disposable wipes? I had read somewhere that you can use paper towels. To do so you need:

1 roll heavy-duty paper towels
Some sort of sharp object
Empty round wipes container (the center pull out kind)

Let’s see, first things first.  Cut the roll of paper towels in half with afore-mentioned sharp object. Well of course i started with the obvious choice, heavy duty scissors…… Not so heavy duty after all, barely left a mark. Hmmmmm it’s just paper, maybe I could slice through it with my razor sharp chefs knife!…………. Well that got through all of about four layers. *scratches head* Paper is made out of wood and you use a saw to cut wood, (can you see where this is going?) let’s see…… A saw has teeth, this serrated knife has teeth…….. it will be perfect! (insert goofy grin here) ………. Well, it cut, or rather shredded it’s way through the roll. Half way through you would have thought I had taken up shearing sheep in my kitchen. By the time I finished I stood knee deep in a winter wonderland of fluffy  paper towel snow. But at least I had the roll in 2 halves. Victory is mine!

The next two steps are to soak one of the paper towel roll halves by setting it upright in a bowl with wipe solution. Then set it aside and let cool. Once cool the cardboard center should slide out. Gently squeeze excess solution out and place in round container. You should be able to grab the end of the roll from the center (where the cardboard used to be). TaDa you have homemade chlorine and alcohol free wipes for your little persons bum.

On a side note I have so far been unable to find the round wipes containers and so have been forced to unroll the entire roll of towels and refold to fit in a standard rectangle wipes container. It works but is a bit more time consuming.

Thanks for reading:)

It all started with a boob

Well, two boobs actually, Mine. I know what you’re thinking, “here we go another breastfeeding hippy momma trying to save the world one boobie at a time”. It’s not like that really! It sorta goes like this:

I was the lofty age of 29 and I had been married for a few years. As far as I was concerned I was a pretty earth conscious individual. I mean I tried to remember to turn off the lights when I left the room, or the water while I brushed my teeth. In fact as a family we had gone from only recycling on occasion to recycling about 70-80% of our waste. I thought we were on an ecological roll! Then I got the surprise of my life.

Woah! That changed things a bit. All of a sudden I started second guessing everything. Run of the mill just wasn’t good enough.  Clean just wasn’t clean enough. (this is where you think I’m gonna start cutting out anything toxic) Oddly enough I started using MORE cleaning products MORE chemicals. Skyrocketing our spending and our exposure simultaneously. Oh boy, I was on a roll alright!
I was however doing something right. I was very committed to breastfeeding my darling son Max. It was something I felt very strongly about. Like so many breastfeeding moms I ran into a few roadblocks, and like many others I didn’t have experienced mothers to look to for advice. But what my generation lacks in experienced peers we try to make up in masses of easily accessible (if not as easily sorted through) information. Surprise! I turned to the Internet. Through certain social networking sites I was fortunate enough to connect to a handful of people who would change how I live. People like Jessica (@TheLeakyBoob) and Janelle (@HealthyChild) and many others helped me first with any breastfeeding issues I may have had, but also peaked my interest in living healthier, safer, more cost-effective lives. I learned that you didn’t have to douse your bathroom in bleach to keep it clean, sparkly, and smelling great. I that I don’t have to buy the really expensive pink laundry detergent to wash my sons clothes. That there were other options that were better for him AND our wallets! *insert giant light bulb going off*
Now I am by no means the best example of sustainable living. I am a mom with a full-time job and like most I suffer from the lack of hours in a day. But I AM learning. I AM trying to find ways to incorporate what I learn into our family’s life. Sometimes it works, sometimes in doesn’t, and sometimes we just laugh.

Thanks for reading:)

Tabitha

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