Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Earth Day, Earthlings…and others too.

I don’t have any little kids at home, so I can’t expect any portraits made from egg shells or herb plants grown in milk cartons today. Even though I do subscribe to the theory that every day should be Earth Day, I guess we should honor the earth just a little more today. It's the same way that your family should honor Mom all year long, but if they throw a parade for you on Mother's Day, of course, you'll take it. (As if.)

I’m not the greatest greenest person, but what I do, I do regularly. I focus many of my efforts in the kitchen, since that’s where I spend the most time. I  try to cut down on the enormous waste of food that we are all probably guilty of. One thing in particular that annoys me is when I let lemons and limes go bad. They’re not cheap and I always need them, so then I always have to buy more.

I actually made a New Year’s resolution a few years ago to ALWAYS squeeze any leftover lemons and limes and freeze the juice. I have to say that I do it more than I don’t, but there is still the occasional wrinkled citrus fruit in the drawer.

I have always been rigorous about measuring out leftover tomato paste in tablespoonfuls, freezing it until hard and then bagging it up for the freezer. That was before I discovered squeezable tomato paste. Then I read this and this, just after I had bought tons of gorgeous Italian canned tomatoes on sale. Oy, I don’t love the Pomi stuff, but maybe I need to.

The most green thing I do in the kitchen is against everything I ever learned in cooking school or any professional kitchen. I do NOT clean up as I go. (We would actually be marked on that aspect of our cooking stations at the Cordon Bleu.) One reason is sheer time. I figure it takes less time to deal with ONE largish load of dishes than 8 little ones. Plus I really try not to run water indiscriminately in the sink. That’s the other reason I don’t clean up as I go - it takes more water. (I wish I could just throw stuff immediately into the dishwasher, but my water is too hard and icky stuff never gets cleaned off.)

I take the largest thing – a pot, a bowl, whatever – and run hot soapy water in it and put all the dirty stuff in there to sit until I’m ready to load the dishwasher.

When I’m ready, I use the water in the bowl or pot and scrap off the gunk and then put everything in the dishwasher. I don’t continuously run water to rinse everything to make it look clean. And my dishwasher is always more than full.

It’s funny…for YEARS, I’ve been saying to H, “I need another dishwasher,” as I’m trying to jam in everything. I only recently found out that he thought I was being spoiled, because I already have a nice dishwasher. What he didn’t understand was that I was being REALLY spoiled, because I didn’t want a DIFFERENT dishwasher, I wanted an ADDITIONAL dishwasher.

We all know by now that hand-washing uses TONS more water than dishwashers and is much less sanitary. Particularly in the winter, a dishwasher is better for getting rid of flu-ey germs. I can’t stand stuff that is hand-washed, it just doesn’t feel clean to me, although, of course, there are some things that have to handled by hand. (AND I also hate the idea of using a dishtowel to dry things.)

I try to unplug just about everything, except my KitchenAid. Don’t tell anyone. The plug is kind of hard to get in and out and my coffee maker, too, I leave plugged in. It holds the water at some temperature or other, but if Leo came to my house, I could be persuaded to unplug that.   

The other thing I do to try to cut down on waste is to put tons of stuff in the fridge and freezer. My refrigerator is definitely not ready for prime-time, because I have so much in there. But I’d rather have something languishing in a temperature-controlled environment than on a pantry shelf somewhere, with critters possibly getting into it. I’ve been really good recently about freezing over-ripening bananas. Here’s my reward for that:

The Best Ever Banana Shake (It makes a VERY generous shake for one or plenty for two.)


Peel a banana and put it in the freezer, wrapped in wax paper. When it’s frozen, place it in the bottom of a blender with ½ cup crushed ice and then add 1 cup organic, non-fat yogurt. (The ice is essential.) Blend until smooth…for as long as you can stand the noise. 

You may add ½ cup fresh blueberries or strawberries when you add the yogurt, but you absolutely don’t need to.

Pour into a glass and revel in your Banana Shake. Drink to Mother Earth!


Anonymous said...

Hi Sue,

You and I think alike on the cleanup -- I realized a long time ago that it saved water to clean up everything at once, particularly if you can let them soak in a bowl. It may be impractical if you have a small sink or no counter space, but it definitely saves water. And don't worry about leaving your Kitchen Aid plugged in. If yours is as old as mine it's not using any electricity when it's off.

Sheila said...

I do that with my sink too for clean up and I'm pretty sure it was you who told me to do that!

As for the canned goods.... What IS safe to eat!!! How do you make marinara sauces then? No quick can of black beans? What's a girl to do!?!


Sue said...

Thanks Tom,
I'm glad I can be considered a conservationist and not just plain lazy!

I'll take credit for your dishwashing method even if it wasn't me.

I didn't even think about the beans!!! OY!

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

You know I never use my dishwasher unless I have company over because it doesn't make sense to run it for just two people. That seemed like a waste of water and electicity. Maybe I should reconsider.

Anonymous said...

Back when I worked for National Environmental Trust, Dr. Vom Saal helped us out with some BPA stuff and he is absolutely the authority, and a really nice guy too. So I take what he says about BPA in canned tomatoes seriously. The problem is, though, as you said, Sue, that the Pomi tomatoes don't taste all that good. So I decided to use the canned San Marzano tomatoes for the important things -- sauces -- and use the Pomi tomatoes (which I freeze in 1-cup packages after I open them) for other things.

The biggest shocker I found about BPA was when we tested household products we found BPA in Lysol spray. The irony -- here is something that Lysol commercials were telling you to spray around with abandon (particularly around your baby) and it turned out to have lots and lots of BPA in it. I don't know if that's still true, but it was back in 2004 or so.

Sue said...

You SHOULD reconsider. What if you ran it every 2 days? Unless, of course, washing dishes is a good bonding time between you and hubby...

I wanted you to tell me that the can thing was all poppycock. And why don't we know that about Lysol? I hate having another thing to worry about.