Zero Waste Recipe – Ketchup

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Hi there world, I have resurfaced long enough to try a little experiment in my search to consume less plastic.  I do plan to post a little more often now than I did over the winter!

ketchup

One of the advantages of eating a Primal diet is that a lot less of my food is packaged now than when I ate a more normal diet.  At the moment I cannot find meat or dairy products in non-plastic packaging, so I don’t worry too much about it, but I have been bothered by the waste in the condiment bottles I buy.  Those seem less essential and for months I’ve been telling myself I needed to just learn how to make them myself, thus eliminating not only the plastic bottles that might be around for thousands of years, but also the plastic chemicals (BPA, etc.) seeping into my food and disrupting my body’s hormones.

I finally managed to make a somewhat simplified version of Jamie Oliver’s ketchup recipe the other day and, as usual with these things, it took even less time than I expected.

It was a fun, quick project.  Next time I will put in half the sugar, though, because it was definitely too sweet.

In terms of money, 2 pounds of tomatoes at $1.49 a pound, some brown sugar, and the various spices/herbs come out to a little over $3.00 for enough ketchup to fill maybe two thirds of my normal ketchup bottle.  The 36 ounce bottle usually costs me about $3.49 at the store, so making it myself doesn’t really save me money.  I do plan to keep doing it, though, because it’s better on the health front, quite easy, and maybe after tweaking recipes for 20 years I’ll come up with a recipe that everyone wants but that I keep secret until bequeathing it to my ancestors at death!  Or something 🙂

Y Girl

Update on goals and gardening

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I am rather proud of myself in that all of the changes to reduce plastic have stuck over this very busy summer. I have not added too many more habits, yet, but I think I’ve saved 100+ plastic bags from landfills and have continued to be mindful about my buying habits and looking for alternatively packaged items.  I’d been simplifying for a couple of years (it took a while because I wanted to wear out rather than throw out some things and because I kept realizing I didn’t need something after all), and I finally feel like I’ve gotten to where I want to be with amount of belongings. It really helps with aiming for zero waste – and zero waste really helps with a goal of being minimalist.

With the garden, well, I had trouble for a couple of weeks earlier in the summer with the chickens getting out of their tractor constantly. By the time I got things locked down they had pretty much eaten everything that had been planted up to then, so the amount of produce I harvested at that time was probably worth only $5.00. At least it went to food producing animals, right?

The last few weeks I’ve been getting a bunch more planted and will let you know when those crops start to come in.

In summary, habits going strong, garden had a setback. Onward!

Y Girl

Chickies! Er, hens by now!

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In the beginning of March I ordered 15 little White Leghorn chicks from Cackle Hatchery, which is actually where I got my first batch of chicks from back when I was a young teen. At that time I remember I ordered Barred Rocks and Rhode Island Reds because I figured they would be pretty as well as friendly and lay plenty of eggs. I always heard how Leghorns were flighty and unfriendly, though definitely tops on the egg front, so I decided back then not to go with the cheap and boring looking white hens. This time, however, I got the Leghorns. They have a reputation for being good foragers as well as good layers and I don’t have much time for making pets out of any more animals at the moment, anyway, since I accidentally tamed yet another feral cat.

From the very beginning they were super friendly, very athletic, and extremely curious about everything.  By which I mean they did not take kindly to being confined in their nice, roomy box until old enough to go outside.  The things I went through trying to keep them in there!  WAY too many times I heard this distinctive little “pat-pat” sound and realized they had gotten out and were running around on the carpet.  I swear, they sounded different when they were being “bad” than when they were staying put.  Totally cute, but, a lot more energetic and good at flying than other chicks I’ve seen over the years!

After a couple weeks, with sunny weather and some decent feathers, they got to go outside in their pen.  They loved it, and it was fun going out to pick them up at dusk every night, transferring them from their little circular feathery cuddle into their nighttime box in the house.  Excuse my gushing, but I always love how babies and baby animals have that soft, warm feeling when you pick them up.  So yeah.  By now I kind of had to admit I was not sticking to my resolution to be just business about them.  They were too adorable not to coo over.

I had made them a portable metal and wire fencing house that is relatively easy to move around to a different spot every day and was planning to make two more and split them into three houses as they grew.

Things were going along with occasional hiccups (when a chick would escape and have to be caught) when they finally decided to start roosting.  Now we had Problems.  Because apparently two to three foot high perches are for inferior chickens.  These chickens need to be at least eight feet high for restful sleep, and preferably more.  They started working very hard at getting out and would spend all day undoing the door ties, pushing things, etc., so that when evening came they could fly to the top of their house and thence to the cottonwood branches.

I have never, ever met such motivated birds in my life.  They LOOK quite innocent, don’t they?

But really, they are a ravening horde!

Those snowy little dames do not really like their commercial feed that much and act like the chickens from the Chicken Run movie – “let’s diet, exercise, and practice flying as much as possible!”  I am working on revamping their house to make it better for their roosting needs but still movable, but at the moment I am embarrassed to admit they are pretty much free range hens.  They chase the cats, have eaten ALL the veggies (so I will need to restart that before I can get going on the gardening posts again), and love hanging out under the shady porch and then running pellmell, “pat-pat,” away whenever anyone steps outside.  They will follow people around, come when you call, and try to look in the windows.

So, in the next couple of days I will, I HOPE, manage to get them under control again.  Meanwhile, I hope you enjoyed this story of animals changing plans.

Y Girl

Kickin’ ur plastic: Part 4

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What to do about Kleenex?

I grew up reading many old classic books and was always fascinated by the little customs and conventions surrounding handkerchiefs, things like having a useful one and a fancy one for show, and how everyone used to iron them each week.  People often cleaned things or wrapped things up in handkerchiefs.  It seemed rather cool to me, and I tried a couple of times to use one, but realized quickly the advantage Kleenex has in being disposable.  I don’t like carrying around used tissues.  I thought for the rest of my life I would just go ahead and use Kleenex and not worry about it.  Even when I got into more zero waste type interests I still thought that at least tissue boxes only have one small strip of plastic on the top.  Not too big a deal, right?

After a while I read an article featuring HankyBooks and was charmed.  So adorable and it seemed to really fix the major problem I had with handkerchiefs!  Plus they are a cute modern version.

I have not bought one yet, but I did make my own out of an old t-shirt.  Like so many other things, once the incredibly obvious solution arrives the actual process takes about five minutes to implement!

I sewed a seam in the back connecting the “pages” and simultaneously attaching the tie.

It rolls up nice and small, as you see.  I have not bought any Kleenex in several months, getting by with cloth and occasional TP.  Of course, we shall see what happens if I get a cold, though I think I might have had one this spring.  It started like one, anyway, but never turned into the normal messy, miserable thing to endure.  Since I eat Primal, I definitely seem more resistant to disease, so perhaps I won’t have the same type of colds any more…

Time to kick this plastic:  5 minutes.

Maintenance effort:  Completely fits my routine with no extra effort.

Cost:  $0.00

Y Girl

Kickin’ ur plastic: Part 3

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Hand soap – a guide for the squeamish and germ-phobic person.

For years and years I have heard about the dangers of Triclosan in liquid hand soaps and how it was contributing to antibiotic-resistant bacteria and how it was not even necessary for killing germs.  I also disliked having to go through so much plastic buying soap.  I used to try to find a way to make liquid hand soap, but I could never find a practical way.

BUT.  There are several aspects of using a bar of soap that were very off-putting to me.  The holder tends to get slimy and yucky looking quickly.  I dislike having a bar be used hundreds of times over several weeks until it disappears.  It just seems unsanitary to me, especially when hair or something gets stuck in it, and I cannot get over that feeling.  Plus, liquid soaps seemed to be much better at keeping my hands moisturized.  So, I kept using them.

Then I read several articles about the way Triclosan (and many other chemicals) mess up our thyroids.  I was trying to lose some weight and I know a LOT of people, women especially, who have hypothyroidism and it makes life so much more difficult in every way.  Did I switch?  Well, I tried harder to think of some way I could start using bar soap, but I just could not figure out a way I could tolerate it.  I told myself that it probably was not that big a deal anyway, I was just washing my hands with it and had a lot less pollutants in my life than most people.  I experimented with shampoo bars, though, and discovered several sources of really nice, natural soaps that felt luxurious to use.

Then I went Primal with my diet (and sleep, and exercise) and discovered how much of a huge difference tiny changes can make.  My body composition was changing drastically for the better with mostly lifestyle changes, very little exercise, and I had so much mental energy that I decided to revisit the old soap issue and find a solution this time.

It turned out that the solution for me was provokingly simple.

I cut up my soap bar into small pieces and put it on the top of an overturned glass jar.  It was reused from being a food container, so it did not even cost anything.

This works for me because the soap is used up in just days and as soon as it’s gone I can put the jar in the dishwasher and get it perfectly clean again.  Thus I always have a clean holder and nice looking soap.

Including shipping the soap cost me about $8.00 and I think it is going to last (used by two, in the kitchen) about two months, so only a dollar a week or so.  This is cheaper than the plastic refills, which is great.  I believe I was spending about two dollars a week on the liquid soap.

You can probably find someone selling  really cool soaps near you at a farmer’s market, or if you are not able to get to any then there are tons of great suppliers online.  You can always go with hand soap from the supermarket, but until you have tried a really great hand soap you have no idea what you are missing.  Actually, one reason I am happy about having made this change is now I get to try more varieties of soaps than I have been able to before!

Y Girl

Big picture, what should humans live in?

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Not quite sure of all the steps, but I started out looking at something about sustainable housing and ended up on a very interesting website about cities, towns, suburbia, and farms and historical versus modern designs.  What I thought was cool was how the most beautiful cities in the world really are the ones with narrow streets and a lot more walking people than cars. I remember reading Human Scale several times, the last time a couple years ago, and being really fascinated by so much of what I expected to be a really dry book.  I definitely recommend you find it in a library or something.  There is a lot of cool info like how far away we can recognize humans we know and how if a square or public space is bigger than that distance we feel small and disconnected.

Anyway, I have not thought much about the actual city life in Europe.  That is, I love reading books about Europe, talking to people who live there, and am very interested in history in general, but for some reason I had this idea that most of those picturesque, winding little streets were mostly shops now.  I did not realize how many of them are still homes.  It’s weird discovering these blind spots in oneself…  Anyway, the site as a whole appears to be mainly about stock markets and currencies and trading, but the articles on cities and suburbs are really well written and have lots of great photos.

Harry Potter and Traditional Cities

Of course, I am living in a not-quite-rural, not-quite-suburban, situation and am very car dependent, so my blog is mostly about making the most of that sort of circumstance, but I have always wanted to have about 60 acres of well watered land to care for.  I never ever could understand the desire to live in a city, but after viewing those articles I could actually imagine doing so pretty happily.  I still prefer country life, but this definitely was a fascinating and inspiring series of articles and makes me a fan of the traditional style of city.  We all know suburbs are going to have to disappear as oil gets more and more expensive, but here is something that looks like a much more delightful way of living.

Y Girl

Kickin’ ur plastic: Part 2

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Of course, the OTHER super obvious thing is to switch to using cloth bags when shopping, because plastic bags are EEVIL.  Well, they are!  Haven’t you heard that “swisshhh” under your bed some nights, just waiting until you go to sleep to creep up and – ?  But seriously, I have been making old t-shirts into shopping bags and working hard on getting into the habit of remembering them!  (You can find tutorials everywhere for this; I’m not linking to any because there are SO MANY.) I also bought two string produce bags – they are plastic string, I admit, but I could not find any cotton string ones and I really, really need them in order to stop using those stretchy plastic bags.

I leave you with a link to a strangely sad and surreal video about the too-long life of a plastic bag.  It was happy when useful, but after it could no longer be used, it had to linger on… and on…

I take back what I said about the evilness of plastic bags.  Take pity on them and do not enslave them!  Let them stay cozy, innocent little oil molecules lolloping around in the sand…

Y Girl

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