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

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Pollyanna on the environment: part 4 – why hope?

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This is mostly a picspam of what I think of when I think about what we as humans can experience and allow future generations to experience by taking better care of “the environment.”  I wrote a post a few months ago linking to a website with a really brilliant series on the potential our indoor environments can hold and I just felt like doing a random inspirational post about the wilderness that is still here for us to enjoy.

There are so many awesome and beautiful places on this planet and so many places that can be restored or made even better.

Did you notice the obvious human influence and management in several of the photos? We humans do not automatically spoil nature by our presence. We are not some inevitably corrosive and damaging blight on the beauty of this world.

There ARE many areas we have messed up, and Chernobyl is one of them. This is an interesting documentary I watched some time ago – it seems to be a bit staged in parts, but overall it is a fascinating look at what happens when we abandon an area and how resilient and quick nature is to rebuild.

youtube.com/watch?v=ud33w26qsWQ

Especially notice the types of plastic and biodegradable items left behind.  Then watch how greenery is taking over and everything is becoming lush and more and more wild looking.

Please remember that we as humans do not have to despise ourselves. We can not only live in harmony with nature’s cycles, but we can improve and beautify what we touch, as well.
Y Girl

Pollyanna on the environment: Part 3

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Dirt. The word can conjure up irritating work dusting and sweeping and washing cars and it can also bring to mind rich, delicious smelling black loam bursting with potential for life.

There is so MUCH dirt on this planet, if you stop to think about it. It seems rather simple at first glance – various minerals, some organic matter, some bugs and bacteria and poof, you have dirt.

For years I have occasionally gone on research binges about soil and how to improve it and what varieties there are and honestly I don’t think I’m ever going to have a really good grasp of the topic – it’s actually incredibly complicated the more you find out. As interesting as it can be to read about, I must admit there are times my eyes start to cross from the technical details, though!

On my sidebar there is a link to some free books by Gene Stratton-Porter, a naturalist and gifted novelist in the late 1800s, early 1900s. I think possibly her descriptions of the swampland may have started my love of gorgeous dirt. Anyway, if we as humans made the changes suggested in my last post, we could stop paving over, dumping trash on, and degrading so much of the dirt around us. We could have far more opportunities to walk around barefoot, not just at the beach, to see greenery around us, and to have abundant life of all sizes and types, both animal and vegetable, thriving around us. I am not sure what I think about the practice of earthing as far as the science goes, but I do know that there is a deep peace that comes from being outside barefoot on clean ground and seeing even just a few plants and the way the sun drifts through tree leaves or lands on your bare feet. I think we all deserve to have that experience more often.

Find some good dirt and stick your feet in it!

Y Girl

Pollyanna on the environment: Part 2

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I think I’ll start with imagining things closest to us, as per the zones in permaculture. We’re on zone 0 right now, the environments we spend most of our time in.

Let’s start with air…

As a kid I had plenty of time to read because of being homeschooled. I read a LOT, and some of that was books by Zane Grey. I remember how he rhapsodized constantly about the beauty of the deserts in Arizona and the Southwest and talked about drinking in the air as if it was wine. I like climates like Ireland, but those books did give me a sense of fascination and awe with the badlands of this country, the high and lonely places. And that comparison of air to wine! Isn’t it exaggeration to say that air could be so invigorating?

So many of us live in places that smell of exhaust and pavement and dusty, sad, bedraggled plants giving off pollen that makes us sneeze. We hear the stats about pollution and asthma and the o zone layer and see pictures of garbage dumps like this.

None of that is necessary, though.

What if we got off fossil fuels entirely? That is totally doable in my opinion. If we change our housing to be more people friendly (and gorgeous!), have good networks of mass transportation, farm sensibly using techniques that are good for the land and are already proven to work, and used alternatives to wood and coal for heat and cooking – then we CAN all breathe clean air. It may not always be like wine, but it would be good for us.

Oh, and sometimes I wonder just why I keep going up to Yosemite to hike. Part of it of course is that I have a list of hikes I want to get done before I move away, but part of the reason for driving to Yosemite to do the hikes is that the air does indeed smell like wine, especially at dawn. You can look at pictures of Yosemite and get a great deal of the experience that way, but the air. The aroma of pines!

And yes, I realize it is hypocritical to talk of air pollution and then DRIVE somewhere to get to clean air. Oh well.
We usually have decent air around my place, though in the winter most of the neighbors use fireplaces for heating, which really does a number on the air quality.

What if we all could wake up to snowy, crisp days in winter, with air that prickles and stings with fresh and natural scents? What if those of us in the tropics had humid, muggy air that simply smelled of trees and perhaps neighbors’ cooking? What if those of us living on the hot planes of Africa could do our cooking without using wood and instead we smelled the baking dirt, the gardens growing in the sun, spices? What if we could experience springtime in the country smelling earthy pastures and profuse flowers and wet pond plants?

I think good air is possible for us all. Maybe not in our lifetimes, but there is no reason why we cannot achieve it. Just imagine… we can all breathe air that is rich as wine.

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

Pollyanna on the environment: Part 1

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It can get pretty discouraging reading about how badly we humans have messed up this little planet in just the last 100 years. We’ve been modifying it for thousands of years, but for a long time it was more on a scale similar to termite mounds or bird nests – we built things like step wells in India, the pyramids in Egypt (and South America), Roman roads all over Europe, built things like the Hagia Sophia, and in general manipulated our environment in many ways.  But, we still had a not-overburdened planet. When one area got kind of messed up, we could move and find new resources. Read the tales of explorers coming to the New World just a few hundred years ago and you will find stories of such magnificent abundance of food and beauty as will make you ache for a time machine. Read stories of lobstermen and trappers and how MUCH there was out there of every type of food and raw materials. It’s just astounding. In California, where I live, there used to be far more streams and springs even in the middle of summer, where you could get a drink when traveling. Now there are very few springs and all but the biggest waterways dry up all summer long.

Of course, in the good old days people did do things like use lead in pottery glazes, try arsenic as pesticide for crops, and commit acts of war such as spreading salt to make land infertile. Even cosmetics were often contaminated, with no oversight at all of ingredients (not that the FDA seems to help much nowadays either), and containing various poisons. The good old days were pretty terrible in a lot of ways and human rights have certainly come a long ways since then (phew!). Medicines and technology have made life a lot easier and with less suffering for many.

But now, something has gone wrong and we seem to be fouling not just our personal nests but the entire world, in what may be permanent ways. Why bother reading dystopian novels or watching disaster movies when we already are dealing with that? It’s just not quite as dramatic and fast as an apocalyptic movie.

This is where I always get really depressed and then I rebound and start thinking about all the good things that are possible. It might be pretty Pollyanna-ish, but who cares? Sometimes that is fun. In this series I’m going to let my imagination run a bit wild and idealistic. Let’s imagine what could be possible, what IS still possible!

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

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