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Monthly Archives: June 2013

Compost & Recycling: Hand In Hand

This blog chronicles my family’s commitment to compost, but it recently dawned on me that My Daily Compost tells only a portion of our eco efforts.  We’ve been voluntarily backyard composting for over a decade.  Why?  Putting perfectly good food down the disposal felt wrong and since my kids eat a pretty fruit & veggie heavy diet, I had lots of good looking peels, skins & rinds.  Compost was the obvious answer.  We bought a slick looking compost bin that instantly weathered and provided lots of rich soil for our newly built garden boxes and lovingly tended home-grown veggies (and roses).

Fast-forward five years and we moved into a home without gardens or a disposal.  Imagine!  It was a tricky time with a newly arrived preemie baby, so I guiltily tossed my scraps in the trash and looked the other way.   After nurturing our transplanted roses with store-bought compost and finally building gorgeous new vegetable beds, it was a no-brainer to quickly build a much simpler compost bin from the cast-off pallets from some home-improvement project.  Yay!  I felt virtuous again!  It was the perfect little home eco-cycle: grow food/eat food/compost waste/add composted waste back to garden/grow new food. Perfect.

Now we only grow a fraction of what we eat thanks to hot, humid, often unpredictable Atlanta weather.  Plus, we are committed to organic gardening, which can be a little more complicated.  What do we do with the packaging from all the rest of our food?  Recycle, of course.

So, we belong to that generation that saved up and sorted our glass, plastics, magazines  and newspapers and drove them to the recycling center periodically.  We’d happily sort and run around trying to find the appropriate bins to dispose of everything, feeling the virtuous green glow of earth friendly vibes.

Today recycling is even easier.  My trash company picks up nearly every plastic, cardboard, glass and paper product and it all goes in one bin.  No sorting!  (Although I sometimes wonder how and when it’s sorted and where it goes …)  And since we read our news and pay many bills online there is much less paper waste.  We’ve completely eliminated plastic water bottles and of course I use my own bags.  The few plastic bags we do accumulate are recycled at the local grocery store or put to use for trash.  The goal: to eliminate as much unnecessary waste as possible.

Here’s a peek at my recycling for the week:

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I couldn’t keep all those containers on my counter, so here’s the rest of my stuff, minus the few sports drink bottles my son & his friends drank & promptly put in the bin while mulching our backyard.  (Trees were being cut down in our neighborhood and I scored an ENTIRE DUMP TRUCK full of pretty rough mulch – FREE.  After three solid weekends of my husband hauling, it cost me $200 to have teenagers finally finish the job.)

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So, how about you?  Are you a recycler?  A composter?  A wanna be?  Start small.  Start simple – and like a popular sports company says, “just do it.”

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2013 in Compost How To

 

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Bare Bucket

Bare Bucket

If jet-lag could be conveyed in food, here is what it would like:

  • eggshells – exactly seven
  • banana peel
  • espresso grinds
  • a few shriveled blueberries
  • one chive stem
  • garlic paper

So, how is that jet-lag? Well, I’m not sure about you, but when I am tired (exhausted) I crave comfort food. That means scrambled eggs with ham, white cheddar, chives and a bit of garlic to add interest. Coffee: extra strong espresso with warmed whole milk and some real maple syrup for a to-die-for maple latte. A banana for a snack.

When I’m tired AND it’s also rainy, baking is mandatory. Five of those eggs made their way into a Triple Berry Pound Cake with Chambord. It’s what I had in the kitchen … It was so yummy and was eaten so quickly I don’t even have a picture to share. Next time!

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2013 in The Daily Bucket

 

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Toss-It Tuesday: Vacation

I’ve been away exploring beaches and climbing mountains in the Pacific Northwest while back in the ATL, fruit has been rotting in my fridge. Guess my house sitter opted for frozen pizzas and bagels instead of the good stuff…

What you can see (clockwise left to right):

  • onion skins
  • rotting peaches
  • a smattering of dried & fresh flower petals from my daughter’s fairy house construction (center)
  • Watermelon (cut up for more efficient composting)
  • black banana peel
  • a wrinkled peach
  • a rotting apricot
  • teabag (minus string & tag)
Toss-It Tuesday Vacation

Toss-It Tuesday Vacation

What you can’t see:

  • half of a moldy cantaloupe
  • more watermelon
  • paper from two garlic cloves

What I made with that:

In a nod to my coastal adventure, I made a quick Linguine with White Clam Sauce using onion, garlic, canned clams, butter, olive oil and white wine.

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2013 in Toss It Tuesday

 

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Rainy Day Double Buckets

The good news: it feels like summer at last with lots of fresh fruits & veggies filling the fridge.  The bad news: it’s raining, so instead of all that gorgeous produce, my body’s craving comfort food like … soup.  I love how random ingredients easily transform into just what we want, like Spicy Chicken Corn Chowder.  Hooray for soup.

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Sorry this is blurry.  It was really rainy.  Things you can see (clockwise from top):

Top Bucket:  Corn husks & slimy, old watermelon (Note to self: we don’t eat giant quantities of watermelon.  Stop buying whole melons!)

Bottom Bucket:

  • Red pepper core & slice
  • A random leaf
  • Barely visible onion skins
  • Carrot scrapings
  • Half of a fingerling potato nestled in the scrapings
  • Watermelon rind (towards the middle)
  • Lots of black papaya seeds and papaya skin
  • Two pieces extremely yucky looking partially frozen banana
  • Banana peel

What you can’t see in the bottom bucket:

  • More papaya peel. Or is it skin? Or rind? Whatever it is there is lots of it underneath.

What I made with all of that:

  • Papaya & lime for breakfast
  • Watermelon to go with grilled cheese sandwiches
  • Spicy Chicken Corn Chowder which used everything in the bucket but the fruit …
 
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Posted by on June 5, 2013 in The Daily Bucket

 

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Sunday Supper

FInally, time to breath … time to relax … ah, Sunday.  After Mass we had visited the local nursery where we got free ladybugs, along with eggplant and pumpkin seedlings, and a new birdbath bowl.  We also popped into Whole Foods for fresh veggies after weeks in the ballet rehearsal/performance food desert.  That meant time to clean out the fridge!

Things you can see (clockwise from top):

  • A few badly bruised, inedible Ranier cherries (love these so much more than regular dark, sweet cherries)
  • Pre-cut organic carrot slices (normally don’t buy these because they taste stale and dry out quickly, as pictured here, but they are an easy snack with hummus)
  • Chopped cucumbers (cut WAY too many and they just got old.  Sad.)
  • Rose leaves from performance bouquets
  • Herbs – bay leaves, cloves, allspice & peppercorns
  • Damaged yellow & red cherry tomatoes
  • Spinach leaves
  • Avocado rind

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What you can’t see:

  • Saturday’s Bland Bucket
  • Lots and lots and lots of leaves from the many flower bouquets my ballerina received for her weekend concert
  • Eggshells

What I made with all of that:

  • Croque Monsieur, my breakfast version of grilled cheese.  There are lots of recipes out there (and I’m including Ina’s because she does butter better than just about anybody) but I keep it simple because I don’t have time in the morning to whip up a bechamel.  Besides, don’t you think that’s just too heavy for the morning?  So, here’s what I do.  Assemble my daughter’s favorite grilled cheese componenets: artisan bread, ham, good muenster cheese, and mayo (because she hates dijon).  Dip that sandwich in two eggs beaten with whole milk & let it soak a bit until it’s eggy, but not a soggy  mness.  In a hot pan with lots of salted butter, quickly fry until golden, and here’s the important part!  Turn the heat to low and cook until you can see the cheese melting.  Only then can you flip it over, turn up the heat again to fry until golden, and then flip it on the cutting board.  Let it rest a minute before cutting so the cheese doesn’t ooze, and hooray!  Grilled-cheese-french-toast-so-my-girl-doesn’t-pass-out-in-Mass breakfast.
  • Avocado, Pesto Parmesan Ham and Spinach sandwich for lunch
  • Brined roast chicken (truly yummy, brining is not just for your Thanksgiving turkey)
  • Roasted tomatoes because I had ’em and I love ’em

tomatoes

I don’t really use a recipe for these any more.  They are that simple.  Cut the tomatoes in half, drizzle with good olive oil on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with sea salt (I used pepper this time too – take my advice and don’t.  It intensifies and it fights with the sweet tomato yumminess.) Bake these at 225 degrees for about two hours or until they are dried to your taste.  They will look like this:

tomatoes roasted

I can pretty much guarantee you’ll eat this entire pan once you taste one.  It’s kind of like “cleaning up” the edge of a cake or pie.  You’ll just nibble away until you have a tiny handful left to sprinkle in your salad, or toss on your soup, or… into your mouth.  In the event you have more self control than I do, cool these tomatoes, put in a glass jar & cover with a bit more olive oil and store in the fridge.  I hear they last for weeks.  Ha!

 

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Bland Bucket

Um, yeah, can you tell we’re running around?  Here we have cantaloupe rind – not even chopped like I normally prep it for easier composting – and an entire bunch of practically black banana skins.  That’s all the food I prepped for the entire day.  Melon for breakfast, no lunch and  dinner out.  But it was an amazing ballet recital & spring concert!

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Secret Smoothie Tip:  I hate soft “ripe” bananas, so when they get to that mush point I’ve got to do something or throw them out.  I hate banana bread too, so, here’s what I do: peel the bananas, gently break them into chunks (you won’t even need a knife) and put them in a single layer on a cookie sheet.  Cover with wax paper or plastic wrap (if you aren’t opposed to it) and freeze.  When they are firm, toss them into a freezer bag, and bingo – banana ice cubes for smoothies.  Or, a cold, creamy, sweet snack!

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2013 in The Daily Bucket

 

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