Waste Not, Want Not

My kids will tell you I hate wasting food. We are not one of those families that throws away $1,365-2,275 worth of food per year. Why should we, when limp celery can be thrown in soup, or twice-eaten baked beans can be added to taco filling? Yes, my Empty-the-Fridge Tortilla Soup might draw some groans, but it takes care of the 1/2 cup of leftover pork roast, 1/2 cup of burned crock-pot beef, and 1/2 cup of Thai Peanut Pork that no one was going to eat.

So you can understand how happy I am to see Saturday Market vendor The Brewmaster's Bakery. You know--the guys next to the cherries and apricots, who put out little dog biscuits for your furry friends.

Fresh from the Brewmaster

The Brewmaster's Bakery makes its products from "spent grain," the grains left over after brewers have used them to make beer. These might include barley, wheat, corn, rice, rye, or oats. What a great idea! For centuries, most brewers would give the spent grain to farmers for feed, but, as we know, what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the one who might eat the goose.

The granolas

All those spent grains have been "turned into goodies" like granola and cookies by our friends, and the granolas have been given exciting names. If you have trouble waking up in the morning, maybe it's because you could use a bowl of "Your Spicy Mistress" granola, which the website describes thus:

pecans and dried ginger with accents of black pepper and a bite of cayenne pepper. This is especially perfect for the beer lover in your life. The granola starts off mildly sweet and then hits you with a nice kick to the caboose which only makes you drink more beer. You’ll tell people it’s because you’re a manly man that can handle your spicy mistress, but we all know it’s to kill her sting.

Yowza! Or maybe you prefer "Check Out My Coconuts" flavor,

sweetened shredded coconut and milk chocolate added to our base granola will give you that island feel that makes you want to feel up some coconuts! 

Have no fear, however. There are a few items you can order without blushing, or that you could give as a gift without getting slapped across the face. I saw one woman buying "hop salt," which she said she was going to sprinkle on grilled steak.

Hop o' my tongue

This product is described as "sea salt infused with local amarillo hops." I have no idea what amarillo hops are, but I'm betting they're worlds tastier than armadillo hops.

Reduce, reuse, recycle! As anyone who's tried to reduce food intake can tell you, it's not a viable long-term strategy. But "reuse" and "recycle" are, and The Brewmaster's Bakery is on the leading edge.

Ya never know what will turn up at the Market (besides the freshest, most seasonal produce and awesome pastured meats, I mean). Enjoy, and have a great week.

Earth Day Edition

It seems fitting that on Earth Day you should give the planet a present. But what do you give the planet that has everything? If you're struggling to come up with something, I have a few suggestions:

1. Take a shorter shower or skip your shower altogether! (If you've already showered by the time you read this, you could substitute "only flush the toilet selectively today" or "don't let the water run when you wash the dishes/brush your teeth.")

Here's our latest state drought map, after all, including the thirteen more river basins Governor Inslee has declared in drought conditions. Snowpack is at 20% of normal.

2. Consider installing one of these:

Look at these happy gentlemen from the King Cty website!

Not being the handy, installing type myself, I wish one of these rain barrels would magically appear outside our house, ready to go. But the County has an FAQ and tips for you more motivated types.

3. If you're under the gun timewise, consider the belated Earth Day gift. Bellevue's 2015 Spring Special Recycling Day is Saturday, May 2, from 9am-3pm in the Bellevue Presbyterian Church parking lot. What do they take, that you can't recycle curbside? Here are just some of the biggies:

Block styrofoam
Packing peanuts

And new this year...

Rigid plastics!!!

I'm pretty excited about the rigid plastics, since, like most Americans, I have a few of those $5 resin chairs in various states of usability cluttering up the backyard. Not to mention plastic buckets that used to contain something. There's only so many plastic buckets you can have around the house.

And you know, of course(?) that curbside recycling already can take household batteries now! The most recent flyer I've received says to place regular and rechargeable batteries in a separate, clear sealed bag and put it on top of the recycling bin for pickup. Strangely, King County has not updated its website to reflect this change.

Same goes for those fluorescent tubes and bulbs that I hate and refuse to buy any longer: wrap them in newspaper and secure with tape. Mark them "Fluorescent bulbs" and put them on top or beside your bin. (Bartell's will also recycle CFLs.)

4. And then there's always the "Reuse" option, for you serial re-gifters. I re-use freezer bags until they look cruddy or won't seal. I've re-used the thicker plastic bags found in cereal boxes for when I need a sturdier cover for things outside like the umbrella stand. I re-use plastic grocery bags to collect smaller recyclable plastic bags or to line the compost bin (but not to throw in the yard waste, of course). I reuse glass peanut butter jars to hold beans in the pantry or to refrigerate homemade yogurt. I reuse plastic trays and bowls and containers people have left after potlucks and such to serve my own potluck offerings or to send food home with others later--that way it doesn't matter if you ever get it back. And when the things aren't on condition to be re-used again, they can be recycled curbside or brought to the Special Recycling Day!

So no excuses, this year. Give our awesome planet a present and have a happy Earth Day.

What Comes Around Goes Around

Recycled Scallions & Photo Courtesy of Eating Well

Some years ago we hosted high school seniors from our church for dessert and hanging out. I was eight months pregnant at the time, which meant I wasn't firing on all mental cylinders, but two memories stand out in my mind:

1. One girl asked me, "When are you due?" The girl next to her hissed, "Shhh!!!" and jabbed her in the ribs. "What?" I asked, mystified. The jabber looked sheepish. "Well, I heard you weren't pregnant--you just--" My mouth fell open. "You thought I just looked like this???" ("This" meaning my enormous stomach that stuck out as far as Cle Elum and was hard as a basketball, not to mention my swollen face and legs.) I waved the spatula around,with which I'd been dishing out brownies. "You tell everyone that I'm eight months pregnant! Got it? Tell everyone." Don't mess with the crazy lady with the spatula.

2. On the plus side, another girl took a real shine to me because she discovered I was a rabid recycler, like the gal in the insurance ad. It turns out she had drawn the mockery of all her friends on their Senior Trip to Disneyland because, unable to bear the level of waste and resource-carnage, she walked all over the park trailing a giant trash bag of recyclables. Across the generational divide, we found each other.

Seriously. In our house we re-use big yogurt containers until there's no more room on the outside to write what's in them. Ice cream containers get rinsed and recycled. Peanut butter jars go through the dishwasher so they're clean enough to store kids' figurines. Net produce bags become costume fascinators. To their shame and embarrassment, the kids' scratch paper is left over from my husband printing out his sermons. Which means, when they make (not buy) birthday cards for their friends, their friends always end up unfolding the card to ask what are all the weird things printed on the back. The eight-year-old even confessed that she staples her cards prophylactically, to avoid such awkwardness.

As a result, I was thrilled to see this Peninsula Press article on what percentage of the items thrown in the recycling actually get recycled. It's high! Especially for a place like Bellevue, which practices "single-stream" recycling, meaning, everything gets thrown in one bin and sorted out later. According to the article, single-stream systems boast a recovery rate of 77%. I also believe communities with single-stream recycling probably collect a higher volume of recyclables in the first place. How many people, confronted with the multiple bins and the sorting and the getting them all to the curb, decide not to bother in the first place?

A couple tips to make sure your recycling efforts pay off:

  • Greasy or food-contaminated paper belongs in the Yard Waste. Paper that gets some of that on it cannot be recovered.
  • When recycling glass, avoid breaking it. Broken glass contamination makes it harder to process other materials and is hard on the machinery. Nor can broken glass be easily sorted, collected, and made into new bottles.
  • When in doubt about a plastic container, recycle it. I do know they don't favor the black, plastic pots you get plants in.
  • Funky items like electronics, scrap wood, batteries, toilets, and much, much more can be recycled on May 7 at the Recycling Collection Day. Easy peasy.

And lastly, since I am supposed to be blogging about food, here's a tip I can't wait to try for growing your own scallions out of used ones! Bundle the white stems, soak for a week in a glass of water until they sprout, and then re-plant them. Who knew?

Happy Recycling. I'm off to do my bit by digging in the fridge for leftovers..