Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Green Blog Roundup #2

I read all the environmentalist blogs so you didn't have to.

No Impact Man offered moral support for a girl with no electricity, declaring that we don't need those appliances anyway! Yeah!

But then, the New York Times shamed the HELL out of me, providing statistical evidence that Americans waste as much as one THIRD of their food while riots are breaking out elsewhere in the world over the food shortage. Read this and stop throwing stuff out ...says the girl who accidentally let a pepper mold in the fridge during the power outage incident. Bah!

Looking for ways to cook all those veggies before you trash them? NYT has ideas on that one too. Too bad they advocate microwaving as the most nutritional option.

OK, moving on. A few weeks ago, Ecogeek ran a post about waiting until 2010 to buy a new car because a bunch of companies are coming out with cool hybrids, electric cars, and the like. Add Nissan to the '10 innovators, apparently. They announced plans for an electric car released in the US. [Sidebar: how the HELL are we a decade into the 21st century already?] [via NPR here, but NYT, Carectomy, and everyone EVER covered this story]

Can't wait that long for cool transport? Consider moving to Japan, where the metro is designed by IKEA. Badass, right? Carectomy raises a good point: why isn't mass transit privately owned? They probably couldn't muck it up any more than the government has.

This whole green thing is becoming successful business. But along with that comes labor issues: The Economist reports that there is a "lack of talent" in the available workforce that's negatively affecting green startups. Erm, isn't 'the lack of talent' in the workforce affecting every industry?

No wait: It's not affecting the Hummer advertising peeps, who realize that adults hate the vehicle, so are marketing the cars to future consumers (i.e the under-12 set.) Bloody Hell. [via Carectomy]

Need a pick-me-up after that one? Check out home gardening efforts from Bean Sprouts and ways to eat those weeds from Grist

And finally: Bad Human Blog TOTALLY showed up my pizza!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Sunday's Binge

I didn't have any power and I was feeling a little fragile. I went to Target for a lantern or something similar and came home with the following:

~Little plastic clips for holding my hair up
~A bathing suit allegedly made from organic cotton from an earth friendly designer
~Method dish washing liquid (I was out)
~Tapered beeswax candles (the lanterns were expensive and battery-powered.)
~A glass candle holder
~Contact solution
~Mineral mascara

Ok, I guess I could have done without most of this stuff. But the clips make my hair very easy to manage, and I do need a suit for a trip to San Diego and another back east this Summer. Better organic than not. Not apologizing for the candles or the dish soap. I am NOT getting rid of dish soap, and I rememberd not to grab the (cheaper!) parafin ones. The mineral mascara rocks! It's thick, but not clumpy, and there isn't any gunk in it. It's funny: I was using all mineral makeup up until this point except for the mascara... which goes on my eyes, so you'd think I'd be most worried about that. Contact solution is a must. I am, however, annoyed that I bought the candle holder. It was 20$ (mislabeled as 4$ and I didn't catch the mishap till I got home.) Also: empty beer and wine bottles work incredibly well in its stead, which I did not know. It'll be returned to the store next trip. A pair of sandals and some adorable high-waist shorts made it all the way to the register, and then I asked the saleswoman to take them back. It was close, though! I need to go with someone. I wouldn't be tempted to cheat if I went with a friend.

Armpit revelations

Up until 3 days ago I was still using the bad deoderant with aluminum and all sorts of muck. Yeah yeah, I know, but natural deodorant smells horrible and doesn't work for me and I think smelling like BO is pretty much the grossest thing ever. So I held out. But then the other morning, as I was brushing my teeth with my baking powder concoction, I had a thought: what if my love affair with baking soda could go even further? I wet my underarms a little, smoothed some baking soda on and went about my day. This was Saturday. I haven't showered since then (it's Summer and I'm lazy), have gardened more than 10 hours in that time, spent a while outdoors, gone on some walks, and my arm pits still don't stink! It's a miracle! Today they got a little sweaty, whereas before they stayed dry even when I was sweaty elsewhere. I don't have any white gunk on my clothes (including two black shirts.)

My point: It actually works better than convention antipersperants, has very little packaging, and won't fill my body with free radicals. Huzzah!

Also: I have power again.

Panic Pickling: What to do to veggies when your power goes out

We're on day three of the power saga. Someone's working on it right now, but it's taking a long long time. Apparently I have only one breaker for the entire apartment, and something shorted out. He has to go through one by one and find which one it is. I started to panic about my carrots and broccoli, because I couldn't eat them fast enough these last few days with all the leftovers I was busy eating. I found a recipe in my awesome veggie cookbook however, for marinated garden vegetables. It said that covered in its cooking liquid, the veggies would last over a month in the fridge. I figure they've got at least a week out in the open, then. This wouldn't work if you had an electric stove, but since I have gas I'm good to go. I tested the carrots out and they're super crunchy and delicious! I bet they'll be awesome cold once that's among the realm of possibility again.

Here's the original recipe:

1 c red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp salt
2 sprigs fresh or 2 tsp dried oregano (I used Thyme because that was what I had)
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic
3/4 c extra virgin olive oil
1 head broccoli, cut into florets
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
2 medium carrots, cut into sticks
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and sliced
1 onion cut into eights
1/2 c olives, pitted

Put the liquid and the spices in a large pot and bring to a boil. Add broccoli and cauliflower first and cook for a minute. Then add the other veggies. Cover the pot with a lid, turn off the heat, and let it cool back to room temperature. Then sprinkle with pepper and eat plain, or over salad. You can also put them in a jar with the brining liquid and keep in the fridge for a month or more.

Note: I just used carrots. I have stir fry plans for my other veggies, but had 3 pounds of carrots that were going to die soon. I bet you could experiment with other kinds of veggies and different vinegars in the brine.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Living in the 1800s

For two days now I’ve had no power. My landlord’s phone is "temporarily disconnected" according to the automaton on the other end, the power company insists that power is going into the house just fine, I can’t find a breaker in my apartment or the basement apartment I broke into, and the electrician can’t come until tomorrow. Lovely.

But you know actually, it’s not a very big inconvenience.

Here are my observations:

During the day I don’t miss it at all, because since Earth Day I’ve gotten used to no lights before 9pm. Even after dark last night was kind of cool. Since I was afraid of using all the juice in my computer by watching a movie, or having my phone die if I called a friend to entertain me, I lit a few candles and climbed in bed with a pack of peanut butter sun drops (like M&Ms but ‘natural’) and a Dashiell Hammett novel. The wavering candlelight held right up to the page helped with ambience. I think something like Wilky Collins' The Moonstone or some other book that takes place in a time when there was no electricity would be better; I’ll try and find one for tonight. I read until 10:30 or so, and went to bed.

This morning I woke before 7, because the sun was shining through the window and I didn’t want to waste it. Feeling a bit braver in the light, I went downstairs and opened the door to the apartment beneath. It’s filthy: dishes in the sink, spills all over the floor, beer cans lining the couch, and a smell like old cat liter. No one’s been there for weeks, so I have no idea what’s going on. I searched again for a fuse box and didn’t find one, even in the closets. What I’ve now done is plugged a series of extension cords into the wall in the vacant yuckfest apartment, and flung them up onto my porch where they’re connected to a surge protector. Now I can charge my phone and computer a few times today, but can flip the switch easily on the surge protector after so I don’t mooch a ton of their electricity. I can unplug the whole thing before dark tonight and go again tomorrow if need be.

I’m worried about my fridge. I don’t want to open the door because it’s so tiny and poorly insulated. Then again, it may be hot already in there; should I be trying to eat those foods today? Guess I’m back to no fridge, huh? Now all I need is one of those old candlesticks with a handle to carry around with me and a whalebone corset and it'll be a regular Dickens festival in here!

Another thing --> All of this power outage business has given me a chance to look at the meter when I ordinarily wouldn’t. My metered electricity is 1/6th of what any of the 4 others in my building are. Woot woot! Granted, it's smaller and the others are 2 or 3 bedrooms. Still, it's not THAT much smaller!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Purchases from two weeks ago

Until now, I couldn't upload pictures. I just wanted to post a shot of my thrifted dress and not thrifted (but handmade) ring. Who knew old could look so adorable? Click for a bigger pic.

The Pressure Cooker Rocks My Socks Off!

Another freebie from a friend, I tested out a pressure cooker tonight to cook some soaked black beans and it took about 10 minutes versus the usual 90. Way to be energy efficient with the legumes! Plus the beans were cooked evenly and I didn't have to keep adding water every 20 minutes (my gas stove's temp is a little difficult to control, so simmering isn't really an option.)

There are all these crazy recipes in the manual, but I think that's too advanced for me. I'm a last minute cook: I realize I'm starving and want food in the table in a few minutes. The pressure cooker makes spontaneous, healthful cooking possible.

I am above thrilled about this.

Friday, May 16, 2008


Bitching and moaning really do seem to have their uses! I saw a cool salad spinner thing at a friend's house today, commented that I wanted one, and she said I could have it! Score one for Whiney McWhinerson! I get leaf lettuce every week, but the washing and drying takes FOREVER. If you put it in the fridge wet it gets gloopey. If you leave it out too long it gets wilty. Drying it by hand without paper towels is quite the production. But now with the spinny thingy I just pull a string and it's all dry. No electricity needed.

My lettuce troubles are over. Wahoo!

This brings me to one of my favorite things ever: giving stuff you don't use to other people. A friend admired a belt I hadn't worn in months, and it's hers. Same with books, dresses, scarfs, etc. We all have too much stuff and most of us don't miss it once it's gone anyway. Why not give it to someone who will use it? I'm not talking giving stuff away for all of time; a little indian giving now and then is pretty good too. I'm a firm believer that lending posessions out will make us less attached to them, and that's a step most of us need to make.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Homemade Pizza in Less Time than Dominos

I made a ridiculous whole wheat pizza yesterday in less than 30 minutes. I thought about breaking the rule and ordering, but then I remembered I knew how to make pizza dough really quickly. Now that I live in the middle of nowhere (oh alright, a medium-sized city) the delivery people take to darn long to get here. Making my own takeout is actually faster and WAY cheaper. Also: better for this lovely planet I like so much.

I have a sneaking suspicion this will be the first in a series of DIY takeout recipes I'll be sharing:

Speedy Wheat Pizza Crust:

1 Tbsp active dry yeast
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 c whole wheat flour (or white. or a combo)
2/3 c warm water + 2 Tbsp

Stir all but 1 cup of the flour in your Kitchenaid(or better yet, with a spoon and your hands.) Add the rest of the flour gradually to make it a dough. Make sure the dough gets a good knead. Roll it into a ball and cover in a bowl with plastic wrap or a towel (the better option!) for 10 minutes. Then punch down a bit and spread out over a greased cookie sheet.

Put whatever you want on top! I sprinkled the outside of the crust with salt and pepper like the Sink does, then spread a little leftover pasta sauce in the center. For cheese, I went with a combo of mozzarella, havarti, and romano because that's what I had. I also tossed a few almost-dead basil leaves on thereand some black olives.

Bake at 375 for 15 minutes or so, until it's all crispy and delicious. And in all seriousness, this was SO yummy! I wish I'd thought to take a picture before I ate the entire thing.

Other plans for this recipe: Cooking the dough plain and covering with fig spread/raspberry jam/lemon curd/cream cheese for a nice breakfast bread thingy.

Cyclists of the World - Unite!

It's national bike to work week. Overseas it's La Semaine du Velib (basically a celebration of Parisian bike culture.) What does that mean?

Stop paying 4$ a gallon for petrol, get off your rear and bike to your jobs! I will not be doing this because 1) I can walk to work in five minutes and 2) I have no bike at present. I will, however, be purchasing a used one this week so i can partake in the fun too.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Yarrr, Matey! Damn yer eyes!

It's extraordinarily difficult to type with no depth perception, I find. Why do I have no depth perception, do you ask? Well, I wore old contacts to bed last night and screwed one eye up something awful. It's watery and red and painful if I open it, so I currently have an eyepatch over it, pirate style. [Full Disclosure: I didn't have an eye patch so it's an Hermes scarf tied around my head.] The look is toped off by my glasses, crookedly perched on my nose. Brilliant.

All this trouble could have been avoided if I just got over my vanity and stopped wearing disposable plastic contacts. The earth would thank me and so would my eyeballs. Also: my wallet since I've already purchased the exhorbitantly expensive designer frames and I have to keep buying contacts at 40 bucks a box every month.

Damn yer eyes, indeed.

Saving water (and money) in the kitchen

Yeah, I take shorter showers, but I still use a ton of water. I’ve been thinking about water a lot lately; specifically cooking liquid and how much of that stuff I toss down the drain. So here are a few ideas I had about saving stuff and using it twice:

Using the liquid from steamed veggies as stock to cook dried beans in. Anyone know if I can do the same with pasta water? I have a sneaking suspicion that the starch will mess things up.

Reserve whey after making cheese and use it for bread making. It’ll last a few days in the fridge, but it’s best used right away and still hot. I gave the recipe for this a while ago.

If I boil too much water for tea, use it to poor over the stove and loosen gunk without degreaser. (I suppose you could just boil it again next time, but I’ve been taught that makes bad tea. And you have to heat it twice anyway.)

I clean off a LOT of veggies daily. I can't use the dirt-filled water for much, but maybe I should catch it and use it to soak pots and pans. Or water the plants outside.

Got any other suggestions? I don’t see any money saved because of the set-rate utility thing, but one day I will leave this apartment for greener pastures where it matters. Best get accustomed now.


Ok, this isn't really green, but it makes me laugh out loud and I have no idea why. I guess having a roof garden is a pretty green move for nbc... although I bet it wastes a lot of water.

Erm, perhaps the best greenie connection I can make is that NBC's full episode player sucks a LOT LESS recently. I love digital media! I watch all my shows for free, don't accumulate CDs and other plastic thingies, and read a ton of paperless articles. Woohoo!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Green Blog Roundup

I read all the green blogs in the universe so you didn't have to:

Greenies everywhere insist the world would be a better place if gas prices continue to rise. I'm torn on this issue, but there were some interesting points made via Ecogeek's story on saving gas and if it appears in the NYT, it must be true. Although...

NYT doubly sucks recently. First their “green issue” that wasn’t green and now this. [via Gawker and No Impact Man]

On Bean Sprouts Blog I learned what a Broody Hen was and how to avoid it. Also: rhubarb flowers look like the swamp thing.

Better Living reminds us bike riding is a bitch if you’re a woman. Carectomy confirms. [via Better Living and Carectomy]

Scratch that: bike riding is dangerous for all. This poor lad was attacked with an ice scraper [via Capital Times; via via Carectomy (how meta!)]

Celebs are hypocrites when is comes to green stuff. Gawker asks which is worse: Madonna investing in oil or Brangelia flying about on private jets. I love polls! But then: I refuse to eat meat but still wear leather, so who am I to judge?

Oh well, at least Goldie and Kurt are representing! (check out the bike riding duo above)

Image via Bauer Griffin

Words of Wisdom for Summer

School's officially out, so I'll officially be more here. Previously, I felt guilty when writing anything that wouldn't ultimately contribute to an academic paper or conference proposal. No more! I've sat on my ass all day and might do it again tomorrow.

There's some stuffs I learned this week that I need to pass along:

Item 1 --> Although eggshells are good sources of protein for the wormies, do NOT use the shells from hardboiled eggs. Eggie bits stick inside and make the compost bin smell more like subway booger smell of summer than a delicious rainforest.

Item 2 --> Not buying fashion rags is only an effective way to stay consumerist tendencies if you don't then read your friends/strangers/the laundromat's mags. I did, fell in love with Michael Kors gold sandals, dreamt about them, drooled over them, and ultimately had to* go vintage shopping to stop the agony. At least my dress wasn't new, but the ring was...

Item 3 --> Adding a little tea tree oil to the tooth powder recipe makes it yummier and fights germs to boot.

Item 4 --> Ice cold coke is really the best hangover cure ever, and I found a place nearby that sells the Mexican version in a glass bottle so i don't have to feel (as) guilty when I buy it.

*Ok ok, the "had to" is made up. But it felt real at the time.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Falafel for all!

I'm a little obsessed with falafel, but ordering in in this god-forsaken town tastes nothing like pushcart falafel on the streets of NY. A little better is buying one of those boxed mixes from the store and frying your own. Still better is doing it all from scratch. I've included the recipe here because it's an awesome thing to do with dried beans and a few local veggies. Unfortunately, my stove is out so I will have to live vicariously through you all. The best thing about it is that you don't have to cook the beans first: saves you an hour and lots of energy!


1 3/4 cup dried white beans (usually chickpeas)
2 cloves garlic, crushed (used more if you want)
1 tsp ground coriander
1 Tbsp cumin
a pinch of cayenne or red chili pepper
1 c chopped parsley
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp baking soda (my fav!)
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (you can use the rest to make hummus to go with this)
Corn oil for frying

Soak beans over night, drain them and then put everything in a food processor except the oil. If you don't have a food processor, just mash the hell out of everything with a mezzaluna and combine it by hand. You want it almost smooth though, so it'll take a while. In a small saucepan (or a deep fryer if you're that connected) heat the oil until water or batter sizzles immediately. Roll the mixture into balls and deep fry on all sides (less than 5 minutes). You can eat them hot or room temperature, over a salad, by themselves, in a pita with lettuce and tomato, but always with tahini.