The Upside of Wasting Food

Over the last five years or so, I’ve been whittling away at a bunch of the areas of our lives where we are wasteful or unkind to the earth.  It started with an electric car and cloth diapers and has spread into so many things we use and do.  I make homemade dishwasher detergent and bathroom cleaner.  I hardly use paper towels.  I try to use reusable containers instead of foil, saran wrap, etc.  One area that continues to eat at me is food waste.

I will say that we’ve cut back dramatically on food waste just by eating at home more.  I am happy to say that one of my original goals from when I started the blog was to eat dinner at home at least four nights a week.  It’s kind of crazy to think that we were eating out THAT much that it was a goal for me to eat at home four days a week.  These days we go out for dinner maybe once or twice a week and it’s no big deal.  Actually, what is kind of a big deal for me is to figure out what I can make that everyone in the house will enjoy. All this experimentation results in food waste.  My kids aren’t super open minded when it comes to trying new foods.  Sometimes I look at what my family has eaten over the course of a day and I feel like a failure.   It’s a terrible feeling to think that you’re failing your family.  But I keep trying.

Today I was cleaning out the refrigerator since tomorrow is garbage day.  It had been a few weeks since I dug through the back of the fridge so there were several containers that needed to be cleared out.  In fact, I was pretty much out of containers with lids so I knew I needed to do it.  It was like a jab to my gut everytime I opened a container and dumped out the contents.  A cup of pumpkin.  A small container of sweet potatoes that no one cared for.  Left over rice and dahl.  Millet that I probably wouldn’t salvage.  A bit of arugula that didn’t get eaten in time.  Some questionable looking strawberries.   It was a lot this week.  But then I started thinking about it and realized there was an upside.  Pretty much everything that I threw away was a small left over portion of something I had tried.  And pretty much everything was a whole food that I was throwing out.  Years ago, I remember always throwing out produce because I never got around to making the things I thought I’d make.  Well now I’m making them.  The pumpkin was what was left after I made pumpkin muffins for the girls to snack on.  The sweet potatoes were left after I attempted to mash them but no one cared for them.  Most of the strawberries were eaten; just a few were left because I had bought a large container and then my mom brought more.  And I’m also noticing that more and more of the trash we produce is organic waste (which reminds me, it’s time to get back on the compost train!!!) – so instead of having overly processed foods, we’re eating more real foods, in general.  We’re not entirely where I wish we were, but you know what?  We’ve made great progress in the last five years.  It’s only Tuesday this week and already I’ve put my wok, food processor, blender, and slow cooker to work.   And don’t get me started on how badly my knives need to be sharpened from constant use!  So, no, food waste isn’t a good thing but I will say that this week it helped me recognize that we’re eating better AND it reminded me that I really am trying to feed my family healthy foods.  It’s not a failure.  It’s a step along the path of a journey.  I’m going to keep at it.

Side note:  Today my five year old literally started crying when she saw what I had made for dinner.  Real tears, folks.  I had tried a new recipe for Crunchy Stir Fry Zen Bowls (I thought they were beautiful looking and they tasted pretty good to me!) and asked her what she would like instead.  She said she wanted to make her own dinner.  “Out of what?” I asked.  “Apples, cabbage – I want purple and green both, and cucumbers and I want a tortilla to put it in.”  Huh.  Really?!?!?  I put some spinach on her plate along with a whole wheat tortilla, some apple slices and the cabbage she asked for and she stuffed it into an overflowing burrito and she ended up eating the majority of it.  Her meal was healthier than the one I had made for her!  So ya, we threw away some food but there was a bigger portion that went into her growing body.

Another Breastfeeding Journey Comes to an End

It’s happening.  We’re pretty much done with breastfeeding.  I’m actually a little sad over this.  When I weaned my older daughter two years ago, I went through some mixed emotions.  I was really ready to get my body back.  This time, I know that this very well may be the last time I ever get to be that close to someone.  And my baby is growing up some; I kinda didn’t want it to end.  I’m having a hard time accepting it.  And my body seems to be having a hard time with it too.  My metabolism has come to a complete halt – I’ve put on weight at an alarming rate since cutting back.  But it’s time.  We made it to 14 months.

I vividly remember Super S crawling up my stomach and my chest and latching on within minutes of being born.  She was so sweet and just knew what to do.  She had a little jaundice so I fed her every two hours around the clock.  She was a sleepy eater.  So I’d switch her back and forth to help keep her awake.  She did a number on me.  Last week I found a form that a lactation consultant that I visited had filled out.  She  actually used the words “trauma to nipples.”  Funny how nature makes you forget.  She had a shallow latch and that resulted in a very painful time for me for the first several weeks.  The consultant helped with that and then it got better but I remember being in tears (I’m sure the lack of sleep encouraged those tears too).

One thing that surprised me (I suppose it’s a little odd) was that I found myself feeling the urge to feed my older daughter too, even though I hadn’t nursed her in a year.  Kind of bizarre, right?  I wonder if it was because I was nourishing the younger one and that maternal instinct to nurture my kids was on overdrive.  Maybe the process just flooded me with memories from the first time around.  I don’t know.

Luckily my sweet little buttercup grew and gained weight.  Once her body pushed out all the jaundice, I eased up and started feeding her every three hours or so.  Sweet, quiet moments shared between just her and I.  But she was also having a hard time with it.  I guess I had a heavy let down; she would sometimes choke when I fed her and she sounded congested and made lots of wet sounds while sleeping in her crib.  She even coughed, which newborns shouldn’t really do.  I got the feeling she had silent reflux.  Luckily she wasn’t spitting up as much as her sister did but I still felt something wasn’t quite right.  So I tried a few different things.  I would sit her upright for awhile after every feeding and was more diligent about burping her.  We put a wedge in her crib to keep her up at an angle.  What seemed to help the most, though, was feeding her with her body at a decline.  She just needed a little help from gravity, I guess.

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Super S was a like a clockwork.  Up every three hours to eat without fail.  Then it happened again.  Blood in her diaper, just like her big sister.  We had been to this rodeo before so we didn’t freak out.  We took her in to see her pediatrician, who had helped us work through allergy issues with our first baby.  She didn’t seem the least bit concerned.  It was most likely a dairy allergy.  Since it seemed that my older daughter was most sensitive to soy and dairy, I cut those out of my diet first because I wanted to keep breastfeeding her.  We never saw blood in her diaper again.  She outgrew the gurgles and was easy to feed.  I just kept dairy and soy out of my diet to the best of my ability until she was 9-10 months old.  She was fine.

I very rarely pumped and fed her with a bottle.  I didn’t even try using a bottle until she was around three months old.  And technically, I knew I should have been more diligent but I was lucky.  Pretty much the only time she used a bottle was when my mom watched her.  And by some miracle, she drank from the bottle without much strife.  I think she just loved drinking milk, wherever it came from.

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I just loved how warm my little lovely was.  In the early days, there were a few times when she slept with us and she would just sidle up to me, even without much motor control.  It’s amazing what nature enables.  My favorite feeding was the first nursing of the day.  We almost always did this lying down, her little tummy pressed against mine.  Her little legs kicking and pushing against me.  She was just so content and at peace.  She didn’t make a ton of eye contact with me when I was feeding her but I often couldn’t take my eyes off of her.  I remember there were a few times when her big sister would come in the room and the sound of her voice would make Super S smile, eyes closed, still latched on.  It really was the sweetest thing.  And some of my favorite memories of those crazy days of having a newborn and a toddler were of feeding Super S with my feet propped up on the ottoman, Miss K sitting on my legs. The calm that came with the feeding were energizing.  Miss K would say “Sia’s eeeeeeeeeeating.”  She was just a little bitty two year old and Super S would be sleepily and happily filling her little belly.

Maybe the breastfeeding played a role in bringing Super S and I so close together.  She is clearly attached to me, more so than my older daughter.  Even now, she will sleep with her arms clutched around my neck if we lie down together.  She likes to sleep on my face and pull my hair.  It’s aggravating and so incredibly endearing at the same time.  I love this little girl more than I describe.

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At a year old, I was still feeding her twice at night and four times a day.  Then I stretched out the daytime feedings and dropped a night feeding.  Then we accidentally  (but wonderfully!) night weaned her when we left her with my parents for two nights.  I finally was getting some rest!  Hallelujah!  Then, in the next month, I gradually dropped another daytime feeding and was down to just the bedtime and morning feed.  Then we dropped the bedtime feeding and gradually tapered down the morning feeding too.  And here we are.  I didn’t have a plan.  I didn’t know how long I’d be breastfeeding her.  But this weaning has been gradual, feels natural, and hasn’t been too upsetting for her.  And I didn’t have any engorgement issues, clogged ducts, or hormonal surges.  But we’re done and I’m going to miss this part of my life.

Why is this even worth writing about?  Because there is something so special, so precious, so validating about the bond that nourishing one’s child in this way brings.  I was lucky – I’m a stay at home mom.  I had the luxury of not having to pump and was blessed with a good supply of milk, despite my age and lack of fitness.  I could do this with her and I’m so incredibly glad I did.  I’m proud of us.  I’m proud of me.  As wonderful as it is to know that you’re the only one able to provide a milk built so perfectly for this one child, it also meant that the responsibility was 100% on my head.  Five to nine times a day.  No break.  No days off.  But it was worth it.  So to any mom reading this that is considering breastfeeding or is having difficulty with it, I say if you can, stick with it.  It’s not always easy.  It’s not always convenient.  But it’s one of the best things you can do for yourself and for your child.

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Indian Food Ingredient Glossary

It turns out my kids like Indian food.  This is ironic because I don’t typically crave it.  Don’t get me wrong – I like it fine, but there are only a few things that I would put on my list of favorite foods, despite having grown up eating Indian food for dinner six days a week.  And many of those things I only like if my mom makes it.  Spoiled, spicesaren’t I?  On top of that, I’ve been thinking about my four parents.  They’re getting older and one day they will need to be cared for.  If that’s the case, then I really should learn to cook Indian food more proficiently than I can today.  My poor mother tried.  Bless her heart…she really did.  I helped make pooris, rotlis, bhakris, dhebras, you name it.  I helped make every vegetable imaginable.  I sifted through endless cups of beans and seeds in thalis.  And yet, I had no interest whatsoever in doing it so the moment I moved out of the house, I stopped making those things and now years later, I am no longer able.  I mean…I have a general knowledge but I couldn’t make an entire meal for anyone or anything like that.  It’s embarrassing really.  And more than anything, i want to be able to feed our parents and bring them comfort in the form of food when they’re no longer able to feed themselves.

So I’ve been looking up recipes and trying to make sense of the disjointed jumble of words, methods, and steps in Indian cooking.  You should have seen the light bulb that went off above my head when I realized that millet (which I had been wanting to try for the longest time) was the same thing as bajri, which my mom always has in her cupboard.  Turns out I had been trying it my whole life.  Or the confusion as I stand in the beans and grains aisles of the multi-ethnic grocery stores I visit, trying to figure out if what I see in front of me is what I *think* it is.  So I’m compiling a glossary of ingredients used in Indian cooking for me to reference.  Hopefully it will help someone else too.  Hopefully I’ll add more words as time goes on.  Let me know if you’re trying to find a translation of an ingredient and I’ll see if I can help,

Note: The words I used are the gujarati versions because, well, I’m gujarati and these are the words I know.

Flours
Besan Chickpea/Yellow Split pea mix
Gram Chickpea
Bajri Millet
Udad Black Lentil Flour
Beans
Toor Dal Pigeon Peas
Chana/Chole Chickpeas
Val Black Eyed Peas
Rajma Red Kidney beans
Masoor Red Lentils
Herbs & Spices
Jeera Cumin
Haldi Turmeric
Rai Mustard Seeds
Hing Asafoetida
Soonth/Adu Ginger powder
Methi Fenugreek
Elaichi Cardamom
Loving Cloves
Dhaniya Coriander (dry, leaves, or seeds)
Variali Fennel Seeds
Aamchoor Dried Mango Powder
Fudino Mint
Tulsi Thai Basil
Kesar Safron
Misc
Tal/Til Sesame Seeds
Amli Tamarind
Powa Flattened Rice
Mamra Puffed Rice

Product Review: Precious Tummies Food Pouches

I make the majority of food for my baby.  A few months ago, we traveled and because she wasn’t eating a whole lot of table food back then, I picked up some baby food pouches for convenience and so that we would always have food available for her.  She LOVED eating from the pouches so I thought I would pick up some reusable food pouches so that we could have that same convenience but with added bonus of the food being homemade.  I also liked the idea of producing less trash than if I bought more of those pouches.

I looked around on the interwebz and found Precious Tummies Food Pouches.  They precious tummiesseemed like they’d do the trick.  I bought them and have used them a few times.  I was super excited to use them when I got them – the packaging is adorable!  I love the little penguins on the pouches and the box and the girls were both instantly interested in the pouches.  The price point was quite good – $10 for 6 – 6 oz bags.  They’re dishwasher safe and freezer safe, which makes life easier.  The dishwasher safe part was particularly helpful because otherwise it would be kind of hard to get all the little corners clean.  These pouches (unlike most) are top loading so theoretically they can stand up on their own while you’re loading them and I guess they’d be less likely to leak since the opening is at the top, not the bottom.  And of course, I love that you can save money with them.  I don’t recall ever seeing pouches for less than $1 each.  They include an extra cap, which I totally appreciate and the zipper is nice and tight – I would not expect these to leak.

Unfortunately there were more things that I disliked than liked about them, though.  While it’s great that they put a really strong zipper top on the pouch, they’re actually pretty tough to open, especially when you’re washing dishes and your hands are wet.  Because the zip is at the top, it’s harder to clean (smaller opening).  The thing that bugged me the most, though, is there’s no easy way to fill them.  And there are no tips included in the box on how to best fill the pouches.  I had to go on their website.  I tried using several spoons, I tried using a pastry bag and tip, I tried using a funnel (I actually went out and bought a funnel just for these) but all ended up in a mess, wasted food, and a frustrated Crunchycake.  The site recommends that you fill a ziploc bag and snip the corner and fill that way.  Well, that’s extra work AND it doesn’t help my goal of cutting down on garbage.  Also, there were no instructions or info sheet in the box.  Fluke?  Perhaps.  But I want to know if I need to sanitize these and how I should go about doing that.

All in all, these are ok but not great.  I find that I’m not using them as often as I expected.

Update: So these DID leak.  And they’re not getting very clean, even when I wash them really well and then put them in the dishwasher.  I threw them out.  Sorry little penguins.

Five of my Fave Vegan Recipes

I figure the more I talk about being vegan, the more likely it is that I’ll finally take the dive and become a full time (or even a weekday) vegan.  I would say that 70% of my meals are probably vegan.  I thought since I shared 5 quick vegan meals a couple weeks ago, it would be good to share five recipes that I really like.

veganpancakes1.  Vegan Pancakes – Super easy, simple and you probably have all the ingredients in your kitchen.  I do half whole wheat flour, half all purpose flour and add blueberries for the kidlets.  Made them this morning and everybody loved them.

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA2.  Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower Wings – I don’t like cauliflower.  But I like these.  Pretty easy to make.  My only complaint is that the batter’s a little thick so I thin it out some.  I use whole wheat flour for these too.

 

 

cinnamonbungranola3.  Cinnamon Bun Granola – My first attempt at making granola and it’s AHHHHmazing.  The house smells great when I make it and we all scarf it down.  My in-laws even asked for the recipe!  Sweetened with maple syrup and dates, you’d never know this was a vegan recipe.  It’s sweet, cinnamon-y, and surprisingly very buttery tasting.

 

4.eggplantlasagna  Eggplant Lasagne – The pine nuts in this make it rich and flavorful.  I like using a few spinach leaves in each roll and do yourself a favor and use a good marinara sauce – Ragu or Prego won’t do this dish justice.  Frying the eggplant is my least favorite part.  Eating it is my most favorite.

 

thaisalad5.  Thai-Inspired Hydrating Salad – This low-cal, low-fuss salad is delicious. I seriously eat the entire salad myself.  It’s crunchy and refreshing and the dressing is so simple.  I made this for a party at my mom’s house and it was a hit!  I want.  Now.

Five Quick Vegan Meals

I try to cook vegan for my hubs whenever possible.  If I could, I would spend way more time in the kitchen and try to make some elaborate meals.  But the reality is that we have two little ones and they command our attention.  So I’m always looking for ways to cheat the clock.  Here are five quick vegan meal ideas that will leave you full, satisfied, and proud of yourself for not doing take out (though I can’t lie – it’s not 100% homemade nor is it unprocessed and fully plant based but hey – it’s not take out).  And all meals you can put on the table lickety split.

1.  Khichadi: Khichadi is a North Indian staple food. It’s basically lentils and rice cooked together.  Real simple:  1 cup long grain basmati rice, 1 cup toor dahl (split pigeon peas) and 2.5 cups water, ghee or butter, 1/2 tsp of turmeric and 1 tsp salt.  Throw it all together in a pressure cooker and let the pressure cooker’s whistle blow 3 times.  Or you can always cook it on the stove – add all the ingredients together (but up the amount of water to about 3 parts water) and bring to a boil. Cook on medium for about 15 minutes, then lower to a simmer on low for another 15 or so until the rice and beans are cooked. Serve alone or with a cucumber, tomato, and onion salad (throw in some chili pepper, salt, cumin, a wee bit of sugar, and a dash of lemon juice).

2.  Trader Joe’s Pasta Penne Arrabiatta: We love this and it’s faster than any take-out that we can get.  We live literally two doors down from a pizza place.  In the time it takes my husband to go there and back, this dinner is done (this is true because sometimes I have him get me some garlic bread or fried zucchini to accompany the pasta).  All you do is put some oil in a pan (or don’t), empty the bag into the pan, and heat through while stirring.  That’s it.  Seriously.  Serve with a side salad (sometimes we literally open the container of baby spinach and grab raw spinach leaves and shove ’em in our mouths) and maybe some toast with olive oil and cracked pepper.

3.  Tofu Pad Thai – Another huge cheat.  Cube a block of tofu (press it between towels too if you have time) and fry on all sides with peanut or vegetable oil.  Meanwhile, chop up some green onions and roasted peanuts.  When tofu is almost done, pop a packet of Tasty Bites 1 Minute Pad Thai in the microwave.  Empty into a bowl.  Do a second packet.  Toss with tofu.  Top with peanuts and green onions.

4.  Spinach Enchiladas – Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Wrap 12 corn tortillas in a wet paper towel and microwave for 1 min 15 seconds.  Open a can of corn, a 2 cans of Hatch green chile enchilada sauce (ok fine, you can use any green enchilada sauce but this one is by far my favorite), a can of green chiles and a can of sliced black olives.  Place several baby spinach leaves on each tortilla, top with some corn, green chile, and a little bit of sauce.  Roll and place seam side down in a baking pan.  Cover thoroughly with sauce and olives.  Cover and bake for 15 minutes.  We like to serve with tortilla chips and guacamole.

5.  Nachos – not healthy but still vegan!  My husband likes just chips and cheese.  My first choice would be to load them up and get some more nutrition out of them.  So start with the sauce –  I love this 5 minute recipe from ohsheglows.com.  It’s not real cheese but it’s not bad.  Lay down some chips on a plate/platter, top with beans, olives, onions, jalapenos, avocados, salsa, and the cheese.

This post would be way better with some pictures.  I’ll see what I can do about that.  But there you have it.  Five really quick ways (the enchiladas probably take the longest and even then, about 30 minutes) to eat vegan; if you’re trying out being a weekday vegan, this is a simple, quick path for you.

I Think Baby Led Weaning is Ridiculous

After the initial thrill of starting solids, my younger daughter stopped liking solids.  I had a tough time getting her to eat any purees and whenever I’d try to feed her, she’d grab the spoon and try to feed herself.  So it made perfect sense to me that I should try baby led weaning.  For those of you not familiar, the thought behind baby led weaning is that babies should learn to chew before they learn to swallow, they should feed themselves, and that they should eat what you eat (minus the over-processed, sodium heavy foods).  As long as the baby is able to sit up, feed themselves, and chew, they should be able to do this.  Basically instead of spoon feeding your baby purees, you give them whole foods and you don’t hold off on table foods.  It’s supposed to give your baby the skills to eat themselves and it’s supposed to encourage their own ability to self regulate food quantities for life.

I read the bible on BLW and I tried it.  Here’s why I think it’s ridiculous:

1.  Just because a baby can sit up, doesn’t mean that their stomachs are ready for some of the harder to digest foods that are recommended by the book.  We didn’t start solids until six months for both of our girls.  They both had allergies and we didn’t want to push their digestive systems too early.  I found that the little one would get constipated when I’d let her eat things like bread.  The book sort of walks you through what’s appropriate at what age but honestly, I think people just hear that you can feed your baby what you eat and they don’t use good judgement.  I’ve heard of people giving their babies Cheetos!

2.  It makes a huge effing mess.  Babies + solids = mess.  I get that.  BUT baby led weaning makes things so much worse.  She basically threw her food around and smooshed it in her fingers and splattered it all over her clothes.  The book even says to expect it.  But it’s really no fun to have to clean up the booster, the tray, the chair the booster sits on, the carpet, the dining table, AND the baby every single time we eat.  She doesn’t seem to enjoy a messy meal any more than I do.  So why go through this?  Granted, even when I’m feeding purees, we sometimes have a mess, but at least that’s manageable.

3.  You can’t tell how much they’ve eaten.  Because baby is feeding herself, I constantly found myself wondering how much she actually ate.  I know solids aren’t critical for babies under the age of one, but i do like to have a sense of what she ate. Let’s say I gave her two sticks of steamed zucchini.  After a few minutes, they’d be gone from her tray.  I would get hopeful that she actually ate all of it.  Between the gumming, the throwing, the smashing and the dropping, I was completely wrong.  More often than not, the majority of the food was on the floor or smashed under her legs.

Ok.  So in reality, I did some BLW and some purees and still am.  I do give her a stalk of broccoli and let her go at it; I put peas on her tray and am thrilled at how much she ate and then disappointed when I see its in her seat.  I’ve torn off pieces of bread and let her gnaw on it.  I give her slices of avocado instead of mashing it up.  But she and I love purees too.  I don’t want her to be eating baby food until she’s 2 but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with making things a little easier on her and her stomach.  And for the record, I don’t think spoon feeding is shoving baby food down her throat.  I pay attention and when she shuts her mouth or starts to fuss, I listen to her and stop attempting to feed her.  Even when I’m not satisfied with the amount, I let her self regulate.  So maybe I don’t think it’s 100% ridiculous.  It’s just mostly ridiculous.  🙂

Sometimes it’s the little things

Many days I scramble.  I scramble to get food on the table for my family.  I scramble to change yet another diaper.  I scramble to get both the girls bathed and off to bed.  I scramble to write up another blog post.  But sometimes it occurs to me that my little girls deserve to have some fun in their lives for no other reason than they’re little and life is fun.  And little things bring delight.  One of the things that I admire most about my mother-in-law is her ability to recognize and appreciate beauty in the world and to take joy in that.  I have inherited my mother’s ability to work hard but it often comes at the expense of enjoyment.  So the other day, I decided to surprise my little girl with a special breakfast.  It didn’t take much extra time.  Her sister and I didn’t mind eating the “scraps” so that she could enjoy it.

20131003_075755All it took was a cookie cutter that I already had and maybe an extra minute.  Unfortunately when I told her that the hash brown was also Mickey, she paused and looked at it and said “No, it’s not.”  I tried.  🙂

20131003_075840She said she was having breakfast with Mickey.  And then it turned to “I’m gonna EAT you, Mickey!!!”

20131003_075840-MIXOh, that face.  How can I pass up an opportunity to bring a smile to that face?

 

 

 

Lemons, lemons everywhere!

So last week my MIL called and asked if I wanted any lemons. I said “Sure. Maybe just a few – not too many.” She replied “so two or three?” “Yep, mom, that’s perfect. Two or three.” Then later that day, I met my neighbor for the first time and he said “Do you use lemons for cooking or anything? We have this tree and don’t know what to do with all these lemons. Here, have some.” So before I had the chance to say no, he handed me three lemons. I took them. When my in-laws came, Mom handed me a bag and when I looked inside, there weren’t 2-3 lemons. There were a dozen lemons. Maybe she intended some of those lemons to go to my mom’s and brother’s houses. I’m not sure because she didn’t say. She is super generous so maybe she didn’t feel comfortable giving us “only” two or three. I don’t know but I found myself with fifteen lemons and no real need for any of them. By the way, I also had bought one of those lemon shaped squeezy things full of lemon juice. I wasn’t amused when I saw that there were more ingredients in it than lemons.

20130929_151624Oh the irony.  You know what’s worse?  I don’t have a citrus juicer.  I guess I could have squeezed them all by hand but I didn’t trust myself to have that much patience and I could see myself getting frustrated with seeds and all that.  So I went to look for juicers.  If I wanted an electric one, it would be $30!  Oy.  I saw an extension that I could put on my stand mixer.  What a great idea!  Until I realized that it was also $30 and then I’d have to drag out the heavy mixer and also wash the parts.  I went to Kohls and was shocked (SHOCKED!) to see that I could buy one of those squeezy things that look like this:

lemonjuicer

 

But it would also cost $30.  And I’ll bet I wouldn’t be good at squeezing with that thing.  So at this point, it seemed silly to me to spend $30 on yet another utensil (I have a lot of kitchen utensils.  A LOT.) for some lemons that I didn’t really have a use for yet.  I like free stuff but really, I couldn’t justify spending that much to make use of 15 or so free lemons.  I gave it one last try at our local HomeGoods store and luckily spotted at citrus juicer for $4.99.  Yay!

My lovely assistant and I have juiced about half the lemons so far – it’s really easy and I’m surprised by how much juice a little bitty lemon can yield.  Maybe I’m surprised because usually I juice them by squeezing them by hand and they don’t put out that much.

20130929_152858So about half the lemons yielded a whole ice tray full of lemon juice.  I believe each ice cube is two tablespoons and there are 14 cubes, so almost two cups of lemons so far.  And since they’re frozen, I can just use a cube at a time as I need them!  Hooray!  Usually I buy a bottle of lemon juice for around $3 and it inevitably goes bad so it’s a waste and it has added crap and it produces garbage.  This route does none of that!  I might be a little biased, but I think the ones from my in-laws’ house are much prettier and lovelier.  They actually juiced better too.  Maybe because of the type of lemon.  Maybe because I know they were grown with love.

This fall’s harvest has been good.  My in-laws also brought us about 20+ figs and some persimmons.  The figs are the expensive mission variety and though I don’t care for them, my husband and both daughters enjoyed them.  I’m always shocked at how expensive they are, even in season.  I think I saw a basket of maybe 5 figs at the farmers market that was $6!  Crazy.  And they also brought us delicious persimmons.  I’ve been putting them in Miss K’s lunchbox and I think I’m going to steam some for Super S to try.  I had made baby food out of some from their yard for Miss K. when she was a wee one two years ago.  My parents gave us two huge pomegranates from their yard too.  I’m going to bust them open this week.  Those are full of antioxidants and Miss K. loves them.

I’m so embarrassed to admit this but it’s still a thrill to get food from our homes.  I’m so used to only eating foods that were bought at the store that it’s exciting (and a bit strange) to just go pick them from the yard and eat them.  I love this.  I really really REALLY need to try hard to grow some veggies next spring.  It would be so nice!  Maybe not cost effective, but wonderfully fresh and less trash produced!

 

 

Food waster? Guilty. So, so guilty.

I saw the following infographic from upworthy.com and started feeing the self loathing tick up.  I am so so SO guilty of throwing away food.

Tackling_Food_Waste_CrisisI think most of my food waste comes from lack of organization.  Meaning, I forget that I have something and then by the time I remember, I’m scared to eat it.  Or I plan on making a meal and I don’t have my stuff together and it goes bad so I toss it.  All bad stuff.  I sometimes read a blog called thefrugalgirl.com and she was tired of all the food going to waste in her home and started posting about it on her blog.  Public admission/humiliation goes a long way, folks.  So here’s what I’m going to attempt to do in order to reduce the amount of food we waste in our house:

  • Learn more about “ugly” food vs. spoiled food.  Use food when it’s ugly, thow out food when it’s spoiled.
  • Force myself to get creative with using up food before garbage day.  We now have four people who eat food in this house.  I need to use the food, not waste it.
  • Eat left overs, dammit.  Avoid fast food and just use what we have.
  • Juice up left over fruits and veggies.
  • Make bread crumbs out of old or soon to be expired bread
  • Freeze crap
  • Start a food waste friday post.  Shame myself into wasting less.

FoodWasteFriday
Oy.  Let’s do this.  We’ll start next week.