Friday, August 05, 2016

Rejecting Plastic Bags

I don't claim to be living a plastic free life but I have made significant changes since participating in Plastic Free July last year. Do visit the site to learn more.

Here are my own top tips for rejecting single use plastic bags.

Take the plastic/rigid floor out of your reusable bags so you can fold them up smaller. 
Here is my folding technique as used on a cotton bag but it also works for any tote style reusable shopping bag.

  1. Lay it out flat.
  2. Fold the sides into line with the handles.
  3. Roll firmly into a cyclindrical shape from the base up to the handles.
  4. Take one handle in the opposite direction to the other, around the cylinder.
  5. Tie in a single, firm knot to secure.
  6. Done!
Keep at least one reusable bag in your car at all times.
Only buy what fits in that bag/s.

Be prepared but also be prepared for when you're not prepared. 

Keep a folded up reusable bag in your work bag/hand bag.
It could be one you have folded as above or a ready made, extra compact bag eg. I love my Envirosax retro robot print bag because it's compact, easy to fold, looks good (different prints brought out every year!), strong, holds a lot and can be carried on my shoulder like a tote bag. Another cool, totally plastic free option are old fashioned, cotton string bags.
When you don't have a bag, don't buy anything. You will save money if you can get by without it. If it turns out to be inconvenient because you have to carry it in your hands, or go out again, this will motivate you to get into the habit of having a bag.

Most fresh produce doesn't need to be stored in plastic bags let alone bought in them. 
You can go completely without any form of bag for things like apples, carrots etc. There are some items that are easier to manage - eg salad greens, cherries, beans, nuts - that you will need a bag of some sort for.

Re-use plastic net bags from previously bought oranges, onions and discount green groceries for all of your new purchases. Or buy/make some lightweight mesh bags which are necessary loose leaf greens and beans in particular. Keep some of these with the bag in your car, or the bag in your work bag/hand bag.
Re-use your existing plastic bags to store produce in fridge. Once you have exhausted those - if that is possible - here is a plastic free produce storage guide.

My own findings:
Broccoli will keep really well if the cut end of the stalk is kept in water - like a cut flower because that is what it is - and the whole thing is wrapped in a cotton cloth.
Celery can be temporarily stored in a tall jug or bucket of water outside of the fridge. For long term storage of cut up celery stalks, keep immersed in water in a sealed container  - thank you to my housemate S for that one!

Here is a guide to plastic free bin lining for those of us who want bin liners.
In smaller bins I arrange 3 or 4 sheets in a cross and push in to fill. To dispose of, I gather up the sides and twist firmly closed. Then I add another sheet if it looks like it won't make it intact into the garbage truck. I use this for (bagless Dyson) vaccuum cleaner contents and it's very effective.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Edible Weeds, Chickweed.

I got into edible weeds, and foraging in my garden via a book from CERES called Edible Weeds of Melbourne. You can find out more about it here.

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Chickweed growing in my garden. A seasonal weed, it is abundant during Winter coming into flower in late Winter, before dying off in Spring.

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Clockwise from top left: typical growth, in bud, section of plant with some roots, in flower.

Harvesting can be done in one of two ways. If you have the time and have an abundance of chickweed, you could weed it out of the places you don't want it and snip off the best tendrils from the root hub. Or, if you can't be bothered with that, just snip off what you need from the plant. The snipping method is also cleaner because you aren't disturbing any soil.

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Roughly chopped chickweed. While edible in lengths it's more palatable roughly chopped, and easier to stir through food.

After washing and draining, tip harvest into a pile on chopping board.
Make a some cuts across the pile in two directions to roughly chop it. You're are aiming to reduce the tendril lengths rather than end up with something finely chopped. It isn't necessary to be precise. That said, you might prefer a fine chop for your dish.

Use as you would spinach or any other greenery in its cooked form. I have it sautéed with garlic chives or garlic, wilted as an accompaniment to poached eggs, mixed into scrambled egg mixture, in curry, stir fried, wilted with pasta and pesto and a baked potato. The entire plant stems, flowers, and buds is fine to eat, but raw, only the fingernail-sized leaves are recommended and that is waaay too much mucking about for me!

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Flipping gymnastics

A local gym recently shut abruptly. They paper blacked out their windows and placed small notices saying 'end of lease' - but these 'Bad Moms' movie posters suggest a more complex narrative.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Random use of capital letters in a survey leads to LOLs.

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FYI from the Zoos Victoria, members' survey, 2016

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Almost a health food - if you squint - banana and chocolate mug cake

I've taken this recipe as a foundation and built my own.

How it is different and now mine:
I don't use oil, vanilla or chocolate chips.
Instead of sugar, I use a teaspooned dollop of golden syrup and a banana (broken up and pushed into the batter last). I use raw cacao.
I integrate the peanut butter - mine is made fresh into my own jar at The Source Bulk Foods, from just peanuts so I add a dash of salt. Salt enhances sweetness as does the cinnamon for the banana. I microwave it for 2 minutes.

Banana and Chocolate Mug Cake

Serves One.
You will need 1 large coffee/soup mug

4 tbsp plain flour
1 dolloped (scoop and coat spoon) teaspoon golden syrup
2 tbsp. raw cacao
1 free range egg
1 ripe to over ripe banana
3-5+ tbsp water or milk for richness (quantity depends how pudding like you want it)
1 teaspoon peanut butter (optional) or dessicated coconut
dash of cinnamon
pinch of salt

Combine flour and cocoa in mug.
Add egg and combine well.
Mix in rest of ingredients except banana. Ensure no lumps/pockets of dry flour/cocoa.
Break or cut up banana and distribute in batter.
Microwave for two minutes.
Let it sit for a minute then enjoy!

You can leave out the peanut butter and substitute dessicated coconut if you're allergic and substitute other flour if you have dietary requirements.
Cocoa will work if you don't have cacao.
I reckon molasses would work instead of golden syrup but I haven't tried that yet. Let me know if you do :)
Add more water if you're vegan. It won't be quite as light but it will still be very tasty!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Pasta with Basil Cashew Pesto and Wilted Spinach

This is my favourite, no fuss, minimum mess, vegetarian lunch when I have homegrown basil. If I don't have spinach or suitable greens likes chickweed, I increase the parsley, add oregano and extra garlic chives to get some green goodness in there. Garlic chives are very easy to grow in a pot or the ground, as is Italian parsley.

Serves One
a cup/handful of spinach leaves
a small handful of fresh basil leaves
a smaller quantity of parsley (optional, good for balancing garlic heat)
one to two cloves of garlic depending on size OR 5-6 of garlic chive leaves if you like a milder garlic taste
freshly ground salt and pepper
olive oil
a small handful of roasted, salted cashews*
raw pasta for one

While pasta is cooking:
1. Rip herbs into smaller pieces and add to mortar. Grind.
2. Add peeled garlic and grind.
3. Add nuts and grind.

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4. You should end up with a bright green, thick paste like this. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Add a handful of grated parmesan and a good slurp of olive oil. Stir with flexible spatula into a thick paste.
6. Put ripped or chopped up fresh spinach leaves into a colander. Drain your freshly cooked pasta through colander to cook spinach.

7.Tip contents of colander into large bowl, and stir through pesto. Serve immediately.
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* or pinenuts or any roasted nut you like. Unroasted peanuts and macademias should work well

The Wild at Off The Kerb Gallery

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These three paper butterflies will be in The Wild at Off the Kerb gallery.
'Off the Kerb is pleased to celebrate its 9th Birthday Show by inviting you into The Wild, where your imagination can run wild. We invite you into a utopian wilderness where there are 
no boundaries, freedom and beauty is bountiful, a place where love runs wild, wilder beasts and divine creatures roam free - you are fearless.....untamed....... 
Enter The Wild...
OTK celebrates its 9th Birthday with this group exhibition in support of Edgar’s Mission. 
Edgar’s Mission is a not for profit Farm Sanctuary that seeks to create 
a humane and just world for homeless, abused, injured or abandoned animals.
OTK will be donating the gallery commission to Edgar’s Mission'

Off the Kerb gallery.
Opening: Fri 8 April 6-9pm |
7 April - 21 April 2016
66B Johnston St, Collingwood, 3066
9077 0174 | 0400 530 464
Thurs & Fri 12:30- 6 | Sat & Sun 12 - 5
Free Entry

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Meerkat Family at Werribee Open Range Zoo

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Meerkat family at Werribee Open Range Zoo recently welcomed two new additions. A coworker of mine told me about it after seeing it on the news. I made sure I visited within a week to see these sweet little fuzzballs who grow up rather quickly. Both pups were suckling much less on my second visit. I saw one of the pups eating something solid. It was very keen not to let any other meerkat get too close!

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A perched meerkat with its eyes shut - albeit temporarily - is a rare sight.

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Week 2.

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A chilled out sentry.