A Plastic-free Life

Day Twelve: Serene Sunday
February 28, 2010, 10:35 AM
Filed under: Home Made, Triumph over Plastic, Trumped by Plastic

Our yogurt is amazing, like thick silk. Our granddaughter, Mia, says, “it tastes like ‘Greek yogurt’ “ (pretty much the highest compliment). I think the difference was using whole milk. To honor such gorgeous yogurt, I made a batch of granola, Hollyhock recipe, with pecans instead of sesame seeds (See Sad Story below).

Central Market sold me fresh Parmesan (the clerk rewrapped a bulk piece in waxed paper). Also, the woman packaging fresh tortillas, willingly tucked a dozen of them into the waxed paper cereal box line I had brought with me. bouquet of daffodils, bag of flour and Hollyhock cookbook

I feel like a total hippie Earth Mother. All I need is a backpack and bicycle helmet to complete the image. No nigari so not tofu-making in our immediate future.

Note to self: Be sure the plastic bags are dry. And, no holes or one may (theoretically) leave a trail of flour in one’s wake J

Found a brand of flour packaged in a brown paper bag, distributed by a group named: The Shepherd’s Grain’. Their info says that they are committed to sustainability. www.foodalliance.org

Sad Story: One property that glass has and plastic bags don’t – is that glass is breakable. I never got to taste my exquisite handcrafted granola. 😦

broken glass jar with granola on floor


Day Eleven: “My Precious” Saturday
February 27, 2010, 10:33 AM
Filed under: Trumped by Plastic

Diane and I spent the morning at Pike Place Market. I saved a lot of money on all the things I couldn’t buy.woman in front of fruit stand holding flower bouquet

I did get the bouquet of daffodils, wrapped in brown paper and the corner grocer complimented me on supplying my own plastic bags for the Portobello mushrooms and green onions, I bought.

When I got home and unwrapped the flowers, their tips were encased in a plastic bag of water.

Also, neither of us noticed until the ride home, that the evergreen clematis Diane bought for me was potted in a plastic bucket.

Finally, that afternoon, I couldn’t get sunflower seeds for out bird feeder at Wild Birds Unlimited, because everything was pre-bagged in you-know-what.

Lately, Vinnie and I can be spotted walking around the house clutching used plastic bags to our bosoms. I think we might me murmuring: ‘My precious.’

Day Ten: Tortilla Lament Friday
February 26, 2010, 9:29 AM
Filed under: Home Made, Trumped by Plastic

We ate our last three whole wheat tortillas last night.empty plastic tortilla package near vase of flowers

I am now banking on being able to get them to put some of their fresh-made ones from Central Market into a paper sack for me.

Let me explain what tortillas mean to us. They are our ultimate fast-food. When we are all starving and tired, we can whip together bean and cheese tostados on soft corn or wheat tortillas in about five minutes.

Bridget thinks making our own (read – Mom makes them) is a great idea. This is something I have done on occasion for FUN! We have an ancient wooden tortilla press (which I usually line with a torn open plastic bag,I will point out) and I use store-bought masa  (corn flour) for the process.

wooden tortilla press on table

I am sure you can see where the ‘whole quick meal, staving off starvation’ concept would not be too well-served with this plan.

I am thinking of mounting an ‘anti-plastic straw’ campaign. What’s wrong with the paper ones?

My friend Katie (currently in Mongolia) said she could never do this experiment over there.

Another friend, Stella, remembers using newspapers to line the garbage can.

Denise has the real question – what about doggie poop???

Much to ponder.

Grocery shopping at Whole Foods and Bartel’s, my list of what I didn’t buy is way longer than what I did. No fresh basil (for the pannini I was making for dinner); no pistachios (supposed to lower our cholesterol); no yogurt; no chocolate; no gelatti (served in plastic bowl); no packaged lemons; no oranges. I bought a loaf of Grand Central bread in a paper bag; tangerines that I put into a plastic bread bag I brought with me; chard I put into a cloth bag I had made (from dish towels) but never used before. Discouraging.

chard in cloth bag and bread in paper bag and tangerines

Day Nine: Thoughtful Thursday
February 25, 2010, 10:04 AM
Filed under: Triumph over Plastic, Trumped by Plastic

As we pondered our new cheesecloth last night, and the two half-gallons of milk in the fridge – Bridget commented that next we’ll be growing our own soybeans. This is sort of beginning to feel more like a back-to-the-earth experience rather than just remembering to bring the reusable bags to the grocery store.

Vinnie brought his own plastic bags to Central Co-Op yesterday and got our oatmeal and lentils. Much to his surprise when he asked for ‘nigari’ or something like that – the coagulant needed for tofu-making, they all seemed to know what he was talking about, even though they didn’t have any!

This morning I poured the bulk sea salt into our old sea salt container. yellow funnel on top of salt box

I also ate the yogurt ( which I had been draining since Sunday night) on my granola. Tasted fine, though it never did get very thick and as you can see, that is after almost half the extra liquid drained off.yogurt in strainer on top of clear plastic container with fluidDenise just pointed out that our daily newspaper comes in a plastic bag. Can’t think of any way of changing that. Hmm.

Day Eight: Dental Death Wednesday
February 24, 2010, 9:26 AM
Filed under: Trumped by Plastic, Uncategorized

Maybe that title isn’t exactly positive thinking, here. This morning I get a bridge for the molar that had the root canal.Should be great fun 🙂

Yogurt – a bit of thickening. Ricotta – turning hard as rock. Definitely too much vinegar, I think.

Today I shop for cheesecloth.

No comment on dental procedure but afterward I went to Jamba Juice and got extra, extra large power size carrot, orange and pineapple juice with Immunity Boost. Plastic lid, plastic straw, PLASTIC TOOTH. Enough said.

Eureka on cheesecloth quest! They sell it at Northgate’s Pacific Fabrics for $2.49 per yard. We now have two yards.

white fabric lying on chair

Day Seven: Tofu Angst Tuesday
February 23, 2010, 3:37 PM
Filed under: Trumped by Plastic

Bridget had to cave in last night and buy a plastic phone charger. 😦

She was in West Seattle trying to hook up with friends, when her cell phone went dead – so she had to buy a car charger at Radio Shack.

The ricotta turned out fine (sort of) and so did the gnocchi (definitely). I would say the ricotta is a bit on the dry side but it worked fine for cooking.

The yogurt is still draining – really, really slowly. I think it will go bad before it becomes less soup than sumptuous. Vinnie made a yogurt smoothie with the slurpy stuff this morning. He said it was ‘kind of bland’.

Now I am worrying about tofu. We are using up our last two packages, so again to the Internet for a recipe. This one calls for using some special coagulant but I found one person who said that Epsom Salt would work (which sounds truly disgusting. Brings up images of toes soaking!).

Making tofu would only even be an option if we can find soy milk without a plastic nozzle (I am not making soy milk!). Did you know there are special soy milk making machines???

The tofu calls for cheesecloth, too. I substituted nylon net (the kind used for those wedding favor poufs) yesterday to drain the ricotta. Maybe that is why it is too dry. Or maybe I shouldn’t have used the full recipe amount of vinegar.

I found some cheesecloth online from King Arthur’s but it said it was ‘wrapped in plastic’ so that is a no go. More on the cheesecloth quest later.

Vinnie’s report from Central Co-op: The milk in glass bottles has a plastic cap but he did find Organic Valley in nozzle-free cartons. Good, I won’t have to write a complaint letter to them.

Day Six: Ricotta Monday
February 21, 2010, 3:35 PM
Filed under: Home Made, Shocking!*#!

I start my day prepping for the gnocchi, by pre-cooking spinach and looking up the recipe. Later this morning, I will need to find a carton of milk, (a special trip to the grocery store) – one with no plastic nozzle top. Then I will make ricotta.

I poured some of yesterday’s yogurt into a yogurt strainer (plastic, that I had purchased years ago) to make yogurt cheese (that cream cheese spreadable consistency stuff). It will take until tomorrow to really drain down much. I wonder if coffee filters would work?

(Update at noon, little progress in the draining department.)Yogurt in a plastic strainer

Guess what! There is no organic milk that comes in the old-fashioned milk carton.  Organic Valley – what’s with that??? They all have those plastic nozzles. So my trade-off was no plastic nozzle – versus milk that that contains hormones, GMO’s and who knows what.

I got the non-organic (half-gallon) at QFC. It turns out that to make 4 cups of ricotta I needed a gallon – so we will make do with 2 cups.

I heat the milk and almost give up at 174 degrees (it is supposed to hit between 180 and 185). I relent and wait for 182.

I poured in the full recipe amount of 1/3 cup white distilled vinegar (I reason that the acid should cook off and I don’t want to add too little).  It has curdled nicely and is now resting under a dishcloth cover for two hours. I should have started this earlier.Ricotta curds in pan

It is becoming clear that one-thing plastics spell in our lives is – convenience. This whole thing is becoming downright time-consuming.

Admittedly, I am a sort of do-it-your-selfer and like to make things from scratch. But we do live in a big city and I can’t just grab a nice clean glass jar and hike to a neighboring farm to buy some fresh milk.  We are going to have to rethink the milk thing.

One other detail. I am eking out my hair products so they will last throughout the month, and my hair is looking decidedly poufy.

Now I have to find some cheesecloth (that sort of gauze-like cotton netting) to strain the ricotta curds. Naturally, no cheesecloth. Hey – I am making cheese and that is what cheesecloth is actually for. Never thought of that before. Oh well. I will try some muslin.ricotta draining over white container

round cheese ball on blue dish\

cheese hanging in net bag