Steripen for Safe Drinking Water

My best friend and I have an upcoming trip to Oaxaca, Mexico. Last time I was in Mexico, I was informed to not drink the water, and ended up buying bottles of water, or refilling them from larger plastic containers at the homes where I was staying. It was disheartening as an avid pursuer of recycling and as a person who always has a reusable water bottle with me, to discover there weren’t many recycling facilities around the beautiful Yucatán.

To avoid this in the future, I did some research and discovered what many already know about: the Steripen! It is a small pen-like device that will sterilize water in less than two minutes. I decided this was the best option for me, even though there are others out there that filter water at the same time. The water does need to be mostly clear for the Steripen to work, so perhaps it is not the best option for when you are in the backwoods and can only find a water source with much sediment.

The device cost just about $100 USD and was purchased at my local REI. There is a registry for it as well, so when the bulb fizzles out after 8,000 uses, the company will replace it. That’s a great deal for the price. I tested it out to ensure the bulb was working and to practice using it before taking it out in the field. The model I bought is the Steripen Ultra and specifications can be found here.

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Here is the entire package outside of the box. The only “trash” would be the twist tie, but I’m going to use that to keep the cord wrapped up tightly. Oops, it looks like the USB cord is not pictured. Sorry! It comes with the package, I promise. The device is not too big and therefore is an easily carried item and also very practical on a variety of trips.

It needs to be charged before use and simply has a USB plug. I used an apple plug-in and my wall instead of a computer. When it was ready, it showed a battery symbol with  full lines. It took maybe 4 hours to fully charge.

You need to remove the blue cover to expose the bulb. There is actually a discrepancy in the directions. On the actual pen you can see that the directions are to push the button once to sterilize 1 liter of water or two times to sterilize one-half of a liter. That is incorrect, it is the opposite. The display screen will show you what you have selected. However, the Steripen is so simple to use as there is only 1 button!

Once the bulb is totally submerged in water, simply press the button once or twice, and the countdown will start. The screen will also remind you to stir the pen around in the container while it is counting down.

 

When water is sterilized, you will simply see a happy face. You will feel happy to have sterilized, fresh water to drink wherever you are! You will also be happy to know you do not need to purchase any plastic water bottles that will fill our lakes, rivers, and oceans and harm the beautiful planet we all love to explore.

**This was more than 1/2 liter, and I did test it out with 1 liter as well. The pen needs 45 seconds for 1/2 liter, and 90 seconds for 1 liter.

***The first time I tried this, I was using a stainless steel water bottle from Klean Kanteen. The display screen only showed a sad face so I thought to pour it into a glass container. The pen worked in the glass jar shown. When I was at REI, I asked an employee if this worked in metal containers and he said it would. After testing in the glass jar, I poured the water back into my metal water bottle and tested the pen in there, and this time it worked, so it was just a first time use fluke it would seem.

Overall, I am extremely pleased with this purchase because it is:

  • small
  • lightweight
  • simple to use
  • universal charging
  • charge lasts 50 – 100 treatments
  • device works for up to 8,000 treatments
  • will save money in the long run because 8,000 liters of bottled water at $2 each = $16,000. Or 1 gallon of water = $1.29. 1 gallon = 3.78 liters. Each liter costs $0.34. 8,000 × 0.34 = $2,729. Yikes! I was surprised at this calculation, so correct me if I’m wrong, but it does not make financial sense to purchase water. EVER.
  • can be shared by a whole group of people
  • life changing

Peace and love,

Kristan

 

Sourdough Sandwich Bread

I thought I posted about this bread before, but it has disappeared! It’s honestly too good to not share again, this time more in depth about my particular method, which is without anything super fancy and all items are reusable.

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Here is my lovely, if a little messy, sourdough starter. She does not have a name, but has still been good to me. She was created in my own kitchen with just flour and water and has been with me for at least a year now. Last summer I officially was a sourdough nerd and wanted to learn as much as possible. I didn’t experiment as much as I should have, but will do more of that this coming summer when time allows.

This is my dough ready to be proofed overnight. I don’t feel right posting the recipe because I follow a recipe basically to the T, and it is not my own. The only things different are not using diastatic malt powder, adding seeds to the top, and no longer slashing the top. Also, I have been proofing this for quite a few hours longer than stated in the recipe, but perhaps that is needed when not using diastatic malt powder.

Here is the recipe from The Perfect Loaf.

Most sourdough recipes will tell you to puff up a plastic bag to then place your dough into to keep it moist. I have found that beeswax wrap across the top of the pan works perfectly.

This time I had sesame seeds and roasted sunflower seeds. I have used millet in the past along with sesame seeds and both turned out great.

The bread proofed overnight in the refrigerator for approximately 12 hours. You can see it has risen and spread out in the pan. There are excellent signs of life here. There are good ways to tell if your dough is ready by doing a poke test with your finger. I find it helps to wet my finger first, poke into the dough and if the dough comes back slowly, it is ready to bake. There’s a quick video about this test here.

I also keep a spray bottle of water to spray the top of the dough when it is about ready to go into the oven. The instructions say to preheat oven for one hour, which seems wasteful, but I do it for probably 30 minutes.

So I spray the top of the dough, place the dough into the hot oven, and spray some more into the oven to create a steaming effect. I also spray the top of the dough about 10 minutes into the bake again to ensure maximum rise. If your crust gets baked too early on, it will prevent a beautiful oven spring.

My loaf after baking is very dark, some seeds got overbaked but I don’t really mind that. You want to ensure your loaf is baked through completely, so I follow through on baking times stated, even when it seems that the crust is really dark. The interior will pay off big time.

The first slice is always eagerly anticipated! It is important to wait at least an hour before slicing into your loaf. Baking magic is still working during this time.

I’m very pleased with this loaf. There is a good amount of oven spring (aka rise) and the air pockets are quite evenly spaced throughout.

I keep mine in a 100% cotton bag I made myself from some fabric I was gifted. It is a sturdier piece of fabric, and it keeps bread well. I also invested in an Opinel bread knife, because regular knives don’t cut well through thick sourdough crusts.

I also purchased a bread pan specifically for this bread as I do enjoy sandwiches, and they are much easier to make on sandwich bread rather than a round boule or even a batard. A bench knife has been super helpful for moving the dough around during final shaping. Other than those items, I just use a bowl for mixing and a digital scale for the exact weights of ingredients.

Here’s a list of tools I find necessary for home baking this loaf of sourdough:

  • Digital / non-digital scale
  • Large bowl for mixing
  • Plate for covering bowl in between folding the dough during bulk fermentation
  • Bench knife
  • Silicone-lined bread pan
  • Beeswax wrap
  • Spray bottle of water
  • Bread knife
  • Weck jars for storing starter

I don’t normally link to products, but these are the exact ones I purchased when starting on this sourdough journey.

When I make boules there are different items that I use in addition to, or in place of the above listed items because the process is quite different.

  • Flour sack towels for lining the bowls for proofing overnight
  • Rice powder for sprinkling onto the towels (I still have some arrowroot flour and have been using that instead)
  • Dutch oven to create the steam effect in a typical kitchen oven – I purchased mine at an estate sale for $10 and it is a beautiful beast with a lovely non-stick surface
  • Safety razor blade attached to a coffee stir stick for scoring the tops of the boules

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I’m still working on my scoring techniques, but they do taste delicious!

As far as actual ingredients, I use what I can find locally, and don’t get hung up on using the exact ratios of flour, as long as the final weight matches the recipe. I generally use white whole wheat from King Arthur Flour as well as bread flour from the same company. I purchased a paper bag of Einkorn and have been adding some of that to the last couple of loaves. I quite like it, but it’s not economical.

Finding a good recipe might seem daunting, and I totally get that. As stated earlier, I haven’t experimented too much, especially with add-ins and special flours due to my schedule. I have a few recommendations on where to start.

The Perfect Loaf from beginner recipes to master sourdough baker, you’ll find many recipes to suit your level and style.

Zero Waste Chef is always a winner for anything zero waste food related.

Sourdough by Sarah Owens is a book rather than a website. My sister bought this book and I have it on loan from her. It’s nice to have visuals and to be able to mark interesting recipes. The photography is beautiful and I do enjoy her thorough instructions.

I hope this helped anyone who is on a sourdough journey, or maybe inspired someone to start a sourdough journey!

Peace and love,

Kristan

May Groceries + a life hack!

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Everything seen here was purchased at Cliff’s Country Market. I went with my sister as she had never been there before. We had a very interesting and fun conversation with an employee about when a person can tell certain fruits are ripe. We discussed how when local cantaloupes are in season, one can smell them from the parking lot. Mmm.

We also talked about the future of the business, and I, like always, gently suggested beautiful, fantastic bulk bins! Apparently the owner doesn’t want children getting into them and has some other hesitations about them. I think pull down bins would be the best option if there is concern about children’s hands going into the bins and contaminating the contents. Perhaps someday!

They were having a sale on mangoes! 12 for $8, so of course I had to get them. When I worked in Australia, I would stop and buy a mango each time I made a delivery to a certain fruit and veg shop. It was such a treat, and mangoes are difficult to find around these parts (for good reason!), but I just couldn’t resist.

I’m thinking of making this trending vegan mango coconut yogurt from Minimalist Baker.

Other items on my list include:

  • Greek salad
  • Watermelon salad
  • White bean + sweet potato burgers
  • Tacos (still some mushrooms in the fridge) + freshly cooked black beans
  • Roasted cabbage wedges
  • Ginger beer (always!)

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Ok so my life hack is probably not new to anyone but myself, but you never know when a tip can be just the thing you never thought about doing that could change a so-so day into an awesome day.

I started taking all the produce stickers off my fruit & veg as soon as I get home! That way I don’t have to worry about them as I put peels / rinds in the compost / vinegar jar, etc. It doesn’t hurt that it looks way prettier when I take a photo of my groceries. I never thought I would ever be taking photos of my groceries… yet here I am.

Peace and love,

Kristan