Winter Reads

Winter break is coming soon, so I prepared myself for possible snow days where I don’t want to leave my home. I have a book list started on Amazon twelve years ago. Remember when Amazon was mostly dealing in book retail? Yes, a long time ago.

I still use that list as a reference for when I’m searching my local library catalogs. Fortunately the community I live in has book sharing amongst libraries so if a book isn’t available at my branch, there will most likely be one at another branch and they get delivered to the one nearest me. I take advantage of this program consistently.

All links will be through goodreads.com because even though I still use Amazon as a book list, I’m trying my best to not purchase things via the internet, and straying away from Amazon entirely.

I try to keep up with authors I enjoy so I have two books from Sherman Alexie: Blasphemy and You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me.

I have started in on the latter, and it’s a heartbreaking and joyous biographical book in the form of poems and short stories.

The former is a collection of short stories I am excited to dive into.

Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer is a novel that has been on my list since I heard Foer wrote a new book. His other novels were moving, and I have yet to read his nonfiction piece Eating Animals. I don’t eat animals and I’m not sure I can bear hearing more about the tragic fates of countless beings.

Michael Ableman’s Fields of Plenty is exactly the type of book I’ve been wanting to devour. Food, people, the planet; these are all interests of mine. My dream job is to be an organic farmer, but I haven’t worked up the nerve to explore that option thoroughly. The subtitle is: A farmer’s journey in search of real food and the people who grow it. One of the highlights of my trips to the farmer’s market is talking with the growers and hearing about their passion of growing food. Now I can hear more accounts of their lives and live vicariously through them for a moment. 🙂

What are your plans for winter?

Peace and love,

Kristan

Herbal Wreath

I make an herbal wreath every year with garden clippings. It’s useful as well as decorative. Bonus: it’s zero waste and free!

If you don’t grow your own herbs, maybe someone you know does and they might need a trim before winter.

I started with long lavender stems that were arranged into somewhat of a circle shape.

Then I used some kitchen string to secure those branches together.

The remainder of herbs consisted of thyme, sage, and a tiny bit of rosemary.

Charming! My sister got me a gift wrapped with ribbon for my birthday so I reused that ribbon. I wouldn’t normally have ribbon on hand but I like it both with and without ribbon. I’ll keep the ribbon for reuse.

If I need any herbs, I can pull some from here. At the end of the season I can put the dry herbs into spice jars, and compost any remaining pieces.

Do you have any zero waste decorating tips for the holidays?

I’m planning on making sugar cookies and naturally-dyed frosting to take to my students.

Peace and love,

Kristan

December Groceries

I’m trying harder to be mindful of seasonal eating. Bananas are a delicious treat, but I live in Idaho. Bananas are never in season here.

There was a sale on chocolate, so I stocked up on my favorite kinds + a baking chocolate from Dagoba. It’s in a package, but from what I’ve read is recyclable.

The cloth bags contain: fair-trade coffee, local yellow lentils (a switch from my usual green lentil variety), and rye flour to make bread.

The glass jar has chocolate peanut butter because winter is headed this way. 🙂

I bought 2 savory scones and ate the other one. This one is for my husband. It’s also in the store’s bag because I thought I had run out of bags. Turns out, I hadn’t. #zerowastefail

Then the produce is a few pears, tiny and large, oranges, zucchini, cilantro, cabbage, and a couple watermelon radishes from a local organic farm.

What I’m planning on making: lentil curry, roasted garlic cabbage, rye caraway bread, and tomato-free sauce for pasta because I refuse to buy tomatoes when they aren’t in season and I sadly did not make tomato sauce this year.

Not pictured for no reason other than a forgetful mind: honey from the bulk dispensary. I ran out after starting fermented cranberries! More on that when they are finished.

Peace and love,

Kristan

Zero Waste: beverage edition

This post is all about beverages! I’ve posted about zero waste wine as well as homemade ginger beer, which are also zero waste, but I will not write about either of those again here.

I’ll start where our days might typically start: coffee and tea!

I was super into this coffee maker from France that I found on Etsy because it includes all parts that you’d need to make coffee and it’s kind of fancy. 😉

The ceramic parts are just like a typical coffee / tea pot. The stainless steel parts nest inside the pot and have tiny holes on the bottom as well as a press. I had a picture of that detail, but it has vanished.

I am showcasing this amazing Moomin mug I found at a thrift store because I love Moomin and graphic stories in general. Moomin Mama is reaching for some delicious coffee here.

All I need to make coffee is fair trade coffee that I buy in bulk and grind at the store, half & half from a local dairy in a returnable glass bottle, Salam coffee pot, hot water, and a mug.

Now onto tea time, because I don’t discriminate when it comes to hot beverages of choice.

This teapot has been with me a while. It was thrifted, and I realize it’s not necessary to have a coffee and a teapot, but I do.

This day I was enjoying earl grey that was bought in bulk, and then scooped into a tea ball. It’s a mesh sphere that closes upon itself and I don’t remember from where it came, but I have it nonetheless.

I like herbal tea without milk, but I really enjoy having milk (dairy or nut) in my earl grey cuppa. I also like honey, hence that giant coconut oil jar featured in the background that is filled with local honey.

This tea time was extra special because I drank my hot tea out of a mug that I made in pottery class and stirred it with a spoon my brother-in-law made, and, of course, it was all trash-free.

Next up: work beer, aka lunch champagne, aka kombucha.

The same place I get bulk tea also has kombucha on tap, and they allow me to fill whatever size I like, which allows me flexibility with the container I choose. My sister gave me this apple juice bottle and it works really well for kombucha because it still makes a tight seal. It’s perfect!

Last but not least is real beer!

This klean kanteen growler jug is great for beer! It keeps beer cold as well as holds the carbonation in. The beer does get less carbonated towards the bottom, but knowing it created no trash keeps me happy. Both of these beer photos crack me up! One is like a fall modeling shot and the other has a frantic kitten running through the frame.

She’s Hummingbird the Queen of the Cute Universe and the Very Best One.

Anyway, back to the golden ale…

There’s a place nearby that has a vast amount of beer on tap and it’s not uncommon to get beer in a growler nowadays. It is not cheaper to get beer in a growler, however, but I do find beer that I would never find in a store, so I suppose it’s a toss up.

Happy imbibing!

Peace and love,

Kristan

Sweet Potato with Lentil Topping

This dinner was divine! It could be made vegan so easily, just leave off the mayonnaise, or substitute vegenaise. I personally love vegenaise, but I prefer to make my own mayonnaise, and it’s package-free.

  • Bake sweet potatoes at 375 F for as long as they need to be fork tender. Perhaps an hour for large, thick potatoes.
  • Cook about 2 cups of lentils in water and drain when done.
  • Sauté a couple shallots or half an onion in oil, then add a few cloves of garlic, and a bell pepper.
  • Add spices of your choosing here: chili powder, paprika, cumin.
  • Add some tomatoes – I used up my last can of diced, fire roasted tomatoes. I think anything tomato would work here as long as it has some liquid.
  • Toss in cooked lentils and simmer for a few minutes.

Mash up the cooked sweet potato and top with the cooked lentil mix. Add avocado and mayonnaise if you please!

Peace and love,

Kristan

Thanksgiving Flower Harvest

Calendula is prolific in my garden. This is something I can view as a blessing due to the many benefits for which this herb is known.

I am grateful for my garden and all it has to offer and to teach me.

I am opting outside today and choosing to not buy anything.

I am grateful for my health which allows me to garden and harvest with ease.

I am grateful to spend another Thanksgiving with my family and see them maintaining their health and vibrancy.

I collected these the day before Thanksgiving and will dry them to add to tea. I still have calendula infused olive oil on hand from a year before.

The tiny native bees love them!

Peace and love,

Kristan

Pumpkin Pie Sans Packaging

I’m not huge into making pies, but I really wanted to try to make a real pumpkin pie and avoid all packaging – a Thanksgiving challenge for myself!

I got my hands on some pie pumpkins, which is easy to do, and I really only needed one. Chopped in half, and gutted, they went cut side down into the oven to roast until super tender.

It’s very easy to peel afterwards.

First, I mashed it with a potato masher and this is what it looked like.

Then I gave it the immersion blender treatment.

Much more of a purée now!

It was super thick so I decided I didn’t need to strain it at all.

Obviously I needed to make pie crust. I’ve never figured out what the big deal is with pie crust. I just follow directions and it turns out every time.

This one couldn’t be simpler:

  • 6 ounces butter, cold, diced
  • 2 cups flour, I used white whole wheat
  • 1/3 cup + maybe more of ice water (mine needed more)

Mix flour and butter first, then add ice water and if needed add more 1 tablespoon at a time.

I wrapped mine in homemade beeswax wrap and stuck it in the freezer, then realized I should have put it in the fridge. I had to wait a while to roll it out.

For the pie filling:

  • 2 cups pumpkin
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Allspice
  • Salt

Whisk together.

I wanted my shell a bit pre-baked so it was in the oven, then I poured the filling into the shell.

Cook at 350 F for about 55 – 60 minutes.

The pie smells amazing, but a little warning here; I was using the oven for sweet potatoes and slid this pie onto a rack that was only 1 away from the one I was using. The pie pan fit perfectly, but then the filling rose a bit and off came some of the top! So, it’s not pretty now and I never make nice pie shell crusts. I’m sharing it anyway to be as real as possible and show the not-so-pretty side of not wasting perfectly good food.

Peace and love,

Kristan

Plastic-free & Zero Waste Thanksgiving Groceries

Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy the abundance around us. We have many holidays here in the States that have become buried deep under consumerism and we have very little connection to the original day of celebration. Thanksgiving was created here, and it holds up pretty well with its original intent.

Groceries from small, local stores: Pie pumpkins, heavy cream, kombucha, cranberries, oats, wild rice, winter squash, eggs, pumpkin cookies, persimmons, olive oil, canola oil, romanesco cauliflower, pecans.

I am grateful to be able to buy locally sourced, plastic and package-free produce and dairy, and am more than willing to drive a further distance to vote with my dollars. I don’t see the connection between supporting a corporation and feeding your family whipped topping out of a can with ingredients that do more harm than good, and then giving thanks for the food that has been provided by poor wages and wasteful business practices.

On the menu: pumpkin pie + apple pie, wild rice + squash casserole, eggnog (my family requests the eggnog every year). I haven’t figured out exactly what to do with the cranberries yet, but I’m sure I’ll find something delicious.

What I wish for this Thanksgiving is nourishing food provided from the garden, or as local as possible. I wish for health and happiness for my family as well as yours. I wish to seek common ground with others; especially families who don’t see eye to eye because who else can understand you better than your own flesh and blood?

Peace and love,

Kristan

DIY Vinegar

My love of DIY knows no bounds. I feel I must try everything once, and if it calls to me, I keep it in my rotations.

Apple picking is a yearly tradition for me and sometimes my family. The main thing I make is applesauce. I’ve been reading so many blogs and fermentation books, and have come across homemade vinegar from apple scraps. Clearly, I had plenty of apple scraps so I stuck them in a clean glass jar.

I filled the jar with filtered water and mixed in approximately 2 – 3 Tablespoons of sugar. I placed this little diy linen hat I made for my sourdough or my ginger bug (not sure of its original intention) and have found plenty of other uses for since then.

I stirred the mixture every time I remembered, which was only about twice daily and saw it become a bit foamy and bubbly. I waited until it was no longer bubbly. Then I strained the mixture, which took a surprising amount of time, then bottled the liquid into my old apple cider vinegar bottle. How appropriate!

I still think I need to strain it again because there is quite a bit of debris in there. However, it does smell like vinegar so I think it worked! I’ll dilute it for my hair rinse in the shower.

Peace and love,

Kristan