Friday, 20 April 2012

Plastic Bags? No Way!

Whether you want to preserve all of the goodness from your garden or save those leftovers, what is the first thing you reach for?  Is it the Plastic Wrap or the Ziplock type bags?

Always remember that "when you buy plastic, you are buying future garbage".  Plastic does not break down easily.  It will break and wear out, but the pieces will continue to exist.  It will develop an unusual "sticky" feeling when it starts to break down and makes a terrific black smoke if melted or burned. 

Why pay hard earned dollars for anything that is destined to end up in the trash?  Whether is it a day, a week or months from now - this is money down the drain.  Might as well throw it out the window. 

The prices for Oil and Energy are rising and you might find yourself wondering where your paycheck is going lately.  Now is the time to sit down and start to evaluate where you would like to spend those dollars.  The biggest savings begins at home.  All of the little things will amount to a bigger dollar amount if you take a closer look.  Why pay for what you don't have to?
Our family does not like to spend additional money on special packaging in order to preserve our foods for the refridgerator or freezer.  We save our plastic containers from yogurt, margerine and cream cheese, etc.  Sure you can't see what's in them, but a nice label made out of masking tape and a pen works well for us. 

Plastic Grocery Bags?  A thing of the past.  We use reusable cloth grocery bags.  They cost about $1.00 which can be a slight investment if you need several of these.  You do have options:  Your local thrift store will sell them for $0.25, or you can fashion an old t-shirt by cutting off the sleeves for handles and sewing up the bottom - easy peasy!

We save on not having to spend money on fancy bags or labels and have extra money to spend on more food!  Completely Fool Proof!

Reducing Paper Products in Your Home

It never ceases to amaze me as to how much people are willing to pay for things like Paper Towel, Toilet Paper, Tissues, Napkins, Plates and Cups...

Interestingly enough, Kleenex and Papertowels didn't even exist before the year 1925.  How did people cope with those runny noses and messy kitchen spills?  The answer is simple: Cloth.

It's easy to lose track of the fact that many major Companies are offering products that are almost impossible to resist - especially if "convenience" is going to make life easier.  These Companies claim to have a "hold" on civilization, trying to lure us into thinking that we would not be able to live without their products - they make a lot of money from this marketing concept.

It is interesting to note that upscale restaurants have linen tablecloths, linen napkins and warm towels in the restrooms.  Why does this feel luxurious to so many individuals when it should be a part of our daily routine at home?

In our home, we try to minimize the use of all paper products.  To us, paying for paper products is like throwing money into our trash bins.  We use cloth whenever we can - and feel like we never have to do without.  The best part?  We never feel that sense of "panic" because we have run out of paper products because cloth is easily washed, dried and ready to use!

Here are some examples:
Papertowels - We use 100% Cotton Terry Cloths
Paper Napkins -  We use Linen Napkins
Tissues/Kleenex - We use 100% cotton hankies/bandanas
Toilet Paper - Cloth Wipes
Paper Plates/Cups - We use Stoneware and Mason Jars

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Curbside Find - Flying Machine

Wow, this is a fantastic find!  In the package, never opened and ready to fly!  It doesn't get much better than this.
Our family doesn't have any use for this, however I am certain that a child would love to spend a windy afternoon flying this colourful and wondrous kite around their local park.
Left at the curbside for us to salvage, we have posted this on our local classified ads and have already had a couple of inquiries!

Today's Appreciation: Fresh Baked Bread

I bake all our family's Bread and Buns from scratch.  I have been doing this for over a year and a half and would likely choke on a piece of "store bought bread" because of the change in taste. 

We have adjusted to our homemade baked food to the point that it is now difficult to even look at the bread aisle in our local grocery store.  This goes for cakes, muffins and pastries as well.  Interestingly enough, while at a neighbour's home, I opened up a package of store bought bread and it took my breath away.  It smelled like a cross between vinegar and formaldehyde. 

I was prompted to write this post after meeting with a neighbour this morning who wanted to make her own homemade bread, however, had difficulties kneading dough for any period of time.  While speaking with her, I remembered an older Bread Machine that I had in my garage.  Today, I gifted the machine to her and walked her through how to use the machine on the dough cycle - this would do the kneading quite nicely.

I look forward to hearing of her breadmaking adventures as her skills evolve - I get excited about this kind of stuff.  Plus, it makes me feel good to help someone else learn new sustainable skills.

I do have to admit that breadmaking is somewhat of a skill.  In the beginning, I remember baking loaves that could have been used only by a brick layer, however I was determined and it has paid off.  I have also mastered the art of making Sourdough Bread which I will be describing shortly in one of my posts.  There are a lot of tricks with making sourdough that you won't always find online - it's all trial and error.

Here's a super easy recipe that we use for our Daily Bread.  You can make it either by hand or by using a Bread Maker.  We like to bake our bread at a lower temperature if baking in the oven as it helps to ensure that our bread is cooked all the way through and is golden - without burning the outer crust.

White Bread Recipe (1 lb loaf)

1 cup of lukewarm water
1 tbsp. oil (butter or margerine will also do)
2 cups of white flour
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. traditional yeast
1 tsp. salt

For Bread Machines: 
Put all of the ingredients in breadmaker in the order given.  Set machine for "light" and 1 or 1 1/2 pound loaf.

By Hand:
Dissolve the yeast and sugar in water.  Add remaining ingredients and knead for 10 minutes.  Place dough into a large and lightly oiled bowl.  Turn the dough to ensure that it is lightly coated in oil.  Place a teatowel over the bowl and let rise for 1 1/2 - 2 hours.  Punch down, then form into a loaf and place into a lightly greased loaf pan.  Cover again with a tea towel and let rise for another hour. 
Bake for 20 - 30 minutes at 350 degrees F.  Voila!  Don't forget the butter!