Wednesday, March 20, 2019

My search for trash bags...

What does everyone else use for garbage bags?  You probably make the easy decision to just pick them up at Target or the grocery store where you shop.  Here is what you need to know; it takes 1,000 years for that trash bag to decompose.  That's a helluva long time.  I'm on the search for a better alternative.

After learning how much plastic (Ocean Conservancy) is in the ocean and making a mess of  our precious and beautiful land as well I decided to look for a more eco-friendly choice. We ran out of the box of Glad ForceFlex 50-count bags the other day and as I broke the box down for recycling I started thinking about a safer bag. We recycle a lot and think about what goes into our garbage but what if what was surrounding our trash was also a problem. I've purchased other eco-friendly choices before but either they were cost-prohibitive or not easily attainable. So I turned to the internet to see if I could find an answer.

I found this great article posted on a website selling compostable trash bags. Of course they want you to buy their compostable bags yet the definitions make sense to me based on what I know already.  What I learned is not to buy biodegradable bags because regular landfills do not usually have the key ingredients to biodegrade. Unfortunately the notes didn't help me find what I need as I'm looking for a trash bag for my NON- compostable materials; the stuff that ends up in landfills. We compost a lot at our house and we just throw that stuff right outside into a rolling bin and in the springtime we used to spread it out on the garden.  This is our first spring without a backyard garden so we'll still find a new place to spread the compost love back into the earth. I don't know why more people don't compost; its so easy and it's literally like giving the earth a gift back.

In my continued search I found this article from the SFGate from the city that's already banned grocery bags! I like some of Ms. Lovering's ideas of lining trash containers with paper bags or newspaper. According to my husband our trash pick-up is required to be in tied bags so right now I'm using the few grocery bags my husband carries home because he forgets to bring reusable bags.  I have to move forward, knowing I'm working on this issue in my own time, and hopefully along this journey I will find a solution.  It's going to make a difference, maybe not in my life time but for my children and the next generation.

Anyone have a green alternative?

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Too much to think about...

Last weekend I mentioned in my post that I really only thought about cooking and reading books. I have to amend this statement so you understand fully. I think about so MANY things it becomes overwhelming. It makes it easier to narrow it down to cooking and reading. Here is a smattering of other topics I think about...
World Peace

Kids in poverty globally - specifically the dear ones I know here

Donald Trump - just everything about him and his cronies/family

My family: I think about my kids a lot, not always a worry, sometimes just "I wonder how your day is..."

The environment and plastics in the ocean  - just did an amazing research project with Hansen kids on this topic and it is mind-blowing and disgusting how much trash and plastic particles are in the ocean.

My extended family and friend relationships

School, work, lesson plans, my overload of 1,000 + emails, right now my portfolio due soon

Climate Change - I worry about this on a daily basis, really.

Immigration esp. concerning kids, human trafficking, sweatshops

My two gorgeous yet problematic dogs

Awkward conversations

the LGBTQIA and how to make us all one community

My old house and all of it's needs (and wants)

Black/Brown lives matter and how to fix this in our society

and now The College Scandal

This list is a random order - I could be thinking about my school work and suddenly I'm thinking about human trafficking.  One big thing leads to another equally important big thing.

Life is overwhelming often, so yes, it is escapism to think of cooking delicious food for your family and friends, listening to beautiful music,  a simple glass of wine, reading a good book. If you can't let these big things go a bit then we are all going to hell in a great big overpriced Gucci purse. We need to focus on the good positive around us to, to help in whatever ways we can on a daily basis and yet be able to let it all go for our own well-being at the end of the day. I struggle with this and try to overcome it.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

New York Times Cooking

Cooking and reading seem to be always on my  mind. This week I didn't cook at all until inspiration hit me on Thursday. Sometimes after school I seriously have to take a 20 minute nap to keep going and while I was building up to get up I scrolled through my NYT cooking app to find a recipe for dinner. Lucky me, I found two.  And I had all the ingredients  - with a little improvisation thrown in.

Roasted Salmon and Brussels Sprouts was a very easy recipe to throw together and the results were very good.  I didn't have any salmon but I did have 4 pieces of frozen tilapia waiting for the right moment.  In our vegetable drawer I had a leftover stalk or two of broccoli so I cut that into small pieces and added it to the brussels sprout mixture. While this was roasting I cooked a small portion of brown rice and we mixed it altogether.  Quick, easy with a healthy protein.  We don't generally have any red meat here, a little organic chicken and fish now and then and we seem to be staying healthy through this long-ass winter.

Curried Cauliflower Soup from Martha Rose was pretty simple to assembly while I waited for the first meal to cook. This one I had all the right ingredients and I have it for backup meals this week.  This soup is spicy and will taste great with some toasted naan bread.  This next week will be very busy with our Spring (?) Scholastic book fair and conferences. Having a few meals prepared will help us get through the week and make it to Spring Break.

In the midst of more snowfall we are headed to Chicago for the first few days of Spring Break 2019! Road trips mean lots of uninterrupted time to read.  I'm excited to shop on Devon Street - I need to replenish some spice jars and I love looking at the stores in this area.

This week more inspiration hit and I joined Book-of-the-Month Club because as my daughter said "Just what you need! More books"  But seriously ~ I liked the idea of trying some new titles/authors and after showing the list to my husband we both agreed on Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

I'm halfway through Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward and have to hurry to finish because my adult wine-drinking book club meets the Monday after our Chicago trip and our March read is Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. I've heard a lot of great things about this story so I'm anxious to get started.

Cheers to a good week!

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Welcome March!

I hope March ushers in a bit of spring weather-it's at least light later in the day. No longer do I leave work in twilight.  We are still pretty snow heavy making it difficult to drive and while it was bitter cold today THE SUN WAS SHINING!!  Wore my sunglasses to Cedar Rapids and back to have lunch with our son.  We had pizza together and talked for a long time. Just wonderful to be with him. Wish we could have lunch with the oldest daughter-meeting in Brooklyn takes a few days prep and many miles. 

I finished Stay with me by Ayobami Adebayo and loved her writing. This story tells the tale of Akin and Yejide's marriage through both characters. How they meet at university, fall in love, and begin to break away after trying to have a baby and the problems that arise as their communication fall away. Anyone in a relationship that's gone sour can relate to how they begin to pull apart.  The story is sad yet beautifully told and I liked the backdrop of the political turmoil happening in Nigeria at the time. 

And I've started Jesmyn Ward's Salvage the Bones; about a family in Mississippi getting ready for a hurricane.  This is an author that's been on my to-read list and I'm glad I'm finally finding time to read her work.  

In between chapters I managed to make a little food for my lovely little family.   I lovingly created two recipes given to me by friends; a chicken tortilla soup and a corn casserole. Both recipes helped to warm us up last night.  

Here is the soup recipe from my friend Kay:

Kathy's Chicken Tortilla Soup (my notes)

4 chicken breasts halves (buy organic, local, free range when possible)
2 15-oz cans of black beans, drained (I thought ahead and used dried bb, soaking them the night b4)
2 cans Rotel tomatoes with chilies - do not drain (I had one can of diced tomatoes and one can of green enchilada sauce-yes, I improvised so I did NOT have to go out in the cold)
1 can shoepeg corn, drained (I used a bag of frozen)
14.5 oz can tomato sauce
1 cup salsa (I used our homemade)

Optional toppings:
Tortilla chips
Grated Cheese
Sour Cream

1. In the bottom of a slow cooker, place the chicken breasts.
2. Open the remaining cans and pour over the breasts.
3. Add the salsa
4. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Just before serving remove and shred the chicken and return to soup. 
5. Stir and serve. 

Even with my improvisation the recipe was perfect for a cold Saturday night. It was pretty easy compared to other recipes I love. My brother and I were both cooking at the same time in different cities; his recipes looked so amazing I could almost smell them via his texted pictures.  His were more labor-intensive but you've got to go with what works for you on any given day. 

The corn recipe from Amber was just as easy to put together, rich and textured, and that made my day. I'm pretty sure both these recipes are from church/school cookbooks from the 90's.

Corn Casserole 

1 can creamed corn
1 can whole kernel corn, with juice
1 stick butter (soft to mix)
1 cup sour cream
1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 egg, beaten
onion and seasonings (opt.)

(In a bowl) mix all ingredients together. Bake at 350* for 45 minutes in a 9 x 13-in baking dish.  
Variation: Can put 1 small package of shredded Mozzarella cheese on top and bake another 10 minutes or until melted. (next time I might add goat cheese; I did not add any cheese this time and I added a bit of cayenne and cumin as my seasonings, plus a whole lot of freshly ground pepper)

See what I mean-super healthy!!  We have to stay entertained and warm over these long winter months. What are you reading/creating/concocting?