Wednesday, October 27, 2010

going BPA-free

I've set myself a challenge of removing, gradually, all the plastic from our kitchen. Trash bags are ok, but I'm looking to replace all the plastic storage containers and utensils. We don't really use plastic cups, so as those die they just won't be replaced. The utensils are being gradually switched out, as opportunity arises.

BPA is a consideration for this as well. It's found in plastic bottles, thermal receipts, and as a liner in cans - including soda cans. Yuck. I checked, and it seems that the only vegetables locally available in glass are sauerkraut and pickled beets, not quite what I had in mind... For this, and to avoid the embedded energy of frozen foods (embedded in freezing it, keeping it frozen, transporting it, and making the plastic bags), I turn to canning our food or purchasing it fresh.

So far, I've gotten each of us two metal water bottles, have picked up glass storage containers with glass lids, and have started using canning jars for storage as well. World Market has some larger clamp-top containers available, as well. We have two already, and will be going back for more. One 3-liter container is much easier for bulk dried-food storage than several 1-quarts!

Related Links:

BPA - Wikipedia article

How to Avoid BPA Exposure in Receipts

No Silver Lining - An Investigation into Bisphenol A in Canned Foods. Includes link to a 29-page report (pdf). Cost and brand of the food had no relation to the BPA levels.

Book: Make your own Root Beer and Soda Pop at Lehman's

BPA in the Headlines - blog post at Easy Being Greener.

BPA in Cans - has a list of companies without BPA, and those who do use it. The information is a year or so old, but it's also the best list I have been able to find.

BPA Danger may be greater from tin cans than water bottles- at Treehugger.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Independance Days - 25 October 2010

Moving home-canned food to the main pantry has really helped us eat it. We are now out of chili and nearly out of beef stew. I'll count that as a good thing!


Planted: Nothing.

Harvested: Nothing.

Preserved: 20 pints whole or diced tomatoes. Froze tomato sauce & 1 pint diced tomatoes.

Waste Not: Roast beef, into stew, into pot pies. I could have done better had I frozen half the roast after the first meal; that would have given me probably 5 meals or 10 to 12 servings total, from the base of a 3lb roast.

Want Not: no thrift drop off this week.

Eat the Food: Tomatoes, cookies, goat milk, turnip greens, sauerkraut.

Community Food Solutions: just the usual.

Crafting: I made various hotpads and washcloths for farmer gifts - very nice to have something so quick to work on, after big projects. I'm also working my way through my sewing repairs pile.

Late Tomatoes

One of my farmers planted a late crop of tomatoes, and I'm canning some for the winter. All of my help comes from books and the internet, so it can get interesting.

I bought 55lbs on Wednesday. I have lost about 10 lbs of tomatoes from waiting too long, and nearly had a ginormous mess on my hands.

The weekend's goal was some whole tomatoes, and the remainder in diced tomatoes. I let the food tell me the amounts; it just depends on the condition of the food. I have learned to core the tomatoes before skinning them - they maintain their shape better. Also, if one or two have split skins the rest should be about ready. It's better to think "loosen the skin" rather than "split the skin." The learning process means I have tomato juice to freeze - I've heard that freezing it means the water will rise to the top, making it so there is less to boil down later. If I could remember the rest of that piece of information, I'd be doing even better!

I canned whole tomatoes on Saturday, diced ones on Sunday. One day's experience cut my time spent in half.

Final Totals:
  • 10 lbs of waste
  • 11 pints of whole tomatoes from roughly 18lbs of small tomatoes
  • 9 pints of diced tomatoes plus one in the freezer (it wasn't quite full)
  • a pot of tomato - soup? sauce? - in the freezer. I already reduced it by half, and will see if I can make it into tomato soup for one night's dinner.
  • enough tomatoes to make tomato & macaroni for lunch today =)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Independance Days - 18 October 2010

The storage unit is dried out, finally. It took over a week. The wall may be OK after all, once it's washed with bleach to kill the molds. Nothing will go close to it since this is now a reoccurring problem. I've gone through all the seasonal decorations and gotten them to reasonable amounts. I added one stack of plastic bins and it's on 1x6 boards (found items) so they are off the floor for air flow. I say 'stack,' even though it's only two bins right now. OTOH, the off-site storage is still half full. Stuff is still going back, as well. I've got to spend some effort on that this weekend; I want to empty it before the end of the year (this month, if I can!).

I have moved some of the home-canned food from the storage pantry to the one I actually look in when I'm planning dinner. That should help with eating stored food. Now, what to cook with dried turnip greens?...


Planted: Nothing. The new planters aren't up yet, and all the others are still occupied.

Harvested: Nothing.

Preserved: Nothing, but planned out what I'd like to put up for tomatoes.

Waste Not: Another box to thrift, plus an old lamp.

Want Not: DFH found me a couple more Yule tins for the storage pantry. I keep dried beans and the like in them, and they make me smile =)

Eat the Food: Grass-finished roast beef, veggies, winter squash. I have been cooking more from the pantry, I just can't always remember what I made.

Community Food Solutions: Does it count that I'm now a year-round customer for my three favorite farmers? Two are continuing to come down, even though the market is officially closed; the other can deliver her soaps to my area.

Crafting: Finished DD's shrug, finished a cozy for my coffee mug - the mug is thin, and too hot to hold when it has coffee in it. This will take care of that, and hopefully the coffee will stay warmer longer to boot.

Disaster Prep: Water

During a hurricane, the public water is likely to become contaminated due to flooding. Since we are on the second floor, we may be protected against our home flooding, but if the power is out there is no guarantee that the pumps will work to push water "uphill" to our home. Thus we need water storage and purification. The minimum needs are two gallons per person, per day, with additional for pets. The two gallons are for sanitation, cooking, and drinking. While they do distribute water & ice in these situations, you have to find out about it and get there before they run out.

For water storage, we currently have empty Gatorade bottles and four trays of 16.9oz water bottles. I know we need to improve this. I'd like to get water purification tablets, as well as a larger water purifier. For purification, the Berkeys are apparently the best on the market. Here are directions on how to make one at home - don't skimp on the filters, either. They'll help keep you healthy, and anything that just promises 'better flavor' won't work for what you need in this situation.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Independance Days - 4 October 2010

I'm starting the Independance Days posts again - I'm much more aware of how we're doing when I make these. We've had rain all week - five days straight, some of it "the sky is falling!" downpours. Our attached storage unit has developed a leaky ceiling and will need a wall replaced again (same one, too). I'm very glad I had just straightened it - I rented an off-site unit, moved a pile to that one, and put a shelving unit in the attached one. With that, and consistently moving to using plastic (aka waterproof) bins, all we lost was some empty cardboard boxes. Yay!

I very much have to figure out a better way to utilize my pantries; I feel like I don't know where anything is. And I have no ideas how to improve it, yet. We really need to start eating the stuff I've put up. That is more my fault, as I'm the cook. That's a goal this week - at least one meal from storage.

Planted: Nothing.

Harvested: Nothing. The basil isn't tall enough yet, and I'm not even sure on the other herbs to be honest.

Preserved: Canned a dozen jars of local green beans.

Waste Not: Donating to thrift as I clear out storage. I had ordered an extra dehydrating book on accident, and gave it to one of my farmers. She was delighted!

Want Not: An umbrella. A formal outfit for DD, who will need it this year. Thank heavens for sales! Also ordered the yarn to make a shrug to go with the outfit. She has good taste; merino/silk blend in a nice, deep black.

Eat the Food: Apple cider. Chevon (goat) sausage. Root stew.

Community Food Solutions: Does it count that I'm now a year-round customer for my three favorite farmers? Two are continuing to come down, even though the market is officially closed; the other can deliver her soaps to my area.

Crafting: Finishing afghan squares that are part of a group project.