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Saving Some Green

Making Hand Pies

Hi Society!

Last week I mentioned briefly that I was making chicken pot pies using the vegetables from my garden. I said I was going to make them without shells or pans because it was going to save some green. Here’s a bit more about hand pies.

I feel a little silly because I actually didn’t know making pies without something to bake them in was a thing. The thought just never occurred to me. My mom always used aluminium pie shells. It’s only when I ran out of small shells and was preparing to make a huge amount of pies that I realized that maybe something could be done differently. Here’s the thing about freestyle hand pies: they’re awesome! You can make them the exact size you want, the shape you want, you don’t have to get pay for resources that you’ll need to store somewhere or trash, and the best of all: not as many dishes (that is, if you were going to reuse or recycle that shell or pan).

The keys to success are:

  • keep the dough thick enough so that your creation doesn’t fall apart;
  • seal your pie properly using a fork, liquid, etc.; and
  • bake at a lower temperature for longer.

I made my chicken pot pies in half-moon shape (calzone style) and it turned out really well. I’m looking forward to try this again soon with some peach pies, using my home-canned peach pie filling that looks so delicious in the basement!

Happy baking!

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Just Put Baking Soda on It

Hi Society!

Without counting The Genesis, this should have been my first post. If you’ve read my introductory post, you know that this blog was a friendly suggestion. Baking Soda was supposed to be a big part of it, where I would share all the things you can do with baking soda. I feel there are already so many great lists out there on the Internet; I don’t think this is the way I should approach this fantastic ingredient.

To me, baking soda is an epiphany. It’s actually about rethinking what, how, and why we do things. For example, for a lot of people, if your stove is dirty, you’ll use your commercially bought stove cleaner and clean the stove. Why? Because that’s what your parents did or that’s what advertisements and society lead you to believe you need. You don’t really think about it and just use the product, because ”everyone” does it. But you could also make a paste from baking soda and a bit of water and it would create a great scrub. A frugal, non-destructive, and environmentally-friendly solution I might add!

If this was not something you grew up with, it’s something you’d have had to learn. Something you could have taken the time to think about: there are always other possibilities. If you can use it to clean your stove, what else can you do with baking soda? Do I really need all those cleaning products? This big house? The stress? Two cars? Warming up the car for 15 min? All my gadgets? Buying everything from the store? Bragging about my lack of sleep? Using strong antiperspirants? Buying new and tossing old? Being okay with having debts? Following trends?Lighting the porch when no-one is expected? Why have I always followed blindly what others did without questioning or even thinking about it? You get the idea. Baking soda is an alternative. Instead of ”going with the flow”, I want to reflect on what I’ve been doing and thinking while on autopilot. I want to know why and fully comprehend what I’m doing from now on.

And when in doubt, just put baking soda on it!

This is Strawesome!

Hi Society!

Have you ever heard about this glassbulous company? My pun might not be as great as theirs but hopefully you were still able to put 2 and 2 together. Strawesome is an American company that makes glass straws. They are lifetime guaranteed, toxic free, dishwasher safe, designed and handmade in the States and kid friendly. Super cool! I had a $15 off coupon so I ordered two straws for extremely cheap. I got a tall skinny one for my water cup and a smoothie one (shorter and larger) and received them last week; they’re amazing! You can also order cleaning brushes and cases to carry your straw with you. Worried that you might mix up your straw with someone else as cool as you because they also have a glass straw? Strawesome got you covered. They have artsy straws and personalized straws too. They even have bubble-tea straws! Short, long, skinny, regular, large, straight, bent… They thought about everything!!

At roughly $8 a piece (for generic ones), lifetime guaranteed glass straws are definately a good purchase if you usually prefer drinking from straws at home and/or when you’re out and about. They are safer and could help reducing waste, that is, if you currently use plastic or paper straws. Otherwise, it’d just be another ”thing” you now own that required resources to be created. Think about it 🙂

Wax to Do with Beeswax?

Hi Society!

Last night I went to our local farmers’ market and I found a block of beeswax. I was so excited that I bought it (a whooping $3). I had a vague idea of what I could do with it but I was sure it would be great 🙂 It’s such a versatile product! Here’s a non-comprehensive list of things you can do with beeswax:

  • skin care products: moisturizer, lip balm, soap, hair pomade
  • tool care
  • leather care: shoe polishing, furniture restoring
  • waterproofing: fabric, shoes, outdoor furniture, matches
  • wooden care: furniture polish, restoring kitchenware (spoons, cutting boards)
  • sinking construction nails
  • ”greasing” furniture (aka stuck drawers)
  • candles!!!
  • fire starters
  • coating cheese
  • chewing gum
  • strengthening threads: sewing, shoe laces, cordage
  • making a bow?
  • seal stuff…

Oftentimes it has to bee be combined with other ingredients. This video is gives you a cool overview of some uses! Happy Friday 🙂

Overnight Bread Recipe

Hi Society!

Self-sufficiency, for me, includes breadmaking. Not only is it nice to save some cash and to know exactly what is in your food, but what’s even better is the taste of freshly baked bread! I use a few different bread recipes; most of them require at least a few hours of your day (prepping, proofing, baking). Not everyone has time (or wants to take the time) to labour in the kitchen for a loaf that is bound to disappear quickly. This overnight bread recipe is the solution! Bonus: it even has a mild sourdough taste 🙂

Before going to bed, mix together in a large bowl:

  • 3 C flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp traditional yeast
  • 1 1/2 C warm water *

Next, go to bed.

When you wake up, put a dutch oven or big pot with its lid in your oven and preheat it at 450 F. Meanwhile, shape the dough in a ball, adding flour to remove the stickiness. Let it sit in the same bowl it was in and dust a little flour on top of the ball. When your oven is ready, remove delicately flip over the bowl containing the dough in the hot pot. Put the lid back on and put the whole thing in your oven for 30 min. At the 30 min mark, remove the lid and keep baking for another 15 min. Take everything out, let your loaf cool over a rack. Eat for breakfast!

*About the warm water: you want your water to be warm enough to activate the yeast, but not too much to kill it. I was once told that if you can count up to 3 before you have to take your finger out that’s the right temperature.

I also encourage you to wing this recipe and play with different flour types. You might have to adjust the amount of water. Have fun making something nutritious and delicious!

Ecos’cuse Me?

Have you ever heard of Ecosia? Until about 5 min ago I hadn’t either. As Diane from Big Green Purse puts it: ”Ecosia is a new search engine that donates its ad revenue to plant trees. It’s a simple as that.” The article talks about the what, why, how, cost (free!), and statistics. The how is so simple, even dinosaurs like me can figure it out (I may be only 26 years-old but I still struggle with adding friends and whatnot on social medias). Here’s Diane’s how:

”HOW DO YOU USE IT?

Install it on any browser you use, including Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, and Opera.

It takes literally seconds to install, costs nothing, and is just about the easiest tech upgrade/update/add on I have ever done. Ever.

And once it’s installed, you don’t even notice it. You just use it.”

I just did it and it surely is as easy as explained! Right after adding Ecosia I googled ecosiaed it. Very cool 🙂

You can access the rest of Diane’s article here. Spread and research the wisdom!

Crockpot Yogurt

It’s unofficially the end of summer: Labour Day is here. I feel I’m being ironic right now, writing this post on the day celebrating the Toronto Typographical Union’s win on reducing work hours. But then again, this is not my job 🙂

I recently started thinking about my personal consumption of goods and I’ve developed an affection for multipurpose items that I already own. Today, I thought I’d share with you one of my favorite slowcooker use: yogurt-making!

I haven’t invented the principle. You can surely find many recipes online. Here’s what I’ve been doing for the last 2 years. No need for fancy cultures. All you need is:

  • 1 L milk
  • 1 Tbsp probiotic plain yogurt (room temperature)
  • slowcooker
  • thermometer
  • towels

You can choose to make more or less yogurt. The reason why I like this quantity is because I use a square candy thermometer that I lay flat in the bottom of my crockpot and I like the convenience of being able to read the dial without moving it. Simple laziness. I personaly use 1% or 2% milk but you can use skim or whole too. This recipe works for previously frozen milk.

Instructions: Pour milk in slowcooker. Heat on high until it gets to 185F. This should take approximately 1.5h. Carefully let the milk stay between 185F and 199F for roughly 15-20 min to increase thickness of final product. Don’t let it go over that temperature otherwise you’ll get weird runny watery milk instead of yogurt. Unplug the crockpot and set dial to warm up (this might be useful later). Let the milk cool down to 110F. Long way: simply remove the lid and wait. Quick way: if you can remove the ceramic part of your slowcooker, remove lid, and put the pot in an ice bath (to decrease the chance of breaking your pot, make sure the water level is equal to the level of liquid inside). Once you reach the 110F (not more than 119F, not less than 100F), whisk in your yogurt. Put the lid back on, put the pot in the metal frame if you need to and wrap the entire thing in towels (I use two). Place your bundle somewhere it won’t get disturbed, preferably draft-free. You want the mixture to incubate at roughly 100F for 6-8hrs. The longer you let it, the tangier the taste will be. Worried the temperature has dropped too much? Plug your crockpot for a few minutes to warm up the liquid a little (this is why you want to have previously turned the dial to keep-warm mode before wrapping it). After the prefered amount of time has passed (6h for me), unwrap the slowcooker and give it a little shake, just to confirm you have a nice ferm content. Successful? At this point, you can either put the pot directly in the fridge or strain the content in a cheese-cloth-like fabric to get a thicker yogurt (30 min of straining will give you greek-like yogurt, 12-24h: cream cheese). Store in glass jar(s) in the fridge for 1-2 weeks. Unsuccessful? Bake something like bread of muffins with your watery non-yogurt mixture. This happens. Be more careful with temperatures next time!

What to do with the whey (yellow-ish byproduct of straining)? More baking! Substitute water or milk in a bread (or muffins, etc.) recipe. It will give it a mild sourdough taste. Bonus: extra protein! Do I need to keep buying probiotic yogurt to start my homemade yogurt? Nope! Simply freeze a Tbsp of your freshly made yogurt and use it thawed in your next batch 🙂 I recommend freezing at least 2 starters in case something goes wrong with a batch. It happens. Don’t like plain yogurt? Stir in fruits, jams, honey or maple syrop!!!

There are many other ways of making yogurt without a yogurt-maker. Try one and amaze yourself!

Do you use your slowcooker to make something unusual? I’d love to hear about it!

Multiplying Some Green

Hi Society!

In the Saving Some Green section of this blog I share tips on how to save the environment while saving money. In this article, I’m going a step further and I’m talking about multiplying this green. That’s right, I’m talking about gardening from food scraps! On Pinterest you can find many different projects to undertake. Here are the ones I have worked on, so far:

  • Green Scallions. When I buy organic green scallions, I put them in a glass of water and leave them on the counter. The first couple days they seem to wilt but then they regain their strength and keep growing. I harvest the green part as needed and am always amazed at how long they last and how much food I get back! I recommend to change the water often as you’ll get surprises… yes, I’m talking about mold here.
  • Leeks. I buy leeks that still have roots on and then put the cut bottoms (I keep an inch) in water to grow the roots a bit more. When the leeks starts to grow new shoots, I plant them in my garden. They don’t grow back as big as they first were but they are very tasty.
  • Avocado. This is mainly just for fun at this point. I kept the pit of a ripe avocado and wrapped it him a moist paper towel, which I then put in a plastic bag and placed in a drawer. After a month or so I took it out and was pleased to see both roots and a shoot. It’s currently in a glass of water to grow a bit more. I’ll soon plant it and keep it inside. I don’t expect to get fruits. At least not in the near future. However, I get a free indoor plant in the process! Green makes me happy 🙂
  • Celery. I bought organic celery this winter and kept the bottom 2 inches and placed it in a glass of water. It created roots and shoots. I then potted it and the celery started to grow back. I mainly got leaves but I wasn’t disappointed as they make a great addition to soups, stocks, and salads. I have also substituted them for parsley in some recipes as they taste similar.
  • Garlic. My garlic often sprouts. As an experiment I decided to plant four cloves that had a strong shoot. Two of them never came out of the ground but the other two did. I harvested them yesterday. However, I didn’t get any new cloves. The stems and bulbs tasted just like wild garlic though so they still got used in the kitchen. So far this was the least successful experiment but it was still fun to try. I’ll order an organic heirloom variety from a reputable seed company and try my luck with that next time! No hard feelings.
  • Ginger. Although I don’t expect much from this experiment, I’m about to plant a piece of ginger that has sprouted. I’ll let you know if I get anything.
  • Onion. I have a cut red onion which I just put in water (just the bottom) as I noticed the middle was starting to grow a shoot. Let’s see what I get. I have not researched this last one. Just my curious inner-child making me try things.

Do you have any success stories?

Why I Feel Like a Diva

Hi Society!

Today I feel like sharing something personal. I want to tell you why I love my menstrual cup. It’s not usually something I talk about because not everyone is ready for this topic but I think it’s necessary. Afterall, remember that You’re Welcome, Society is the blog that will answer all the questions you didn’t know you had. This post will answer this specific question: How, as a woman, can I make an impact on society, the environment, my wallet, and my health? That’s easy: by using a menstrual cup 🙂

According to Wikipedia (let’s be real here!), a menstrual cup is a “type of feminine hygiene product which is usually made of medical grade silicone, shaped like a bell and is flexible. It is worn inside the vagina during menstruation to catch menstrual fluid (blood), and can be worn during the day and overnight. Full menstrual cups are removed from the vagina, emptied into the toilet or sink, washed and re-inserted (washing hands with soap before doing so is crucial). At the end of the monthly period, the cup can be sterilized, usually by boiling in water. Unlike tampons and pads, the cup collects menstrual fluid rather than absorbing it.”

Let’s first highlight benefits, and then I’ll talk about my own personal experience. Although it would be nice, my goal here is not to convince you. I want to raise awareness and hopefully create an interest for further research. Therefore, there are no scientific facts or statistics behind this post. Just good old me sharing my excitement!

  1. Safety. Menstrual cups are claimed to be safer than most tampons and pads. As Wikipedia mentioned earlier, menstrual cups are usually made of silicone and they collect fluid. Tampons and pads, on the other hand, are often made of non-organic cotton (read full of pesticides!). Knowing that my business is one of the most sensitive parts of my body, I want to avoid chemicals leaching into it.
  2. Environment. Menstrual cups don’t create as much waste as tampons and pads! I don’t think anyone needs to back up this fact. Also, by chosing a menstrual cup, the need to produce non-organic cotton for tampons and pads is reduced. This means less toxic chemicals used in the world. Pesticides are so bad for the soil and those chemicals usually end up in the water we drink and in our bodies. Please read about these issues!
  3. Money. There is an upfront cost to purchase a menstrual cup but after a few months you end up saving money. Depending on when you choose to replace your cup, this amount could be substantial. Who doesn’t want to save cash and do something good for the planet at the same time?
  4. Space. Anyone traveling often? Or living in a tiny apartment? A menstrual cup fits in your hand. No need for big bulky boxes of tampons. If you’re planning to travel abroad for an extended period of time, no need to stress about finding hygienic products there.
  5. Comfort and stress. Know the feeling when you first stand up in the morning and you’re wearing a pad? There’s no such thing with the cup! Ever went too long before replacing your tampon and made a mess? Again, no need to worry about that with the cup! Cups are designed to create a vacuum seal with your cervix and could hold your entire period’s fluid!
  6. Prevention. It is perfectly fine to start wearing your cup before your period starts, thus avoiding a bad surprise. One could argue they can do the same with pads. The difference is you don’t end up throwing away money down the trash if you do it with the cup though 😉 Moreover, for those of you suffering from bad PMS cramps, the cup can mitigate the pain!

Cool, eh? There are probably more benefits than the ones I briefly covered but those were the big ones that influenced my decision. I have to admit, knowing about those benefits wasn’t enough to get me started though. What gave me the extra push was my friend Véro’s testimony. Here’s mine:

I bought a Diva Cup over two years ago and when I opened the package I was a little skeptical. I read the instructions and remembered that my friend told me it would take a few months to get used to it. I folded the cup the way it was recommended, and started practicing a couple of insertion techniques. It was weird at first. And I was also scared it would get stuck. No need to worry. Contracting and pretending you’re giving birth will help you. Now, I haven’t actually birthed anyone but I managed to get enough of the cup out to carefully pull it using the protuding bottom, fold it, and remove it. More about that tubular end: I ended up cutting off part of it as it was bothering me. Some leave it as is, some remove it completely. It’s up to you… or up to your cervix’s shape I should say. After you insert the cup, you have to twist it a 1/4 turn to ensure a seal. This can be tricky. I experienced a bit of leakage in the beginning. You might want to keep using your leftover pads at this point. You can also get reusable cloth pads from your menstrual cup company or Luna’s I believe. You might feel like it’s not working as well as you though. Keep trying, read other people’s comments. It comes down to two things: practice and your cervix. If after 3 months or so, things are terrible, don’t give up on menstrual cups just yet. There are many different kinds, shaped differently for your comfort. Give it another try with a different brand! The most widely known and available seems to be the Diva Cup, but don’t think for one second it’s your only option!

I hope this was helpful for at least one person. As I mentioned earlier, my goal is to raise awareness to an alternative to commercial tampons and pads in order to influence society, save the environment, money, and focus on health. Let me know if you’re considering switching to a menstrual cup, if you have done so already or if you have questions and/or concerns. We have a choice, ladies! Let’s empower ourselves! You’re welcome, society!

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