Sunday, November 28, 2010

Seventh Generation

We all recycle. Big deal. When JustAwesome found me four years ago, that is just about all I was doing. Fair Trade? Local? Organic? What are those words? I had no idea. I’ve come a long way, baby. These are some of the tiny, little things we’ve started doing that we hope will make an inpact. Do these things help? I have no idea.

Of course, we live in Manhattan—don’t own cars, don’t have children—our carbon footprints are pretty small. We do a little traveling and when we can, when we remember, we try to offset our carbon emissions. Do these things help? I have no idea. I just try to do what I feel good about. I try to picture the planet still being here for my nieces and nephews’ offspring and their offspring and so on. For seven generations, as the Native American do, as best as I can. (Ok, I was an American Studies (double) major. One of my professors was Oren Lyons, Chief of the Onondogas. It made a big impression on me). Can I do more? Most definitely. I’m not trying to pretend that there isn’t room for improvement. I’m just doing what I can reasonably do.

I watched No Impact Man. You should, too. He is a little annoying, but he was doing what he could. He was trying something. He admitted that he did it to get work, as a project, as a challenge. He wasn’t trying to be noble. And people gave him crap for it, which is odd. Why be mad at someone who is trying something?


Gold cones. Still using filters? Really? I love not buying filters. They’re silly and wasteful. In my opinion.

Cloth napkins. No, you don’t have to iron them. In fact, the more you wash them, the better! I like the ones from Sur La Tabla. I think they’re 4 for $9.99. Bright, fun colors. If the meal isn’t particularly messy we put napkin rings on them and reuse a second time. (One ring for me, two for JA)

Reducing paper/plastic bag use. Bring your own bags. It is very easy. I think all supermarkets should give an incentive for this. $.10 off. $.5 off. We have an awesome cart that we lugged back from France a few years ago. Not your Granny’s cart. Pretty pale blue. You can even get an insulated one. Great for the Farmers’ Markets. Great for lugging local growlers home from Whole Foods.

Batteries. For most things we use rechargeable. It is a big layout all at once but you never really have to buy batteries anymore. For everything else (hearing aids, smoke detectors), we recycle. Whole Foods does it. Ikea. Walgreens. Imagine if everyone used rechargeable batteries on all of their kids’ toys? Or (better yet) imagine they didn’t allow their kids to have toys with batteries? You know, you can make limits. I had one hand-held video game that a friend gave me. The 9-volt battery lasted for 25 years. No joke. It just stopped working recently.

Plastic bottles/Metal bottles. So, apparently plastic recycling is not great. Paper is much better. At this point, plastic recycling reduces a lot of waste into a-little-bit-less lot of waste. Boo. Your 5 minute refreshment lasts how long? JA uses these. And stop refilling your plastic ones. Full of bacteria and leaching. Blech.

Plastic bags. I’m guilty of this. I wrap things in sandwich bags, storage bags, freezer bags. But I am trying to rely more and more on Tupperware. Working on it. I rinse and reuse.

Seltzer. If you drink a lot of this (I don’t really but love gadgets), you must do this one little thing. It is so easy. Like the batteries, big layout at first but...

Wine. File this under “I have no idea if this is true or makes a difference” but we generally drink wine that comes from France and Italy rather than the West Coast. By boat rather than by train. Ideally we’d keep it local—keep it east coast—but we are human.

Green products. Do Seventh Generation products make a difference? I don’t know. I don’t want to find out if they don’t. Things cost a little more but I waste plenty of money on sillier things. I thought it was fun bellying up at the soap bar with my dishsoap container. I think it was about $.12 a litter or something.


Mail. Quit your job and spend three months on the phone, calling every company and asking them not to send your their catalogs and to email your statements. It is painstaking work, doesn’t work super-well, but will make you feel like a hero. I promise you.

Composting. We just started this tonight. Considering that we filled up our 3 gallon bin completely during the preparation of one single meal, I’m thinking that maybe we are good candidates for this action. Hopefully it doesn’t suck the soul out of me. Wish me luck.


Lightbulbs. I haven’t gotten around to this yet.

Biodegradable doggy bags. I will start to use these. I promise. They offer such deals on the other bags, I will try to resist. I know, I shouldn’t use bags at all, but I believe that not everything is about the planet. There are so many people that go through the garbage in NYC, I really feel that it is the most humane thing to do. See? I’m all about doing what I can, doing what I feel right about.

Happy Thanksgiving. Think of the Seventh Generation to come. Do what you can reasonably do.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sunday Sauce

Sauce in Progress. Notice how I am lovingly
hugging the pasta from Eataly!

While I had absolutely nothing to do with last night’s dinner, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention what was without a doubt, hands-down, the best sauce ever to go through the Feral kitchen. JustAwesome has been eager to make the Sunday Sauce from her The Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual since the book arrived in July. Here is her old post.

While it takes a really long time to cook (the timeline has you starting at 7am, after mass, as Nonna would’ve done), there isn’t actually a ton involved in making this sauce. And the results were phenomenal. Again, this is such a beautiful and funny/sweet cookbook. It’d make a great gift, even for yourself.

Pasta with Frankies’ Sunday Sauce and
Eggplant Marinara (salad and wine not shown)

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Whole New Ballgame

Last night I tried a new recipe for cauliflower. I used scallions instead of chives but oohyummy! I don’t think I used much more oil than I would in an ordinary roasting tray and the lemon zest just hit it out of the ballpark. A home run!

Served with the usual suspects:
broiled chilean sea bass, sautéed swiss chard, wine (local stuff brought over by a Feral cousin from France. Thanks, Dan! Goosebumps!)

Happy Anniversary, JustAwesome! Four more years! Four more years!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Soup, there it is!

Smoked Ricotta with arugula, oil and sea salt, kale chips,
Ginger-Carrot Soup (with potato) and salad. Ok, and wine.

The weather isn’t exactly frightful yet, but still, I am beginning to crave warmth. I want soup. I have to force myself not to go out for ramen everyday. And I have got to start eating a little healthier... I have visions of Richard Simmons having to break through my 14th floor window to rescue me.

My favorite soup to make isn’t necessarily my favorite soup. It is a Ginger-Carrot Soup. I love it because it is so easy to make and there are, like, 5 things in it. Simple and good. You can make a lot and freeze in portions so you don’t get sick of it—an easy lunch. It’d probably go well with a lunch muffin! And you don’t have to be precious when doing any of the cutting because it gets puréed* at the end.

Also, it solves the problem of too many carrots. We get a bag of carrots each week from our veggie box. Normally this is doable—we have carrot sticks for snack or throw some on a roasting tray for a side. It isn’t stressful. Unless we are lax one week. And they pile up. And I panic. Unless I make this soup.

Menu: Tiny baguette with smoked ricotta, arugula, oil & salt. Kale chips. Salad. Carrot-Ginger soup with potato. Wine. Beer.

What did I learn? I could’ve added more potato to the soup, to make it a little thicker. I’m not complaining. It was good. I overcooked the bread, maybe because they were such small pieces. The kale chips are fun to eat though not totally satisfying. But it felt like we had a ton of food, but it was all really healthy. I think I used about a dozen vegetables for this meal. And honestly, I can’t remember the last time I got sick. Knock on wood.

*I like to use a hand blender/immersion tool. Makes every soup have that creamy greatness, without the cream!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What We Had For Dinner Last Night

My favorite thing about living in New York* is that I can walk to a fresh pasta store. With no idea what to make for dinner, I knew I wanted to finish up our weekly veggie box before the next batch arrived. They have so many different kinds of pasta there, all fresh: raviolis, tortellinis, cannellonis. I went for a wide fettucini (or was it a narrow parpardelle?) which I know JustAwesome loves. Although the store smelled amazing because they make their own marinara, I held firm and didn’t buy any. I really wanted to get that last batch of spinach in some kind of pasta dish. I couldn’t deal with yet another side of spinach—sautéed in garlic, like I always do...

I heated up some oil with some spicy flakes of whoknowswhat, tossed in some onions & garlic, browned some Trader Joe’s meatless sausage for a little protein (I cut these way too small!), blanched then tossed in the spinach, likewise with the pasta. Topped with freshly grated pecorino.

The verdict? Yum! Fresh pasta is always yum! Was it my best dish? No, not really. But it was a good, satisfying, warming meal. Ate with a lovely salad and some vino. And, I tried something I hadn’t done before, spent about $3, used up the spinach, and accomplished all of this without calling JA fifty times at work to discuss. The ultimate verdict? Success.

With all of this fresh pasta at my beck and call, I still want to take this pasta making class with our pizza guru. I had one of his pasta dishes once at Beer Table and dream about it. Often...

*Ok, maybe not my favorite thing... and probably not my best post either. But hey, that’s what we had for dinner last night.