Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Sustainable Ways To Use Up Food Scraps

There are many things you can do with food scraps to cut down on food waste besides the good old compost pile. Some of them will help your budget, too, so they have the added benefit of being frugal in addition to sustainable practices.

Orange Peel 

Make an orange cleaner by filling a glass jar with orange peels and pouring white vinegar over them. Let the mixture sit in a dark, cool place for 2-3 weeks. Mine is under the kitchen sink. Use it full strength for tough cleaning jobs or dilute with water for an all-purpose cleaner. 

Freshen the air by boiling orange peels with cloves, cinnamon sticks, and a couple bay leaves. I especially like doing this around the winter holidays. 

Toss some down your garbage disposal to freshen it up. Or at the bottom of your trash cans. 

Add it to tea for a bit of orange flavor. 

Coffee Grounds

I generally add mine directly into my garden, but coffee grounds as they contain many nutrients, but they can also be used as a body scrub to exfoliate the skin, make a great addition to homemade soap, and can replace baking soda in the refrigerator for odor control. You can even use them as a base to grow mushrooms in or start a worm farm.

Vegetable Scraps

Outside of composting my vegetable scraps, another great idea is to freeze them until you have enough to make vegetable stock out of. When you have about 4 cups of vegetable scraps, boil them in about 12 cups of water. For added flavor, throw in some fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, or sage. Avoid using too many scraps from strongly flavored vegetables like cauliflower and vegetables that have gone bad. 

Egg Shells

Egg shells are another item I add directly into the garden. Not only do they add nutrients to the soil, but they are known to keep snails and slugs at bay because they don't like to crawl over the crushed shell. 

If you raise chickens, add the finely crushed eggshells into their feed as a calcium supplement. 

Stale Bread

Unless it's gone moldy there is no reason to throw out stale bread. Use it to make bread crumbs or croutons for salads. Make a yummy bread pudding or french toast. Other recipes that are great for using up stale bread include French onion soup and the Italian recipe, Panzanella. 

Avoid feeding stale bread to birds. It's not healthy. 

Photo by Eiliv-Sonas Aceron on Unsplash

Sour Milk

I've been buying fresh milk from a local food co-op. Sometimes if I don't drink it fast enough it starts to go bad. I don't want to drink it, but I don't want to throw it away because it is expensive. As long as your milk hasn't gone chunky on you, there are still ways you can use it up. Use it in place of buttermilk or yogurt in recipes. It's also great for making homemade yogurt and cheese. 

It's also great for skin care. Apply it to your face for softer, firmer skin. 

Mix it with water and spray it onto garden plants inflicted with powdery mildew. It works wonders. 

This is just a few ideas on how to reduce food waste. I'd love to hear from you. How do you reduce food waste in your household?

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Honey Butter Biscuits for a Saturday Morning

The kid and I needed a slow Saturday morning with a big sitdown breakfast of eggs, bacon, and homemade biscuits. The last few weeks, with the exception of my daughter's beautiful wedding, have been rough. It seems like there has been one challenge after another since mid-February. But spring is here and the garden is starting to fill out. South Texas is blanketed with wildflowers. The days are longer. There is much to be grateful for.

Sleeping in is hard around here. If it's not the dogs demanding to be let outside, the cat wants his breakfast or the chickens are cackling to be let out. So I was up by 7:30, which technically is sleeping in for a whole hour by weekday standards. I let the dogs out, fill the kettle so I can make coffee, dish out the dog food and cat food, and slip on some shoes to head out to the coop to let the chickens out for the day. By the time I head back in the house, I'm making coffee in my coffee press and starting breakfast.

We have eggs just about every day in some form or another, especially with the girls laying pretty frequently now, but I rarely make biscuits. This particular recipe was shared by my friend Bryan. We both enjoyed cooking together while he lived with us. He was in charge of the biscuit making while I made soup or something to go along with the biscuits. Ben calls them Bryscuits, so forever more they will be known in our household by that name.

A note about biscuit making. We were having some trouble getting the biscuits to rise nice and fluffy and after some investigation, I think I may have solved the issue. Apparently, according to the King Arthur Flour blog Flourish, when cutting biscuits it is important to use a sharp biscuit cutter or knife otherwise the dough pinches, preventing the biscuits from rising. Clean edges equal high rising biscuits.

Bryscuits (Honey Butter Biscuits)

  • 2 Cups plain flour
  • 3 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • 2/3 cup milk
Preheat oven to 425F. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Add cold butter and using hands, work into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Alternatively, you may use a food processor. 

Add honey and milk, mixing in with a wooden spoon or spatula. Gently knead dough and roll out to about 3/4" thick onto a lightly floured surface. 

Using a sharp knife or a biscuit cutter to cut biscuits into the desired shape. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until brown.

Serve warm with butter and plenty more honey (or your favorite jam).