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CSA Adventures: Cooking With Eggplant

Posted by on Aug 20, 2014 in Food & Recipes | 2 comments

CSA Adventures: Cooking With Eggplant

If variety is the spice of life, my CSA this year has offered a lot of spice in the form of eggplants. I’ve gotten at least three different types of eggplants this year and not one was the solid purple kind typically sold at the grocery store. Eggplant is a relatively new addition to my cooking repertoire and one thing I’ve learned is that it’s usually not a quick meal. Cooking it takes a while. Roasting it takes longer. Grilling means the eggplant has to soak first. Broiling slices is the only quick fix, it takes about 10 minutes. But it’s worth the time. No matter how you cook it, you’re rewarded with a filling dish. Some of my and Nicole’s favorite eggplant recipes are: Roasted eggplant – It doesn’t get any easier than this recipe. There’s no peeling, no flipping, and minimal prep work. But you need time since it takes a half  hour to salt the eggplant and an hour to roast. I usually skip the last two steps – letting the eggplant cool and drizzling lemon or vinaigrette on it. I just turn the eggplant over with tongs and scoop out the flesh. Eggplant and Goat Cheese Sandwiches – Use your eggplant, red peppers and greens to make this delicious sandwich. I’ve followed the directions and broiled the eggplant. I’ve also grilled the eggplant, which requires soaking the slices in salt water for a half hour first. If you don’t have arugula or like it’s strong taste, substitute baby greens. Baba Ganoush Sesame Burgers with Salat Yerakot Yisraeli – Between the burgers and the vegetable side salad, this recipe makes good use of summer staples: eggplant, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, green onions and parsley. Eggplant Parmesan – A classic dish, perfect for meatless Mondays. Go get your eggplant on! Like this post? Subscribe to our email list, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Pinterest for more green living...

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CSA Adventures: Squash Recipes & More

Posted by on Aug 13, 2014 in Food & Recipes | 0 comments

CSA Adventures: Squash Recipes & More

One of the joys and challenges of having a CSA share is the surprise factor. You don’t have much, if any, warning about the food you’ll be getting that week – some farmers send emails a few days before but others don’t – and it’s likely you’ll get some food you’ve never seen or eaten. One of the best ways to experience a CSA is with a friend so you can share recipes and cooking tips. While we’re getting started with this series pretty late this season, we hope that our weekly posts will prove a useful source of ideas for the rest of the season. Just consider us your virtual CSA buddies. And please share your tips and tricks with us too! Squash: Beyond The Side Dish There seems to be a plethora of squash throughout most of the CSA season but this week was a challenge because the new arrivals from my Country Dreams share were added to last week’s leftovers. Usually, we grill our squash (toss cut squash with olive oil and lemon pepper to season, then grill) as a side dish but, this week, I had to step it up and make squash the main dish. Enter this fabulous stuffed zucchini recipe. While the recipe calls for zucchini, I use any (and almost every) squash I had that could be halved and laid on its side. For the filling, I had a CSA onion and used two pounds of ground beef instead of the recommended beef/sausage mix because our freezer was full of ground beef from my Brookford Farm meat CSA share. I considered substituting fresh tomatoes for the can of crushed tomatoes but was glad I decided against it because the fresh tomatoes might not have offered as much liquid. I ended up stuffing a half dozen squashes and making a tasty dish. This dish reheats well so I enjoyed it for lunch the next day. Squash & Tomato Gratin Even after making the stuffed zucchini, I had a few more squashes left. Nicole sent me a simple recipe last year that has become part of the regular rotation at my house in the summer. The recipe can easily be sized up or down depending on how many you’re feeding. Over the weekend, I used one large tomato and two squashes to make this dish in a 7×7 pan. Squash and Tomato Gratin 2015-03-06 16:25:05 A simple side dish for garden fresh veggies. Write a review Save Recipe Print Ingredients 2 small zucchini or squash 4 small tomatoes 1 tablespoon fresh basil salt and pepper (to taste) 1/2 cup parmesan cheese (grated) 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese (grated) Instructions Slice zucchini and tomatoes into ¼ inch thick slices. Lightly coat a 9x13 inch casserole dish with cooking spray. Overlap tomato and zucchini slices alternately in prepared dish. Sprinkle with basil, salt and pepper. Combine cheeses and sprinkle on top. Broil 6 inches from heat for 5-6 minutes or until heated and cheese is lightly browned. A Green Routine http://agreenroutine.com/ Preserving Beans & Peppers Green beans and wax beans were also in abundance this week. I’ll steam some as a side dish and freeze the rest. I always like to mix the green and wax beans when I freeze them. The frozen beans are great for stir fry dishes later in the year and the two types add more color to dishes. This week, I was...

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Blueberry Vinegar: How To Make And Use It

Posted by on Aug 7, 2014 in Food & Recipes | 0 comments

Blueberry Vinegar: How To Make And Use It

For blueberry season I wanted a few new recipes to go along with my favorite vanilla blueberry jam recipe from last year. My search for something different led me to a blueberry vinegar recipe from Put ’em Up! Fruit by Sherri Brooks Vinton. It’s super simple and the resulting vinegar can be used to make light, summery dressings for the rest of the summer, through the fall. Blueberry Vinegar 2015-03-06 16:31:01 Easy to make, this blueberry vinegar only takes a little patience while you wait for the blueberries to infuse into the vinegar. Write a review Save Recipe Print Prep Time 15 min Prep Time 15 min Ingredients 2 cups blueberries 2 cups white vinegar 2 cup sugar Instructions Sterilize a 1 quart mason jar by placing the jar in a pot of boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove the jar from the hot water bath and add blueberries. In small pot bring the vinegar and sugar to a boil. Stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves. Pour the mixture into the jar over the blueberries and place a large square of wax paper over the mouth of the jar and then screw on the lid . This will prevent the lid from rusting. Shake the jar and place it in a cool, dark place for a week. Continue to shake the jar daily. By Sherri Brooks Vinton A Green Routine http://agreenroutine.com/ For my dressing I mixed 2 tablespoons of good olive oil, 1 tablespoon of blueberry vinegar, 1 tablespoon of honey and salt and pepper. I was lucky enough to have a blood orange infused olive oil on hand, but a splash of juice or a teaspoon of zest from an orange, lemon or lime would also add the taste of citrus. I poured this over a seasonal salad of baby greens, plums and slivered almonds. How will you use your blueberry vinegar?   Like this post? Subscribe to our email list, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Pinterest for more green living...

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Review: Powerslayer Kit from Velvetwire

Posted by on Jun 28, 2014 in Lifestyle | 0 comments

Review: Powerslayer Kit from Velvetwire

Find out if the $79 Powerslayer Kit is worth the money. Powerslayer is an eco-friendly software driven charger that powers off when your device is charged.

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Green-er Gardening: Repair A Garden Hose

Posted by on May 28, 2014 in For Your Home, Lifestyle | 0 comments

Green-er Gardening: Repair A Garden Hose

I needed to replace the nozzle on my garden hose, but it had rusted to the brass coupling and no amount of rust cleaner or brute force would separate the two. If you have a rusted or leaking coupling, there is a very quick and inexpensive way to repair it so you don’t have to send your hose to the landfill. To replace the coupling on your hose you need a: utility knife, screwdriver, male connector and coupling repair clamp.   The repair is as easy as: cutting off the end of the hose with the utility knife, slipping the clamp over the hose, inserting the connector and tightening the screws to secure the clamp. As quick and easy as this project is, there are a few lessons that I learned and would like to share. First, measure the width of your garden hose before you head to the hardware store. There’s nothing more frustrating than coming home with the wrong parts. Second, spring for the more expensive metal clamp style. There are many types of hose menders. The style I used is $6-10, but it’s the easiest to apply, creates a secure seal and will last longer than plastic fittings which are $3-5. Bonus Tip If it’s the opposite end of your hose that’s leaking, you probably need a new washer. Take the existing washer to the store with you to make sure you get the right size replacement.   Like this post? Subscribe to our email list, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Pinterest for more green living...

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Homemade Eczema Salve Recipe

Posted by on May 6, 2014 in Skin & Hair Care | 4 comments

Homemade Eczema Salve Recipe

A few months ago, I was talking to a friend about her 5 year old niece who suffers from painful eczema that covers her back. She’s had it most of her life and doesn’t complain about the pain anymore, but she flinches whenever someone hugs her or pats her on the back. I didn’t know much about what causes eczema or how to treat it, so I went looking for information to find a way to help. What I learned is that eczema is a chronic skin condition that results in dry, cracked skin which is often further irritated by bacteria that gets into the rash when scratched. It can be hereditary, or it can be caused by everything from diet to stress to allergies. Unfortunately, it’s not curable, but it is managable. The best way to manage eczema is to be kind and gentle to your skin by: wearing cotton or other soft fabrics. taking warm baths with colloidal oatmeal. patting, instead of rubbing, yourself dry after a bath. using gentle cleansers. moisturizing regularly. used a gentle laundry detergent. In previous articles, Kim and I have discussed how many commercial products use strong antibacterial chemicals and petrochemicals that strip your skin of its natural oils and coats it with chemicals that don’t allow your skin to breath and recover. The chemical fragrances often added to both personal products and cleaning products can also be very irritating to the skin. Anyone with skin problems should be reading labels and leaning toward more natural, gentle products. My research and a conversation with a local woman who makes personal products led me to two recommendations for this little girl. The first was to try Grandma’s Lye Soap or, from the same company, Secrets of Suzanne’s Oatmeal, Milk & Honey Soap. At the time I had been testing out Grandma’s Lye Soap to write a review and, from experience, I knew how gentle and moisturizing their all-natural soap is. My second recommendation was to use an eczema salve made with shea butter, coconut oil and tea tree oil. The shea butter and coconut oil act as moisturizers and they nourish the skin. The coconut oil and tea tree essential oil are also antibacterial and fight the infections that make eczema outbreaks more painful. Tea tree oil is also a very safe essential oil. It can be used directly on the skin, without dilutions and is safe for children. I made the eczema salve for the family and got a heartfelt thank you from the little girl because it helped so much. For everyone interested in the salve recipe, I’ve posted it below. I don’t know if the family switched soaps yet. They had used natural soaps in the past but stopped when the local soapmaker they bought from closed the business. Get More Help Managing Your Eczema If you want more information about eczema, visit the National Eczema Associations website. Also, as luck would have it, Grandma’s Lye Soap contacted us recently because they also want to help children with eczema by sharing their soap with those who may need it but might not have access. Through the month of May they will gladly send any family who is unemployed and has a child suffering from eczema a full size bar of Grandma’s Lye Soap at no charge. Grandma’s knows how miserable eczema can be for little ones and they don’t want any child to suffer. Contact Grandma’s by email at puresoap@remwood.com to...

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Homemade Rhassoul Clay Face Mask Recipe

Posted by on Apr 7, 2014 in Skin & Hair Care | 7 comments

Homemade Rhassoul Clay Face Mask Recipe

Rhassoul clay is unique because it’s rich in magnesium, silica, potassium and calcium. The magic of rhassoul clay is that it exchanges its minerals with the toxins in your skin to clarify and condition it, so it’s both a cleanser and rejuvenator. Here’s a rhassoul clay face mask to rejuvenate, soothe and tone your skin.

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An Eco-Friendly Men’s Shaving Routine (No Beard Required)

Posted by on Mar 17, 2014 in Skin & Hair Care | 2 comments

An Eco-Friendly Men’s Shaving Routine (No Beard Required)

For years, I talked about wanting to change my shaving habits because I was tired of paying almost $4 per cartridge for the Mach insert-some-absurd-number-here refills. On top of that, I spoiled myself by buying shaving gel instead of shaving cream, which worked so much better for me that I couldn’t go back. But a can of men’s shaving gel was three times more expensive than the shaving cream and only lasted half as long. I needed to make a change, and although it was cost that got me motivated it was a very green thing to do too. Shaving Razors: Cut-Throat Straight vs Double-Edge Safety Cheap disposable razors are so uncomfortable that I think it would be less painful to pull out each hair individually with tweezers. Electric shavers are less painful but, over the years, I’ve come to enjoy the close shave that comes with blades. Plus, I didn’t want to invest almost $100 in an electric model to find out that I didn’t like it. I first looked into the cut-throat straight razor. This is just cool. It really can’t get any more badass than wielding a deadly weapon near one’s jugular. Plus, it gives the closest shave and it’s an environmentally friendly option since a high quality razor can last a lifetime.  I could say good-bye to wasteful disposable cartridges and their plastic packaging. After doing some research, I decided that the up-front cost was worth the savings in the long run. When I finally set out to buy my own straight razor the sales associate at the shaving store convinced me that it wasn’t such a great idea. He informed me that, even after I actually got the hang of it, I would need about 45 minutes each time I shaved. Face-prep with a hot towel and  pre-shave lotion, surgically slow strokes, and lathering up between each of the multiple passes are requirements for each shave. While this approach works for some people, I’m not a morning person. To wake up that much earlier and wield a deadly weapon didn’t sound like a great idea to me. The sales associate suggested that I go for a double-edge safety razor instead. It gets almost as close as a straight razors but without the risk of severing any arteries and at less than half  the cost of a quality cut-throat. While the routine for a safety razor is similar to the cut-throat, the shaving strokes can be much faster and longer, making the actual shaving time a fraction of what it is with a straight razor. This option also provides environmental advantages. Replacement blades are needed for a safety razor, but it’s possible to recycle used blades. The packaging is substantially smaller than traditional cartridges, and the blades can cost just pennies a piece when purchased in bulk. For me, they also last longer than the thin multi-blade cartridges. A Better Lather: Use A Shaving Brush And Shaving Soap The last piece to the puzzle was the lather, which I actually figured out before I switched to the safety razor. Once again the key was to go back to the old ways. A simple shaving brush and shaving soap work wonders when used correctly. Shaving cream, gel or the brush/bar all serve the same purpose: they act as slick. The point...

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Product Review: Waring Pro Vacuum Sealer

Posted by on Mar 5, 2014 in Food & Recipes, For Your Home | 5 comments

Product Review: Waring Pro Vacuum Sealer

Long, cold, snowy winters like this are often followed by the best fruit and vegetable seasons. Last year was my second year with a CSA share and buying produce in bulk for canning. Taking my learnings from the year before, I did a much better job of storing the extra food. Two years ago, berries I didn’t can were frozen for baking or smoothies, while the excess of vegetables were mostly frozen to cook with later in the year. I froze everything the cheap way, by putting the food in freezer safe bags or containers, packing them tightly and removing air to prevent freezer burn. This worked well until I opened the bag or container, removed the first portion and closed it back up. Then I would do it again and again. Each time more air would get in and ice would eventually build up in the container. I knew I needed a vacuum packer so, last year, I went shopping. I’ve been a fan of Waring Pro since I bought their immersion blender a few years ago. Frustrated with all the bad online reviews for immersion blenders (most are said to be cheap and break quickly) I searched for a company that makes kitchen products in the U.S., assuming they would be a better quality. That’s how I discovered Waring Pro. I’ve been very happy with the immersion blender, which is used constantly and works perfectly. So buying a Waring Pro Professional Vacuum Sealer was a no-brainer. Waring Pro Vacuum Sealer Review The price of the vacuum sealer ($66.99 on Amazon) is comparable to other vacuum sealers but this one comes with some major advantages: It’s a professional model so it will withstand frequent, consistent use. It’s a pistol, which takes up less counter space than the more common countertop sealing systems. The bags are BPA free. The bags are reusable so you can open a bag, use a portion and reseal it. This is the best part because I don’t have to waste time sealing individual portions or be wasteful throwing away single use bags. After my first year using the product, I’ve been thrilled with it. Tips For Freezing Food The taste of food that was frozen properly at peak flavor offers a little taste of summer in the dead of winter. Here are some tips for making the best quality frozen food with your vacuum sealer: Fruits and vegetables should be ripe. Food should be washed and dried. When freezing soup or other liquids, stand the bag up while sealing and store on a paper plate in the freezer in case there is a leak. For soft food, like raspberries, freeze them on a cookie sheet first so they don’t squish when you vacuum pack them. When you’re using a portion of the food, immediately reseal and place the bag back in the freezer. Eating locally is rewarding, but it can be challenging. We hope this review and these freezing tips will help you get the most out of your garden, CSA share and farmer’s market this year. Grandma’s Lye Soap Giveaway Winner & Coupon Congratulations the winner of our Grandma’s Lye Soap Giveaway, Rebecca E. Remwood Products is also offering all of our readers a coupon, good until 03/31/2014. When you buy any 2 bars of soap you can get 1 free with the...

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Choosing Energy Efficient Light Bulbs

Posted by on Feb 28, 2014 in For Your Home | 1 comment

Choosing Energy Efficient Light Bulbs

Shopping for light bulbs used to be simple, you just needed to know how many watts. Today, there’s a whole new lexicon to be learned for energy efficient light bulbs. The first time I faced this new lingo I ended up making an uninformed – and bad – choice. I bought a CFL daylight bulb for my bathroom. It looked awful and I later learned that a CFL is not a good choice for humid areas. Ugh. At the time, I didn’t have a solid understanding of the difference between halogen incandescent, CFL and LED bulbs or what lumens and kelvins meant. So I did my homework. If you too need help deciphering the new language of light bulbs, this post should help. Why the change? Traditional incandescent light bulbs were very energy inefficient. They lost 90% of their energy to heat and accounted for about 20% of most homes’ energy consumption. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 set new standards for light bulbs with the goal of increasing energy efficiency 25-30% . Consumers started seeing the impact of the bill in 2012 when all 100-watt bulbs being produced had to meet the new standards. In 2013, the 75-watt phase-out began. Then, in 2014, 40- and 60-watt bulbs had to meet new requirements. If you didn’t feel the impact of the changes until this year, you’re not alone. 40- and 60-watt bulbs are the most popular types. 3 Types of Bulbs Currently, there are 3 types of bulbs on store shelves that are more energy efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs. From least energy efficient to most efficient and from shortest life span to longest, they are: halogen incandescent, CFL and LED. Halogen Incandescent Bulbs Traditional incandescent bulbs did not meet the new energy efficiency standards but they’ve evolved into halogen incandescents which are 28% more efficient than traditional bulbs. These bulbs emit the same type of light and have about the same lifespan as as traditional incandescent bulbs. While they are more energy efficient than traditional bulbs, they are not as efficient as CFLs and LEDs. CFLs CFLs are the middle ground in terms of energy efficiency and they have a lot of quirks. CFLs often have two telltale signs: a spiral bulb and a a short lag between the time you flip the switch and when the light comes on since the bulbs take time to warm up to full brightness. Recently, manufacturers have begun covering those spirals to make the bulbs look more like traditional bulbs which many of us find more aesthetically pleasing. The downside to covering a CFL for aesthetics is that it can take even longer to achieve its full brightness. Matching an energy efficient bulb to the socket and the environment is essential for getting the longest lifespan out of the bulb. CFLs are best for indoor lights that you tend to keep on for 15 minutes or more since turning them on and off constantly can shorten their lifespan. Only some CFLs are appropriate for outdoor use and only some timers and motion sensors work with CFLs. Bulbs specifically designed for 3-way lamps and lights on dimmer switches should be used when appropriate. It’s best not to use CFLs in a bathroom unless the humidity can be controlled. Energy Star recommends running a ventilating fan during and for...

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