Inspiring DIY projects, beauty recipes and advice to green your daily routine.

Posts by Kim

CSA Adventures: Tomato Recipes and Canning Tips

Posted by on Aug 27, 2014 in Lifestyle | 0 comments

CSA Adventures: Tomato Recipes and Canning Tips

Game over, grocery store tomatoes. We’ll see you in the fall. Local tomatoes are in season and there’s nothing like them. This year, my CSA delivered heirloom tomatoes in more colors than a pack of Crayolas and all sizes. Some were perfect for popping like candy and others for sandwiches and cooking. One of the best thing about tomatoes is you don’t need to do much to make a great tasting dish. Some great tomato recipes are: Classic BLT – Between my meat and vegetable CSAs, I had the B, the L and the T covered. I just needed to buy bread. While it’s certainly not local to New Hampshire, you can’t go wrong by adding avocado. Bruschetta – The tomatoes are the star in this appetizer or side dish. And it’s so simple to make, especially if you skip peeling the tomatoes like I do. I also added a little bit of mozzarella to the bruschetta. Ratatouille – One of our readers commented on our eggplant post and suggested making ratatouille, which I did the other night. It was a great way to use the wide range of seasonal veggies I had in the fridge after a late night at work when I all I wanted something simple, light and healthy before bed. Tomatoes and Hummus – Cherry tomatoes dipped in red pepper hummus have become a staple in my lunches this summer. I usually bring cucumbers or carrots too for variety. In addition to the CSA tomatoes, I bought a half bushel (about 26 pounds) of tomatoes from a local farm for canning. Since we go through a jar of salsa nearly every week at my house, this year, I wanted to make my own. I also liked the idea of making salsa because I wouldn’t need to peel every tomato. Last year, when I got a half bushel of peaches, I experienced how tedious it was to peel every single one and did not want to do that with tomatoes. (That said, the canned peaches were delicious and I will be making them again this week.) With the tomatoes, I made two types of salsa: Ball’s zesty salsa and fresh salsa. I still had quite a few tomatoes left and probably could have made another batch, but I didn’t feel like chopping anymore. So we’re eating them … after a week, we still have a handful left but I’m not complaining. If you want to can tomatoes, there are some things to consider: Get a recipe from a  trusted source and follow it. Tomatoes are lower in acid than many fruits that are typically canned. That means that preserving tomatoes safely requires adding the right amount of acid (often in the form of lemon juice or vinegar) to the right amount of tomatoes and other foods in recipe. Buy canning tomatoes in bulk. Many farms sell canning tomatoes – ones with few seeds – in large quantities. And it pays to buy in bulk. The half bushel I bought was only $15, but the individual tomatoes were $2.50 per pound. It’ll...

Read More

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...

Read More

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....

Read More

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...

Read More

Using the Whole Chicken: Chicken Broth Recipe

Posted by on Feb 13, 2014 in Food & Recipes | 2 comments

Using the Whole Chicken: Chicken Broth Recipe

Although I’ve primarily bought locally grown fruits and vegetables for the last few years, until recently I wasn’t buying local meat on a regular basis. That changed this winter when a local farm offering a meat CSA began distributing in my town. I’m about 4 months into the meat CSA and it’s been a great experience. I eat a much wider variety of meat products and the food simply tastes better. It also feels good to know my food dollars are supporting a local farm. Speaking of dollars, it’s a bit pricey to buy locally and sustainably raised meat so I’ve changed some of my habits to get every bit of value out of the CSA. To make the most of the two broiler chickens I get every month I’ve started making broth from the bones and leftover chicken bits. Making broth is simple and with a slow cooker it requires very little effort. Just pile the chicken bones into the slow cooker, add vegetables and seasoning, and cover everything with water. Cook the mixture on low overnight and strain it in the morning. Then refrigerate the broth for about eight hours to allow the animal fat to rise to the top. Skim off the fat before cooking with or freezing the broth. There are several different ways you can make the broth. You can use cooked bones, raw bones or a mix. Typically, I used all cooked bones. If your chicken comes with the organs, you can also add those to the broth. (Mine doesn’t so I’ve never done this.) Here are a few tips for making your broth: Flavor the chicken broth with any vegetables or herbs you like, keeping in mind what you’ll be using the broth for. I tend to freeze all of the broth so I go light on the herbs and then season it when I’m using it to cook. The vegetables and herbs that tend to go well with stock are the ones you typically find in soup: celery, carrots, onion, pepper, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, and garlic, for example. Instead of cutting up fresh vegetables for the soup, consider saving and freezing vegetable “leftovers”. Save the ends of carrots, celery and onions, as well as the centers of tomatoes, and other vegetable leftovers in a bag in the freezer. You can even save the onion skins to give the broth a nice caramel color. When it’s time to make the stock, add a few handfuls of vegetables to the crock-pot. Doing this saves time and money because you’re not buying or cutting up new vegetables. The amount of water you use will play a role in the stock’s consistency. If the final product is too thick (more like stock), you can add water. If you’re freezing the broth, you may like to save space by freezing it in the thicker form and then adding water when you’re ready to use it.   Like this post? Subscribe to our email list, like...

Read More

Product of the Month: Bamboo Spoons

Posted by on Jan 6, 2014 in For Beginners, Skin & Hair Care | 0 comments

Product of the Month: Bamboo Spoons

When going green, keeping things clean becomes a priority because your products are often made without preservatives or you’re using reusable, non-plastic containers that may not function likes ones you’ve used in the past. Being careful to not introduce impurities into your products will extend their life and keep those impurities out of your system as well. These bamboo spoons are the perfect accessory for green products in the kitchen and bathroom. Bamboo has natural antibacterial properties and is water resistant, which makes bamboo spoons a great companion for salt and sugar scrubs or lotions. They are also perfectly sized for dipping into spice jars or salt or sugar bowls, and they’re nice enough to be used when serving guests. You heard it here first – bamboo spoons are the must-have accessory for the eco-chic in 2014. What will you use your for? Like this post? Subscribe to our email list, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Pinterest for more green living...

Read More

Homemade Gifts With A Green Twist

Posted by on Dec 9, 2013 in Lifestyle | 0 comments

Homemade Gifts With A Green Twist

Looking to give DIY or homemade gifts this holiday season? Here are some ideas to get your creativity flowing. Luxurious Lotions, Balms & Scrubs Treat your friends and family to these luxurious lotions, balms and scrubs. The natural recipes will also lighten their environmental footprint. Make a coconut mango body butter with a mix of seasonal scents and warming oils that are perfect this time of year. Gift a dead sea salt hand & foot scrub to exfoliate and moisturize those areas that are often most affected by the dry air. Give lip balm  and get creative with the flavors. Add peppermint oil for a seasonal twist or mix raspberry oil and vanilla to make a sweet raspberry cheesecake balm. The possibilities are endless! Make a colloidal oatmeal sugar scrub that exfoliates skin and is gentle enough to be used as a face scrub too. Give the gift of relaxation with homemade bath salts. It’s as simple as mixing 6 parts course sea salt, 3 parts Epsom salt, and 1 part baking soda plus a few drops of essential oil. Mix up some seasonal homemade foaming hand soap. It’s so easy. Just combine distilled water, castile soap and essential oils. Give the gift in the foaming hand soap dispenser that best matches your friend’s style. (The soap dispenser is one of our and our readers’ favorites. We both have one at home and it’s one of the most popular items in our store.) Tasty Treats Infused oils make a lovely gift. Epicurious has a great guide to infusing oils with spices, herbs, aromatics and more. Fruit’s out of season in many areas, but that shouldn’t stop you from making jam or spiced apple rings. Many local farms store and sell apples through the winter and frozen berries can be used to make jam (once thawed, of course). Some of our favorite recipes are spiced apples, blueberry jam (traditional or with vanilla) and strawberry jam. Making homemade vanilla extract takes 30 days, so it won’t be done by Christmas. But many of us celebrate in the new year, catching up with family and friends after the busiest days of winter are behind us. If that sounds like you and your friends have an affinity for baking, homemade vanilla extract makes a great gift. Make a traditional vodka extract or liven it up with spiced rum or your friend’s favorite adult beverage. If you’re crunched for time, check some green gifts you can buy instead. Like this post? Subscribe to our email list, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Pinterest for more green living...

Read More

Green Gift Ideas

Posted by on Nov 27, 2013 in Lifestyle | 0 comments

Green Gift Ideas

Looking for great gifts to give this season? These green gift ideas could be the answer. Green Beauty Give the gift of green beauty with e.l.f.’s mineral makeup gift sets. Both the standard and deluxe sets come with a mix of mineral makeup products and a makeup remover for your eco chic friends. The sets are neutral toned so you may want to add a pop of color with a fun shade of eyeshadow. Or make up your own makeup set by mixing and matching from e.l.f.’s mineral makeup line and adding some reusable makeup brushes and brush guards. Eco Fashion I came across this “scoodie” (scarf + hoodie) on Pinterest and loved the style. Then, I found out it’s made in California by a company with a conscious. Stolen Sunday’s fabrics are produced in Los Angeles and sewn into garments in  San Francisco. The company makes a variety of infinity scarfs too. Zoya Nail Polish Zoya nail polish, best known as a professional nail polish used in high-end spas and salons, is also made using an eco-friendly, vegan formula that is free of toluene, formaldehyde, DBP (phthalates) and camphor. And with over 300 colors to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect color for everyone on your list. Use this link to sign up for an account with Zoya and a coupon for a free bottle of nail polish will be added in your account. When you use the coupon and add 2 more polishes to your order, you’ll get free shipping too! To use the coupon click the My Account link at the top of the page, then click the My Promotion Codes link. From there you can apply the coupon to your cart. New Homeowner If you know a homeowner who gets home early some nights and stays out late others or travels frequently, they’ll appreciate the Nest Learning Thermostat. Nest allows the owner to monitor and adjust the temperature setting from their phone or computer so they can save energy – and money on their bills – anywhere they are. It’s a bit pricier than other thermostats, but our friends who have one say it’s worth every penny. Kids Need something for the kids? Last year, we listed Green Toys on our holiday gift list and got great feedback from the parents who bought them. In fact, one of our friends started a trend in her social circle. She was giving them as gifts to her daughter’s friends and other parents took an interest in the toys. Green Toys quickly became the “must have” and “must give” toys among that group. Each toy is made of used milk cartons in the U.S. which eliminates emissions that would normally result from shipping the products from overseas. Plus, the minimal packaging is 100% recyclable. You’ll find everything from tea sets to dump trucks in Green Toys’ product line. Reusable Shopping Bags If you know someone who always forgets their reusable shopping bags in the car or at home, flip & tumble’s 24-7 bags make the perfect gift. These are your average sized reusable bag, but they fold into a...

Read More

Pin It on Pinterest