I’m relaxing with family and friends, and I hope you are too.
Enjoy the holidays!
I’m relaxing with family and friends, and I hope you are too.
Enjoy the holidays!
Black Bean / Red Bean Chili
2 TBS olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
a dash of chili powder
a dash of cumin
28 oz. crushed tomato
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 TBS honey or maple syrup
1 1/2 cups water
14 oz can hominy, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup corn
1. Saute veggies. Add spices, tomatoes, beans, honey, water. Bring to boil. Reduce to low. Cook 45 minutes.
2. Garnish with corn and eat.
I haven’t tried this one, but it looks delicious. I think this will be a winter break meal for sure!
Here’s a fun project for the holiday break. Build a sustainable gingerbread house.
It’s a contest hosted by Bake for a Change (Terry*), and it’s all in fun. The idea is to build a gingerbread house that includes a door and at least two windows. Then comes the sustainability part… add at least 4 sustainability elements to the house. They could be chocolate solar panels, a candy cane windmill in the yard, etc.
Imagine the possibilities…
2 TBS vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced
1 can navy beans, rinsed
1 can black beans, rinsed
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, or water
1 can Great Northern beans, rinsed
1. Heat oil in a large pot and saute the onion 2-3 minutes, or until soft. Add navy beans, black beans, and garlic. Continue stirring 8-10 minutes. Stir in 1 cup broth.
2. Meanwhile, blend Great Northern beans and remaining 1 cup broth in a food processor or blender. Pour puree into soup. Thin with more broth or water, if necessary.
-Vegetarian Times, Nov./Dec. 2005
What makes them vegan? They use applesauce instead of eggs. Pretty simple.
1 3/4 cup flour (always get unbleached flour)
2 tsp baking powder
1 TBS sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup applesauce
1 3/4 cup milk (soymilk, silknog, whatever)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1. Mix dry ingredients.
2. Combine applesauce and milk. Stir into dry mix. Stir in oil. Pour into wafflemaker. You know what to do from here.
-adapted recipe from internet
Recycline was created to effectively recycle plastic products into reusable goods that are recyclable themselves. You can buy a Preserve toothbrush, use it, and return it to Recycline to be recycled again. They began with toothbrushes, and have expanded into kitchenware. The prices are the same you would find for other products, but the high-quality and ability to recycle provides an added benefit to the consumer and the planet. All Recycline products are made in the USA.
You can find Recycline/Preserve products at Whole Foods, Wild Oats, Trader Joe’s, and online.
An Australian designer has created stairs that double as drawers. That’s 2 in 1 function, and an excellent way to save space in a small home or apartment. For safety, they should have a springback system, or some way to make sure the drawer stays closed when not in use.
It’s always a great idea to utilize all possible space for the most efficiency. Here are the design plans for this staircase storage.
Check out Planet Green.com, and coming soon, the Planet Green Channel, part of the Discovery Channel.
Scrapile is a small business in New York City, and they’re an example of “entrepreneurs for sustainability.” From their site:
SCRAPILE is the collaborative work of designers Bart Bettencourt and Carlos Salgado. Seeking to create a positive environmental impact with their work, these two have developed a unique method of collecting and repurposing discarded scraps of wood from New York’s woodworking industry. Since it’s conception in Fall 2003, this project has continued to yield an ever-evolving line of furniture and product which by its very nature insists each piece be one of a kind.
They collect wood scraps and refurnish them into beautiful pieces of furniture. Each piece has character and quality.
Check out videos of Scrapile and other sustainable furnishings at Sundance Channel – The Green: Furnish.
2 cups tomato sauce
precooked polenta (in a tube), cut into 16 slices
1/2 cup cottage cheese
2 TBSP pesto
1. Assemble the lasagna. Preheat oven to 375F. Oil a 9-inch square baking dish. In a small bowl, stir together the cottage cheese and pesto. Season to taste with salt and pepper (or none). Layer the polenta slices and pesto mixture in the baking dish (the polenta pieces are kind of laying on each other like dominoes). Top with the remaining tomato sauce and mozzarella.
2. Bake the lasagna. Bake until cheese is melted and the lasagna is heated through, about 20 minutes. Serve hot.
This dish can be preheated, because it doesn’t take much time to assemble. I’ve read lately that there is no need to preheat the oven. You can just turn it on so it will be the right temperature, but don’t preheat for the entire time it takes to prepare a meal.
In the spring and summer, use fresh basil, pinenuts, garlic, and parmesean cheese to make fresh pesto. You can’t beat it!
Did you know that your water heater tank uses at least 15% of your home’s energy? That’s because the water is heated throughout the day and night, whether you’re using the water or not.
Hot water is probably essential for 2 hours in the morning, and 4 hours in the evening. Not 24 hours a day. And, with a tank, it is possible to run out of hot water if you have a lot of guests.
There are many options for reducing the energy needed to provide your home with hot water, and make your system more efficient, while providing all the hot water you need. If your water tank is more than 12 years old, you may consider replacing it with a new tank, or look into some of this new technology. (You can tell the year by looking at the last 2 digits of the serial #)
This is the conventional method. Most homes have a water tank. This is the least efficient and practical way to store/generate hot water. The hot water tank requires the water to be constantly heated and stored, whether used or not. Newer models are slightly better at holding heat. If you have a storage tank, consider using low-flow faucets and showers to conserve your water, and wrap your tank and pipes in insulation to preserve as much of the heat as possible.
Demand or Instantaneous Water Heater
Water is heated on demand, reducing the need for a tank, and reducing energy consumption by 20-30%. This system is ideal for a natural gas-heated system. Choose one with an electronic ignition, so you don’t need a continuously burning gas pilot light. Home Depot has these starting at $600. That’s a little pricey, but the savings will add up and it will pay for itself over time.
Heat-pump Water Heater
Uses the surrounding air to heat the water. It offers savings of up to $200 per year, but with a high initial cost. This system has the added benefit of dehumidifying humid areas, and keeping the air cool, because it is consuming warm air.
Check out Flex Your Power for more options, including a Solar Water Heater, and tips about choosing an energy-efficient water heater.
Several cities in Ohio, including Akron, have found a more natural solution to icy roads: beet juice. Summit County will begin de-icing roads using a beet juice-brine concoction. It doesn’t corrode the streets, and won’t cause the same damage that calcium-chloride causes. The beet mixture is more economical than the calcium-chloride alone because it only requires one application, not three. We may also see less rust on cars.
Beet juice can also be added to calcium-chloride to increase the effectiveness of calcium-chloride. The beet de-icer, called Geomelt, has been used in several Midwest states, saving money and providing a “green” solution. Columbus is trying it too.
Don’t worry about the animals … the sugar has been extracted from the beet juice, so it won’t attract animals. Maybe this winter my dog won’t get so many hot spots! Last winter was rough on her feet because of all the chemicals dumped on the roads. I hope this will be better for the environment, our roads, and our cars (this beet juice doesn’t stain). Amazing things can be achieved by looking to nature for solutions.