Posts Tagged ‘trash’

On Friday I made a cake and two pies for A’s and P’s birthday. The cake is a Thunder Cake, adapted from the children’s book Thunder Cake, by Patricia Polacco. When B was little, we read the book and tried out the recipe.  I’m not a very good cake baker, and this one is exceptional, so it is now the only allowed birthday cake in our house.

I tinkered with the recipe slightly.  I cook it in 9-inch pans, and I fold in the egg whites as the last step. Chocolate butter icing from the Joy of Cooking is good with this (p. 678).

I think I’ll spare you the picture of the peach pie.  I cheated with boxed pie crust, but let me just say that a bit of lemon zest in the pie filling, along with some applesauce for its pectin, is dee-licious.

But dang, my hand mixer started smelling strongly of burning wires while I was beating the egg whites.  I had to finish, of course, and so the mixer got rather hot in my hand.  It’s dead now.  I find this enormously annoying for a variety of reasons:

  • It was only about five years old.  I bought my previous mixer at Sears in 1976 for $7.99 and got a good 29 years out of it.
  • It was cute, small, easy to use, and had a little storage container to hold the mixer and the beaters.
  • (The worst thing) I have to throw this useless hunk of plastic and metal away.  In the trash, not even the recycling.

Phooey.  Good cake, though.

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Surprisingly, I haven’t been buying much at the grocery store.  Maybe that’s just because sometimes I feel I have to stock up, even when we have plenty of food.

I tend to look at the trash we generate, without necessarily looking at what I bring into the house.   A couple of days ago I brought in:

  • Two plastic trays of fresh sushi.  This was an impulse purchase.  My sister Priscilla will re-use the trays to put under her orchids, but that’s not a long-term solution.  I love that take-out sushi, but I think it generates too much plastic.
  • A head of lettuce, wrapped with a big twisty tie.  I don’t take a plastic bag for lettuce when I’m in the store, and I’m not sure why it’s necessary.  Mine doesn’t seem to dry out in the fridge.
  • A bag of Wakarusa Valley salad mix.  This stuff is great, and it’s local, but it does bring in a plastic bag.
  • A pint carton of half and half.  The container has a cardboard-like appearance, but I think it’s coated in plastic.
  • A box of Drumsticks.  Cardboard box, plasticky packaging on each Drumstick.  I know nothing about the biodegradability of this flimsy plastic stuff.  You don’t see it around in the way that you see the ubiquitous shopping bag.
  • Two lemons.  Packaging free!
  • One avocado.  Ditto!
  • Spaghetti noodles, in cellophane, much like the Drumstick packaging.  I need more information about this.
  • Cat litter.  Now, this is a real problem.  Regular cat litter may seem to be biodegradable, but it apparently is a big resource hog to mine and manufacture.  Then it often comes with fragrance and whatever other chemical doodah they feel is necessary.  Many kinds are purchasable in a plastic jug.  The kind I got is made from corn and seems to be harmless.  We’ll see what the cat thinks.  But it comes in a big plastic ziplock bag.  And then, what the heck do we do with it after the cat is done with it?  We have 79 acres, and so we could dump it out somewhere on the property, but I wonder if that would come back to haunt us.

    The neighbor dogs have been hanging around here for a couple of days, spending the night on our porch, going for walks with us, and generally acting as though they live here.  Thus, the cat is afraid to go outside, leading to increased litter box use.

How is it that I always get so far afield from the beginning of a blog post?  Back to the shopping trip—too much of what I brought home is overpackaged, or unsustainably packaged.  How do we change this, in addition to simply paying attention?

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Throwing things away

I’m lazy. Willie had brought home a big box full of leftover Wheatfields pasty items after he worked on Saturday. He worked at Wheatfields from January to August, and although he loves the stuff, he’s also sick of it. So he didn’t eat any. I’m not sick of it, so I ate my share, and Rick ate some too. But here it is Tuesday, and the remainder is bricklike and unattractive.

I picked up the cardboard box to toss it out. It contained crumbs, a partial scone, and part of another unknown pastry item, maybe an apple thing. I thought “I’m just going to throw this whole thing away. The heck with recycling and being conscious of the environment.”

Then I got it out to the garage. I could perfectly easily put the leftover food bits in the compost instead of in the trash barrel. And if I did that, the box could just as easily go in the cardboard recycling. So that’s what I did – pastry in the compost, box in the recycling.

This time I did the right thing (although more later on the recycling business), but many times I have just consigned things to the landfill when with a few minutes thought I could at least make a more conscious choice in how I dispose of my detritus (=junk).

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  • The turkey came from a nearby farm, in a plastic bag. Coulda been worse.
  • The green beans came in a plastic bag from the grocery store, which wasn’t reusable.
  • The potatoes came in a plastic bag with holes in it, which wasn’t reusable. I should have bought them in bulk and bagged them myself in cloth.
  • Priscilla made the bread. We put the leftovers in a plastic bag. I can reuse that one. Typically I get 3-5 uses out of a bread bag.
  • Gravy – no plastic involved. And by the way, putting a layer of carrots, onions, and celery under the turkey makes a wonderful base for gravy. I’d never done that before.
  • I have to confess to making stuffing from a bag. I wonder if those cellophane-ish bags are biodegradable. I used sage I got out of the garden.
  • The pecans for the pie came in a plastic bag. The chocolate for the pie was wrapped in paper, as were the flour and butter.
  • We put all the leftovers in plastic containers. I have reused those about a million times.

All told, not too bad, and no worse than a typical day.

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