Thursday, July 9, 2015

Use Glass, Not Plastic

Some of the non-plastic ware we use.
I'm still in the process of not using plastic for food storage in my house.  I have a case of plastic water bottles in my basement pantry for emergency use, plastic sandwich containers, and saved take-out, peanut butter jars, and other random plastic food containers.  However, most of the time, leftover food goes into glass containers that I have collected.

There have been too many news stories about chemicals leeching into food from heated plastic for me to still be comfortable with using those containers on a regular basis.  And like anything with a coating, once it gets scratched or damaged, even MORE of the questionable chemicals can get into your food, which is why hot leftovers go into glassware.

Buying a set of glass containers can run you $15-20, easily and if you have kids taking their lunches to school, you definitely don't want those containers being tossed into the garbage by accident.  Even the most responsible kids mess up and throw away things they shouldn't (retainers, anyone?).  My youngest still uses the plastic for lunches, but she's bringing sandwiches and other "cold" items.

Mason jars work great for storing leftovers in the fridge.  Old pickle jars are good for large soup quantities.  If you freeze them, make sure there is plenty of headspace because cleaning out shards of glass and semi-frozen soup out of your freezer does not make for a good time.

When I buy food in plastic containers (which does happen), I try reusing those containers.  Large peanut butter jars have housed cookies for people at Christmas.  Smaller, tallish, plastic containers hold my paintbrushes, buttons, and other crafty items.   Instead of buying brand new containers for loose rice, pastas, lentils, and legumes, I keep those in labeled reused plastic containers.

side note:  This is called REUSING, not RECYCLING.  Big pet peeve is people saying they "recycled" something like a spaghetti sauce jar into a button container.  That is REUSING. 

I know I've left out so many more re-uses of items and so many more options for inexpensive glass containers.  Let me know yours in the comments, I'd love to know.

Monday, July 6, 2015

I Hate Air Conditioning

The couch is a bit higher than the window, so I added a book to lift the fan.
Temperatures are set to be in the upper 80s today, with heat indexes in the 90s, before dropping into the 70s for the rest of the week and I won't be turning on my air-conditioning.  People who have never visited Wisconsin in the summer, seem to think it doesn't get hot here.  Wrong.  90s and humid is not unusual in the summer.  And I work outside where it's hot.  And muggy. 

Maybe it's because I lived outside of DC until 4th grade, in a house with no air-conditioning where heat waves in the 100s were not unusual.  I remember my southern mother scoffing at the fact our next house in Wisconsin had central air and neighbors were using it when it was 78 degrees outside.  She did not think much of people using the air conditioning unless the temps were near 90F or they had babies or elderly people in their homes.

I do remember that I could always handle more heat an humidity than most people.  Apparently, if you rarely use AC, your body becomes more efficient at cooling itself and less affected by higher temps.  Doing what your body is designed to do. 

I open all the windows and doors early in the morning and add fans.  Opening the windows on the second floor allows the heat to escape and cooler air sweeps in.  As the temps outside creep higher than those inside, I shut windows and drapes.   I don't bake or cook during the day.  A quick sponge bath or shower in the middle of the afternoon goes a long way to comfort on extremely hot days.

We cook outdoors on hot days on the grill or the grill's burner to not heat up the kitchen.  Meals are much lighter and more vegetable based, as well.  No one wants a heavy meal when it's hot.  We up our intake of water.  We slow down.  

In the evening, windows are opened and a fan upstairs blows hot air out a window so that cool air gets sucked in, cooling down the house.  A quick shower before bed makes sleeping comfortable-especially under a ceiling fan (we have them in all of our rooms and the kitchen.

In late August, if we get a heat wave, I will sometimes turn on the AC at night ONLY because I suffer from ragweed allergies and would prefer to sleep through the night and not be up sneezing all night. 

We also have an unfinished basement that the kids will hang out in on hot days, playing board games, video games, or watching TV. 

If we could all just get past the need to have a perfectly controlled climate at all time, our budgets and bodies would be healthier. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Peas and Beans

I started picking peas a few weeks ago.  Because I planted new ones for 3 weeks, I'm still harvesting peas, but half of the vines are yellowing, so that season is about over.  Luckily, the green beans have started to really come in.  Tomorrow, I should be able to blanch and freeze some.

But tonight, tonight I will toss peas into pasta, eat slices of baguette with pesto, and dig into some buttered steamed beans. Love the first harvests.