Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Go Green - Finances, dining out and misc

Want to be greener with your money, dining and other areas? Here is a list of things you can do to lessen your impact. These are all things we do in The Good Household, so take that endorsement for what you will.

~Pay with your debit or credit card

~Buy checks made from recycled paper

~Don’t take a receipt at the ATM or at the gas pump

~Have your bank statements emailed to you

~Pay your bills online

~Shred your past bills and use them in your compost pile or

~Recycle your paper and junk mail

~Sign up to receive less junk mail:

~Read the newspaper online

~Save information to your computer or a flash drive instead of printing hard copies

~When you do have to print, change the margins and font to use less paper

~Use email instead of regular mail

~Send digital photos to your friends and family

~Recycle ink cartridges at places like Office Max, Office Depot or Staples

~Use to send invitations to parties and gatherings

~Send virtual cards and greetings

~Bike, carpool or take public transportation to work

~Telecommute to work one day a week

Dining Out
~Bring your own container for leftovers

~Bring your own coffee mug to your local coffee shop

Coming next week: Go Green - Cleaning

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Go Green - Personal and laundry

This is the list of little things we do in The Good Household to lessen our impact on the earth.

~Use a clothesline or air dry your clothes

~Use a dryer ball instead of fabric softener or sheets (dryer sheets contain animal fat, which can leave deposits inside your dryer)

~Wash your clothes in cold water

~Use baking soda and vinegar to wash your hair

~Use baking soda and water to brush your teeth

~Switch to a crystal deodorant

~Cloth diaper

~Use non disposable razors

~Cut your hair at home. The Good Husband keeps his hair buzzed so this is no problem for me to cut his hair.

~Shop at second hand and consignment shops for used clothing

~Shop garage and yard sales for used goods. I was able to get a ton of almost brand new clothes for The Good Baby by shopping yard sales.

~Switch to environmentally friendly personal products, like the Diva Cup:

~Buy toilet paper made from recycled paper

~Use a better toothbrush, like the replaceable head Source toothbrush:

Coming next week - Go Green - Finances, Dining Out and Misc

Roasted Asparagus with Poached Egg and Balsamic Reduction

For the asparagus I recieved in my CSA box, I was torn between this recipe and beer battered asparagus. This won out (I don't want to get The Good Baby drunk, you know) and I will say that it was mighty tasty.

I have never made poached eggs before and honestly I was a little intimated by them. But after following the directions in the recipe to a tee and double checking with my Joy of Cooking, I was able to produce two decent poached eggs. One egg was a little more done than I would have liked but the other one was near perfection.

Everything in this meal, from the balasmic reduction to the Parmesan cheese was simple and perfect. All around a nice dinner.

1 medium thick asparagus bunch, tough ends removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse salt
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon light-brown sugar
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
4 large eggs
2 ounces shaved parmesan

~Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a baking sheet with a rim, toss asparagus with oil. Season with salt. Bake until asparagus is lightly browned and tender, 15 to 18 minutes (timing will vary depending upon thickness of asparagus).

~In a small saucepan, cook balsamic vinegar and sugar over medium-high heat until syrupy and reduced to 3 tablespoons, about 6 minutes.

~Meanwhile, bring a large skillet with 2 inches of water to a simmer over medium heat. Add cider vinegar and season with salt. Break one egg at a time into a cup, then tip cup into pan. Simmer until whites are set and yolks are soft but slightly set, about 3 minutes. With a slotted spatula, scoop out eggs one at a time and drain on paper towels. With a paring knife, trim edges.

~Divide asparagus among four plates and drizzle with reduced balsamic. Top with shaved Parmesan and an egg.

recipe by: Martha Stewart

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Baby Shower

I was lucky enough to have two baby showers. The first one was thrown by my cousin and was a low-key affair with the typical (for my family) menu of chicken and tuna salad on dollar rolls, pasta salad, relish try, chips and dip and veggies and dip. Everything was delicious but I forgot to take pictures.

My second baby shower was hosted by The Good Husband's family and I was able to help out with the food. My not so cutesy theme was baby sized foods, aka finger foods.

The menu (with recipes included):

Boiled New Potatoes with Sour Cream, Smoked Salmon and Chives (modified from this recipe)
Spring Mix Salad with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette in a Parmesan Cup

Assorted Fresh Fruit with French Cream
Turkey, Apple and Butter on Wheat Bread Tea Sandwich
Crab, Avocado and Vanilla Mayo on White Bread Tea Sandwhich

Crudité Platter with Roasted Garlic Aioli

BBQ Kettle Chips
Salted Kettle Chips with Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

Everyone seemed to love the food and there was more than enough to go around, which makes me happy. I want everyone to be full and happy whenever there is a party. I had an amazing time and got some great gifts for The Good Baby.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Strawberry Sorbet

Nothing says summer like a sweet, refreshing sorbet. Plus I had all those strawberries left over from the CSA box. I wanted to make ice cream but my lack of an ice cream maker left me with the option to make sorbet or granita. I chose sorbet, since I am lazy.

And it is on my 100 Foods I Want to Make List.

1cup fresh strawberries
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice

~Purée the strawberries until well blended. Place in a container and chill in the fridge for an hour.

~Meanwhile, combine the sugar and water in a small sauce pan over medium heat and bring to a soft boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. When the sugar has completely dissolved, remove from heat and allow to completely cool before refrigerating for an hour.

~When both the syrup and strawberry puree have cooled, add the lemon juice and pour into a stainless steel pan. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 3 hours.

~Remove the pan from the freezer and allow to thaw slightly. Add the sorbet to the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth. This gives the sorbet is fluffy texture.

~Pour the mixture into a shallow container and allow to freeze an additional 3 hours.

recipe by: The Good Wife

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Go Green - Kitchen

One of the biggest sources for inspiration for green living comes from The Good Grandma and various aunts in the family. Having lived through the Depression and raising several kids on a few dollars a week made TGG and her kids resourceful. They are able to come up with reuses for tons of things and have given me a whole new outlook. They had to look for ways to reduce and reuse out of necessity whereas I am able to do it freely.

The biggest change of mindset I made when going green was stopping to think about everything I was throwing away and if there wasn't an alternative. I think most of the time we forget that things like paper towels are not the only option and there are cheaper and better things out there.

So my number one green tip is to actually stop and think about everything you do and use and see if there is some better alternative out there.

These are some useful tips that The Good Husband and I practice in the kitchen, to save money and become more "green".

~Switch to cloth napkins

~Switch to cloth for paper towels or

~Buy paper towels made from recycled paper

~Use plastic containers for leftovers (BPA Free)

~Always run your dishwasher with a full load

~Shop at your local farmer’s market

~Buy locally raised beef, pork, chicken, lamb and buffalo:

~Join a local CSA

~Use cloth grocery and produce bags for shopping

~Recycle all plastic and glass containers

~Recycle your plastic bags at local grocery stores

~Keep a compost container on your counter top for food scraps

~Buy in bulk and separate into individual portions (This works great if you love those 100-Calorie snack packs)

~Wash and reuse plastic resalable bags

~Keep your freezer well stocked. Having lots of open space in your freezer causes it to run more to cool the same amount of space. If you can't fill it full of food, trying freezing milk jugs filled with water. You will save on your cooling costs, and you will always have ice blocks on hand to fill your portable coolers.

Coming next week - Go Green - Personal and laundry

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Strawberry Honey Butter

I decided to make this sweet spread to accompany the rhubarb scones I made.

The recipe was fairly easy and quick to make. The only real trick is to slowly pour the strawberry puree into the butter as you are mixing so that it will become well incorporated. If you were to just dump all of it in at once, I don't know if you would be able to create a nice smooth, incorporated mixture.

1 pint strawberries, hulled
3 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened

~In a food processor purée the strawberries and force the purée through a fine sieve into a saucepan. Add the honey and the lemon juice and boil the mixture, stirring, for 3 minutes, or until it is thickened.

~Let the strawberry mixture cool to room temperature.

~In a bowl cream together the butter and the strawberry mixture. Let the butter stand, covered, in a cool place for 1 hour to allow the flavors to develop.

recipe from: EPICOURIOUS

Rhubarb Scones

This past weekend was The Good Grandma's birthday. She is older than sliced bread, Band-Aids, women's right to vote, Frigidaire and Kleenex. It's true. She has a sign that lists all the things she is older than. It is amazing to think of it.

So as part of my birthday present to her I decided to make rhubarb scones. I know she likes strawberry rhubarb pie but my luck with pies is kinda iffy. So I thought I would make scones and strawberry honey butter so that when eaten together, it would taste like a strawberry rhubarb pie.

I had never had rhubarb before and scones on a few occasions so I was a little nervous about how these would turn out. But they were light and airy and sweet. Nothing like the rock hard scones I had in the past.

And TGG, bless her heart, kept calling them stones when people asked what she got for her birthday. Maybe I should be offended? I told her that she could call them biscuits and it would be ok.

I snagged this killer recipe from Bridget at The Way The Cookie Crumbles

Rhubarb Cream Scones (adapted from Gourmet via Smitten Kitchen)
2½ cups (12 ounces) all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar (3.5 ounces) plus 3 tablespoons
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¾ stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
2 cups diced rhubarb (¼-inch cubes), about 3 stalks
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 cup heavy cream

~Preheat oven to 400F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Adjust a baking rack to the middle position. In a small bowl, mix the rhubarb with 3 tablespoons sugar.

~In a food processor, pulse the flour, ½ cup sugar, baking powder, and salt a few times, just to mix. Distribute the butter evenly over the dry ingredients and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer to a large bowl.

~Stir the rhubarb into the flour mixture. Lightly beat the egg, yolk, and cream together in a bowl (use the same one you used for the rhubarb), then add this mixture to the flour mixture. Stir until just combined.

~On a well-floured surface with floured hands, pat the dough into a 1-inch-thick round (about 8 inches in diameter). Using a 2-inch round cutter or rim of a glass dipped in flour, cut out as many rounds as possible, rerolling scraps as necessary. Arrange rounds about 1 inch apart on baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until pale golden. Transfer the scones to a cooling rack and let them cool slightly before serving.

Monday, June 8, 2009

My first CSA box!

Last week I got my first CSA box of the season. We have had some pretty heavy rains this spring so the box wasn't as full as they will be later this season. I also only got a half farm share, so the veggies are enough for two people for the week. This is the first year this particular local farm is doing a farm share, so hopefully everything will run smoothly.

In my box this week I received a bunch of rhubarb, asparagus, two bunches of green onions and a container (a peck maybe?) of strawberries.

So on the menu for this week:
Rhubarb scones
Strawberry Honey Butter
Strawberry Sorbet
Something with asparagus

Six Cheese White Pizza

I had a craving for pizza the other day but not really for a meaty pizza. Plus I discovered this great pizza bread my local store now carries. It is a premade pizza shell but the ingredients are flour, water, yeast and salt. No funky chemicals here. So I bought it. And it was divine.

Since I was going sans meat with this pizza, I decided to load it up on cheese. 6 kinds of cheese to be exact. The overall flavor was not overwhelming and the cheeses worked together to make a hearty pizza.

1 store bought pizza crust (I used this kind)
1/4 cup provolone cheese, shredded
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 cup parmesan, asiago and romano shredded cheese blend
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 tablespoon Italian seasoning

~Combine the ricotta cheese with the pressed garlic and Italian seasonings. Spread evenly over pizza crust.

~Top pizza with the provolone, parmesan, asiago and romano blend and mozzarella.

~Bake according to package directions.

recipe by: The Good Wife

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Go Green - Inside and out

The Good Husband and I recently bought a house and having our own piece of borrowed Earth, has made us more conscientious of how we treat her.

See, I have always had hippy tendencies but TGH does what he does because he is cheap. When he suggests things that are crunchy, hippy type things, I know he is doing it with the main goal of saving money. This is why he suggested cloth diapering The Good Baby. It wasn't about the environmental concerns, it was about keeping more green in his wallet.

So hippy and cheap make for quite a pair.

I have composed a list of green/cheap things we do and separated them into several different categories. Most of these things save money in the long term but might be a little costly upfront.

This first post is about the things you can do on the outside of your house and with the materials on the inside. TGH and I were lucky enough to build our own house so some of the things, like choosing what building materials and appliances to buy, was easier for us since we were buying everything together. It might be easier for you to slowly replace appliances and materials over time.

Everything on the list is something that we currently do or are preparing to do in the future.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me and I will answer you as best I can, keeping in mind I am no expert, just A Good Wife.

~ Use green flooring options like carpet with no or low VOC and hardwood floors from sustainably managed forests. More information here:

~Use low or no VOC paint:

~Buy Energy Star appliances:

~Have blown cellulous insulation installed:

~Use a programmable thermostat and adjust it during the day. During the day in fall and winter, we keep the thermostat at 65 during the day and turn it down to 60 at night. During the summer, we keep the thermostat at 82 during the day, 78 when we are home and 75 at night.

~Use fans and keep the windows open to delay the use of the air conditioner or furnace.

~Buy thermal curtains to help insulate your house.

~Use a power strip and unplug the strip when you are not using any of the appliances

~Switch to CFL light blubs (DO NOT throw these in the regular garage!)

~Save old batteries, medicines, CFLs, motor oil and look for recycling programs that will accept them. My city has an annual Household Hazardous Waste Collection that accepts all these items and more.

~Check out places like GoodWill, The Salvation Army and for used furniture (slipcovers go a long way)

~Use a low flow shower head

~Place bricks in the back of your toilet tank to use less water

~Start a garden

~Start a compost pile

~Plant shade trees to help shelter your home from the weather

~Build or buy a rain barrel

~Use a manual lawn mower:

~Use native plants and trees when landscaping

~Use solar powdered lights to light sidewalks and driveways

~Install a sensor to your outside house lights that will turn the lights off automatically when it is daylight.

Coming next week: Go Green - Kitchen