Good morning reader friends. Do I sound all weird and fakey and “Little House on the Prairie”-ish when I open my posts like that? As odd as it is, I really do speak like that. Scary, huh? My sisters and I used to jokingly call each other “Sister” instead of our names, and we've done it for so many years, now it's not even a joke anymore. The kids loooove it when I wake them up with a dorky, “Good morning my children!!!!” as I climb into their beds for some snuggles. All I get is a, “MOM, stop being so LOUD and WEIRD!”
- Last week on Facebook lots of you were sharing your thoughts on whether you prefer reading blogs like mine or articles from “professionals”. Martha Stewart had quite a dig against bloggers in this interview. Here's what I said: “So… Apparently, Martha Stewart doesn't like us food bloggers. (Somebody get me a tissue…) Guess what Martha? I never said I was an “expertly trained Vogue editor”, or an expert at anything, actually. That's why I'm always urging my readers not to blindly follow me or anyone else, including those who do think they're experts. Personally, I like following food blogs of “regular gals” like me. I find them relate-able, and I've not found their recipes to be any less great than that of the ‘pros'!” You can read all the comments here.
- I found it! Last week on Facebook I asked if anyone had reusable coffee filters to recommend (why hadn't I thought to try them before?!) – and someone suggested this one. I'm giving it a shot and I'll let you know. They look to be the perfect size for my ceramic pour over coffeemaker.
- Since I'm turning into a full-fledged hippy more and more these days, with all my real foodiness (is that a word?) and now homeschooling and all, I need to get this composting thing figured out and would love your help. Right now the extent of what I do is throwing egg shells into our herb pots or our garden when I think of it, but I know that building up nice fertile black dirt is so important and there are many kitchen scraps I could be using to help with that! SO would you all recommend any of these composters? What's most convenient, on the counter or just outside the door from our kitchen? And is there a site that is easy to navigate to quickly find out if something is or is not compostable? Does it get all stinky, or do you use something like this? Thank you for your help!
- Speaking of dirt, have you seen these posts? Dirt is really fascinating to me and I love to talk about the difference that nutrient-dense SOIL makes in the food we eat!
- Did you hear that Monsanto won the prestigious World Food Prize?! Yep, you read that right. Of course there's a slimy back-story, though: “From 1999 to 2011, Monsanto donated $380,000 (PDF) to the World Food Prize Foundation in addition to a $5 million contribution in 2008 to help renovate the Hall of Laureates, a public museum honoring Borlaug. The donations have prompted accusations that Monsanto essentially bought Fraley’s award — a charge denied by the foundation.“
- This picture was popular on Facebook last week and I know you'll love it, too! 🙂
- If you have some extra time, this is an interesting look inside a busy New York City restaurant.
- This post from one of my new favorite bloggers is about a letter he received from a kid being bullied in high school, and his parents wanted to medicate him because he was shy!!! Here it is: I'm not sure why other kids don't like me, maybe there's something wrong with me?
- This was interesting on what happens when we sleep: “Cerebral spinal fluid was found to pump around the brain of sleeping mice, flushing out waste products like a biological dishwasher.”
- Do you hate those hand sanitizers that are everywhere, too? Well now what most of us already knew is coming out into the mainstream: They're toxic! I don't get why people don't just go wash their hands? Here's my post from a while back about that: Our Environment is too Clean!
- Don't forget to sign up to get the FREE Real Food Con cooking class videos going on this whole week:
- OK here's another pic from Facebook that cracked me up:
- Have a great week!
Dan B says
Kudos on wanting to reduce waste and find something more constructive to do with your vegetable based scraps. Composting is not really the best way to go unless you have a HUGE (I mean really, really big) compost pile made from predominantly brown yard waste (shredded leaves) with some green yard waste (grass clippings) for added nitrogen. Kitchen waste is very slow to compost and usually begins to rot before it has time to break down in a more expected compost form. HOWEVER, all is not lost! You might do a little research on vermiculture. Worms LOVE kitchen scraps, not to mention schredded newspaper, and will break down your scraps in good time leaving behind a good quantity of organic fertilizer from their castings (worm poop). Mike McGrath over at youbetyourgarden.com is one of the big cheerleaders for this form of waste management and he has some great resources to point you in the right direction: https://www.gardensalive.com/article.asp?ai=1134. Best of luck!
Kelly, I know I owe you a blog post on this! Can we talk tomorrow and I’ll explain it all briefly on the phone?
j in VA says
About hand sanitizers: the articles mentions two types triclosan based and alcohol based.
I”m a nurse very familiar with the foam the previous commenter talked about. Our infection control nurse tells us that they are effective against viruses and bacteria except c diff which is antibiotic resistant and in which case we use soap. We are also instructed to use soap and water any time we have soiling of our hands.
Least you think I believe EVERYTHING they tell me (smile), I personally use a large amount of the alcohol based sanitizers because triclosan free soaps are hard to find and when you are out and about I want counteract everyone else’s germs as much as possible.
Commenter via Facebook says
Martha trashed Rachael Ray when one of her cookbooks came out, said that Rachael wasn’t a”real chef” etc. Rachael rose above it, said”hey, I’d rather eat Martha’s stuff too.”
Re calling your sister ‘sister’. My good friend and her sis always called each other Sister, also. When they had kids, they both became Aunt Sister…
Commenter via Facebook says
anxious to hear what you think of that reusable coffee filter – we have the pour over ceramic maker too & we do have a Mr. Coffee drip maker that we use only when we have company (when we need a dozen cups ready!) and I use a reusable filter on the coffee maker, so it would be great to not have to buy filters for the ceramic drip maker too.
I have a question about composting: I live in So Calif. and we struggle with ants every summer. If anyone leaves even the tiniest speck of food whether solid or liquid on the counter, we will wake up to a total invasion the next morning. And of course, our outside trash cans are always covered with ants looking for something. So how in the heck could I ever compost? How do I keep rotting stuff in a container outside with all those holes in it, and not attract every ant in a 75 mile radius?
I also made my compost bins. I used 2 large plastic bins with lids and drilled holes all over on each side and the lids. We keep these on the side of our garage. I keep a plastic shoe box with a lid under my kitchen sink and fill it up as I need to. We run out to the side of the garage and dump the shoe box about every other day. As for things that can be composted, the list is huge! Here are some of the things we compost regularly: all fruit and vegetable left overs ( peelings, pits, seeds, cores, anything we don’t use), egg shells, tea bags, coffee grounds, coconut left from making coconut milk, pulp from juicing, paper towels, finger nails, hair from hairbrush, fireplace ashes, leaves, etc. Good luck!
Commenter via Facebook says
Love Matts response to bullying!
I made my own compost bin using a large plastic trash can. I drilled holes in it all over — at least 30-50 — with a 3/4″ drill bit. The holes are all over the sides of the can and also in the bottom. This is for air flow. Then you just start layering “greens” and “browns”. It helps to have a second bin nearby that’s full of browns — chopped leaves, dried plant foliage, wood chips, pine needles, etc. — These give your greens aeration and they hold the nitrogen that’s in the green matter as it breaks down. They also provide humus — fibrous plant matter that holds moisture, lightens soil and generally saves the world. Your greens are things like egg shells, coffee grounds (and filters), tea bags, veggie peels, grass clippings, apple cores, kombucha scoby (if you can’t give it away), old bread, old pasta, etc. You just layer greens and browns and stir them a little to mix (about 2-to-1 browns to greens – the greens are heavier and wetter, so you want the browns to lighten them up and keep them suspended, not globbed together. I also throw in old potting soil and sometimes a scoop of garden dirt for a little kick start. I stir my compost with either a garden fork or a spade, or sometimes an old stick. I keep a separate mini-bin (purchased at World Market) under my kitchen sink and toss in my compost materials during the week. This bin has a lid with a charcoal filter. Lid=no fruit flies. When it’s full, I throw it in the main bin, layer some browns, stir and that’s it.
I secure the main bin lid with a bungie cord to keep any curious raccoons out. It doesn’t smell, and it does break down over the course of the season. It would break down faster if it were in a more exposed bin, I think, because more air, but I wasn’t sure how my neighbors would feel about a compost pile right across from their rose garden. This is a smallish pile — I don’t normally compost grass clippings because my bin would be overflowing after about 2 weeks. Also, we get a certain amount of run-off from our neighbor’s yard and they use chemicals up the yang, which I would prefer not to put on my food (though it would be fine for flowers and such). If you want to use all your grass, then you’ll need a much bigger pile — more than any plastic composter I’ve seen — and a lot of browns to offset the greens. I think it’s hardest to keep a stock of brown materials around; we always seem to have plenty of greens. For this reason, I no longer let my husband send the leaves to the city compost pile. I save them in plastic garbage bags and use them as needed.
My compost was actually about 2/3rds broken down before winter last year and I assumed it would need time the following year to break down further because our winters are very cold, but when I opened the bin in the spring I had beautiful black compost ready to spread on the garden. Easy peasy.
Commenter via Facebook says
Martha, after all these years…still just a clueless elitist. What little respect I had for her evaporated when she went after Rachael Ray a few years ago.
We are on our 3rd Gaiam 2.5 gallon composter. We keep it under the sink. After repeatedly breaking the ceramic ones, I appreciate the plastic. I also like the 2.5 gallon size, because it reduces the trips outside to the composter (especially nice in the winter months).
Gabie Fox says
Re. Reusable coffee filters … If you have a Whole Foods store near you, they carry them too. I’ve been using mine since the start of the summer and so happy I am. I leave mine sit in a bowl of warm, soapy water over night after I’ve used it for the day. They are easy to make too … Just a little unbleached muslin and you are good to go. I’m trying to use lots of reusable items … Cloth napkins and even homemade “Clorox” wipes for the kitchen and bath.
I’ve been gardening and composting since about 1997. I have a very lazy system. I do it primarily to keep my compostable scraps out of the landfill. I keep a bucket in my kitchen. When the fruit flies are bad I keep an old towel on top of it. That’s not the best part of my system, I admit. I have 4 compost bins in the back of the yard. My county sells them at a very cheap price to encourage composting. One I got from craigslist. Because my yard is so large, I have a few 5 gallon buckets on the back porch. The kitchen waste goes into a porch bucket and later that goes to the back compost bins. I started the 5 gallon bucket part in winter so I didn’t have to trudge out to the back in the snow. Winter in the Chicago area has frequent thaws and that is when the buckets are emptied into the compost bins. Compost doesn’t break down in winter anyway.
The ideal mix is 2 parts brown (dried leaves) to 1 part green (just about everything else). I always cover the scraps with a layer of dried leaves inside the bin. I have a GIANT maple tree in the back yard. My husband made a leaf bin out of chicken wire and posts. In the fall we try to save as many leaves as possible. It is never enough! I end up with maybe 3 parts green to 1 part brown. Turning compost causes it to heat up and break down quicker. That chore is the last on my list of priorities for this working mom! I just let it sit for 1 year or more. That’s why I have so many bins back there.
I have found that some things take forever to break down. Eggshells and orange peels last a very long time. I keep an old wooden spoon in the kitchen and smash everything from time to time. It allows more room in the kitchen bucket and helps break them down. Also, unless your pile heats up like on HGTV, keep seeds out of there or you will be doing a lot of weeding in your garden! The exception would be tropical things that don’t grow here, like citrus and avocado.
Louise Cross says
set up a worm tower for an easy way to turn kitchen scraps into garden soil builder https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2Cwhu7KJr4 it’s prob one of the least work systems for optimal benefit for your garden.
Lori Alexander says
Matt has become my new favorite blogger also! He has such an amazing way with words and I love his wisdom.
Kelly, I certainly don’t like hand sanitizers either, “but” I do believe they have their place. I carry a small bottle in my purse for emergencies. Also, my husband and I will be heading home today from the hospital where he underwent open heart surgery. Hand sanitizing foam is at every door and in every room and I am glad. Hospitals are very germy places. When a nurse or anyone else comes in and touches him, if not for the sanitizers I would be cringing. THOSE are two unusual circumstances, though. For day to day normal life, I ‘m with you. People just need to wash their hands thoroughly! In the long run, ubiquitous use of hand sanitizers not only is toxic, but contributes to the evolution of super bugs!!
Allyson Bossie says
We recycled one of those big black containers that a tree comes in and use it for a composter. Everything from coffee grounds, tea, egg shells and all fruits and veggies go in . Some people say there is a huge science to it, with percentages of what goes in and such, but I have had excellent success just tossing it all in . My garden used to be a hay field for like 30 years and it had no nutrients whatsoever. It just wouldn’t grow squat (well it did grow eggplant which is supposedly really hard to grow, but anywho). I put my compost on there 3 years in a row, and I had an awesome garden this year. You can buy a composter, but just toss stuff out there everyday in one pot. The rain water and bugs make a stew of it, stir every few weeks. By the end of a year, the bottom half or more will be solid soil. Rich and black. NO oil, no meat, no bread goes in compost
@Kelly, re:composting query.
We use one similar to this for kitchen scraps at the sink/prep area:
This type has a charcoal filter pad which has never been replaced since new, over maybe 10+ years? It does keep odors in the container very well, and if things get nasty inside like from garlic or onion trimmings, it’s only noticeable when the top is opened to add other scraps. From there, it gets dumped in a worm compost bin which produces some really nice, black odorless worm manure. The bin comes inside for the winter and this process eliminates almost all the odors even when scraps are added from time to time. During warm weather, it goes outside.
With these worm composters, it helps if any scraps going in are chopped up as fine as possible so the worms can do their job more easily and quickly, and you get better material to use as a soil amendment. More trays can be added to increase the capacity of this system.
Kelly – We use a Stainless Steel countertop compost bin (like the Good Deals version on Amazon, only we got it through Frontier for less than $15!) It works great! One of my kids’ regular chore is to empty the indoor compost into the outdoor bin (like this, but we got it on clearance from Meijer for $30! https://www.meijer.com/s/lifetime-80-gallon-tumbling-composter/_/R-173789 ). He dumps the inside bin into the outdoor one, then gives the outdoor one a tumble. I think he empties it about 3-4 times a week, but it really depends on how heavy our fruit and veggie consumption is. I also have him wash it out once a week with hot soapy water, rinse with hot water and towel dry, then wipe the lid down. We’ve never had a problem with any “composty” odors, and we’ve been using it about 2 years. Our outdoor composter is now about 1/2-full of gorgeous black gold! It’s amazing to me, because it only holds 80 gallons, and every other month, my husband throws in a couple of wheelbarrows’ full of dried grass from our yard clippings (we don’t treat our lawn, so chemical-free). And even though we have been putting stuff in it for over 2 years straight, it’s broken down beautifully with plenty of room for more. We’re going to spread about 2/3 of what’s in there over our newly designed garden beds this week and cover them with the fall’s raked-up leaves and some hauled-in dirt, so we can begin gardening next spring with a well-cultivated bed. But about the canister – the stainless steel looks nice on the counter, and everyone is always surprised to discover it’s a compost pail (someone even asked if it was a cookie jar!). No smell, no mess, and it’s easy enough that even the kids use it from their scraps from peeling carrots, coring apples, etc.