Monthly Archives: May 2011
Mason jars are amazing things. Only since I started canning have I realized what handy things those jars are for storage and schleppage…my plastic use has dropped dramatically since shifting in this direction…
Check this out, over at Food In Jars–baked eggs in mason jars. You bake the things, chill them, and then you can take them to work or whatever and heat them in a microwave (without fear of plastic leaching chemicals into your breakfast) and eat them right out of the jar. It’s like a little crustless quiche–the post suggests asparagus and onion, but you could use whatever you wanted.
I’m totally going to try this.
This morning at the Green Phone Booth I have a post for the June Green Mom’s Carnival, about springtime, half-year resolutions–and included are photos of the landscaping project we’ve been undergoing since autumn. Come check it out!
(I would have put in more photos, but I can’t stand how Blogger deals with photos in posts, it took me longer to get those four photos in than to write the post!)
Okay, I admit it. Apple ticks me off. Mostly because they used to be this wonderful flexible underdog and now they’ve become this behemoth of heavy unmanageable way-too-marketed proprietary products and software. I used to have huge brand loyalty for Apple, but it has diminished gradually over the years and took a final hit when my husband’s iPhone worked great until the warranty wore out, immediately started slowing down, and finally died 3 months before the end of our two-year contract. And the guy at the store, when he took it in, said he sees this all the time.
So anyway…David Robert’s Grist article reviewing Michael Daisey’s one-man show about “The Agony and the Ecstacy of Steve Jobs” details the working conditions of the Chinese employees at FoxConn, the largest manufacturer of consumer electronics in China. It also links to an article about the rash of suicides at the factory, and Google searches lead to a slew of other articles, including a report by an undercover agent who spent a month in the factory.
Now, obviously, Apple is not the only company they provide electronics for. It’s quite a list, actually. But I know that before reading this article, I hadn’t really thought about my electronics and where they came from, nor had I linked them to the working conditions in China–cheesy plastic toys and stuff I linked there, but not so much my computer parts. But I’m thinking about it now.
Where do your computer parts come from?
Did you know a Google search for “love dandelions” will get you over 1,700,000 hits?
If you are, like me, a closet lover of the happy yellow blooms, or if you have believed the “they are weeds and need to be eradicated” propaganda of the Lovers of Manicured Lawn, check out some of these links:
- Stir Crazy gives recipes and testimony for the humble yellow flower
- Try Defying Gravity relates a happy morning with her son, who doesn’t know they are alleged weeds.
- Stephanie Sikorski at the Daily Atlas muses on how the dandelion became so maligned.
- Tanya’s Garden visits Germany, where they don’t mind letting dandelions grow wherever they please. (Lovely photos here!)
- The Green Diva Mom gives us five reasons to love dandelions, and The Herb Garden another three.
- DKMommySpot tells us of their medicinal uses and health benefits.
And once again, Environmental Working Group has published their annual guide to sunscreen safety.
You can enter in your sunscreen of choice into their database and find out if it has any particular scary chemicals in it. If you buy your sunscreen at any mainstream store, odds are good it has some scary chemicals in it.
This is a very useful guide–check it out before the weather really gets hot!
I seriously, seriously, didn’t get into blogging for the Free Stuff. (Which is a good thing, because it comes few and far between.) I just do it because it’s fun.
So obviously, when Kim and Scott’s Gourmet Pretzels contacted me and asked if they could send me some samples of their product for me to review on my blog, I said, “No, thank you, it would be a violation of my desire to just blog freely and joyfully and prevent additional influences from contaminating my writing.”
No, actually I said, “Hell Yeah!” (I was a little more diplomatic, but that was the upshot.) Stuffed pretzels? I’m all over that. And I’ve seriously never felt like, when someone sends you something for free to review, that should constitute any responsibility to say you love the product when you didn’t. (Unless that was the agreement beforehand, but I would never agree to that. Even for free pretzels. So that’s the disclaimer. I calls ‘em as I sees ‘em.)
They sent me this enormous box of six different varieties of their stuffed pretzels, and it’s taken me this long to review because we haven’t even been able to get through all the varieties yet. But I feel bad waiting so long, so I’ll write it now and do addenda when I get to the Spinach-Feta and Grilled Cheese ones.
I find with these reviews I always tend to follow the same format, so why shake it up? I give my bottom line/summary, followed by the things I wasn’t sure about or didn’t care for, and ending with the things I loved. (I always like to end on a high note.)
Bottom line: these things are delicious. Seriously good. In the middle of each pretzel is a ribbon of something–sauce in the pizza ones, spicy cheese in the jalapeno cheddar ones, gooeychocolateyumminess in the chocolate crumb ones, and so on. The flavors were very nice and present without being overpowering. All around, a really awesome product, the kind of thing I’d keep around work if I had a freezer to store them in. They can be microwaved or oven-baked, and they’re good both ways. (Oddly, I found the chocolate better from the microwave, but the cheesy ones better from the oven.)
Disadvantages: Their website does have a listing of retail stores where you can buy these, and honestly in the future I would definitely go that route. Since via mail they need to arrive frozen or at least still cold, they shipped them in a big styrofoam cooler-type thing, and the amount of packaging required to get them to me was understandable but also massive. (On the other hand, the styrofoam cooler, now that it’s here, will certainly get more use.) These things are not low-calorie–one 3.5 oz. pretzel will run you 230-380 calories, depending on which one you eat. (Spinach-Feta seems to be the lowest.) They do have full nutritional info on their site, though, so you can check it out. They do tout themselves as a “source of whole grains,” but one should be clear that whole wheat flour is quite a ways down on their list of ingredients. These aren’t a health food. They are tons better, both in ingredients and in taste, than anything you’re going to get at One Of Those Other pretzel places, and I’ll totally be buying them again, but like so many other yummy foods these are not something to grab and feel all nutritionally virtuous about.
On the other hand–they are yummy. And if I cared about feeling nutritionally virtuous, I would be wearing clothes a couple sizes smaller than the stuff with which my closet is now full. And the list of “pros” for this product is considerable: good ingredients, not a lot of scary chemical weirdness or weird chemical scariness, ingredients I recognize and can pronounce; a small business and even a local business for those of us in the Chicago area; and most important of all they are delicious. The apple crumb ones were a little too sweet for me, but my kids loved them. The chocolate crumb ones were even a bigger hit. The cheddar-jalapeno ones had just enough spice without being “hot”, cheesy and good. (This was probably my favorite.) I found myself wishing the pizza pretzels had some actual cheese inside the pretzel rather than just sauce inside and cheese on top, but hell, it’s a pretzel, there’s not that much room in there! My daughter and I will christen the grilled cheese ones in a few days, and I suspect I’ll be on my own with the spinach feta ones, since I’m the only one in the family who likes feta cheese.
I’ll be checking out our local Whole Foods to see if they carry them, and if not, maybe they can soon…
So in summary: Good product, delicious, caloric but worth it, give ‘em a try.
I won something! I actually won something!
Going Green Mama did a giveaway on her blog for a pair of Okabashi sandals, and I was apparently the winner! I’m the person who pretty much never wins things, so this is pretty cool.
(Exception: when I’ve been booked to play piano or do some other type of gig for charity fundraiser things, I’ve often asked the people who hired me to, instead of paying me, spend that amount of money for me in raffle tickets. I’ve gotten some very nice flower baskets and gift cards that way.
Anyway…these are pretty cool sandals. They are way cuter than regular flip flops and look more comfortable and supportive than crocs, and they are fully recyclable: when your sandals wear out, you send them back to the company and they chop them up and melt them down into material to make another pair of sandals. A nice semi-closed circle, don’t you think? I know on the one hand we want to avoid making more Plastic Stuff, but even more than I’m committed to helping less material enter the consumer cycle, I’m committed to making sure what’s in the cycle stays in it and doesn’t then leave the cycle into a landfill.
They are also dishwasher-safe. Which sounds a little weird when applied to shoes, but…it does make some sense. And guaranteed for two years, and pretty cheap to buy to begin with.
Anyway, I’ll let you know how I like them!
For the first time ever this year I actually drew up a plan for my garden, and what I want to grow back there. Over at the Green Phone Booth today I show it off and talk about some of the logic and thinking behind it…come check it out!
(Of course, even since scheduling the post a few days ago things are getting hinky…I went crazy and bought too many tomatoes, so they are not only in much more garden space than anticipated but there are a few in other spots too. The perennials I ordered are taking much longer to come in than expected, so I’m having trouble keeping weeds out in the meantime and I didn’t want to fully mulch the area until I had them in. And at some point I realized that cool-weather lettuce and heat-seeking basil shouldn’t grow in the same patio barrel, so I had to get two…and so it goes…)
So I really appreciate this article from Simple Bites with hints for planning the canning process this spring and summer.
The best advice–look at what you made last year, and if any of it is still on the shelf, don’t make any more of that this year. I look at my 4 jars of zucchini pickles and ponder the wisdom of that advice. (The problem with the pickles was that I didn’t salt the zukes before pickling them, so they are kind of shriveled and unattractive. I may yet try them again, but more in the bread-and-butter pickles mode rather than spears…)
The corollary: what did you run out of in February, and make more of that. For me, that was my sweet pickle relish for hot dogs. I’m the only one who likes sweet relish in our family, so I figured one jar would be more than enough. I should have made at least two.
And another good piece of advice: what was really well received as gifts? Without a doubt, I wish I’d had more jars of jam to give people with loaves of bread, I ran out before Christmas even hit. The Lavender-Plum jam I made last summer was amazing, and I should make a couple of batches of that. The peach-raspberry preserves were also lovely, like peach melba in a jar, and I totally should do more of that too…
Please, please, if my garden produces, if all those ridiculous tomato plants I got actually bear fruit and swamp me with the things, I won’t have to buy canned tomatoes all winter…and if it really swamps me with the things, maybe I’ll try canning some salsa…
So this is probably a good time to remind y’all (especially newer readers) of how easy it is to sew wrap shorts.
I’m a tall and fairly Generously Proportioned woman, and I can make these things in maybe a yard and a half of material. Anyone shorter and less attractive to Sir Mixalot could get away with significantly less fabric. And you can make them in whatever length you like–I have long pants, capri-length, knee-length, and actual shorts. (Bear in mind that the shorter you go, the more you need to pay attention to modesty, because they can flop open a little bit. With anything knee length or longer it’s probably no issue, but actual shorts you need to watch out!)
So even if you can barely sew at all, if you have a sewing machine and some fabric (jammy bottoms with a repurposed bedsheet isn’t a bad idea for your first go at this, especially if you’re nervous about the sewing part), check out my tutorial from last year and give it a go!