Part of our ongoing plan to reduce plastic is to make more food at home. Over the past month I have been pretty successful at making most of our bread, muffins, tortillas and pizza dough although we do occasionally buy bread and rolls from the bakery as well. It is a nice treat, especially when it is challah, bagels, or tasty gourmet bread like olive that is not yet part of my repertoire.
For bread I have been making a (new to me) recipe that cooks two loaves in bread pans and they most resemble the sliced bread we would buy. It uses six cups of flour and two cups of milk so I make them when the ingredients are plentiful. It seems the first loaf out of the oven is devoured straight away with goat butter and jam. The next goes into a bag for slicing and eating for the next couple of days. I found the recipe documented by Rachael Ringenberg posted on Hither and Tither’s blog here. Another recipe that I like and have posted about before is the no knead bread recipe by Jim Lahey of the Sullivan Street Bakery. It is his pizza dough recipe that I turned to because it is a similar process that has a lower yeast and a longer ferment time.
We chose a tortilla maker from Amazon after researching tortilla presses. The electric cast iron model seemed like the one that would best fit our needs. It is heavy duty and makes great tortillas. The recipe that we use is basic and came with the press. We like using olive oil instead of shortening or lard and the tortillas have a buttery flavor from the California olive oil.
Not having as much bread around has inspired me to bake more muffins. They usually come about after we have made oatmeal and turn the leftover cooked oats into these muffins. I came across the recipe fist at the Coffee in the Woodshed blog and then read pretty much the same version at Orangette. I have modified the recipe a bit, using less flour and sugar and adding all kinds of fruit and spices. This muffin tin below has quinoa muffins made with the same principles. I added cherries and mini chocolate chips. ^_^
Clover got her wish to take the ferry. We had not taken it to S.F. in a while and it really is a fun way to travel. We got an order of mushroom curry from Delica and then took it down Embarcadero a ways by the large bow and arrow sculpture to sit and eat in the sun. The weather was beautiful and only chilly in the shade. We ended up back at the Ferry building at the Market Bar for happy hour. Clover drank a six dollar orange juice in under a minute feasted on bread and butter but it was totally worth sitting out on the patio people watching and sipping a carafe of Pinot with maiki. Like a real date. <3
We joined the CSA Imperfect Produce and it has helped us to get a whole bunch of produce to us really easily. They actually deliver it which is so awesome since we are car free. The post should really be entitled how we are eating more melon because it is delivered to our door. So much of what we have ordered is not in plastic but a few things have been, like bunches of small lettuces and carrots. I will probably just avoid ordering those items in the future since they are light easy to get. We all really appreciate that we can pick out exactly what we want online and not a mystery box of extra items to try to incorporate into our meals. I am really happy with the service so far and am a little curious as to why they are imperfect since to me they look great to me and not too wonky. I am relieved that the food is not going to waste and we sure are happy to eat it.
I planned a play date that would end up with us shopping at the Monterey Market and the shops near by. Unfortunately I forgot to bring my smaller reusable bags but was still able to manage. At Monterey Market I chose fruit and vegetables that did not need to be put in anything. However I really wanted to get some french lentils from the bulk bins so I used a paper bag that was provided for the mushrooms. A paper bag also proved useful for holding green beans as well.
Next was to get bread from the Hopkins Bakery. I was happy that they had bread that was not already bagged and asked if they could give it to me in paper instead of giving me a plastic bag. Turns out they don’t paper bags around but they came up with butcher paper that they use for wholesale orders and it was a good fit. I was really surprised by this because we always gave people whole loaves of bread in paper bags at the Bread Workshop where I used to work and I am now realizing that the Bread Workshop was progressive for having plastic alternatives for everything. I learned a lot just being there and took it for granted that not every bakery and cafe was as aware of the many eco-friendly options.
At the Country Cheese Company I inquired about a half wheel of cheese that was brought out. Turned out to be sheep’s milk so I bought half of it. They had paper to wrap it in and I assured them that it would go into glass when I returned home and they seemed pleased enough at my decision. At the register they wanted to put it in a plastic bag but again I insisted I would be fine getting it home as is. Funny that this a common conversation that keeps coming up. Overall the trip was successful and I was happy to get so much yummy sheep’s milk cheese to eat. ^_^
As a family we have decided to try to use less plastic. It is a practice that we were better at before Clover was born. After shopping at Trader Joe’s so much for our food we realized that we were throwing plastic packaging away for almost everything that we ate. I figured that this would be an excellent home schooling lesson and Clover is super into it. For our first adventure we visited Oakland’s Whole Foods try to find replacements for the foods that we like, hopefully in better packaging.
The produce department is easy because the do not put their fruits and veggies in plastic for the most part. We always bring a Baggu and throw loose carrots, bunches of greens, celery and bundles of green onions in willy nilly. Whole Foods does offer compostable bags now and they are handy for holding mushrooms or other loose, small produce. Also, when prepared having your own reusable produce bags makes it all the more manageable.
I am thankful that I can buy noodles in a box here and they offer many brands and noodle shapes. Tortilla chips in the 365 brand come in a big paper bag. Cereal is one of our breakfast choices and I was concerned going in that there would be no way around buying the box with large bag inside. We found that there are larger bags made of recyclable plastic and cereal in the bulk section as well. Clover liked the peanut butter balls with a panda on the bag and I tried the bulk oat flakes. They were good, not stale or too pricey. In the bulk area we also picked out almonds and cherries for ballet snacks. I was happy to see sugar there that we will buy the next time we run out. Rice, beans and oats are staples we already get from the bulk isle but I will have to be more diligent about bringing enough bags to put everything in (or use the compostable bags they offer in produce).
Another item that I was concerned about was cheese. At Whole Foods they package everything in plastic wrap so we decided to go for fresh mozzarella in a plastic box from a local farm. They could be reused or recycled. Another option was a container of crumbled goat cheese. I think that I may have better luck from another market, or even a cheese shop. We would like to have a cheese monger cut us some of a block and then sell it wrapped in paper rather than plastic wrap but we will see how it goes.
This week we will make our pizza dough and some bread and hopefully by next week I will be making our tortillas as well. I am looking forward to documenting our progress and every little bit helps our planet!