It is so exciting to see and be part of a movement that is looking to change the world, starting locally, making a difference at home, and then taking the message out to the wider community. The Zero Waste movement in Ireland is very inspiring. There is a closed Facebook group (Zero Waste Ireland) that has over 6000 members. If you are looking for tips, support and inspiration to reduce the plastic and waste in your home, and you are on Facebook, I would urge you to join.
I have been to three super interesting events this year to do with Zero Waste. (All free, or just about free). The most recent being the Zero Waste Festival on the 25th of June in Dublin. This was a very well attended event, all Eventbrite tickets were sold out and entry to the hall for those without tickets was somewhat restricted. (I did not have the presence of mind to buy my ticket online, so I had to wait a while for a space to become available)
I learned a lot. Firstly, that if you don’t really know what to do next, or temporarily feel a little out of your depth (socially awkward) find someone who you can help and help that someone out for a while. You get to meet people, you get to share insights that may help the common goal to be achieved and you get to practice at being collaborative.
There was a clothes swap; I came home with the best T-shirt: ‘I shot JR’. Just like the one in Father Ted. It is good as it is, but it is also the perfect quirky T-shirt that can be upcycled into something a bit more interesting. There were vendors there too, a place to buy second hand baby clothes, bamboo toothbrushes, homemade palm free soaps, reusable handmade sanitary towels, refills for washing up liquid and olive oil, bulk buy items such as rice, oats and sultanas and a stall that was selling fruit leathers. There were also a number of excellent workshops on throughout the day. I went to the fermentation workshop.
Blog followers would know that I have at times been a fairly enthusiastic fermenter, so at this festival, I went to a fermentation workshop given by master fermenter and chef Neil Barrett. (He gives fermentation classes) It is always interesting to relearn what you already learned or know from a different source. You get different perspectives and a deeper understanding of the topic because each person focuses on what interests them the most. (That is the reason I enjoy going foraging with other foragers, I always learn new snippets of info)
I left that wonderful workshop with the knowledge that I have been mistreating my milk kefir grains, and that I need to make and eat sauerkraut again. I also left with the feeling that I need to be a little more careful with measuring ingredients, especially when feeding cultures. To put my scientific training to work while experimenting with food. Using scales, keeping notes, aiming for reproducability. All that without loosing the sense of play that I get when I try something new or tread uncharted territory in the kitchen. So I have removed the milk kefir from the fridge, boiled up some water for the newly acquired water kefir, fed my ginger bug and fed my newly acquired sourdough starter, I think I will dig that ancient sauerkraut out of the fridge and have a go of that with dinner. Thanks Neil for the re-inspiration!
This was a great festival, so much to learn, so many interesting people to meet, and re-meet. And to think, I almost chickened out of going.
My mom used to make Pineapple beer when we were kids, whenever we had pineapple, she would use the peels to make this super easy very bubbly pineapple flavoured soft drink. It is along similar lines to ginger beer in that it does not require the addition of yeast. I love this recipe because it delays the peels’ transit to the compost heap, thus ensuring that all of the nutrients/ goodness are not lost to the system. Next time I make it, I will be freezing the peels that come out of the water to use in fruit scrap vinegar that will then get made once there are enough fruit scraps.
Ingredients and Method
- Wash, peel and core pineapple, retain the peel and core. Discard green leafy bit into compost pile
- Into a large ceramic, glass or stainless steel container, add the peel and core, a cup of sugar (250ml), handful of raisins (optional) and 2L of water
- Stir till the sugar dissolves and cover with a cloth or loose lid to keep the flies out
- Stir daily for 2 days, then strain the liquid into pressure safe bottles like the ones in the picture. Not all glass bottles are suitable for this purpose, if the bottle originally contained sparkly stuff, then it should be safe for this purpose. (1L Bulmers bottles are perfect)
- Allow the gas to build for a few days, as the drink matures, more of the sugar will be turned into carbon dioxide, so it will get drier and more gassy
- Enjoy chilled! Warning: This drink can be very fizzy, so care is required when opening the bottle!Notes: If less fizz is required, use less sugar, this is a loose recipe, and open to be experimented with.
June for me is synonymous with elderflower. It is probably the best thing to forage for this month and there are so many things you can do with it. Elderflower sparkle, cordial, addition to rhubarb or gooseberry dishes, and fritters. Elderflower fritters are a good dessert this season; they are light, not too sweet and full of that lovely somewhat musky flavour.
So here is a super easy recipe for flower fritters, other flowers to try in this recipe are white and red clover.
- 3/4 cup cornflower
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1tsp baking powder
- pinch salt
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup icy water
- 2 inches of oil in a pot
- 6 large flower heads, separated into florets with stalks attached
- Icing sugar
- Heat the oil in the small pot
- To a small bowl, add the dry ingredients and mix
- Add the egg and the water, mix through
- Coat each floret in batter, shaking off the excess
- Fry for less than a minute till cooked through, turning if necessary
- Remove fritters from oil and set aside till all are done
- Dust with icing sugar and serve while still warm
….is my family’s secret to living waste-free since 2008!” Bea Johnson
Earlier this week I attended a brilliant talk by Bea Johnson, author of the book Zero Waste Home and proprietor of the website Zero Waste Home where she provides a host of resources (bulk buy sellers in Ireland) and tips on how to de-plastic and declutter your life. She lives in California with her husband and two teenage boys, The amount of black bin waste their family created last year fits inside a small mason jar. That is impressive, and it gets me thinking about our black bin waste, we are down to one and a half black bin collections a year (husband, myself and a cat) which is not terrible, but it could be so much less if we found plastic free alternatives to more food items and planned meals for the week and bought stuff in bulk or was part of a local bulk buy group.
Things we currently regularly buy in plastic:
(B) = black bin; (R) = recyclable; (U)= unsure
Some nuts (B)
Lemons and limes (B)
Free range chicken (B&R)
Food that I regularly buy that I have found waste free alternatives for
I buy most of my veggies and fruit naked
I have bought nuts using my own cotton bags
Meat (I bring my own plastic ice-cream boxes to butchers)
Oats in paper bags
Free Range Eggs in boxes, no plastic
Unlike Bea, we have decided that we are not minimalists, but I (more so that himself) want to own less stuff, so this year, I would like to divest myself of my things in our lives that I don’t use, don’t have solid plans for or don’t like. When I buy things, they are to be the right things, preferably second hand or homemade things that will last a long time. I have made a list of the purchases/ things I need to make this year or next that will be the right things for our somewhat pared down, more plastic free lives.
Areas that I will be working on to become more zero waste:
Buy bamboo toothbrushes next time I need to buy toothbrushes
Look for a BB cream that comes in glass next time I need to buy that
Perhaps make mascara as per Bea’s instructions in her book when I next feel inclined to buy the stuff
Work towards creating a bulk buy group in my area
Get back to making my own yoghurt especially now that I have discovered porridge bread
Ask online sellers to only send items in paper or cardboard
Make a few fabric and net baggies to facilitate buying loose nuts, veggies, pulses, rice, etc
Look for plastic free dishwasher detergent that doesn’t cost a fortune
Make/ buy beeswax wrap for buying cheese in and as a substitute for cling film
Find a place to buy dry catfood in cardboard or from a bulk supplier
Limescale cleaner for the toilet
Bea pointed out that because they have all the stuff that they need (not much stuff at all) it leaves them as a family with more time (not looking after stuff) and money with which to pursue experiences such as sky diving and interesting holidays. The gifts that they give each other are the gifts of experiences, not gifts of stuff. Please check out her website for more information on how to live well and create less waste. If you are interested in a zero waste lifestyle, and are looking for support, join the Facebook group Zero Waste Ireland. This is a very active (over 4000 members) Facebook group that are a great resource.
Today I found a tree mallow (Lavatera arborea) covered in seed heads, so I harvested a number of them and fried them up for a few minutes before putting salt and ground cayenne pepper on. You could take the three leaf like structures off of the seed head before cooking, but this can easily be done afterwards while eating it. The taste is fairly reminiscent of fried sweetcorn. I also like to harvest these and toast them in the popcorn maker. Fresh, the seed heads taste a bit like raw peanuts. When harvesting, look out for the younger, greener ones as their texture is better.
Tree mallows have velvety leaves and lovely, purply flowers, see photo, both of which can be eaten. Other varieties of mallow such as common mallow (Malva sylvestris) and Egyptian mallow (Malva parviflora) also have edible flowers, leaves and seeds. The flowers can be added to salads, the leaves used to thicken soups or cooked like spinach.
|Mallow seed heads
|Fried mallow seed heads
Now is also a good time to look out for dried poppy seed heads, these heads can be shaken into a paper bag, allow the seeds to dry properly and store them for adding to baked goods.