Category: Low & Slow

Crushing on Food Show Hosts and Why I don’t believe in “Superfoods”

Warning – Kinda ranty post with lots of research-y link things where I pick on quinoa and kale (a lot). If you’re offended by this click away now…

A typical weekly Scrap House “Superfoods” haul from the greengrocers.

Okay, I’m going to admit it… I spend far more time than I tell my family binge watching Food Network. Not only that, I then go off and stalk the show hosts I like on the interwebs.  

In doing so over this past few months I have developed a huge crush on Anthony Bourdain. Not the kind of teenage-girly-mid-life-crisis-leave-your-husband kind of crush, but one of those crushes when someone out there just “gets” ( obnoxiously swearingly agrees with) the way you think about stuff and then takes it a bit further and more think-y-er. (His recent essay on sexist kitchen culture has made him just that bit more interesting and attractive).

In short, I have an intellectual food-crush on this guy (she says adding him to the ever-growing list of food crushes … Sarah Wilson, Rachel Khoo, Maggie Beer, Rick Stein and that River Cottage Guy are just a few others. It’s getting pretty long). He’s not more special than any of the other chefs, cooks or obnoxious opinionated food lovers I follow on the interwebs. I  actually don’t know that much about his foody history, but I do like his no-BS commentary on the places he visits.  In particular like the attitude he shows towards food in his TV shows.

Yes, he visits “classy” “trendy” places and tries out all the fancy overpriced weird crud they offer, but the best bits are where he eats “real food” (and compares it to politics and stuff). The kind of food street vendors and somebodies Nona have been making for centuries (sometimes longer). And guess what… none of the stuff he rates as awesome is over-processed food chain or trendy “superfood” cafe fare. 

I actually cringe a little every time some hipster -wanna-be food guru uses the term “super-food”.

I feel more than a little miffed that all the so-called “experts” have treated us “ordinary” people like we’re just a little dim. I also feel a tad guilty that over the years, I too have been known to succumb to the hype spouted by popular and scientific media (yes scientists are hype-y too… they want you to believe that their research is better and more right-er than the other guys).

Take for example kale.

Yes its good for you, but, and I hate to be the one to tell you, kale is not new. I remember it in my own Nan’s garden in the 1970s (yes I’m that old) and there’s a bunch of WW2 era recipes out there that list it as a major ingredient (check out this recipe for Kale and Potato Soup). It grows just as easily as spinach or silverbeet, has the same kind of nutrients (there’s a table with all the numbers here for those who like that sort of thing). So quite frankly you can cram your $7 kale smoothie up your proverbial jacksy even if it is delicious. And I’m not the only one who thinks this. Theres a whole bunch of bloggers out there that tell you how to make your own and avoid the ridiculous Cafe prices (okay I lied theres just that one ). Even so, last time I went to the local greengrocer a bunch of kale was priced somewhere around $5. That’s still an expensive smoothie.

Same goes for those trendy quinoa salads (pronounced in our house key-noh-ahh) and chia (Chee-ahh) seed pudding slops. Okay, so I’ve tried them both. I’ll admit I did kind of like the pudding, it wasn’t abhorrent and I’m actually trying to use up the last of the chia seeds I brought months ago today by adding them to a beef casserole- kinda weird but its working.

I will also admit that I do love almond milk (used to make the pudding slop) which is both easily accessible here and not expensive. Almonds are grown on a farm near our house so I make the almond milk, mainly because I have an intolerance for the regular cow stuff, I’m not allergic it just makes me gag most days.

Yes, quinoa, chia seeds or your fancy dried frankle-frugen-berries are okay. Yes, they’re nutritional dynamite, but so is just about any fruit or vegetable if you don’t process the crap out of it. If you have food allergies and such they’re fab, but things like chia seed or quinoa are hard (almost impossible) to get un- plastic-packaged here in rural NSW, and often are transported in from overseas. Even if they are grown here in Australia are quite frankly overpriced for a lot of us feeding families on a budget. Quinoa costs approximately $14 per kilo here. Its currently around $2 per 100 grams at Woolworths, as opposed to  brown rice which is around 27 cents per 100 grams. Yes, quinoa beats brown rice for protein and a few other things but really they’re not all that different nutritionally, there’s a comparison diagram here.

Even “ordinary” foods have skyrocketed in price since being given the “super” label. Berries are the best example I can think of… blueberries here are $5 for a 200 gram punnet on a good day. That’s Australian dollars which equates to about 2 pound 50 or somewhere around $3.50 US depending on exchange rates and that’s just your un-organic supermarket variety, organic is (as always) a lot more. Frozen are often a lot cheaper (not to mention convenient) but again the plastic bag and transport.

Yeah okay so I made the frankle-frugen-berries up earlier, but you get what I mean….

In short, all these foodstuffs, and a whole lot of others are extremely un-family- budget or zero-waste friendly. Unless you have access to fantastic bulk stores locally, its hard to find most “superfoods” packaged in anything but plastic bags or other environmentally unfriendly containers. Yes they’ve got great nutritional stats, but so does almost every single unprocessed food (think whole grains, fruit, veg, dairy, meat). 

Add to that, the majority of recipes call for extra speciality ingredients that are equally ridiculous in price for families on a budget and get used once, thrown in the cupboard only to be forgotten and then thrown out next time you spring clean.

I have a suggestion for all of us that have succumb to the “superfood” hype at one time or another… it might not be a popular idea, but how about we forget it. Forget “superfood” altogether and eat “real” food instead. You know the stuff you can get at your local butcher, greengrocer, bakery or supermarket. If you have a green thumb or are lucky enough to live with someone who does, the stuff you grow yourself (hint-hint Mr Scraps, Grandad Scraps) and the stuff you can make in your own kitchen.

It’s better for you. “They” proved it in the 1940s (particularly in England) when people ate far less meat, less fat and less sugar than we do today due to rationing. It probably wasn’t the worlds most exciting diet most days (you had to take what you could get – there was a war happening) but on the whole people were fitter and healthier than they had been before or have been since. Give it a look-see on Dr. Google, most information is from England but here’s an SBS show about it . It was by no means perfect (nothing ever truly is, is it?) and food may have required a lot more preparation than today without our modern conveniences like refrigerators, microwaves and food processors, but it kept people, on the whole, fed and produced far far less waste than we do today.

For me personally biggest bonus to no longer buying into the “superfood” hype is that it saves sooo much time, mainly because its been done before. In the Scrap House we eat things like carrots, pumpkin, beans, mince beef and sometimes even…shock horror… white potatoes!

Why?

Because they’ve been done before. I don’t have to spend 14 hours trawling the internet trying to find out how the heck to cook that supa-dippity-do-dah ingredient after a day at work with a hungry 4-year-old at my feet. If you don’t slather most whole real food stuffs in fat or sugar they have nutritional values on the same levels as your expensive “superfood” varieties.  The biggest bonus is however, that NO ONE in the Scrap House turns their nose up at a humble baked spud or meatloaf full of hidden grated veg, they will however leave the kale chips to go limp on the bench  and that quinoa salad with laboriously extracted pomegranate seed embellishments to fester in the back of the fridge….

….. and it would of too, but I ate that stuff for lunch for a week just so it didn’t get thrown to the Immortal Chicken.

 

 

 

How we Clean the Scrap House Without Chemicals for Under $10 a Month

Feeding your family great food on a budget isn’t just about what you plate up and take to the table. It isn’t just about the produce you buy or your cooking techniques, it’s a reflection of your entire cooking environment. How you organise your space, prep your food and even how you launder you tea towels, will affect the quality of your final product. Here in the Scrap House we try our best within our budget to eat healthy nutritious food and avoid ingesting any unnecessary chemicals. One of the best ways to do this (besides buying pesticide free produce etc) is to eliminate the chemical cleaners.

I’ve posted a few times recently with recipes for homemade cleaning products, but I get so many emails and messages about them all I thought it would be nice to have them all in one place (ie.this post).

I also get asked about how much it costs to switch over, how much time it takes to organise it all and what extras I needed to buy to switch over.

The short answer is, it costs next to nothing and no special equipment needed. You probably already have everything you need in your house already.

The long answer is, it might cost you a few dollars to get going (I’m talking maybe $20 or $30 if you don’t have things already but if you divide it by 12 it works out to between $1.20 and $2.50 a month, although if you don’t have things like a mop and a broom it may cost a little more).

What you need

Not a lot. You probably have most of these things already. One of the great things about cleaning this way is that you can buy a few things in bulk and by just mixing them in different ways you can make lots of different “products”. 

For the purposes of this post I’m going to assume that your cleaning cupboard already contains cleaning cloths, a mop, scrub brush, broom, buckets and so forth. If you need to purchase any of these things it’s obviously going to cost a little (or a lot) more than $10 for the month.

White Vinegar we use approximately 2 litres per month ($1.20 for 2 litres in a recyclable plastic bottle or we use homemade Apple Scrap Vinegar but its not quite as strong. I have seen a few places online that sell bulk but they also come in plastic bottles and work out  more expensive at around $2 per litre so until we find a place that has bulk on tap we’re sticking to the cheap supermarket brand). 

Bicarbonate of Soda (500 gram homebrand at Woolworths is $1.59 but it comes in a plastic bag, the McKenzies brand (in cardboard box ) is $2.49 at most supermarkets, we buy in bulk 5kg lots for $20.50 through a soap maker and go through about two lots per year and reuse the buckets for various things before they go into recycling).

Washing Soda is currently $3.85 a kilogram at Woolworths in town. This is the cheapest I can find it locally. There was cheaper online but by time I added postage it worked out closer to $5 a kilogram (if you can’t find it in the supermarket you can make your own from Bicarbonate of Soda if you scroll to the bottom of my previous post about dishwasher tablets you’ll find the instructions I shared with readers to make it in the comments). We use about 10 kilograms a year.

Bars of Soap (about $1 a bar. We average about one a month for household cleaning purposes (more if you count the ones we use for personal hygiene). We hunt around for palm oil free varieties when possible, if you wanted to you could make your own so you know exactly whats in it or if you’re not fussed you can get boxes of plain laundry soap in boxes of 5 or so from the supermarket laundry isle for under $3).

Essential Oils (Not strictly necessary but a nice addition. I like Eucalyptus, Tea Tree, Lavender and Lemon for their anti-fungus properties, smell, they generally cost a little less per ml than most others and at a pinch are available from your local supermarket in decent sized bottles. You can currently get 200 ml of Eucalyptus oil for $10 at Woolworths ).

Citrus peels & Juice (orange, lemon, lime etc. If you don’t have enough peels save them in the freezer until you do). We don’t buy lemons as lots of people we know have trees and are only too glad to offload a few during fruit season. They freeze just fine whole so I always just throw a few in the bottom of the freezer for when we’ve got none fresh. You can also pre-squeeze them and freeze the juice for later but I’m a bit lazy, so I usually just throw in the whole fruit.

Total cost for all this is approximately: $12 soap + $41 bicarbonate of soda+$30 essential oils + $30.85= $113.85. If you divide this by 12 you get $9.48 (ie. less than $10 per month).

There’s other things you could add like citric acid, methylated spirit, borax, extra oils etc which can be handy for stubborn stains etc but you don’t really need them. A few recipes use salt and sugar (dishwasher tablets and vinegar for example) but they use very little and most of us already have these things in our pantry cupboard anyway. I try and avoid borax even though it can be great for stain removal and give extra omph to some homemade cleaning  products as I found when we used it the Uni Students eczema flared up, it might be coincidence but if we can do without it why take the chance.

I’ve previously shared a few of the recipes we use regularly in earlier posts (you might have to do some scrolling to find them….

Apple Scrap Vinegar

Dishwasher Tablets

Cream/Paste Cleaner

Glass Cleaner

I’ve shared some details about our Laundry Powder before which I make by mixing 1 bar of grated soap to 1 kilogram each of Bicarbonate of soda and Washing Soda. We add approximately 2 tablespoons worth to each full load in our 7kg top-loading machine. We don’t use fabric softeners at all, just 1/4 cup of vinegar in the rinse dispenser. If we want to add smelly stuff we drop in a few drops of essential oil or I make up lavender or rose water when the plants are in flower.

Lavender Water 

4 teaspoons of lavender flowers fresh or dried (if you have or know someone with a plant grab some flowers and dry them by tying a bunch and hanging them upside down somewhere dry and airy. Pop a paper bag over the flower heads while they’re hanging to catch any that fall off, when they’re dry you can just leave them in the bag in a drawer somewhere until you need them).

2 cups (500ml) Boiling Water 

Steep the lavender in the water like you’re making tea. When it cools strain it into a container  and add a little to your washing machine either in the fabric softener dispenser or during the final rinse cycle. To make it a moth repellent use 4 teaspoons of lavender and 2 teaspoons of rosemary (if you don’t have a rosemary plant handy the dried stuff from the supermarket will do).

Laundry Gel

50 grams of pure soap (any kind you like). Grated. I just use the finest side of an old fashioned metal box grater and do half a dozen bars at a time. I store the grated soap in an old Tupperware container for whenever I need it.

60 grams (1/4 cup) either Washing Soda OR Bicarbonate of Soda

4 Litres (16 cups) of water

A Big Pot  I use my 20 litre stock pot but if you don’t have a big enough pot just divide up the ingredients into smaller batches.

Add a few cups of the water and the soap to the pot and stir until boiling. Turn it down to a simmer and whisk, stir,mash until all the soap is dissolved. Remove from the heat and add the washing or bicarbonate of soda, stirring well. Pour into a large container (this is where our bulk buy buckets come in handy) and stir in the remaining water until its well blended. When its cooled it sets to a soft jelly. We use two cups of jelly per full load if the clothes are really grubby, or one cup for smaller loads or things that don’t require heavy cleaning like cotton sheets.

Hint to prevent yellowing of clothes

I’ve had lots of people tell me their clothes either don’t come clean or their lights go yellow when they switch to homemade variety powders and gels. In our experience this isn’t the homemade product, its actually the residue from the old detergents stopping the cleaning process.

To prevent your clothes from yellowing and make them actually come clean when you switch to the laundry gel or homemade laundry powder put your clothes through a cycle using washing soda only. You only need to do this once,the first time you wash using your homemade products. Make up a bucket containing  2 cups of washing soda dissolved in 2 1/2 litres of water (about 9 cups). When you’re ready to wash just add 2 cups to a full load and run it through without adding anything else, then wash your clothes again using your homemade powder or gel. just do it as each batch of washing needs to be done. The clothes  already put through the washing soda only process just hold aside until the others have gone through,then throw them in and wash the whole load as normal.

For a good all purpose cleaner we use citrus vinegar. There’s heaps of articles on the interweb about it and I’m unsure where the recipe originally came from but I was told about it years ago (before we had internet – yes I’m that old, I can remember what it was like in the olden days without mobile phones or computers in every house) so hopefully I’m not plagiarising anyone here.

Citrus Cleaner

You’ll need.

A jar or jars (we usually have a few  batches brewing in the cupboard ready for when we need more).

White Vinegar

Citrus Peels. You’ll need to make sure there’s no flesh on them, you just want the peels. 

Fill your jar with citrus peels. Pour in the vinegar until peels are completely submerged. Put the lid on and put it in the cupboard or leave on the bench for at least 2 weeks  so the citrus oils out of the peels infuse with the vinegar. Give it a shake when you think of it to speed the process up. 

To use: Simply pour some into a spray bottle and dilute 1:1 with water. Give it a shake and use like any other spray on, wipe off cleaner. If you’re worried about it affecting your bench tops or anything, make sure you try a little in an inconspicuous spot first (the rim under your counter works well).

Note: You can leave this in the jar pretty much indefThe peels need to be fully submerged or you might find the bits that stick out go mouldy if you’re like me and shove the jar in the back of the cupboard and forget to shake it.

Saturday Semolina

We’re moving house soon so I’ve been trying to use up all those bits and pieces in the pantry so we don’t have to shop before we relocate. We’re only moving a few kilometres up the road but the fewer boxes the better. Our pantry is fairly organised compared to most but even I have some skeletons in my cupboard, or rather strange jars in my pantry. I’ve found all sorts of interesting and forgotten things in there. Half a jar of brown sugar from before we embraced a low sugar life, some two-minute noodles of death that came in a gift hamper I’m not sure when…they may have moved house with us more than once…scary. 

But there have also been some treasures, like the jar of semolina I had left from my last round of pasta making.

I have fond memories of semolina. When I moved to the big smoke (aka downtown Adelaide) in my early twenties with new baby in hand, hospitality job that saw me working unnatural hours and an often absentee and in hindsight, abusive husband (no, definitely not the current Mr Scraps) it was semolina that saved my sanity.

Or  was it the tiny Greek lady two doors down, the one with the knotty fingers and hearty laugh who brought it to my door in all its glutinous protein glory one Saturday morning. We’d met only  briefly a few days before when I caught her “stealing” the grapefruit from our tree that overhung the old pairing  side fence. She had thought I “looked a bit worn out”, so here she was pot in hand to make my day easier.

Saturday semolina became a thing. Sometimes  it was flavoured with nothing more than a little brown sugar, sometimes it swam in warm milk, others it was piled high with sliced banana or berries and their syrupy juice. And always there was thick, home-brewed black coffee. Sometimes we chatted and sometimes,  if my baby was sleeping we just sat silently slurping in glutinous goodness, washing it down with thick black goo. When we did chat,  we discussed nothing really,  the weather,  children, husbands and sometimes she went home with fruit from our trees,  sometimes she brought me olives from hers. They were some of the best conversations I ever had. It didn’t matter what time I crawled home after dinner service on Friday, or how many times the baby woke after I did,  I was always up bright and early Saturday morning waiting for the lady with the pot.

Eventually she showed me how to make my own as well as many other things. We eventually moved away, but I stayed in contact, if somewhat sporadically over the years. Sadly my Saturday Semolina lady passed away a few years ago at the ripe old age of 98. I’d like to think she’s out there somewhere, supervising ( and probably shaking her head, waving her hands and laughing) every time I make this…

Saturday Semolina 

This makes one really large serving or two small ones.

1/3 cup semolina
1 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp brown sugar (we substitute this for Rice Malt Syrup although if you use whole creamy milk you don’t really need any extra sweetener at all).
1/4 tsp salt

Put the semolina, milk, water, brown sugar and salt in a small saucepan.

Cook over a medium heat, stirring, until it is as thick as you want it. This usually takes about 3-5 minutes.

Serve in a bowl or mug with a little milk, and a sprinkling of cinnamon, sliced banana, nuts, a handful of  berries or whatever takes your fancy.

Why We Refuse to Resolution 

 

Some of you are probably glad 2017 is over, others sad to see it go. We’re a bit of a mix here. Fortunately more happy than sad. Whatever your feelings on 2017,all here at the Scrap House wish you a bright shiny Happy New Year… yes even Scrap Cat (possibly with some sarcasm – he’s a bit like that)

Happy New Year Humans… now either feed me or go away…

My personal & public Twit, Face-lurk and Insta-stalk notifications went nuts this morning with well-wishes for 2018 and declarations of goals for the year.

Save Money. Loose Weight. Get Fit. Travel. Get Rich. Be more Eco. Buy a House. Build a House. Become a Minimalist. Be More Spiritual. Start a Business.  Give up Booze or cigarettes or sugar or whatever else.

It’s great that everyone has “resolved” to do these things and I truly wish them well. Some of these are actually really awesome goals to have. But we all know that by the end of January most (practically all) of these resolutions will have fallen by the wayside.

Instead of resolutions in the Scraps House we set INTENTIONS throughout the year as the need arises/inspiration strikes.

The New Year is as good an opportunity as any to reflect upon our values and priorities.  We set (or at least try to) intentions to align our lives with these values. This isn’t goal setting—it’s not something we attach  expectations or evaluation to; rather, it’s a deliberate vision, a purpose, or attitude we’d be proud to commit to, one that matches our deepest sense of who we are.

They’re different to Resolutions because resolutions are goals and they are finite. They usually have a start and cut off date. EG. By December 31 I will have done/achieved X. That’s a lot of pressure. Intentions on the other hand (for us anyways) are about forming habits, going with the flow and building a lifestyle, yes they’re goals, but there’s no rigid time frames for any of it. Intentions allow you a little more wiggle room. You can re-evaluate as you go and a lot of times this can allow you to surpass whatever your original goal was.

Last year my personal intention was to finish my degree and find a job that was actually related to it. I talked about it a lot not to shout it out to the world, but more to motivate myself. Because I looked at it as an intention and not something set in stone I could tell people how sucky my essay sounded or how hard I was finding it to fit in study around work/kids/life. Yes I felt like chucking in the towel more than a few times, but because I hadn’t made it a resolution (other than assignment deadlines which were bad enough) to finish my degree by a certain date or at a certain level (other than the best I could do), set-backs like a lower than wished for mark on an essay didn’t make me give up or feel like a total failure (not always anyway).

Mr Scraps and I intended to reduce our household waste by whatever we could. This was a continuation of something we started a long time ago, not a new years thing. Its still going (in fact its on this years list as well) but we have no strict number on it. We produce maybe enough to fill a plastic bread bag (if I can find one) full of non-recyclable waste every fortnight,sometimes a little more, sometimes less. We’re still working on reducing the amount of recycling. If we’d resolved to get it down to a certain amount by a certain time (I see so many posts about people wanting to get down to that mason jar amount this year) we definitely would have given up long ago. Instead we’re happily plodding along, doing our best, making mistakes and learning from them.

Our intentions as a family are to simply continue being, to do what we can to reduce our waste and a bunch of other stuff. And we didn’t wait until new years to start any of them and I didn’t necessarily shout them out in public either.

Most things are little, some are larger but the list changes as we go.

Yep,I’d like to buy a boat and sail the world, build a tiny house and become a mountain dwelling self-sufficient hermit too…

But to be realistic….

This year we’re moving house so we intend to use it as an opportunity to reduce our stuff by leaving things in boxes until we actually NEED them. If we don’t have to get them out after 6 months or so we’ll sell or donate them.

Our household and  income is changing. Not just because we’re moving house. The Big kids are leaving home for their jobs, Mr Scraps will no longer be covered by insurance for his disability, the Younger Teen is turning 16, is changing schools and now has a part time job. Our intention is to try and build an emergency fund without sacrificing too much in lifestyle.

We’ve all over-indulged over the Christmas break, too much wine, too much sugar and just too much food in general (seriously will the ham never be finished? I feel like we’re drowning in the stuff). As of this week we’re taking a leaf out of one of my favourite blogger’s books (well posts) and intend to get back to basics with our food.

After my experiments growing food from scraps this past year my intention is to try and grow a few more edible things (probably in pots to start- although the house we’re moving to has a lemon tree already- yay. Expect lots of lemony recipes this year). Despite growing up on a farm I’ve never really done any growing of my own.The garden has always been Mr Scraps department, so I’m starting basically from scratch. I did receive this book for Christmas though, which I’m hoping will prove to be a bit of a useless Aussie gardener’s bible…

My celery I grew from a butt…

All of these intentions align quite nicely with our desire to live more simply and produce less waste.For me personally, intentions are about living low and slow, taking into account your environment, emotions and relationships.

What intentions do you have for 2018?

 

 

 

Glass Tupperware? Is it worth the $$$$

We’re constantly told that plastic is evil. I’m not going to lecture you all about it here, there’s plenty of research and about a bajillion blog posts about it out there, so if you’re interested in opinions or statistics do a search on the ‘ol googly. 

One thing most of the overwhelming opinions you will find out there is that glass is a much better alternative for food storage than plastic, both environmentally and affordability wise. But while glass is definitely a more environmentally friendly alternative to your mamma’s Tupperware,  I’m not advocating that you immediately ditch the stuff you already have. We still have Tupperware style containers that we have repurposed for storage in the bathroom , laundry and shed. Some we still use for storing dry goods in the pantry and the Scrap kids still have plastic lunchboxes which are being replaced only as they reach the end of their little plasticy lives. We have however, made a commitment not to bring (where possible)  any new plastic containers into the Scrap House.

Those of you on the face-lurk page already know that over the past few weeks we’ve been testing various brands of glass “Tupperware”  style storage containers. We already use the Glasslock brand ones and I’m fairly happy with them, but they’re expensive, I got a great deal on two sets from Shop Naturally earlier this year but even that was over $100AU and if you break one and want to replace individual containers they start at around $15-$20 each.

There are cheaper brands out there that claim to do the same job for much cheaper (around $5 for a 1 litre container) so we picked up a few and tested them out.  I’ll be updating this post over the next few weeks as we put each container through its paces so you might want to check back every now and then to see the final verdict.

Container R came from the Reject Shop and cost $5AU. The brand is Mijotex, is made in China and claims to be BPA and lead free, comes in a box with additional plastic wrap inside.

Container G is one of the original Glasslock containers we purchased earlier this year. Individually it costs around $15 ( current lowest price found on Ebay Australia). Glasslock products are made and packaged in South Korea. The set we brought came boxed with just some foam style sheets between the containers for protection. I’m told these can’t be recycled but there were just a few and we’ll reuse them when we pack stuff either for storage or next time we move house. 

Container  K was purchased at K- mart for $5AU. It’s actually Home & Co brand which is produced in China. It does however, come with a 12 month warranty (or so it says on the packaging – which is just the piece of shiny printed paper you can see inside the container). 

All three have been produced overseas and thus have a carbon footprint from not only production but also from shipping.   G was also shipped to my house which equals more emissions from postage. I picked R and K up when I was out running errands, so perhaps slightly less emissions there (depending on how they were originally produced).

All have plastic PBA free lids with clip-clop sides and silicone or rubber inserts to keep the seal airtight. R also has a steam vent for reheating food in the microwave, although we tend to NOT microwave anything in plastic no matter how safe it claims to be (call me paranoid but I just don’t trust that we don’t end up eating plastic chemicals).

The first thing you notice is the weight. The Glasslock containers are definitely heavier than the others. The container walls are slightly thicker.  Being glass, in theory all the glass components of these containers are fully recyclable (which is great). However they are all made from tempered glass, which while it makes them more durable and oven/microwave/ dishwasher safe, it also means that they are much harder to Recycle and can’t go into our regular curbside recycling bin. 

How we tested them out:

The first test we put them through was for leaks.

 I filled them all with water, snapped on the lids, shook them around and tipped them upside down. No leaks from G or K,  there was a little leakage from the steam vent of R

Next was the oven test:

When I made Lasagne for dinner two weeks ago (our dinner Lasagne is in the loaf tin top left of the photograph), I made some extra in the containers. They all proved fine in the oven and all cooked at the same rate. 

No cracked glass due to heat or anything like that, although I am going to reserve judgement a little until I have baked in them a few more times.

I let them cool on the bench before snapping on the lids and popping them in the freezer for a week. 

So far so good.

Don’t forget to check back to this post over the next few weeks, as I update the results. If you’ve tried any of these containers (or similar containers in other brands) let’s us know what you think in the comments below. 

Update 10 December 2017

So we’ve been using these containers a while now. So far, no breakages (either through use or clumsiness). 

The questions we (and everyone else it seems) have been most interested in are:

1) Ease of closing and opening lids?

They all open and close easily. I did find that the  G lids would “stick” a little if you put the lid on before whatever you are storing has properly cooled. 

(2) Airtightness of lids, particularly with liquids.

G and K seal well everytime. R has a little steam vent in the top which will leak a little if you tip it up so not as airtight as it could be.

(3) Stackability/space saving storage of the empties.

They do take up space in your cupboard. And while you can stack  them (depending on the sizes and shapes you choose)  they definitely don’t cram inside one another like a lot of plastic containers will. So none of them really save you any space in the cupboard. 

(4) Going from refrigerator directly to microwave (since freezertomicro is definitely a nono)

I don’t do this because I don’t like to heat up plastic of any kind in the microwave if I can help it (no matter how safe it’s claimed to be). Mr Scraps however doesn’t really have a problem with it, and neither do some of our friends. Surprisingly all the lids have held up pretty well, although R has become a little “domed” and G appears to have slightly “twisted”. 

(5) Materials issues (lids cracking or splitting, glass cracking or shattering, etc)

Except for the above mentioned doming and twisting, no issues with any of this so far with any of them. I have been told by a few people that the clips crack or break off after constant freezer use, but we haven’t experienced this yet with any of them. I’ll let you know if they eventually do.

A note on the dishwasher :

Dont. I know that most plastics say you can put them in the top shelf  but I wouldn’t trust it at all. The G lid warpped (not a lot but it was quite noticeable)  after only one cycle through. I was able to flatten it out again by soaking it in hot water and stacking a few of the  G containers on top of it for the day but to be other safe side, we’ll just be handwashing the lids from now on. The actual glass container parts have been fine in the dishwasher,  no different to a coffee cup or ceramic put dish. 

(6) Whether the plastic lid tends to hold any odors from prior foods


Not the lids so much as the seals (that bit of rubber/silicone inside the rim of the lid to help create an airtight seal). Especially on G. You need to take them out, wash and dry them well, especially if there’s been strong smelling liquids in them. But for hygiene sake we do this anyways. 

There’s been no staining so far, even with lasagne or spaghetti bolongnaise (which nearly always stains plastic containers and leaves them smelling of onion and garlic ). 

Stop the Stink

 

Mr Scraps and I ditched store-brought deodorant a while ago after I developed a rash using a popular brand roll on . Mr Scraps had issues with a few popular brands too, and after  reading some scientific papers linking some of the ingredients in popular brand name deodorants and antiperspirants with cancers and dementia we were both keen to find a natural alternative.

It took a bit of experimenting but we’ve found a few recipes that really work, cost next to nix to make and best of all don’t contain any nasty chemicals.

I make up two versions because Mr Scraps found my version (which uses baking soda) irritated his skin quite badly. Plus he likes his to have a “man stink” while I prefer a citrus scent.

Ms Scraps Homemade  Deodorant

 

1/4 cup baking soda

1/4 cup arrowroot flour or cornstarch

1/4 cup coconut oil

1 tablespoon shea butter (optional)

5 grams beeswax (optional)

10 drops essential oil ( I like tea tree or lemon but use whatever you like, or you can leave this out for a fragrance free version ).

A jar, tin or other container that will hold a smidgen over half a cup of liquid.

To make:  Melt the coconut oil, beeswax and shea butter in a heatproof bowl. You can do this in the microwave or place the bowl over a saucepan of water on the stovetop.

Add the other ingredients stirring until you get a smooth runny paste.

Pour into your jar and leave to set.

To used just scoop out a pea sized amount (you could use a spoon but I just use my fingers) and rub under your armpits.

Mr Scraps B.S. Free Man Stink

Mr Scraps Homemade Stink Stopper. He loves the recycled hair wax container we put it in!

For baking soda free version simply replace the baking soda for either diatomaceous earth or benotite clay. Mr Scraps likes sandalwood oil or frankensence oil for fragrance.

In really hot weather it might go a little liquidy so make sure you use a leak proof container if you’re travelling. The beeswax does stop this a bit.

If it’s really cold it’ll go hard. I just scrap some off the top. It melts from your bodysuit once you rub it on.

Miss T’s Flatbread 

We love bread in the Scrap House. Especially Miss T. Our local bakery makes some great loaves that we can pick up in our calico bread bag to avoid the plastic wrap but  they don’t sell flatbread.  

Flatbread is great for wraps, as a pizza base, to accompany curries, chilli and the like or as Miss T prefers them…warm and soft straight from the pan.

You can get all fancy with them adding herbs, Cheese, spices etc but your basic flatbread only takes two ingredients – flour and water, plus a little oil for frying.

Miss Ts Flatbread 

(Makes 2 large or 4 medium/small flatbread. To make more just double or triple quantities) 

1 cup Plain Flour

1/3 cup water

Olive oil (or your preferred oil) for frying. 

Mix the flour and water into a pliable dough, kneading until smooth.  Set aside in a covered bowl on the bench to rest for approximately 30mins.

Divide the dough into 4 (small/medium sized flatbread)  or 2 (for large flatbread)  and roll out thin on a floured board. A round shape is good because it will fit in the frypan nicely but it doesn’t really matter what shape they come out.

Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a frying over a high heat and fry off the flatbread for about a minute each side until it puffs up a little and begins to look a bit golden in colour. 

Serve immediately or once cool pop them in an airtight container to use later ( They last few days). They freeze well too. I pop them in the freezer with a layer of paper between them so I can just grab one off the top as needed. 

Variations: Replace the water with plain yoghurt. This is great for pizza bases.

If you’re going to store them a while add  1/4 teaspoon of salt to the dough.

Flatbread that is starting to dry out can be cut into shapes, sprinkled with a little oil and seasoning of your choice and crisped in a slow oven to make “chips”.  Great as a snack on they’re own or with dip.

We use plain wheat flour or wholemeal flour, but you can use any flour you like. Some flours may require more or less liquid so add water slowly until you get a soft pliable (but not sticky) dough.

Miss T’s Muffins 

Most days it’s  hard to convince Miss T (the Threenager with attitude) to eat anything besides chicken or peanut butter sandwiches and the occasional banana.  We tried everything we could think of to coax her into trying new things but, like most pre-schoolers, she’s stubborn. So we got a bit sneaky. She likes to “make” stuff and decorate things, so we’ve been letting her get creative in the kitchen (with parental supervision of course). These muffins have turned out to be a massive hit. She does most of the measuring and mixing, we just melt the butter for her and take them in and out of the oven. Today they were blueberry but you can substitute just about anything (grated carrot with a pinch of cinnamon went down well last week).

Miss Ts Muffins 

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

125 grams melted butter

2 eggs lightly beaten 

1 cup milk (any kind )

1/3 cup rice malt syrup (or sweetener of choice).

1 cup blueberries (or whatever – choc chips, grated carrot, rasp etc).

Preheat your oven to 180 C and grease a 12 cup muffin tin or line with papers.

Mix all ingredients except fruit in a bowl with a wooden spoon until fairly smooth. 

Gently stir through the fruit and divide mix evenly into muffin tin.

Bake approximately 15 mins or until slightly golden on top and muffins  spring back when lightly pressed with your finger.

Cool and enjoy.

This mix can also be divided into about 24 mini muffins (just reduce cooking time to about 8 minutes)  or as one “big cake” (needs about 10 mins extra oven time).

IT’S ZERO WASTE WEEK! Let’s Clean Up!

 

So for Day 3 of  International Zero Waste Week, let’s do some housekeeping!

The cleaning regime here in the Scrap House is much the same as everyone else’s I think. We tidy up, make beds sweep, vacuum, wash floors, windows, dishes, bedding and clothes.

Those of you that have been following this blog might remember me mentioning that our real journey to a low waste lifestyle actually began in 1995 after discovering that the Uni Student had mega-sensitive skin. I didn’t realise it at the time, but what I was doing to eliminate chemicals from our home was going Zero Waste!

It started with washing powder. The first thing we suspected when little baby Uni Student’s skin started to go red then blister and peel…yes it was that awful, I’m not exaggerating… I was willing to give anything a go to make our baby more comfortable, help her skin heal and stop it happening again.

For a while I just washed her clothes and nappies in bicarbonate of soda with a little white vinegar in the rinse and dried them in the sun whenever possible. It worked just fine, unless there was a stain. We needed something with a little more oomph occasionally.

That’s when Grandma Scraps sent me the book It’s so Natural. (I’m not affiliated with the author in any way and receive no payment for promoting his books, I just really like them). Ever since then I’ve been making our washing powder using a grated bar of unperfumed pure soap and some washing soda or Bicarbonate of soda. I still use white vinegar in the fabric softner dispenser (and for those who argue that vinegar will wreck your washing machine, our top-loader is almost 20 years old and still going strong and I have a friend with a front-loader who has been using the same formula as us for almost a decade with no noticeable damage to her machine. To make wool wash I use the soap, some metholated spirits and eucalyptus oil.

I’ve tried soap nuts/berries too and while they worked quite well and were on the whole one of the cheapest low waste eco-friendly options out there, there’s some suggestion that they’re not so good for those who grow them, plus there’s usually a lot of transport miles involved, so I might do a little more research before jumping on the soap nut bandwagon.

If you’ve read any of the other posts on this blog, such as the one about dishwasher tablets or the one about paste cleaner, you might be noticing a bit of a theme by now. White Vinegar, Bicarbonate of Soda, Washing Soda, Salt, Lemons and Eucalyptus and Tea Tree oil are staples in the Scrap House. We use them for just about everything. Lemons are usually free from a neighbours tree and everything else ia available from bulk stores, in really huge containers (brought in store or online) or in a cardboard box or recyclable glass bottle. The recipes for most of the homemade products are really simple too, just mix different amounts together and clean away, like the recipe for glass cleaner below.

 

Image result for vinegar and lemons for cleaning

Simple Recipe for Window/Glass Cleaner

1 cup of white vinegar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

3 cups of water

To make up pour everything into a spray bottle, pop the lid on and give it a good shake. To use just spray on and buff off with a lint free cloth or scrunched up newspaper.

Okay, so you might have to take a little time to mix up your own cleaners, but at least you’ll know exactly what’s in them. As we found out the hard way over the years, just because something is labelled “eco”, “organic”, “earth-friendly” or “for sensitive skin”, doesn’t mean that it’s chemical free or even effective.Big bonus that overall they work out MUCH MUCH CHEAPER than the chemical stuff you get from the supermarket. I haven’t really crunched the numbers, but I’m fairly confident that the Scrap House gets clean for less than $10 AU a month.

So today’s challenge is to try it yourself.  Swap out one of your usual chemical cleaning products for a homemade version. You can use one of the recipes on this blog or there are a lot more on to be found on the internet (good ‘ol Dr. Google again). You could try cleaning your bathtub with bicarbonate of soda instead of your usual cream cleanser or use some white vinegar instead of fabric softener or rinse aid in your dishwasher.

 

 

IT’S ZERO WASTE WEEK! Let’s Talk Recycling

Did you know that September 4th - 8th is International Zero Waste Week?
Are you ready for a challenge?

The first Monday in September marks the beginning of International Zero Waste week.

What is it?

Well, it's this awesome little grassroots campaign that started nearly a decade ago. It aims to raise awareness of the environmental impacts of the waste we produce. And it's growing. It started as a UK thing, but now its gone international with individuals, businesses and communities from 72 countries joining in.

Drop into this blog from Monday the 4th September 2017 for a bit of a chat and a simple challenge every day of the week to commemorate such an important cause for waste awareness.

Now let's talk recycling!

In a perfect  Zero Waste world we wouldn't need recycling at all! Everything would either be 100 % compost-able or reusable.

Unfortunately, it's not a perfect world and probably never will be, but we can all do our bit and in the Scrap household it all began with recycling.

We've always composted what we can and for a long time we've had at least one chicken to eat our kitchen scarps, but we haven't always had the lovely yellow recycling bin provided by local council.

It's awesome! At first you could only put paper, glass and metal in them, but these days they take all sorts of plastics too. Only thing is, while our Red Bin rarely goes out our Yellow Bin has often been overflowing!

The Red & Yellow Bins supplied by local council. We also have a Green Bin for organic waste

Where we live the Red Bin is  the landfill bin and the Yellow Bin is for curbside recycling. We also have a Green Bin that you can put organics in - things like grass clippings, bones, dog poop, kitchen waste, tissues, paper towel, pizza boxes - which goes off to a commercial compost facility.

Now it's great that so much waste is being diverted from landfill, and except for a few things we just can't buy plastic free here (milk) most of what fills our  Yellow Bin is paper, glass and the odd tin can or bit of aluminium foil. But with all the media lately about glass not actually being recycled in Australia, perhaps we should all be doing a little more to reduce not only what goes into landfill but what goes into recycling as well.

There's also a lot of confusion as to what actually can be recycled. For example, for years I was guilty of thinking that the paper cups you get your takeaway coffee in could be recycled because they're paper. How wrong I was. Here in Australia we're told you can put those cardboard tetra packs (the kind you take camping with your UHT milk and juice in or buy your fancy nut-milks in) but in most cases, they don't actually get recycled at all, instead they just get diverted to landfill. This costs recycling companies money and I can't be sure but things like this  may be part of the reason it costs so much to recycle things like glass and companies turn to cheaper imports from overseas.

     Not all glass is being recycled in Australia due to the cost!

So the challenge for today- find one thing in your home that you think might be recyclable, but you're not sure and find out if it actually is (and perhaps if it is, that it actually gets recycled in your area).

Oh, and once you've found out don't forget to send it off for recycling.

If you can't put it  in your curbside bin find out if your local council has a facility that will take it or (if it is small enough) post it off to somewhere that does.

   Pulling apart an old mattress for recycling

For example: We had an old innerspring mattress hanging around that has moved house with us several times because I couldn't find somewhere locally that recycled them and didn't want to send it to landfill (I wasn't even sure they were recyclable and I thought I'd eventually work out how to do something cool with it). Turns out, after a Dr. Google search that if you pull it apart, just about all of the components are recyclable, reusable or compost-able.

In some places old mattresses can be dropped off at recycling centres or bedding shops - Here's how they're recycled.

 

To kick it off - I've made a list of places in Australia where you can send those recyclables that can't go into your regular curbside recycling. I'll be adding more as I find them.

You can find it here on the Scrappy Links page.