Amonte Picante

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This is the best drink I’ve ever had.  It was so good I took a picture of it.

Yum

Yum

Ordered on recommendation of my favorite waiter at the Yew in The Four Seasons, my mouth is watering just thinking of it now.  It didn’t occur to me that I could actually make this myself.  Tomorrow is New Years Eve and although I’m still feeling rather poorly, I think I will try and make this.  I’ll sip it in my pajamas as I sit on the couch under a blanket.

Amonte Picante

2 slices- English cucumber (chopped and peeled)

2 sprigs- Cilantro

1 1/2 shot- Tequila

1 shot- Freshly squeezed lime juice

1/2 shot- Agave syrup

2 dash- Green tabasco sauce

Muddle the cucumber and cilantro, add the other ingredients and shake with ice.  Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with cucumber slices.

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Cheap and Green

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I often read blogs reviewing and recommending eco-products.  I usually find that the product either is only eco-branded; meaning that it looks like a green product, but dig a little deeper and it’s just a standard product with some great packaging.  Or maybe it really is a great product, but it’s so expensive I just wouldn’t buy it for myself.  Why is it that eco-products tends to have fewer ingredients, but will also tend to be more expensive?  I guess better quality ingredients cost more, but that isn’t always true.  My friend has a theory that the more expensive the product the more we are likely to think the product should be amazing.  If it were to be inexpensive, the product would appear to be junk.  Maybe that’s true, but it’s annoying for this eco-girl on a budget.

 

I’m picking a random example- http://www.ecocandleco.com/index.html

Eco-Candle-Co-8052_2

Priced at $21-$31 per candle, they are pretty pricey.  These candles are made of soybeans grown in the USA.  American grown soybeans are probably better than other countries where soybean agriculture is blamed for de-forestation and endangered animal habitat loss.  However, most of the soy grown is genetically modified and 80% of it is destined to be used as cheap food for livestock.  Soy is cheap, and so is soy wax.  It’s one of the cheapest options out there, so why is the candle so pricey?

Inevitably I start thinking that I can just make candles myself in a much more eco-friendly economical way.  In the past I went to the local candle making store and bought all the supplies I needed.  This time I decided I could be even more eco-thrifty minded.  I asked friends and family to save me the wax from candles that they had burned.  I also posted on craigslist that I wanted to start a small wax recycling program.  Within a few months I had a large box full of wax and jars.

candle-recycle

I jimmied up a double boiler with a pot and a frying pan and started melting waxes to make the colours I wanted.  When the wax was between 180-200 degrees, I’d add the scent oil and pour the wax into jars.  Pop in the wick and the candle is pretty much done.  I decided against buying jars and cleaned out old candle containers and mason jars.

So far I have made about 10 candles, and have used about half of the wax.  The wax and jars were free, the wicks were $2 for 25, the fragrances were about $20 for about 15 half used bottles purchased off craigslist.  For the cost of one eco-candle, I can make 20 candles, and I have stopped a heap of stuff from going into a landfill.  I also have a fully stocked candle cupboard, and I have a stockpile of emergency Christmas gifts!  I think in comparison to my candles, eco-candles aren’t very eco at all.

diy-candle

If you have eco-thrifty projects on the go I’d love to hear about them!

 

 

The Parker

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Aquarello Carnaroli Risotto

Aquarello Carnaroli Risotto

I will admit that this post is long long long overdue.  I had some other things that pulled me away.  I have a whole stack of posts in mind, and I promise to get back on schedule.

My sister and I finally made our way to The Parker restaurant last weekend.  It’s been on my list of restaurants to try for months and months and it was worth the wait!  The interior of the restaurant is pretty small and simple in a minimalistic slightly industrial way.  I honestly couldn’t describe it any more than that, I am too absorbed in the pictures of the food.

Confit Potato

Confit Potato

It must be my German-Irish heritage, but I love potatoes.  I hadn’t really eaten them for more than a year but I fell back in love this summer when my CSA box yielded so many.

Heart of Palm

Heart of Palm

I loved the amuse bouche of taro root chip and some sort of dip that reminded me of artichoke dip.  I could have licked the slate clean.  In contrast, the risotto (top picture) I didn’t much care for, but if I’m honest I haven’t tasted a risotto that I loved.

amuse bouche

amuse bouche

Now I must admit that this happened at the end of September which was my eating on the cheap month.  This meal didn’t exactly fit into the budget, but it was a really lovely meal.

What’s In Your Products?

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Do you read food labels?

Seven years ago I was diagnosed with Celiac disease and had to avoid gluten containing products.  Since then I don’t eat anything unless I’ve read the label, no exceptions.  When in doubt I don’t eat it.  I know lots of people don’t read food labels, for a variety of reasons.  I don’t like that I have to read labels and so when possible I prefer to eat foods that don’t have labels like fruits and veg.  While reading labels looking for gluten, my eyes were opened to the crap that is added to processed food.  Inevitably I started to avoid these products and look for better options.  For whatever reason I started to read the ingredient list on my lotions, shampoos and conditioners.  I was shocked to not only find gluten containing ingredients, but also a chemical shit-storm.  I stopped using the ones with gluten and started to wonder wither I should be using the other products as well.  Like seriously, what the heck am I applying to my skin?  Our skin is not only our largest organ, but it also absorbs whatever we put on it.  Why am I applying chemicals at all?  Where in my body are these chemicals going?

 

Looks like shampoo, but really it's just cancer in a bottle

Looks like shampoo, but really it’s just cancer in a bottle

Overtime I started switching to more natural alternatives for toothpaste, shampoo, body lotion deodorant and sunblock.  I didn’t really know if the products were good for me or not.  I figured that if they had a short pronounceable ingredient lists and was sold in my local health food store it was probably ok.  A few months ago Eco Vegan Girl Whitney Lauretsen shared a website that she uses to check if a product is “good” or not.  http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has a searchable database of products and assesses their level of risk to health.  I found it helpful to see which ingredients should be avoided and for what reason.

 

EWG

EWG recommends using products that they rate as 2 or lower.  Overall the products I bought as natural alternatives were rated 2 or below, so I feel good about that.  There are some bad product that I’m still holding on to… cosmetics.  I really must invest in more eco-friendly make-up.

 

I encourage you to go the EWG website and search your products to see how safe they are.

Things I Like

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Itsy Bitsy Emporium

Itsy Bitsy Emporium

 

I bought this beautiful Buddha today from a lovely woman at Itsy Bitsy Emporium (www.facebook.com/itsybitsyemporium.3).  She imports stuff from Bali, and sells online and from her home.  I’m absolutely in love with so many items and will be back.  I wanted to share her store because some of the items she sells supports the fundraising for an orphanage in Haiti, medical centre and building a well.

 

My new Buddha is going to go in my garden for my garden yoga practice.

Brush With Bamboo

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I’m always looking for a more eco-friendly change that I can make. It occurred to me as I was about to throw out my toothbrush that maybe there is a better option. Over the last 30 years how many toothbrushes have I thrown out? A couple hundred? I spent some time researching other options.

The first one I came across was Source. The handles are made of recycled materials, either wood, flaxseed or paper, but the top part is disposable and made of plastic.  I wasn’t entirely happy with this because it is still a disposable single use product.  It’s a more ecological product, but it’s not that great.

 

I also considered Terra-dent, which also has a replaceable brush head, but it’s all plastic and I think I can do better.

 

I was interested in Dr. Du-More’s Oxo-Birodegradable toothbrush, this plastic consists of CO2, water and humus and apparently will breakdown.  I can’t really wrap my head around that, how long does it take?  I was able to find them for sale on Amazon, but I don’t like the look of them, and I’m not prepared to buy 24 toothbrushes at a time….

Dr. Du-More Toothbrush (24 Pieces)

I have finally settled on Brush with Bamboo.  The price was comparable to traditional toothbrushes, and I like that there is no plastic.  The bamboo that they use is renewable and doesn’t impact panda habitat which is something I wouldn’t have thought about.  Although the bristles are made of nylon, the rest is all wood.  There are toothbrushes available with pig hair bristles, but as a vegetarian, I’m not cool with that.  Plus all the reviews I read said that the pigs hair tastes like shit.  The Brush with Bamboo website had lots of suggestions for how the handle can be reused rather than thrown out.  I plan to cut off the brushes and use it as garden markers.