Kitchens (I Swear it’s the Last One): Waste

Here’s an issue never tackled in fancy kitchen books, beyond the boring recycle sorter.

I have so many categories of waste in my kitchen, it’s hard to keep up. And you should too!

First, and most obvious, the trash. The things we throw away. I love the term throw away. Ever stop to appreciate how poignant it is? Yup, let’s just toss all this shit…. somewhere…. I don’t care where, just– somewhere not here! When people get up in arms about dumps being opened near them I have zero sympathy. I think if we all had to keep our own trash in our own backyard the world would be a far better place.

That said, I do most certainly utilize the city’s sanitation services (actually, did you realize you have no choice? If you live within city limits you are required to pay for trash pickup). And to collect our trash in the kitchen I use this nifty petroleum product.

When we moved here, I’m not sure I’d ever bought a trash can before. Always just made do with whatever receptacle I could scrounge. But, I’m rather fond of this one I purchased. I think it’s a perfect size (15? gal), and it’s got one of those foot pedal closing tops. Especially nice in a place with so many buggies.

Now, short a fancy-pants recycle sorter, I use paper grocery bags. Simple, straight forward. Nothing interesting there.

But let’s move on to our composts. Here’s where things get complicated. Even my compost gets sorted! I have a (wormless) worm box (I will get the worms someday, but so far it’s just a surprisingly low odor compost box). Onion skins go under the sink currently, I’m saving them for a dying project. Citrus rinds go in the trash unfortunately, because wormies apparently don’t dig ’em. Coffee grounds go into a quart sized plastic container by the sink because– 1. then they don’t fill up my other compost bucket too fast 2. they don’t need dumping as often ‘cuz they don’t really get funky and 3. by the sink is where I’m standing when I want to dump coffee grounds. All other veggie items go in this old-school canister which sits right by my cutting board, the flour bag is for eggshells.

Eggshells need to be ground up, or at the very least broken up. The shell towers I love to make, one stacked right inside the other, do not compost well, worms or otherwise. Even broken up, they don’t really compost, but at least they look okay in your garden soil (old dirty shell towers look like hell), and all that calcium will eventually disintegrate and be awesome for your dirt. They’re much easier to break up once dry, so I collect ’em in a little box (like for cornmeal or what have you), or recently I started using this flour bag, ‘cuz that’s what I happened to have. Works great actually. When the bag (or box) fills up, just close the top, and squish thoroughly. The shells will pack down then and you can repeat the fill and squish process until the bag is full full. Then store till spring in a dry place (if they get wet, the egg will rehydrate and could go grody). Dump all your stored shells into a bucket or something and crush to your personal specifics. I don’t mind looking at up to dime sized pieces of shell. So I don’t worry much about it. If you’re lucky enough to have chickens, and want to save on the oyster shell for their calcium needs, just crush the hell out of those egg shells and feed ’em back to your ladies. I know it sounds kind of sinister, but some human type creatures have their placentas saved, dehydrated, ground up, and put into gel caps which they then consume for the nutritional benefit…. so– to each her own.

Then, those egg cartons. We eat a lot of eggs. Oh how I miss my chickens. Yes, the egg cartons are supposedly a superior bedding for worms, so I’ve been saving ’em up, and as you can see, they are beginning to rise from their grave for a second coming. I’ve got to sit down one day and rip ’em up. Oh the many things I need to do. A woman’s work, so they say, is never fucking finished.

I’d be happy to rip up egg cartons if someone would come and wash all the poopy diapers, pick up the toys I keep tripping on, and mop up the many and varied bodily fluid spills all over my floors.

On another note, here’s a few habits I’ve recently started up that I’m proud to show off.

When you have bitty kiddos, there is a lot more food waste. The Toddler just can’t tell me how hungry she is when I dish her up. At home in Cordova, I happily fed all those scrappies to my chooks. They, in turn, layed me beautiful eggs every day. Nice deal, for me anyhow. Here, every time I throw good food into the compost it kills. Ow. Ow. Stop hurting me. (Did I mention missing my little chickie-poos?) So, I’ve started saving some of the more edible scraps.

Bread scraps I stack up on top of the toaster oven till nice and dry, then stick in my bread cubes/crumbs bag (I’m working on a stuffing recipe with homemade whole wheat. It takes a lot more liquid.)

Granola and milk leftovers I pour into a jar in the freezer. When the jar’s full I use it in bread. It’s good, would be great for a raisin cinnamon loaf. Just occured to me the other day, I could use it for muffins too…

Meat and potato types I’ve put a couple of times into another freezer jar, but honestly haven’t used yet. These items usually just get recycled straight into the next night’s dinner anyway.

Lastly, what about all the potential RePurposes? They have to go somewhere while they’re awaiting divine brilliance. I have two of my lower cabinets half taken over by a catastrophe of various containers. I don’t like it. What to do with these ‘between jobbers?’ They don’t really need to be using up my valuable kitchen space. Here’s where a garage is handy. One could have a devoted shelf area in the garage for containers awaiting repurposing. Then one could actually go out and see what one had available. Instead of constantly battling a dark and pandemonious pile of plastics and tin cans every time you went to put the leftovers away…

—————————————————————————————-

Well, friends. That about wraps up the Reality Kitchen series. I do want to do a Fantasy Kitchen post someday, but, wow, imagine how long that could go on??? Better take a break before I lose any readers.

Kitchens, Part 4: Micro-Zones or “I Can’t Be the Only Whatever I Am in the Room”

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I think a lot.

It annoys even me. Or maybe, mostly me.

A blog is the logical extension of a brain like mine. In fact, I’ve always had a running blog in my own head, from back waaaaay before there was such a thing as blogs (from even before every home had a computer!)  No readers though. Just me and my brain, all by our little lonesomes, narrating my life in a continuous, endless loop.

Sometimes I catch myself standing slack-jawed in the middle of the room. I’ve been standing there for a full 5 minutes, clicking through all the possible ways, determining the most efficient way in which to execute a 3 minute task. I’ve been trying for 20 years, I can’t seem to help myself.

So, if you’re wondering, “Who the hell thinks about all this shit?” The answer is– me. And honey, it ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.

But, the brilliant thing about the net is that, somewhere, someone might be a freak like me, and actually care to read such endless analytical blather about kitchens. Here’s to you, friend, wherever you may be.

Micro-Zones

Every family is different. Here’s our daily small kitchen tasks:

Making a bowl of cereal. Which is to say, homemade granola. I always want to put the big granola jar somewhere out of my way, but it invariably migrates right back into the prime real estate of my main counterspace. So. I’ve given up. I keep it out now. Of course, having the granola near to the cabinet (for getting a bowl) and the fridge (for getting the milk) would be ideal, but our kitchen isn’t big enough to worry much about that….

Bread. In our house we eat all homemade whole wheat bread, which means we need a place to cut it. I’m actually pretty fond of those bread boards with the slots for catching crumbs, because otherwise there’s always crumbs all over my main cutting board, then soon, all over the counter. I found this one in a neighbor’s trash, brand new with the tag still on. There was a part on the left for olives, and a part on the right for cheese. It was one of those silly impulse-buy items, all the parts are too small to be useful. But I fixed her right up! The bread board was (just barely) big enough to be useful, if you let the slice fall over onto the cheese part. I cut the olive part off, because crap just fell in there, and it was in the way. I also cut a bit off the cheese side, so that now it fits nicely right in front of the toaster oven. Perfecto! Salvage plus DIY, my absolute favorite!

those slices up on top are heels drying out for bread crumbs

Here’s another issue with homemade bread– storing it. I hate putting my good wholesome wheat bread into a ratty old plastic bag, which is as you can see, what I settle for at the moment. I dream of someday having an old fashioned bread box, the door would swing down and have an integral cutting board. But for now I’m on the lookout for the right sized, extra wide mouth canister, which is what I was using back in Cordova, and it worked pretty decent.

When we’re on PB&J kicks, I have to give space to at least the PB. But ever-present is butter, and it needs to live right by the toaster. With all the baking that I do, we go through plenty of butter, so I have no concern whatsoever that it might go bad sitting out.

Coffee. You might have heard I’m pretty fond of the stuff. Unless pregers, I’m a strict two cups a day girl. And I’m a hideous coffee snob about it. Hubby’s standards are lower, but he’ll drink as much coffee as you throw at him in a day. Between us we need a minimum of two coffee makers, neither of which is the regular plug in kind. I use a stove top espresso maker (to make myself an americano) because nothing else tastes half so delicious to my, as mentioned, total snob palatte. Hubby loves the same, but prefers more than one cup at a time. For him we have a french press.

Let’s count– so far we have two kinds of coffee pots, and associated water boiling kettle, cluttering up the stove. One of these will fit nicely on the shelf above the stove. On the other side of the room (it’s small) I have the above Coffee Zone. I started keeping it all on plate a few years ago and have thanked myself ever since. The plate contains all those damned grounds that seem to leap out of the grinder and fling themselves hither and thither every time you open the damned grinder. This plate is especially perfect with it’s speckly glaze. Of course, an air-tight jar for beans, and here’s a good tip– use a plastic spoon to scoop coffee out of your grinder and you won’t be dulling the blades every time!

I wish we had a better set up. We make enough coffee to need a square of counterspace, and a little shelf, right beside the stove. But, ya do what ya do with what ya got.

Next up: Waste Management!

PS. Please, again, feel free to chime in with your solutions to the banal everyday kitchen conundrums. I’d love the company.