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In My Kitchen… July 2019

Hello July. You crept up quickly. Other than a few days spent in Sydney catching up with my brother, a cursory glance at the June calendar shows that it wasn’t really an action packed month. Yet here I am, staring down the barrel of July. A quick check of this month’s calendar shows that I have a lot more comedy, cabaret, get togethers and exhibitions coming up so I need to get myself sorted with meal planning and prep. This past weekend has been spent getting organised with the usual spare lunches and dinners in the freezer as well as writing some posts for Plastic Free July.

In my July kitchen…

large jar la costena cactus nopalitos

…there is an impulse buy. Cactus nopales. To be honest, I actually do know how to use these as I’ve had them in the US but also to be honest, will I ever get around to it? I saw these when I was in the Indian grocer at an unexpected bargain price of 99c. I guess most people aren’t going to the Indian grocer for their Mexican staples. Perhaps I should just put these straight into the ‘to be used up’ basket I featured last month’s IMK?

rectangular basket with miscellaneous pantry items
I’ve managed to use up quite a lot and will have space for the nopales.
The Teff is still in the basket for those playing along…

In my kitchen…

two blocks of swiss crunchy corn milk chocolate

…is another impulse buy (do you see a theme?) Crunchy Corn Milk Chocolate. Apparently that’s a thing now. I know every chocolate maker in the land makes some weird hybrid crossover, limited edition, novelty chocolate these days but I can honestly say I wasn’t expecting to see this. It’s made by Frey, who are the number 1 chocolatier in Switzerland. The corn is the crunchy ‘corn nuts’ that are so popular in the Americas. I would have preferred dark to milk chocolate. As these were (unsurprisingly) reduced to clear, I’m prepared to compromise on my Swiss chocolate standards.

In my kitchen…

large green bowl of dried green apple slices

…are dehydrated apples slices. A lot of dehydrated apple slices. I saw two bags of small Granny Smith apples that I thought I could dry and turn into chewy snacks. I’ve never dried apples before and, knowing how long it can take fruit to dry out, I sliced them extra thin on the mandolin. A little too thin as it turns out. Rather than chewy, they are almost crunchy. I sluiced them in a small amount of lemon juice and water but was surprised that they did not discolour. I didn’t bother to core or peel them. They have been going into my daily spartan bircher muesli mix and last night, in a delicious mustard and prune sauce for pork chops. Next time I will core and slice them thicker, so they are more akin to the dried apples you see in the supermarkets.

In my kitchen…

various plastic and paper bags filled with dry pantry goods
Bulk pantry goods in re-purposed bags

…it is Plastic Free July. Plastic Free July is not about getting rid of the plastic you have. Once it’s on the planet, it’s on the planet forever. It’s about saying ‘no’ to new single use plastics; trying to buy plastic free where you can; reusing the plastic that you do bring in to the house for another purpose; and, if you need to dispose of plastic, doing it responsibly.

three plastic containers containing sausages, steak and mince
We take our own containers to our local butcher

In past IMKs, I’ve talked about our move to buying dry goods from bulk stores where and when we can, as well as taking our own containers to the local butcher. I’m no saint – we have plenty of plastic in our house as well as in our grocery shopping. I wanted to show you three easy things we are doing to stop plastic going back into landfill.

  • Net Bags – fruit & veg in net bags at markets are often only tied at the top. You can re-purpose these bags by threading some kitchen string through the opening and turning it into a drawstring produce bag.
  • Plastic Containers – butter and cream cheese containers are great for storing small amounts of leftovers in your freezer or for popping in lunch bags. Wash and use again and again.
  • Plastic Sheets – usually interleaved between frozen pastry, these can be washed and re-used to interleave between items you are putting in the freezer (eg: bacon, steaks, crumpets etc). I store mine in an old cheese box.
small plastic container with sweet muffin inside, plastic mesh bag with fruit inside and plastic box with plastic sheets

To be honest, every month is plastic free in my kitchen. We have made great inroads but still have far too much plastic in our lives. Cheese is turning out to be particularly challenging. I’ll be writing more about it over the coming month but wanted to give you some food for thought. Visit the website for more info: Plastic Free July

In my kitchen…

green nasturtium leaves growing in the sun in a garden

…are nasturtium leaves. It’s the middle of winter so there are not a lot of local, seasonal fresh greens available. Thankfully, I planted some nasturtiums before it got too cold, with a view to having more flowers in our backyard for our native bees. Though the nasturtiums won’t flower until it warms up, they are prolific in their leaf growth. Small leaves go into salads and larger ones are chopped through stir fries. I hope to make a nasturtium pesto for pasta but need to check just how peppery the final product is.

So that’s it for IMK July. I’m so glad we have passed the winter solstice and can look forward to incrementally longer days. Sherry from Sherry’s Pickings is our host. You will find kitchens from all over the world in the link up and perhaps you would like to add your own.

19 comments… add one
  • Mae Sander July 1, 2019, 12:00 pm

    I haven’t seen corn nuts for years. I guess they must still be a thing, as you say. I prefer my chocolate plain.

    Good ideas for reducing the stream of plastic into the refuse pile. The recycling service here claims they are still processing it, but I guess it would be better not to throw it in the bin.

    Have a good July.

    best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

    • Fiona Ryan July 1, 2019, 5:46 pm

      We have a recycling service here for hard and soft plastic too and we do put a lot in it but I try to look for other purposes rather than straight to recycling. It has changed some of my shopping habits. I now make my own spreadable butter using the same tub, rather than buying a new tub every time we run out.

      I’ve tasted the chocolate now. It’s OK but I’ll be taking the 2nd block to work to palm off on them. Great o chat! xx

  • sherry July 1, 2019, 2:51 pm

    hi fiona
    i love all your plastic reduction ideas. i am trying but boy it’s hard sometimes. i will definitely try the idea with old butter containers and the net bags etc… i do use ziploc bags but i wash them and use them as many times as i can. love the nasturtiums. thanks for joining in. cheers sherry

    • Fiona Ryan July 1, 2019, 5:49 pm

      We wash ziplock bags too. It’s not practical to be plastic free. It just isn’t. But we are making small changes. I now make my own spreadable butter to put into a container. I was straight onto the chocolate box website after leaving your blog, but sanity prevailed. Mind you, I will probably be passing through Melbourne at the end of the year…

  • Tandy | Lavender and Lime July 4, 2019, 6:51 pm

    Sorry, but it is a big NO to the Crunchy Corn Milk Chocolate. On so many levels I would not buy this. I must still get my ‘to use’ basket working for me. Your trip to Sydney looked amazing 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan July 14, 2019, 3:48 pm

      It was too sweet for me Tandy. I took it to work to use as ‘rewards and bribes’. The ‘to use’ basket is working well. I wish I had space for one in the fridge too but the current fridge is too small.

  • Amanda July 5, 2019, 1:31 pm

    I’m with Tandy on the corn chocolate – no matter how cheap it was!
    We’re trying very hard with the whole plastic thing and have been for ages, but some days it feels like we can never make difference. And I’m still to find an appropriate substitute for freezer bags. Ordinary sandwich bags or plastic bags just don’t cut it and leave me with burned food all through the freezer. I also have a vacuum sealer that I love very much – except for the plastic bags. Sigh.

    • Fiona Ryan July 14, 2019, 3:52 pm

      Every change is a step in the right direction. As I said, I am no saint. I still bring plastic in the house but I try to think about other options before I put it into my trolley.

  • Francesca July 8, 2019, 5:30 pm

    Thanks Fiona for this inspiring post. All new ideas on scaling back plastic or repurposing plastc is crucial to the future of the planet along with other measures to reduce climate change. I love the idea of reusing cream containers and string bags… and am keen to learn of your recipe for making spreadable butter. A special basket for stuff to get used is a great idea.
    Keep promoting these ideas, I think your having an impact.

    • Fiona Ryan July 14, 2019, 3:53 pm

      I am ready to post the spreadable butter post very soon. Sure, it’s not Lurpak but it’s an excellent substitute. Thanks for your encouraging words.

  • jrrose80 July 9, 2019, 10:01 pm

    Another inspirational IMK post from you this month. Love the reusing plastic tips – I never thought to reuse the netting as produce bags! And while I haven’t secured a basket yet for the task, I am happy to report that I’ve gone through quite a few pantry items that had been sitting unused last month thanks to your June post. =)

    • Fiona Ryan July 14, 2019, 3:54 pm

      Thanks for your kind words. I have upgraded the basket to a shoe box because I needed more space! lol xxx

  • Kim Bultman July 16, 2019, 8:21 am

    Dearest Fiona, bravo for braving your mandoline to make paper-thin apple slices (one of the few kitchen gadgets I’ve yet to own) and for your message re: recycling plastic. Both can be precarious, but it sounds like Australia is much farther ahead than the U.S. on the latter account. I recycle at every opportunity, whenever and wherever “local ordinances” allow, but I still feel guilty about producing “waste.” Your thoughts are duly noted! Also, I could go for a few of those chocolate-covered corn snacks (hopefully non-GMO) and dark chocolate would trip my trigger, too. 🙂 Haven’t tried nasturtiums yet — the woodchucks just ate the last of my hubby’s petunias, LOL! — but I appreciated your “food for thought.” (And recycling tips, too.) xo

    • Fiona Ryan July 27, 2019, 1:29 pm

      Yes, the mandolin is a danger. It’s a posh one with a guard both of course, the food doesn’t fit inside so I still have to fiddle around with it. The nasturtiums have been cut back hard and have bounced back within a few weeks in the middle of winter. I fear that they will take over the whole household this summer!

  • johanna @ green gourmet giraffe July 18, 2019, 8:43 pm

    I’d go for the corn chocolate bars – we had some popcorn chocolate recently which seemed like crispy corn in chocolate so if it is anything like that I am in! I love your idea of the basket of things to be used up – I need one. Your recycling tips are really useful. I recently went to an eco decluttering workshop which was really interesting as it talked about decluttering responsibly but also trying to minimise what comes in the house. I am trying to reduce on plastics but it feels like baby steps and when I look around it seems there are so many plastics in our life.

    • Fiona Ryan July 27, 2019, 12:32 pm

      Yes, It’s baby steps with plastic. It’s definitely about using what you’ve got (because it can’t really go anywhere except somewhere else on the planet) and looking for alternatives. We have so much plastic – especially soft plastic but I am very conscious about looking for a 2nd or 3rd use for things. The chocolate is interesting – the chocolate itself is very good quality though a little too sweet for my tastes. Still a square from the drawer helps with the 3pm munchies.

  • Shaheen July 28, 2019, 2:51 am

    #plasticfreejuly has not been on my radar this month, but i am not going to be hard on myself because I feel that I am making some changes in all aspects of my life, still good to see what else can be done. I love your’ to be used basket’ idea – think I have to steal that one for my kitchen! . I too would have picked the Cactus nopales, but the only time I have seen it is in a Mexican shp in London and when I lived in Glasgow and never picked it up, because like I would not know how to use them. I am sure suggestions will be offered. I love growing nasturtium in the garden and like you, hope to make some pesto soon.

    • Fiona Ryan August 3, 2019, 11:27 am

      That’s right Shaheen, you can’t do it all. If everyone makes some small changes, that can make quite a difference. Lol! I still haven’t opened that jar…

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