Saturday, January 15, 2011

Recycle In The Kitchen

Most of the recycling that we do from the kitchen ends up out here in our Dirt Mixer. All those scraps and bits and pieces get put in the Dirt Mixer and after a few months they emerge as beautiful dirt ready for the flower pots or the vegetable garden.

What doesn't end up in the Dirt Mixer gets tossed into one of these:

All those boxes, newspapers, metal cans, recyclable plastics, and glass jars go into one of  these handy bins. From these colorful containers the fancy contents get dumped into the special roller bin that goes out to the curbside once a week for pickup. Just like this:

We do our best to make sure everything that can go to the curbside actually makes it out there. Other things go to the Salvation Army, The Goodwill Center, or to a friend's garage sale. 

There are, however, the Kitchen Recyclables that start and end in the kitchen. These are the real treasures!
The best of the Kitchen Recyclables are the recipes that have been handed down through the generations, sometimes in the script of the original cook, but more often scribbled on a piece of paper as the cook shows and tells us how to make that special dish in that very special way. 

My Mom sent me off into the world well prepared to face just about anything. Before my husband and I left for the hills of Utah as newly weds, my Mom gifted me with The Joy of Cooking, one of her family's cast iron skillets, and the belief that I could do anything if I put my mind to the task. I still use that skillet, have passed on the cookbook to my youngest daughter, and still firmly believe that I can cook just about anything. I know that I can do it if I put mind to it and just keep trying till I get it right! An example of that is in the photo below. I have been trying for three months to make the perfect poor-boy bread. It has to have a thin, crackly crust and be airy and holey inside. This is what it looks like right now:

One of the other great gifts my Mom gave me was sharing her recipes . She would write to me in Salt Lake City almost every week to give me more ideas of what to cook. She had a lot riding on these letters - I was the daughter who never really cooked much, or at all, actually. After about the seventh grade I just concentrated on the eating part and left the cooking to someone else. By sending me recipes each week she kept me in touch with the daily life and customs of my home place, New Orleans. Not only that, but she also instilled in me the curiosity about the local foods wherever I was. I also learned to ask those local cooks to share their recipes and show me how to make the wonderful things that they cooked.

This is what my collection of recycled recipes looks like on an ordinary day, although it usually is NOT all over the floor like it is here:

 I make the resolution every year to put them into some sort of order, but as soon as I start cooking all of that organization flies out the window! I made that same resolution this year - want to work with me on this? Let me know how you organize your recipes.


  1. Wow, I'm impressed by you having a dirt mixer. You seem to be great at recycling. My promise for this year was to improve my ways of reusing trash. Finding out more ways of crafting with it. And I now realize I could improve my thoughts about the kitchen's waste.

  2. Elisabeth, your post opened all of our eyes to what we could be doing! As I look around the house and see things handed down to me I realize that is another way we recycle. And when we trim our plants and hand a neighbor or friend a cutting, we are recycling all over again. This is such a great thing to actually think about - I am sure we can all find even more fun ways to reuse, repurpose, and recycle. Using my yogurt jar (because it is just so neat - I brought it home in my suitcase from Zurich many years ago) to hold my pens and pencils not only recycles the glass jar but my memories also!

  3. I have the same resolution!! THere are so many. I thought that it might be easy to scan them into the computer then try to make some organized sense out of the chaos, but that would take much time and patience. Good luck to you in organizing yours :)
    I like your composter! We have one but it doesn't spin. I would love to get one that does. It seems as if it would break down faster, is that so?

  4. I tried scanning also, but was too impatient - hundreds and hundreds to do and that is just too many!
    The Dirt Mixer is a real wizard. I love it when I find earth worms in there. I think it does breakdown faster because it doesn't just sit there and "stew" but everything gets jostled around every other day. I also put shredded paper in there and that really helps it along for some reason. And I have been told that I can just put the shreds out of the paper shredder on the paths in the garden to decompose as well as keep weeds down. I think I will try that too. But you have to be careful what kinds of papers and inks you put into the Dirt Mixer and the garden.

  5. I think we have the SAME recipe "pile"... oh, I don't know what to do with all of them. I don't even cook all that much (husband's job)... I did set aside any recipe that had been handwritten by family members (sentimental - not that I like all the recipes, but I love having samples of their handwriting)... of course, I have a small pile of recipes that are favorites. Unfortunately, most of my recipes are for DESSERTS... not a great idea for the waist-line & hips...
    What's your organizing secret?

  6. Christine -
    My wild collection is full of barbecue recipes! We should get our recipes together and have a grand dinner.
    I have the bad habit of using a recipe I am working with as the bookmark for the others I am using that are in books! Then I slam the book shut, put it on the shelf, and voila! instant lost recipe! I have to think back to what I was making the last time I used a card and then go dig out the right book to find it again.
    There is a better way - more to come on that in later posts.

  7. I have a box for them, it's organised but a bit fluid for when I change my mind.

  8. I started out with a box, but it quickly became one big jumble! How do you organize it and then manage to keep it that way? That seems to be one of my biggest problems - keeping things in some sort of order. I have finally figured out a method that works for me, but I love learning how others work this out.


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