Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Earth-Friendly Dish Detergent

After reading a fabulous book called "The World Without Us" by Alan Weisman, I am newly inspired to do more to keep polymers out of my home (where they won't make their way to the oceans- where plastic is now the most common oceanic surface feature).
Here is something simple that everyone can feel good about. Make your own dishwashing detergent! Granted, using a dishwasher isn't the most Earth-friendly thing you can do. It uses a lot of water and energy. However, the way I cook and do dishes, I think sometimes it is more efficient to just run the darn thing (and it's EnergyStar rated, so that's good!)
Most dishwashing detergents you buy in the store not only come in a plastic bottle, but they contain unnecessary and harmful chemicals, like phosphates.
All you really need is a mild abrasive, and an antimicrobial. Baking soda happens to be both.
Here's what you do:

One part Baking Soda
One part Borax

(You can also use:
One part Sodium Carbonate
One part Borax. )

Just mix them up in a recycled container and use two tablespoons per load. This is not only better for the planet (both ingredients are water-soluble and harmless) but it's also extremely cheap.
How awesome is that?!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Bananas and Basil

It's hot. I think it hit 90F today. It's way too hot to bake cookies. I could probably pour batter on the sidewalk and bake cookies. But. I baked cookies. When a banana cookie craving hits, it's hard to control my actions.
To even out the extra 350 degrees in my house, I whipped up a banana basil smoothie. I know. It sounds strange. I have this giant basil plant that I suspect has some kind of hypnotic control over me; forcing me to add basil to every recipe.

Here's what I did:

1. Half a really ripe banana (a whole would have been better, but I used it for making cookies)
2. Two basil leaves (big 'uns!)
3. A sprig of stevia (for sweetness...didn't really work. You could skip this part and just use sugar)
4. Soymilk (vanilla flavor would have been yummy)
5. Ice (I used enough ice and soymilk in combination to make it blend.)
Then I put it in the blender and pressed the button. That's how smoothies are made.

Sure, sure. Everyone knows how to make a smoothie. Who cares? How did it taste?! I actually thought this would be a basil nightmare. I thought I added too much basil and it would end up tasting like one of those weird basil-seed drinks at the Asian market with the slimy seeds in it. (I digress...) But... It really is very tasty! The flavor is very light, which really surprised me. It went well with the cookies too.

Speaking of cookies, they were really yummy too. I don't know why exactly banana cookies always come out like soft little pillows filled with angel wing down. But they do. Angels vacationing on a tropical island.
The recipe I used is a little more interesting than recipes I've used in the past. Here's what I did:

1/2 C. butter @ room temp (which in my case is about 400F *wipes sweat from brow*)
1 C. sugar
1 egg
1 C. mashed bananas (or 2.5 big guys)
1 tsp. baking soda
2 C. flour
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 bars of chocolate (dark and milk) crumbled up.

Heat oven to 350F. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the egg and beat until also fluffy.

Mix mashed bananas and baking soda. Let sit for 2 minutes. (the recipe says that the baking soda will react with the acid in the bananas and make the cookies rise. Interesting...)

Mix banana mash into butter mixture. Mix together the flour, salt, and spices. Sift into the banana mixture and mix it until it's just combined.

Fold in the chocolate and drop dollops onto a baking sheet. Pull 'em out when they're golden-brown.

I can already tell I'm gonna eat too many of these.