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Seeking An Earth Day Lifestyle

Earth Day summons ideas of planting trees, tie-dye and hula hooping, music outside, and sunshine. It begs for bare feet and green grass for one day but does not often extend much past the celebrations. But Earth Day has an amazing history, so why not use Earth Day to remind us of the incredible world we live in and take steps to protect it? The fact that you’re reading this means that you already buy or are interested in buying local food, an incredibly huge step in protecting the environment. So when that defensive guilt kicks in about how hard it is to live sustainably, let go, you’ve already started! I’m not asking you to go completely waste-free or to start washing your clothes in your bathtub, just take a minute on Earth Day to step outside and enjoy the lush greenery that has finally returned.

The first Earth Day was April 22, 1970 when Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson earth dayorganized an environmental teach-in after an extremely destructive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California in 1969. As politically aware and active as the ‘60s were, there was very little conversation about the environment; pollution and gas-guzzling were considered the norm, a sign of progress. Rachel Carson’s release of Silent Spring in 1962 slowly started the conversation and Nelson’s teach-in jumped onto that momentum and propelled it forward. He worked across party-lines, class-lines, and managed to unite people of all walks of life in a drive to protect the environment. On the very first Earth Day 20 million people took to the streets in protests and demonstrations to fight for a more sustainable and environmentally friendly economy. It then lead to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the passing of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and the Endangered Species Acts. Today there are events and festivals organized around Earth Day to bring people together and raise awareness about environmental issues, children go on field trips to plant trees, and more events have sprung up involving farmers and farming communities.

So, I have compiled a simple list of things you can do to live more sustainably. These are just a few ideas, take them and make them yours, no one formula is going to work for everyone.

  1. Shop Local—from local food to drink to clothing to your local hardware store, when you buy local products from a small local business you are positively impacting the environment. Your products did not have to travel as far to get to you and you are investing in a system that can greatly change the way we interact with each other and with consumer goods.
  2. Buy bulk items when you can—Buying in bulk cuts down on both packaging and cost. You can even bring your own container to put whatever you’re buying in bulk into so you don’t have to waste a plastic bag.
  3. Carry a reusable water bottle and travel mug, reusable shopping bags, and Tupperware in your car—buying water bottles is one of the most wasteful things you can do; bring a water bottle with you to refill and that will make a huge difference. Also if you know you are going out to eat you can bring your own Tupperware to put leftovers into so as to not use plastic or Styrofoam.
  4. Unplug electronics from the wall when you’re not using them—When you are done charging your laptop or your phone, unplug the charger from the wall. Even if the charger is not attached to an electronic, it is still using electricity when plugged in.
  5. Observe an eco-sabbath—This idea is from Colin Beavan, or No Impact Man, who took a year to learn how to live without creating any waste. He recommends to take a day once a week and use no electronics, instead go outside, read a book, or volunteer somewhere!
  6. Carpool, walk, bike, scooter, rollerblade—there are always innovative ways to get places; if you don’t have to drive, don’t!
  7. Mange your thermostat—keep your house at a reasonable temperature, open your windows when you can, put on a sweatshirt before you turn up the heat, etc.
  8. Educate yourself—A huge part of living more sustainably is being aware of the impact we are having on the earth and those around us. There are plenty of books, documentaries, clubs, and websites about all of the different aspects of the many environmental issues we are facing today.
  9. Plant a garden—Any kind of garden, vegetables, flowers, trees, herbs, bushes, it doesn’t matter! Supporting any kind of life is good for the environment and good for you.
  10. Get a rain barrel—You will inevitably have to water something at some time, so get a rain barrel to catch rainwater instead of using water from the sink!

earth day 2

The most important things to remember are to be creative and to be patient with yourself. Living more sustainably is not going to be an easy, overnight change – it’s going to be a process full of baby steps. It’s important to do one thing at a time and do it in a way that works for you and fits your personality. It’s not meant to cage you in, it’s about creating a lifestyle. Pick one of these things and figure out how to make it work for you, figure out how to do it well, and then move onto another. Pretty soon the momentum will build and you will find yourself gravitating toward a more holistic and sustainable mindset.

Resources:
-Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan
-Cradle to Cradle: Remaking The Way We Make Things by Michael Braungart
-trashisfortossers.com
-www.zerowastehome.com
-www.sustainablebabysteps.com
-No Impact Man—Documentary
-Dirt!—Documentary
-Tiny—Documentary

The Beauty of Artisanal Pasta and Cheese

This week we have insight from two of our artisanal suppliers, Melina’s Pasta and Hillsborough Cheese Company, on their preferred methods of cooking and/or using their products.

melina's fresh pasta
Photo by Melina’s Fresh Pasta

Melina’s Fresh Pasta is based in Durham, NC. Carmella, the head pasta-maker and owner went on a culinary tour of Italy that ended at an Italian pasta making school. “I have a passion for my heritage, culture and especially the food. My goal is to teach people about authentic Italian food” while, of course, providing delicious pasta! Check out her website for more information about her story, her company, and her pasta (she even offers pasta making classes)! I called Carmella to get some tips on the best ways to cook her different kinds of pasta as well as what to pair it with and here is what she told me:

Firstly, Italians don’t put much sauce on their pasta, Americans tend to drown pasta in sauce, so she recommends not using much. The pasta you get from Melina’s is so flavorful that not much is needed other than oil, butter, or a little bit of tomato sauce for savory pasta. Italians also don’t use a lot of cheese (unlike the pasta smothered in cheese at Olive Garden), just a little bit to add flavor!

Fettuccini or Gnocchi: After you cook the pasta save a few tablespoons of pasta water (because it’s starchy) and sauté pasta, goat cheese, and pasta water to make a thicker sauce. Herbed goat cheese would be particularly good in this recipe.

ravioli
Photo by Melina’s Fresh Pasta

Sweet Ravioli: Use browned butter as a sauce for the sweeter ravioli. I had never heard of browned butter before this morning and I’ve quickly become excited about it—it apparently has a very delicious nutty flavor. I found this recipe online, but it seems pretty simple. The key is keeping your eye on it and removing the butter from the pan when it is about a shade lighter than you think it should be to make sure it doesn’t burn.

Pierogi: There are two different ways to cook pierogi: you can boil them first and then sauté in a pan with butter and onions until they’re crispy, or you can just pan fry with butter to make them extra crispy. Carmella tends to cook pierogi the second way when she serves it and sometimes she cooks her ravioli this way as well.

cindy & Dorian in cheese shack
Photo by Hillsborough Cheese Company

Hillsborough Cheese Company is based in Hillsborough, NC and focuses on “the art of cheesemaking”. The head cheesemaker, Cindy, is a French-trained chef who makes mostly European-style goat’s- and cow’s-milk cheeses. “She earned a culinary degree from the Memphis Culinary Academy and spent a year at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, France where she graduated second in her class with honors and earned a Grand Diplome in Cuisine and Pastry.” Check out their website/blog for more information about their company and their cheese and this article in the Chapel Hill Magazine: Chapel Hill Mag. article on HCC. Also watch this quick video to see a little bit of what their cheese-making process looks like.

I spoke with Dorian on the phone to hear what he likes to do with their cheese and what to pair it with.

All of their cheese (except feta and mozzarella) are delicious simply by themselves with a baguette or water crackers to accentuate the flavor of the cheese. Wine, of course, is fantastic to pair with all cheese.

Farmer’s Cheese and Brie: Great with fruit compote, pepper jelly, or jams.

Farmer’s Cheese and Labne: Drizzle honey or olive oil on top before serving.

Bloomy Rinds: Bloomy rind cheese is cheese that has a rind around it and is softer in the middle, brie cheese is the most well-known of this kind. Hillsborough Cheese Company makes three different kinds of bloomy rinds and all are great with thinly sliced apples or pears. You can also bake the fruit on top of the cheese if you’re feeling adventurous, recipe here.

Grilled Cheese!: The aged cheeses (such as gouda or manchego) with mozzarella make a fantastic grilled cheese—the aged cheese gives it a good sharpness and the mozzarella gives it the stretchiness we all crave in grilled cheese.

Goat Cheese: Great in Mexican dishes, folded into omelets, on top of a burger, or even stirred into grits for all you southerners out there!

One of their favorite things to do is to cut a baguette in half, butter the bread, and add ham and either brie or farmer’s cheese for a simple but delicious treat.

Finally, what’s a pasta dish or a cheese platter without a good wine? For a hearty red wine such as Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon it is best with an aged cheese or pasta with a light tomato sauce. Semi-sweet white wines such as Reisling, Chignon Blanc, or even Champagne are great with brie and bloomy rinds as well as pasta with oil-based sauce. For a guide to pasta and wine check out this website and a guide to cheese and wine here.

White wine, brie, caembert and grape on the wood surface

Pasta dinner with bread and wineHappy wining and dining!