Friday, November 28, 2008

Organic Turkey with Rice Soup

© copyright Carrie Boyko



Mmm, Mmm Good for the Cold Days of Winter!



I hope you all enjoyed your delicious Thanksgiving dinner and are now ready to make homemade Organic Turkey Soup. If you don't have time right now, package that carcass up and pop it into the freezer until you're ready. Then thaw it out and follow along. I am going to walk you through broth that is not only easy, but also very low in fat. This will only take a few minutes to start, and then it is mostly a waiting game. The wonderful thing about the time you put into soup is that it makes a lot. You can freeze the extra is containers that hold enough for another family meal. You should be able to enjoy several meals of soup throughout December.



Ingredients:
  • Turkey carcass from your Organic Thanksgiving Turkey, cleaned of meat
  • Turkey meat, cut or torn into small pieces
  • Filtered water
  • Organic Vegetable ends, especially: Onions, Carrots and Celery
  • Sea Salt
  • Organic Pepper
  • Organic Poultry Seasoning
  • Organic Rice
  • Grated Organic Carrots
  • Chopped Organic Green Beans
  • Chopped or thinly sliced Organic Onions (I prefer yellow)
  • Organic Celery, thinly sliced

Instructions:
  1. Place the carcass in a large soup pot.
  2. Add a couple of teaspoons of sea salt, 1 teaspoon of organic poultry seasoning, and 3/4 teaspoon organic pepper.
  3. Add all the ends, leaves, stalks, and leftover vegetables from dinner and preparation. For the best flavor, include lots of onions, carrots, celery, and any other vegetable ends which you like to flavor your soup with. If you have nothing other than onions, carrots and celery, just use plenty of them. Cut the ends off of all of them that you have in your refrigerator or pantry.
  4. Cover the turkey with plenty of filtered water and cover.
  5. Bring to a boil on high. Lower the heat to medium low and simmer for about an hour and a half.
  6. Taste and adjust seasonings after 1 hour and again at the end. If your broth isn't yet as flavorful as you'd like it to be, toss in a bit of the leftover turkey meat (dark meat will give the strongest flavor) and boil for another hour. That will usually do the trick.
  7. When it is done, remove from the burner and cool, scooping out the larger pieces of carcass, bones, vegetables, etc. with a strainer spoon.
  8. When cool enough to handle, place a strainer in a large storage container and pour the broth and remaining solids through the strainer. Lift the strainer out and discard the contents. If you are a really diligent composter, you may want to salvage the vegetables for your compost.
  9. Cover the container and place in the refrigerator for a few hours (or overnight), until the fat rises to the top and congeals. Now skim the fat off with a spatula and strain the broth several times through a fine strainer. This removes leftover small pieces of fat and gives you a clearer, low-fat broth.
  10. While the broth is doing its thing, you can prepare the veggies for the soup. Depending on the size of your turkey, you could have varying amounts of broth, so judge accordingly. I like a very full-bodied soup, so I tend to go heavy with the veggies. Every spoonful is mostly veggies, and a little broth. You may prefer more broth, so use your own judgment.
  11. My Turkey and Rice Soup will contain lots of onion, celery, carrots, and green beans.
  12. You can prepare 1-3 cups of rice for your soup also, again choosing the amount based on how much broth you have.
  13. When your broth is all strained and ready to make soup with, pour it back into your soup pot (now nice and clean).
  14. Bring it to a boil, and add larger pieces of vegetables first, along with the small pieces of turkey prepared for the soup. Taste test the broth for seasoning now and make adjustments to your taste. Lower the heat to medium low.
  15. After 5 minutes, add all the finer, quicker cooking vegetables and the rice.
  16. Continue to simmer for another five minutes, and soup is on.
  17. Warm turkey and rice soup is wonderful on a chilly day. Serve it with warm homemade bread for a wonderful comfort food kind of meal.

While you're enjoying your warm soup, you and your family can have a nice conversation about the upcoming holidays and your plans. Each of us may have different celebrations to prepare for. Although my December posts will revolve mostly around food preparations for the Christmas holidays, and creative and inexpensive gifts to make or buy, these posts may be useful for those of you who celebrate Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or other holy days. I invite you to stop in and decide for yourself. Monday's post will give you a sneak peek into December's topics, so join me for a preview. See you then.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving Thanks...

© copyright 1994 Save The Children Federation, Inc.
(photocopied from gift wrap)


Thanksgiving in America is a day that is set aside especially for us to give thanks for all of our blessings. This is not simply a day to eat a fabulous meal. Taking the time to think about what you are grateful for is a soul-searching, therapeutic task, one which helps you to focus on what is truly important in your life.

My life has come full circle this year in many ways. I am once again an empty-nester, as all of my children are grown or away at college. I am grateful that they all have excelled in school and are furthering their education to help them have successful futures.

I am thankful for a supportive, loving husband of 30 years, who never ceases to amaze me with his patience in my unusual choices of hobbies, activities, obsessions and quirks.

I am grateful to have gotten back to writing again through this blog, and to have you—my readers—to share my passions of eating organic and living more green. Thanks to all of you who have shared in helping me attract nearly 1500 visitors and write about 130 posts in just 5 months since I began on July 4th. What a liberating Independence Day that was for me in so many ways.

I am thankful that I have been fortunate enough to raise three environmentally aware children, who will each, in their own way, help to support and further my goal of contributing to a healthier Earth. After all, if we are not part of the solution, then we are part of the problem.

I appreciate the blessings of my life in more ways than I ever share, which is why I chose to write this post as a Thanksgiving Essay. I am fortunate to have a budding business, a wonderful husband, 3 great kids, caring family and friends, and a terrific bunch of pets, all which bring me much joy.

Finally, I am grateful to have gotten through some tough times with my health, and now appear to be on the right road. Diet and lifestyle are playing a huge part in my healing process. With the support of friends and family, my positive attitude has grown, and I am optimistic that 2009 will be an even healthier year.

I encourage you to take time to count your blessings. It will open a window into your soul, and allow sunlight to filter in, cultivating your garden of appreciation. Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Let's Roast a Turkey

Oliver is swimming the day before Thanksgiving. He's giving thanks that we live in Florida and the water isn't too cold!


© copyright Carrie Boyko




© copyright Carrie Boyko

Wet doggy! He'll take a great nap now while I'm cooking. Good boy!

Got your bird? Hope so, because I'm about to start prepping mine and tomorrow's Thanksgiving. Get that bird out and let's get him ready. You're almost out of time. Here's how I prepare my traditional stuffing:
Old Fashioned Traditional Seasoned Stuffing
  • Organic Bread Stuffing
  • Turkey Giblets, if desired, boiled till done
  • 1/2 bunch of Organic Celery Hearts
  • 1/2 Organic Onion, minced
  • 1/4 Cup chopped Organic Parsley
  • Organic chicken broth
  • 1 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Organic Pepper
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Organic Basil
  • 3/4 Teaspoon Organic Poultry Seasoning
  • 1 Tablespoon Organic Butter, Salted

Instructions:

  1. Combine, celery, onions, parsley and seasonings in a microwavable bowl with 1-2 Teaspoons water. Cook on High 4-6 minutes, checking for tenderness each minute after 4.
  2. Save all the ends, discards and unused leaves for the homemade broth. All these discarded vegetables will lend good flavor to your turkey broth on Friday.
  3. Mix cooked vegetables into bread stuffing.
  4. Boil chicken broth (use in place of water--amount according to directions on stuffing package) and butter.
  5. Stir together until well mixed.
  6. When you have your bird prepared, stuff the cavity of the turkey lightly with stuffing mixture, leaving some room for expansion.
  7. Cook any remaining stuffing in a small casserole dish for 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees.

No surprises there; I'm strictly traditional when it comes to stuffing. Now for a few tips on getting the bird ready:

  1. In a clean sink, soak the bird for 10 minutes in cool water.
  2. Empty the sink and rinse the bird, giving him a going over for any leftover feather roots.
  3. Drain the body cavity well and place into your oiled roasting pan.
  4. Dry the bird off well.
  5. If you've got a broth injector (a giant hypodermic needle), you can add flavor and moisture by injecting some chicken broth into each area of thick meat (breasts, thighs, legs). Add some extra salt to the broth to help the meat hold the moisture.
  6. Season with salt, pepper, basil and poultry seasoning to your taste, including the body cavity.
  7. A little chicken broth in the bottom of the pan will help with drying skin.
  8. After you've stuffed your bird, he can be covered and put back in storage until a couple of hours before you start to cook him.
  9. Roasting times vary depending on temperature (325 or 350 degrees) and whether you stuff the turkey or cook him "empty". Stuffed turkeys cook a bit slower (5 minutes per pound) but the stuffing is SOOOO good, that it is worth the extra time. Use 15-20 minutes per pound as a guide and start testing the internal temperature of the thigh after the minimum time.

Before the stores close, make sure you have a baster or basting brush to keep him moist while he roasts tomorrow. The other item you should have on hand is some tin foil to wrap his wings. leg ends and tent his breast, if he begins to get too brown. Wrap the tin foil with the shiny side out, reflecting heat away from these areas.

I'll be making homemade Organic Turkey Broth and preparing Organic Turkey and Rice soup on Friday and Monday. Hope to see you then.

Tomorrow's post will be my personal Thanksgiving essay for this year. If you have time to read it, I'd love to hear from you. What are you feeling thankful for this year?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Carrie's Favorite Cranberry Gelatin

© copyright Carrie Boyko
Sometimes this works, and sometimes you just have to serve it soft. Cranberry juice can play havoc with gelatin, so I've learned to accept what I get. Just go easy on the water. Either way, it is worth the effort. The flavor is awesome, and the antioxidants cry out--no cancer here!
The recipe that follows is my version of one that has been handed down through my family. Who knows where it started. All I know is that it used to have celery and nuts and other surprises inside. Nix that stuff and here's what you get:

Carrie's Favorite Cranberry Gelatin
  • 1-1/2 cups organic cranberries, fresh or frozen
  • 9 oz. of organic crushed pineapple, fresh or canned
  • 3 oz. package of organic cranberry or cherry gelatin
  • OR 1 package unflavored gelatin AND undiluted organic cranberry or cherry juice
  • 1/2 cup organic sugar
  • 1 tablespoon organic lemon juice
  • 1 small organic orange

Instructions:

  1. Crush and drain the pineapple, saving the syrup or juice.
  2. Add enough water to the juice to make a little less than 1/2 cup.
  3. Dissolve the gelatin and sugar in a little less than 1 cup (take out 1-2 tablespoons) boiling water.
  4. Add the syrup mixture and lemon juice, stirring well.
  5. Chill until partially set.

While the gelatin chills, prepare the cranberries and orange:

  1. Wash cranberries and orange well.
  2. Grate or coarsely grind slightly frozen cranberries.
  3. Grind orange, peel included.
  4. Stir cranberries, pineapple and orange together and return to refrigerator, while gelatin is setting.
  5. When gelatin is ready, stir fruit into gelatin and pour into gelatin mold or bowl.
  6. Cover and store overnight.
  7. Remove from mold by running tepid water over sides of mold for a few seconds.
  8. Place a serving plate upside down on top of mold and invert together, to remove from mold. Refrigerate until serving time.

I'll admit this recipe is, hands down, my favorite food in the whole Thanksgiving Day feast. Step aside folks; I'm having seconds!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Happy 21st Birthday, Brent!

© copyright Carrie Boyko
Caught Off Guard Snuggling Over a Football Game
Sorry, folks, but I couldn't resist. My son is 21 today and this blog was calling me to surprise him with an electronic announcement. This is a big day for him; today he is legal to do just about everything, except rent a car. That's okay though, since he would prefer not to own one at all. His plan is to dump his after college, and live in a city where public transportation is readily available. The green mom in me is really proud of his goal. His heart is in the right place.

Sometimes I wonder if he'll end up with an electric car, or perhaps a hybrid. The Europeans have it right with all the Smart Cars, but unfortunately they're not much protection when up against a head on collision with an Expedition or Suburban. That's part of the problem, you know. Getting Americans to change to smaller, more efficient automobiles is a safety issue--a big one. As much as I would love to own a Smart Car, I don't think I'd feel safe in my area. The ratio of SUV's and trucks to compact cars in this area is probably at least 6 to 1. Our Civic gets good gas mileage, but I'll be the first to admit that I don't like driving it on the interstate during rush hour. The risk is too high.
Enough on that tangent. Here's my Happy Birthday wish to Brent: The Caledonian Gold Organic Beer is in the refrigerator waiting on you. We'll see you at the airport. Happy Birthday!

Friday, November 21, 2008

My Most Popular Posts

A few people have asked me about my most popular topics. My blogging software provider, Google, has another program that keeps tabs on this for me, so today I'll answer that question. My analytics program is a wealth of information on the performance of my blog, including graphs and pie charts telling me about things like number of visitors and how they come upon my blog. It's helpful stuff, even if I'm still stumbling through using it. I can quickly check my list of most popular posts and tell you that these are the top ten:


Thursday's Green Tip Toe ( My personal favorite!)
Composting 101: Part II (Locating and Setting up a Site for a Compost Pile)
Today I have a guest posting on another blog, Busy Moms Recipes, where I give the second of my top 5 reasons for eating organic. Besides reading my post, you'll find other interesting topics of use to all busy moms, and a wonderful recipe site that you can search. Have fun exploring this great site.

Next time I talk about favorites, I think I'll list my favorites and see what you have to say. For now, I've linked all the titles, so you can check out the ones that float your boat. After you do, I'd love to hear from you. Are there some topics that you'd like to hear more about? What are they? I'm all about green and organic, so you pick the subtopic and I'll try to learn something about it and pass it along. My COMMENT link follows each post. It is purple. Click. Talk to me.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Simple Organic Sweet Potatoes--Spicy for the Holidays

© copyright Carrie Boyko
I love sweet potatoes. Even more than that, I love organic sweet potatoes. Their flavor is ever so much better than their toxin-laden cousins. I often bake one for lunch, just to savor the flavor as a lunchtime meal.

Today I'll share with you one of the ways I like to prepare sweet potatoes for the holidays. Keep in mind, most of my recipes allow you to prepare foods ahead of time, giving you time to enjoy your guests on the big day. This recipe adheres to that personal guideline, and the spices make for a festive flavor.

Carrie's Spicy Sweet Potatoes
  1. Wash enough medium sized sweet potatoes to allow 1/2 potato for each person.
  2. Pierce each sweet potato with a fork on both ends.
  3. Bake about 1 to 1-1/4 hours at 400 degrees.
  4. Test for doneness with the squeeze test; the potato should feel soft inside.
  5. Cool completely and remove peel.
  6. Slice into 3/4-1 inch slabs.
  7. Lay the slabs in an oiled or sprayed glass baking dish.
  8. Drizzle honey over each potato.
  9. Sprinkle each, to your taste, with cinnamon, nutmeg and ground cloves, going light on the cloves.
  10. Dot with butter, cover and refrigerate overnight (even a couple of days) until a few hours before dinner.
  11. When room temperature, bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Tomorrow's recipe is my Organic Cranberry Gelatin mold. This recipe is my version of an old family favorite. There are never enough leftovers, so when in doubt, make a double recipe.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Busy Moms' Tips Helps You Hold It All Together

© copyright Carrie Boyko


That 2 mile morning run wore these guys out. But after their nap, they are ready:

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko

My live-at-home kids, two pictured here, are all furry. Despite my other kids all being grown, I still have 2 in college, whose lives almost daily require, um, I'll call it facilitation. Yeah, that's a pretty good word for it.
Now I've met my match, well sort of. A friend of a friend introduced me to another busy mom, and I've found that I'm not alone. Not only does this lady work as a freelance writer, she also maintains 3 sites that cater to busy moms. If you consider yourself part of that group, I'd love to steer you in her direction. Your choices are:
Busy Moms' Tips -- These are short daily e-mails with quick ideas, all geared to help moms.
Busy Moms' Recipes -- This website contains tons of recipes-- whatever your heart desires.
Busy Moms' Blog -- You can access the recipe blog via the recipe site, or through this link.
If you're on my site because you're dedicated to eating organic, well, you know as well as I do that conversion is not rocket science. You can take most any recipe and turn it into an organic one in a jiffy. I've found substitutions for most everything in a traditional grocery store--thank goodness! Join me tomorrow for spicy organic sweet potatoes and next Tuesday (11/25) for and organic cranberry gelatin mold. This is my absolute favorite Thanksgiving dish, so don't miss it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Organic Mashed Potatoes Go Garlic


I've really become a fan of garlic mashed potatoes in the last couple of years. My husband, well, not so much. Oh well. I still enjoyed this recipe creation, which focused on an easy method to get the flavor I craved. Here goes:


Organic Garlic Mashed Potatoes


  • 4 medium organic potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes

  • 1 good sized head of organic garlic, peeled and chopped fine

  • 3 quarts organic chicken broth

  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon organic pepper

  • 1/4 cup organic milk

Instructions:



  1. Place chicken broth in pot.

  2. Add all ingredients.

  3. Bring to a boil and lower heat to simmer.

  4. The time will depend on the size of your cubes, so check them in 10 minutes and again every 5. Remove from heat when potatoes fall apart when stabbed with a fork.

  5. Drain and return to pan.

  6. Mash with 1/4 cup organic milk added to improve consistency.

  7. Serves about 4 people. Double up for larger groups.

The secret seems to be the chicken broth. When I made them without it, the flavor was hardly noticeable, so don't shortchange on this ingredient.


I'll be making sweet potatoes on Thursday and Cranberry Gelatin mold on Tuesday the 25th, so I've got your Thanksgiving preparation all wrapped up. Turkey is next Wednesday. See you then.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Holiday Planning

It's not even Thanksgiving and I'm already sweating the Christmas holidays. The cooking, shopping, wrapping, writing, packing, labeling, cleaning, baking, polishing, decorating... I'm exhausted just thinking about it.
Every year I make a "To Do" list and check it twice. It seems I'm both naughty and nice. I don't want to leave anyone out, yet I want to try to get it all done and still have time to enjoy the holidays myself. You know, the family being home, playing Jenga, timing to talk and kick back, and let's not forget the food. I like to eat; don't leave me out of the pies and cookies.
So all this brings me to the topic of today's post: Holiday planning. I'm not exactly a fly-by-the-seat kind of girl. I over plan. So much so that I probably stress myself out sometimes. Ask my kids and you'll get a big YES from that one. But I just about always make my deadlines, so I guess the result is good.
Some people I talk with are the opposite; they begin to stress on the 23rd or 24th of December. I know there are lots of websites and books that can help you with organizing your life, but today I'll give you my secret: my magic bullet, as Michael Connelly calls it in his Mickey Holler books. (My favorite is The Lincoln Lawyer) A former partner, Kim, liked this method so much she once asked me to write it up for her, and she was already an organized person. So maybe there's something to it, at least for those who are interested. Here goes:
The Magic Bullet Planning Method

My secret to making my deadline on any project is planning backward. Sounds crazy, huh? It's actually simple, and allows for things to go a bit awry at times. And it works for everything: deadlines for blog posts, manuscript due dates, Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthday parties, work assignments, major purchases--most anything that takes more than a couple of weeks to finish.

  1. Start with your deadline and back up 3 days. This is your new deadline. It gives you some breathing room in case of a last minute crisis. You can decide if you need more or less.
  2. Now comes the longest part of the planning process. Make a list of all the tasks involved in completing the project. Read and reread the list, adding things you missed.
  3. Now put the list in the order that the tasks should be done, understanding that some tasks will overlap.
  4. Reread the list again and you'll undoubtedly find more things you've left off the list. I always do. Add these in their appropriate places in the timeline.
  5. Next comes the hardest part. Start at the beginning and think through each item, considering what might go wrong. With these possibilities in mind, estimate a reasonable time for completion of each task. Now add 15% to that time and call this your time estimate. I'm sure you think I'm being overcautious, but this is REALLY the way I do things, and trust me, it works. You'll make your deadline.
  6. Get a calender page that has plenty of room for notes. Sometimes I scan my calendar before it is clogged up with daily duties, and use the scanned printout--enlarged--for my planning tool.
  7. Block out all mandatory obligations: work, appointments, classes, etc. The leftover areas are now your target task times (TTT).
  8. Add up the total estimated time for all your tasks on the list. Divide this by the number of days with significant amounts of TTT. This will help you estimate how many days you need to complete your deadline.
  9. Starting with the last item (roasting the turkey?), place it on the appropriate day. Obviously you won't be roasting the turkey 3 days before Christmas, so put this task on the date the family celebrates.
  10. Now you can count the days with lots of TTT and divide up the tasks, remembering to keep them in order. Some tasks may have their own deadline, such as mailing packages, so keep that in mind.
  11. Spread out the tasks, putting the first task on tomorrow's calendar box, and the last near Christmas. This should allow plenty of time in between for all the other things that life throws at you. Don't forget your usual daily routine: work, walk the dog, homework with the kids, bedtime stories, cleaning, cooking, etc. By all means, don't leave out the bedtime stories.

I'm open to ideas and fielding them through the COMMENTS link that follows this post. Drop me a line. And good luck. Happy Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, and New Year. Enjoy your celebrations and your family time. This is the making of memories.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Holiday Apple and Pumpkin Tarts

© copyright Carrie Boyko

Thanksgiving Dinner desserts are always an interesting part of our family's meal. Most of us want more than one piece of dessert, but don't have room to eat that much. This year, I'm solving that problem. I've designed mini apple pies and pumpkin pies, made in muffin pans. You won't need anything special to make these cuties, and everyone can have both. I know my family will love this.
Of course, if you prefer pecan or cherry, you can fashion your own recipe using this same idea. After I make the pie crust, I use a 5-inch round container as a "cookie cutter" to create the mini pie crusts for each muffin container in the muffin pan. I am using the medium sized muffin pans.
Because of the waste, you have to do this much like making rolled cookies. Pull up the excess, knead it back into the larger portion of unrolled dough, and go at it again. It takes a couple of batches of pie dough to make one muffin pan (12 count) of tarts. If you have a smaller dinner group, you could make 1/2 apple and 1/2 pumpkin, or whatever type you like--just split it up.
You can make your tarts open-topped or add a few slivers of dough to create a decorative top crust. Either way, they're undeniably cute, and delicious.

For the pumpkin tarts, I'm using the recipe on the organic pumpkin can label. I never met a pumpkin pie recipe that I didn't like. As for the apple, here is mine:

Apple Tart Filling Recipe (for 12 muffin-sized tarts)
  • 4-6 medium organic apples; I prefer Granny Smith
  • 1/3 cup organic sugar
  • 1/4 cup organic flour
  • 1/8 cup organic butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon organic cinnamon
  • 1 egg white
I may not do this the way the TV cooking icons do it, but I do get lots of compliments on the pie:
  1. Sift each muffin tin container with flour.
  2. Roll out your mini tart bottom crusts and place inside the muffin containers. You can either press the excess crust along the sides, or flute it--make it wavy--around the sides.
  3. Sift each crust lightly with flour on the inside.
    Using the leftover crust pieces, you can cut some slivers to create your own toppers.
  4. Make sure you have all your supplies out before you begin peeling the apples. You know how brown they can get in a hurry.
  5. I use an apple peeler from Williams Sonoma to speed up this process. This gadget is amazingly fast (3 seconds per apple) at coring, peeling and slicing. You'll be done in a jiffy!
    Either way you do it, cut up the apples small.
  6. As each apple is peeled, cored and cut into small chunks, place them in a bowl and sprinkle with a mixture of the sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Stir quickly and move on to the next apple.
  7. When done, stir well and spoon generously into the muffin containers.
  8. Top each with a dot of butter, and any slivers of extra crust, if you like.
  9. Turn the edges of the crust out and brush with an egg wash of 1 egg white mixed with 1 tablespoon water.
  10. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until crust is starting to turn golden brown.

After they cool for a few minutes on a cooling rack, remove gently with fingertips to finish cooling. Enjoy!




© copyright Williams Sonoma, copied from their website

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dinnerware Goes Green on Thanksgiving

So, you are the host for this year's family Thanksgiving gathering and you're coming up short on dishes. It has happened to the best of us. When you have a large family, you have two options:

  • Ask some guests to bring extra dishes
  • Use paper/plastic disposables

I know the latter has been the bad boy of holiday shindigs, but it doesn't have to be anymore.

Pictured above, scanned from Eco Products site, are some of the more useful and popular items you might need. No, they're not plastic and they didn't cause irreparable harm to the environment in their manufacture. Their only downside is locating them locally. I haven't yet found the cups, utensils or plates in my area. The good news is I have found several local retailers who carry BioBag biodegradable bags (available in various sizes). These are a blessing when you have a lot of company and need waterproof waste bags. If you have 10 kids at your Thanksgiving day meal, you're bound to get at least one cup full of beverage dumped into the trash. Plastic is necessary on these occasions.

A little bit of info on these products is needed to understand just how green they really are. For starters, they are all made from renewable sources, and they are all compostable. If you are a composter, there will be no big bags of junk sent to the dump after this Thanksgiving. If, like many people, you haven't quite reached the stage of jumping into composting, not to worry. This stuff will biodegrade easily in the landfill, unlike its predecessors, the plastics.


According to Eco Products' site, the compostable "cold drink cups are made from PLA plastic derived from corn. PLA plastic is a compostable material that when placed in a commercial environment will naturally decompose back to organic elements. Unlike regular cold cups that are made using petroleum, PLA plastic products are made using US grown corn!"



The cutlery is made from corn, and the plates are made from sugarcane; both also compostable. These new creations are healthy for you and the environment. I hope you'll give them a try. No doubt they are available on other websites as well. You can search Google for them in the right sidebar, if you're looking for a closer supplier to reduce the shipping (Eco Products is in Boulder, Colorado), or just check out Eco Products for their extensive list of green products. Good luck.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Co-Op America Changing Name to Green America

Our Trick or Treat evening wore Oliver out. After a quick nap, we changed him out of his Halloween bandanna into his new Tree Hugger shirt, but he still wanted to sleep. So much excitement in one night is too much for the little guy.



© copyright Carrie Boyko

© copyright Carrie Boyko


This Wednesday's website offering is an old favorite of mine, which will soon be changing its name. I have a dog-eared (no pun intended) copy of the 2008 National Green Pages, published by Co-op America , which is a wonderful resource for finding green and organic products. The National Green Pages annual publication lists thousands of eco-friendly, socially responsible products and services, with contact information. I also enjoy their mini sidebars of green information. In 2009, Co-op America will be changing their name to Green America, a fitting tribute to a big trend. For now, use the Co-op America link to find them at their current web page address. Enjoy the tour; it is worth some time to check it out.

Tomorrow is Thursday's Green Tip Toe. I will be sharing information on some recycled tableware and dish options. Some are even compostable. If you are having a large group for Thanksgiving, and using your dishes is not an option, first consider having family members bring extras. If that too is a problem, please choose recycled or recyclable and compostable products. Check in tomorrow for some suggestions. Hope to see you then.

Something New: Here Comes Busy Mom's Tips

Here's a last minute surprise, a little bonus. I've put together five short essays on The Benefits of Eating Organic. Today, on Busy Mom's Tips, the first will appear for subscribers. If you are a busy mom, this is a great resource. Each day, you'll receive a tip or two (possibly more) in your e-mail, once you subscribe. It's free and the tips are a nice variety of all things relative to being a busy mom. I joined this group a while back and have been enjoying the daily quick tips that await me each morning. Click the link above to visit the home page and read about the group.

If you're not up to receiving daily tips, you can catch my Benefits of Eating Organic at the Busy Mom's Blog on Thursday, and anytime after that. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thanksgiving Menu Planning

My Thanksgiving Menu

Organic Turkey with Herb Stuffing
Spicy Organic Sweet Potatoes
Mashed Garlic Organic Potatoes
Organic Green Salad
Organic Cranberry Relish Gelatin Mold
Organic Banana Bread
Dessert: Miniature Fruit Tarts, Apple and Pumpkin
Beverages: Organic iced tea and lemonade
Organic beer and wine

My Ingredients List

1 Organic Turkey, ordered from natural foods market
Organic Bread Stuffing (your choice of flavor), packaged or homemade

Stuffing Ingredients:

Organic Chicken or Turkey Broth, (fresh, frozen or canned)
Turkey neck and organ meat, if desired
1 bunch Organic Celery Hearts
1 Organic Yellow Onion
Organic Basil
Organic Parsley
Organic Poultry Seasoning
Sea Salt
Organic Pepper

Vegetables and Fruit:

Organic Sweet Potatoes
Organic Brown Sugar
Organic Honey
Organic Cinnamon
Organic Nutmeg
Organic Cloves
Organic White Potatoes
Organic Garlic
Organic Milk
Organic Salted Butter

Salad:

Organic Romaine lettuce
Organic Assorted Baby Lettuces, bagged
Organic Carrots
Organic Cucumber
Organic Green Onions
Organic Tomatoes
Organic Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing

Banana Bread/Muffins:

Organic Bananas, very ripe, fresh or frozen (5)
Organic Eggs
Organic Apple Sauce
Organic Canola Oil
Organic Sugar
Organic Whole Wheat Flour
Aluminum Free Baking Soda
Sea Salt
Baking Powder
Organic Honey


Cranberry Relish Mold:

Organic Cherry Gelatin, boxed
OR, unflavored gelatin and Organic Cherry Juice
Organic Crushed Pineapple, canned or fresh
1 Bag Organic Cranberries, fresh or frozen
Organic Sugar
Organic Lemon Juice
1 Small Organic Orange

Organic Apple Tarts:

Organic Flour
Organic Salted Butter
Granny Smith Apples
Organic Cinnamon
Organic Sugar
Organic Brown Sugar


Organic Pumpkin Tarts:

Organic Flour
Organic Salted Butter
Organic Pumpkin
Organic Canned Milk
Organic Nutmeg
Organic Cinnamon

Organic Ginger

Organic Cloves

Organic Canned Sweetened Condensed Milk
Organic Eggs


Organic Lemonade

Organic Lemon Juice, fresh
Organic Sugar
Filtered Water


Organic Iced Tea


Organic Tea Bags
Filtered Water
Organic Sugar, if desired

Organic Beer:

Caledonian Golden Promise

Organic Wine:

White: Any suggestions?
Red: Any suggestions?

No doubt this shopping trip will take all of my reusable shopping bags, but the feast will be worth the effort. Recipes will begin this Friday with the mini tarts. Hope to see you then.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Organic Banana Bread and Muffins

© copyright Carrie Boyko

Organic. Low Fat. Whole Wheat. Banana Bread doesn't get any better than this.

The season to share is almost upon us, and this recipe is made for sharing. You can make the batter into 2 dozen medium muffins, 2 loaves of bread, or mix it up and make 1 loaf, along with a dozen muffins. If you're looking for a homemade goodie to share with your Thanksgiving dinner guests, this is always a winner. You can even make it into 4 mini-loaves or 4 dozen mini-muffins. Who doesn't like banana bread?

Although, a bag of muffins makes a nice gift for that friend who has everything, I especially like this recipe for my own family. It makes great comfort food for a kid after a tough math test at school, and is a welcome addition to the lunchbox for the days to come. Lucky for me, my husband is only home in the evening, or he would eat them all. If you decide to keep, rather than share both halves of the recipe, I recommend you make a dozen muffins to freeze. You can thaw them one by one, or all at once; they are terrific as a snack, breakfast or dessert. If you come up short packing a school lunch, you can wrap a frozen one in a paper towel and allow it to thaw right in the lunch box. The paper towel will soak up any moisture and the muffin will taste freshly made.

Made with organic whole wheat flour, these muffins pack a good amount of protein and fiber into a small package, and to top that off they only have about 2-1/2 grams of fat per slice or medium sized muffin. You may have trouble giving them away when you smell your kitchen while they are baking. Here is the recipe. Enjoy!

Old-Fashioned, Low Fat, Organic, Whole Wheat Banana Bread and Muffins

5 organic bananas, very ripe and mashed (thawed, frozen bananas work equally well)
4 organic eggs
1/3 cup organic apple sauce
1/3 cup organic canola oil
1-1/2 cups organic sugar
3 cups organic whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons aluminum free baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons organic honey

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare pans with organic cooking spray and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, stir together mashed bananas, eggs, oil and apple sauce.
3. Combine dry ingredients and add to banana mixture, stirring until well-mixed.
4. Spoon mixture into muffin pans (about 2/3 full for each) and/or pour into loaf pan(s).
5. Bake the muffins first for 20-25 minutes.
6. Then bake the loave(s) for 50-60 minutes, checking with a toothpick to determine when done. 7. Baste the top of the bread with honey for an extra-special dessert that even us big kids can't resist.
8. After out of the oven for a few minutes, remove from pans to a cooling rack.
9. If you like the crust on the bread to remain somewhat crisp, like I do, don't wrap in plastic. Once you slice off one end, store in a flat-bottomed container or plate, setting it on the sliced end. This will do the trick.
10. For storing muffins, use paper bags, rather than plastic, to keep them from getting too soft and maintain that signature crispy top. Paper lunch bags can be placed inside of a gift bag for a festive holiday surprise.
Today's post is the first of my Thanksgiving menu recipes. It can easily be made ahead of time and frozen until the night before. On such a challenging cooking day as Thanksgiving, my goal is always to prepare as much as possible on the days before the big day.
Speaking of the big day, join me tomorrow when I will share my entire Thanksgiving Menu, along with an ingredients list for your shopping convenience. If you're the cook this year, it's time to start planning your big meal. In the days to come, I will bring you more recipes from this menu, and will even walk you through making homemade soup with your turkey carcass after your family polishes it off. I thank you for coming along for the ride.

Friday, November 7, 2008

So Many Greens to Wash and Store...So Few Paper Towels

© copyright Carrie Boyko

For years I washed my lettuces and other greens (basil is pictured here), laying them out on layers of paper towels and then rolling them up to store in the refrigerator, when dry. The paper towel helps to absorb excess moisture to avoid early spoilage. Brilliant idea, but very wasteful of paper towels.


© copyright Carrie Boyko


Pictured above is a more informed choice. I use reusable cotton kitchen towels, not the terrycloth type, just cotton. They actually do a better job, and plastic bags or wrap over the cloth is not required. I just roll up the greens in the cloth and then secure the ends with rubber bands. Yeah, I know. Rubber bands probably aren't terribly green. On the flip side, they are reusable; I keep a ball of them, which I continuously use and replace on the ball. I will probably never have to buy another ball of rubber bands. You can also keep those that come on other products to reduce your need to purchase them. Keep the mantra in the back of your head: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.



© copyright Carrie Boyko


I'll add one more: Rejoice in your success at practicing the first three. Good luck.
Next week I'll be hitting the Thanksgiving dinner preparations hot and heavy, continuing throughout the month. I'll include my all-organic menu and a shopping list on Tuesday, lots of recipes throughout November, and a few surprises here and there. Monday's shot gun start will be Organic Banana Bread/Muffins, one of my personal favorites. What's great about this recipe is that it is a wonderful bread to serve with Thanksgiving dinner, but also makes a terrific breakfast supplement or an anytime snack. Finally, they're great in your kids' lunch box, wrapped in nothing but a paper towel--no plastic bags required. Yeah! Have a great weekend.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Recycled Writing Instruments

© copyright Carrie Boyko

The pen and pencil above are both made of recycled materials. I was given these at the Big Green Expo by a representative from the Orange County Utilities recycling program. The main section of the pen is recycled paperboard, no particular surprise. But the pencil is made of recycled money. It feels much like any other pencil which is typically made of wood. It also looks like those pencils, and weighs about the same. Yet it is made of used, destroyed paper money.
I guess I haven't paid attention in my local office supply stores in a while, because I was told that similar such products are available. When I visited one store nearby, I did find recycled pencils, although no pens that were clearly labeled recycled. A website which I used for lots of green Halloween ideas suggested giving away these pencils made of money. Next year I may try to find some that are Halloween colors or themes, if possible. The idea that the pencils are made of money is really cool to kids.
Today's Thursday Green Tip Toe is all about keeping your eyes open. Watch for recycled products everywhere you go to make purchases. When you choose recycled, you send a clear message to other businesses who do not use recycled materials in their products. Send that message loud and clear.
Starting tomorrow, I'll be focusing largely on Thanksgiving preparations. with my menu and shopping list to appear on Tuesday, November 11. Stop in all month for lots of recipe and cooking tips, along with a few surprises.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Decorating for Thanksgiving Goes Green too

© copyright Carrie Boyko


Welcome home, Robby. Our rabbit is finally back with his true owner, my son, Marc. I'm not sure who was happier, Marc or Robby.
© copyright Carrie Boyko

I finally got a picture of Xena in her Halloween shirt, so I had to include it here. Perhaps next week, since we're finally having a touch of cooler weather (70 degrees today, WOW!), Oliver will be modeling some of his Winter wardrobe. Yeah, I have to admit, he has a shirt and 2 jackets. I never thought I'd be one of those people who had a little dog in clothes, but now I apparently am--occasionally. Oh well!


As usual on Woofing Wednesday, I offer up a website for your perusal. Today's site will give you some green decorating ideas for Thanksgiving. Care2.com is a nice group of sites to check out, along with this link on holiday decor. I hope this gets you in the mood for thinking about making your home warm and cozy for a day of thanks.
Also, I'd like to point out another great green post published today on Got2BGreen. If it is time to replace your old shower curtain, they've got the info on what to do with it. Don't throw it away and jam up the landfill; there are plenty of new lives you can give it. Repurpose!

If you're looking for some comfort food to make a warm and cozy day, my recipe for homemade organice apple sauce is posted now at Blake Bakes, where I am the organic baker.
Join me tomorrow for a quick tip on picking up recycled writing instruments, and again on Friday when I finally get back to food. I know I've spent a lot of blog time on composting this past month, but now it is time to think about preparing a Thanksgiving dinner. Next week I'll be on it. Keep checking in, and thanks for your visit.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Halloween Candy Causing Problems?

© copyright Rudy's Organic Bakery, taken from advertising material


It's that time of year. Candy is everywhere, including in your kids' rooms. This is when my kids used to always have one of two common problems; they either got the runs from too much sugar, or they got plugged up from too much sugar. Funny that these two very opposite problems can be caused by the same bad nutrition, but it does. We're all wired differently, and so our bodies can react either way.


So what's a mom to do? I have some info to help, and a couple of websites if you'd like to read more. Let's start with fiber. No matter which problem you're dealing with, fiber is important to correcting it. According to Bella Online, the top high fiber foods (with more than 7 grams of fiber per serving) are:
  • avocado
  • black beans
  • bran cereal (the Winner, weigh in in at nearly 20 grams in a cup)
  • broccoli
  • green peas
  • kale
  • kidney beans
  • lentils
  • Lima beans
  • navy beans
  • oats
  • pinto beans
  • split peas
  • raspberries
  • brown rice
  • soybeans

You may be asking "What if my kids won't eat anything on this list?" Here's Bella's B List, each item containing more than 3 grams of fiber per serving:

  • almonds
  • apples, with skin on
  • banana
  • blueberries
  • cabbage
  • cauliflower
  • corn
  • figs
  • flax seeds
  • garbanzo beans
  • grapefruit
  • green beans
  • olives
  • oranges
  • papaya
  • pasta, whole wheat
  • peach
  • pear
  • pistachio nuts
  • potato, baked, with the skin
  • prunes
  • pumpkin seeds
  • sesame seeds
  • spinach
  • strawberries
  • sweet potato
  • Swiss chard
  • turnip greens
  • winter squash
  • yams

Did you just ask the same question I did? I thought yams and sweet potatoes were the same thing. I'll have to remember to ask the produce department folks about that.

If Halloween candy has your kid a bit bound up, he needs two things: lots of water and lots of fiber. Of course, cutting back on the candy ration won't hurt either. Try my ideas at Taming the Candy Monster and The Mother of All Halloween Sites.

Now let's move on to that other problem, the runs, or more specifically, diarrhea. It's no fun. I consulted the Wise Geek for some helpful hints, such as:

  • Eat bananas to replace potassium lost during diarrhea and help firm things up.
  • Applesauce and apples are a good source of pectin, a natural bulking agent.
  • Yogurt contains natural live cultures that help restore intestinal balance.
  • Plain toast and rice are good mellow foods for calming down an enraged intestinal system.
  • Green tea and weak black tea (decaffeinated) help replace lost fluids (don't add sugar)

A couple of added tips that are important no-no's:

  • Avoid sports drinks because of their high sugar content.
  • Don't substitute apple juice for apple sauce or apples. Apple juice tends to act as a natural laxative--better for the opposite problem.
  • Steer clear of herbal teas, as they might prolong the problem.
  • Finally, skip additives such as milk, honey, sugar and sugar substitutes.

I've included the links to these two sites, so feel free to check out their other ideas and topics. Good luck getting through this tough week after Halloween. I remember these problems all too well. Hang in there.

One last thing: Don't forget to vote today. Our future depends on your participation, and getting involved is empowering. See you at the polls.

Monday, November 3, 2008

My Composting Pet Peeve

© copyright Carrie Boyko

Envelopes with plastic windows in them; I hate them! Why? I can't compost them because of a 1 1/2" x 4" piece of plastic. This photo above is a mere one week's worth of windowed envelopes that I cannot compost.

Kudos to the company who started making their windows with waxed paper, like the one pictured below:

And even more thank yous to the companies who use them. Get the word out at work, folks. You'll be doing a good thing for the Earth if you could each get your employer to use envelopes with waxed paper windows instead of plastic. Go get 'em!

Join me tomorrow for a short discussion on fiber, or more accurately, the lack of it in Halloween candy, and how to counteract that problem at this time of year. After that little side trip, I'll be over Halloween and on to Thanksgiving. We'll be talking a lot about good cooking in this month's posts, so keep checking in. I'll have my Thanksgiving menu and shopping list posted on Tuesday, November 11, for those of you who are looking for some ideas to green up your Thanksgiving dinner.

Speaking of Thanksgiving dinner, if your kids are like mine were, they love apple sauce. My recipe for homemade organic applesauce is just posted on Blake Bakes, where I am the organic baker of the group. I hope you will stop by to check it out, and see what other goodies are there for the baking. Warm, homemade Applesauce is yummy with ham on Thanksgiving, so keep it in mind when you're planning your menu.
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