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Regrowing vegetables in water

Has anyone else seen the latest craze for regrowing vegetables? 

I am right into it. 

It is a great way to use up left over scraps of veggies that might go to compost. The biggest highlight is how easy it is, far easier than growing from a seed. It's plastic free, zero waste, and free! 

Right now I have springs onions and celery ends sitting in water, ready to be transported into pots. 


Regrowing vegetables in water

Regrowing vegetables in water

Regrowing vegetables in water

Regrowing vegetables in water

How do you do it, I hear you ask. Just plonk that end of the celery, the part usually thrown to compost or tucked away for homemade veggie stocks, into water.

Same goes for the spring onion ends. Then watch them grow.

Once they are in their pots I will be able to cut off only what I need and let the plant continue to grow. Especially happy to have that option with the celery.

These veggies have been in water for two weeks, changing the water every couple of days.

I'd love to hear from you about regrowing veggies. What do you regrow? Leeks? Lettuce? pineapple? Do you have any tips or tricks?
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The First Cookbook - The Books of Apicius

The Books of Apicius is considered by many to be the first written cookbook, dated around 1st century AD.

Image taken from The Books of Apicius


I found the allegedly oldest cookbook, when I was wondering how or where the obsession for cookbooks ever came from. My search led me to this little gem. The cookbook section in bookstores seems to be expanding, with new books hitting shelves each week. The internet is awash with them too. Recently I ventured into a Dymocks where the cooking section covered over a quarter of the store. My curiosity got the better of me, and I began to research when our love of cookbooks began.

Turns out it's been a popular subject for a long time.

The Books of Apicius is divided into ten chapters, similar to our modern cookbooks. A chapter for fish, a chapter for fish sauces, poultry, legumes. My favorite would be the first chapter, The Careful Experienced Cook. It has guides for preserving food and some medicinal concoctions.

There are no chapters dedicated to bread or cakes. From what I have read, this is due to these chapters being lost or people bought bread and cakes as specialty items from bakers. I like the idea of the latter because I am struggling to get motivated to make my own sourdough bread and I barely make desserts now. I can't remember when I made anything sweet...I think a persimmon pudding at the start of winter or thereabouts. Gees, one dessert in the last 10 months! I used to make a dessert every fortnight...

While there is no dedicated section for desserts there are simple sweet meals in the book but not many. Fruit, honey and a type of wine reduction was used to add sweetness, since the cane sugar we know of today, was not yet known to Europe. Some sources note that the pepper would have been a spice blend of different varieties.  

The whole animal is consumed, from milk to cheese, and every organ in between. Fish liver pudding anyone? Stuffed dormouse? At first glance some of the recipes might cause an eyebrow raise, but really they are not that unfamiliar in essence. 

The best part of the book is that it really does encourage that every part of the animal is used. Nothing goes to waste something many modern cookbooks do not cover at all. Many recipes call for broth, meaning the bones were too cooked too. It's fair to say the diet was heavily meat and legume based...and might explain the inclusion of recipes to aid indigestion or move things along. 

It's interesting to read the same spices and herbs used continuously. Vegetable choice is limited as well. This book is written well before items like tomatoes or potatoes and a host of other vegetables made it to Europe. And since the text is translated, there are funny edits from around the 1920s, that either vouch for the dish, declare is not satisfactory or try to fill in the questionable words left during translation. 

Below are some of the recipes that intrigued me...

[10] TO KEEP MEATS FRESH WITHOUT SALT FOR ANY LENGTH OF TIME COVER FRESH MEAT WITH HONEY, SUSPEND IT IN A VESSEL. USE AS NEEDED; IN WINTER IT WILL KEEP BUT IN SUMMER IT WILL LAST ONLY A FEW DAYS. COOKED MEAT MAY BE TREATED LIKEWISE.

[22] TO PRESERVE FRESH FIGS, APPLES, PLUMS, PEARS AND CHERRIES SELECT THEM ALL VERY CAREFULLY WITH THE STEMS ON [1] AND PLACE THEM IN HONEY SO THEY DO NOT TOUCH EACH OTHER.

[82] CUCUMBERS [Stew the] PEELED CUCUMBERS EITHER IN BROTH [1] OR IN A WINE SAUCE; [and] YOU WILL FIND THEM TO BE TENDER AND NOT CAUSING INDIGESTION.

[184] LENTILS [1] AND CHESTNUTS [2]  TAKE A NEW SAUCE PAN, PLACE THEREIN THE CHESTNUTS CAREFULLY CLEANED [3] ADD WATER AND A LITTLE SODA AND PLACE ON THE FIRE TO BE COOKED. THIS DONE, CRUSH IN THE MORTAR PEPPER, CUMIN, CORIANDER SEED, MINT, RUE, LASER ROOT AND FLEA-BANE MOISTENED WITH VINEGAR, HONEY AND BROTH; ADD VINEGAR TO TASTE AND POUR THIS OVER THE COOKED CHESTNUTS, ADD OIL AND ALLOW TO BOIL. WHEN DONE CRUSH IT IN THE MORTAR [4]. TASTE TO SEE IF SOMETHING IS MISSING AND IF SO, PUT IT IN, AND AT LAST ADD GREEN [fresh virgin] OIL.

[202]  GREEN BEANS ARE COOKED IN BROTH, WITH OIL, GREEN CORIANDER, CUMIN AND CHOPPED LEEKS, AND SERVED.

[207] GREEN STRING BEANS AND CHICKPEAS SERVED WITH SALT, CUMIN, OIL, AND A LITTLE PURE WINE.

I like the look of the green string beans and just might surprise the Builder with it once the beans are ready this summer. 

The cookbook is available free via Project Gutenberg. All the recipes are plastic free and zero waste too ;)

Have you inherited or read an old cookbook? Is anyone else interested in the history of cooking? Do you think were has been an over abundance of cookbooks lately or is that just me?  

2

Am I really living a simple life?

This past weekend I decided to try my hand at making silverbeet and ricotta ravioli.



The idea came when I had a bunch of silvertbeet left over. Rather than cook it up the usual two ways that I do, I decided to try something new. It was my first attempt at making ravioli of any kind. I won’t go through the process of what I did. What I will share, was my frustration, at how time consuming and fiddly it was. I kept telling myself “this is your first time, so of course the process will be long and hard.” After an hour of scooping the filling and folding the dough over, my thoughts turned to, “this is not simple living.”

My kitchen was a mess and I was barely half way.

The thing is, this is not the first time I have questioned, whether my new found life falls into the simple living category.

I usually tell people of the benefits of my lifestyle, one being that it is has made my life more simple. Explaining my shopping routine to new friends will usually coax a response of “that sounds hard,” and then when I tell them I make pasta by hand or make my own...well anything...they find it difficult to grasp the simple part. Sometimes I look at the effort required by some of my choices and agree...it's not simple by societies standards.

It makes me wonder if the terms easy and simple have been tangled up together and hijacked to sell products of convenience, resulting in people to believe living simple to be easy, void of hard work. I think my old life was harder work. I had more choices to make, more places to waste my time, looking for some kind of happiness through things. There were many more questions. 

While cleaning up I remembered a wonderful post penned by Bec of Think Big, Live Simply. The post, which I implore you to read, kindly put forward her own version of simple living while offering a reminder that the definition of simple living depends on the person. There is no universal catchall for it.

To me a simple life is a life of intention, not necessarily of ease. A life where you are choosing the way you live each day. A life where you are involved in its creation, rather than just as a participant in it as it unfolds. A life where you know what means the most to you, and why, and where you make choices each day to stay aligned to that. Why Living the Simple Life isn't a simple life - Think Big, Live Simply

On the outside looking in, my life does not look simple. But to me it feels like a more simple way of living. It's not to do with making and doing things from scratch, it has more to do with something else I can't quite put my finger on. I am more at ease, even if there is more work required.

 Here are some of the ways my life has become simple to me:
  • Not wasting time at the supermarket, wandering around aisles. My shops are planned with precision and are cheaper too.
  • Making my own makeup means I don’t compare brands or look for the best newest shiniest product. Same with shampoo, body moisturiser, perfume etc
  • Reducing my wardrobe and only buying second hand clothes has allowed me to spend less time worrying about some new trend and I spend less time getting dressed.
  • No time wasted buying things I don’t need
  • Eating more fresh seasonal food from local farmers has boosted my immune system and reduced illness. 
  • I am no longer worried about what I am putting into my body or onto my body. Living plastic free and going zero waste automatically reduced the stress and time looking at labels.
  • Removing myself from the consumer bubble reduced my stress levels too
  • Buying and owning less stuff = less to clean
  • Life feels uncomplicated 


I didn’t have to make the ravioli. I did it to learn a new skill. There are oodles of easy ways to cook silverbeet and I can buy ready made ravioli from various delis in Melbourne. It’s not simple to try new things. It can be hard. Much like Bec’s definition of simple living, my choice was done with intention. My old life of packaged convenience left me a participant, not a creator. I didn’t have to think too much. Convenience somehow tricked me into believing that if the task is hard, it’s not worth my time. That if it took up too much time, I had somehow failed, because we need to do everything superfast and now and in an instant. 

Simple living can sometimes be hard work, but knowing it’s my own life that I am creating while trying to not leave a mess for the next generation, is worth all of it.  


I have not come up with my own definition of simple living yet, all I know is that it has to do with kindness and living with intention. What is your definition? 

12

Spreading the word offline

As a teenager I used to be obsessed with Marie Claire. I would buy it each month without fail. I even completed my work experience with their publishing house during University. So when they contacted me in July about a feature, I could not say no.

The story features myself, Lauren from TIFT and Bea of Zero Waste Home.

While it's an honour to be in a magazine (never thought this blog would lead me there!), I am much more excited that a popular magazine in Australia has covered the zero waste lifestyle. I hope it sparked conversations among girlfriends or better yet, inspired a teenage girl somewhere in Australia.

I have (poorly!) scanned a copy of my section, in case you care to read it. I would like to make one point – the Builder did not move in with me, I moved in with him.


If you pass by my Facebook page, you might have seen that I working with a passionate group of locals, to get a Plastic Bag Free Victoria campaign up and running. We need 10,000 signatures that we can then present to the State Parliament of Victoria. Alot of hard work and dedicated time will be needed to convenience people to ban plastic bags, but it's worth the fight.

NSW recently had their own campaign and presented 12,472 signatures to State Parliament. Victoria and NSW have a playful rivalry, with each state trying to best the other. I am challenging Victorians to beat the NSW count and hopefully hit 15,000 – 20,000.

We will also be looking at other ways to reduce plastic pollution too. Right now everything is in the planning stage, and I will share more on the 'how to’s of local campaigning' as I move along.

There is no website yet, but you can keep up to date with Plastc Bag Free Victoria's efforts on the facebook page

Alternatively, you can join the Plastic Free Living Victoria Facebook group

For those not on Facebook there will be events coming up to talk about the state wide campaign. 

BTW, Avocado shampoo is going well :)

2

Avocado Seed Shampoo

We eat a couple avocados a month. Lucky the avocados we buy are almost a year round indulgence, and come from a farm three hours from Melbourne. The same farm supplies all of our citrus fruit in winter, growing the best blood oranges EVER.

I try my hardest to use up as much of the food I buy. Right now I have a pot on the stove full of food scraps that I am turning into broth. And if part of a vegetable can't be used in some way, then it goes to compost. Avocado seeds were one item I threw straight into the compost, until recently.

Did you know the seed can be turned into a shampoo? Me either! Turns out avocado seeds are used in a variety of ways. You can grind them into a powder, to use as an exfoliant. The seeds are used for cooking in Mexico. It has been ground up for use as an age old dandruff remedy. And some people even put them into smoothies. I will stick with the shampoo today...

Avocado Seed Shampoo

Trying alternate shampoo methods, seems to be a rite of passage, for the plastic free and zero wasters out there. At the core of both of these lifestyles is the desire to reduce impact on the environment, swapping out the commercial products for more natural choices with minimal packaging.

It's no secret that most of the commercial shampoos out there are full of weird concoctions and are not the healthiest for us or the environment, plus there is the added packaging.

I have tried bicarb and apple cider vinegar with poor results. Both irritated my scalp, leaving it sore and red. Rye flour too was not a successful swap for shampoo. It took far too long for me to wash out of my hair, meaning I was wasting water. In between my two failed attempts to use simpler methods, I have been refilling my bottles with shampoo from local bulk stores.

After trying these two methods the idea of trying the avocado seed shampoo was not that crazy.

The method of making avocado seed shampoo is pretty simple, and what I like about it is that it might be a way to wean myself off of shampoo and move to water only. Oh and there is that awesome money saving aspect that appeals to me too!

I followed the method from Bread with Honey.
  • Pull your seeds from the avocado, wash and dry. I kept the seeds in the pantry until I had three ready to use. 
  • Put 6 cups of water into a pot
  • Grate the seeds. The colour of the grated seed will be white but will turn orange (made me wonder if I could dye fabric with it?)
  • Place the grated seeds into the pot and bring to a boil, then let simmer for 30 mins. 
  • Strain into a bowl, cool and pour 3 cups into a bottle with ¼ cup of your shampoo. My original 6 cups cooked down to exactly 3 cups. 


I have only used it once. My hair is clean, my scalp does not feel dry or irritated. I will write a follow up after this bottle is finished. 

If all continues to go well, I will try using avocado seed without adding shampoo or might try castile soap. I use castile soap for cleaning the house, washing dishes and as hand soap. I have tried it as a shampoo before, but found it too heavy. Diluted in avocado seed liquid could alleviate that heaviness. 

What do you wash your hair with? Have you ever tried or currently clean your hair with only water?

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