Adventures in Greening: Of Trash and Ocean Patches

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By Catherine Moran

Happy Monday! I hope you all had a fun and safe holiday weekend. You might have been lucky enough to spend some time at the beach during the long weekend. While there, you were hopefully thinking about snoozing on the sand, listening to tunes, and swimming until your fingers pruned. You hopefully weren’t thinking about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, or, if you were, you weren’t letting it bum you out too much. Why do I say that? After all, The Garbage Patch is a major bummer. But it turns out that it’s disappearing. Yay! But, hang on: Is this a good or bad thing?

We might be inclined to say it’s a good thing, because disappearing garbage means the ocean is free of this problem, but that’s not really the case. Where are the microplastics that make up the Patch disappearing to? One possibility is that some marine wildlife are attaching themselves to this trash (think barnacles on the bottom of a boat, only now they’re attaching themselves to, say, plastic bottles). This takes the plastic down to the deep fathoms below, and no one can say what changes it’s creating down there.

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Two other possibilities for what’s become of the plastic: it’s making its way to our shores in smaller pieces, or it’s being broken down by bacteria into extremely small particles.

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If this missing garbage wasn’t causing concern before now, brace yourself: if this plastic is broken down and becoming  teeny tiny, there’s a possibility that it’s being eaten by teeny tiny fish. Teeny tiny fish are eaten by bigger fish, which are in turn eaten by bigger fish, and then, somewhere along the line, people might eat these fish. This is bad news: plastic is not on the food pyramid.

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So, in conclusion, the disappearance of the plastic garbage patch might be worse than its existence in the first place.  Scientists can only speculate as to what is happening to this plastic, and its unclear if they will be able to come to a definitive answer. What’s done is done, but, going forward, we can continue trying to eliminate adding to these collections of trash by reducing our plastic usage and supporting such endeavors as bans on microbeads. For more reading on the disappearance of the The Great Grabage Patch, check out this article, or this one.

 

Adventures in Greening is a column running on Kate-book.com every other Monday at noon. It is written by the very eco-conscious Catherine Moran. Follow Catherine on Twitter here, or check out her excellent book blog.

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Kathleen’s Kitchen – Three cheers for the red, white, and glu(ten) free!

imagesBy:  Kathleen Neafsey

You probably wouldn’t think that a Rice Krispie treat would be reason to cheer, but if you haven’t had one in more than two years you may think differently. These treats are just one of many things that I haven’t been able to have for the past couple of years.  It’s not as if I was overly fond of them to begin with, but occasionally I would just have that odd craving for one.  While I always thought that Rice Krispies are safe for those with a gluten allergy or intolerance because they’re made with rice, not wheat, I was wrong!  Regular Rice Krispies are made with barley and malt – both of which contain gluten proteins.  I know, I know, such a learning curve! Just be sure to grab the right box at your grocery store – it’s the tannish / yellow box, not the familiar blue box that we all know and love.

Enough of that, now on to the fun stuff!  The recipe is the standard Rice Krispie treat recipe:

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6 cups of rice krispies

One – 10 ounce bag of marshmallows (about 40)

or 4 cups of mini marshmallows

3 Tablespoons of butter

Before you start, line a 9 x 13 x 2 inch baking dish with wax paper.

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In a large saucepan, over low heat, melt the butter.

When the butter is melted, add the marshmallows and stir until completely melted.

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Remove from heat and all the rice krispies.  Stir until well-coated.

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Using a spoon or spatula, pour the mixture into the lined baking dish – Be careful not to touch it with bare hands as it is very hot and sticky.

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Once it is in the pan, spread it out using a large mixing spoon or an offset spatula if you happen to have one.

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Let cool, and cut into two inch squares……

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DSCF4231……..or you can use cookie cutters to cut them into fun shapes.  I did some stars for the 4th of July, and drizzled them with chocolate.

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What a fun way to bring a treat to a friend’s BBQ!

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Enjoy a wonderful, safe holiday – and all the goodies that go with it!

Kathleen’s Kitchen is a column running on Kate-book.com once a month. It is written by the amazing Kathleen Neafsey, who loves trying new recipes. Follow her on Twitter @dbmomkat. And make sure to look out for her amazingly fun column, Fabri-Kate.

 

Adventures in Greening: Vacation Time!

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By Catherine Moran

I’m in Salt Lake City for some Life Events this week, so this post is short and sweet. In honor of seeing my friend Sara, I’m linking you to the guest post she wrote for Adventures in Greening back in 2012. I’m looking forward to experiencing some of the green things Sara has found in SLC.

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Have a great week!

Adventures in Greening is a column running on Kate-book.com every other Monday at noon. It is written by the very eco-conscious Catherine Moran. Follow Catherine on Twitter here, or check out her excellent book blog.

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Adventures in Greening: Back to the Future

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By Catherine Moran

I’m pretty excited to say that I am, for once, on top of an electronic advancement. Well, sort of. I’m not calling myself Nostradamus, or anything (but I will share ::cough:: humblebrag ::cough:: that a friend of mine did deem me so when he passed along the article below), but it looks like some green technology that caught my eye awhile back might actually become real. tumblr_mhjr2iuhXz1rwz799o1_500

In September, I wrote about Phonebloks, a company that has created a design for a phone with replaceable parts. The Phonebloks phone would revolutionize the cell phone: rather than upgrading and getting rid of your phone after a certain number of years, you could switch out specific pieces for, say, bigger memory or better speakers as they become available. In essence, it’s the anti-planned obsolescence model.

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So, Phonebloks is a great idea, and I’m not the only one who thinks so: Google seems to have a phone in the works that seems to function similarly to the Phoneblocks model. It’s set to launch in January, for $50. Hey, now! That pricing is…reasonable! tumblr_m601jjuJrR1qhcq3b

From the article linked above: The barebones base model will have the frame, screen, a limited CPU, and Wi-Fi connectivity. Purchasable add-ons would build that base model into a highly personalized, fully functional phone. It would be a phone that can easily upgrade to new technologies, such as camera improvements, without having to pitch the base device. Of course, this sort of device won’t appeal to everyone, and it might take awhile to catch on. And, in the long run, this may not be a more eco-friendly alternative to other smartphones, but it’s definitely a step forward in letting consumers decide if they want to continue purchasing items that are designed to become outdated in a matter of years. If this is real life, I will, no doubt, leave my iPhone when it’s hit its planned obsolescence run time (though that won’t be for a few years yet, so I’ll have to seek out friends who try this new kind of mobile device). Who’s with me? tumblr_inline_mr9zl8IgE21qz4rgp Adventures in Greening is a column running on Kate-book.com every other Monday at noon. It is written by the very eco-conscious Catherine Moran. Follow Catherine on Twitter here, or check out her excellent book blog.

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Kathleen’s Kitchen: Sweet and spicy, and easy as 1-2-3

By: Kathleen Neafsey

If you’re like me, you don’t like walking into a friend’s home empty handed.  A couple of years ago I was invited to a barbecue and I asked what I could bring – to which they replied, “nothing”. Sorry, that’s not me; I don’t show up with “nothing”. I was taught that if you were visiting someone you should have to ring the doorbell with your elbow (because your hands are so full). I was trying to think of something I could make that was easy, most everyone would eat, and would could be transported with little fuss.

Behold my idea of sweet and spicy chicken:

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Rarely does it get any easier than this.  Literally three ingredients:

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2 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breasts (or thighs, if you prefer)

One bottle (12 ounces) Frank’s Buffalo hot sauce

One (20 ounce) can crushed pineapples

You can do this two ways – I’ve made it both ways with favorable results each time.  First: You can throw all the ingredients in a slow cooker, leaving the chicken cutlets whole. Cook on low for four hours or on high for two hours.  Remove the chicken from the slow cooker onto a cutting board and pull (shred) it using two forks, as I did in this post for pulled pork. Return the chicken to the slow cooker and combine with the remaining ingredients.

OR……

Cut the chicken into bite-size chunks and put it in a large saucepan.

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Add about three-quarters of the bottle of hot sauce to the chicken.  Reserve some of the hot sauce and decide upon first taste if you want to add the remainder, or just leave it on the table so people can add the extra on their own.Drain the juice from the pineapple DSCF4158

and add the pineapple to the chicken and hot sauce. DSCF4162

Stir, and simmer for about one hour, stirring occasionally. Serve  over rice or on a bun, or with a side of cole slaw and potato salad!  It’s pretty versatile and can be paired with so many side dishes!

Considering that this was a recipe created on the fly, it has become one of my family’s favorites! It’s a great take-along dish to a summer barbecue, and offers a little something different than the typical burger and hot dog fare. I’ll meet you back here with another fun recipe just in time for July 4th!  Till then, enjoy this glorious weather, and don’t forget your sunblock!

Kathleen’s Kitchen is a column running on Kate-book.com once a month. It is written by the amazing Kathleen Neafsey, who loves trying new recipes. Follow her on Twitter @dbmomkat. And make sure to look out for her amazingly fun column, Fabri-Kate.

 

Adventures in Greening: Memorial Day!

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By Catherine Moran

My, oh my, how time does fly! We’re back to another Memorial Day weekend. You may already be out and about today, but if not, think about making your long weekend a bit more eco-friendly.

• If you’re going to be outdoors, do something with a low environmental impact. Planning a picnic? Pack your sandwiches beforehand in reusable baggies, and bring stainless steel pint glasses (Klean Kanteen has some nice options), reusable utensils, and cloth napkins. The idea is, when you leave, you leave nothing behind that indicates you were there at all: not even the trash barrels will have been touched!

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Don’t forget the bug spray, either. How about Meow Meow Tweet’s all natural spray? Keep the bugs away, while reducing the number of toxic chemicals we spray onto ourselves and into the environment.

• If you’re going to the beach, make sure you’re protecting yourself from UV rays. Sunglasses and hats are a must, as well as sunblock. Beth Terry has a great recommendation for a brand of sunblock that I have yet to try, but I plan on giving it a go this summer.

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• If you’re staying in, open windows to avoid running the AC or fans all day.  Consider reading a book, or playing a board game with friends, and leave the electronics off. Maybe even stage a picnic in the living room!

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Whatever you do this holiday, stay safe, and have a great day!

Adventures in Greening is a column running on Kate-book.com every other Monday at noon. It is written by the very eco-conscious Catherine Moran. Follow Catherine on Twitter here, or check out her excellent book blog.

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Adventures in Greening: The Green Book

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By Catherine Moran 

It’s been awhile since the last book review, so today’s post is a few words on Elizabeth Rogers and Thomas M. Kostigen’s The Green Book: The Everyday Guide to Saving the Planet One Simple Step at a Time.

This book came out in 2007, which dates a lot of the information found within it. Not only have the Whats we consume changed a bit since then, but the Hows have changed, as well. For example, the section “money and finance” lists a lot of green options that were, at the time, good ideas, but are now the norm: receiving electronic bills, doing your banking and filing your taxes online. Some of their suggestions are slowly being made easier, such as forgoing an ATM receipt. I’m one who likes to keep a record of my banking transactions, so I always took a receipt. These days, I have the option to have my receipt emailed to me, so now I have no problem opting out of a printed receipt and emailing the transaction to myself.

Outdated information aside (there are tips for how to set up voicemail in lieu of having an answering machine), I wasn’t too blown away by this book. The formula bored me fairly quickly: if you do X, we could do X with what we saved. For example: “If 80 percent of students did so [used a binder made from recycled materials], the materials saved could build a binder with an area of 1,240 acres­––larger than the entire campus of the University of California at Berkeley.” I guess that’s a neat visual, but these statistics quickly became something that I glossed over in my reading. I get it. We could do a lot with the things we don’t really need to use. But to continually hit the reader over the head with these “shockers” made me feel slightly insulted after awhile.

Another aspect of this book I didn’t enjoy were the celebrity highlights, which each featured a celebrity sharing why they have bought eco-friendly cars or started using reusable bottles. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m not going to change any habits just because I read that Tyra Banks thinks you should go green. None of these celebrity voices offered prescriptive advice (that was left to the body of the book), so I wasn’t sure of their purpose, other than to give themselves a pat on the back. And, I suppose, convince some people who might be on the fence about switching up their habits that if a celebrity can curb his exorbitant lifestyle, you can, too (I’m poking fun here.)

In short, I’d deem this a pass. If you’re looking for a good green read, I’ll always recommend Beth Terry’s Plastic Free. It’s still that good!

Have a great week, greenies! Spring is here – go out and enjoy the green.

 

Adventures in Greening is a column running on Kate-book.com every other Monday at noon. It is written by the very eco-conscious Catherine Moran. Follow Catherine on Twitter here, or check out her excellent book blog.

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Kathleen’s Kitchen: Is it squash? Is it spaghetti? Fear not, it’s both!

By:  Kathleen Neafsey

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Okay, I’ll admit it: I’ve purchase spaghetti squash in the past, with the intention of creating a tasty, healthful meal only to see them get tossed away before I had the opportunity to use them.  Truth is, I was somewhat intimidated by this yellow orb of wonder; but not anymore!  I bought, I baked, I conquered! Turns out, it was one of the easiest, most delicious things I’ve ever made.

Traditionally, spaghetti squash is considered a “winter” squash, harvested mainly in the fall and winter, it is available year round.  You may have to look a little harder for it in the summer months, but it’s well worth it!  Oddly enough the term I would use to describe the flavor of this dish is “fresh and summery”.  Okay, enough chit-chat, let’s get on with this and you can decide for yourself!

Here’s what you’ll need:

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One- two pound spaghetti squash

One- medium onion, thinly sliced

Three- medium plum tomatoes, diced

Olive oil

Salt, pepper, oregano to taste

Shredded mozzarella cheese (optional)

First: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Cut the squash in half lengthwise.

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Next: Remove the seeds and the strings, as you would when carving a pumpkin.

Then: Drizzle the squash with olive oil, and season with salt, pepper, and oregano.

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Place the squash, cut side down, on a baking/cookie sheet and place in the oven.

Bake for 40 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven.  Turn the squash over so the cut side is now facing up.  Using a fork, gently pull the strings of the “spaghetti” toward the middle of the shell.  If it doesn’t pull easily enough you can put it back in the oven for another ten minutes. Fluff up the strings into the middle of each shell.

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Divide the tomatoes and onions between the two shells, and top with the shredded cheese.  Return the cookie sheet to the oven, and broil until the cheese is melted and lightly browned.

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This can be served as a meal in itself, or a side dish.  I left mine in the shells, and served it as a side with grilled chicken.  We passed the dish, and everyone helped themselves to their own serving of squash – and I have to say – it was a huge hit!

This is so incredibly easy and tasty – and just when you thought it couldn’t get any better – it’s fat free, cholesterol free, and gluten free. It’s definitely a winner in my book, and now that I’ve conquered my fear, I’ll be making it often!

Kathleen’s Kitchen is a column running on Kate-book.com once a month. It is written by the amazing Kathleen Neafsey, who loves trying new recipes. Follow her on Twitter @dbmomkat. And make sure to look out for her amazingly fun column, Fabri-Kate.

Adventures in Greening: How about a burrito?

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By Catherine Moran

I am writing about Chipotle today because I ate there last week. I didn’t really know much about Chipotle’s business practices until this video aired in 2011, followed by this video in 2013. Both videos take on the idea that factory farming is not the way our food should be getting to us. I applaud that idea, as I’m a big fan of farm to table proponents.

According to their website, Chipotle supports sustainable farming practices and family-owned farms whenever they can, steering clear of animals raised on hormones and antibiotics if possible. These are good practices for the environment, especially if Chipotle is honoring the declaration that they buy local when they can. For the chain, buying local means buying from locations within 350 miles of a Chipotle.

Chipotle pays employees more than the minimum wage, and employees can work their way up the management rungs, no matter where they start. Way to go, Chipotle!

Now, onto the really exciting news for greenies: Chipotle makes their burrito bowls using recycled materials From their website:

We try to use packaging materials that have minimal effects on the environment. Our burrito bowls are made from 93% recycled material–mostly recycled newspapers. And our aluminum lids are made of 95% recycled materials, including aluminum cans. Our lids reduces [sic] energy consumption by 96% compared to using lids made of new materials.

Their napkins are also made from 100% recycled content, hurrah! When you get your items to go, there are no extra napkins or utensils thrown in the bag (at least not in the NYC locations I’ve been to). You can pick up these items at a separate serving station. I can walk in, grab a burrito in a paper bag (or say no to the bag, in fact!) and be on my merry way, and no extra future trash has to make the trip with me.

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Now, a lot of this info came directly from Chipotle’s site, so it should be taken with a grain of salt (at least the sustainable farming commitment clams). The company page stresses that Chipotle uses fresh, organic, or sustainable ingredients wherever possible, but that means that sometimes it’s not possible. So, while it is frustrating to not know if the food you are consuming actually does fall within those parameters, I have to applaud Chipotle on their efforts. I may be naive in saying this, but I believe that they are making an effort; at the very least, they’re using buzzwords in a way that few other chains do…so they can have credit for that!

In conclusion: I don’t often eat from chains, but when I do, I’m happy in the choice of Chipotle. Now I’m hungry….

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Do you know about any other large chains that try to use sustainable practices?

Adventures in Greening is a column running on Kate-book.com every other Monday at noon. It is written by the very eco-conscious Catherine Moran. Follow Catherine on Twitter here, or check out her excellent book blog.

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Adventures in Greening: Link Love + Happy Anniversary

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By Catherine Moran

It’s been a busy few weeks, per usual for this greenie. I got stuck in some train traffic on the way home this weekend, and was thinking – I’ve been writing Adventures in Greening for almost two years now! As we approach my two-year greenieversary, I thought I’d re-share some of my favorite posts from days gone by. It’s been fun for me to write these posts, and I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them! Without further adieu, a jaunt down memory lane:

My very first post! (April 2012)

Jason Mraz is a greenie, and I admire him to pieces (September 2012)

How much do I love buying in bulk? Let me count the ways (October 2012)

All about Buy Nothing Day (November 2012)

All about my love of composting (July 2013)

My friend’s green wedding in Seattle (August 2013)

As always, thanks for reading, and be well, greenies!

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Adventures in Greening is a column running on Kate-book.com every other Monday at noon. It is written by the very eco-conscious Catherine Moran. Follow Catherine on Twitter here, or check out her excellent book blog.

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Kathleen’s Kitchen: Spring has sprung!

By:  Kathleen Neafsey

Spring has sprung…..well barely, weather-wise, but there is a bevy of fresh vegetables just waiting to be brought to the table!  Recently, I was looking to make something that would allow me to combine a load of vegetables and, I wanted to do it using as few pots and pans as necessary.  A trip to the market, a basket of goodies, a little of this, and a little of that, sprinkled with a dash of “hey, let me try this”; and this is what happened:

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Roasted chicken on a bed of vegetables in a white wine sauce!

The first time I made this I didn’t use wine, but chicken broth instead.  It was delicious, but the next time I figured I could tweak it just a bit more.  Very tasty, and it’s just one roasting pan to wash!!  Yay!!!

Here’s what you’ll need:

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Chicken breasts, thighs, and/or legs – on the bone, skin on.

One bunch of asparagus (about one pound)

Two medium zucchini

Two yellow squash

One large white or red onion

Four or five red potatoes

Carrots

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1/4 cup chicken broth or stock

1/4 cup white cooking wine

salt and pepper to taste

One teaspoon sage

One teaspoon poultry seasoning

One teaspoon fresh or dried parsley

First:  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Rinse all the vegetables and the chicken.

Next:  Mix all the spices in a small bowl, and set aside.

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Then:  Combine the wine and chicken broth in a measuring cup, and add half of the combined spices.  Set aside the rest of the spices to be sprinkled on the chicken.

Start by trimming the asparagus, and cutting it into bite size pieces; do the same with the carrots.  Cut the zucchini, squash, and onion into slices about one inch thick. Cut the potatoes into quarters (or smaller, depending on the size of the potatoes).

Place all the vegetables in the bottom of a 9×13 inch roasting pan.  Pour the wine/broth/seasoning mixture over the vegetables.

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Place the chicken on top of the vegetables and sprinkle with the seasonings set aside in the bowl.

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Cover the pan with foil, and place in the oven on the middle rack.

Bake covered for 30 minutes.  Remove foil, turn the heat up to 425 degrees, and continue to bake for another 30 minutes.

Remove from oven, and serve while hot.  This dish is so flavorful, and the chicken is ridiculously moist.  This is now a new favorite in my house, and we’ll be taking full advantage of all the fresh vegetables that Spring and Summer have to offer!

Kathleen’s Kitchen is a column running on Kate-book.com once a month. It is written by the amazing Kathleen Neafsey, who loves trying new recipes. Follow her on Twitter @dbmomkat. And make sure to look out for her amazingly fun column, Fabri-Kate.

 

 

 

 

Adventures in Greening: Green from your couch

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By Catherine Moran

Almost everyone who knows me will tell you that I’m not a big movie buff. I’m lacking a lot of “classic” films from my movie repertoire, much to the astonishment and shame of my film-loving family members and friends.  However, while I go to see films on the big screen very rarely, I’m a bit of a tv addict. Long-form stories give the viewer more time to make a connection with the characters, as well as plots that can unfurl at a less-compressed pace. And, in this day and age, it’s very easy to sit down and marathon seasons of television shows; all it takes is one day of beginning a marathon (curse you, headcolds), and suddenly you’re spending all of your free time catching up to current episodes. I’m not alone here…right?

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How does my love of television relate to being green? Well, it’s the perfect time for me to do some green activities. Sometimes, life gets hectic. And if you’re a (wo)man on the go, you try to consolidate activities. A lot of green activities require time, an element of one’s day that can sometimes feel like a luxury. So, I try to make use of my time in front of the screen. Here are a few suggested green activities that you can multitask while watching television:

• Making your own laundry soap. Grating up a bar of soap by hand can take awhile, let me tell you. I would never do this task without something else to occupy my mind, unless I was using it as a meditative exercise, but I definitely prefer to take my mind off how long the process is (my grater is fairly small; I’m on the hunt for a larger one to possibly help me speed up the process). I feel pretty accomplished when this task is done, and I try to do more than one bar in one sitting, so I don’t have to worry about grating a new bar for awhile when I run out of the first batch. Plus, it works my arm strength, what an added benefit! Good preparation for becoming a green superhero.

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• Ripping the windows off of any envelopes that come your way, mostly from junk mail, or mail that includes a windowed envelope for you to return a payment or other information. In NYC, you can’t recycle envelopes with clear plastic address windows because they don’t dissolve in water (there’s an interesting Reddit thread on this subject and other recycling queries, for interested parties). This is a fun one, because you get the satisfying sound of paper ripping to go along with the task. (Again…just me?)

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• Making Stuff. Get to work on illustrating those homemade birthday cards or knitting beanies for the holidays. Even if it’s summertime, it doesn’t hurt to be forward-thinking; you’ll save time later.

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Of course, this list will only be useful if you’re watching a show that doesn’t require constant vigilance, or includes commercial breaks, or doing a task that doesn’t require strict attention. You would have found me very hard-pressed to draw my eyes away from the first season of True Detective. No multitasking during that hour, no way. Even blinking felt costly.

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There are plenty of other ways to make use of your television-watching time if you so choose, but those are just some of the things I do to save myself some time during the week. It’s all about getting things done sooner rather than later, so they’re not on my mind, and I can free up time for other things later, television-related or otherwise. And watching a show as a purely downtime activity when all else is down is pretty darn enjoyable, too.

cheers

 

Adventures in Greening is a column running on Kate-book.com every other Monday at noon. It is written by the very eco-conscious Catherine Moran. Follow Catherine on Twitter here, or check out her excellent book blog.

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