Friday, November 29, 2019

Yes we can solve our climate emergency!

We humans are facing a climate emergency of our own making. On top of that mankind is consuming about twice as much resources as our earth can sustainably provide each year - look up Earth Overshoot Day.

If every household with incomes equal to or greater than mine did what my household has done, we would no longer have a climate emergency. My house is now fully electric with all of its electricity from solar and a bit of wind (no fossil fuels). Our transportation is almost entirely by bicycle and electric car. Our household trash is down to about a quart a month.

We count ourselves blessed to have everything we need to live comfortably. My household and others like us have shown that yes we can live well and still be responsible custodians of our world. We've cut our carbon and trash waste to less than a hundredth of what it was just 10 years ago.

If mankind does not choose to reduce its resource consumption dramatically by either living much more economically or halving the world's current population (!!!), our kids will find that nature is a harsh mistress -- she will force it on them and it won't be pretty. In the end, all equations must balance.

To avoid a disaster for our kids, the onus is on those who are well off (like my household and most of you reading this) to make the difference that will save our world. The wealthy have the luxury to choose to save our world. It is not possible for the poor as they are struggling to survive and just not using that much in resources anyway.

Do your part, go zero waste, bike instead of drive, and eliminate your fossil fuel use. It is very doable. We and others have done it and you can too. We need EVERYONE who is well off to do what we have already done.

Thanks for reading, caring, and doing what it takes to save our world. Our kids are counting on us.

For more on how to go zero waste, please see or other zero waste resources. Thanks!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Super Easy Basic Recipes

Here are some recipes for some basic staples we use frequently. These recipes were adapted and customized from many different sources and our own experience. You may copy and adopt these freely, no license or permission required. You may credit me only if you wish.

I'm posting these recipes all at once because I'm about to undertake a 3 month bicycle journey across the US to talk with people from coast to coast from San Francisco to Boston about oceans, plastic, climate change, and kids. For more about this ride please see My wife was not up for this long a ride and needed these recipes while I'm traveling :-)

Super Easy Syrup

We use this basic syrup on pancakes, waffles, and to make granola.

1 cup water
2 cups granulated sugar (white or unrefined)
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon maple flavored extract

Bring the water, sugar, and molasses to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat.
Take off heat and stir in the maple extract. 
Let cool until no longer hot.
Store in a sealed glass mason jar in refrigerator (needs refrigeration since it does not contain preservatives like store purchased varieties). Usually good for a month or two.

Super Easy Granola

1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup cashews
1 cup walnuts or pecans
1 cup shredded or chipped coconut
3 cups rolled oats
1-2 tablespoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt if none of the nuts are salted
1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1/4 cup vegetable oil (olive oil preferred) + oil for sheet pans
1/2 cup syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla

1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.
In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients except the raisins.
In a small 1 qt bowl, mix all the liquid ingredients. 
Mix together both mixtures in the large bowl.
Pour dollop of oil on each of 2 sheet pans and spread evenly
Pour mixed ingredients onto the sheet pans. Bake for 45 minutes.
Remove from oven, stir with plastic spatula to loosen from sheet pans, cool, mix in raisins, and transfer to storage containers. 

Super Easy Vanilla Ice Cream and Chocolate Syrup

We love ice cream but hate the plastic or plasticized cardboard that commercial ice cream and chocolate syrup come in, so now we are making both ourselves! We did buy an ice cream maker ( and cringed at the styrofoam it was packed in, but it makes hundreds of gallons of ice cream 2 quarts at a time preventing hundreds of single use ice cream containers that are trash.

The recurring trash we currently are left with:
1. The plastic tops from the reusable Straus Family Creamery organic heavy cream and milk bottles we buy
2. Plastic cocoa powder pouches. Once 16 oz pouch is good for about a gallon of chocolate syrup

Everything else is reusable or recyclable: 
The Straus Family Creamery bottles get returned to the store for reuse.
Recyclable vanilla extract container (we buy the quart size clear artificial vanilla - much cheaper than real and close enough in taste for our uses).
Recyclable sugar & salt paper packaging.

We bought a 2nd ice cream freezing container so we can make 2 batches of ice cream back to back and reuse our mixing bowl and utensils without washing them. This results in about 1 gallon (4 quarts) of ice cream.

Super Easy Vanilla Ice Cream

2 cups (1 pint container) organic heavy cream
1 to 1.5 cups organic milk
2/3 cups organic granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Whisk or stir all ingredients together in mixing bowl until sugar is dissolved. (I pour the milk into the pint heavy cream container to wash it out a bit and to use that container as my measuring “cup” -- filling it about 1/2 to 3/4 full).
Pour into ice cream maker following its directions.
Let churn for ~20 minutes, will be soft serve consistency.
Transfer to reusable container. One batch almost fills two 1 quart plastic containers.
Store sealed in freezer. Use within a month or two.

Super Easy Chocolate Syrup

1 cup organic cocoa powder
1 cup organic granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
1 cup cold water
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the cocoa powder, sugar, salt (if desired). Whisk in the water and whisk over medium heat until boiling, stirring constantly.
Continue boiling 3 – 4 minutes. The mixture may still be thin (it thickens more once cool). 
Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla. Cool.
Store syrup in an airtight glass container in the refrigerator. The syrup should keep, refrigerated, for about a month.

Dog treats

We used to buy our dog treats but we switched to making our own to eliminate plastic bag and container waste. We do still buy our dog food in very large 30 lb plastic bags but are searching for a place to buy dog food in bulk in our own containers. We reuse the dog food bags as strong waterproof bags to carry things our steel bicycle baskets -- the bags are pretty tough and by folding over the tops they are almost as good as expensive camping dry bags.

Super Easy Dog Treats


2 cups rolled oats
1 tablespoon granular chicken bullion
1 egg
1/2 cup water
Vegetable oil to grease sheet pans

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Add 2 cups oats and bullion to medium mixing bowl. Using big spoon mix well. Mix in water and egg.

Using big spoon press to 1/4-inch thick sheet on inside of mixing bowl. Let stand a few minutes to firm up.

Meanwhile pour dollop of oil and spread evenly on 2 cooking sheets.

Using 2 tiny spoons, scoop tiny portions of mixture onto cooking sheets (ours are usually about 1/2 inch in diameter)
Bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container (freeze if you need to store for longer than a couple months).

Super Easy Dog Treats


2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 eggs
1/2 can of pumpkin (15 oz can) or 1/2+ cup of cooked pumpkin
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Stir together the flour, eggs, pumpkin, peanut butter, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl. 
Add a little water if needed to make the dough workable, but the dough should be dry and stiff. 
Roll the dough into a ~1/4-inch-thick sheet on a floured surface. 
Slice into narrow strips then cut those into small pieces (we usually do 1/2 inch squares)
Arrange on 2 cooking sheets so pieces are generally separate from each other.
Bake in oven until crisp, about 40 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container (freeze if you need to store for longer than a couple months).