Friday, October 15, 2010

Blog Action Day 2010 Water: Environmentally Silly: Bottled Water vs Tap


I’ve always cared about the environment. So has my husband Danny, however as of late, we are much more earth conscience. I’m not certain when our transformation began or why….but it’s becoming an everyday thought.

Recently Danny has had plastic water bottles on his mind. Of course they are full of allegedly “fresh clean” water and are convenient, but they are horrible for the environment. Unless people recycle (and many people still don’t), these bottles end up in landfills where they take forever to break down. When they do break down,  their toxic remnants are left in our soil and water. Essentially buying this "purified" water leads to the destruction of our tap water.

Another fact that makes me cringe is that the typical plastic bottle of water costs approximately 300 times more than tap water. Who can afford to pay 300 times the amount for anything in an already horrible economy?!

Approximately a billion people around the world are not as fortunate as us. They do not have the luxury of choosing between safe tap water or outrageously priced bottled water that is supposedly from Fiji. Instead of buying that Fijian water, that extra money could go to making sure everyone has access to clean safe water.

Some other facts about bottled water that you may find interesting are: It takes something like 1.5 million barrels of oil to produce the plastic water bottles made in America in one year, which can fuel 100,000 cars for a year. Don’t get me started on BPA.

Danny said every time he has to buy a bottle of water he cringes. Not that we buy them often, we mostly do if we are away from home and thirsty. Still, I feel bad too. If I filled up my water bottle with a quarter of oil, that’s how much it would take to produce that single bottle.

My tree hugging husband discussed his concerns with me and decided that we should buy aluminum or stainless steel water bottles. His other concern is that buying aluminum bottles is “trendy.” He doesn’t want to look like (for lack of a better word) a “tool.” I replied, “Some trends are good.” Still not convinced, he went on to explain that he doesn’t want to do something just because everyone else is doing it…blah blah blah. Basically, he is not trying to be all eco-crazy, but if it’s not too extreme and better for the environment, then he will do it. Still unsure about this “trend,” I told him “It’s okay to care about the world.” Reassured that he was still a manly man, he was off to the store to buy some metalish bottles.

Maybe a study will come out saying this new trend is also bad for the world. Maybe someone will call Danny a tool and he will go back to plastic …or he will hit them with his stainless steel bottle. Whatever the case, we are trying, trying to take care of the earth we live in, trying to conserve water because everyone needs it, and trying to do the right thing. We aren’t perfect in our quest, but our hearts are in the right place.

Check out these articles for other fun bottled water facts:
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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Adventures in Cooking: Roasted Butternut Squash with Rosemary and Balsamic Vinegar

The other night at work, during the fuzzy hours between 2 and 3 am, I was having a conversation about vegetables with my friend. We were discussing her Dad’s homemade pumpkin empanadas (I was drooling) and I was telling her how I received a surprise butternut squash in my CSA share that week. The next morning after catching some Zs, I was determined to work some magic on my butternut squash. I have made butternut squash a handful of times. Most recipes call for brown sugar which I try to stay away from, so I was pleasantly surprised when I found this roasted butternut squash recipe at Padma’s Kitchen. I added a few twists to her recipe, as I do to most recipes, and came up with a mouth watering, good for you, recipe that screams fall.


• 1 butternut squash. The recipe calls for a “medium” sized squash. If I was in the field of judging the size of butternut squashes, I would say mine was large. No big deal, just add more time and a little more of the remaining ingredients.

• 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. I just pour until it looks like enough. Pouring olive oil is pretty fun now that I have my Dutch olive oil container.

• 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Depending on your tastes you can add a little more.

• 1 tsp rosemary, finely chopped. I happened to have fresh rosemary from our CSA, which made me very happy. Don’t overdo the rosemary. No one likes an overkill of rosemary.

• Sea salt as desired

• Freshly ground black pepper

• A teaspoonish of nutmeg. This was my addition. It gives it that extra fall taste and makes you say, “Hmmm what is that?”

• A few pats of unsalted Kerrygold butter. If you are wondering why I use Kerrygold butter click this link for a fun little Paleo explanation:


• Preheat oven to 400°F [200°C]. Cut the butternut squash in half and peel it with a knife. This was the worst part. The skin is very tough. I may be purchasing a new knife set rather soon. Cut into bite size pieces or you can use readymade store bought butternut squash. However, I have no idea where you can find the readymade store bought kind…

• Toss with extra virgin olive oil, salt, rosemary, balsamic vinegar, nutmeg and freshly ground black pepper. Spread them in a single layer either on a cookie sheet or large dish.

• Roast until squash turns soft and lightly caramelized about 40 minutes in the oven. For the large squash I added 10 minutes to my time

• Remove from oven add a small splash of additional balsamic vinegar, a few pats of Kerrygold butter, and if you want more salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste.

Enjoy it while it is warm. It makes a great side dish with eggs for breakfast or accompanied with pork chops for dinner. It can be stored easily in the refrigerator and heats up nicely in the microwave. I even enjoyed it cold. Yum.

My main secret to cooking is to taste things along the way. If it needs more rosemary add some. More butter? Go ahead. I rarely follow recipes to a tee, which is probably why I’m not the best baker. This recipe can probably be morphed into many amazing possibilities, just give it a try. Even if something doesn’t taste amazing, my bottomless pit of a husband will eat it and if that plan fails there’s always the dogs.

Butternut Squash...and my other addiction avocados

The insides...

It's not a cookie sheet, but it worked just fine

Spice and everything nice

I need a food stylist

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I’m a Little Bit Country…

I’m a little bit rock and roll. Correction: I’m approximately 80% classic rock/alternative/indie rock, 15% hip hop, and 5% country. Yes, I just rechecked my math to make sure that equaled 100%. I recently had the chance to satisfy my 5%, as I was invited to a Carrie Underwood concert for my friend Sabrina’s birthday.

Growing up in the Central Valley there really is no way to avoid country music. Like it or not I drive past the KAT Country water tower fairly regularly, reminding me all too often of my roots. One of my friends is bound to be playing some Garth Brooks while I am in the vehicle. These two facts plus my useless antenna, have forced me to listen to a little more country than I would like to admit.

My old antenna was stolen when we lived in Modesto. You will be pleased to know that there are no robberies to report of here in the sweet town of Ripon. Danny replaced it with some ridiculous looking antenna called the “Euro.” I am not a fan. It picks up 4 radio stations. The four radio stations it picks up are The Hawk, Kat Country, KHOP, and B 92.9. The Hawk plays classic rock, which I enjoy. B 92.9 plays pseudo alternative music which is okay at times, but if I have to hear another depressing Chris Daughtry song I will scream… or change the station. KHOP is also okay at times, however I could do without Ryan Seacrest being one of the DJs. Kat Country is self explanatory. I suppose I could just keep the radio tuned into the Hawk at all times, but the problem with classic rock stations is that it takes a really long time for any new tunes to show up. I guess becoming a classic takes a while. So in desperation…and because sometimes I get tired of my CDs…I find myself tuning into Kat Country.

Because of all this country music listening going on, I find myself knowing the words to various honky tonk songs about fishing and big green tractors.

With all that being said, I was still slightly ashamed to admit that I was excited about Carrie Underwood. I was excited for multiple reasons. The obvious reason was to celebrate Sabrina’s birthday. Secondly, my best friend Casie was going to be there and we always have a fun time together. Thirdly, is because of Carrie’s popularity and my antenna dilemma, I know the words to many of her songs.

When we arrived at the concert I noticed multiple things that may or may not be unique to a country music concert. There were cowboy hats and boots everywhere. At first glance I was a little jealous because I felt like these people knew something more about being country than I did. Then we got inside the venue and the air conditioning was not on. It happened to be one of those ridiculously hot 100 degree days outside. My 5% country soul smiled from within… as I was in flip flops and had my hair in a nice cool bun.

I also noticed a lot of shiny things. The rap world thinks it is legitimate with its “bling” but it has nothing on a female country super star. Everything had diamonds on it, perhaps they were faux, but it has the same effect. Carrie’s microphone, her stand, her shoes, her dress, literally everything was sparkling. It was like a rapper and a blonde desperate housewife had a baby.

When listening to the lyrics of a country song many life lessons can be learned. Billy Currington was the opening act for Carrie Underwood. He sang the most profound lyrics of the night.

Here are some of his lyrical lessons:

“God is great, Beer is good, People are crazy. “

I learned that in order to win a man’s heart I should take notice of his dog:

“He never tells me that he's sick of this house

He never says why don’t you get off that couch?

He don’t cause me nothin when he wants to go out

I want you to love me like my dog”

Another tip from Billy:

“A bad day of fishin beats a good day of anything else”

Now for some life lessons from Carrie Underwood:

I learned that if I go to Las Vegas I better watch out because I may randomly marry a stranger, Britney Spears style, and not know my last name. Good thing Danny is around.

“It started out, "Hey cutie where are you from?"

And then it turned into, “Oh no what have I done?”

And I don’t even know my last name”

I learned to watch out for those “Cowboy Casanovas” because:

“He’s a devil in disguise, a snake with blue eyes”

Based off this song I learned that if a man cheats on a lady it’s okay to vandalize his vehicle:

“I dug my key into the side

Of his pretty little souped-up four wheel drive

Carved my name into his leather seats

I took a Louisville slugger to both head lights

Slashed a hole in all four tires

And maybe next time he’ll think before he cheats”

Carrie's flying pick up truck

Carrie on the big screen

Despite these cheesy country lyrics, I couldn’t help but sing along and get sucked into the world of sparkle, big hats, and boots. It may have had something to do with my valley roots, perhaps my antenna dilemma, but most likely my 5% country love had something to do with being with friends who know how to have a good time and do so infectiously.

Casie, Jessie, Sabrina