WasteNot Shepherd’s Pie! (Vegan)

Hey e’erbody, it’s been a while! Here’s one of Cass and my go to recipes that I made again the other day. This is an awesome recipe for cold winter nights, it’s a super hardy stick-to-yer-ribs type affair. We learned the recipe for this mushroom gravy in the early days of our zero-waste transition, and it was a really welcome addition to what was then a somewhat bleak culinary landscape XD

ZERO WASTE VEGAN Shepherd’s Pie

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INGREDIENTS:

Potatoes – A big pot full (if you want to be adventurous you could also mix in some more exotic root vegetables, say rutabagas or turnips?)

Carrots – 4
Bell pepper – 1
Mushrooms – 3 big handsful
Tomotoes (roma) – 4
Spinach – a medium bunch
Peas (if available)
Garlic
Nutritional yeast – a big handful
Pickle juice – We occasionally splurge on pickles when we figure we can make use of the jar. I just started experimenting with fermenting my own… Stay tuned on that!
Flour – 1/4-1/2 a cup.
Oil (we’re currently able to get either coconut oil or olive oil, either will work)
Salt and Pepper
Spices
– dill
– rosemary
– sage
– soup stock (powder or homemade)
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PROCEDURE:

Rough chop the potatoes and get them on first. Put them in a pot of cold water and bring to a boil. Cook until nice and soft.

Whilst the potatoes are cooking dice the onion and carrot and get them into a big pot to simmer in just enough water to cover them. Dice the bell pepper and put it in there once the onion and carrot get a little soft.

As the onions/carrots/peppers are softening chop the mushrooms and spinach. Make sure the spinach is washed because when you get it without packaging it often has dirt caked in between the leaves. Get them in once the onions/carrots/peppers are mostly cooked and then add enough water to the pot to keep everything covered (if you’re on top of it here you can use the discarded water from the boiling potatoes, but it’s not totally necessary). Turn that down low enough to simmer gently for a while on its own. Add some of the soup base and a handful of nutritional yeast (henceforth referred to as “Nooch”).

At this point the potatoes should be pretty much cooked. They should be soft enough to break apart easily. Drain them, but set the water aside to use later (either in the previous step when topping up the simmering veggies, or later when we make the gravy). Add some of the potato water back to the potatoes in order to mash them. Also add in a big handful of nooch, a few generous glugs of oil, some garlic or garlic powder, some salt and pepper, and  maybe some dill. Mash that with a potato masher or an immersion blender until it’s a uniform consistency without any lumps.
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Let’s check in on the veggies… The onions should be soft enough not to squeak when you chew them, the carrots shouldn’t crunch at all. The mushrooms should have coloured the water a nice rich earthy colour and the broth should be pretty mushroom-y. If this is not the case let it keep simmering until it is, maybe another 5-7 minutes or something. Once this is looking like an appetizing not-creamy mushroom soup of sorts, we’re going to thicken it into a gravy such as has never been seen by the eyes of man. Come along now, I’ll tell you how…

Take your flour (say a half cup, more if you’re making a big batch or you like especially gloopy gravy), and mix it with enough oil to make a thick paste. If you’re using coconut oil you’ll need to melt it first. With olive oil you’re good to just mix away, but you won’t need to use much in order to get your paste (this mixture of fat and flour is called a roux, or technically it’s a “buerre blanc” because it’s not cooked, but whatever. We’re not French chefs we’re zero-waste revolutionaries. Basically, the fat coats the flour particles so they don’t make lumps when you mix it into the broth). Use a whisk (or just a fork if you’re a batchelor) and make sure that you’ve worked all of the lumps out of the roux. Once this is done take a ladle and spoon some of the broth into your roux (enough broth to maybe triple the roux in size). Stir this together until it’s smooth, then stir the mixture back into the mushroom/veggie pot. Add some salt and pepper. Put a bunch of dill in there (don’t be shy!), and add a pinch of sage and a pinch or rosemary (seriously, don’t overdo those guys they’re very pervasive flavours). Also add some oil. Taste it! How does it taste? Not rich enough? Add some more oil and some more nooch and maybe some more garlic. Not flavourful enough? Add some more dill, or garlic or a little more sage/rosemary. Or whatever spice you want, really. It’s your shepherd’s pie. It’s probably not quite zingy enough yet, but we’re going to deal with that once the gravy has thickened. This will take 10-15 minutes simmering on low. It should be thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon when you dip it in and take it out. It should look like your typical thanksgiving gravy. If it’s not thick enough after 10-15 minutes of simmering stir in some of the mashed potatoes until you get the consistency we’re after. The potatoes will take a few minutes to thicken too. Don’t settle for it being too thin or it’ll go all to heck when you combine everything in the last step. And don’t worry if it takes a while to get the thickness really dialled. The longer you simmer it at this point the more flavours are going to come out and party together, so it’s all good. Patience young grass-hopper.

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Once the gravy is thick chop your tomatoes and toss those in there. Stir in a couple of glugs of pickle juice as well. I know, I know… you’re thinking the pickle juice is crazy, but seriously it makes all the difference. Bringing just a hint of zing to balance out the richness and the starch is what takes it to the next level. We add the tomatoes and the pickle juice now because they’re high in acid, and that would prevent the flour from gelatinizing and thickening the gravy.

OK! Set your oven to broil and get it heating to 350, and by this time hopefully your potatoes have cooled a fair bit. You’re going to pour your gravy into the bottom of a baking pan (preferably glass, depending on how much you’ve made and how big your pans are you might need to use two), and then use your hands to make flat discs of potato and gently lay them on top of the gravy. If all goes according to plan the potato will sit right on top of the veggy/gravy mixture. Then stick that in the oven for 7-12 minutes to brown the top of the potato. Once that’s done, it’s time to eat my friends! Or rather… “It’s time to eat, my friends!” Please don’t eat my friends. I need them.

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Reusable Food Wraps DIY

It’s time to ditch the plastic wrap.  These are easy and very satisfying to make .  Here’s how:DSC_0780

  1. Gather your supplies.  You will need:
    • Beeswax I got mine from Cottonwood Springs Honey and Humblebee Candles
    • Some fabric a lightweight woven cotton works well.  
    • A cheese grater You may want to have one dedicated to this project.  It will get very waxy.
    • A foil lined pan
    • Oven mitts
  2. Set the oven to 170° F ( I may have set my oven slightly higher but you do not want any burning or fires). FYI the melting point for beeswax is 144°-147°F)
  3. Put your piece of fabric on the foil lined pan..
  4. Grate some beeswax and spread it somewhat thinly over the fabric.  It will look like you’ve spread Parmesan cheese all over your cloth.  Make sure you get to the edges.DSC_0785
  5. Pop it in the oven to melt (3-5 minutes).  Don’t walk away and forget about it. When you think it’s all melted take it out, lift it up and shake any excess off. My fingers don’t mind the heat of the beeswax.  Yours might!  It’s a hot.  Be careful. Wave it around a bit to dry and hang it on the back of a chair.  Repeat.    DSC_0777

If you missed a spot, don’t worry.  Just add some more beeswax and stick it back in the oven.

How to Use Your Wraps

  1. The heat of your hands is what helps the wrap stick to itself or the bowl. Fold it, press it, twist it.
  2. To clean: Use a mild detergent and wash under cool water. Don’t immerse unless it’s super dirty. Hang to dry, please don’t wring it out.
  3. Beeswraps are not suitable for the microwave or dishwasher. The wax will melt. If the food you wish to cover is hot, please wait until it cools.
  4. These wraps shouldn’t be used in contact with raw meats.  Put it in a bowl first and then cover that. I read that pineapple eats the wraps, so maybe avoid that too.
  5. You can use these over and over. After a year you may need to re wax. No problem – you don’t need to throw these guys out.

If you would like to try these but don’t think you will get around to making them you can contact me here: VeryHappyToys and I would be happy to make some for you.  If you have any questions please ask.

Happy making!

Exploring the wonders of Bulk Basket!

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A couple of weeks ago saw the grand opening of Saskatoon’s first truly WasteNot friendly grocery outlet, Bulk Basket! Cass and I were really excited for opening day, the location on Ave. C is just a few minutes from our house. So we piled our jars and cotton bags into the car and headed off to see what we could see!

Right off the bat, the thing that sets Bulk Basket apart is that the store’s whole philosophy is in line with the Zero Waste movement. Our old go-to bulk store’s in-house promo was all about “Buy as much or as little as you want”, whereas Bulk Basket wears it’s “Hey guys, let’s stop making garbage” heart on it’s proverbial sleeve. You can buy cloth bags for your goodies right on site, and there is a self weigh station to mark your containers as soon as you walk in.

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The store is a cozy family run operation, mom keeping shelves stocked, dad behind the till, and a little one behind the counter soaking it all in. Two long rows of bulk bins occupy the centre aisle of the store, with shelves lining the walls, and even a small produce section.

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A couple of the things that Cass and I were most excited to see were dish soap (no more having to make a separate trip to the Soap Exchange!), and the big selection of grains and pulse crops that were grown right here in Saskatchewan!


There were a couple of staple items that we weren’t able to stock up on for our first trip, but we were also excited to see a “request list”, so hopefully peanut butter and bird seed will be available in the not-too-distant-future.

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We then finished off our trip to Bulk Basket with a fresh coconut from the juice bar (they even had metal straws available for purchase, good job guys!). It was great to see the place thoroughly bustling on opening day, and we’re looking forward to getting back to Bulk Basket soon! This is a big positive development for the Zero Waste community in our city. For the changes that we want to see in society to take place, they need to make sense in the free market (or rather… dollars? Sorry, not sorry XD). It warms my heart to see the community coming together to support this business which is itself here to support *us*.

A Waste Not yxe Directory and Guide

Hello fellow Waste Notters!  Here you will find a list of sources in Saskatoon of where to get Waste Not friendly goods and services, where to recycle items and ALSO general information and useful tips we have learned on ways to work towards a waste free lifestyle.  To be clear, we are not saying you should go out and buy a lot of things to get started on a Waste Not journey, the minimalist approach is amazing and works wonders for some people.  There are many styles of reducing waste and whether you are a minimalist and can get by with a mason jar and a jug of vinegar, or if you just can’t wait to buy your next set of stainless steel drinking straws, you may find some useful information here.  We are open to suggestions, so if there’s something you’d like to add to this directory, please let us know.  This resource will be updated on occasion so it can be your go-to reference for now and beyond for the Saskatoon area!

Bulk Foods – the most effective, obvious and easy place to start on a Waste Not journey!  Do you have your shopping kit?  Put together some reusable shopping bags, fabric dry goods bags, clean jars and hit up these awesome locations:

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  • Steep Hill Food Co-op – located on Broadway Avenue.  Steep Hill is an independent health food store and co-operative that has a few bulk bins containing organic and LOCAL items.  They also stock beautiful local produce.  Use your own fabric bulk bin bags.  If you want something specific and don’t see it in a bin, just ask.  Chances are they have it in the back and will go fill your bag for you.  Steep Hill will special order items in for you.  Memberships can be purchased but aren’t required.  There is a no mark-up member day every few months.  Also great for buying large quantities of organic local flour which has no mark up.
  • Soul Foods – your Riversdale ‘mini grocer’ specializing in organically sourced health foods, a 6-tap Kombucha Bar and is the home for a variety of community building events and educational classes to Nourish the Body – Awaken the Mind & Feed the Soul!  Ask about getting your container filled with bulk items.
  • The Bulk Basket – located on Avenue C North, this independent, family run store encourages customers to bring their own cloth bags, glass jars and bottles which will be weighed prior to filling.  Many bulk bins containing a wide verity of dried goods with local food items as well.  Some produce available.  Oils, balsalmic vinegar, liquid soap as well as shampoo and conditioner.  They provide paper or cotton bags if needed, but it is impressive that they do not offer plastic.  This truly sets them apart from other stores with bulk bins.
  • Independent Bakery’s such as Christie’s, Earth Bound Bakery and The Night Oven will put loaves directly into a clean pillow case!  Just ask for unsliced.  You can also do this at commercial grocery stores, just go early in the day.
  • Bulk Barn – before you start shopping, bring your jars and/or cloth bulk bin bags to the counter.  The staff will weigh your containers and mark the weight on them (yes you have to do this every time you shop there).  Then go to town on your shopping list!  They have sooooo many great items like spices, seeds/nuts, pasta, pet treats, nut butters, coconut oil, tahini, sweet treats, baking and health food items.  Then take your haul up to the counter where the staff will weigh your items and subtract the weight of your containers.  Voila!  You just reduced a tonne of packaging.  Well done!
  • Superstore – bulk bins containing dry items as well as some bakery items such as bagels and buns.  If you go early in the day fresh bread can also be obtained by asking the bakers directly before they bag it in plastic.  For the bulk bins, simply fill a cloth bag and write the item # on your bag using a washable marker.  Or if you forget your marker, take a picture of the item number with your phone and tell the staff when going through the checkout.  Superstore also has a wide variety of produce.  You can use reusable produce bags if wanted.  Superstore automatically subtracts a $.05 bag tare for the bulk items.
  • Safeway, Sobeys, Save on Foods and Co-op also have bulk bins, bakery’s and some locations have nut butter dispenser’s.
  • Sobeys has bulk olive oils and vinegar’s (small quantities only).  You have to buy their bottle to fill which can the be reused again and again.
  • Winston’s Pub, Prairie Sun Brewery, The Co-op Liquor Store and many others will refill your growler with local craft beer.  A great option for beer drinking Waste Notters!
  • Check around at your local farms for local, sustainable, package free vegetables, eggs, honey and meat.  So far we’ve heard great things about Farm One Forty for meat, Barefoot Earth Farm for eggs and honey, and T&H Apiaries for honey.

Household Items – where to find useful items that make it easier to create less waste.

  • The Better Good – stainless steel straws, beeswax food wrap, reusable water bottles and coffee cups, stainless steal food containers, bamboo toothbrushes and biodegradable dental floss, the list goes on!
  • The Library of Things – why buy it when you can borrow it?  Lot’s of great items here.  Put together by The Better Good.
  • Peavey Mart – great for lots of DIY supplies like canning, cheesemaking, sprouting, fermenting, gardening and more.  Also sell eco friendly dish cloths and beeswax food wrap.
  • Canadian Tire – great deals on glass ‘tupperware’.
  • Thrift stores such as the MCC, Salvation Army, The Opportunity Shop and Value Village – a lot of great finds such as mason jars, glass containers, reusable cloth shopping and bulk bin bags.

Soap Products – personal body soaps, and household cleaning products.  There are a few great options available in our fine city of Saskatoon!

Tip:  If you look up recipe’s online to make your own laundry soap, dishwasher soap, and many others you will find many affordable and eco-friendly solutions.  Baking soda and/or vinegar can be used in place of many commercial cleaners.

Note: for zero waste hair care, try bar soaps, making your own shampoo or the no-poo method.

  • Bulk Basket – liquid refillable house hold soaps as well as shampoo, conditioner and body wash.
  • Uncle Mike’s – for locally made eco-friendly non-toxic shampoos, body soaps and other personal care items, visit Uncle Mike at the farmer’s market.  We’ve heard that the containers can be returned for re-use!
  • The Better Good – refillable soap station, as well as tootpaste!  Quality hand soap, dish soap and laundry soap.  Just bring your own bottle to reuse, or use one of their re-used ones.  The Better Good also has a lot of wonderful items to promote a Waste Not lifestyle such as beeswax food wrap, bamboo toothbrushes among a long list of other wonderful items.
  • Ecologik – formerly known as the Soap Exchange.  High quality eco-friendly soaps for laundry, dish soap, dishwasher detergent, bathroom and kitchen cleaning sprays.  Bring back your empty container for re-use and get a discount on your next purchase.
  • Steep Hill, Bulk Barn, and Lush are some of the many places you can purchase unwrapped bar soaps for body and hair use.
  • Alchemy Salon – will refill some high-end shampoos and other hair products.

Beauty and Personal Hygiene – make-up, hair and other toiletries.  There are a tonne of great businesses and products available in Saskatoon.  Here are some of our faves:

Tip: If you google making your own make-up, deodorant or toothpaste for example you will find a lot of affordable ways to make your own using ingredients you may already have in your pantry, or that you can find in the bulk section.  By making your own you can save a tonne of money and end up using a safer product.  Check out Wellness Mama for some great recipe’s.

  • Green Tree Beauty – make-up, salves, creams, dental care and other beauty items that are non-toxic, organic and have eco-friendly packaging.  Bring back your empty containers to receive a discount.  Located in Alchemy Salon.

  • Alchemy Clothing Salon Tattoo & Piercing – salon and up-cycled locally made fashion.  Have your hair trimmings recycled here!  Also, have a salon experience where you are treated to non-toxic eco-friendly products and drink a beer while you’re at it.  Part of the Green Circle Salons program.  This team of amazing women even go out and physically plant trees to off-set their carbon footprint.
  • Green Circle Salon’s in Saskatoon – if you go to a salon, please choose one of these fine establishments!
  • Independent shops such as The Better Good and Twig and Squirel’s Wild Goods, and Soul Foods have locally made beauty items.  Some of them may take back the containers for re-use, just ask!
  • Steep Hill Food Co-op and London Drugs – carry the wonderful  and life changing Diva-cup.  Just try it, you’ll thank us later.

Eating Out/Ordering In – it’s best to choose places that use local ingredients and care about the impact they have on the environment!  There are many, many awesome places and it’s hard to keep track of all of them, here are just a couple that have popped up on the Waste Not yxe news feed.

Tip:  When dining out, remember to ask for no straw in advance and bring your own container for the leftovers.

  • Keo’s Kitchen – Thai food on Broadway avenue.  You can order takeout and ask them to put it in your own containers, just be sure to get there early enough.  They may pack it into disposables if you take too long to arrive.
  • Nosh – lots of local ingredients and vegan options.  This is where the Waste Not yxe admin often meet up!
  • The Hollows and Primal – focus on local producers and operate with a nose-to-tail approach where they utilize as much as possible, not just the choice parts, to minimize food waste. They also compost any food waste, along with used napkins, straws, and paper towel. Any of the compost they can not use themselves in their garden is picked up by local farmers. In addition they use left over fats from the kitchen to make soap that they use in both the kitchen and the bathrooms of The Hollows and Primal. They sell the excess of this soap in reusable containers at their store Goldie’s General Store.

Recycling – many of us here at Waste Not yxe consider recycling to be a form of waste. There are lots of flaws in the system, and many things that get cycled back through the industrial production machine do eventually end up in a landfill or worse (all plastics, for instance). So, while we generally think that it’s more satisfying to find ways to stop depending on these products, let’s be real, the system in which we live makes it almost impossible to be 100% waste free. Everyone needs to make their own decision about where to draw the line when it comes to recyclables, so for now navigating the recycling system is necessary part of the WasteNot puzzle.

  • Sarcan – electronics, aluminum cans, glass beverage bottles (only ones that require a deposit).  Sarcan also has a bin where you can drop your lids and small pieces of plastic.
  • City of Saskatoon Blue Bins (Loraas) –  plastics (only pieces larger than the size of a credit card), paper/cardboard, tin cans.  What is important to note here is what they do not recycle.  DOES NOT RECYCLE ANY STYROFOAM.  No plastic lids (think shampoo bottle lids, water bottle lids, ketchup bottle lids, things like that). Glass jars are being stored indefinitely and not recycled so it’s best to avoid purchasing glass if possible.  Any styrofoam and small plastic lids that get tossed into the blue bin will end up in the landfill (take styrofoam to London Drugs & small lids and bits of plastic to Sarcan).  Update: These items no longer accepted: Loose plastic bags, clean plastic food wrap and clean plastic product wrap must be put inside another bag and tied.
  • London Drugs  bring items to the customer service desk!  It’s easy and the staff are nice about it!  London Drugs recycles a lot of items and you can look it up online.  Some exciting ones to note here are clean styrofoam items, light bulbs, batteries, Christmas lights and CD’s/DVD’s
  • Staples – cel phones, pens, batteries, printer cartridges
  • BN Steel & Metal – appliances, batteries (automotive), computers / electronics, wiring, microwaves, oil filters, photocopiers, propane tanks, scrap metal, tin cans, vehicles.  They also have bins where you can drop off plastic, glass, cardboard etc., which is collected by Loraas Recycling, the same company that the City of Saskatoon uses (still, glass is stockpiled).
  • Saskatoon Processing Co. – accepts used fats, cooking oil and grease for recycling from residents
  • Brainsport – will take all types of shoes (minus flip flops) in a wearable condition and recycle them
  • Habitat For Humanity Re-store – recycle building supplies here.  If you have left over flooring for example, you can donate to be re-sold.  A wide variety of second-hand building supplies, furniture and appliancs can be purchased here as well.
  • Saskatoon Food Bank – accepts books, toys, clothing / textiles, plastic (food containers with lids, eggs cartons, shopping bags)
  • Thrift Stores including Salvation Army, The Opportunity Shop and MCC – donate used clothing and household items here.
  • For a more in-depth resource on recycling in Saskatchewan, visit the Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council

Repairs – repair you old boots, zippers, vacuum cleaners instead of sending them to the land fill.  Here are some of the repair shops that have had recommendations from the Waste Not yxe group members:

 

Saskatoon Waste Not Workshop!

Hey Saskatoon! Are you curious about Waste Not YXE? Cassandra will be running a by donation workshop at Soul Foods Conscious Grocer Wednesday, January 24th 7:00pm – 8:30pm. 

 

Come on out and join us for discussion and Q&A! ❤

 

Event details HERE. 

potato sovereignty?

We just had our first garden harvest, and oh boy – *SO MANY* potatoes!

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helper dog Cyrus

I had braced myself that perhaps the plants would only produce a couple of potatoes each, and that would still be great. Alas, the bracing was unnecessary because on average, our plants yielded 6 – 8 potatoes. Our highest producing plant gave us *21* potatoes. What?!

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this all came from *one* plant

I cannot tell you (as a first-time gardener) how completely satisfying and exciting it was to pull each plant, loosen the soil, and root around for potatoes. The entire yard took about four or five hours to pull by myself (as Jesse was shingling our roof), and the novelty truly didn’t wear off the entire time.
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In the end, we have three large totes filled with potatoes, packing in a bit of dirt to help them keep (we don’t have a root cellar), and I don’t have a scale but it’s definitely triple digits for poundage.

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We will be seeing how long they last us, as our pie in the sky goal was to be completely self reliant for potatoes until summer 2018. Time will tell!  Safe to say, our use of the no-till gardening method was a major success. No lawn, almost no weeding (we weeded basically once the whole season), and lots of fresh, happy produce. ❤

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where does your food come from?

One of the many winding paths that our zero waste exploration has led us down is the question of our food. Where are we getting it? How far does it travel to reach us? Is it coming from ethical farms and practices? And how can we be better in touch with and connected to our food source?

When we moved into our house together just over a year ago, we knew that one of the big reasons to buy property was that we wanted to garden. Our ideas started out vague, but quickly took shape into visions of berry bushes that provide both privacy and food, ripping out the old garage and lawn and transforming all that wasted space into garden, and starting with a few crops and doing lots of them so that we could learn in this process.

Neither Jesse, nor I have any real garden experience… I had a blip of a week when I was eighteen where I planted a tiny little garden, spent the day weeding it, and then abandoned it to nature as soon as new weeds began to sprout. Needless to say, we’re both in better stages of life to care for a yard full of responsibility now. In fact, we *want* the responsibility. There’s a sort of visceral satisfaction that comes from providing for your basic needs in a direct way, and gardening is infinitely more attractive to me than it was ten years ago.

Last summer, we began by tearing down the rotten, slanting garage that filled half of our backyard (related, we also discovered how difficult salvaging wood can be in demo situations). Jesse did a bunch of reading on no-till gardening and wanted to give it a shot, rather than having to rip up all the lawn in our backyard. So going into winter, we covered all the grass with cardboard, and started to daydream about what plants we wanted come spring.

We started off the adventure by having a yard consultation with our friend (and inspiring ecologist) Elizabeth Bekolay. Once we had her suggestions in mind, we headed out to Dieter Martin Greenhouse for the fun part – picking all of our plants!

We ended up opting for a goji berry bush, several haskap bushes, saskatoon berry bushes, rhubarb, a raspberry bush, peppermint plants, potatoes, and sunchokes gifted to us by Jordan and Elizabeth. We also have a bunch of tomato and pepper plants in pots on the deck, and our trying our hand at growing squash from seeds that Jesse has been saving from when we eat squash.

Once we had our plants, the hard work started. We began by pulling off all the cardboard from winter, and laying a layer of manure over the dead grass. No-till meant we didn’t need to rip all the grass out – just re-cover it, and keep it from getting any sunlight.

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Once the carboard was re-applied on top of the manure, we cut out holes for the potatoes, and dug down!

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Once all the potatoes were snug in their holes, we spread a good layer of mulch – in this case woodchips and pieces – to keep the moisture in, and add an extra layer to keep the grass from getting any light.

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We followed a similar method with the berry bushes; cardboard over the soil, dig holes, backfill with some manure and compost, plant bush, cover with mulch (in this case, straw). Now that it’s been a month since we planted, we are *thrilled* with the results. It keeps the moisture in, the weeds down, and our plants are all chugging along happily so far!

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Just last week our first potatoes sprouted… one day there were two sprouts, then seven, then ten… it’s a relief to know we didn’t screw them up! So far, this has been a satisfying start to our gardening, and we really can’t wait to learn more as we go. ❤

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a conversation with Conjecture Time

The other day I sat down with my friend Chris over at the Conjecture Time podcast, and we had a really interesting chat. We touched on a lot of things, but a good deal of the conversation revolved around WasteNot and some of the philosophical underpinnings of the Zero Waste worldview. You might enjoy taking a listen! Things really get rolling around the 20 minute mark 🙂

Conjecture Time Podcast – Jesse Sleepwreck

from waste not to food forest

Well! It’s been awhile! Things have really gotten moving around the old Waste Not YXE, and it’s been extraordinarily exciting to behold! Cass’s and my friend Melissa approached us a few months back with the idea of starting a Facebook group and starting to put out some challenges to the community… and holy heck, the response has been so inspiring!

With all of these wonderful things happening, perhaps some of you have noticed that I’ve been a little bit absent from the picture. Cass and Melissa and Eliza and Christine have been rockin’ it on the FB group and the challenges, and I’m super proud and grateful to see that happening. While in the meantime I’ve gotten involved in an entirely different project that I think everyone who follows Waste Not YXE will also be excited about.

One of the big things that the waste not lifestyle has gotten me thinking about is how we as a culture and a society can start to overcome the commodification of… well everything, really. Our lives revolve around money to a *huge* degree, and ironically I think we’re deeply impoverished as a result. We’re disconnected from the natural world, and we’re running off our collective feet to try to balance a debt equation that is literally unsolvable (more on that here).

So. What do we do? Not making garbage has been a life altering first step for me personally, but  deep seated change is still needed in the entire system if human society is going to continue into the future indefinitely. It’s an enormous proposition, but as they say a journey of 1000 miles starts with a single step. So… I’ve been looking at the food system as a good place to start on implementing large scale change.

To that end, a group of us has formed with the intention of planting a food forest in Saskatoon.

Food forest layers

“What the heck is a food forest?”

I’m glad you asked! Let me explain!

Agroforestry is essentially an innovative (but actually ancient) form of agriculture that seeks to mimic the “closed loop system” of a natural forest, thereby decreasing the need for maintenance whilst simultaneously increasing yields. Traditional agriculture breaks up the soil, plants a crop (usually annual), fertilizes, fights weeds and pests and disease, and harvests when the crop is ripe. Whereas a food forest plants multiple layers of primarily perennial crops in such a way that each species supports the others, soil health is enhanced rather than depleted, wildlife habitat is created rather than destroyed, etc. etc. etc. I could seriously go on for hours. There’s really too much goodness to get into in this short blog post, but you can find out more here.

My friend Mark and I were chatting about the idea over beers back in November, and he took a page from Cassandra’s decisiveness book and emailed city council about the idea the next morning. They were open to hearing a proposal, and somehow, miraculously, a whole host of competent, passionate, dedicated, experienced people have come out of the wood to help bring the idea to fruition (smirk, sorry). Long story short, our intention is to acquire some city land and plant a bunch of fruit trees, berry bushes, tubers, herbs, etc. These would then all be available for free to the community throughout the growing season. It’s going to be an enormous amount of work, but I have absolute confidence in our group to make it happen. I really can’t tell you how good it feels to be working on a project that is so grounded in the Land, and that has the potential to go on to benefit generations and generations of people.

SO! We’re in the process of researching possible sites, and negotiating with the city. You can keep apprised of the happenings on our Facebook group, or get more involved by sending a message to saskatoonfoodforest@gmail.com.

Onward!

Coconut Oil Chocolate, Tooth Powder, Yogurt and Good, Good Times

 

Workshop #1 was awesome!  Thanks to everyone who came out to Yerrama Yoga studio for our very first Waste Not yxe workshop.  I am still feeling the sense of community and support… like a warm hug from a bunch of like-minded friends.  A lot of great ideas were shared, connections made, and delicious snacks were devoured.    Luckily, Cassandra’s delicious cashew cheese recipe can be found on a previous Waste Not yxe blog post, and you can attend one of her workshops to learn how to make Sourdough bread and crackers!   I will definitely be attending your next workshop Cass!

There were a few requests for some of my recipe’s so I’ve included some below.

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Coconut Oil Chocolate

This is a recipe I have adapted from Coconut Mama.  Why make your own chocolate?  Well other than the obvious deliciousness, it’s a healthier alternative (coconut oil boosts your metabolism!) and the packaging of conventional bars can be avoided!

  • 1/2 cup Honey
  • 2/3 cup Coconut Oil
  • 2/3 Cup Cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla
  • Pinch of Sea Salt
  • Pinch of any spice you want, optional (try cayenne, cardamom, cinnamon or peppermint!)

Instructions: The trick is to keep the temperature low, stir a lot before pouring, and do it all quite quickly. On my stove I set the burner temperature to 3 out of 10.  Start by gently melting honey in a small pot. Once it has melted, add the coconut oil.  Once that has melted stir in the vanilla, salt, and optional spice.  Then stir in the Cocoa.  Stir vigorously before pouring into a mold or ice cube tray.  If you find you have to pour slowly for accuracy, stir half way through this process.  Place in the fridge for 2-4 hours, or in the freezer to speed up the process.  These are best served cold.

Notes:  If you want to buy candy molds I suggest choosing ones made out of silicone rather than plastic.  They will last much much longer.  Alternatively, you could use an ice cube tray or something similar!

Make your own Yogurt

You can use regular or organic milk from the grocery store, or you can use fresh farm milk if you are so lucky to have some.

You will need 2 tablespoons of plain probiotic yogurt (I prefer organic brands), 1 litre of milk and a sterilized container such as a mason jar, or the beloved Adam’s Peanut Butter jar.  Be aware, if your jar is retaining a vinegar or peanut butter smell it will transfer to your yogurt.  To rid your jars of these smells run them through the dishwasher or simply place them in gently boiling water for a minute.

Step 1: Gently heat (stove setting 3 out of 10) milk in a pot and very slowly bring to a gentle boil.  Stir occasionally.  It will start to foam.  Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Step 2: Once the milk has reached room temperature, transfer milk to a clean sterilized jar, stir in 2 tablespoons of yogurt, and secure the lid on the jar firmly.

Step 3: Prepare oven.  Heat the oven to 170 and then turn it off.  Turn on the oven light – the heat from the light is enough for the incubation process.

Step 4:  Place the jar, on it’s side, in the oven and close the door.  The yogurt should be ready in about 8 hours, but sometimes it takes up to 12 hours.  Be sure to refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours before using.

Notes: Making yogurt is easy and rewarding!  I can’t remember the last time I purchased yogurt.  I will often make yogurt in the evening and take it out in the morning.  Or, if I happen to do a lot of baking throughout the day, I will leave the jar on top of the stove for the day and the heat from the oven being on throughout the day is enough for the incubation process.  You can keep using the last 2 tablespoons of yogurt every time, which will eliminate the need to buy yogurt all together.

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Tooth Powder Recipe

I adapted my tooth powder recipe from Mommypotomus.  There are a lot of reasons for making your own tooth powder.  One reason is that toothpaste tubes are not recyclable.  There are many health reasons as well and you can read about them at Mommypotomus.

I’ve tried a few recipes for toothpaste using coconut oil, baking powder, etc. and they were alright, but I never really felt like it was enough.  So far, this recipe is the ultimate best for us!  My partner Reuben even approves, which means it must be good.  This tooth powder leaves our teeth feeling ultra clean and healthy.

  • 4 tablespoons bentonite clay (I found bentonite clay at Mom’s Bulk Foods in Saskatoon)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons finely ground sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 20 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 2½ teaspoons stevia powder
  • ¾ teaspoons activated charcoal  (Can be found as a supplement in the vitamin section – I opened up about 3 capsules)

Mix all of the ingredients and store in a small jar.  You can dip your damp (but not dripping) toothbrush into the powder, then brush!  Alternatively, you can have a little spoon to sprinkle the powder onto your toothbrush.  It’s weird at first because it’s black! However the charcoal is actually whitening for your teeth so it won’t stain, I promise!

Enjoy!