It’s been two weeks since I jumped head first into the Reduce My Footprint Mode and so far the biggest challenge has been changing the mindset in our home. We agreed to use the disposable products that we already have and that when we those products are nearing an end they will be replaced with the best reusable choice. I have slowly started buying more dishtowels anticipating the end of the paper towels. My research into various non-disposable storage methods has continued – mason jars are seriously unbelievably versatile. I made a trip to an organic, non-GMO bulk store that has a CSA. There are details to work out and I ma looking at more local alternatives as well. The little changes are easy and mostly go unnoticed but changing things that impact the convenience factor in my home seems to be the hardest hurdle so far. Old habits took time to form and making change is almost always painful and takes more time. The first of the reusable silicon zipper bags is in my fridge – no complaints yet. Our progress will be slow but I hope steady and your insights would be greatly appreciated.
Another area we are attempting to make change in is being less wasteful with our leftovers. That means on my end being more thoughtful of the portions I prepare when cooking but also coming up with creative repurposing of food that is left over. Sometimes the challenge is a no brainer – left over chicken can be shredded and made into a multitude of things – chicken salad, egg rolls, stir fries, etc. But other foods are less amenable to being repurposed. This week for our Shabbat lunch I served a very hearty vegan chili. Full of beans, veggies and an assortment of slightly spicy seasonings served over a bowl of brown rice, it was perfect. We even had it again Motzei Shabbat as an evening meal. The problem is there is still a good bit left and shy of freezing it for another day I decided to use it as the base of my meal for tonight’s Meatless Monday entrée. Knowing my household though nobody is going to be up for another round of brown rice and chili. How to use it in a creative tasty way, staying true to the theme of the evening, not breaking my budget while doing so became the impetus of tonight’s recipe.
What I came up with may not be a complete overhaul of the chili but hopefully will give it a lift and new life for one more meal. The weather here in Houston has been on the cold side and those low temperatures while mild for people that reside in northern parts of the continent are bone chilling to those of us that are used to more mild temperatures. I am taking advantage and have made soups and stews and thought that perhaps the chili would meld into one of those but wasn’t so sure my husband would buy into that, Meatless Mondays are a hard sell to my meat and potato guy to begin with. That was the thought that gave me the “AHA!” moment. My first thought was to make chili stuffed baked sweet potatoes with vegan sausage crumbles, something different but not really changing the chili too much. Then it hit me vegan Chimichangas! Ok maybe not a complete flavor profile change but definitely a reinvention of leftover chili. To satisfy my husband’s need for meat I will add in the vegan sausage to the filling and we will go with the following toppings: salsa, guacamole and vegan sour cream and cheddar shreds.
Left over vegan chili (recipe at the bottom)
Flour tortillas – as many as you need to use up your chili, using about ½ cup of filling in each chimichanga
Vegan cheese shreds (I use Daiya cheese, it smells a little funky but melts nicely and loses the funky smell as it cooks)
1 egg beaten to seal the edges of the tortilla
Grape seed or other oil for frying
Toppings & Sides
Vegan Sour Cream
Lay the tortilla out and fill with ½ cup of the chili and a small handful of vegan cheese shreds. Roll the edge of the tortilla over the filling and then fold the sides in to create and envelope – similar to rolling an egg roll. Roll the tortilla over to close sealing the edge with beaten egg let the chimichanga rest seam side down for a few minutes to make sure it is sealed. Meanwhile while you are wrapping your chimichangas heat a few inches of oil in a deep frying pan or in a stockpot. When the oil is hot place one or two chimichangas in the oil seam side down. Let fry for a few minutes then turn the chimichanga should be golden on the fried side. When the second side has cooked drain on paper bags. Serve on a platter with the sides in small bowls.
1 46oz. can black beans or dry beans soaked over night to equivalent amount
1 46oz. can kidney beans or dry beans soaked over night to equivalent amount
2 cans Ro-Tel Original Tomatoes
2 small cans Diced-Tomatoes
1 small can diced Green Chili Peppers
1 large white /yellow Onion diced
2 or 3 whole Jalapeno Peppers
½ bottle Dark Lager (you may need more)
4 or more Tablespoons of Chili powder
1 Tablespoon of Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 Tablespoon (you can use less if you like it less spicy or more) Chipotle Chili Powder
1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
Salt & Pepper to taste
Put all of the ingredients into a large crockpot making sure the liquid is up to the top of the ingredients. Set at low and cook 10 hours or overnight. Serve over brown rice.
It is time for The Out of Town Cook’s first challenge and it’s a doozy. For a while I have been trying to figure out how my husband and I are able to generate so much waste and garbage on a daily/ weekly basis. We recycle, we compost occasionally, we are aware . . . so what are we doing wrong. I started to do a little research about recycling and discovered that like everything else recycling is big, I mean seriously BIG business. Where the recyclables you put at your curb end up really in the end depends on where your municipality sends it – who buys it. The largest buyer of recyclable waste is China and well its mindboggling. This is a good article https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/29/climate/recycling-landfills-plastic-papers.html
and so is this
Reading these and other articles that I found was rather depressing and didn’t make me feel better about the waste my household generates. It got me thinking about what is taught in schools regarding trash. It isn’t just about recycling it’s about reduction and reusing what we have. The more I thought about this the more I realized that the waste my family generates is overwhelming. By no means do I think I can reduce my waste to a handful as I have seen some bloggers do, but in reality I started to think that with a little effort we could vastly reduce the amount of waste. It isn’t going to be easy, it is going to mean that there will always be dishes to wash – no more disposable plastic/ paper dishes, no more plastic cutlery, bakeware, napkins or paper towels. As I started looking into the non-disposable alternatives I realized that although there is an expense involved in the long term I wont be (literally) throwing my money away. Here is a list of the things we plan on replacing with non-disposable alternatives over the next few months.
Disposable aluminum pans - USA brand baking pans & Pyrex baking dishes
Paper towels - cloth dish towels
Paper napkins - cloth napkins
Plastic storage containers - glass storage containers
Ziploc bags - glass containers / silicon reusable washable zipper bags
Plastic/paper grocery bags - canvas & insulated grocery bags
Super market plastic produce bags - reusable mesh bags
Food packaging - mason jars to store bulk bin purchases
Kcups - refillable washable cups
Disposable plates - bulk purchase of simple glass plates (20 place settings)
Disposable cutlery - bulk purchase of stainless cutlery
Plastic drinking cups - glasses in assorted sizes
Disposable water bottles - stainless steel reusable bottles
Gallon water bottles - water filtration system for tap water
It seems daunting but in reality we spend a fortune on things we throw away – that we buy knowing we will throw them away. So I am not jumping in and ordering all of the non-disposable items today but as I get to the end of a non-reusable item or close to the end I will replace it with a reusable item. So instead of spending around $25 for a bulk package of Bounty paper towels that maybe will last a month to six weeks I will order a bulk pack of 24 dishtowels for $17.99. Just there the savings over the course of the year is over $200.00. What is even better when the dishtowels are too dingy for my liking I can donate them cleaned to an animal shelter. I am starting to like this.
Who is game? Join me in the Reduce & Reuse Challenge. Let support each other and help clean up our little corners of the world. Share your inspirations, solutions, questions etc to my facebook event page. Let’s share our creative ideas!.
Hi, I'm Chef Shoshana. I have been cooking as long as I can remember starting out in both of my grandmothers kitchens learning by observing and practice. Over the years I have cooked my way through all of life's moments; cooking for family, friends, and clients. For me cooking has always been an expression of caring and love. Each meal I prepare is a reflection of that. When I cook for a client I want them to feel as if the meal was made by a loved one especially for them. The blog section of my website is where you will find recipes & anecdotes from my daily experiences in the kitchen with both clients and family. I hope you enjoy!