Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Vegetarian Fried-Rice

For as long as I can remember, I've loved to cook.  There's something so amazingly rewarding about creating a masterpiece in the kitchen that keeps me hooked.  However, as much as I love to cook, there is always a point where I become completely bored/burned out with everything.

One afternoon while at the library, I was stressing about what to make for dinner.  I was mentally running through what I had at home in my pantry and what veggies I had from my CSA... when all of the sudden inspiration hit me-- Fried Rice!!!  I had never made fried rice before, but I knew that I could totally make a meal out of it AND it could be 100% plastic-free!!!!  With renewed confidence and purpose, I headed back to the "Cooking" section of my library and grabbed "Simple Chinese Cooking" by Kylie Kwong then headed to Tidal Creek Co-Op :)

Yeah, I was excited to cook dinner.  And once I was finished I was even more excited to eat dinner!! Homemade fried rice is AH-MAZING because a.) I know what's in it, b.) it was fast and easy and c.) plastic-free!!! Ahh... the quintessential Chinese take-out food made with love :)

Vegetarian Fried Rice
4 main dish servings

4 cups steamed rice (1 1/3 cups uncooked jasmine rice* bring to boil with 2 2/3 c water.  Let simmer for 10 minutes then turn off heat and let steam for an additional 10 minutes.)

1/3 c vegetable oil*
4 free-roaming eggs (mine come from my backyard hens), lightly beaten
1 small carrot*, diced
1 small onion*, diced
1 TBSP freshly minced ginger
3 1/2 oz fresh shiitake mushrooms*, sliced
1 tsp sea salt
2 TBSP finely chopped cilantro or parsley (optional, but nice)
1 TBSP tamari* (or soy sauce)
2/3 c spring onions

* = Bought in bulk using my own jars or bags.

Other veggies to add: Finely shredded Chinese cabbage, fresh bean sprouts, red pepper or whatever you have on hand that sounds good :)

On med-high, heat half of the oil in a large skillet or wok until shimmering.  Pour beaten eggs into pan and leave to cook for about 10 seconds then fold the mixture over onto itself with a spatula and lightly scramble until almost cooked through.  Remove eggs from pan and set aside.

Heat remaining oil and stir-fry veggies and 1tsp salt.  Add rice, tamari (or soy sauce), cilantro, and eggs and stir-fry for a few minutes.  Use a spatula to break up the egg into smaller pieces while cooking.  When finished, toss in spring onions until well combined.  Season to taste with salt.

Serve with extra tamari and some steamed green veggies (broccoli, green beans, snap peas, kale... whatever you have on hand.)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Our Daily Ocean: Day 111

Ever since we moved to Wilmington, it has been a sort of tradition to go to the beach at Christmas.  True, it all started as a way to brag to our family and friends in the midwest, but now we find it's sort of a way to brag to ourselves about how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful place and how much we love it here.
There is something so amazing about spending Christmas at the beach.  AND... since I'm not much for cold weather... this was one of the best Christmases ever!  This girl doesn't need snow...   Running around and playing on the beach barefoot is my kind of Christmas!! :)
Of course, we did more than play at the beach.  Christmas is about giving... so my kids and I gave Wrightsville Beach the gift of a 20 minute beach clean up!
At first, the beach didn't look too bad.  Some littered cigarette butts along the tideline, but overall not much... UNTIL... at about 5 minutes into the clean up I decided to go up to the beach grasses... then I found a huge area packed full of caps, straws, styrofoam, various plastics, and cigarette butts.  As I was picking up all the litter, I heard a rustling in the grasses... and then saw a rabbit dart away from where I was. :)  In that same area, I found a couple of tubes of Chapstick which immediately made me think about the plastic-free Organic Essence lip balm that I recently purchased through the recommendation of a friend.  Besides being plastic-free (the tube is paper and compostable!!), it's also petroleum-free... and I dig that :)

I also dig it because I'm a believer in the fact that change has to start somewhere.

20 minutes on December 25, 2011 at Access 38
Litter by weight: 14.3 oz
Cigarette butts: 588
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach in 111 days:

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Our Daily Ocean: Day 110

When I first started this beach clean up project in August of 2010, I set a "goal" to do at least two beach clean ups a week.  Some weeks I have done way over two and others... well... not so much.  As the end of 2011 is approaching quickly, I'm attempting to do my best and get out to Wrightsville Beach more often.  With us having a beautifully mild winter this should be easy!

We made it out yesterday on Christmas Eve and found the usual amount of litter-- caps, straws, wrappers and cigarette butts.  Now that the beach is less busy, I haven't found many plastic bags in a LONG time. That's a good thing, but just because I'm not finding them on the beach doesn't mean that I'm not finding/seeing them elsewhere.  In fact, I'm seeing them EVERYWHERE.  I often wonder if I decided to clean up a section on the side of the road how many plastic bags I would find.  Not long ago, my friend Bonnie decided to do just that.  A small stretch on the side of the road with too many littered plastic bags.

Bag Bans are popping up all over the country and our world.  We're ready to Ban The Bag Wilmington!!  Want to help?  Join us at Cape Fear Surfrider :)

20 minutes on December 24, 2011 at Access 16
Litter by weight: 5.2 oz
Cigarette butts: 301

Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach in 110 days:

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Our Daily Ocean: Day 109

Well... would you believe that we had another warm mid-70's winter day!?!  Last year, I was begging for warmer weather... and here it is Winter Solstice and it feels like spring.  (I am not complaining!!)  Today is officially the half way point to both summer and my birthday... and that makes me happy!!! :)
Before sitting down to write this post, I caught up on reading The Daily Ocean... and seems that as usual Sara and I are on the same wavelength.  After doing so many beach clean ups, what the heck is there to say about the same litter picked up over and over again??  It's difficult sometimes.  Sometimes, I'll come back from the beach with too much to say... then other times... well, the words are lacking.  Tonight,  I asked my friend Tracy, "What do I say??"  She said, "Come on people... pick your shit up!!! :)" That works, though I think I've said that before. (Yup)
Whether we're the ones who made the mess or not... it's so very important that we take the time to pick it up.  Last week, I was reading about the death of a gray whale whose stomach was filled with plastics... everything from duct tape to a Capri Sun.  Soooooo sad :(

"He reached his hand inside the whale and removed a piece of plastic. Then, a length of rope, a golf ball, a plastic bag, a piece of cloth. Another piece of plastic, more cloth. Duct tape. A towel. Electrical tape.Fishing line. More rope. Surgical glove. Plastic funnel. More plastic bags. A huge piece of fabric – it was half a pair of sweatpants. Work around us stopped and everyone gathered, stunned. Over twenty plastic bags in all were removed from the whale’s stomach."  (For a full list of  items and photo of the stomach contents of the whale, click here.) 

Everything we do (or don't do) impacts the world we live in.  It's true.

20 minutes on December 22, 2011 at Access 37
Litter by weight: 1 lb .2 oz
Cigarette butts: 138 

Total amount of cigarettes removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 109 days: 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Our Daily Ocean: Day 108

Cigarettes.  The most littered item worldwide.  Somewhere around 2 billion cigarettes are littered daily.  In regards to my efforts cleaning up the most littered item in the world... some may say, "Why even bother??" or "What's the point??"

The other day, I was reading my friend Harry's blog "The Flotsam Diaries".  If you haven't checked out what he's been up to in Maine... you MUST!! :)  In his post "Hope, Despair, and that Strange Place In-Between" he sums up quite perfectly why he keeps doing what he does... cleaning beaches even though really there is no end in sight.  He writes:

"So I do what I do because I love my daughter and I think the world is beautiful and I want to preserve it..."

... 'Hoping' puts the burden on someone else. "Doing" puts the burden -- the control -- in my own hands. So no, I can't change the world. But I can change my part of it. And no, I can't make it better forever. But I can make it better for today. This one moment when the beach is deserted and the gulls are crying and the surf is pounding and the breeze is carrying salt on the air... and the sand is clean.

And it just might stay clean long enough for the next lonely wanderer to look down. And notice.

Sometimes, the point isn't to do the right thing because you hope or think something awesome will come from it. It's because, it's the right thing...."

20 minutes on December 16, 2011 at Access 36
Cigarette butts: 95

Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 108 days:

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Our Daily Ocean: Day 107

Well... after an18 day beach cleaning hiatus...I have finally made back to Wrightsville Beach!!  AND... today was the most beautiful amazing day!!  Mid-December and it was 72˚!!! I kid you not... it was colder in the beginning of October!!!
  It is such a pleasure to go to the beach in the winter and not freeze... it's days like today that I'm reminded why I love living here.  Why I can't see myself ever living somewhere without a beach.  *sigh* :)  I just love everything about it.
As I sit here thinking about the fact that I've done 107 (plus) beach clean ups (whoa!)... I can't help but think of my friend Sara, who writes the blog The Daily Ocean.  Sara has done a whopping 241 (plus) beach clean ups.  In those 241 days, she has removed over 900 lbs of trash from a small stretch of Santa Monica beach and has inspired countless people to get out and start cleaning up our world.
Inspiring people is what it's all about.  Creating ripple effects with simple actions is a huge catalyst for change.  Earlier, I watched a video from Peaceful Protest Against Litter .  I love the video because of its simplicity in pointing out that anyone can make a difference and together we can do so much....
1 becomes 2
2 become 4
Before you know it
You got yourself a movement

 Yup, a movement is happening.  Beach clean up revolution! ;)

20 minutes on December 15, 2011 at Access 16
Litter by weight: 4.8 oz
Cigarette butts: 181
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 107 days:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Salt Dough Ornaments

I wouldn't normally consider myself a crafty person-- maybe it's the season or maybe it's me taking time away from the beach...I'm not sure-- but as my kids and I began making salt dough ornaments.... a wave of creative inspiration came over me.
  ....and I created this ornament with a cookie cutter and plastics removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC. 
(yes, I'm proud)  

So what is it??  Salt dough painted with water colors, decorated with small plastics that I found on Wrightsville Beach... and it's hanging from littered fishing line (that I also found on the beach).

Wanna make your own?  YAY!!  It's super easy and lots of fun.  <--- says the very uncrafty girl ;)

Salt Dough Ornaments

1 cup salt
1 1/2 cups hot tap water
4 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 325˚ F.  

Dissolve salt in hot water.  Mix flour into salt water until completely combined.  Kneed briefly until soft and pliable.  

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough ball out into an even thickness of about 1/8"- 1/4".  Cut shapes using cookie cutters, then add a hole at the top. (TIP: I cut the dough ball into 4 pieces... one for each of my kids and me)

Place on cookie sheets and bake at 325˚ F until hard, about 40 minutes to an hour.  Remove from oven and let cool.

Decorate:  Get crafty and use what you have.... or go hit the beach for some inspiration ;)

P.S.  Before we decorated them, my husband thought they were cookies and took a bite! YUCK!!  Do your loved ones teeth and taste buds a favor and let everyone know that they are not cookies! ;)