Q&A: “Green” Kitchenware?

  • October 10, 2012 8:55 am

Question:

Hi Alexandra,

Looking to buy some new pans for my kitchen, and was wondering if you had any green recommendations for me?

Best,

Deb

Answer:

Hi Deb,

You’re not alone. This is a question I get often! Yes, there are ways to make sure that your new cookware is safe. As I explain in The Conscious Kitchen, you should opt for cast iron, stainless steel, or enamel-coated cast iron.

Cast Iron is great because it’s safe, cheap, endlessly durable, and retains heat very well. If you are looking to add more iron to your diet, you’re in luck; small amounts of the iron will leach out of the pan and into your food. Cast iron does require oil or butter so your food won’t stick to it, but it does become more non-stick over time, especially if you care for the pans well.

Enamel-coated cast iron is a bit pricier than the other two, but well worth the splurge. It’s cast iron with an enamel coating is composed of fine glass particles. Glass is nonreactive and very safe. It also retains the heat well and is extremely durable. I use my enamel-coated cast iron dutch oven so often it just lives on the top of my stove. There is no point in putting it away.

Stainless steel is another solid safe material for pots and pans. It’s lightweight and sturdy. Just don’t store acidic foods in it (tomato sauce, rhubarb) as this can start to break it down.

I prefer these three materials to any of the new “green” pans on the market. Many of these contain proprietary materials and “green” chemicals that make them similar to the non-stick pans I hope you’re replacing. I don’t want to cook in anything proprietary! And these just aren’t as durable as the tried and true materials mentioned above. I have heard from a lot of readers that they’ve bought various new “green” pans and they wound up falling apart quickly. Cast iron won’t fall apart!

Hope this helps you with your decision. If you’re looking for other kitchenware, check out The Conscious Kitchen for additional tips.

Best,

Alexandra

Using Sour Milk

  • September 25, 2011 9:00 am

Another post from Glenny!

How often do you find milk going bad in your fridge?  For me, its often.  I love milk in my coffee, but I only ever use a splash.  Cereal?  I eat it occasionally, but certainly not enough to merit buying anything more than a quart.  Still, I’m always frustrated when I don’t have any in the apartment and have to dash out and hope for the best at my local market.  (I’ve been drinking Hudson Valley Fresh Whole Milk, and am often reluctant to buy other brands.)  So, I find souring milk all of the time.

The good news is that milk that is going off is still usable!  It has turned into buttermilk, which is a needed ingredient in all sorts of biscuits, breads, and other baked treats.  When you find milk that is past its expiration, don’t throw it out!  It’s time to bake!  Not that you should need an excuse.

My favorite recipe using buttermilk is the very simple, very rustic Irish Soda Bread.  Consisting of few ingredients, this bread is a breeze to make, and is ready for noshing within an hour.  No rising, no kneading, no yeast.  If served with an easy soup of fall vegetables, you’ll impress your very satisfied diners.  And, voila!  No more sour milk!

Full disclosure: this is not my Irish Soda Bread, but I wish it was.

Irish Soda Bread

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

14 oz buttermilk (just under two cups)

Preheat the oven to 450 F.  Sieve the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl.  Make a well in the center and pour in all of your milk.  Using your hand and a circular movement, gently mix the buttermilk into the dry ingredients.  The dough should be softish, not too wet and sticky.  When it all comes together, turn it out onto a well-floured work surface.

Gently form the dough into a round about 1 1/2 inches deep.  Cut a deep cross on the loaf and prick in the four corners (the Irish say it is to “let the fairies out”).  Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, then turn down the heat to 400 F for another 30 minutes until it is cooked through.  If you’re in doubt, tap the bottom of the bread: when cooked it should sound hollow.

Cool on a wire rack.

If you’re feeling ambitious, try adding new ingredients like raisins, dried cherries, caraway seeds, fennel seeds, chocolate chips, olives, etc. etc. etc.

Found at the Market: Long Beans

  • September 17, 2011 9:37 am

Alexandra is out of town this weekend, so she requested that I post something food related for the weekend.  I happily obliged, excited to share a new discovery from last weekend’s farmers market.  Long beans!  They look bizarrely like some kind of aquatic tentacle, only barely resembling their well-known cousin, the string bean.  Intrigued by their funny shape and deep color, I had to buy some.

And am very glad I did – high in all sorts of vitamins and nutrients, these beans can be prepared just like green beans.  Used mainly in Asian dishes, they have a subtle beany flavor and a satisfying crunch.  Wanting to cling to summer a little longer, I used them in a colorful salad, spiked with a lemon and dill vinaigrette.  When served with grilled chicken and roasted tomatoes, it made for a lovely late summer meal.

-Glenny

SO LONG SUMMER SALAD

long beans, corn, olives, lemon, dill

Vinaigrette
3 lemons, juice and zest
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp chopped red onion
1 heaping tbsp mustard
lots and lots of dill
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together.  I used my immersion blender for faster emulsification, but a whisk will do just fine.

Salad
long beans
green beans
corn
kalamata olives
cheese*

After blanching the beans and chopping them into bite-size pieces, combine with cooked corn, chopped olives and cheese.  *I wanted to use feta, but didn’t have any at home, so instead went for the nutty, butterscotchy Roomano, a super aged gouda.  It worked very nicely with the salty olives and the citrusy dressing.  Pour vinaigrette over and mix thoroughly.  Garnish with more dill.

The Conscious Kitchen At The Books For A Better Life Awards Ceremony

  • March 7, 2011 9:48 am

You’re supposed to love all of your children the same. Right? Well I feel the same way about my books. They’re all so personal, such labors of love. I adore them all. That said, The Conscious Kitchen is the only one I have written (so far) that I didn’t co-author. It’s mine all mine. And it’s truly a description of how I approach food and everything in my kitchen (cleaning products, safe cookware and food storage, composting, not really following recipes, and so much more). It comes right from me to you in an effort to help people figure out how to navigate having and maintaining a green(er) kitchen, all while loving food. I think it’s a really helpful guide.

So I was understandably overwhelmed/touched/thrilled when my labor of kitchen love was named a finalist for a Books For A Better Life award. I found out many months ago about the nomination. And the ceremony is at long last happening this Monday, March 7th. My competition is truly fierce. I’m only expecting to show up at the Millenium Broadway Hotel in midtown and have a lovely glass of wine with my editor in a room filled with authors. But just in case for some reason I do win, I have the two minute speech they asked me to prepare. My hopes aren’t up but, um, it was really fun coming up with it.