De Ma Cuisine

Reusing Archive



September 2015



How to Compost Reuse and Recycle

Written by , Posted in How To, Thoughts


This summer I wrote about conserving water in the kitchen. Now, let’s take that conversation one step further, and let’s talk about composting, reusing, and recycling.



We live in the city, but I have a small garden, so I have a composter in the yard. It’s a ball with a lid on either end that can be rolled around the yard to turn it. It looks like the Death Star (it gets some weird looks from people walking by). My parents have always composted, Tim’s parents do too, so it’s something that’s ingrained in me. It’s not something that I know a lot about, so I’m learning as I go. But, so far it’s been a great addition to my garden.

My rules for composting are as follows:

All fruit and veggie scraps go in, even those that aren’t organic. While I don’t want pesticides in the garden, I still feel like it’s better to have those scraps in the compost than in a plastic bag in a landfill. That’s just me. I’m not super picky. So we add egg and nut shells, fruit pits, and seeds.

Cardboard goes in if it hasn’t been printed on. Usually this is egg cartons and toilet paper rolls, torn into small pieces. I skip the cereal boxes, because I’m not sure about the shiny printed on side.

The butcher paper from the weekly box of produce from Abundant Harvest Organics gets torn into small pieces and added(usually the dog will help with this chore – you can see a video of him “helping” here).

Paper towels and tissues, as long as their not super gross.

Compostable packaging (some companies have made things like chip bags, forks, plates, cups etc out of biodegradable vegetable products).

Things that we don’t add: Animal products (meat, dairy – mostly because we don’t want to attract animals and because of the smell), large quantities of oil or leftovers. Leftovers will just depend on their makeup and amount. I think that a little bit once in a while isn’t too bad.



When I was a kid, I was the one whose sandwich was in the washed milk bag (I grew up in Canada – milk comes in sealed plastic bags). At the time, sooo embarrassing, amiright?! But now, I totally get it. Twist-tie plus milk bag is a perfectly acceptable sandwich holder. Since I don’t live in Canada anymore, we wash and reuse any ziptop bags instead of milk bags (unless they’re way grody).

I often save peanut butter jars, salsa jars, and sometimes even a wine bottle or two. The jars are washed and saved to store things like leftovers, homemade veggie stock, and homemade yogurt. We wash the wine bottles, and Tim has scraped the labels off them, and we keep them filled with water in the fridge (and we have a few more empties on hand in the cupboard for when we host dinner parties). These jars (especially super cute mason jars) can be washed and used if you’re short on drinking glasses. They can also be used to store fresh herbs and flowers. Once you’ve scraped the label off (a razor blade works great for this), a bit of burlap could be wrapped around a jar, or a ribbon or some string could make a nice bow, and they’d make a nice centerpiece for your dinner party table.



There’s a lot that can be recycled rather than thrown in the trash. Cans, glass bottles, plastic, and even some types of styrofoam (although some is now corn-based and can be composted). Many grocery stores will take your plastic bags and recycle them (they shouldn’t be added to curb-side recycling as they can get caught in the sorting equipment at the recycling center). Depending on your location there may be different regulations, so check into them so you know what’s acceptable and what’s not.

Another option is to collect containers for cash. It takes a while to collect enough to make any serious money. But, when every little bit counts, it can make a difference. My very first job, if you can call it that, was a “company” that my friend and I started. We’d pull our wagon around our neighborhood and ask the neighbors if we could have their cash refund applicable recyclables. Then we’d take them to the recycling center and get money for them. I don’t think the business lasted long, but the idea was a solid one. There are people who collect recyclables for charitable organizations too. You save ’em up and bring them on a designated day and they’ll do the rest.

We can all do more to lower the amount of waste that we’re producing. Recycling, reusing, and composting are three great ways to start. Even if you start small, it can lead to big changes. Our commitment to wasting less has led me to be more mindful about what I buy. I try to avoid products with excessive packaging, I prefer glass over plastic, and I bring reusable bags to the grocery store. There’s always going to be more that I can do, but it’s a great place to start.



March 2015



What Are You Throwing Away That You Could Be Using?

Written by , Posted in How To, Thoughts


Over the years as we’ve tried to reduce our carbon footprint and our grocery budget, we’ve been making more of an effort to throw out less. For us, that means that we’re recycling, reusing, using things fully, and composting. 

Recycling is something that my family has always done. It’s nothing new, but it’s important. If you’re new to recycling, check with your city to see their guidelines on what can and can’t be recycled. Many grocery stores accept used plastic bags. If you can avoid using them, great (reusable bags are available everywhere these days, some stores even give you a small credit for each one used). If not, better to bring them somewhere they can be recycled than adding them to the trash.


Before anything goes out the door, we try to use it as much as we can in the home. For example, once things like yogurt and salsa (that come in a safe plastic container or a glass jar) have been eaten, the vessel gets washed and used for leftovers and homemade stocks. (We don’t own a microwave, so we don’t re-heat leftovers in containers. If we did, we would re-heat in glass, as it’s said to be safer than plastic.) If I have more than I can possibly use, then they’ll go into the recycling. But, if possible, they get used again and again. Jam jars are washed and reused (just the ring for the lid won’t seal again).


Reusing is also something that I grew up with. In Canada milk comes in bags. Once the milk had been drunk, we’d wash the bags and use them for lunches. It was a little bit embarrassing to be the kid with the washed out milk bag and whole wheat bread sandwich. It felt like everyone else had ziplocks and white bread. Now it just makes me smile, because I get it. The money that’s saved and the trash that we’re avoiding by reusing is totally worth it.

And then there’s the food itself. I’m trying to be better at using it all with somewhat of a “nose to tail” approach, whether it’s a chicken or some broccoli. After the food has been fully used, then the veggie scraps go into the compost and anything that needs to be thrown away goes in the trash.


Use Before You Throw Away

  1. Chicken bones and giblets: Use them to make chicken stock (same goes for beef, turkey, and pork bones). (The jars with straight sides are the best for freezing liquids, as they’re less likely to crack and stock will slide out easier, even if it’s still frozen. Cool completely and freeze with the lid off. Add the lid once it’s completely frozen.)
  2. Vegetable peels and ends, herb stems, wilted greens, old veggies: Turn them into vegetable stock.
  3. Herb stems (tougher ones, like rosemary): use as skewers for meat and vegetables.
  4. Broccoli and cauliflower stems: Use them to make “pasta” (save the tough outer peel for stock).
  5. Winter squash: Roast then use them as a soup tureen.
  6. Potatoes and sweet potatoes that have sprouted: Cut them into about 1″ chunks and plant them. (I have had a sweet potato plant growing for about 3 years. They have pretty leaves that I’ve let grow into a vine, harvesting only one sweet potato a few weeks ago.)
  7. Plastic food bags: Snip off the corner and use as a piping bag for cake decorating or macaron making.
  8. Egg shells: Crush and sprinkle around plants that snails like to eat.
  9. Egg cartons: Add a little dirt and use to plant seeds to start a garden.
  10. Water that was used to boil or steam veggies: Save to boil beans or pasta. Save to make veggie stock. Cool completely and use to water plants.
  11. Citrus peels: Before removing the peel from the fruit, use a zester or fine grater to zest or grate, and freeze for later use.
  12. Veggies with seeds: Save seeds for planting (I’ve had success doing this with green beans, peas, summer and winter squash, basil, melons, and tomatoes – green beans, peas, and tomatoes have been the most successful).
  13. Bread crusts: Freeze and use for croutons, bread crumbs, and Baked French Toast.
  14. Coffee grounds: Add to the compost pile to bump up the nitrogen.
  15. Parmesan cheese rinds: Add them to stews and bean dishes – they’ll add a nutty parmesan richness and can be discarded before serving.
  16. Pasta water: Near the end of the cooking time add 1/2 to 1 C of the starchy water that your pasta has been cooking in to the sauce. It will help the sauce stick to the pasta.
  17. The last few tablespoons of yogurt: Use them to make your own homemade yogurt.

Once you’ve made the most of your food, discard it as needed. If you’re interested in composting, CSA’s like Abundant Harvest Organics has worm casings for sale on their add ons page. The butcher paper from the weekly box of AHO produce can be torn into strips and added, along with the veggies that were boiled for your veggie stock, and the broccoli and cauliflower peels. And, some cities even give away free composters, all you have to do is ask!

Do you have any tips and tricks to share? How are you reducing your carbon footprint? Do you have a compost pile or vegetable garden? If you do, do you have any advice?