Free tofu cookbook; $25 Whole Foods giveaway

This free .pdf tofu cookbook looks pretty good. Most recipes are vegetarian, but there’s at least one that incorporates seafood.

Delicious Living Tofu Cookbook

The cookbook does not talk about prepping the tofu first (I usually press it but some people freeze it or do other manipulations), and without prep you may have a disaster. One simple way to press it is to put the block between paper or kitchen towels and put something heavy (like a cast iron skillet) on top. The goal is to get rid of excess water before you cook it. Tastes and handles way better this way.

Also make sure you buy the right firmness. Basically choose firm/extra firm for any stir fries or other keep-it-intact cooking. If you are doing desserts or otherwise blending it, get the softer varieties.

Afraid of tofu? You might want to start with Tofu Prep for Virgins, a post where you learn to deep fry it and you can also link to some lovely macrophotography of grody lunch meats and sausages.

Where can you buy tofu? At most grocery stores, actually! It’s often in the refrigerated/produce section, like at WalMart. At Meijer it’s there too but in a subsection for soy products and organics. Note some brands, while sold refrigerated, don’t need to be kept refrigerated. Just check the box.

Enter to win a $25 gift card to Whole Foods! (That would buy a lot of tofu.) The blog post talks about value at Whole Foods, and I agree that their house brand is good and saves money. But it’s also true about organics being more expensive: for a shopper who never leaves a traditional grocery store, they’ll quickly see how the price is higher for organics vs regular offerings. I was at Meijer yesterday and found 5# of non-organic potatoes for about $2, but the organic potatoes, in a 3# bag, were $3, and the organic potatoes were smaller too. I try to strike a balance and go organic as often as the budget allows (which is frequently) and think about which foods SHOULD be organic in my diet. For example, banana skins are thick and don’t get eaten, so it’s less important to me if they’ve been treated with pesticides than a fruit or vegetable that I will wholly consume. Of course that doesn’t take into account the effects on the earth from using those pesticides, but sometimes we must ease into better decisions.

Did you know all produce at Marsh groceries is now organic? That’s one way to remove that painful decision for the consumer! I hope more places go that route, which creates greater demand for organically grown products, which will then become cheaper.

Cool food stuff coming soon

I’m glad this film is coming to Indy! I can’t figure out if it’s really playing on Friday or if that’s just the national release date; the local theater says it’s coming July 31.

Coming to Indianapolis
July 17
Keystone Arts Cinema

Filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation’s food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that’s been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government’s regulatory agencies, the USDA and FDA.

Food, Inc. reveals surprising—and often shocking truths—about what we eat, how it’s produced, who we have become as a nation and where we are going from here.

There are some free screenings too, but not in Indy.

This one is happening at our favorite restaurant and involves bikes and the urban eastside! I hope we can get a reservation.

August 4: Urban Farm Tour & Farm to Table Dinner

Where: R Bistro (888 Massachusetts Avenue, Indianapolis)
When: August 4:
5:30pm Urban Farm Tour followed by dinner seating at 7:00pm
OR
7:00pm Urban Farm Tour followed by dinner seating at 8:30pm
Cost: $25 for Slow Food members or $30 for non-members
(price includes taxes and gratuity – drinks are not included)
Dress: Casual with comfortable shoes, as guests will be walking or biking and exploring urban farms before dinner.
Reservations are required: Call R Bistro at 317.423.0312
*If you prefer the vegetarian option, please alert R Bistro when you make your reservation.

Join Slow Food Indy for a tour of urban farms and kitchen gardens and enjoy a local hog roast at R Bistro.
While guests have the option to skip the tour and simply make dinner reservations, we hope you’ll follow local farmer-tour guides on foot or bring your bike! We’ll tour the Big City Farms Urban CSA lots, the Cottage Home Community Garden, and several backyard kitchen gardens in the Cottage Home Neighborhood. The tours will depart promptly from R Bistro, and guests are requested to meet there at 5:30pm (in advance of a 7:00pm dinner seating at R Bistro) or at 7:00pm (in advance of a 8:30pm dinner seating at R Bistro).

Only a few seats are still available! Call R Bistro at 317.423.0312.
Reservations will be closed on July 31st (or when all places are filled).

Found both of these at Slow Food Indy. I’m not a member but they often have interesting stuff going on.

More dorky bike media coverage

Bike to Work Day was a couple Fridays ago in Indy, and although I was actually on vacation, I biked-to-vacation by joining the masses who converged on the circle downtown. Then the rest of the schmucks actually had to ride to work! Ha. I rode home and drove to Tennessee for a Smokies trip.

I bought a nifty camera mount to use my little Flip video thing on my bike, but due to downright user error and low batteries, I have little to show for my experiments. I hope to post a real ride soon.

Here’s the Lilly contingent gathered on the circle.
btwd2009

The Star caught us getting organized in their gallery.

View this gallery at The Indianapolis Star: Bike to Work

There was also a pic taken at Indy Cycle Specialist before we left but it doesn’t seem to be posted. Meanwhile, someone from the Indy Star interviewed a few of us and, as usual, I was quoted slightly out of context and with only the dorky movie reference included. It’s still better than the rabbits jumping around misquote, and probably better than being on TV last fall.

In the meantime, I’ve been to NJ for a conference (where I also sat in a ca.1745 church’s cemetary to read for awhile), IL to transfer rescued rabbits, the northern part of the state for the annual family holiday/race day cookout, and enjoyed my tax dollars at work at Ohio’s Air force museum and that hiking trip in the Smokies national park (which ended with an energy museum visit in Oak Ridge, but I accidentally called a sex line in Jamaica when I misread their phone number on a billboard!). Being off work is great!

What you missed

Those on Facebook may be familiar with recent escapades. Here’s a summary and a few extras!

Poor David Beckham, victim of endorsing a product that can vandalize.
sharpie

I finally captured this bizarre vehicle while biking. I’ve seen him around but now I know where he lives! I think he collects abandoned carts from the neighborhood.
cartman

April 7: Evacuation
April 8: Unclog sewer pipe
April 10: Are four gin & tonics a lot?
April 11: Pissed about working on a Saturday during my vacation
April 12: Beat the pants off my family at Scrabble
April 13: Finished state taxes and had an embarrassing exam
April 15: Ate all the peanut M&Ms in cubicle next to mine
April 17: Rode bike to work and saw red-headed woodpecker, Christmas tree w/tinsel, middle-aged guy in fedora on BMX
April 17: Went out drinkin’ with friends and then bought cigarettes for the first time
April 18: Rode my bike to Race for the Cure
April 20: Busch Light can in my newspaper tube
April 21: Work woke me up at 1 a.m.
April 23: Casper won a photo contest
April 24: Work woke me up at 3 a.m.
April 24: Some asswipe broke into my Jeep
April 25: Rode my bike to Earth Day
April 25: Appraisal woes and bought a refrigerator
April 25: Someone stole my credit card number
April 26: Mutt Strut! Pics to come but this is my favorite:
carry
April 28: Frustrated by canceling services and realizing property taxes are worse than I thought
April 28: Someone shit in our driveway
April 29: Sold my house! Still pissed about taxes
Next few days: Slammed at work and given an ‘opportunity’ (that means more work)
May 2: ToxDrop and electronics recycling
May 3: Insulated the attic
insulation dsattic

Don’t you want to be my friend now? My favorite FB comments had to do with the shit in the driveway.

Hoosier tax tip and more environmental ne’er-do-wells

February was relatively productive for me, at least in the world where I don’t get around to blogging as a result. This is too bad since I usually share that it’s Adopt A Rescued Rabbit month and low-cost spay-neuter month. We did adopt out several rabbits, though, including a couple from my house: Tegan, who we captured as a stray last fall, and Raquel, a shelter rescue a couple years ago who was recently returned by her adopters because they were moving (can y’all hear me groan? I wonder if it was convenient for them to take their kids and dog to the new house). These two buns are very sweet and both were adopted into homes with a bunny boyfriend, so they’ll never be lonely.

dawnnab raq


Tax tip for Hoosiers: You may have received a property tax rebate from the state last year. Well, guess what, that’s income now. I found this helpful info about how to handle the rebate, and if you itemized like I did, you’ll need to check out the 1040 instructions for line 10 and read Pub 525. And then you’ll put the ‘recovered’ income on line 21.


More dumbass packaging.

David needed to repair some air hoses, so he bought some fittings. They weren’t right, so he bought different fittings. They weren’t right either, so he ordered some fittings online. They shipped in a box like this.
sencobox
Please note that on the same day he also received something else from Amazon which was a larger item yet managed to come in a smaller box than this one.

Oh and those fittings were wrong too, so he sent them back (in a Jiffy bag of course) and ordered again and got the same tiny parts in the same big box!! I need to go plant a bunch of trees now.

…Especially because I bought a sample size of hair cream and a makeup pencil sharpener. Sephora was kind enough to send these tiny items (look for them, they’re in the picture) in this big box with bubble wrap and lots of virgin paper stuffing. Guess I won’t be buying from them again. I found a free shipping code and didn’t want to mess with traffic on the northside, thinking this was more efficient.
sephorabox
What’s the environmental Hail Mary? Besides recycling all the boxes and air pillows, of course.

Attention life-savers and people sick of winter:

It’s the return of Manic Mommy’s Virtual Blog Blood Drive! Click here for details. The basics: donate blood from Jan 1 to Feb 28, 2009, get your picture taken while donating, and send the pic to Manic Mommy to enter the contest! It doesn’t matter where you live, just go to your local blood bank or blood drive and get your picture taken. First prize is a week at a Florida resort, and there are gift cards and stuff too. I won last year though it wasn’t a big enough contest at that point to give away a vacation!

A couple notes for those of you who have been rejected for low iron: I learned that ‘normal’ hematocrit is 35-45% but (at least around here) the blood bank requires at least 38% to be eligible to donate. They test this by a simple finger prick. Your iron level can fluctuate a lot so if you just supplement/focus your diet a bit before you go, or do that if you get rejected and then you can even go back the next day to try again, you may just be eligible after all! I also learned that 75% of people are able to get back to this iron level in the eight weeks required between donations and it’s harder for women than men, so you might need to focus your diet/wait just a bit longer if you have recently donated. Just because you’ve been rejected before does not mean you will be if you try again!

In central Indiana, you can even schedule appointments online, get points and prizes, and track your donations and cholesterol over time. I just signed up last week and the system knew my last 1.5 gallons and cholesterol readings from the last few years. Of course you can do walk-in donations too! Check out DonorPoint.org.

Some other upcoming events I’m considering: Komen Race for the Cure for my friend Dawn’s mom, April 18 (run, walk, or donate), and cycling around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Tour de Cure for diabetes, June 13. Who’s in?

Out and about

Yesterday I left the house to meet Nicole at the gym. As I was going down our steps, I detected a large creature in the yard. By the time I realized it was the neighbor’s escaped Rottweiler, I was in his sights and I went straight to my car, avoiding eye contact. After I got in, he went up our front steps and lifted his leg on the inside of our porch wall! I took this to mean: Your porch is mine, beeotch.

Then he patrolled the street by standing in the middle of it, trotting through other neighbors’ yards, and generally looking like he owned the place. Here he’s heading past my car after a jaunt down the street. We don’t even know his name but I’d like to know how much danger I’m in since he seems to get out a lot!

rottie0109


“NOW” available at Meijer!
edys

Our site at work is sponsoring a peanut butter and jelly collection for Gleaners food bank as part of the MLK Day of Service. After a few days collecting last week we already had 450 pounds of it, but mostly I found the easeled signs at the doors funny:
pbj

I joined Sam’s Club (they are offering $25 gift cards with new memberships for a few days) and found this great sign at the customer service desk. Of course the way they positioned it I really had no idea where the line formed, but, well, they had a sign with fun errors.
samssign

While looking for the peanut butter and jelly, I found Red Gold tomato products. David is a canned tomato snob and will only agree to Red Gold purchases (since they are local I can support this with a little less eye-rolling). Still, I thought 6.5 lb cans were a little much for a two-person recipe.
redgold
What’s amazing is that these 102-oz cans were only about $2.30, and a 14.5-oz can at a regular grocery is well over a dollar! It was tempting. I found an eight pack of the small cans for less than six bucks and was pretty happy with the price, but unfortunately that meant additional packaging.

I also found a composter at Sam’s (Dawn and I are in discussions about getting this started, seeing as how we have a lot of bunny turds at our disposal). I didn’t buy this one, but I appreciated the Sense of Humus.
soilsaver

Free electronics recycling Jan 10 (plus cardboard and Christmas trees)

Mulch your dead Christmas tree, recycle your cardboard, and get rid of old electronics without sending them to the landfill or paying someone to take them on January 10 from 10-2 at four Indianapolis parks: Broad Ripple, Ellenberger, Garfield, and Krannert. As usual this is poorly advertised but if you happen to be on the right email lists you find out about these things. The event did make it in electric bills but for some reason is not advertised on the city government website that is sponsoring it… good job SustainIndy! There is a lovely flyer about the event here, complete with typos.

Note that some electronics (like computers and cell phones) can be recycled at ToxDrop/eCycle on all their scheduled days (every week). I get the sense that this park event will allow other electronics, or at least I hope so since the vampire microwave needs a place to go. TVs up to 27″ will be accepted at this event.

All hail 2009

Welcome to the new year and a snotty nose. I have been sick for nearly a week. Fortunately I didn’t have to go to work during this time, but it’s not like I got to enjoy many of the days off–plus work kept calling and paging me anyway. I did see a lot of crappy TV when I wasn’t knocked out with Nyquil (who knew Tori Spelling had a reality show, or that there was a lobster-catching show as well as the crab-catching show?), and today my aches had declined sufficiently to leave the house for a veggie burger at Denny’s. I thought I was on the mend a couple of days ago and met Nicole at the gym and then for a nice dinner, but whoops, I wasn’t so well. Even David got part of the sickness.

My exciting purchase this week is a new office chair, which I’m not sitting in because we’ve been too ill to carry it downstairs. I’m excited about it because it met all my ergonomic requirements (I don’t take that stuff for granted anymore… I guess I’m old) AND it’s 60% recycled AND it’s not leather! Awesome. AND I had an awesome coupon! I even paid eight bucks to have them assemble it for me because I just didn’t feel like doing it. I must have arrived at wealthy status, because the old Amy would never have paid someone to do what she can do herself. Now if it were twenty bucks that would have been different.

Right after I spent too much on a chair, our microwave died. I no longer find the microwave to be super essential (meaning buy it the same day it dies) but it’s still pretty essential (within a couple of weeks). David has hated my microwave from the start, he being a person who probably wouldn’t have one if I hadn’t brought it with me, but we agree it’s nice to have. The discussions now are where it will go–in the wall? Over the stove? We have to know these things so we know what microwave to buy. But I’m just pissed that my microwave died after only two 3.5 years (yes, I looked it up…time sure flies). I thought I bought a fancy 1200-Watt unit so it would last (maybe not as long as the twenty years the previous one lasted, but still), and here we are having to decide about an appliance together. Are we ready for this kind of commitment, people!?

Guess who’s 30 today?
matt83 matt88 matt89
My baby brother!

Amazon hates the earth?

I wrote this almost a month ago and never finished it:

Note to Amazon: did you REALLY need that much packaging for a kitchen utensil?

And then this week we received:
bigbox
We actually received an empty computer tower in its own box, which was then packed in this giant box with all that paper, but this approximates the size of the contents. Why can’t Amazon slap a label on the box the product already came in?! There’s no need for a second box big enough to mail my collie. (She wouldn’t pose, btw.)

Then I tried to recycle the giant box. It’s too big to put in our curbside container (95 gallons!) without a lot of boxcutting, so I flattened it and stopped by the public dropoff:
recyclingbins
Alas, no room at the inn. At first I was mad at my fellow citizens for leaving all the extra boxes outside the full bins (and note the extra bags in the background at the green glass/plastic/metal recycling bins), causing them to become trash, but then I realized that some people are actually trying to recycle and this stupid city just can’t get its act together to allow us to do it. I can’t tell you how many times I have made multiple trips to this dropoff site because it was full. That’s why I now PAY for curbside recycling.

Back to Amazon. I’ve mentioned this problem before. Not that I expect anyone to read all of these, but if you’re interested, others have my same complaint and similar pictures:

http://www.adamreeve.com/2007/09/14/amazon-packaging-is-nuts/

http://gruntdoc.com/2008/03/great-moments-in-amazon-packaging.html

http://www.goodexperience.com/tib/archives/2007/04/amazon_packagin.html

http://www.amazon.com/gp/forum/cd/discussion.html?ie=UTF8&cdForum=Fx20DX5GEB7TUX8&cdThread=Tx3BW1ZDW8NRT69

http://www.mattazuma.com/2008/11/amazon-packaging-excesses.html

http://blogs.forbes.com/digitaldownload/2008/09/amazon-packagin.html

http://pinstripebindi.wordpress.com/2008/09/23/amazon-packaging-fail/

http://getsatisfaction.com/amazon/topics/why_does_amazon_use_so_much_packaging

http://www.sustainableisgood.com/blog/2008/08/amazon2.html

But wait! Is there hope?
http://www.inhabitat.com/2008/11/20/amazon-debuts-frustration-free-packaging/

I guess our computer case and strainer are not among the 19 whole products that don’t get double-boxed.