A basket of pao de queijo

Pão De Queijo : Brazilian Cheese Bread | Recipe

Oh yes. Today we’re making the traditional Brazilian staple: pão de queijo. Literally translated, it means “bread of cheese” and really, that’s a great description. Soft, fluffy small rounds of cheesy goodness. Let’s get started!

Jump to Recipe
a basket of brazilian pao de queijo cheese bread

What is Pão de Queijo?

Simply put, pão de queijo is a small cheese puff bread. It’s typically served with most meals in Brazil and eaten for breakfast.

There’s no exact written history of pão, of course, but it’s believed that, around 1700, women who were enslaved typically made pão de queijo for farmers (don’t forget, Brazil was a Portuguese colony before it gained independence in 1822).

Pão de quiejo become a staple of Brazilian cuisine since, growing in popularity. You can now even find frozen versions of pão available in big stores like Costco.

One of the more distinguishing features of pão de queijo is it’s flour — commonly known to us in the US as tapioca starch. Wheat crops didn’t grow well in the northern region of Brazil, where warm weather made growing the grain difficult. Instead, ground, dried cassava root was used in place of flour.

another delicious plate of pao de quiejo brazilian cheese break

Cassava root aka tapioca starch

Cassava is an incredibly drought-tolerant plant, making it a favorite crop of warmer, tropical regions. In the United States, cassava is also called:

  • Yuca
  • Manioc
  • Brazilian arrowroot

Cassava root is made into cassava flour, which is also called tapioca starch. These alternative names are useful to know when you are shopping for the ingredients to make your very own pão de queijo!

Cassava flour possesses a unique, almost gelatinous quality when baked. Combined with the melted cheese, the pão de queijo becomes impossibly soft, fluffy and chewy!

Once we got the hang of it, we made pão de quiejo en masse

Tried and tested Pão de Queijo recipe

Let’s get personal for a moment. My dad’s side of the family is very familiar with Brazil and its cuisine. In fact, he lived there with my grandparents during his teenage years. So, it was a natural place for a family reunion.

In 2017, we all went down to Brazil! That’s where I tried pão de queijo for the first time, along with my husband and my parents. Brazil has incredible food, including mousse de maracujá (passion fruit mousse) and of course, the Churrascuria (Brazilian barbecue).

When we returned home, we began testing recipes to replicate the impossibly perfect pão de queijo we had in Brazil. Seriously, it seemed no matter where we went, it was perfect every time!

While we didn’t have access to the specific cheese typically used to make pão (meia cura/minas cheese), we found this substitute combination works beautifully! The sharp saltiness of the parmesan balances well with the mild, gooeyness (yes its a word) of the mozzarella.

For best results, buy the cheese whole and grate it yourself. Pre-shredded cheese sometimes gives off a chalky flavor.

Another non-traditional note: while pão de queijo is typically formed and placed in rounds on a baking sheet, I found it easier to place the dough inside mini muffin tins. The tins helped the pão hold their shape, and made the shaping process much faster than if we were to shape them by hand. Not traditional, no, but effective? Yes.

Enjoy!

A basket of pao de queijo

Pão de Queijo

Lauren Harvey
A traditional Brazilian bread, pão de queijo is easy to make with this straightforward recipe. Parmesan and Mozzarella replace authentic Brazilian cheese that is difficult to find in the United States. The result is a delicious, chewy, puffed cheese bread!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine Brazilian
Servings 30 pão

Equipment

  • Stand mixer
  • Mini muffin tin or baking sheet
  • Saucepan

Ingredients
  

  • 1 ½ cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 ¼ cups milk
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup + 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 cups tapioca flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Instructions
 

  • If you purchased pre-grated cheese, skip to next step.
    Grate the parmesan and shred the mozzarella. After measuring out the required amount, you can mix the cheeses together in a bowl and set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Set up your stand mixer so that it's ready to go for the next step. Add the tapioca flour and baking powder to the bowl of the mixer.
  • In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the wet ingredients (milk, water, oil and salt). Cover and bring to a gentle rolling boil over medium heat. Once boiling, pour over the flour in the mixer.
  • Turn on the mixer and mix on high until the tapioca flour and wet ingredients are well-incorporated. It will have a stretchy, sticky texture that is to be expected.
  • Add eggs one at a time. To make things easy, you can crack the two eggs into a small bowl and whisky gently. Pour this in a slow steady stream into the mixer on medium-high speed. Allow the eggs to incorporate in small increments before adding more.
  • Repeat a similar process with the cheese. Working in small batches, add the cheese into the batter slowly until fully combined.
  • Spray your mini muffin tin with non-stick spray. Using a small scoop or spoon, scoop the batter into the muffin wells.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes, until puffy and golden.

Notes

This recipe was adapted from Olivia’s Cuisine
Keyword Brazilian Cheese Bread, Cheese Bread, Pão de Queijo

Have you ever had pão de quiejo? How did you enjoy this recipe? Let us know in the comments below!

pile of assorted varieties of vegetables

4 Reasons to Eat More Plant-Based (Even if You Still Eat Meat) | Lifestyle

We all know eating your veggies is good for you. Let’s focus on some other reasons to incorporate more plant-based foods and meals into your life, even if you aren’t giving up meat.

I’ve always been fascinated with plant-based cooking. Since I’m lactose intolerant, and therefore don’t eat dairy, I often use vegan recipes as a way to satisfy my cheesy, creamy cravings.

Even if you aren’t all about going meatless, eating more plant-based foods and the occasional plant-based meals bring plenty of benefits. Here are just a few.

A baby oak tree in a beam of sunlight.
We love plants!

1. It’s affordable

Let’s be real. What’s more affordable: fresh produce, bulk grains and some canned beans or fresh meat? Despite what you might see at a local restaurant (for some reason, vegan dishes always seem to be pricey) buying raw ingredients and preparing a meal at home is more affordable when the emphasis is on plants, grains and legumes as opposed to meat.

Here’s a quick and easy recipe I used to make chickpea salad for lunch. I eat it on a piece of toasted bread, with some extra mayo (can easily do vegan mayo, if you’d like) and some leafy greens.

  • 2 cups chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 3 tablespoons mayo of your choice
  • 1 tablespoon mustard of your choice
  • 1 tablespoon horseradish (optional)
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped bell peppers
  • 1 tsp of salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder and chili powder
  • Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Drain and rinse chickpeas. Use a pastry cutter or potato masher to smash in a bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix well to combine. Adjust seasonings to taste.

That’s it! Seriously!

How easy is that? It takes five minutes, and I use it as a quick and easy lunch while I’m working during the week. It’s full of protein (thanks chickpeas) and veggies. It’s an easy swap to make — instead of tuna, chicken or egg, use chickpeas!

2. It’s better for the environment

Believe it or not, eating more plant-based helps the environment. Here’s one example, a comparison of the resources used to produce dairy milk verses popular plant-based milk alternatives. By far, dairy milk produces more emissions, uses more land and more water than any of the plant-based milk alternatives.

It’s not hard to tell — animals take more resources to raise than plants. By eating less meat, and being selective about where and how you obtain that meat, you can help support a more economical food cycle.

To further optimize your plant-based eating, consider starting a compost pile. Particularly useful if you have a garden, compost is a great way to eliminate waste. Read more about how compost helps you and the environment in my post “Zero Waste Kitchen”.

3. It’s delicious – despite what some people say

All that said, plant-based dishes CAN be and ARE delicious. There are a multitude of ways to learn to cook vegetables in delicious ways. Some of my favorite real-life inspiration comes from a restaurant in my area called Industrial Eats. They can take a humble vegetable and elevate it into a dish unto itself, not a mere side.

Perhaps that’s the key — we must treat plants like the stars that they are, instead of an obligatory side dish “for our health.” YES vegetables are good for you, but that doesn’t mean they have to taste bad! It’s okay to enjoy a vegetable dish, to fancy it up.

A plant-based dish from Industrial Eats. Vadouvan, cashews, spinach, cauliflower.

It’s time to break the association of a vegetable as simply being a tasteless item you eat for the sake of health. Where’s the fun, the enjoyment in that? Vegetables can (and often are) as delicious as any other dish you can have. Though make no mistake — I’m not suggesting you throw out all your dry pasta and replace it with spaghetti squash. It’s about integrating vegetables into your meals, so maybe adding some extra eggplant, zuchinni, mushrooms or tomatoes to your pasta instead. Or, enjoy your pasta exactly as you’d like it, with a tasty roasted vegetable dish on the side.

4. Plant-based is a great practice in mindful eating

Strengthen your immune system, fill your body with essential minerals, vitamins and nutrients without spending hundreds of dollars on fancy powders, shakes and diets. Diet culture will try to tell you that you need to purchase special products to be healthy. That’s not true. Unless specifically directed by a doctor or dietitian to follow a certain diet, and include/exclude certain foods, eating more plant-based is only going to help, not harm, you.

Of course, we know that everyone is different. That’s good! This is not about being extreme or exclusive. It’s about being concious about what you’re consuming, how you’re consuming it and what it took to produce it.

Grocery shopping can be a dissociative experience. We don’t see the months that went into growing that head of cauliflower, all we see are dozens of individually wrapped heads of cauliflower in the produce section. Just like we don’t see the slaughterhouse, all we see is the ruby red steaks. Being mindful of our food, where it comes from, and how that process ultimately effects what we put in our body requires a conscious effort. Though I believe, it’s one that begets a deeper appreciation for the farm workers who are out 6 days a week, in rain, heat and falling ash (I’m in California, ok) to put food on our tables.

How to get started eating more plant-based

Sometimes the best way to make a lasting change is to start slowly. Adding more vegetables to your meals, making them the centerpiece instead of meat, is one simple change. Here are some other ways.

Infographic by Edible Ink. Information Source Harvard Health

Vegan blogs that will change your cooking and your life

Here are four of my favorite vegan guides to get started incorporating more plant-based eating into your life. Cooking vegan dishes will broaden your knowledge of cooking, ingredients, flavors and how to make the most out of what you have. Take a look at each of their websites. I’ve highlighted a dish from each that looked particularly appealing!

A Virtual Vegan — Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

So many delicious comfort food recipes. Inventive and tasty. Also see these Sweet Potato Biscuits.

It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken — Stuffed Acorn Squash

My go-to source for plant-based cheeses. The mac-n-cheese powder is a staple for me!

variety of vegetables
Photo by Ella Olsson on Pexels.com

Vegan Richa — Cajun Spiced Black Bean Quinoa Burger

I’m a big fan of a good veggie burger. See also this Za’atar Spiced Chickpea burger!

burger on blue ceramic plate
Photo by Shamia Casiano on Pexels.com

Cookie and Kate — Veggie Sesame Noodles

A vegetarian blog that produces lots of great plant-based recipes as well. Check out this Layered Panzanella, to eat your veggies and your bread too!

close up photo of cooked pasta
Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

Plant-based cooking requires a wide knowledge of ingredients and creativity in the kitchen. Cooking plant-based limits what you can use but it also expands your abilities, making you use the most of what you have in new ways. You may surprise yourself with what you can create when your options change from what you are accustomed to!

How do you feel about eating plant-based? What did you learn today? Let me know in the comments below!

A Year in Blogging With Edible Ink | Lifestyle

Edible Ink is officially one year old!

This post is a celebration of Edible Ink’s first year in the blogosphere, an intent for the year to come and general notes on what I’ve learned about blogging over the past year. Including…

And most of all, I have some special surprises in store for you, too! As a thank you to the readers of Edible Ink, I created a Free Resources page, with two immediately available and ready to download. Read on to find out more.


Me in my natural habitat — in colorful socks, covered in flour.

Why start a blog?

As a food enthusiast, I’d often post photos of my home-cooked meals and restaurant adventures on social media. In particular, my posts about meal prep seemed to pique interest. People were interested in how I meal prepped and what I was cooking.

Interest in meal prep is one of the reasons why I created Edible Ink. That’s why I’m sharing a Weekly Meal Prep Planner on the Free Resources Page!

Go to Free Resources…

But of course, there’s more. I didn’t just want to create a blog chock full of recipes. While they are my go-to when I’m searching for something new, strictly developing recipes was not exactly what I aimed to do.

I’m a writer first and foremost and that’s exactly what I wanted to keep at the forefront of Edible Ink’s mission.

I sought a broad range, including reviews of local restaurants and general creative musings on the topic of food. 

Food is an inevitable joy of life. We all eat it, we all (at some point or another) make it. Sometimes we enjoy it, sometimes it leaves us wanting. Sometimes we have a great relationship with it, and other times, we struggle.

The point is, food — making it, eating it, sharing it with others — is a universal human experience.

I found it an incredible canvas on which to begin writing a blog. 

Here’s the thing. Blogging takes time. It’s not easy. And in a competitive world, sometimes you get sucked in to what other people are doing seeing what works for them and thinking, “Hey, I should do that too.”  

Intention in art is everything. Focusing on that intention, and ensuring each step taken aligns with that intention is not easy.

And so there’s a necessary and natural shift happening here at Edible Ink. The recipes aren’t going away, they’ll just be less frequent. But the shift, primarily, is more about honing down exactly what Edible Ink is meant to be. 

First and foremost, it should be an entertaining, informative experience for you, the reader. 

I aim to entertain, to provoke thought, emotion and appreciation for what’s going on with food around us. That’s why you come to Edible Ink. To read about food in a way you haven’t before, to learn something new and to be entertained. 


Baking is hard work, with high rewards!

How can I improve my blog?

Here are top three areas for improving and building Edible Ink in the next year. These three items can be applied to any website or blog.

1. Learn Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Ah, yes SEO. It’s an inescapable technical, unglamorous aspect of having a website of any kind. This year, with an influx of free time, I signed up for an SEO Specialization Certification course through Coursera.

Learn more about SEO in this incredible article courtesy of Moz.

If you’re interested, yes I believe it’s been worth the time and effort! As a result of what I’ve learned, I’ll be going back through the blog and updating posts, including adding recipe PDFs and more value-driven content. Additionally, the content I create moving forward will be crafted with optimization in mind.

2. Engage on social media. 

Personally, I go through push-and-pull struggles with social media. Most of the time, its a valuable tool to share and connect with others. Other times, it’s a black hole of false information and negativity.

But hey, we’re all about finding the bright side here right? That’s why I’ve decided to invest in it as the former — a tool to connect with others, to provide them with valuable content through my blog, and as a means to share content with them directly. 

Additionally, I’ve finally broken down and invested in a social media post scheduler. This helps keep me organized and engaged with social media, without having to spend hours crafting posts every. single. day. More on that to come later.

3. Plan all of the content.

This is KEY. This year, I went through a three-month period where I didn’t post anything. It had to do with current events, yes, but I also felt I didn’t have time to properly craft a post. So I went for an organization and planning method. You can download my post planning spreadsheet template here, on the Free Resources page. This is what I use to organize my posts, and plan ahead. 

Being a valuable asset to your readers is essential to any blog. That’s why I created the Free Resources page! Check out the Post Planning for Bloggers Spreadsheet, available now.

Go to Free Resources...

Past logo designs! Trial and error is a great way to learn.

Is writing a blog worth it?

YES.

It takes time and dedication, but in the end, its worth it.

Like all things, you can experience burnout. When that happens, I’ve learned, it’s a sign to shake things up, take a good look at what I’m doing, the mission behind the blog, it’s content and where find room for improvement.

Striving to be better is an incredible source of motivation. When I feel stagnant or uninspired in my blog, I’ll take a good look at where I can improve, or take a peek at my ongoing idea list and see where I can create something new and exciting. 

I’ve learned so much about crafting content with a purpose, that serves the reader first. As with anything, it’s an ongoing process. Your feedback is extremely valuable!

Most importantly, the blog has provided me an opportunity to connect to my community through writing. Sharing the blog on social media helps to create new community around what I write. 

My main goal with the blog is to use writing to spread joy, knowledge and insight through the love of food. In doing so, I hope to uplift local businesses and create a community around Edible Ink. 

Here’s to another year in the blogosphere!

Thanks for your ongoing support.

A big thank you to you, reader!

SLO Creek Farm | Activity in San Luis Obispo

Visit SLO Creek Farm for a fun outdoor farm experience. Orchards grow freely, abundant with organic apples ripe for the picking. Frolic in the flower fields that provide gorgeous photo opportunities, or take the chance to pick your own bouquet as a special gift for a loved one. At SLO Creek Farm, you’ll find something for the whole family.

Pick Your Own Organic Apples

I visited SLO Creek Farm in September, intent on picking my own delicious organic apples. Rows of apple trees line the south end of the property. Stop by the cashier booth to the north of the driveway entrance to pick up an apple basket then get to picking! Apples are purchased by the pound, so feel free to bring your own basket, bag or other container as well.

Holding a freshly picked apple in the apple orchards, apple trees grow abundantly on either side surrounded by tall wild grasses.
Freshly picked apple complete with beautiful apple blossom.

Tall wild grasses line the rows of apple trees. The grasses are easy enough to navigate through, though I do recommend wearing jeans or some other long pants, and boots or other shoes that can withstand moisture. After the apple picking adventure, we all wound up with a slightly sappy, seedy coating on our pant legs from the grass. It was a bit of a mess, made much less so by us wearing leg coverings (unlike Dad, who decided to wear shorts, unaware of the sticky danger the grass posed) however it was not enough to stop us from having a great time.

There were a number of families at the farm when I was there. Once you venture into the orchard, its easy enough to separate and find a few secluded rows to call your own.

These apple trees pose no particular threat to the vertically challenged. While over six feet tall, most of the fruit is easy to reach for the adult of average height. Most trees also contain low-hanging fruit within grabbing distance for the kiddos.

Overall the apple picking took maybe about half an hour — not nearly as long as other U-Pick adventures, like blueberry picking. The apples are large and heavy and it doesn’t take long to fill a basket to your liking.

Once satisfied with your organic apple bounty, head back to the cashier to weigh and pay for your loot. From here, it’s on to flower and herb perusing, with maybe a few to take home as gorgeous tokens of time well-spent.

Organic apples ready to be washed and eaten! Applesauce, apple fritters or apple pie are all equally delicious options.

Flower Fields Forever

Rows of dahlias, sunflowers, lavendar, pumpkins and more adorn the other side of the farm opposite the apple orchards. Flowers are available for picking (priced by the stem), but even if you aren’t planning on bringing any home, I highly recommend taking a stroll through the flower field. You never know, you may encounter a sunflower taller than you, with a bloom twice as big as your head!

Let’s be real — no matter how you cut it, 2020’s been a hard year for us all. What better way to feed your soul than a walk through a field of bright, joyous flowers. They serve as a small reminder that despite the hardships, despite the utter feeling of doom a day in 2020 can bring, life is still overflowing with small beauties.

Take a seat in this comfortable grass couch, kick up your tired feet and remember what it’s like to approach the world with optimism and wonder. If all this sentimentality isn’t enough to convince you, I’ll let the flowers speak for themselves.

You can visit SLO Creek Farms from 11 am to 5 pm at 6455 Monte Rd, San Luis Obispo. Visit their website for more information.

Reflections on Cooking in Quarantine | Lifestyle

Prologue: I wrote this post on May 18, 2020. I decided to go ahead and share it, hoping you’ll find some solidarity in its lines.

Cooking in quarantine is a new frontier. My meals mainly consist of what’s in the fridge and needs to be used. Most of the time, without a recipe, on-the-fly and not particularly picture perfect. The results wholly dependent on how mentally present I am, how hungry I am and whether or not what I’m making aligns with what I actually want to eat.

There’s been a few failed meals the past week. Bread that was all but inedible, a testament to cooking without any dedicated bread tools and in an electric oven that lacks a circulating fan. That bread became bread pudding, a recipe I worked and typed up to share, that was so underwhelming I can’t share it with confidence. A broth made from pork bones that contained so much fat it solidified as it cooled in the fridge. And a batch of homemade apple cider vinegar that grew a layer of white mold. Each one something I’ve successfully accomplished in months past, without incident.

A string of unsuccessful cooking ventures is not what you share on Instagram. And yet I feel I must share it.

Why? Because if I am dedicated to anything, its authenticity. I will not pretend everything I make comes out picture perfect. It’s just not true.

Especially now, when so many of us are simply cooking for survival. Trying to find new ways to transform the ingredients we have on hand into something tasty, nutritious and appetizing. To provide our families with economical sustenance that feeds their bodies and their souls.

In this climate, it’s no easy feat.

So sometimes, its okay to have a failed experiment. It’s okay to try something new and not like it. It happens. We are human. This is the core of our authenticity. Yes, we are flawed, but we possess an uncanny ability to proverbially dust ourselves off and try again. This is called resilience. And we are all developing deeper resilience each day we live in a new world, where each day brings new uncertainty and fear spreads as rapid as the sickness itself. What do we do in the face of this? What must we do? Persist. Simply, adapt and persist.

I’m here to be an open book. And this is how I do it. To assure you that no matter what winds up on the table right now, it’s a blessing and it is enough. If you don’t have time to make Instagram-worthy dinners every night, rest assured, neither do I. And that’s okay. Because we’re in it together, and that’s what counts.

Questions? Comments? I’m available on Facebook, Instagram and by email at lauren.hrvy@gmail.com

Easy, Hearty, White Wheat Bread | Baking

This is an easy, hearty bread recipe, made with a packet of yeast and a dash of whole wheat flour that requires very little kneading, fussing or attention.

Jump to Recipe

Bread that sticks to your ribs

This is not a fluffy, Wonder bread recipe. This bread has density and a heartiness that makes for a great breakfast toast or soup companion. Slice thin for best results. The wheat flour adds a heftiness that makes it extra filling and flavorful compared to a fluffy white bread.

hearty white wheat bread toasted with tomatoes, zucchini and fresh herbs.
Serving suggestion: Toasted with fresh herbs and veggies!

No sourdough needed

In March 2020, in lieu of my newfound work from home position amidst COVID lockdown, I fulfilled my dream of having my very own sourdough starter. Months later, after a tumultuous string of events that ultimately led to the decision to move, I decided it was time to let my starter go. After all, it hadn’t been bubbling for weeks and was producing a strange grey liquid on top that smelled a bit like toe jam.

And so there I was, having passed into and out of the sourdough starter phase of quarantine 2020. Thankfully, I am persistent upon purchasing yeast packets whenever I see them, particularly when grocery store stocks began dwindling and the shelves looked more and more bare with each visit.

Cooler months are coming, and while grocery shelves may be stocked, it’s still nice to enjoy a loaf of homemade bread on the weekend. Bonus: your house will smell like fresh baked bread for days!

Homemade bread for the rest of us

I love freshly baked, homemade bread. What I don’t love is spending countless hours preparing it only to have it come out subpar. That’s why this is my go-to homemade bread recipe. It’s simple, straightforward and comes out great every time.

If you are new to making bread, here’s a video of me kneading the dough by hand. You can watch it before you begin the recipe, or while you are kneading the dough. Let’s make bread together!

Easy Hearty White Wheat Bread

Lauren Harvey
This bread is made to fill you up! Read the full recipe, including tips and notes about mix-ins before beginning. We suggest making it as is for your first try, and experimenting with mix-ins as you feel comfortable. Enjoy!
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 1 hr 40 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 1 loaf

Equipment

  • Glass bowl
  • Wooden cutting board
  • Loaf pan
  • Parchment paper
  • Whisk
  • Bench knife, lame or razor blade for scoring the loaf

Ingredients
  

  • 1 ½ cup warm water
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp Active Dry Yeast or Instant Yeast
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour or additional 1 cup of all-purpose flour

Instructions
 

  • Add water, honey, salt, and yeast to a glass bowl. Whisk gently to combine. Let sit 3-5 minutes until bubbles appear on the top of the liquid.
  • Add the all-purpose and wheat flours to the bowl with the yeast.
    Incorporate using a spatula until dough becomes shaggy, then you can use your hands.
    Remember to scrape the bottom of the bowl to fully incorporate flour. Once all flour is incorporated and the dough has come together in a bowl, turn out onto a lightly floured wooden board or clean, flat surface.
    Knead using the heel of your hand until dough is smooth and not sticky.
  • Heat the oven to 400°F. Turning the oven on now allows plenty of time for it to come fully up to temperature before baking the bread.
    Place the round dough on the wooden board. Cover gently with a clean flour sack towel or dish towel and allow it to rise for 30-45 minutes.
  • Using a paper towel, lightly rub the inside of the pan with olive oil.
    This step is to ensure that nothing will stick. I do it even with nonstick pans. Better safe than stuck!
    Cut a strip of parchment to fit long-ways in the loaf pan with some excess over the sides. This will make it easy to lift the loaf out of the pan once its done baking.
  • Gently roll the dough back and forth to make a log shape approximately the same size as your loaf pan. It shouldn't take much to get it into shape.
    Place dough into loaf pan and, using a bench knife, lame or razor blade, score lightly down the middle.
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes.
    You are looking for a nice golden outside and a hollow sound when you knock on the bread.
    Leave on a cooling rack for an hour or so before slicing for a clean cut and to ensure its finished the cooking process.

Notes

Tip: Check for doneness by tapping the bottom of the bread. If it sounds hollow, the bread is finished cooking.
Mix-in Ideas
Add any spices, seasonings or mix-ins you’d like. Try adding sliced olives, patted dry, Italian seasoning or a sprinkle of your favorite cheese! Add mix-ins after dough is kneaded, but before it is shaped and rested.
Some ideas to get you started:
  • Kalamata Olives, patted dry
  • Parmesan, with pesto brushed on top just before baking and a sprinkle of flaky salt.
  • Sunflower seeds, soaked in water for 30 min and drained dry before baking.
  • Caramelized onions and blue cheese.
  • Sun-dried tomatoes.
Keyword Easy Bread Recipe, White Wheat Bread, Yeast Bread Recipe

Have you made bread at home? How did you like it? Rate this recipe and leave me a comment below!

Industrial Eats – Buellton, CA | Restaurant Review

A Brief Prologue

I last dined in at Industrial Eats in February of 2020, before the lockdown. Since then, so much has changed for our local restaurants, including a slew of constantly changing Covid-19 health standards. Because of this, I pushed the publication of this review back month after month, waiting for things to “go back to normal” before sharing it. Now, five months later, I’ve decided it’s now or never. Our local restaurants need our support now more than ever, and that’s why I am sharing this review.

While some of the content of the review may not apply at the moment (see: dining indoors), what hasn’t changed is Industrial Eats commitment to serve the community incredible food made from locally sourced ingredients. Currently Industrial Eats is offering limited outdoor dining and take out. Visit their website or their Instagram page for current information.

Lauren and Kori in front of Industrial Eats, posing with a cow sculpture. Graffiti of different foods is painted on the wall beside them.
March 10, 2018 – Outside the entrance of Industrial Eats

Industrial Eats Restaurant Review

If you’ve driven any length of the 101 up from Santa Barbara or down from beyond Paso Robles, you’ve seen them. The great overbearing billboards, advertising, “Everything for the traveler!” Anderson’s Split Pea soup, seemingly the only landmark in Buellton putting the small town on the map. And it may have been, until 2014, when a small restaurant opened just down the road from the famous Anderson’s on Industrial Way.

Where an old warehouse once stood, Industrial Eats made its home. Though it may be in its name, the food here is anything but industrial.

The restaurant is located in a small open space, with high ceilings and two wood-fired pizza ovens in the back. The tables are large, with open seating, community-style. Everything about the welcoming atmosphere seems casual, laid-back and open. That may be why the food, which combines fine dining ingredients and techniques stands out so brightly against the overtly casual come-as-you-are vibe that permeates throughout.

Interior picture of Industrial Eats, showing stacks of plates on the counter entrance and a patina skull.
Casual decor

If this is your first time here, and the seats are available, I recommend sitting at the bar seating facing the ovens. On the counter in front of you, you’ll find a diverse array of cookbooks on topics from bread baking to how to use the whole animal, nose to tail. While I find these books fascinating, and admire the confidence required to put such a book on a restaurant table, the real amazing feats are happening at those wood-fired ovens.

Yes those ovens, and the cooks working in their smoke and flames to produce miraculously tasty pizza, and churning out so much more.

One stand out wood-fired dish is the White Shrimp, cooked in the oven with copious amounts of butter, garlic and herbs, finished with a perfectly toasted hunk of crusty bread. The dish seems simple written on paper but the quality of ingredients and finesse with which its assembled proves anything but. This is the Industrial Eats experience codified: what seems straightforward on the menu arrives on the plate an impossibly complex layering of flavors and techniques. These are the dishes that make you say. “That is so good,” out loud, without a thought, as a simple instinctual reaction to the seemingly impossible tastiness on your tongue.

For so long, I struggled to quantify the exact unique quality that embodies every aspect of dining at Industrial Eats. There’s nothing quite like it that I’ve seen anywhere else, so without a comparable counterpart, I struggled to define it. It left me, for lack of a better term, speechless.

Here you will not find abstract names of any dish. The menu items are described and identified solely by their featured ingredients. That’s all you have to base your order on, and here, that’s all you need.

Interior picture of menu hanging on the wall at Industrial Eats.

It’s common to encounter an ingredient that makes you go “What is that?”. And while you’ll feel wholly uncool asking the person behind the counter to describe Vadovan to you, you should. Because if an unidentified ingredient is what holds you back from ordering an intriguing dish, you are missing out.

Take for example, the Smoked Pheasant Salad. Have I ever ate pheasant before Industrial Eats? No. Could I find it again elsewhere? Maybe. But like this, with the freshest local ingredients, a perfectly balanced dish of rich smokiness, bright citrus and crisp greens? No way.

This is food with attitude. Not a bad attitude — a rebellious one. Where traditional fine dining says, “You can’t do that,” Industrial Eats says, “Watch me.”

This is the indescribable trait of the restaurant and it permeates every corner. From the Mall Rats poster in the restroom to the purposeful absence of structure on the menu. It is this quality that abruptly jolts you from your culinary comfort zone and propels you into a dining experience wherein anything is possible.

There is an acute lack of pretentiousness in Industrial Eats, every aspect of the experience solidifying their philosophy to create a restaurant where they would want to eat, where everyone is welcome, no matter your palate or budget. In its inclusively rebellious way, Industrial Eats pioneers the theory that good food should not require an unlimited budget, or a dress code and should always be accompanied by a sense of humor.

Good food is not defined by the starchiness of the table linens or whether or not your server is wearing a tie. Fine dining here is instead about feeding the community exquisite food, sharing the same values held so near and dear to us all on the Central Coast. That food is about bringing people, all people, together at the same table, enjoying local, organic products, feeding not only our palates (starving for culinary adventure) but satisfying our souls.

Recommended Eats

181 Industrial Way
Buellton, CA 93427

(805) 688-8807 | Website: www.industrialeats.com

Online ordering is currently available. We recommend browsing the Clipboards and Small Plates sections of their menu online — this is where you will find the Smoked Pheasant Salad and White Shrimp mentioned in the review.

However, if you are simply looking for a delicious way to feed your family, Industrial Eats also offers Family Meals. Add a Pizza to your Bolognese or Meatball family meal for an extra Industrial experience!

All opinions shared in this review belong to the author, Lauren Harvey. No compensation was received for this review and is solely based on the author’s previous experiences.

Orange Espresso cupcakes

Marbled Orange Espresso Cupcakes | Baking

These marbled cupcakes are sure to impress — no mixer required! Make the separate orange and espresso batters then swirl in the cupcake tins to create the gorgeous marbled effect. Top with the orange espresso buttercream for the perfect treat for the adventurous dessert fanatic in your life — or you know, just to have around as a quick snack!

Making it Marbled

A marbled orange espresso cupcake before baking.
A cupcake before baking — look at those swirls!

To best preserve the individual flavors, I’ve created two separate cake batters for these cupcakes; the orange and the espresso. The two are then playfully layered into cupcake tins and baked.

In order to keep this as simple as possible, no mixer is involved for the creation of the cake. Get two large bowls side by side and make your batter at the same time.

The recipe may look intimidating but I promise you can do it! As always, feel free to contact me with any questions.

The cake recipe is DAIRY FREE! No milk or butter used in the making of the cake. For a simple dairy-free swap in the buttercream, follow these replacements:

  • Use dairy-free or vegan butter.
  • Instead of heavy cream, use 2 tablespoons of your favorite dairy free milk, vanilla coffee creamer, or coconut cream.

Orange and Espresso: Delicious Flavor Combination

Initially, perhaps, this flavor combination seems counterintuitive. After all, chasing orange juice with espresso is a bitter experience. However, when layered with sugar in fluffy cupcake form, these flavors complement each other beautifully.

After much recipe testing, I perfected the amount of orange and espresso in each batter so that their true flavors come through but do not overpower one another. Additionally, these cupcakes are sweet which helps blend the two flavors together in a delicious way!

The espresso batter includes a dash of cocoa powder. This helps to round out the deep, bitter flavor of the espresso and complements the fresh orange zest and juice in the orange batter.

The buttercream frosting is a key component of this dessert, really tying the orange and espresso together in a smooth, creamy finish. I highly recommend taking the time to make the buttercream.

If you MUST skip the process of making the frosting, go for a vanilla store-bought, and mix in the orange zest, orange flavor and instant espresso as directed in the buttercream recipe.

Baked Marbled Orange Espresso Cupcakes
The end result of the marbling technique before frosting.

Orange and Espresso: Special Ingredients

Medagalia D'Oro Instant Espresso

To truly bring out the orange and espresso flavor in these cupcakes, we enlist the help of some special ingredients.

For the orange batter, use fresh, ripe oranges. You’ll zest and juice these oranges to use in the batter, and reserve some zest for use in the buttercream frosting.

In the espresso cupcakes, I chose to use instant espresso. It’s a great ingredient to have on hand for baking, as you can use it in the plain powdered form to incorporate into other cakes, frosting, ice cream or cookies or use the powder to brew just as much espresso as you need for your recipe. Here’s a link to my favorite brand of instant espresso, pictured below.

Marbled Cupcake Technique

What makes these cupcakes so fun and pretty to look at is the marbling technique. The natural colors of the orange and espresso come through in each batter, so you wind up with one light orange batter and a nice tan batter for the espresso. By making the batters separately and marbling them in the cupcake tin, it results in a gorgeous marbled cupcake!

Cake Mix in Two Separate Bowls. Layer and Swirl with Toothpick!

How you marble and layer the separate cake batters is entirely up to you. There truly is no wrong way to do this. Use small spoons to scoop different layers into the cupcake tin, then use a toothpick to swirl the colors together. For a more hands-on tutorial, check out this video from Wilton. The recipe they use utilizes food coloring, which you don’t need when using this recipe. However, its a good video of how the marbling process actually looks and may help if you are feeling unsure about the process.

Orange Espresso cupcakes

Marbled Orange Espresso Cupcakes

These marbled cupcakes are sure to impress! To keep this recipe as streamlined as possible, I've laid out step-by-step instructions. You'll be making the espresso and orange batters separately, then marbling them together in the cupcake molds. Lastly, while the cupcakes are baking, prepare the buttercream (if desired, or use store bought).
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12 cupcakes

Equipment

  • Clean bowls
  • Coffee mug
  • Zester
  • Whisk
  • Spatula
  • Cupcake tin
  • Cupcake liners
  • Two small spoons
  • Stand or hand mixer for the buttercream frosting

Ingredients
  

Espresso Batter

  • ¼ cup water with 2 teaspoons espresso
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp instant espresso ¾
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 TB canola or grapeseed oil

Orange Batter

  • 1 tsp orange emulsion
  • tsp orange zest
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 TB canola or grapeseed oil

Orange Espresso Buttercream

  • cup unsalted, softened butter
  • cup + 1 TB powdered sugar
  • 2 TB heavy cream
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp instant espresso
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • ½ tsp orange emulsion

Instructions
 

Espresso Cake Batter

  • Stir 2 teaspoons instant espresso into warm water until fully dissolved. Set aside.
  • In a clean bowl, sift flour, baking powder and cocoa powder. Add in the salt and sugar and ½ teaspoon instant espresso. Whisk gently to combine.
  • In a different clean bowl, add the egg, oil, vanilla and espresso. Whisk to combine.
  • Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Whisk well to combine. Set aside until ready to use. If you prefer, you can pop this bowl into the fridge while you prepare the orange cake batter.

Orange Cake Batter

  • Zest two oranges into a small bowl, avoiding the white pith. In a separate small bowl or cup, juice both oranges.
  • In a clean bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Whisk gently to combine.
  • In a separate clean bowl, add the egg, oil, vanilla, orange juice, orange zest and orange emulsion. Whisk to combine.
  • Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and whisk well to combine.

Marbling the Cupcakes

  • Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  • Using paper or silicone liners, line one full-size cupcake pan.
  • Using two small spoons, scoop a bit of orange batter into the bottom of the cupcake tins, then add some espresso, alternating however you'd like. This is the fun part! Get creative and layer however you'd like. Stop filling the cups when it reaches halfway.
  • Using a toothpick, swirl the batters together in fun and interesting patterns. There's really no wrong way to do this, so have fun with it and experiment freely.
  • Bake at 325°F for 20-25 minutes or until the tops are firm and a toothpick inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out clean.

Prepare the Buttercream

  • Using a stand or hand mixer, beat the butter until it is soft and fluffy about 5-7 minutes. Using room temperature butter will help speed up this process.
  • Incorporate powdered sugar ½ cup at a time, waiting until fully combined before adding more.
  • Once all the powdered sugar is mixed in, add the salt and vanilla extract. At this point, scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is fully combined.
  • Pour the whipping cream in a slow, steady stream while beating the buttercream.
  • If you prefer your buttercream to be plain vanilla flavor, you can skip this step. To get the full orange espresso flavor, add the espresso powder, orange zest and orange emulsions, mixing until fully combined.
  • If you don't have a piping bag, you can cut one corner off a Ziploc bag and use it to pipe, or simply spread the frosting onto the cupcakes with a butter knife.
  • Once the cupcakes have cooled fully, frost your cupcakes however you'd like. Incorporate some food dye into the buttercream for an extra burst of color!
Keyword espresso cupcakes, marbled cupcakes, orange cupcakes, orange espresso cupcakes

Have you tried this recipe? Curious about the flavor combination? Let me know in the comments below!

Nectarine and Goat Cheese Pissadelière | Baking

A yeast-based dough makes the base for this “French pizza”, the Provençal pissadelière.

Jump to Recipe

What is a pissadeliére?

Originating in Provence, France, pissadelière is a pizza-like street food. Located on the southeastern side of France, Provence borders Italy and the Mediterranean Sea — the perfect mix of culinary influence to create this French pizza!

On-the-water view of Provence, France
Gorgeous Provence

Traditionally, pissadelière is topped with onions, anchovies and olives. Needless to say, this is NOT a traditional pissadelière.

Instead, I chose to use the pissadelière dough as a base for a fruity, cheesy, sweet flatbread, something that could easily be eaten for dessert or for breakfast. This Nectarine Goat Cheese Pissadelière would make a great addition to a Sunday brunch, as an afternoon snack with a cup of tea or coffee or a sweet and savory dessert component for your next dinner.

Close up photo of a slice of Nectarine Goat Cheese pisadellière
A platter of Nectarine Goat Cheese Pissadelière

The dough is the most laborious part of the recipe, and even then most of the time spent is letting the dough rise, not active time.

If you prefer to use a different stone fruit, the recipe is completely adaptable. Simple choose your fruit, cheese and herby toppings! Here are some other combinations to consider:

  • Plum and Chèvre
  • Peach and Gorgonzola
  • Berries and Brie
Slice in triangles for a fun, rustic platter of tasty sweet/savory pizza!

On a Personal Note

The basis of this recipe, originally from Cook’s Illustrated , was handed down to me from my mom, originally given to her by my grandfather. He was the one who taught me how to make pizza at six years old. He called the recipe “French pizza” because he (like many of us, I’m sure) was confused on how to properly pronounce “pissadelière”. Honestly, I have no idea how to say it either. What I do know is that the final result is delicious.

Nectarine goat cheese pissadeliere
Nectarines, goat cheese, a drizzle of honey and a sprinkling of fresh herbs. Delicious!

The trick to the dough is using well-oiled hands! As my grandpa (Papa) said, “The dough is beautiful to work with, especially in conjunction with the parchment paper and using very oily hands stretches the dough easily.”

It was a pleasure to make this recipe that he’d made and enjoyed before. I hope you enjoy the recipe as much as we did. Feel free to change out toppings as you see fit!

Nectarine Goat Cheese Pissadelière

This "french pizza" is made with a soft dough and topped with fresh nectarines, goat cheese, herbs and a drizzle of honey. Eat for dessert or breakfast!
Prep Time 2 hrs
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 15 mins
Course Breakfast, Dessert, dinner
Cuisine American, French

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus additional as needed for dough
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1-2 large, ripe nectarines
  • 8 ounces soft goat cheese
  • Handful of fresh herbs mint, thyme or basil
  • Honey, for drizzling

Instructions
 

  • In a large bowl, mix yeast and warm water. Whisk gently. Let bloom for 3-5 minutes. You should see light bubbling forming in the bowl.
  • Sift all-purpose flour into the bowl with the yeast and water.
    Add salt and olive oil. Mix in bowl until combined.
    Then, on a wooden board dusted with flour, knead dough into a smooth ball, about 3 minutes.
    When kneading, shape the dough into a ball and use the heel of your hand to push the dough down, reshaping it.
     *For an alternative method using a food processor, see recipe notes.
  • Lightly oil a clean bowl and place the dough ball inside and cover with a cloth. Allow to rise for 1 – 1 ½ hours, until the dough has grown in size
  • Have olive oil close at hand for stretching the dough. This dough responds better to oil than flour to repel stickiness.
    Line a full-sized baking sheet with parchment.
    Cut the ball of dough in half, forming two chunks.
    Stretch the dough using oiled hands to form rectangle shapes. (Any shape you make is okay, the important thing is stretching the dough so it is about ½” thick. If the shape doesn’t come out the way you’d like it, remember, it’s not a mistake – it’s rustic!)
    Place one rectangle on one end of the baking sheet. Using your fingertips, dimple the dough.
    Repeat with the other dough ball.
  • Slice the nectarines into eight sections. This prevents the nectarines from being too thin and burning in the oven. Top dough with sliced nectarines and goat cheese. Add as much or as little as you'd like!
  • Bake in a 425°F oven for 13-15 minutes. The crust should be lightly brown.
  •  Drizzle the pissaladiére with honey. Top with finely chopped herbs of your choice.
    Mint, thyme and basil all pair well with nectarines and goat cheese. If your herbs are flowering, use the flowers too! They are edible, slightly sweet and make for a beautiful presentation.
    Slice the pissaladiére any way you’d like. If the dough is not perfectly rectangular, I recommend slicing into triangle shapes.

Notes

Alternative dough method: If you are new to dough making, you may be more comfortable with the food processor method described in the original Cook’s Illustrated recipe:
“In the workbowl of a food processor fitted with a plastic dough blade, pulse flour, yeast and salt to combine, about five 1-second pulses. With machine running, slowly add oil, then water, through feed tube; continue to process until dough forms ball, about 15 seconds. Generously dust work surface with flour; using floured hands, transfer dough to work surface and knead lightly, shaping dough into ball.”
Keyword dessert pizza, french pizza, goat cheese recipe, nectarine recipe, pissaladiére, pissaladiére recipe

Zero Waste Kitchen – A Beginner’s Guide to Reducing Waste | Lifestyle

A complete beginner’s guide to zero waste in the kitchen (without having to purchase hundreds of dollars worth of eco-friendly products).

Here, we’ll cover:

Grab a cup of hot tea and let’s get down to business.

A passion flower vine.
A perfect passion flower vine. Natural beauty we want to preserve, cultivate and encourage!

What is zero waste?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), zero waste can be defined as:

“The conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health.”

Simply put, living zero waste means reducing the waste produced in all levels of a product’s life cycle.

This includes initial production, shipping methods, and where the product and it’s packaging wind up at end-of-life (when the product is all gone and you no longer have use for it.)

Here’s a quick example of zero waste packaging production. These are packing peanuts that dissolve in water. YES. No styrofoam here! A box from Meow Meow Tweet used these innovative dissolving peanuts for packaging.

Why go zero waste?

It’s good for everyone! Take a look at this bright, informative graphic from the Toronto Environmental Alliance.

Benefits of Zero Waste infographic
Borrowed from Toronto Environmental Alliance.

If that’s not enough to convince you, read the full article here.

Now it may be surprising, but food waste is actually detrimental to the environment.

Roughly one quarter of man-made greenhouse gas emissions are created by food waste, and if food waste was a country, it would be ranked third after the USA and China in terms of greenhouse gas production. When thrown into landfill, food waste produces a large amount of methane. As food rots and degrades, it emits these harmful gases which are 25 times more harmful than carbon dioxide in terms of trapping heat in the atmosphere. If we look back at those 2015 figures, the environmental benefit of preventing this sort of waste would be like taking 1 in 4 cars off the road.

Food Waste, Why It’s Bad. Via Greener Kirkcaldy

So yes: being more conscious of reducing waste in the kitchen does positively impact the environment. That’s great news, right? How we eat, cook and process food in our homes matters.

That’s why a commitment to zero waste in the kitchen matters. Let’s get to work!

First, commit to learning.

Depending on your current lifestyle, zero waste can be a huge change.

Taking one step at a time, making one small change at a time, can make the daunting task seem much easier. It’s a process and that’s okay. The idea of zero waste is that its an ideal you are working towards — not one that you have to achieve.

As you become more aware of producing waste, you’ll also become more aware of the ways in which you can make adjustments to reduce your waste. And, with the help of some great zero waste pioneers, you can have a guide to your new lifestyle.

My top three website guides on zero waste are:

Zero Waste Chef who provides innovative recipes and ideas for living zero waste.

A Zero Waste Life run by a rocket scientist who posts ways to integrate zero waste into everyday life.

Trash is for Tossers provides useful insight into living zero waste. This is the blog of Lauren Singer, founder of Package Free, so you may see some product placement as part of the postings. I still find it an extremely valuable, educational resource for learning more about living waste free.

If you are on Instagram, I’d also recommend giving Waste Free Marie a follow, an advocate for climate and racial justice.

A note on zero waste shopping:

I’m a big fan of Amazon, don’t get me wrong. But as zero waste, sustainable living emerges as a growing market, so do vendors. It can be difficult to navigate the greenwashing on Amazon, as not all information is readily available when making a purchase. For this reason, I recommend shopping companies like Package Free, Blueland (for cleaning products), Cleancult (cleaning products) or The Earthling Co. Sustainably conscious companies like Meow Meow Tweet offer vegan skincare in recyclable packaging and the option to buy in bulk to reduce waste.

Part of living a zero waste lifestyle is buying better quality products, made in sustainable ways, from sustainable sources less frequently. Which means you don’t HAVE to invest hundreds of dollars into eco-friendly products to get started on your Zero Waste journey. In fact, you can get started today!

Zero Waste Kits available on Package Free
Some great zero waste starter kits available on Package Free.

10 ways to a Zero Waste kitchen

In my own journey toward zero waste, I’ve learned some basic swaps that can make a big impact. This list is a compilation of the things I’ve learned, zero waste practices I implement in my kitchen, and general inspiration to get started on your own zero waste journey.

1. Save glass jars

Opt for glass containers when you’re shopping.

Mason jars, jam jars, glass salad dressing bottles, empty olive jars, you name it. If it’s glass, save it!

Glass jars of all shapes and sizes make for great storage vessels in the kitchen. Additionally, you can paint or decorate them to become a candle display, pen container for your at-home office or makeup brush holder on your vanity. The possibilities are limitless here.

Dried lavender in a glass spice jar
Upcycled spice jars are great for storing home dried herbs! This one has dried lavender.

2. Make your own broth

One way to use your unwanted vegetable scraps is to make your own broth! This is a zero waste two-for-one: you give new life to vegetable scraps that would otherwise wind up in the trash and you eliminate the need to purchase pre-made broth at the store.

Start saving scraps in a designated bag or container in the freezer. When it’s full, it’s time to make broth! Herb stems, onion roots, cleaned peels are all great candidates for homemade broth.

Watch the tutorial from my IGTV for a step-by-step guide to making your own vegetable broth.

When you’re done, you can compost the cooked vegetable scraps and voila! You have successfully completed a cycle of zero waste. Keep in mind, if you add meat bones to your broth, you won’t want to compost the scraps. More on this later.

3. Use the whole vegetable

Carrot tops, celery greens, chard stalks — you can eat them all! With a bit of creativity and some inevitable trial and error you can learn to use the whole vegetable, from root to tip, reducing your waste and expanding your palate.

At a quick glance:

  • Carrot tops make a great addition to coleslaw or a green salad.
  • Celery greens do well quickly blanched and added to a pesto or stir-fry.
  • Stalks of leafy greens like chard and kale can be diced and sautéed as a tasty side dish.
  • Broccoli and cauliflower stalks make great soups or soup bases.
  • Radish greens give pesto a flavorful bite.
  • Potato peels cleaned, salted and baked turn into irresistible chips!
  • Citrus peels can be mixed into a batch of simple syrup for a sour spin on a classic sweetner.

Check out this article from Huffington Post with a myriad of recipes on using the whole vegetable.

View my farmer’s market haul video below, guiding you through using the whole vegetable!

4. Shop local

For Central Coast residents, this one should be a given! Buying local, farm fresh fruits and vegetables (even meat) does wonders for reducing the waste created by packaging and transport.

Buying local supports small farmers and provides you with fresh ingredients.

Farmer’s markets are not as regular as they once were, so I encourage you to check locally to see how COVID has affected your local farmer’s markets.

If you are a resident of San Luis Obispo South County, you can buy from just about any farm stand, including picking up fruits and vegetables as you see them.

Two baby artichokes from a local farm.
Gorgeous baby artichokes from a local farm

It’s different for everyone:

Depending on where you live, buying local fresh-from-the-farm goods may or may not be feasible.

I advocate strongly for buying local in San Luis Obispo County, because farms and farmers are plentiful, as are farm stands. It’s accessible and most of the time, fiscally on par with buying produce from a supermarket.

If you are not in an area with a high concentration of farms, this may be a challenge. I encourage you to do local research to see what is available, even if its just a chance of a couple of products that you can access locally.

If there’s REALLY no local produce available, try shopping at small business, independently owned or co-op stores for food items instead.

Living zero waste must be customized to your lifestyle. Otherwise, its not sustainable — and sustainability is the goal!

Shop within your budget:

I’m going to add a caveat here, though it may seem contradictory. Shopping local is great for supporting small farmers and businesses and therefore your local economy.

HOWEVER….

I understand that only buying local products isn’t in everyone’s budget. On a tight budget, there can be an astronomical difference between the $14 locally farmed 4 oz of honey and the $4.99 8 oz bottle mass-produced.

That’s okay.

As earlier stated, zero waste is a goal, and the more moves you make toward zero waste the better. But that shouldn’t mean you have to overdraft your bank account to do so.

(This is also why following real people who are striving towards zero waste is helpful…they provide the perspective of someone with a budget, who knows the value of a dollar.)

5. Buy in bulk

If available, buy products you use frequently in bulk. Not only will it save you money, but you’ll reduce waste by reducing smaller size packaging.

Try shopping the bulk section of your grocery store for items like flour, coffee, sugar, nuts even granola and candy.

To get extra eco-friendly, bring along your own clean containers with the marked tare weight (how much the jar/container weighs by itself) to reduce the use of those pesky plastic bags. Read more about this shopping method here.

6. Opt for loose produce

Plastic-free produce campaigner Anita Horan advocates for supermarkets to sell their produce free from its common plastic packaging (something Trader Joes is notorious for).

When shopping, opt for loose produce that isn’t encased in plastic. This is common with apples, oranges, bananas, even bell peppers. However, they are also typically sold next to plastic free counterparts.

Bring your own produce bags and you’re well on your way to shopping zero waste!

Local strawberry the size of my hand!
Much farm stand produce is available loose, like this giant local strawberry!

7. Buy dry goods and learn how to cook them

This goes hand-in-hand with buying in bulk.

Purchasing canned goods in aluminum or tin certified to be recycled is a good option.

However, if your looking for something that creates even less waste (and allows you to get more bang for your buck), buying dry goods in bulk is the way to go.

Items like beans, lentils, farro, quinoa, couscous and a variety of other grains can all be purchased dry and cooked at home. This is particularly simple if you own an Instant Pot. For an easy step-by-step guide on how to cook beans in an Instant Pot, read this post.

It may seem more convenient to buy the small-sized, precooked package of grains that takes only 10 minutes to cook.

In reality, most grains are straightforward to cook on the stovetop. If you know how to cook rice, you can make farro, quinoa, couscous and the like. I’ve even provided some links below to get you started.

Learn how to cook…

Yellow peas, pinto beans, black beans and red beans in individual glass jars.
Upcycled pickle jars make great dried bean containers! With some elbow grease, the labels can be completely removed for a cleaner look.

8. Use what you have

When it comes to meal planning, shop your pantry, fridge and freezer first! This will help to cut back on food waste in your own home.

Setting up a system of First In, First Out (FIFO) can be extremely helpful in knowing what needs to be used at a glance. FIFO is what retail grocery supply and food service use to efficiently rotate their stock, so nothing will be left to grow moldy shoved in the back of the fridge.

Here’s a short list of ideas to use FIFO in your kitchen:

  • Designate spaces for foods that need to be eaten — This could be a drawer or designated container or shelf in your fridge.
  • Label everything — Labelling items with dates makes keeping track of what’s old and what’s new a breeze.
  • Write it down — Keeping a white board, handwritten list or spreadsheet of what you have on hand makes meal planning faster and more manageable.

See what needs to be used first, and focus on creating meals around those items. If you are stuck for ideas, type a few ingredients into Google followed by “recipe”. You may be surprised what you find!

Here’s an example search. I have copious amounts of kale and green beans in my refrigerator right now. I typed “kale green bean recipe” into Google and immediately got a number of tasty results!

Search results for "kale green bean recipe"

Being flexible with substitutions in recipes can also be beneficial in using what you have. Try using whatever alliums you have when you see “white onion” in a recipe, or any leafy greens when you see “spinach”. This helps reduce what you throw away in your kitchen, and helps flex your cooking skills to boot!

For example, use these substitutions in my Vegan Creamed Spinach recipe. I’ve used kale, chard and beet greens in this recipe and it came out just as delicious as using only spinach.

Vegan creamed spinach recipe

9. Stock your own freezer

This is especially effective if you live by yourself or as a couple.

The pre-made food in the freezer aisle at any grocery market is tempting, and a section I would frequent regularly.

My habits changed as my shopping habits changed. No longer could I slip in and out of Trader Joe’s for a quick haul of pre-made food that made meals a breeze when I didn’t feel like cooking.

Good news! There’s a solution!

I started making food in larger batches, some to eat then and some to package and freeze for later.

This method works great for grains, beans and sauces. Or, if you buy meat in bulk, it can make handling a four pound log of ground beef much more manageable. As you can see, my past attempts were unsuccessful.

Gone are the days of forcefully cutting frozen logs of meat in half

The next time I encountered a four pound log of beef I cooked a variety of items, packaged and froze them for later use. Here’s an example list to give you ideas to get started.

4 lbs of ground beef can become…

  • 1 pound of taco meat — Saute meat in skillet with diced onions, peppers and taco seasoning until brown. Here’s a recipe to get started.
  • 2 pounds of beef bologneseMake a simple bolognese in the crockpot. Saute the beef on the stove first til brown, and rid of excess grease. Add to crockpot with some tomato paste, canned diced tomatoes, fresh herbs, seasonings, salt and pepper. Simmer on high for three hours.
  • 4 quarter pound burger patties — Add your ground meat to a bowl with some breadcrumbs, one egg and seasonings. Form into patties and pan fry. Or, try this recipe.
  • 4 servings of beef and broccoli — One pound of beef and one large head of broccoli makes a great base for beef and broccoli. Add onion, peppers, soy sauce, brown sugar and sriracha for an easy tasty dinner.

And boom! Just like that, you’ve stocked your freezer, prepped dinner for the night and successfully used ALL of the meat you defrosted, without fear it will go bad before you’ve eaten (or cooked) it.

You can use the freezer stocking method for a variety of things like:

  • Mirepoix — peel and dice carrots, onions and celery for a quick soup or sauce base.
  • Onions and peppers — slice and freeze. They’ll be ready to make as a quick side to fajitas or addition to a sausage and potato skillet!
  • Leafy greens — If your leafy greens will go bad before you get to use them, wash, chop and freeze them instead! Toss some in a frittata, stir fry or soup.
  • All the fruit — dice and freeze your fruit. This makes smoothies a breeze.
Mirepoix - diced celery, carrots and onion
Mirepoix prepped and ready for the freezer!

10. Invest in plastic free storage solutions

Yes, I said you don’t have to invest any money to start on your zero waste journey, and now I’m recommending you invest! It’s true, you don’t NEED to buy these plastic-free storage solutions, but depending on your own kitchen situation, they may be worth it for you. Here are some ideas to storing food and leftovers that are not plastic wrap and plastic baggies.

Depending on your local supermarket, you may or may not be allowed to bring in your own reusable bags right now. I’ve noticed many stores bagging groceries at no extra cost in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. Instead of accepting the free bags, however, try this. Ask the cashier to simply put your items back in your cart, without a bag. Take the cart to your car and bag your own groceries using reusable bags. It’s an extra step, but it’s one I take. It also gives me the opportunity to disinfect any item that may have had a lot of hands on it recently, before putting it in my car for transport.

If you’re not into buying reusable, there are many options for making your own. Check out Zero Waste Chef’s tutorial on how to sew your own produce bags. If all else fails, stick to reusing the bags and containers you already have!

An array of plastic free storage solutions
Silicone baking mat, reusable produce bags, silicone storage bags and mason jars.

Compost 101: Frequently Asked Questions

The only reason I didn’t include compost on my list is this: it may or may not be feasible for you to start composting today.

Community compost resources vary from city to city, and in some areas, it’s best to do your compost on your own.

Here’s a quick look into what compost is and how you can start composting.

But first, why compost?

Food scraps and yard waste together currently make up more than 28 percent of what we throw away, and should be composted instead. Making compost keeps these materials out of landfills where they take up space and release methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Compost saves scraps from landfills, and actually adds rich nutrients back into soil for your garden.

As you can see below, my compost set-up is simple. It may not be the prettiest, but it’s effective! A wooden palette saved from the dumpster made a great platform to give ventilation to the bottom of the compost.

Two compost bins set on top of a wooden pallet.
A functional compost system, made from upcycled containers and a wooden pallet.

What is compost?

Compost is, “organic material that can be added to soil to help plants grow.” (Source: EPA)

Compost consists of your scrap produce and other green materials left to decompose to a state where it becomes a fertile addition to the garden.

All it takes is some food scraps (“green” matter) and dry leaves/cardboard/paper scraps (“brown” matter) to get started composting.

I started composting about six months ago, and have learned a few things along the way.

For more in-depth reading about compost check out these sources:

How do I start composting?

There are many ways you can go to compost. There is some advanced machinery available (like this rotating one).

Or, you can use a storage bin with some holes drilled out of it for ventilation.

Additionally, you can go with the most organic method, which is to create piles in your backyard and let nature take its course. Zero Waste Chef has a lot of good information about this method, as its something she uses at her home.

I keep this stainless steel container in the kitchen to collect food scraps throughout the day. I take it out to my compost at night, which is located next to our cars in the apartment where we live (not out on the patio for all the neighbors to enjoy).

This makes saving scraps for compost easy. The benefit of the stainless steel is that it’s easy to rinse out, doesn’t hold any smells like plastic would and the lid seals tight so no funky smells escape if I forget to take it out for a few nights.

As for what goes in your compost, here’s some basic info from the EPA:

More ideas for compost friendly materials:

  • Browns – Deconstructed cardboard without ink printing; Compostable napkins or parchment paper, cut into smaller pieces; A handful of dirt
  • Greens – Loose leaf tea, or the insides of a used tea bag; Cooked vegetables used to make broth
  • Water – Truth: I haven’t had to add water to my compost. Since I add the vegetables from the broth, they contain a lot of water. Two for one!

Quick Composting No No’s: What not to add to your compost

  • Meat
  • Dairy
  • Milk
  • Oil
  • Fat

For a more extensive list on what should and should NOT go in your compost, check out this article at The Spruce.

Isn’t compost stinky?

The number one question you’ll get when you tell someone you compost:

Doesn’t it stink?

Short answer: No.

If the compost has the correct balance of green and brown materials, the compost will give off an earthly odor, much like dirt. The smell will not be “stinky” or rotten or moldy, as this article from Naples Compost confirms.

Full disclosure: As you learn what the correct balance is, you may encounter some funky smells along the way.

Here’s a quick guide on how to tell what your compost needs if it starts smelling a bit foul.

Helpful hint:

Since it consists of decomposing matter, it attracts flies and the like (which is good, you want them there, they help with the decomposition process), so I wouldn’t recommend keeping your compost pile right next to your home. Set it up in an area farthest away from your door.

If you stick to the do’s and do not’s of composting, it should smell like fresh dirt. A wonderful aroma!

How long does it take?

Let’s ask the internet.

How long it takes to compost
Source: Gardners.com

Compost’s maturity can be influenced by:

  1. Temperature – When compost is busy doing it’s thing it will heat up. Warmer days, therefore, can be more helpful in compost’s natural process. The process may take longer to complete in cooler months or generally colder climates.
  2. Moisture – Compost is hindered by too much moisture as much as it is by not enough moisture. It’s consistency should be of a damp sponge, no more, no less.
  3. How often it’s turned – You can help your compost along by manually turning it (meaning, mixing it all up) several times a week.
  4. Size of waste added – Clearly, smaller pieces of food scraps will break down faster than larger ones. A pineapple crown will take much longer to decompose, for example, than potato peels.

Two is better than one:

If you have the commitment, and the room, you can have two composts in rotation.

To illustrate, let’s name the compost piles.

Compost Pile One, aka “Radish” and Compost Pile Two, aka “Okra”.

Radish will be your first compost pile. Add scraps to Radish until it’s full, or your ready to move on and let it do its compost thang. Radish is now in a state where you need to stop adding fresh scraps, it will be turned and tended to until its garden-ready compost dirt.

Now, you move on to Okra. Add scraps to Okra while actively tending to Radish, turning every so often and monitoring its process.

Ideally, once Radish is ready to be added to the garden, Okra will be full.

Empty Radish into the garden, clearing out all the dirt-like compost.

You can now stop adding to Okra and let it do its dance of decomposition.

Start the process again with Radish.

In this way, you’ll always have a compost to add to and a compost thats on it’s way to becoming nutrient-rich dirt.

Compost on it's way to becoming dirt.
A close-up of my older compost — well on it’s way to becoming nutrient rich dirt for the garden!
In Conclusion: You can do it!

Whew! You made it!

I hope this article has brought you knowledge and encouragement for your zero waste journey. (And maybe a laugh or two, if I’m lucky.)

As awareness for the benefits of zero waste grows, so do the resources and the supportive community.

It’s a journey, and we’re all in it together.

How are you going to start on your zero waste lifestyle?

Questions and comments welcome! Leave a note below, follow me on Instagram, or send me an email.

Til next time!