Pickled Watermelon Rind & Beets

A week or so ago I bought myself a HUGE watermelon from WFM and thought to myself, “how can I use the rind to this melon”.

Watermelons are in the same family as cucumbers and zucchini, so I tried to think of cooking techniques for those.

Dehydrating first came to mind then of course breading/frying followed, because anything fried can be tasty.

Finally pickles came to mind!

I’ve never pickled or fermented anything and the idea not only fascinated me but also was terrifying.

I decided to peruse the net for basic pickling recipes to guide me in the right direction.

During my search I stumbled across a recipe for pickled watermelon rind! Oh, lucky days!

The recipe was adapted by Kitchen Riffs from a David Chang recipe.

As mentioned before I do not like using refined white sugar but it was important for me to follow the recipe somewhat closely for the first attempt. So, I reduced the sugar quantity from the original.

I pickled the rinds Monday night after waiting the recommended four days, I popped off the lids and gave them a try.

Ok, I do admit that eating pickled rind from a watermelon may not sound scrumptious, and well, I cannot say it was my favorite. These freshly packed sour warheads have an intense “POW, IN YOUR FACE” flavor.

Kitchen Riff recommended using ACV instead of Chang’s rice wine vinegar, so I went along with the ACV. The ACV has a sweet element and enhances the intense flavors to an overwhelming degree.

The thing about watermelon rind is that it doesn’t have much flavor and are bitter—absorbing whatever sauce used. Less sugar and the strong, sweet flavor of ACV took over the rinds, resulting in unbalance between sweet and sour/tangy, with sour/tangy dominating the profile.

Cinnamon sticks and fresh ginger were also added to my brind which adds a layer of heat to the pickles.

There is a real sweet, tangy, sour explosion of flavors that are not for the average soul.

There was also that expected crunch from the hard rind which you’ll find from a well pickled vegetable. The crunch adds another degree of complexity to this already stimulating flavors.

This would be great with some ice cold lemonade on a hot summer day or garnish for a fun, fruity cocktail.

I’ve generated two jars and am seeking creative ways to eat these tangy morsels because summer is on it’s way out and seldom drink, but once in a while I do enjoy a classic gimlet with gin. I’ll post updates about tasty finds for pickled watermelon rind.

I ended up using some extra dressing to pickle a golden beet that wasn’t looking too good. I honestly loved the pickled beet.

The ACV wasn’t as overwhelming and still had a strong beet flavor and a slight crunch to them.

These would be great with hummus and roasted corn or in a nice green salad with some toasted walnuts. YUM!

Have you tried pickling? Do you have a favorite recipe or tricks? Let me know!

What a Waste!

Take a moment to think about how much waste you produce in a week. Roughly, between my boyfriend and myself, we go through about one regular size garbage bag a week. Now multiply that by 52 weeks, times billions of other people. That is a lot of waste, and that doesn’t include the 2 bags of recycling that goes out each week, I’m sure other homes produce a lot more.

Does this waste just disappear never to be seen again? Where does it go?

These thoughts plague my mind.

My journey into zero waste began with instant obsession for the movement and I quickly attempted to replicate the lifestyle.

What a tremendous mistake…

Mistake #1: FOOD

At the time I wasn’t cooking much at home and had very little motivation to do so. I was militant and thought zero waste meant not buying anything with packaging, so I bought a lot of vegetables and items from the bulk section.

I made my own almond milk, ate salads, smoothies and oatmeal every day, and tried to use every bit of the produce, including eating strawberries whole, fuzzy green tops and all.

The issue here was that I had no plan of action and grew tired of eating the same thing every day, so most of the fresh produce became waste.

How hypocritical is that?

Mistake #2: HYGIENE

This issue seemed easier to transition into than food waste, but the minor adjustments to my daily routine eventually sprouted negative consequences to my well-being.

My shower routine consisted of cold water, a single bar of biodegradable soap, and would last less than 5 minutes. This was a great routine for sleepy mornings or hot days but bottom line, cold weather showers are torturous, the icy water shocked my nerves, soap didn’t completely wash out and I always felt dirty. Oh, and forget about taking a shower before bed, because that freezing rain would wake you up like it was a brand new morning.

Another attempt to reduce waste included my bathroom habits. According to the Boston Standard Company, the average American uses 50 pounds of toilet paper a year. Also stating that global toilet paper production consumes 10 million trees a year.

At first, I tried to use as little toilet paper as possible, even using 1 square for a short period of time—which was useless.

I had read about people using a system called family cloth. Family cloth is a neat concept: Up-cycling old cloth to use to wipe oneself. After continued research, sanitation and repeated use concerned me, so I never tried this system.

MISTAKE #3: JUDGEMENT

Whenever out in public no one could escape my judgment. I’d watch others drink out of Styrofoam cups with straws and then proceed to unconsciously toss everything into a garbage can.

The stress was killing me, and it was like no one cared.

Nowadays I think to myself, “no one is perfect, especially me”. Which serves as a reminder that I’ve lived a careless lifestyle in the past.

THE RESULT:

After avoiding any product that could produce waste, starving myself, feeling dirty and miserable all the time, I quickly plunged back into bad habits.

I broke down.

Depression took hold, anxiety clouded my mind, and felt pity for myself.

CONCLUSION:

Over time I restored myself and I continue the transition into a zero waste lifestyle.

If I crave food or want to buy something new and shiny, I resist the urge and after a while, the desire is gone.

When I need something, I try to buy it used, if possible. Shopping at thrift stores has actually become a fun activity. Sometimes I may not find what I need but when I do, they are often more unique than something new, I save money, and the discovery is like finding buried treasure.

When shopping for groceries, I still focus on fresh produce and bulk items but now I am not afraid to buy other items with packaging. My rule for packaging is that it should be glass, aluminum or [at least] recyclable plastic.

I only buy recyclable toilet paper now and try to be conscious of how much is used. I still take cold showers but if I am not in the mood for one, then the water becomes warm.

I’ve learned that 30 odd years of habits cannot change overnight, that changes need to be made gradually over time. The fact that I am attempting to make change is a step in the right direction and there is no reason to get upset with myself or others.

We are a product of our environment and a culture of garbage, but with each additional step forward we can make a stampede of change.

Next time you buy or throw something away, try to think about the journey of how it came to be and what will happen to that “trash”.

Coffee Tumbler Litter.jpg

Disconnect Yourself

Wake up, hurriedly prepare for work, 8 hours later come home, vegetate.

Welcome to my non-existence.  For the past few years, I’ve been alive but I have not been living.  The day passes by and the night lingers, and it feels like part of my life has been smudged away by the end of an eraser.

A mental fog clouded my mind and my body sunk into the couch like a sack of rotting potatoes.

Each evening I would scroll away the time as the animated lightbox flashed before my eyes, as ideas floated into the current of my subconsciousness.

I still battle these desires to this day, it is a constant struggle and I dare say that it forever will be.

Desire.  What is desire?  The OED defines desire as a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen.  Now I ask you, why does desire control our lives?

These kinds of thoughts have sparked a light within the fog of my mind.  Ever since my recent life-changing camping trip, where I spent 3 days backcountry camping up a mountain with 40 pounds on my back and another 5 camping in the isolated Smokey Mountains.  If you want to change your life, then do something that pushes or challenges you.  The Smokey Mountains changed my life and forced my concentration on survival and appreciate what are often everyday things.

I disconnected myself from technology, immersed in mother Earth in all her beauty and everything was in full harmony.  My usual stomach pains, body aches, and headaches ceased to exist.  As if the bag of rotten potatoes magically sprouted and blossomed into new life and beauty.

Potato Flower

Potato Flower.  Photo Credit: Keith Weller, en.wikipedia.org

The flowers of potatoes are quite pretty, aren’t they?

As mentioned before, I still struggle with this battle, but one thing has changed.  Each morning when I think of the day and what I will accomplish, instead of continuously saying “I’m going to rest a little longer”, I internally yell at myself “KAT STOP LOOKING AT YOUR PHONE AND GET UP!”.

This is my secret, my prized idea that no one else has ever dreamt before–yeah right.

If unproductive thoughts flow through your consciousness then those thoughts will continue propelling into reality.

This also can be said about positive thoughts.  If positive thoughts flow through your consciousness then those thoughts eventually become reality.

When tasks linger within my mind for a long time it makes me anxious and I don’t find satisfaction until the task is complete, and oh is that feeling such a relief.

I cannot depend on my power of thought to overcome these poor habits.  Removing technology is necessary for me since I often scroll through other people’s ideas for countless hours without grasping the memory to serve me later.

Another key component has been keeping up with chores, decluttering (donating mass amounts of crap I’ve collected through the years), reading more, spending time outdoors and enjoying cat naps during the day.

What’s the longest you’ve disconnected from technology?  Can you go without social media or T.V. for an hour?

Title Photo Courtesy of ziggy1, istock.com

 

Conscious Living in a World that Throws Everything Away

A few months back while doing research for gardening and composting on YouTube,  a video showed up featuring Bea Johnson, discussing her lifestyle called “Zero Waste”.

Those two words say it all and my mind quickly began simmering the idea of zero waste and soon after I became obsessed!

Johnson’s blog and book, “Zero Waste Home”  began a movement that has spread across the globe, inspiring other environmentally conscious individuals like myself.  Johnson has brought back a lifestyle that our ancestors have lived for thousands of years that include canning, making vinegar, cooking without waste, reusing what is available.

Bea Johnson believes you can live simply by following these simple guidelines, the 5R’s:

Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot (Not only in that order)

Johnson believes all habits can be adapted to this lifestyle, but a lot of regular habits may have to be sacrificed.

I’ve continued my research into this lifestyle by joining the Zero Waste Reddit community, researching books at the library, and by watching YouTube videos discussing their attempts at this lifestyle along with the frustration that comes with it.


Some frustration that I’ve personally experienced includes:

Feeling Overwhelmed

  • How do I even begin living this lifestyle?
  • What do I do with the things I currently waste?
  • Everyone I watch in public is so wasteful!  ARRGGHHH!
  • I have pets and taking care of them is wasteful.
  • The numbers game – Learning how much is wasted makes the heart feel heavy.

These are all complications I’ve come across and still struggle with during my journey.

To cope with the overwhelming amount of wastefulness I try to be non-judgemental of others, continuously restructure my habits until I find a system that works, and communicate my feelings to others and try to teach others about easy habits to reduce waste.

One of the key factors for adjusting to this lifestyle is the realization that I cannot expect to be waste-free overnight, it will take time and effort to attain a completely zero waste lifestyle.  

Being Unknowledgeable

  • What is considered to be waste?
  • Is recycling worth it?
  • What products are available for this lifestyle?
  • Needs Vs. wants.

I’ve delved deep into learning as much as I can about zero waste within the past couple of months and there is still much more to learn.

One dilemma I’ve experienced is how to get rid of the wasteful things I currently own.  I have nail polish, plastic wrap, plastic Tupperware, personal care products, toilet paper, random kitchen gadgets, and more.  

I currently just have these items sitting around, waiting for its life purpose to be fulfilled.  I still need to figure a solution for most of these items, but until then, I do the following:
  • Use or recycle the Tupperware.
  • Do not buy anything that has wasteful packaging or that is not recyclable.
  • Create family cloth. (A reusable cloth for wiping your bum)
  • Donate these items to a thrift store.
Bea Johnson points out an important detail:

Don’t buy anything new, you can find almost anything used at a local thrift store or on eBay.  Buy your food in bulk form and locally and in season.  Be conscious of what you are buying and think to yourself “Do I really NEED this?”

Get out of your comfort zone and try new things like crafts, growing herbs/other produce, cook more or try making your own almond milk or cheeses–You’ll be impressed with what you are capable of and honestly, you’ll probably enjoy being self-sufficient in these areas.

Being Lazy or Reverting to Old Habits

  • Making excuses.
  • Putting leisure before productivity.
  • Eating out because “I’m hungry now”.
  • Feelings of frustration resulting in inactivity

Altering decades of old habits is challenging and require constant motivation, determination, and effort.  I’ve realized that planning ahead and organization is crucial to success and includes daily journaling, meal planning, and attainable weekly goals.

Eating Out

  • Ordering takeout.
  • Avoiding straws.
  • Over-ordering.
  • Utensils
  • Refusing plastic bags

Eating out is difficult when you are trying to be zero waste.  You have to deal with disposable cups and utensils, becoming full before finishing so you are stuck with either food waste or a wasted container, straws being forced to you, and ordering takeout is completely out of the picture unless you bring your own reusable container.

I have a past addiction to Mitsuwa’s pastries, ice cream, shaved ice, and other desserts featured at Ry-Leaf.  In my continuous effort to be less wasteful, I now bring reusable cups, containers, choose a cone Vs. a cup, and request no disposable straw/utensils.

My first attempt at bringing a reusable container to Ry-Leaf started off without a struggle until the cup I had brought was too large for their machine.  The employee decided to use a styrofoam cup to transfer the ice, so without thinking, I reacted with anguish expressing that the cup was not necessary and the whole experience became awkward.

Now when I ask for a business to use my own container I instantly say “I know, I’m crazy–Don’t worry about it!” and usually go on to explain WHY I am asking them to accommodate my strange requests.



I’d like to end this post with my Earth Day messaged which was shared on Facebook:

Today is Earth Day, and while every day should focus on our precious Earth we need to all take a moment to reflect on our actions.

We all group up wasteful, we are wasteful as a species and the neglect needs to stop.

Take a moment today think of ONE thing that you can do to help Earth and all the life that struggling with it.

500 MILLION plastic straws are wasted EACH DAY. This is an easy habit to break and it all begins with REFUSING. Do you really NEED a straw? Think about it.

Plastic is killing the remaining wildlife and the oceans. If you love animals and/or love seafood, help protect them! It is our responsibility to reverse our destruction to this planet!

Thank you for reading. 

Included in the post was a button for friends to donate to the Earth Day Network.  I raised $95 including my donation of $20!

Change.

Change, what defines it?  With a plethora of definitions, including: “an act or process through which something becomes different”, “make or become different”, or “A new or refreshingly different experience.”  How does that make you feel?

For me, change once represented anxiety, fear, and grief.  Avoiding new friendships for fear of abandonment and judgment, or staying in a toxic relationship because it wasn’t all the time.  My mind used to turn off like a switch, zero control of my own emotions and weight of worthlessness on my shoulders.

Reflecting back, it just seems like an abundance of time washed over me, never to be gathered again.  Falling into pits of misery and self-pity without enacting any change.  I would sit each day bingeing shows, scrolling through social media and passed through a stream of the nothingness of others’ thoughts, dreams, and lives.  Emptiness slowly filled me and life was dull, insipid and worthless.

Something snapped.  I don’t know what changed my mind or sparked the change, but I realized that the change began now.  The answer was so easy, so simple and just required the act of doing.  I had to discover my dreams, desires, and goals, and build a path to attain them.  Perhaps it was a realization of all the time wasted just sitting around, absorbing information quickly, frequently and with no pattern or attention.  I felt like I was more than that, more than a rotting couch potato.  I wanted to learn, try new things, be more.  I wanted nothing less than change, and I still do to this day.

This blog is meant to be a log of lifestyle changes, which so far since the new year January 01, 2018, I have been experienced changes with the following: vegetarianism, exercise, ambition, goals, health, diet, showers, self, respect, money, interests, recipes, values, and more.

I want to share with you, my experience of change.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. –Mahatma Ghandi