Posts Tagged ‘Stainless steel’

Prepare your Thanksgiving Feast with Safer Cookware


As you start your Thanksgiving preparations, pull out your grandmother’s old cast iron skillets you found in the attic!  They are much safer than non-stick cookware, and when seasoned properly, cast iron pans are as nonstick as other coated pans.  Conventional non-stick pans can off-gas toxic fumes over high heat.  Even if the pans have labels claiming  “green” or “not non-stick”, chances are they are still coated with toxic chemicals; manufacturers do not have to release their safety data.

English: A cast-iron pan.

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cast iron pans have other benefits too.  They are an ideal heat conductor, cook evenly and consistently, and are better able to withstand high heat.    They go easily from stove to oven, don’t warp and are easy to clean.  Simply wash with a mild detergent and dry thoroughly.  Foods cooked in a cast iron pan also absorb iron, a valuable mineral that the body needs to produce red blood cells.

To season your cast iron pan, brush the surface evenly with a vegetable oil; bake in a 350-degree oven for an hour, then cool in the oven.   Repeat occasionally and your cast iron pans will last for generations.  In fact, they will just get better with age.  You can purchase new ones pre-seasoned and ready-to-use however.

If you don’t have any cast iron pans (but hoping to get some for Christmas) and are still using non-stick pans, follow these simple tips to reduce the possibility of toxic fumes:

  • Never heat an empty pan
  • Don’t put it in an oven hotter than 500 degrees
  • Use your exhaust fan over the stove

Oven safe glass and stainless steel are other safe alternatives to non-stick pans. Be greener this Thanksgiving – click here for more green holiday ideas.

Enjoy your family and friends this Thanksgiving and remember this Native American saying, “Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way.” 

Information compiled from

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Fixer Fair

If you are in the Boston area and your garage is filling up with broken appliances, bikes and other things, head over to the “Fixer Fair” in Union Square Somerville on Saturday, August 16. Talented fixers, supplies and tools will be on hand to fix anything – appliances, bikes, computers, even cars – for this free outdoor event.  They don’t make promises, but will give it a try and if they can’t fix it, they will help you figure it out, locate needed parts or direct you to a local fix-it business.  What a great idea and one I hope will catch on everywhere!

When I was growing up, small appliance repair shops were common. If a blender broke, you took it to a repair shop.  In this era of planned obsolescence with cheap, made in China everything, however, appliance repair shops and handymen have all but disappeared.

Boyett's TV

Boyett’s TV (Photo credit: Steve Snodgrass)

It’s time to rethink our throw away society mentality, and reuse, repurpose and fix what we already have instead of always buying new.  Of course some things have to be thrown out and it’s important to recycle them, but before you do, think first.  Can I fix this?  Can I use it for something else? With the internet, you can easily find replacement parts online and it’s always worth a try.   Who knows – maybe we’ll bring back the fix-it shops of long ago with a 21st century approach like the Fixer Fair, creating new jobs and saving unnecessary items from the landfill.

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Too Much Plastic!

I recently came across a blog called Plastic-Free Guide.  The author Beth Terry lists every possible way to reduce plastic usage in your life.  In fact, there are 95 clever suggestions!

Her top two ways to reduce plastic usage you are hopefully already doing – bringing reusable bags and totes to the store with you (and that includes all stores, not just grocery stores!) and drinking from reusable water bottles, preferably a stainless steel one.

Beth conveniently categorizes her other suggestions for easy reading, the most doable ones I have listed below.

  • Plastic-free Grocery Shopping

Shop from local farmers markets; buy from bulk bins when possible; eat whole fruit instead of buying sodas, fruit juices and other plastic- bottled beverages; buy fresh bread or bread wrapped in paper; buy milk in   returnable glass bottles; stop buying frozen convenience foods.

·      Plastic-Free Eating and Drinking on the Go

Carry your own containers for take out food and leftovers; carry a stainless steel travel mug or water bottle; carry reusable utensils and glass drinking straws.

·      Plastic-Free Lunches at School or Work

Choose glass/stainless steel food storage containers; store foods without freezing; avoid non-stick cookware; choose stainless steel ice-cube trays.

·      Learn to Make It From Scratch

Make your own soy or almond milk, condiments or snacks.

·      No More Plastic Trash Bags

Compost food waste.

·      Switch to Natural, Plastic-Free Household Cleaning Techniques

Clean with vinegar, baking soda and water; use powdered dishwasher detergent in a cardboard box; use natural cleaning cloths and scrubbers; wash laundry with soapnuts or laundry powders without a plastic scoop.

·      Personal Care

Use bar soap instead of liquid hand soap; give up shampoo in plastic bottles; use soap instead of canned shave cream; choose lotions and lip balms in plastic-free containers; choose toilet paper that’s not wrapped in plastic.

·      Travel

Bring your own water bottle or travel mug— even on the plane; bring your own snacks; don’t forget your headphones.

·      Plastic-Free Pet Care

Avoid plastic bowls; choose pet toys/furniture made from natural materials instead of plastic.

·      Get it Fixed!

·      Buy it Used!

  • Say No to Plastic Packing Material

Request zero plastic packaging when ordering online. (I love this one!)

·      Reduce Plastic in the Office

Avoid disposable plastic pens.

·      Plastic-Free Entertainment/Electronics

Look for secondhand electronics, games, and toys first; take care of what you have already; avoid buying CDs and DVDs.

·      No New Plastic Clothing

Choose natural fibers; shop thrift stores.

  • Avoid the worst plastics: Polyvinyl Chloride (#3 PVC), Polystyrene (#6 PS), & Polycarbonate (#7 other)

They  cause a host of environmental problems and can be toxic to the brain and nervous system.

Plastic is in practically everything! It’s impossible to eliminate it entirely from our lives, but Beth’s blog certainly makes us aware of our overuse and over dependence on it. Plastic has definitely made our lives more convenient, but at what cost?  I wonder given the harmful effects from the manufacture of and constant exposure to plastic; given that so much of it ends up in our oceans and landfills; and given that most of it is not biodegradable, why chemists aren’t coming up with more green plastic.  It’s time we demand it.

I encourage you to visit, read her tips, and take her plastic trash challenge.

For more green tips, visit 


Information compiled from



Many foods and spirits can be used as green alternatives to conventional household and personal care products.  Below are some ideas sent to me from a couple of readers.

Cucumber is a nutritious vegetable with many more medicinal uses than listed here.

  • Cucumbers are loaded with vitamins and minerals and make an energy-boosting snack.
  • Rubbing a cucumber slice on a fogged up mirror will eliminate the fog and provide aromatherapy at the same time.
  • Cucumber slices in an aluminum pie tin will repel grubs and slugs from your garden.  The chemicals in the cucumber react with the aluminum to give off an undetectable scent to humans but not to garden pests.
  • Cucumber is especially beneficial for the skin.  Rub a slice of cucumber on your cellulite and wrinkles to tighten the skin. Cucumber also reduces eye puffiness.

    Image by Betsy Wild

  • Eating a few cucumber slices after over imbibing and before going to bed helps to eliminate a hangover.  The sugar, B vitamins and electrolytes in the cucumber replenish essential nutrients.
  • Shine your shoes with cucumber – the chemicals provide a quick shine that also repels water.
  • A cucumber slice pressed on the roof of your mouth for 30 seconds kills bad breath germs.
  • Clean your faucets and stainless steel with cucumber slices – it safely removes tarnish and leaves a shine.

Vodka has the same antiseptic properties as rubbing alcohol.  It’s expensive, but in a pinch you can:

  • Clean windows with diluted vodka as an alternative to chemical cleansers.
  • Shine chrome with a cloth soaked in vodka.
  • Preserve cut flowers by mixing a few drops of vodka with a teaspoon of sugar.
  • Remove stains like ink, grass and some foods from upholstery.  Dip a clean cloth in vodka and rub it on the fabric.
  • Kill broadleaf weeds – Mix 1 ounce of vodka, a few drops of liquid dish soap and 2 cups of water in a spray bottle.  Apply on a sunny day to cause the weeds to dry out.
  • Clean mold and mildew – spray tiles and caulk with vodka and let stand for 20 minutes.  Scrub with a brush and rinse thoroughly.
  • Soothe sore muscles with a cold pack made from equal parts vodka and water.  Put in a resealable bag and freeze.
  • Spritz the insides of your shoes with vodka to eliminate the odor.


Vodka information compiled from THISOLDHOUSE.COM (Jan/Feb.2012). 

Cucumber information compiled from: