Vinegar Hairwashing

UPDATE: I also wrote a newer article on vinegar hairwashing as a guest post for The Greenbacks Gal.  Check it out for even more detailed information!  If you have comments, please post them here so I’ll be sure to see them.

I wash my hair with vinegar instead of shampoo. Why? The original reason was to get away from conventional shampoo that’s made from irreplaceable petroleum and weird chemicals.  I was pretty sure it was bad for the environment and possibly for my health.  I’d tried several “earth friendly” shampoos made from plants, but they didn’t make my oily hair feel clean, and they still contain a large number of highly processed ingredients, which means that manufacturing them uses a lot of energy.  Vinegar sounded a lot simpler. Once I started, I was amazed by how well it worked!  My hair looked and felt really nice.  I went to a social event in a smoke-filled bar, but my hair still smelled fresh and clean afterward.  Read more…

An Everyday Educational Game

As we walked along our neighborhood’s main street this afternoon, my four-year-old son asked me about a strange-looking contraption on the sidewalk.  I explained that it’s for the safe, sanitary disposal of cigarette butts.  Sadly, Nicholas knows all about cigarettes, even though nobody in our family smokes them, because in our urban habitat we routinely see people smoking and butts scattered over every outdoor surface.  Before he could talk, he was pointing and gasping in shock at smokers dropping burning things on the ground and just walking away.

Today, after completing his inspection of the contraption, Nicholas was about to resume walking when he demanded, “Well, if that’s the place to put cigarettes, then what’s that doing there?!”  A butt lay on the sidewalk less than six feet away. Read more…

Really Only Very Small

This is one of the simplest yet most profound parenting tips I’ve heard:
When your child is driving you absolutely insane,
and you wish he’d just get with the program and act like a civilized human being,
and you’re sick and tired of his getting in the way of all the very important things you need to get done,
and he’s making the most aggravating noise you’ve ever heard,
and you’re beginning to understand how it is some people throw a child against a wall,
Just take a moment to really look at your child and see how small he is, how soft and fragile and new, how inexperienced in coping with the stresses of life.  Why, just a few years ago, he didn’t even exist!  It’s really not so surprising that a brief delay in his acquisition of raisins strikes him as a great tragedy, or that his feelings overwhelm his polite communication abilities.  A problem that looks small to you looks very big to such a small person. Read more…

Eat More Kale!

It’s Works-for-Me Wednesday!

Kale is an affordable, nutritious vegetable that many people know only as the garnish on restaurant plates–and based on my observations while washing dishes in a restaurant, 99% of people receiving a kale garnish don’t eat it.  I grew up knowing kale as a notorious vegetable used by my maternal grandmother’s family, seasoned with cloves and cayenne pepper and cooked “until the wallpaper peels,” to frighten away people unworthy of joining our family.

Then we got a farm share, which has blessed us with approximately 7 pounds of kale a year since 2000, and I started to figure out new ways of eating kale.  Now it’s a staple of our diet, and I actually buy it on purpose when we run out of frozen kale in the late winter!  Kale is quite low in oxalic acid, an acid which can inhibit your absorption of minerals from food and can aggravate kidney stones.  (Spinach has much more oxalic acid.)  Kale is very high in Vitamin K, which is good for most people but can be dangerous to people with excessive blood clotting.  It’s also got a lot of Vitamins A and C, manganese, and copper. Read more…

Toaster Oven Tip

A standard square cake pan, pie pan, or bread pan may fit into your toaster-oven.

I can’t believe I never thought of this before!  Somehow, I had gotten the idea that the reason toaster-ovens often come with their own pan and the reason special toaster-oven pans are sold is that pans designed for regular ovens are too big or somehow don’t work.  I never tried.  Even after we looked everywhere for a toaster-oven pan that didn’t have non-stick coating, then accepted a gift set of non-stick toaster-oven pans that when heated make a terrible smell that gives me a headache, still I didn’t think of trying any of our regular pans in the toaster-oven until just a few weeks ago!

Veggie burgers, pizza, French fries, breaded fish, oily leftovers, and Ten-minute Tofu cook just fine in any plain old metal pan that fits into the toaster-oven.  If anything, the plain pans seem less likely than the non-stick ones to get spots of burned food that won’t scrub off.  I am amazed!

Ten-minute Tofu

This is a really easy way to make a tasty main dish to accompany whatever you have on hand.  It has its own flavor, somewhat similar to chicken nuggets, and because the flavor is unevenly distributed it’s more interesting to eat, I think.

For one serving, you will need:
10 strips of tofu about 1/8″ x 1″ x 2″
about 2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast flakes (huh?)
about 2 tsp. barbecue sauce

Place tofu on clean towel, fold towel over it, and press gently to remove excess water.

Spread yeast on a plate, about 1/8″ deep over an area large enough to lay the tofu strips side-by-side.  Drizzle sauce onto yeast. 

Lay tofu strips on saucy yeast and press down.  Flip them over and press again.  Lay them in an oiled baking pan with the first side (the one with more sauce) facing up.  Alternatively, you can put them on top of some other food you are reheating, such as leftover Potato-Turnip Thing.

Bake at 375F for about 10 minutes or until edges crisp.  (Use a toaster-oven if making a small number of servings.)

I got this general idea for tofu flavoring from Passionate Vegetarian by Crescent Dragonwagon: One of her tofu recipes calls for yeast flakes and barbecue sauce, among other ingredients, and when Daniel made it last year it was delicious but didn’t come out the way he was expecting–the crust came off and settled into blobs in the pan, and the tofu was not very crispy–so we didn’t make it again.  Last night, confronted with a desire for a “good dinner”, a three-year-old who only wanted to eat raisin bran, a partner sick in bed who only wanted soup, a pack of tofu nearing its expiration date, and a jar of leftover Potato-Turnip Thing, I was inspired to try the same flavoring with a much simpler preparation method.  Yum!  I will make this again!