One thing my younger brother loves to do when he can get a crowd together (and parents to pay for it) is make sushi. He sets up his bamboo mats, gets his rice cooking, sharpens his Cutco knives, and he is ready to go. I always envied his skill until I realized that most anyone can make sushi, there’s no special gift involved. True sushi chefs train for years to learn how to roll the nori, but making tasty sushi at home is more about having great ingredients (and a sharp knife – this cannot be underestimated) than years of training. And the best ingredients are usually organic.
…is hard. Really, really hard. And expensive. And difficult, although I suppose that’s redundant.
I set out a few days back to convert an old family recipe to all organic ingredients. I figured it would be easy – just buy the organic version of each ingredient and — voila! — beautiful brownies. Well, they were beautiful, and delicious, but it wasn’t so simple.
As far as I can tell, most families have at least one recipe that defines them. Ask anyone in the clan, and they can repeat it without hesitation. Most members who spend time in the kitchen know the whole recipe by heart. My mother’s family recipe is for brownies, which we (and friends craving for a fix) lovingly refer to as “Byck Brownies.” They’re simple, but gooey and delicious, with a topping that makes them special. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I now share them with you. This is the first time they’ve ever been converted to all-organic ingredients (well, when they were first being made years ago, they were probably organic without knowing it). Share them with your loved ones. Or share them with people who hate you – they’ll be your new best friends in no time.
I discovered this in the grocery store the other day, and I was absolutely fascinated. Apparently, Kraft has been making an organic (USDA Certified) version of their classic macaroni and cheese since 2007. It came at an increased price, compared to its cheap friend the blue box, of about $1.80. I know Annie’s has been doing the organic macaroni and cheese box thing for years, but Kraft is different. The average non-organic buying mom isn’t going to suddenly start buying Annie’s (although their bunny is pretty cute), but they might be tempted to buy an organic version of their kids’ favorite that sits on the same shelf. That’s why I feel this is important, because the key to spreading organics is not to preach to the choir, it is to make being organic as easy for busy people as possible. And nothing is easier than Macaroni and Cheese.
So I’ve been at this plastic-free thing for a couple of days now, and I have to say – it’s really hard. Like, impossible hard. But I think that through my struggles, I’ve discovered what plastic-free February is all about: realizing how much of our lives is literally (and litter-ally) wrapped in plastic. I tried to use my glass tupperware to store leftovers, only to realize they had plastic lids. I went to buy fresh vegetables, thinking about how good I was being, only to realize that I have to use a plastic bag to bundle green beans, apples, and more. Buying anything involved using plastic in the form of my credit card. I’m not sure how the rest of the month will go, if I’ll stick with the plan or run screaming away from it. But I do think that whatever happens, I have become more mindful of how much plastic I consume every single day.