Tag Archives: earth day

Spiced From The Strip

17 Apr

Dinner was Strip District-inspired last night.

If you’re not from Pittsburgh, you are probably asking yourself what racy, scandalous inspiration that is.

The Strip District is a wonderful area which connects to downtown Pittsburgh.  It’s called “the Strip” because its just a little “strip” of property that runs parallel to the river.  It’s actually the historic location of one of Andrew Carnegie’s first steel mills, ALCOA aluminum production HQ, and Westinghouse’s first factory to product air breaks.  I just love history.  At the turn of the century, the Strip become the center of produce in Pittsburgh.  The city’s main train station runs through the area, so produce merchants were able to get fresh fruits and veggies through easily accessible channels.  Today, the Strip has changed a lot, but its heartbeat is still the same.  It’s now home to many ethnic grocery stores, a destination for fresh produce, meats, cheese, and pasta.  There are so many little niche restaurants and cafes and bakeries, that you can get lost there for hours on the weekends.

We ventured down there on Monday morning, before I reported for duty at the laundry facility, to visit a novelty toy wholesaler named Mike Feinberg’s.  We had to buy prizes to give the big kids at the Great Cloth Diaper Change on Saturday.  Changin’ Time is in charge of kids games and activities!  Just across the street is one of my favorite places: Penzeys Spices.

Penzeys

I had accrued 4 coupons for free or discounted spices, so I had to stop for a spice haul.

Next door to Penzeys is a gourmet coffee dealer called Prestogeorge Coffee Roasting Company, a company which was founded locally in the 1960s and eventually found its home in the Strip.

Prestogeorge

When you walk in the door, the smells which lured you in from the sidewalk are amazing.  The walls are lined with interesting and rare blends of coffee beans and teas, biscotti, baked goods, deli meats, and all things delicious.

Prestogeorge2

We were just stopping in for some tea, but I could have spent hours looking at all the different blends.

So – what ended up in dinner last night, you ask?

The featured spice at Penzeys this month is called Berbere, a fiery Ethiopian spice blend.  Because I subscribe to their catalog, I received a coupon this month to try it for free!  You can order it online or find it in the store for $4.39.  We love spicy food, so we had to try it out.  I used it as a rub on chicken.

Berbere

At Prestogeorge, they had been sampling something called “Caribbean dip.”  We liked the sample and are constantly looking for new spicy items,  so we bought it.  When we got home, we realized that it was a little bit too mayo-based to really use as a dip.  However, I thought it would be excellent to use as a spicy breading base for the chicken, so I brushed some on!

CaribbeanDip

Then, I lightly dusted the chicken with Panko.

ChickenBefore

And baked it for about an hour at 350F.  When it was done, I topped it with just a dab of the dip and served it.

ChickenAfter

It was seriously SOOOOO good.  And spicy!  Like, I served it with celery spicy.  A yummy entree which supported two local business. 🙂

Don’t forget to enter my Earth Week Giveaway over here.  Find out how you can get a second giveaway entry if you all ready like SOLE for the Soul on Facebook ♥

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Earth Week Giveaway!!

16 Apr

It’s Earth Week – the week leading up to Earth Day on April 22nd.

Do you have anything fun for planned to help your local community?

Start composting
Commit to recycling
Pick up trash in your neighborhood
Plant a tree
Bike or walk instead of drive
Talk to people about climate change
Conserve energy – use cold water to do your laundry, hang clothing to dry, shut off lights!
Use cloth diapers
Reuse instead of create refuse
Campaign for green initiatives

You don’t have to save the world, you just have to do one or two things. If everyone does one or two things, that DOES add up to change. And when people start seeing change, it makes them want to see MORE change.

One of the biggest changes that I’ve made in the last year is embracing the idea of “reuse.” After starting a cloth diaper service with my family, it helped me put things into perspective. Disposable diapers are the perfect example of planned obsolescence: this describes a product which was produced and manufactured with the intention of it having limited use. It is produced so that you have to throw it away and buy a new one. Disposable diapers are used one time and then dumped into a landfill with BILLIONS of other diapers. The millions and millions of resources and dollars that go into producing disposables each year is literally a waste. Reusable diapers (aka cloth diapers) are produced so that they can be washed and reused over and over again. They use less resources. The contain fewer harmful materials. They lessen a family’s carbon footprint with every reuse.

So that got me thinking about what other stuff I throw away. If you look through your garbage can right now, I can guarantee the majority of what’s in there is packaging. Packaging from stuff you buy, stuff you eat, stuff that comes with your clothes and shoes, just stuff. Just packaging. In 2011, I was buying ziplock baggies almost every time I went to the grocery store. They were the easiest thing to dump snacks and lunches into. I used them to organize things: paperclips, change, nuts and bolts, nails, nail polish, hair ties, etc. In 2012, I really started thinking about how much stuff we throw away, where it comes from, and how we can cut down. It occurred to me that our main issue is packaging.

I started collecting containers of all shapes and sizes. I knew I wanted all of my food to be stored in BPA-free containers. I washed out glass jars from pasta sauces and apple sauces and pickles, boiled them all, and stuck them in my pantry. I invested in some BPA-free glass Snapware containers and I recycled all the Gladware and miscellaneous containers I had collected which weren’t BPA-free. I cringe every time I see someone heat up leftovers in one of those plastic containers that Chinese food comes in. That low grade of plastic is full of chemicals which break down before we even use them. It leaches into our food, ESPECIALLY when its heated in a microwave. Not for me.

So here’s a chance for you to make a positive change in your food storage.

BPA-FREE CONTAINER GIVEAWAY (courtesy of Mira Brands)

Mira2

Mira Brands has given me the opportunity to test out their new line of stainless steel, food-grade, BPA-free containers.  I used them all week long for my lunches and for storing some yummy fruit at home.  Both of these thumbs are pointing to the sky, people.  They kept out the smells, kept my food fresh, were conveniently sized, and durable.  I dropped one which was full of strawberries and cottage cheese, and that lid stayed put!   If you’re looking for something larger, there are also larger ones, which are available through their Amazon store) Just knowing that they are free of toxic materials like BPA, phthalates, PVC, and lead made me feel confident in my container.

Mira is giving one lucky Sole For The Soul (SFTS) reader their own set of stainless steel containers!  The giveaway begins right now and runs until Sunday at 5:00 p.m. EST.  Then, a winner will be chosen by random draw.

Here’s how to enter:

1.  Leave a comment on this post about something awesome you are going to do for Earth Day/Earth Week.

2.  Like SOLE For The Soul on Facebook by clicking here.  If you all ready like SFTS on Facebook, leave a separate comment telling me you are all ready a fan.

The winner will be announced on Monday.  Good luck!!  🙂

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.

Earth Market 2012 Recap

28 Apr

I must say – I’m a little disappointed with the lack of media coverage of Earth Day/Earth Week this year.  I have barely heard anything on Twitter and if the news sources ain’t tweeting it – they ain’t writing it.  This is the ONLY thing I saw regarding it:

Changin’ Time and delaCueva Soap Company teamed up this week and attended Earth Market 2012, which was sponsored by Mayor Luke’s Office of Sustainability.  Mayor Luke failed to make an appearance though, which was disappointing as well.  I remember him giving a great speech years ago when ZipCar was kicking off in Pittsburgh (I even signed up!)  The Zip Car girls were repping it anyway, despite Luke’s absence:

Anyway, in Market Square (which is beautiful – pictures really can’t communicate the vibe or urban beauty of the place), we sold our natural, locally handmade soaps and cremes and talking people up about cloth diapering.

Even though it had been cancelled 3/5 days it had been planned due to “rain,” I felt that it was a success and look forward to the Market Square farmer’s market this summer.  Only Wednesday was nice weather, so on Friday I was too bundled up to get many photos…but here’s a quick little slideshow:

Lil' Red hanging out

There was a guy talking about converting vehicles to run off of vegetable oil and gTech’s program of reclaiming lands to fuel sustainable development – very cool stuff.

This woman was weaving bags out of plastic shopping bags on a loom.  She even let me try it, which was my 1st experience weaving!  I don’t think I’d be a very good weaver…but her bags are beautiful.

They were giving away trees to plant, for Arbor Day, but mine went directly into the compost pile because I HATE pine trees.  Sorry Western PA, but I think we have enough to last us.

Anything that involved a person in a giant costume – Red was there.

If you’re interested in learning more about CFL light bulbs and why they are a good option for your family – here is a good resource.

On Friday – there were more vendors/exhibitors/nonprofits, which you’d think would be a good thing.  But the weather was crappy and there was a worker’s union going on that reminded me of a Vietnam protest, so it kind of sucked.

This made me happy though, its the PRC Litterbug who was having a dance party in the middle of Mkt Square:

Oh, and just as a WTF Friday kind of moment – why was the Pennsylvania Resource Council handing out free bottles of Dasani bottled water?  I really don’t care that they are made with a higher percentage of plant materials and less plastic.  They still go into landfills because PEOPLE DON’T RECYCLE CONSISTENTLY.  I can’t even tell you how many bottles I saw in garbage cans, not recycling bins (located directly next to the garbage can).  HELLO – hand out reusable BPA-free bottles and teach people to REUSE items instead of OVER-CONSUMING.  You would think that a progressive organization like the PRC (which I attend their workshops and usually support) would have rethought that strategy a little bit.

Whatever, I took the free reusable shopping bag and gave them a smug smile while lecturing the poor girl manning the table.

It was an exhausting day for some, obviously…but fun and it was nice talking to pro-cloth or questioning-cloth peeps.

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