Cottage Cheese

One of the things I gave up last year when I decided to reduce my use of disposable plastic was cottage cheese.  I find cottage cheese to be a healthy and convenient snack that I thoroughly enjoy.  The casein in cottage cheese is a great slow release protein, making cottage cheese an ideal bedtime snack.  However, in Huntsville only narrow-neck plastic bottles can be recycled, so cottage cheese (and yogurt) tubs end up in a landfill.

Yogurt is quite easy to make, and I posted my recipe in an earlier blog post. In fact I am making a batch of yogurt as I type this.  Last month I finally decided to tackle homemade cottage cheese. I ordered rennet from The New England Cheesemaking Supply Company, although I found out later that they do sell it locally at Earth Fare.  The first recipe I tried was from David Lebovitz.  The pictures were enticing and the recipe didn’t sound too formidable.  However, my curds and whey didn’t want to separate, and I ended up with a scant cup of cottage cheese for my labors and frustration.  Not to be thwarted that easily, I scrolled through the comments for suggestions. Near the bottom of the page, I saw the following comment:

  • By Inna on May 13, 2010 4:39 PM

    There is a much simpler method of making your own amazing cottage cheese. You don’t need any liquid rennet, or salt or heavy cream. Natural Fermentation of 2 ingredients take care of all that for you.  All you need is 1gal of milk, and 1lt of butter milk (or your own kefir), stir well, cover the pot with a lid, and let sit on your counter for 12hrs. After 12hr period, check it, the liquid should be pretty thick, do not mix or disturb it at this point. Preheat your oven to 250F, take lid off the pot, and place the pot in the oven for 2.5hrs. When done remove from oven, cover with lid, and let sit until it cools down completely, the cottage cheese should be separated from the whey, collect the cheese in to a cheese cloth, and drain all liquid. Refrigerate. Done. This type of cottage cheese, can even be processed in food processor, and it turns in to cream cheese which you can use for cheesecake or other desserts. Enjoy.

Letting milk sit out on my counter sounded a bit dicey to me, but I decided to give it a whirl.  The cottage cheese turned out fabulous!  It does take some planning, but the actual work involved is negligible.  I will warn you that cooling down completely takes 6 hours or so – I wasn’t expecting that.  I ended up with a large mason jar of whey, which will be put to good use in bread baking.

Minimal waste hotel and air travel

Traveling can be a serious challenge for those of us striving for a greener lifestyle. Just the travel itself is bad for the environment, especially flying and driving. When you drive somewhere, you generally have plenty of room to pack your own food, drinks and toiletries, and you have more choices if you decide to stop at a restaurant. The choices are much more limited with air travel, so I’ll concentrate on things I did on this business trip to minimize waste, especially disposable plastic. Please also see Beth Terry’s post on plastic-free travel for some excellent ideas.

Food/Drink

  • I packed my own lunch to eat on the plane: a sandwich and raw veggies in waxed paper bags, an apple wrapped in a cloth napkin and a small piece of dark chocolate in foil.
  • I packed snacks of homemade protein bars (in a wrap-n-mat) and almonds (in a waxed paper bag)
  • I carried a large shaker bottle that I filled with water from the drinking fountain when I got past security. The flight attendant was happy to add ice to it for me. This also allowed me to make a protein shake before my workout Friday morning.
  • During the meeting and in my room I chose to drink tap water or coffee rather than beverages packaged in plastic.
  • I packed instant oatmeal to eat for breakfast Saturday morning rather than buy breakfast in the airport or on the plane
  • My first flight was delayed, and I did need to get lunch at the connecting airport, so I chose a sandwich wrapped in paper and declined a plastic bag to put it in.
  • The only completely disposable plastic I ended up using was the K-cup from the hotel room coffee maker. I really do need at least one cup of coffee in the morning to get going, but next time I will pack some tea in the event of the hotel choosing the Keurig coffee maker.

Toiletries:

Hotel toiletries

Oh, so cute & mini! It took a lot of willpower, but I left this display intact.

My liquids

These are the contents of my quart-sized baggie, which I reuse until it falls apart. I do plan to get a truly reusable bag. The small bottle of shampoo is actually dishwashing soap, and the small black container holds my toothpaste.

My solids

These are hair pomade, shampoo, lotion, make-up remover, shaving soap, conditioner and deodorant

  • If you haven’t traveled by air in the past 10 years or so, here are the guidelines for packing liquids in your carry-on bag.
  • A small plastic container that would have otherwise ended up in a landfill is a great choice for toothpaste. This keeps you from buying a travel-sized tube that will be more wasted plastic.
  • Some brands that make solid products are Lush (the only place I’ve found solid make-up remover), One and John Masters
  • I have found solid products from many sellers at Etsy. Some of the stores I like are Garden of Francis, The Man Cave and It’s From Arizona.

Other ideas:

Going Green

A lot of hotels will give you the option of not having the sheets changed every day. I know this is mainly to save them money, but it also saves water and energy.

  • Hang up your towels and reuse them the next day. That’s what you do at home, right?
  • Turn off the lights when you leave, and keep the thermostat on a moderate setting.
  • Take the soap home to use. I put mine in the tin with my shaving soap

 

Back to the Blog

Ok, I’m back.  I don’t have any good excuse for being away for so long.  I guess I felt that I wasn’t making an impact, that my efforts weren’t making enough of a difference to even discuss.  Recently I have come to realize that we all have a small part to play, and if we all made small changes they would add up. So I’ll share my recent efforts, successes and failures in the hopes that some good can come of them.

I started composting last week using a small kitchen composter.  Maybe I am doing something wrong, but I filled it up in two days. Is that normal?  I bought another one but filled it up in two days as well.  My understanding is that the material needed to ferment for two weeks.  If anyone can share their composting knowledge I would appreciate it!  I am not a gardener but thought I could share the compost with my neighbors and my Mom.

The other thing I have started recently is a plastic tally.  Please check out my week one report on Beth Terry’s blog, My Plastic-Free Life. It was very disturbing to realize how much disposable plastic we are still using in our household.  The most disturbing thing I learned contained plastic is chewing gum!  Yuck!  I have managed to break the habit by way of natural lemon and ginger candies.

I’m going to keep this short tonight and plan to be back soon.