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Idea or Tip?

We are looking for tips on living sustainably, living well, living in the spirit of innBrooklyn.

From March 31st to May 1st, of all the tips submitted, one contributor will be selected at random for the grand prize.

The prize is a picnic pack – represented at left — that consists of a complete picnic-set-for-two of the most gorgeous compostable dishware by Wasara, a set of three jars of Talia’s homemade pickled yumminess and some hand sewn linen napkins so you can dine in style!

We’ll announce the winner on May 1st, so you have a month — and multiple posts are welcome if you have more than one idea to share.  We’ll catalogue and compile the ideas and do some posts to share them with you!

Please note that if the winner does not reside in the US we cannot ship the jars, but will ship other items.

To read more about this giveaway go to Happy Centendiem: and our first Giveaway!

-Talia and Noerah

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26 Comments leave one →
  1. March 31, 2010 9:57 pm

    My tip (just utilized at my house): Clean your cast-iron pan with a handful of Kosher salt and a wooden spoon. When you’ve dredged up all the gunk with the salt, dump the dirty salt and take a damp sponge or rag (make sure not soapy) and swipe the pan clean of any remaining salt and goo.

  2. lbfromla permalink
    March 31, 2010 10:15 pm

    Submitted via email:
    I am starting to save the inner bags in cereal boxes. if I am very careful and dont tear them they can be useful for freezer bags, sandwich bags etc. they are such a nice strong crisp material.

  3. Sarah permalink
    April 1, 2010 6:27 am

    I use cilantro in cooking quite a bit, but unfortunately not enough to prevent the inevitable: several days after purchasing the cilantro I go to the fridge to take it out only to find a slimy, inedible mess….Well! I have discovered that if you wrap the cilantro in a papertowel (i don’t wash it first to prevent any extra moisture) and put it in a small plastic bag (the one is comes in, or i use roti bags that i always keep and reuse), the cilantro will last fairly well for over a week. I think the papertowel absorbs some of the moisture.

    • April 1, 2010 6:40 pm

      I haven’t tried it with cilantro, but it works well with fresh basil: finely chop it and put it into ice cube trays, add water to top, and then freeze. Transfer to a zip top bag, and add to soups or other liquid based recipes! May be worth trying with cilantro…

  4. April 1, 2010 6:38 pm

    One baking tip I have is that I often reuse parchment paper. Depending on what I’m baking on it, I can usually reuse several times before having to toss it out. I don’t worry about germs or anything because the oven heat takes care of it!

  5. Denise K permalink
    April 1, 2010 6:41 pm

    If you love using garlic, but hate having to peel/smash/chop up them every time you need to use them for cooking, here’s what you can do:

    1. Take an airtight glass jar
    2. Dice up a few heads of garlic into small bits
    3. Add a handful of salt over the garlic bits
    4. Sweep it all into the jar and add olive oil (or your oil of choice) till it just covers the top of your garlic pile.
    5. Refrigerate and just scoop out a spoonful or two every time you need to cook!

    Your jar will last you for quite some time and you only need to deal with garlicky smelling hands when you need to replenish your empty jar! 🙂

  6. April 1, 2010 8:53 pm

    Instead of rinse agent in the dishwasher and expensive chemicals to deodorize the washing machine, we run each with a couple tablespoons of white vinegar. Also, instead of dryer sheets we throw a tennis ball in with the load of clothes — does the trick without the chemical fragrances! So simple.

    Cheers,

    *Heather*

  7. April 2, 2010 7:05 pm

    I love to reuse old lemon halves. After juicing the lemons, I reuse them by dumping 1 half in the sink – garbage disposal. Grind it up along with HOT water. The chopping of the lemon cleans up the grinder grease as well as de-odorizes the grinder. I always have a clean smelling sink 🙂

  8. April 3, 2010 8:49 am

    If your microwave looks anything like mine (aka some kind of crime scene), then you know what a chore cleaning it can be. But it’s easy to do without any harsh chemicals. Just take half a lemon and put it in a microwave-safe dish with 1/4 cup water. Put the lot into the microwave and run at full power for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. E voila! The steam and citrus make the interior easily wiped or gently scrubbed. Repeat as necessary for particularly stubborn or crusty spots.

  9. Jasmin permalink
    April 3, 2010 1:46 pm

    You know when you use Parmesan cheese and have that last super hard rind? Well, instead of tossing it chop it up and throw it into a stew/soup while your cooking it the last half hour or so, it’ll melt and mix in with the rest of your yummy goodness.

  10. melissa Wagner permalink
    April 5, 2010 11:08 pm

    I cannot claim this tip as my own, but that of a close friend. Instead of draining used bath water, she scoops it out with a bucket and uses it for flushing the toilet. (It’s a hard tip to describe without sounding slightly, or extremely weird but if you’ve never done so before, dumping a bucket of water in the toilet bowl will activate flushing.)

  11. April 5, 2010 11:54 pm

    You can take your empty egg shells and put them in water, at least enough to cover them. Let it sit for a few days and water your plants with it. I’ve only tried it on African Violets, but they love it. Compost, green waste, or whatever the shells after that.

  12. April 6, 2010 7:09 am

    These tips are so great! Thanks to everyone who has submitted them so far. I’ve already started using as many as I can in my house! Keep them coming!!

  13. April 6, 2010 9:10 am

    This is a super simple one, but good for spring when you buy asparagus… I save the heavy duty rubber bands that come on asparagus or broccoli. I don’t usually buy regular ones, and these are so much stronger anyway! I use them to reseal open bags, by wrapping the bag around (say, chocolate chips) and then securing the band around the whole works. They work great in the freezer, too.

  14. melissa Wagner permalink
    April 6, 2010 9:39 am

    During the hot & humid Chicago summers, I would brew a full pot of coffee and freeze any leftovers in ice cube trays and use it for iced coffee. No more watered-down iced coffee!

  15. April 6, 2010 8:47 pm

    I like to use cloth napkins as much as I can. Makes me feel spiffy and of course, I re-use them. When the napkins have run their course, which takes a loooong time, they turn into rags. I keep a bucket filled with all of our cloth items that can’t be r-used or donated (old clothes, sheets, towels, etc.). Every once in a while, I sit and cut them up into usable squares and store them under the sink in the kitchen for myriad uses: cleaning out the cast iron pans with salt, for example, like Kate suggested, sans the spoon, or just in place of paper towels. Sometimes I clean these rags, and sometimes they are just done, and they finally get tossed.

  16. April 8, 2010 4:34 pm

    It’s a well known tip but works really well – to clean clogged or slow shower drains fill the drain with baking soda. Pour white vinegar over baking soda and watch it bubble and foam. Pour until the baking soda looks mostly dissolved. Wait 10 minutes. Pour VERY hot water down drain to flush it all away. The soda-vinegar helps dissolve soap scum and the foaming action helps to push down any clogs. You can also add salt down the drain before you pour down the water. I think it helps with the clog-dissolving action.

  17. Becky permalink
    April 11, 2010 11:01 pm

    My favorite kitchen tip:
    For getting the inside of your favorite coffee or tea mug sparkling white again, simply pour a couple of teaspoons of salt in the mug, add a bit of water to make the salt the consistency of wet sand, then gently rub the slurry around the stained areas with your fingers. The salt acts as a mild abrasive and wipes away stains better than any heavy-duty chemical cleaner I’ve encountered.

  18. April 13, 2010 5:40 pm

    My neighbor taught me this: Instead of using part of a stick of butter to grease a pan, save the wrapping of butter and use the inside of the wrapping to grease the pan.

  19. April 14, 2010 7:28 pm

    Orange oil is great not just for as a flavoring agent but also for cleaning. It dissolves sticky kitchen grease and leaves surfaces sparkly and fresh smelling. Pour a small amount onto a rag or paper towel and then wipe away the dirt and grime. It also helps to remove sticker or label residue.

  20. April 19, 2010 12:11 am

    Some really great tips! I love the one on cleaning the microwave with a lemon; I will have to try that (as my microwave is usually pretty gross).

    One tip: I cook a lot of things that need a fine sieve (jelly, cheese, sauces, curd); instead of using several layers of cheesecloth each time, and throwing it away, I use butter muslin (which I get from New England Cheesemaking Supply http://www.cheesemaking.com/store/p/71-Butter-Muslin-for-Draining-Soft-Cheese.html).

    It’s quite strong and you can use it again & again; after use I rinse it out in scalding hot water, then just throw it in the wash with the white load. My $6 package yielded several large squares, and has lasted me more than a year now and is still going strong.

    Kaela

  21. April 19, 2010 9:13 pm

    – Save your leftover water after making pasta or steamed veggies. Let cool and use to water your potted plants. Saves water and has a lot of nutrients to give to the plants.
    – Use 1/2 pint wide-lid mason jars for all your kids’ snacks. They are so durable and no plastic.
    – Another water-saving tip: share your shower with someone you love ( wink wink )!

    E

  22. April 21, 2010 11:09 am

    I like to save my jam jars and reuse them for handmade spice blends – makes for nice little gifts for friends and family.

  23. Lisa permalink
    April 27, 2010 10:50 pm

    You can re-use vanilla beans. After you have used the bean for purpose #1, you can dry it and reuse it to make yummy vanilla sugar or add to your favourite black tea! Yum Yum.

  24. April 29, 2010 6:09 am

    Every once in a while I get organic oranges or lemons for a certain recipe. It would hurt me to bin the peel, so I always grate the peel, put it on a little plate and let it dry. When then a recipe calls for orange or lemon peel – voilà, it’s already in my cupboard then. Also, I make my own vanilla sugar: when I need real vanilla for a recipe I buy the vanilla beans, scrape them out and put the vanilla bean “shell” in a little jar, fill the jar with sugar, let it stand for a couple weeks, and then I have yummy vanilla sugar that I can use for cakes and the like.

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