Thursday, October 31, 2013

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Carving jack-o'-lanterns has always been a Halloween favorite of mine, but until quite recently, I didn't realize what a delectable delight the pumpkin seeds themselves could be. Every October with many a squish and a plop, I would send the innards straight to the compost and miss out on a most delicious opportunity. So after carving our pumpkins this year, Kim and I scrupulously saved the seeds and had a go at roasting them. Below is the recipe that we tried; we found the process to be fairly quick and simple with an end product that is very tasty and rather addictive.

2 cups fresh pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Garlic powder
Cayenne pepper
Cajun seasoning

After carving your jack-o'-lanterns, separate the seeds from the pulp and place into a strainer. (NOTE: A medium-sized pumpkin will yield about one cup of seeds.) Thoroughly rinse the seeds, and spread them out on a clean towel to air dry. When the seeds have dried, melt the butter in a large bowl and sprinkle in the seasonings to taste. Next, toss in the pumpkin seeds and mix them around until they are evenly coated with the seasoned butter. Spread the seeds out in single layer on a cookie sheet or pizza pan, and cook for 45 minutes at 300 °F. Stir every 15 minutes, and remove from oven when golden brown. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Everyone can benefit from composting, whether you maintain a full-size vegetable garden, a flower garden, or if you simply play host for a few household plants (like a kitchen herb garden). For those who have neither, the little effort required to maintain some potted plants can help beautify the home as well as contribute to a healthy interior environment: POST on this coming soon.   

The Environmental Protection Agency states that compostable materials make up 27 percent of the US’s solid waste stream. Even though the materials themselves are not necessarily harmful to the environment, the methods used to transport and dispose of them are. Saving the time and energy it takes to dispose of 1/4th of our country’s waste and then manipulating it into a useful substance is a profoundly sustainable maneuver.   

Composting is the natural process in which organic materials decompose, break down, and return vital nutrients back into the soil. Continually farming a piece of land can lead to the depletion of necessary nutrients, and consequently crops can suffer. Thus, correctly producing compost eliminates the need to purchase chemically based fertilizers and will ultimately enhance the quality of your crops.    

Essentially, all one needs to start composting is a place to store the heap, water to assist the microorganisms, oxygen to allow for aerobic decomposition, and the compostable materials themselves. 

From the yard, we can use materials such as grass trimmings, wood chips, sawdust, leaves, hay, straw, animal manure (not including cat or dog feces), and other yard trimmings.

There are also a whole host of household materials including cardboard rolls, clean paper, coffee grounds and filters, cotton/wool rags, dryer lint, eggshells, fireplace ashes, fruits and vegetables, hair and fur, nut shells, shredded newspaper, and tea bags.

·         Make sure that your compost has lots of carbon (brown materials), some nitrogen (green materials), water, and air. Rotating your compost pile every so often is a good way to ensure that all layers are receiving adequate airflow.
·         Worms are friends when it comes to composting. This process is only possible thanks to the help of microorganisms and small invertebrates who break down the organic materials.
·         Using a method of your choice, catch the excess liquid (a.k.a. - compost tea) that comes off of your compost heap. This tea is great for simultaneously watering and fertilizing your plants.
·         TreeHugger recently posted an article explaining how a can of Cola may help to jumpstart your compost heap. 


Green Logic is a fantastic source for products that are made of either recycled or compostable materials.

THIS is a great hub for links and articles concerning all aspects of composting.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

CFL’s VS Incandescent Bulbs

For well over a century we’ve been using incandescent lights to illuminate the interior of our homes and our surrounding properties. Though these Edisonian bulbs have faithfully advanced technology, brightened the nebulous hours, and provided us with light to live by, the time has come to integrate their energy efficient counterparts, the CFLs.

A CFL, or compact florescent light, is a bulb made of glass tubing filled with gas and small amounts of mercury vapor. Electricity passes through the bulb exciting the mercury molecules and causing them to emit ultraviolet light. This UV light is invisible to the human eye until it comes into contact with the colored coating of the bulb.

An incandescent light, on the other hand, consists of a glass bulb with a thin, tungsten filament coiled inside. Electricity heats up the filament which then emits visible light. Unfortunately, most of the electricity drawn by an incandescent bulb is wasted as a heat byproduct. The filament must reach a high temperature before it can emit the right amount of light. This means that only 5% to 10% of the energy used is actually converted into light.

Since CFLs don’t have to physically heat up a component like incandescent bulbs do, they require much less electricity, and are therefore much more energy efficient. In fact, CFLs only require 15 Watts or less to produce the same amount of light as a 60 Watt incandescent bulb. In other words, CLFs only use a quarter of the energy that their counterparts do. Furthermore, since CFLs aren’t under the same physical stresses that incandescent bulbs are, they tend to last longer, about ten times longer (five years or more) in fact.

If utilized on a large scale, CFL efficiency and longevity would alleviate several environmental strains.  For one, using much less energy with CFL’s would significantly lessen pollution from power producing sources.  Similarly, due to durability, the market would require less bulbs, less frequently. This means that there would be a drop in pollution from manufacturing sites as well as less waste entering landfills.      

Though energy efficient and durable, some uncertainties with CFLs still linger in the minds of consumers. Cost is always an important factor to consider, especially during hard economic times. A single CFL bulb can cost $3, whereas an incandescent bulb only costs 50ȼ on average. Though they cost more upfront, CFLs pay for themselves in about six months, and will save $40 or more in electricity savings over the course of its life.

There is also a notable health concern with CFL’s due to the small amount of mercury, a toxic substance, which they contain. Each CFL bulb contains about 4 milligrams of mercury and should be handled carefully if broken. However, even if every CFL used were broken, incandescent bulbs would still contribute about 4.5 more milligrams of mercury pollution than their counterparts because of their extra energy requirements. Lucky, CFL’s are fairly rugged and facilities are in place to dispose of them safely. HERE are instructions on how to properly cleanup a broken CFL.      

Recent legislation suggests that it may be difficult to purchase incandescent bulbs in the U.S. in the near future. However, as with all legislation, we need to empower ourselves with knowledge of why the change is being made and the positive and negative effects that may come about as a result. In summation, switching out incandescent bulbs for CFLs will hopefully bring forth these positive results: less waste entering the landfills, less pollution (especially mercury) from power producing sources, less pollution from manufacturing facilities, and money savings for us all in the long term.

HERE is a excellent site that can help locate CFL recycling facilities near you!

And, for those interested in purchasing CFL’s, ENERGY STAR has some great information and a wide selection of products.