Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Cooking Green- Part 1

I meant to do all this on Monday, but I've had a few things come up lately and they needed to be dealt with at that moment. Hopefully things have worked themselves out, but if they don't, I haven't gone away. I ask for prayers for some friends of mine who are going through some major problems. I won't give details out of respect to their privacy, but they need all the prayers the world can produce.

That being said, I will write this backwards (Tuesday first then Monday). First the review: Cooking Green by Kate Heyhoe

It's an excellent book. Mostly it talks about energy consumption of cooking, the energy consumption to produce and transport food, and water conservation.

The book can be broken into two parts: discussions on how to cook using the most efficiency for each food item and recipes that put these principals to use.

Chapters are:
1) A Cookprint, Ecovore, and a Scientist Walk into a Kitchen-where she discusses the physics behind cooking...meaning heat transfer and heat capacity and that sort of thing (my husband would love this book but he declined the offer to look at it, based on what I've told him the science is correct, did I mention that he has a degree in physics?)

2) Where you cook: greening your kitchen- discusses the efficiency of the refrigerator, freezer, washing what you cook and the dishes, what small appliances are good for the "cookprint", and even how to green your grilling

3) Ovens: Improving your mileage- discusses how to make the most of your oven which is actually the biggest fuel consumer of all cooking areas

4) Green Flames: Cooktop Cooking- discusses how to get the most from cooking on the stove including tips on pre-soaking, using the same hot pot to cook another item, and using residual heat to cook (which is also applied in the oven chapter)

5)Frying: Fast and Fuel efficient- discusses all types of frying and is a big proponent of the wok

6) Cook Ware and Fuel efficiency- which discusses how to get the most out of what you use from pots and pans to pressure cookers and bake ware

7) What to buy: a cook's guide to green basics- discusses what types of food are good buys like shelf stable products, can or jar goods, and the downers of buying frozen as well as what you would normally expect from a green book about buying local and organic

8) Energy efficient ingredients- discusses how much fuel and water it takes to raise a cow that becomes your burger vs. the veggie on your plate and gives good alternatives such as using different meats (chickens take less energy to raise) and paring down the amount of meat used in a recipe. I love the fact the author, who is not a vegetarian, includes information for those who do eat meat but want to do so in a more green manner. Many books that I've come across are pro-vegetarian and over-look the omnivores.

9) Waste Not: At home, in stores, and in restaurants- Ever go into a grocery store and think "Gee, they must use a lot of electricity to keep those open refrigerators the right temperature." Well they do. Now it's becoming a trend to have grocery stores with closed refrigeration. It's also trendy to dine at restaurants that don't use table linens and don't automatically give you a glass of water.

Other chapters listed more as sections include:
Saving the Planet: One Cook at a Time
About the Recipes: Cooking the New Green Basics Way
Small Bites, Appetizers, and Soups
Main Courses with Meat, Fish, or Foul
Meat Free Mains n' Grains
Vegetable Sides and Salads
Breads and Sweets

And of course I know that a book is a well written resource when the author and editors include an index, which this book has.

I'll say it again, it's an awesome book. The science is sound, and the principals are easy to follow. The author, herself, said that in writing the book she became more greener. Which lends itself to the mantra, "start slow." I view greening your life like taking up running. You can't expect to run ten miles as soon as you walk out your door. You have to build to it and train your body to get used to it. This book gives a lot of ideas in that direction. She doesn't say "don't ever." Rather she explains why some things should be used sparingly in order to be greener and other green types of cooking can be built up towards. In fact, she's the first author that I've heard say not to automatically get rid of your Teflon, but rather suggested phasing it out and even going to a thrift store to refresh an old stainless or cast iron pot or pan. She understands that not all people can immediately become green cooks but that the process should be done in steps.

It's also well written, easy to follow, and easy to flip through. There are very few "scientists say" and "studies show." I don't think there is actually. Mostly she quotes new sources and green organizations. She actually cites her sources. Again, a great book for the going green mom.

Oh, I haven't tried any of the recipes. I've only flipped through them. She offers a variety of cooking styles like Asian and Southwestern cuisine. Unfortunately, it's not a cookbook so there is more like an overview of styles to help get you started on tweaking your own recipes. Perhaps she will write a green cookbook. She has written or co-authored a few cookbooks already, but none of them are devoted to being green.

And the second part will discuss some of the green tips that I found interesting in the book.

Authors note: Due to time constraints, I'm unable to perform a thorough edit. I apologize for the bad misspelling and grammar. If you can't understand something, please let me know.

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