Posts tagged "kitchen"

How can I reuse or recycle an hand coffee mill/grinder?

We’ve had an email from good friend of Recycle This Petra:

When cleaning some cupboards, I found an old hand coffee mill. I never use it for coffee beans, but could you think of another purpose for this mill. Something to grind for kitchen use? Or something totally different?

All ideas are welcome.

My ex had a very basic hand grinder for coffee and it took *forever* to grind enough beans for a single cup of coffee so if it’s anything like that one, I wouldn’t advocate using it to grind any large quantities of things or anything that needs to be very fine. I suspect more modern/expensive grinders are more efficient though and probably give more control over the final ground size – I’ve never tried it but could they be used for making rice flour or chickpea (gram) flour?

(If you’re not going to make use of it, the usual “pass it on” rule & routes apply: someone might want it for grinding coffee. I regularly see this type of thing on the “household” shelves of local charity/thrift shops or at car boot sales etc – they’re often sold without original packaging/instructions as long as they’re in good, clean condition.)

Any other suggestions for things to grind in it aside from coffee? Or other reuses/recycling ideas?

Upcycling leather jackets into shoes, pill bottles into knitting spools & an old kitchen into art work

Some more news/links from my inbox that I thought may interest you guys:

  • Matt from Mes Footwork has been in touch to tell us about their new range of upcycled trainers: “We make shoes in Newcastle from recycled leather jackets (or any other item of clothing). The jackets are usually bought in charity shops, or people can send us their own. A cycle of recycling, giving back, ethical production and fashion.” Good to see upcycling – and ethical shoe production in the UK.
  • Annette emailed to say “I have recently posted an article called How To Make A Recycled Asprin Bottle Knitting Spool. The article is a short tutorial on converting a small plastic bottle into an old fashioned knitting spool. I believe your readers may enjoy learning the technique.” I believe you guys may enjoy learning about it too ;)
  • The wonderful Alison Bailey Smith is working on a new project at the moment – “de-junk, re-junk”:

    We are about to embark on kitchen extension which means demolishing the old 70’s utility room and gutting the kitchen, so I have been tidying and removing what I can in preparation for the building work…coincidently I was asked again by my two helpful guys seconded to Wirral Council to organise and exhibition for them (I helped with one last year) so have used my de-junking to provide materials to artists from the networking event I run “With These Hands” and wider afield in Merseyside and told them to go forth and create for the show. We plan to display the work on hollow doors and cabinets transformed into plinths etc.

    She is also currently working with the local Mayor’s office to recreate the Mayor’s chain and badge of office from recycled materials. More info and pics on her blog.

How can I reduce electricity wastage in the kitchen?

Our “how can I reduce this?” questions are often about how to reduce physical waste but it’s important to stop wasting power too – and I’ll like to hear your tips & helpful hints on this: how can I reduce electricity wastage in the kitchen?

Everyone knows not to boil too much water in the kettle – just what’s needed – and most people know to keep their fridge coils free from dust to make them more efficient. We’ve also touched on this topic in the past when talking about using ovens efficiently when baking and about reducing energy usage in the house in general – and we’ve had some great advice. For example:

  • Bellen, Rob and chicgeek all recommended using spare oven space to bake potatoes or other root veg for future use; Bellen also suggested roast chicken parts for lunches & chicgeek stews.
  • damnthebroccoli suggested planning baking to coincide with other run-of-the-mill oven usage so it’s only on once.
  • Bobbie urged us to put lids on a pot, use crock pots/slow cookers and in winter, open the oven door after baking so the warm air escapes into the house rather than being “extracted” outside.
  • kittykat advocated using “ice boxes” in the winter – allowing you to turn off your fridge for weeks at a time.
  • And Alice has said that if she does accidentally boil a bit too much water, she puts it in a thermos flask to keep it warm so it doesn’t require as much energy to boil again.

All great ideas – do you have anything else to add?

How can I reuse or recycle old kitchen fat?

Since we do what we’re told by our water company, we don’t pour meat fat from cooking down the sink – we scrape/pour it into an old plastic container instead. The gross pot full in the picture is a combination of lots of fat from lots of different meals for the last couple of months, ick.

When we started our collection, we thought we’d use it to make bird feeders this winter – the fat is solid at room temperature, let alone at the minus-something temperatures we’ve got at the moment, so we were going to fill it with nuts and seeds to make fat balls for the local wildlife. But then I read that you shouldn’t use reused meat fat to make fat balls – because it’s prone to smearing and can cause them problems when cleaning their feathers. Does anyone know if this is true?

If it is, shucks, there goes our reuse idea. Is there anything else we can do with it instead? Are any particular fats (eg, bacon fat) more reusable?

(Incidentally, the bird feeding stuff fits into something I wrote about on The Really Good Life yesterday – asking about alternatives to shop-bought bird feed for wild birds — do pop over and read it if you feed birds!)

How can I use my oven more efficiently during baking?

Yesterday, over on my new growing/cooking/making/frugal blog The Really Good Life, I discussed my love affair with slow rise/no knead bread. It’s really frickin’ ace – it doesn’t take much effort, reduces our food waste, is cheap in itself & stops us spending money in other ways too – and most importantly, tastes great. However, at the moment, we’re not making the best use of our oven while we’re baking it – meaning we’re wasting energy and therefore money.

The recipe needs the oven to be hot (230C/450F/Gas mark 8) and in addition to the 40-50 minute cooking time, it needs to be well pre-heated (the cast iron casserole dish needs to be sizzling or the bread will stick) – so a lot of heat for a long time. We don’t generally eat enough bread to warrant making multiple loaves at once so I try to use the other space for other things. I’ve made scones/biscuits a few times and we nearly always have egg shells that need baking before crushing & returning to the chickens as grit.

Any other suggestions for things I could cook/bake alongside the bread? It’s not a huge oven and the casserole for the bread takes up quite a bit of space but there is a spare rack for things no more than 6cm/3″ high, a narrow strip next to the casserole, and the oven floor too.

(We usually bake mid-morning so we have cooled fresh bread for sandwiches at lunchtime. Since I’m usually working then, I don’t have a lot of time to make things from scratch and also it’s not a suitable time to make things that need to be eaten immediately after cooking. The oven is too hot for slow-cooking anything for lunch/dinner. Any suggestions would be welcome but suggestions taking these points into account would be especially great!)