Friday, July 31, 2009

Non-Toxic Paints

Non-toxic paint ("low-VOC" or "no-VOC") is now an easy choice almost anyone can make in an effort to be more "green." VOCs are "volatile organic compounds" and, suffice it to say, they are not good for us. It is important to make a low- or no-VOC choice because "regular" paints off-gas for years after painting, continuing to release toxins into your family's living space. Yuck! I found this terrific link that provides information and additional links on all kinds of low- and no-VOC paints -- from the mainstream retailers (Sherwin Williams, Benjamin Moore) to the more esoteric (milk paint).

We are about (hopefully) to begin a major apartment renovation -- walls coming down and other exciting events and we are trying to make green choices as we renovate. One of the final steps of the project will, of course, be painting. I am leaning toward Mythic Paints. I love that they are very safe from both a human toxins standpoint and from an environmental perspective (read their FAQs page for more details). Plus they come in loads of absolutely gorgeous colors -- just look at the photo of my Mythic fan deck. I am having so much fun trying to choose colors. I have heard great things about Mythic from a health perspective as well as from a performance perspective. After all, we do want the paint to be healthy and apply easily and last for years.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Oh (gluten-free) Crepes!

Today, mid-afternoon, I decided that crepes were just the thing my family needed for a snack. A sane person might not have. Plus, I had Henry saying, as I whipped up the crepes, that what he really wanted was popcorn (so that became Snack, Part Deux). But I was determined that crepes were required. As I said, sanity would not have necessarily dictated crepes on a July Sunday afternoon. But we are not here to debate my sanity (and that goes for you too Cliff!).

Yesterday I mentioned my friend's blog, Well, there is a great crepes recipe there and I made it for the first time today, after eyeing it for awhile. I used tapioca flour and, since we generally don't give Henry sugar (the recipe calls for a tiny amount -- fine for most kids), I substituted a bit of agave and reduced slightly the water recommended. They worked perfectly! I was tempted to flip them a la Julia Child (having just finished reading "Julie and Julia" by Julie Powell on my Kindle, I am in a Julia Child mode, and even made baked cucumbers from Mastering the Art of French Cooking for dinner tonight) but will save the flipping for another day. I encourage anyone who wants a spectacular gluten-free dessert to whip up a batch -- the recipe is quick and easy and the results are lovely and delish. We each had a wonderful crepe (smeared with a berry puree from berries we got from our CSA this week), and then I turned to making popcorn.

We recently have begun allowing a bit of corn back into Henry's diet and Arrowhead Mills has organic kernels -- with just a bit of oil they pop nicely in a big le Creuset covered pot on the stove! As a person whose formative years were spent in the Midwest suburbs in the 70s and 80s, I grew up with one of those plasticy air poppers that now give me the willies (heating up all that plastic -- Yikes). I actually had to turn the The Joy of Cooking for old-fashioned popcorn popping. I have found that, no matter how inane (or how odd or obtuse) a question you might have, the JOC is a great resource (along with The New Basics Cookbook) for basics like how long to cook something (or how the heck to make popcorn that is not encased in aluminum foil or a microwave bag). I love cookbooks, I can just sit and read them (and thus totally appreciate how Julie Powell ended up doing her project) and I love to try and adapt new recipes (esp. trying to make flavorful recipes that fit Henry's dietary needs and that the whole family can enjoy), but sometimes you just need to remember how long per pound a roast needs to be in the oven -- or how to make popcorn the old-fashioned way!

And our dinner of perfectly done (thanks Cliff!) rib eye and baked cucumbers was terrific too (Henry opted for plain baked cauliflower but next time I will substitute ghee for the butter in Julia's recipe and serve the cukes to him too).