With the colder weather and shorter days, baking seems like a perfect hobby! There’s nothing like those pleasing smells, and having the oven on helps keep your kitchen warmer! Here are some thoughts on the subject.
If you realize you bought too much milk and might not use it by the expiry date, plan ahead – you can freeze it! Also – I’ve found that occasionally milk can go off in the fridge a couple days before the date, or sometimes not till several days after! So I like to bravely test a little bit in a spoon first, before pouring it in something. If you’ve missed your drinking window though, did you know that there are many delicious recipes that actually call for sour milk? It can also be a good substitute for buttermilk. Pancakes, cakes, biscuits, coffee cakes and muffins are among the many baked goods that can be made with sour milk! Just make sure you use a recipe that calls for either buttermilk or sour/soured milk though, as the acidity is different than regular milk. Don’t worry – the finished product doesn’t taste sour!
If you think about it, home baking can be quite an environmentally-friendly pursuit! You end up heating your house with the waste heat, eating the products (everyone has to eat!) or can give some away to neighbours, making you very popular. Buying raw materials for baking compares favourably to purchasing ready-made items, for example grocery store goods packaged in those plastic clamshell containers. It also avoids the extra associated transportation emissions along the supply chain. Although a local bakery is of course nice for a treat too, and will sometimes (pre- and hopefully post-COVID) allow you to bring your own container!
Baking is also a great activity to do with children, as the finished product usually helps with motivation. They also like to stir, measure, mix and watch how substances go together. Those early years can be messy and you need to allow more time than doing it yourself, but can pay off in spades later if you end up with teenagers who like to help with the cooking and baking! Also, as opposed to ever-more artwork or crafts that you try to find a place for, you get to eat it or freeze for later!
Spending a bit more time in the kitchen and on food planning can also help save money and reduce food waste. A recent study by Environment and Climate Change Canada suggests that the average Canadian wastes 79 kilograms of household food every year(!), resulting in almost 3 million metric tonnes of household food waste annually in our country! In comparison, a United Nations report notes that the average American wastes 59 kg of household food per year and in the United Kingdom, the number is closer to Canada with 77 kg waste per person per year. This UN report estimates that a shocking 17% of food produced globally each year is wasted! In addition, estimates suggest that 8-10% of greenhouse gas emissions (globally) are associated with food that isn’t even consumed.
My cousin shared a great cooking tip with me. You can look in your fridge to see what you need to use up soon (to avoid waste!) and google based on the ingredients. For example, if I feel like making a recipe with Thai flavours, I could google “Thai lime cilantro recipe” or just plain “lime cilantro recipe”. This usually provides you with all sorts of wonderful ideas! For some reason, I’d never thought of searching on random ingredients, but this method has happily netted me so many great new recipes. As one of my daughters says though, it’s safest to read a few reviews first when trying a new recipe.
The MPCA Green Initiatives Committee
Our usual volunteer writer, Veronica, is taking a break, so we have another volunteer temporarily filling in for our column. Due to the more personal writing style this month, we added her name. We are fortunate to have a solid team of volunteers, but are also always happy to have newcomers join our committee! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or if you have any questions. Or join our Facebook page “Green Initiatives” under the Mount Pleasant Community page to get more information on our events.
References of interest:
“People waste way more food than thought, UN finds. Here’s how Canada compares”. The Associated Press, posted March 4, 2021.
“New report provides numbers on how much food is wasted in Canada”, by Terry Haig, Radio Canada International, posted March 6, 2021.
National Waste Characterization Report: The Composition of Canadian Residual Municipal Solid Waste, Environment and Climate Change Canada, 2020.
UNEP Food Waste Index Report 2021, United Nations Environment Programme, 2021.