Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day!

I made Earth Cupcakes!

While I blog how I made these beautiful and delicious treats, I thought I'd share a few planet-saving tips at the same time.

3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 cups milk

Yes, these cupcakes are made from scratch. Why? Because things from scratch are yummier, healthier, and greener. Pre-packaged food = waste! Sure, you still have trash when you make things from scratch, but not nearly as much as a pre-made cake mix.

Preheat oven to 375°F.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add in the eggs, two teaspoons vanilla, salt and baking powder. Add flour and milk in batches, starting and ending with flour. Stir until batter is smooth and satiny. Divide batter into two bowls. Color one green and one blue (If you want your cupcakes to look more realistic with more ocean than land, color 1/3 of your batter green and 2/3 blue) Add spoonfuls of batter alternating colors into non-stick muffin tins.

Notice I said spoon into tins, not spoon into paper-lined muffin tins. I put a lot of effort into not buying disposable products. Paper-liners are a drain on the earth's resources, finances, and they are totally unnecessary!

The first batch I did the alternating spoonfuls. It was messy and very un-precise. I decided to try putting the batter into bags and cutting off the tip so I could control the colors with more precision.

Notice how these bags are not zip-lock bags. These are produce bags you put your produce into at the grocery store. After we get home from the store (which I walk to and from since it's only four blocks away), I take the produce out of the bag and put it in the fridge. I take the bags and put them in a drawer to use and re-use later in place of zip-lock bags, small trash bags, plastic wrap, and such. Again, we do not spend our hard earned money on disposables that contribute to landfills. It saves me money and I'm saving the planet!

The bag technique wasn't that much better, it was still really messy! For the last batch I put a heaping spoonful of blue into each tin, added an island of green, added more blue, then dabbed a bit more green. It was much more controlled and a lot less messy.

Bake at 375° for 18- 20 minutes. Let cool before attempting to remove the the little "earths" from the muffin tin.
This was a messy project. Time for clean-up!I do not buy paper towels. I use rags and dishcloths. I also do not buy harsh cleaning chemicals, as these are also bad for the environment (and my precious cat and baby). So how do I clean? I use a steam cleaner. I fill it up with water, it turns the water into steam and I use the steam to clean (it's wonderful to clean with, no scrubbing at all!) and disinfect.I also hate all things "Swiffer". It's such a waste of recourses and money. Would it kill you to use a rag instead of hundreds of disposable Swiffer Wet Jet Pads? Yes? Then it's either you or the planet.

But! (you ask) that is so much effort! Wouldn't it be easier to drop by a fast-food place and buy a Mc-Apple-Pie?
To which I respond: WHAT?! You still eat at fast food restaurants? Seriously?! Have you never seen Super-Size Me? Fast food will KILL you! Warning; If you eat this, you will DIE!

On top of that;
The average restaurant produces about 8,200 pounds of waste a month, which is more than 98,000 pounds a year (think about it paper cups, plastic spoons, paper napkins, plastic straws, ketchup packets...all served to you inside a plastic bag or on a tray with a paper liner). In addition to the waste generated at the fast food outlets, a great deal of secondary waste is generated by fast food suppliers , and this is a HUGE problem. Feedlots and slaughterhouses, for instance, produce vast amounts of waste, which greatly contribute to pollution. Also, a large volume of trash is generated by the soda industry. It is estimated that 44 billion soft drink cans and bottles are thrown into landfills annually.

Summery; Eating at fast food places = death to you + death to your finances + death to the planet. Thus, Fast food = Death.

See? I can math!

Sigh, but if you must choose McDonalds, please read this awesome blog post by Eco Women first.

End lecture.

Okay, Okay, I admit it. I do eat at fast food restaurants (hello, I drove eight hours to eat at Durangos! Very un-green-like.) But very rarely. I will also admit that I don't have eco-friendly light bulbs in my house (I try to use sunlight as much as possible and once we buy our own house I will make an effort to buy eco-friendly light bulbs). It would have been so much cooler to post about how on Earth Day I convinced our city to recycle, or I persuaded the Governor that killing wolves is not just wrong, but evil. But, alas, all I did today was keep my lights off and post a green lecture. I am not the greenest person in the world, but I am a lot more green this year than I was last year! I hope to be even more green next year! In an effort to keep learning, trying, and saving, I think I will rent the movie No Impact Man and watch it tonight as the perfect end to Earth Day!

Thanks to by stephanie lynn for the idea!

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