A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Category Archives: zero waste

I’m trying out a few new recipes. Changing my diet is inspiring me to cook differently, which has been fun. I also went to an amazing vegan supper club with my flatmate.

I’m definitely going to do Veganuary so I’ve also been getting a few recipes out of my system. Karelian/Carelian pastries (both spellings appear to be acceptable) were one of my favourite foods from Finland and I suddenly had a hankering to try making them last Friday.

Karelian pie sounds absolutely repulsive but tastes amazing. It’s thin rye pastry filled with savoury rice pudding and topped with egg butter. Lots of fat and carbs to help withstand the freezing Nordic temperatures. Or London in November.

I followed this recipe quite closely, using a mixture of arborio and pudding rice. I had around 1/3 of the pastry left, I believe because I put a lot of filling in each one. I considered trying to freeze the dough, but I think it will be a while before I attempt this recipe again so I just binned it.

The only plastic waste generated from these was the chive package. I had purchased the chives for a new black lentil recipe I was trying to use up my OddBox potatoes. I went to a greengrocer and Eat17 but neither place had them unpackaged and I wasn’t willing to go without.

Oh! I nearly forgot that I bought milk in plastic for this recipe too. I trialled making two of the Carelian pies with almond milk and they were nice but I made a slight mistake using a sweetened product. I think oat milk would work better.

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I am continuing with my veggie journey. I’ve made a few meals with little to no single-use plastic, including soups, salad and a barley risotto. None of the meals was especially photogenic.

See? (Thai-inspired quinoa salad).

Supermarkets do seem to be making a bit more of an effort to sell unwrapped veggies so some of the meals were very easy to make with little waste. Where food is still wrapped up, I have been voting with my wallet and looking for alternative sources for my nude veg. I’m still finding it a bit of a fun challenge to get ingredients without plastic. I especially enjoy re-filling containers with things like washing-up liquid. It’s very sad but I don’t care.

I only get my OddBox once a fortnight, when know I will be around at the weekend. This system works for me because, while it can be fun to look up new recipes for the OddBox veg, it’s also quite time-consuming. I like to be able to just buy what I want some weeks.

I still had a lot of pumpkin left after last week’s pancakes. I decided to eschew making the same recipe again and tried out a pumpkin vegan ‘fudge’ I saw on Pinterest. Unfortunately the recipe couldn’t live up to the salted caramel bites. In fact, it was inedible. Fortunately I was able to salvage the ingredients by adding almond milk, protein and dates to make a breakfast smoothie.

I used the rest for pumpkin soup.

It’s nice but a takeaway for me is that I prefer sweet potato and butternut squash to pumpkin.

A really easy zero waste hack that anyone can employ is to stop peeling your veggies. I didn’t peel the pumpkin and the soup is still really smooth. I hardly ever peel veg any more- less waste, saves time and the peel contains fibre and nutrients. Win, win, win.

Weekly tilt

One of my concerns about going more plant-based is getting sufficient protein. I do a little bit of weight training and growing muscle needs protein. I’m looking for a new meal tracking app that has more of an emphasis on micronutrients. But I can’t seem to find one that’s free or even has a free trial. I don’t mind paying but I’d like to test any app before committing.


Unsurprisingly, given how ubiquitous halloween has become here in the UK, last week’s OddBox contained a pumpkin.

I think this is my first experience of having a whole pumpkin in the house. I’ve carved one before but I normally substitute butternut squash or pumpkin in recipes.

I decided to try a new pancake recipe that Anna tagged me in on Instagram.

The batter is fantastically smooth and these are much more like traditional pancakes than the egg and banana ones I normally have. I wasn’t crazy about the flavour but I steamed enough pumpkin to try again. I’ll try adding more cinnamon and using more exciting toppings. Maybe a berry compote and some soured cream.

I actually hate pumpkin spice lattes so maybe I’m just not a fan of that flavour combination.

I was also invited to a Halloween party and in a bit of a quandary about what to do about wearing a costume. I’m generally quite lazy when it comes to fancy dress. I’ve never been able to see the point of buying things to wear only once so my costumes have tended be assembled from things I already own or can re-use. For example, a few years ago I dressed as Super Mario.

All finished

I can’t believe I used to post such terrible images on my blog! I bought the dungarees and top secondhand (on eBay, but still). The top and hat entered my regular wardrobe, the box was used to package a gift and I upcycled the dungarees into my Cateralls.

I have a pink wig, a shameful leftover from the year I dressed as Nicki Minaj and I had to buy a second wig because I’d accidentally ordered the first from China). I was quite keen to wear that but didn’t have much to go with it. I looked around a couple of local charity shops for inspiration and found this Wonder Woman costume for £6. It was a no-brainer.

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After looking at some images of WW online, I was very tempted to buy a headband to finish the costume off. I’m pretty sure the costume had a horrible wig with it- thankfully the charity shop employee didn’t realise. It was much more fun and empowering to be a brown Wonder Woman with my own hair out.

Anyway, after nearly purchasing an official Marvel headband on Amazon I decided instead to get a metre of gold ribbon and make my own.

It’s funny to realise how I still feel drawn to buy things in order to make experiences ‘more fun’ or legitimate. Luckily I hadn’t had the idea sooner or I would have probably bought an expensive handmade head piece on Etsy and justified it by saying I’d ‘saved money’ on the costume so it’s okay to splurge on the accessories. Capitalism is so deeply engrained and pernicious.

In the end I was thrilled with my costume and thoroughly enjoyed wearing it. I’m so grateful to the person who donated this perfectly good item to be loved again rather than going to landfill.

Weekly tilt

A disadvantage of trying to reduce waste is becoming hyper-aware of how wasteful society is. Here I share things that have bothered or worried me.

I still haven’t found a way to compost my food waste. I’ve started saving some veg scraps in the freezer to make stock but this only works for a small proportion of vegetables. I’m researching community composting but it’s quite slow going. I’ve tried emailing some local parks with greenhouses. I’m on the verge of wild composting (aka collecting the scraps and dumping them in a park).

I just saw a video about Germans being legally obliged to compost and I really wish that our government would start taking the health of the planet more seriously. Instead, my taxes are wasted on Brexit nonsense. I’m at the point where I would pay to have my food waste composted but no one seems to be offering this service in London.


I’ve been meaning to try making some cotton pads for ages. I found a few patterns on Pinterest and I had a very small amount of cotton left over from my Elfe sweater. I managed to pick up a hook of the correct size in Kangasniemi.

I ended up making one of the rounds smaller due to using leftovers. This is also why the rounds are both multicoloured. Some of the patterns I saw had quite confusing instructions for the puff stitch but I found these ones quite straightforward to understand.

Unfortunately the rounds are really not the same as using the disposable cotton pads. I’m not sure if this might be because the cotton I used is treated somehow. I’m going to persist with using these for a bit and then reassess. A note for next time would be to add a chain-stitch hanging loop so that they can be hung up to air after use.

Yarn: Sublime Yarns Organic Cotton DK (white), Sublime Yarns Soya Cotton DK (red)

Pattern: Linked above

Ravelry project page


Bonus picture of a roasted vegetable and quinoa salad with the last of my fourth OddBox vegetables last week. I mixed red quinoa with some amaranth I’ve had hanging around the house for a while (both from the Source) and it was a very nice combination.

I managed to pay a visit to a local shop with a few zero waste options- Eat17 in Hammersmith. I bought some suspiciously cheap coffee beans and discovered that they have plastic-free cheese!

I don’t think I’ve tasted this variety of cheese before but it was very nice. I will definitely go back because they are closer to my house than the Source and I’m pretty sure cheaper too- I think because most of their options are not organic.

I also followed through with my pledge after watching Cowspiracy and picked up some barista-style oat milk.

I have had a vegan flat white in a cafe in Folkestone made with this brand, otherwise I would have been very upset that they had run out of barista-style Oatly. I’m happy to say that even I (an espresso noob) am able to make a serviceable flat white with it. The milk has a mild oat flavour but produces a very similar result texture-wise to dairy milk- unlike other plant-based milks that are frankly disgusting in tea and coffee.

I think my tummy has been feeling better in the last week without milk (I drink 3-4 flat whites a day, with 100ml of milk in each). I’m not intolerant to dairy but having too much makes me feel sick. I’ve heard anecdotally that a lot of people with Afro-Caribbean heritage can be sensitive to dairy. I also have a phobia of rotten milk and the whole concept of cow’s milk freaks me out a bit.


I’ve been working on a dish cloth using the hemp yarn I picked up in Kangasniemi.

I saved a few dishcloth patterns on Ravelry. My favourite was this one, which cost $2.50.

Deb Buckingham Designs

Although I believe in supporting designers, I also felt that it would be pretty easy to improvise my own similar pattern, so I did.

I think the dish cloth is too wide and I’m not sure about the gauge (might be better on 3.5mm needles). But then I’m planning to use this cloth to scrub my dirty plates so does it matter? I genuinely can’t decide and so I vacillate between starting again and continuing.

I’ll probably write up a pattern at some point. It’s been a very long time since I published a knitting pattern. My last one was this cute baby hat. I check Ravelry intermittently and there are 37 projects on there! It blows my mind that at least 37 people (not everyone maintains their Rav as religiously as me) have made hats based on my pattern.

Yarn: Java

Ravelry project page


I got my fourth OddBox delivery last week.

I made ‘crack broccoli’ following this recipe that I found on Pinterest.

The broccoli tasted fine but, unlike crack, not that moreish. My fault for believing the hype I guess.

I also tried a couple of different salads. This is rainbow salad with halloumi. It was decent.

My favourite was this griddled peach and goats cheese salad. I didn’t even add the dressing and it was delicious.

I also watched Cowspiracy with my friend Anna. I first heard about this documentary at a talk by Bosh, two middle class guys who set up what they call ‘the vegan Tasty’ (that channel that makes birds-eye views of someone cooking recipes). Apparently everyone that watches Cowspiracy immediately goes vegan. I was genuinely a bit scared.

One thing the documentary did make me think was that I have been approaching zero waste slightly sideways. For example, dairy milk is much more resource-intensive to produce than plant-based milk alternatives. It is probably ‘better’ to consume plant-based milk in recyclable packaging than milk in a glass bottle. I’m going to try switching to barista-style Oatley rather than getting my milk delivered.

Weekly tilt

A disadvantage of trying to reduce waste is becoming hyper-aware of how wasteful society is. Here I share things that have bothered or worried me.

This week’s tilt is brought to you courtesy of Transport for London. Since I changed jobs, I needed to purchase a new annual travel card. This was an opportunity to finally sort out the six Oyster cards I had in a drawer.

I checked my TfL account. Three cards were registered and three unregistered. Annoyingly it was not possible to register the cards since I technically did not buy them- my old workplace did on my behalf. There was a total of nearly £40 on the registered cards, and getting a refund meant the cards get deactivated.

I phone TfL and it transpires that I cannot register any of the three cards I have. I have to go out and buy a seventh card, register it, and then add the annual travel card. In the end, I also couldn’t register this card because I hadn’t used it for a journey. So I had to go to a ‘travel centre’ and buy an eighth Oyster card. I understand that it’s important to protect customers’ data and money, but this this is ludicrous.

We are at a stage where we don’t actually need stupid pieces of plastic to store passes. I have a phone with near-field technology that comes with me everywhere. Why can’t I just have the pass stored on an app?