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In this weeks newsletter we look at the first half of a very comprehensive guide in going green in the kitchen. Topics covered include: utensils with a longer lifespan, Gas vs Electricity, upgrading your appliances, energy-efficient cooking and doing it yourself in the kitchen. In our Awesome Website of the Week we look at the surprisingly attractive Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA). Their mission is to promote, encourage and facilitate green building in the South African property and construction industry.
Wickedfood Cooking School News
Green ideas for your Home
How to Go Green: In the Kitchen
The eco-friendly kitchen begins with eating green, but it doesn’t end there. Energy-efficient food preparation and cleaning habits, using equipment made from sustainable materials, and dodging toxic chemicals are also important if you want to have a truly healthy kitchen. Fortunately, making the right choices for your well-being is also good for the pocket and the planet. Our straightforward and simple suggestions for preparing earth-friendly meals–from fridge to food to cleanup–will turn you into a greener gourmet in no time.
Top Green Kitchen Tips
1. Make It Last
Choose cookware and utensils that stand the test of time and won’t have to be thrown away with your leftover casserole. That means you gotta ditch the Teflon. While the debate about the health hazards of non-stick surfaces continues, there is no doubt that it has a limited useful life. Go for stainless steel or cast iron instead. Though a bit of an investment, a good cast iron skillet will last for generations. Likewise, choose sturdy utensils rather than cheap ones; low-quality wooden spoons, for example, can rot, and plastic will melt if you leave it on the stove too long. Buy high-quality knives that you can sharpen by hand, and use long-lasting cloth towels instead of paper.
2. Energy Smackdown: Gas vs. Electric
When it comes to the stove top, it can be a tough choice between gas and electric; natural gas is a fossil fuel, but most of the electricity in the RSA comes from coal-burning power plants. From a straight-up cooking perspective, many cooks prefer gas because it's easier to control temperatures; it also offers instant-on heat, and doesn't waste much heat when the cooking is done. If you're a gas devotee shopping for a new stove, know that the the lower the BTU output, the more energy-efficient your stove will be.
With electricity, the most efficient stoves are those that use induction elements, which transfer electromagnetic energy directly to the pan, leaving the cook-top itself relatively cool and using less than half the energy of standard coil elements. One drawback is that induction-element cook-tops require the use of metal cookware such stainless steel, cast iron, or enamelled iron — aluminium and glass pots won't work — and since the technology is still relatively new, they're generally only found in higher-priced models.
The same goes for units with ceramic-glass surfaces, which use halogen elements as the heat source, making them the next best choice from an efficiency standpoint. These deliver heat instantly and respond quickly to changes in temperature settings. (They're also very easy to clean, which is a bonus). But they only work efficiently when there is good contact between the pan and the hot glass surface; energy will go to waste if pan bottoms are even slightly rounded. Standard electric coils — those spiral types we're all used to seeing — by the way, are at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to energy efficiency. If you go for an electric stove, no matter which you choose, opt for the most efficiency-efficient model possible.
The stove you ultimately choose will probably depend on price and lifestyle, so the greenest choice you can make is really to pick the option that you'll be able to live with for at least a decade or more, which will save on materials and resources from a manufacturing standpoint.
3. First, Love Your Appliances
Energy-efficiency upgrades are coming fast and furious to many new appliances. An efficient dishwasher, for instance, can use a lot less water than washing the dishes by hand in the sink. (Check out Easy Webinar Plugin
er.com/files/2007/02/how_to_green_your_dishwasher.php”>How to Green Your Dishwasher to learn more.) But before you jump the gun and make a hasty appliance purchase, however, first check to make sure that a repair isn't in order. How will you know? Check out Planet Green's series on when to repair (and when to recycle) old appliances. When it does comes time to replace your old-faithfuls look for the Energy Star rating, available for kitchen appliances including stoves, refrigerators, freezers, and dishwashers, then choose a sturdy model that will last.
4. Energy-Efficient Cooking
Preheating is almost prehistoric. Many newer ovens come to temperature so rapidly, they make preheating almost obsolete (except perhaps for soufflés and other delicate dishes). If you're roasting or baking something that's a little flexible when it comes to cooking time, you can put it in right away, then turn the oven off five or ten minutes early, and let dishes finish cooking in the residual heat. (Ditto for anything cooked on an electric stove top.)
Making as best use of the oven as possible –- cooking more than one thing at once, for instance — is also wise. For small dishes, using a toaster oven, or reheating in a microwave will also save energy; in fact, Energy Star estimates that you can reduce cooking energy by as much as 80 percent when using the microwave instead of the oven. When cooking on the stove, using a properly sized pot for each of the stove burners also makes a difference; on an electric stove, for example, a 6-inch pot used on an 8-inch burner wastes more than 40 percent of the burner's heat. Make sure all of your pots and pans have close-fitting lids, then use them whenever possible–including when you're bringing boiled water up to temperature–which helps reducing cooking time and keeps heat where it belongs–in the pan. Pressure cookers are another great way to save energy, reducing cooking time by up to 70 percent. Of course, the most energy efficient cooking means leaving heat out of the equation altogether–don't forget about salads, chilled soups, and other dishes that require little prep and can be eaten cold. There’s a large niche culture growing around the idea of raw food— don't be afraid to try something new!
5. Do It Yourself
Avoid purchasing pre-prepared, frozen foods, and make them yourself, at home; many meals are made to be frozen and reheated without any loss in taste or quality, so there's no reason to thaw and rehydrate frozen and dehydrated foods when you can skip these steps and buy and cook fresh. As an added bonus, you also know exactly what is going in to your food, and, if you're diligent about sourcing it, where it came from. This option also cuts out steps of your food’s lifecycle (and the associated energy in processing and transportation that comes from each step). If you have the space, take it a step further and grow your own fruits, vegetables, using your composted kitchen waste as fertiliser. Don't stop the DIY train there, though: you can clean your counters and hand-wash dishes with white vinegar and baking soda. Instead of shelling out for bottled water, get a filter pitcher or tap filter. You could even buy a seltzer siphon or carbonator to fizz your filtered water and flavour it with homemade syrups; we recommend the Soda Club or one of its contemporaries.
Awesome website of the week:
Green Building Council of South Africa
A green building is a building which is energy efficient, resource efficient and environmentally responsible- which incorporates design, construction and operational practices that significantly reduce or eliminate its negative impact on the environment and its occupants. Building green is an opportunity to use resources efficiently and address climate change while creating healthier and more productive environments for people to live and work in.
The Green Building Council of South Africa will lead the transformation of the South African property industry to ensure that all buildings are designed, built and operated in an environmentally sustainable way that will allow South Africans to work and live in healthy, efficient and productive environments.
To promote, encourage and facilitate green building in the South African property and construction industry through market-based solutions, by:
- Promoting the practice of green building in the commercial property industry
- Facilitating the implementation of green building practice by acting as a resource centre,
- Enabling the objective measurement of green building practices by developing and operating a green building rating system, and
- Improving the knowledge and skills base of green building in the industry by enabling and offering training and education
A guy has celery sticking out of one ear, lettuce out of the other, and a zucchini up his nose.
He goes to the doctor and asks him what's wrong.
The doctor tells him, “Well, for one thing, you're not eating right.”
The Wickedfood Team
Wickedfood Cooking School runs classes throughout the year at its purpose-built Johannesburg cooking studio. Cooking lessons are run in the mornings and evenings 7 days a week (subject to a minimum of 12 people). The venue is also popular for corporate events and private functions – team building cooking classes, birthdays, kitchen teas, and dinner parties with a difference.
Our cooking courses are hands-on, where every person gets to participate in the preparation of the dishes. They are also a lot of fun where you not only learn new skills, but get to meet people with similar interests. For corporate groups and team building cooking classes, these events are a novel way of creating staff interaction or entertaining clients.