Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Waste (Water and Beef) Not

Today, some of my students filled a bucket with water, coffee grounds, soy sauce, trash, and broken pieces of chocolate that looked, quite on purpose, like poo. It wasn’t a Halloween trick. It wasn’t to harass me or to annoy other students. Instead, these students created this ugly example to change the world.

These particular students are the officers of the Environmental Club, a club dedicated to educating members and others how to take better care of the earth. I advise this club, and as its advisor, am constantly amazed by the wonderful things the students do. A couple years ago, the club began our school’s recycling program. Each Friday, club members empty the beverage container bins that they are responsible for monitoring and walk over to the recycling center down the street. They bring back the cash refund, deposit it into the Environmental Club account, and at the end of the year, decide to which environmental charity to send the money. They do not keep any of the money for themselves, but instead spend the money they collected by protecting the earth on protecting the earth. Last year, the club bought two acres of the Amazon rainforest through the Nature Conservancy as well as a heifer for a family through Heifer International.

This year, the officers attended a training in the early fall (through Treepeople) that gave them tools to be better educators to their club members. In the first couple meetings of the year, the officers led the group in getting acquainted and setting goals, but this week, they got down to business. They divided the club into three groups; they assigned one group the roles of the internal water system (pipes, sewer system, water treatment plant, and so on, eventually leading to the ocean), another group the roles of the external water system (gutters, storm drains, and so on, once again leading to the ocean), and the third group activities that used water. As each member of the third group read their water-usage activities, the other two groups decided whether the water from the activity would go through the external or internal water systems. The water system groups pulled a scoop water from a bucket of clean water. The club officers explained what kind of pollution may end up in the water based on the type of water usage activity. For example, they explained that washing one’s car in the driveway may send used oil down the external water system, and eventually into the ocean. To represent the car oil, they poured soy sauce into the scoop of water. The external water system group relayed the water down to a bucket that represented the ocean. By the end of the demonstration, the “ocean” water was filthy, and the club members had a good idea of how simple water decisions they make everyday eventually affect the health of our oceans.

Through the entire demonstration, I watched and took pictures. I didn’t teach a thing. I didn’t need to; the kids were the experts.

Who says a role model has to be one’s elder?

In the spirit of waste elimination, I have spent the last two days gleaning the most out of the couple ounces of leftover beef from this weekend’s barbecue.

Last night, I made a spinach salad with a pomegranate molasses vinaigrette. I tossed in a few ruby jewels of a pomegranate I had around, chunks of salty stilton, and a couple slices of the aforementioned beef. The pungency of the stilton turned creamy against the beef, and the tart crunches of the pomegranate kept the whole salad from becoming too rich. The dressing, silky, tart, and sweet enough to balance enhance the blue of the stilton felt luxurious on a Monday night. It’s an easy meal, one based on leftovers, but it feels elegant enough to hold its own.

Tonight was different. I heartily embraced leftoverness and made myself a sandwich of the last of the thinly sliced beef with Dubliner cheese, spinach, and balsamic-spiked mayo on sourdough. The meal came together quickly but didn’t feel like fast food; however, it didn’t compare to the pleasures of last night’s salad.

Waste Not Salad

You will need:
enough spinach to make a meal-sized salad
whatever thinly sliced meat you have leftover
an ounce or so of crumbled stilton
a handful of pomegranate seeds
1 teaspoon of dijon mustard
1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon of pomegranate molasses
a couple tablespoons of good olive oil
salt to taste

To make the salad:
Toss the meat into a pan with a drizzle of the olive oil. Reaheat until hot, but do not overcook the meat.

Meanwhile, put the spinach, stilton, and pomegranate seeds in the salad bowl. Remove the meat from the heat.

In a small bowl or cup, mix the dijon mustard with the balsamic vinegar and pomegranate molasses. Whisk in whatever drippings there may be in the mean pan, then add the olive oil in a slow stream, whisking continuously. The mustard should help the oil and vinegar emulsify. Whisk until the ingredients come together and thicken.

Pour the dressing over the greens, cheese, and pomegranate seeds, and toss to coat the spinach leaves. Place the meat slices on top, and there it is, the lovely salad that will be your dinner tonight.

P.S. In the effort to waste even less . . . I have a huge quantity of pumpkin seeds in my refrigerator from this weekend's carving. I'd like to roast them, but have had varied success with my pumpkin-seed-roasting efforts. What's your best recipe for roasted pumpkin seeds?

2 comments:

sarahww said...

Wow -- your e-club is AMAZING. I learned something tonight.

Russ says pumpkin seeds -- skillet, no oil. But I interrupted him while working on maps, so it might be a bust.

reducing water usage said...

This is so great!
im going to make this for dinner. I love this stuff.
its just really great that you are posting stuff like this up!

Brilliant!

Cheers,
Becky