Zero Waste 4th of July

I’ve got a big family; I’d wager that there’s about 100 relatives that I see at least once a year at the Christmas party, at birthdays, baby showers, or weddings. So for family events, there tends to be a lot of waste just to save on the stress of planning the thing to begin with.

We also love to eat. We’re a family of bakers, pastry chefs, BBQ and smoker aficionados, celebrity chef groupies, and plain old passionate cooks passing on the recipes that my great-great grandparents brought with them from Mexico. Cooking is the family pass-time, and the kitchen is our true living room.

So I’m starting to tackle the ZW problem of big family holidays head on– instead of sighing and accepting that I’d probably end up using a red plastic cup over the course of the evening, I’m gonna plan and I’m gonna be prepared. And it’s not just being ZW that I have to seriously take into consideration now: I have to do it for my stomach too. Onion and chili dogs? Greasy chips? Jalapeno poppers and fried cheese thingamajigs? I used to have an iron stomach, but not anymore. (Infections will do that to you.)

I brought a salad to share (I’m often responsible for salads these days… it’s actually quite an honor to have so many dozens of people find your dish to be the best in the family!), and my own vegan burger patties to not share.

The patty recipe I got from Isa of the Post Punk Kitchen, deciding to do the whole recipe without food packaging! (Aside from the glass jars of Better than Bouillon and my grandmother’s container of ground clove, both of which will last you for practically ever.)

Seeing as how I want to kick the canned food habit as well, I made the lentils from scratch using this recipe. This turned out to be ridiculously easy, and so incredibly delicious that I was sneaking spoonfuls of lentils from the pot before they were even done cooking! (I also used them later as taco filling as-is. It was absolutely sublime.)

I subbed the bread crumbs for almond meal because… I ain’t running out of the stuff ever again, lol.

The texture of the finished patty “meat” was like a thick, lumpy paste that was pretty easy to shape. Then onto the baking sheet. (Sorry, used parchment paper for this too. Can’t wait to get a silpat mat someday.)

They were lightly crispy when done, and held their shape when cooled down. Yum!

For the salads, I made a version of the cilantro salad from 101cookbooks, and a basic slaw from no recipe in particular. I sliced up green cabbage, red onion, and julienne-peeled some carrots for the slaw. The dressing was a mix of oils (olive, sunflower, and a little sesame), some rice vinegar, cider vinegar, mirin, little dollops of mayo, celery salt, and lots of pepper.

This is what I ended up bringing to the party:

So pretty *A*

I brought my own “party kit” too:

Water bottle, mason jar to replace the ubiquitous red plastic cup, napkin, and collapsible silicone take-out container. It all worked out great. And aside from a glass blender that slipped out of my hands and shattered on the concrete, I didn’t create any waste that I can remember all evening. :P

And darn. Looks like the family has gotten used to my ZW shenanigans and has stopped asking already. There goes my opportunity to get conversations going without getting preachy…