An Electric Egg Cooker Saves Water and Energy—Just in Time for Easter Egg Dyeing!

The perfect hard-boiled egg. I’ve baked croissants from scratch, concocted dozens of mouth-watering tarts and quiches, and made my own yogurt and ice cream without incident—but somehow the perfect boiled egg alluded me. If I wanted tender  whites and a delicate, bright yellow yolk without a greenish sulphur ring, then I could barely pry the shells off the eggs. But if I over cooked them (or just let them boil away unattended as many people do), the eggs ended up rubbery.
henrietta hen egg cooker
Henrietta Hen Electric Egg Cooker

I followed directions from Julia Child and Cook’s Illustrated. I used gallons of water and shocked the eggs in ice baths. I sat hunched over the stove and watched the pot because I knew one should never, ever let the water actually boil.

Finally, after all this angst, I bought an electric egg cooker.  This simple device delivers perfectly-cooked hard-boiled eggs and uses just a few tablespoons of water. It saves energy, too. Using the stovetop method I had to bring three quarts of water to a near-boil to cook just four eggs (because you should use an inch of water over the eggs to ensure proper cooking once you turn the water off and let them finish setting). The egg cooker takes just fifteen minutes or so to cook up to seven eggs at a time.
Kalorik egg cooker
Kalorik 7-egg cooker

If you eat hard-cooked eggs just once a year for Easter, you can probably just use the stovetop method. We use the egg cooker about once a week and eat the eggs for snacks and on salads. Our egg cooker also delivers soft-cooked and poached eggs, but I haven’t had the opportunity to test these features out. Best of all, the eggs are always perfectly cooked, and the shells come off easily.
west bend automatic egg cooker
West Bend Automatic Egg Cooker

I have this basic West Bend Automatic Egg Cooker ($29.61). This Kalorik 7-egg cooker is cute and costs  just under $25.00! The Henrietta Hen egg cooker costs just $19 from some sellers. I’m intrigued by this Nordic Ware microwave egg cooker. It costs just $8 and wouldn’t require you to buy another plug-in appliance! Hm . . . maybe I could get my hands on that microwave cooker in time for Easter egg dyeing season . . . because I really need yet another gadget!
nordic ware microwave egg cooker
Nordic Ware Microwave Egg Cooker

The Great Green Baby Giveaway

To happily welcome our newly published book and reward those of you who are in the trenches of green parenting, we have yet another green giveaway this week.  One reader will win ALL of the quality eco-friendly baby gear listed below! Here’s what you could win this week:

  • An Eco Cradle from Green Lullaby.  A $69 value! This ingenious product can be assembled in minutes without tools, is completely fire retardant while remaining non-toxic, and is designed for a real human baby!
    eco cradle by green lullaby
  • 1 pair of organic cotton tights from hessnatur. This company makes adorable organic garments for baby (and adults!) that are just as fashionable as they are functional.
    hessnatur organic tights
  • Speesees crawl turtle teether. We love the spunk and style Speesees and recommend this organic baby and kids clothing  in our book.
    crawl turtle teething toy
  • 1 pair of girl baby shoes from Pedoodles, in the style and size of your choice. We used Pedoodles for our own children. Read our old review of them here!
    pedoodles ruby shoes
  • 1 organic teething toy from Momma’s Baby. Dip it in water and freeze it to soothe your baby’s sore gums. Unlike plastic teethers, this cute little mouse doesn’t contain BPA or other harmful chemicals.
    organic teething mouse
  • 1 Fuzzibunz one-size pocket diaper. These fabulous diapers contain a moisture wicking layer between baby’s bottom and an absorbent insert.  Plus this one diaper adjusts to fit babies between 7-35 pounds!
    fuzzibunz diaper
  • A HappyBaby gift pack, including organic baby food samples, an Eric Carle growth chart from YoBaby, an Infant & Toddler Nutrition guide co-authored by Dr. Sears, and a set of HappyFamily recipes. HappyBaby is the company behind this fabulous organic baby guide, and their organic foods are available in supermarkets everywhere.
    eric carle growth chart
  • 1 Snugglebottoms w/Velcro diapers (unbleached ‘green’ cotton flannel) in the size of your choice from Baby Bunz & Co. Baby Bunz & Co. is a great online source for cloth diapers–they’ve been selling them since the ’80s!
    snugglebottoms diapers
  • Green Dragon Pest Solutions. an eco-friendly product that will hurt household bugs such as roaches and silverflies without harming baby.  It comes in a gel so that you can avoid toxic sprays with baby nearby.
    Green Dragon Pest Solutions

Nine Ways to Enter the Giveaway

How do you enter?  Guess what?  You can enter more than once! Each way listed below gets you one entry.  All comments have to be posted BEFORE Tuesday the 30th of March to win.

Remember, leave a separate comment on this post for each entry you want.  If applicable, please leave the link to your Facebook/Twitter/Blog in the comment you leave here.

1. Leave us a comment on this post.

2. Email a friend about our book, our blog, or this month’s giveaways.

3. Subscribe to our blog (look right under the search bar) Again, be sure to comment about it below!

4. Join our Facebook fan club

5. Link to this giveaway post on Facebook or Twitter–tell all your friends to stop by!

6. Link to this post on your blog!

7. Add The Eco-nomical Baby Guide to your “to read” shelf on Goodreads

8. Add our blog to your blogroll

9. Go read our post on Five Ways to Score a Free Copy of  The Eco-nomical Baby Guide and leave a comment there if you’d like to review our book on your blog.  (Make sure to read the post for more details!) Leave a comment here as well to make sure we can keep track of your entries.

***The contest ends on Monday, March 29, 2010***

Winner will be randomly selected.

We will notify the winner via email and will get you in touch with these companies who will ship your products directly to you. Please Note: This contest is open only to U.S. readers.

Have fun everyone!

The Friday Question: What Are Your Favorite Baby Shower Gifts?

homemade baby food basketOut of all those colorful booties, soft blankets, and various contraptions, what baby gift was the most thoughtful or useful?  What gifts do you now give expectant families?

Among our favorite presents was a bag full of carefully selected, gently used baby garments.  Many people may shirk at receiving or giving hand-me-downs, but my sister-in-law knew that I ardently love recycled goods and bought me a huge bunch of clothes for the same price that she would have paid for one new outfit.   Another favorite gift was a copy of Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree that was presented along with an young apple tree.  (It died later, but it’s the thought that counts!)  We were also gifted with items to borrow which included two slings and an Ergo carrier.  Being able to just use these items temporarily worked out perfectly!

My husband and I are still especially appreciative for the gifts of support we received.  Friends volunteered to baby sit for our eldest son, prepared meals and refinished our table for us. Those acts of service were incredibly helpful and low cost.

What gifts do I give?  While I truly believe that our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide: Down-to-Earth Ways for Parents to Save Money and the Planet is a great shower gift, it’s pretty presumptuous for me to foist it upon others without giving them some other goodies.  Baby baskets are always good bets and the one in the picture features tools for making homemade baby food.  I also love buying practical stuff that will be used many times like cloth diapers, crib sheets or eco-friendly baby toiletries.

Please share your gift ideas with the rest of us!

Green Baby Gift Basket Giveaway

One lucky reader is going to get ALL of the following loot from today’s post!   These fantastic green prizes were generously provided by eco-friendly companies we love. The best news about this generous giveaway is that you can enter multiple times!  We’ll pick one winner who will get all of these green goods delivered to her doorstep just for entering.  Read the end of this post carefully for directions and thanks for visiting today!

  • A copy of our book! Of course, we think the best prize is The Eco-nomical Baby Guide: Down to Earth Ways for Parents to Save Money and the Planet. It’s packed with hundreds of ways to save money while going green with baby.The-Eco-nomical-baby-guide1-300x300
  • A HappyBaby gift pack, including organic baby food samples, an Eric Carle growth chart from YoBaby, an Infant & Toddler Nutrition guide co-authored by Dr. Sears, and a set of HappyFamily recipes. HappyBaby is the company behind this fabulous organic baby guide, and their organic foods are available in supermarkets everywhere.happybaby organic baby food
  • A Snugglebottoms Velcro diaper (unbleached ‘green’ cotton flannel) in the newborn size from Baby Bunz & Co. Baby Bunz & Co. has been selling cloth diapers since the ‘80s—before they made their comeback!snugglebottoms diapers
  • A Diaperaps sample pack, including a cover, liner, and an infant size hemp/organic cotton fitted diaper. Diaperaps are adorable, waterproof, Velcro closing diaper covers that can be used with cotton prefolds.  They’re easy to use and very affordable.diaperaps
  • One pair of baby boy shoes from Pedoodles, in the style and size of your choice. You’ll love the style and durability of Pedoodles shoes!  Made from recycled leather, they are eco-friendly and adorable.large-red-bowlerPedoodles2
  • An Under the Nile Veggie Crate. Under the Nile is known for their high quality organic Egyptian cotton, and this veggie crate will inspire hours of creative play as your baby grows. This cute organic baby toy is provided by The Clean Bedroom, which sells organic mattresses and other products “because you deserve a healthy night’s sleep.”veggie crate organic cotton
  • One organic boiled wool coverall ($88) from hessnatur.  This company makes adorable organic garments for baby that are just as fashionable as they are functional.

hessnatur boiled wool coverall
organic wool coverall
organic wool coverall

  • One Crawl Turtle Teether is being provided by Speesees, a fun organic clothing company for young ones that we also featured in our book.  speesees turtle crawl teether
  • One container of Green Dragon Pest Solutions, an eco-friendly product that will hurt household bugs such as roaches and silverflies without harming baby.  It comes in a gel so that you can avoid icky sprays with baby nearby.                                                                        Green Dragon Pest Solutions

Nine Ways to Enter the Giveaway

How do you enter?  Guess what?  You can enter more than once! Each way listed below gets you one entry.  All comments have to be posted BEFORE Sunday the 14th Tuesday the 16th of March to win.

Remember, leave a separate comment on this post for each entry you want.  If applicable, please leave the link to your Facebook/Twitter/Blog in the comment you leave here.

1. Leave us a comment on this post.

2. Email a friend about our book, our blog, or this month’s giveaways. (and don’t forget to leave us a comment telling us what you did.)

3. Subscribe to our blog (look right under the search bar)large-red-bowlerPedoodles2 Again, be sure to comment about it below!

4. Join our Facebook fan club

5. Link to us on Facebook or Twitter.

6. Link to this post on your blog!

7. Add The Eco-nomical Baby Guide to your “to read” shelf on Goodreads

8. Add our blog to your blogroll

9. Go read our post on Five Ways to Score a Free Copy of  The Eco-nomical Baby Guide and leave a comment there if you’d like to review our book on your blog.  (Make sure to read the post for more details!) Leave a comment here as well to make sure we can keep track of your entries.

***The contest ends on Saturday, March 13 Monday, March 15, 2010***

Winner will be randomly selected.

We will notify the winner via email and will get you in touch with these companies who will ship your products directly to you. Please Note: This contest is open only to U.S. readers.

Congratulations to Rose, winner of last week’s gift basket!

Have fun everyone!

The Best Green/Eco-friendly Strollers for Baby

A green stroller?  Does such a product really exist?  There are certainly strollers that are eco-friendlier than others, but it’s pretty tricky to find a bamboo buggy for your new baby.  From our collective experience, the best way to go green is to select a multifunctional stroller that you’ll love through your years of talking your children for walks.

Regretfully I have to confess that we fell into the trap of having too many strollers.  Our tiny garage is loaded up with four separate contraptions for wheeling our babe along the sidewalk. We will try to save you from the same fate!

infant car seat carrierIf you want one for an infant:

What should you do with a newborn?  Honestly, newborns tuck into a sling or an Ergo carrier so nicely that we almost never used our strollers.  If you do want one, however, you might want to look into an infant car seat carrier. Simply snap your car seat into the frame and you’ll essentially have a travel system without all the chunky plastic.  You can choose from Kolcraft, Maclaren, Graco and many others.

If you want an extremely compact stroller:

We love Maclaren strollers for their design, function, and lack of plastic.  Some of their larger strollers (such as the Maclaren Quest) work from birth onward, but the Maclaren Triumph works after ten weeks and the Volo works for children older than six months. The whole line of strollers are light and collapse compactly for bus travel or to throw into the trunk of your car.  If you’re looking for a less expensive option, check out Chiccos strollers or Kolcraft strollers.

If you’re a runner:

While they are a bit big, Bob strollers are wonderful for running with baby.  They adapt to fit infant car seats and also come in double strollers.  They have ample storage and a nice cover to protect baby from the sun.

honey-bee-bike-trailer-2009If you want to bike with baby:

One of our favorite multifunctional choices is the Burley Bike Trailer.  While somewhat clunky, it works as a bike trailer, a running stroller, and a double stroller.  Baby won’t be able to ride in it until she’s a year old, but it can be used for years on family bike commutes.  If the price seems a little steep, you could opt for the similar In-Step bike stroller for much less.

You’ll find even more detail about eco-friendly, budget-friendly baby-toting devices in our new book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide: Down-to-Earth Ways for Parents to Save Money and the Planet.  You’ll also get options for making your own sling and tips on saving money by purchasing a gently used stroller.

What is your favorite baby-toting device?  It may not even be a stroller! Do you own a stroller that you wish you had never purchased?

Five Ways to Score a Free Copy of The Eco-nomical Baby Guide

The Eco-nomical baby guideWe’re so proud of our new book that we’d like to get it in everyone’s hands.  The information stuffed between the bindings saved us about six thousand dollars in our babies’ first year alone so it’s worth shelling out a few bucks for a copy—but card carrying tightwads might want to know how to get the book for FREE.

  • Check it out! What?! Your library doesn’t have it? Most libraries have online forms where you can recommend books for purchase.  Once your library gets it make sure you put it on hold for yourself!
  • Enter our March giveaways. We’ll be hosting several giveaways in the month of March, all of which will involve wonderful green gear and a copy of our book.
  • Put it on your baby shower registry. Several sites such as Mygiftlist.com allow you to create an online gift registry that includes cloth diapers, eco-friendly baby soaps and a copy of our book. Hey, it’s free for you!
  • Review it on your blog. We’re looking for bloggers who post at least a few times a week and have some connection to the content of our book.  If it looks like your blog will be a good fit, we’ll email you back for your mailing address and get a review copy to you as soon as possible. You can even use it as a giveaway on your site after you read it!
  • Share a copy with friends. O.K. This isn’t quite free but if you have pregnant pals a group of you can purchase one book and share it amongst yourselves.  Then maybe you can stick together to problem solve the challenges of green parenting when your babies arrive.

If you don’t have a blog, a library, pregnant friends, or anyone willing to throw you a baby shower we should tell you that the book is available for pre-order in the next few weeks at 25% off. It would be nice if all of you were so inspired by that temporary sale that you bought several thousand copies of our books I suppose, but as thrifty souls ourselves, it brings us even more happiness to find ways for you to score a copy of our little gem for free.  Thanks for all your support!

Valentine Truffle Giveaway

The moonlit diaper changes, the pureed yam smeared on your clothes, the endless laundering and folding of tiny garments.  Let’s face it––parenting isn’t always romantic.  This Valentine’s Day you deserve chocolate for your unsung parental heroics.

vegan chocolate trufflesThanks to Abe’s Market, you just might win some!  This natural product online shop is going to give one of our readers a box of vegan organic dark chocolate truffles.  Yum!  Simply post your comment below by February 14th and you’ll automatically be entered to win.

If you’re unwilling to take your chances on the contest, you may want to check out Abe’s Market to try a few of their other Valentine gift ideas. You can pick up white chocolate pear chardonnay sauce, victorian fragrant foaming bath oil, or organic cacao chai tea all for fifteen dollars or less.   (Better yet, give your valentine a detailed wish list.)  I hope either way you end up with a decadent treat this Valentine’s Day!

Book Review and Giveaway: Super Baby Food

One of the first natural baby food cookbooks to hit the mainstream, Super Baby Food, is still enjoying relative fame.  I was thrilled to find the first edition in its purple cover in a pile of garage sale books and happily paid a quarter to make it mine.

Super Baby FoodI eagerly rushed home and began reading, but found myself disappointed.  The book is loosely organized, full of anecdotes and often difficult to follow.  Although it’s over 500 pages long, there are really only about thirty critically important pages of information to read.

To be fair, I do love those thirty pages. Ruth Yaron challenges our ideas of traditional baby food by offering up other ingredients for home-blended meals.  She explains how to whirl up vegetables and fruits in your blender and then dump it into ice cube trays to freeze and store.  As baby gets older, she has tips for including egg yolk, beans, kale, and a variety of other healthy foods into a “super porridge” that can be inexpensively prepared.

Yager also has some fun recipes for toddler foods including tofu McNuggets, nutty millet pancakes and peanut butter pudding.   The creativity in food presentation and delivery are pretty remarkable as well.  For example, she recommends spreading a slice of bread with peanut butter and then wrapping it around a whole banana as a creative vegan hot dog.

It’s also fascinating that Yager’s children have been quite healthy based on their rich diet of whole grains, greens, and hearty proteins.  She insists that while most children are sick between six to twelve times a year, her family faces illness once or twice at most.

As a working mom with limited time, I found the book to be heavily layered with irrelevant details and tough to weed through. For example, in the middle of the arts and crafts section she goes into great detail about using zip lock bags, adult sized socks and duct tape to avoid purchasing snow boots.  On the same page she gives directions for shining patent leather shoes with petroleum jelly. I’m not sure either of those things even needs to be in a baby food book.  To be fair, I haven’t read the second edition which may have edited some of the cumbersome tidbits out.

Is it worth buying?  If you’re interested in making your own baby food for economic, health and environmental reasons it’s a good resource, but I would recommend checking it out from the library or picking it up secondhand.  I’ll be sending my copy out to a lucky reader who will be able to read the book for herself and develop her own opinion.  Simply comment by February 12th to be entered in our giveaway!

Have you read Super Baby Food?  Did you find it be a valuable resource?  Do you make your own food at home?

The Best Stainless Steel Water Bottle!

best stainless steel water bottleFor the last four years I’ve been slurping my beverages from a well worn plastic bottle.  Yes, it’s made from a “safer” plastic–but it still didn’t exactly feel safe.  Still, I was loathe to toss it in the trash in the name of environmentalism.  Luckily, it failed on its own and I was free embrace stainless steel.  Still, I was convinced that the options were limited.  After all I wanted a water bottle that:

  • Fit in my car beverage slot
  • Had a wide mouth that could easily be filled with ice.
  • Held at least 20 ounces of water.
  • Had a flip top straw top so that I could drink safely while driving to work without having to unscrew a lid or tip my head back.

My husband found just what I was looking for in the Nathan Stainless Steel  Flip Straw Bottle.  (Many models are currently on sale right now).  I love this little bottle!  In addition to meeting all my criteria, mine is green and marked with a “reduce, reuse, recycle” label.  It also comes with a handy clip that can be fastened onto backpacks or bags when on the go.

What’s your favorite water bottle?  Do you stick with glass, plastic or stainless steel?  Thanks for sharing your tips with our readers!

Friday Question: Do Flushable Diaper Liners Really Work?

flushable diaper linersIt’s official.  Our daughter has started solids and consequently has entered the “gross poops” stage of cloth diapering.  We dunk and rinse in the toilet, but as much as we love cloth diapering, this phase isn’t exactly delightful.

Liners are available so that solid waste and the thin layer of paper can simply be dumped into the toilet and flushed away.  Imse Vimse, Biosoft, Real Nappies, and Kushies all offer flushable liners.  Have you used them and had good results?

Believe it or not, when your baby is just wet instead of poopy, the flushable liners can be laundered and reused which means that just one pack can last for quite awhile.  Have you found flushable diaper liners to be worth the expense? Do they prevent toilet dunking?