Mackerel paté and creative recycling.

When a cup breaks, or we empty the orange juice bottle, or scrape out the last sardine,  the first thing we do, is decide in which recycling bin it has to go into; paper, glass, cartons or the normal trash.  There is a fifth option . The “creative recycling basket.

A mackerel pate, made from either fresh or smoked or canned mackerel and served in a recycled sardine can, makes  for fun summer entertaining.


  • Use any other fish of your choice; salmon, tuna, sardines…
  • Add the creme fraiche/sour cream/thick cream little by little until you are happy with the consistency.  You don’t want too much cream and no fish.
  • For a slight tang, you can add some chopped green chili or some piment d’espelette.
  • Capers can be chopped and added.
  • Take care not to mix to an unrecognizable horrible pulp without any texture. Always mix lightly with a fork.
  • Lime zest can be used instead of lemon zest.

Don’t we tend to be a bit more frivolous and playful in summer? Using empty food cans can be different and interesting outside on the patio, for teenagers parties, or simply just to lose the seriousness and have fun.  Use them for serving food in as starters or appetizers, for serving olives with your white wine or tapenade with bread, or fill them colourful sands and tealights, prop a small container(recycled) into the sand and add a cute flower or two – perfect for some interest on the table or in corners of the garden or even the kitchen. It is nothing but fun.

The most magical recycling comes from glass containers and here in France, we get the cutest yoghurt and petit dessert glass bottles, not to mention the confiture bottles, and whatever else bottles. I recycle them all, meaning I reuse  a lot of them. They serve in my atelier for my paints, for flower vases all over the garden, for holders of all sort. Use some wire and string them together to make  “fairy lights”, using tealights. Or use some wire and make a hanging little vase for your windows and door knobs.

Fill them with small pebbles and hang like small lanterns in the garden on hooks stuck in the ground. Use them  en masse to achieve the best effect. Fill them with moss and stick flowers in, fill with sea shells, coloured sand. Use them for starters or appetizers. And when they get too “used up”, dump them into the glass recycle bin and start recycling into your creative recycle basket again. No guilt about breakage or expensive losses.

Unless you have a huge garden, few of us can afford masses of beautiful fresh flowers throughout the house.  And even a tiny vase costs more than it is worth. Why spend money when you can find something quirky and differ3nt  in your creative recycling basket? A chipped cup or teapot or glass is perfect to brighten corners right throughout the house, from the bedroom to the guest bathroom to the kitchen to the laundry. It can carry a flower or a leaf or a fern or the dead endings you do on your shrubs, or the daffodil you “pick” on your daily walks… Nothing gives so much pleasure and lifts a room like something fresh from nature, however small it may be.

Instead of throwing away the broken cup, save the pieces of porcelain and use them to mosaic a small table that has lost some life, or a vase or a pot or simply display in a bowl outside in the garden. Use a cup, or teapot, or bowl that isn’t completely broken and plant a small flower or sow a seed or two for colour in a corner somewhere – on the windowsill, on a small table, on your bed table,  next to the bath by the toothbrush, on a weathered chair in the corner, on a big stone, by the fish pond, on an old tree stump…

Don’t forget about sturdy small boxes which can be covered in colourful fabric or paper and used as  gift boxes or storage boxes, especially shoe boxes. Fill with shredded paper and add chocolates, or homebakes cookies, or an assortment of jams, or seedlings for the summer garden, or a pretty old chipped cup planted with a pansy… Recycle the balsa wooden holders from your cheeses,the baskets from the strawberries, fruit; line them with a napkin, use as a bread and biscuit  basket, or to serve your silverware for a barbeque. I use my camembert holders in my atelier for all my art things…pen nibs, sharpeners, erasers, one serves as a little table bin, another holds a lemon scented candle, another holds stamps…

In the kitchen, I use a recycled maple syrup bottle for my washing liquid by the sink. I added an oil spout and it works beautifully. I recyle other nice bottles for oils and use some for candles…fill with sand and stick a long “dripping” candle in. The wax that melts down the bottle makes for lovely “sculptures”.

If you don’t have a creative recyling basket or cupbard yet, consider it. It is cheap and creative, interesting and different, not to mention environmentally friendly.

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27 responses

  1. That’s really lovely, I just bought some sardines at this really cool market I discovered here in LA, Will totally save the can now. Maybe plant some sprouts seeds in it. Thanks for the tip. :-D

    20/03/2010 at 18:56

  2. Toujours un très joli univers, chez toi ! es aquarelles, je les adore. Quant à tes recyclages, j’envie ton imagination … et je te piquerai quelques idées !
    Have a very nice week end !

    20/03/2010 at 20:58

  3. Wonderful ideas – so creative and you have such a good taste! I am trying to reuse old containers, but it was only practical, never anything pretty. Thanks for the inspiration!

    21/03/2010 at 05:37

  4. Oh wouaou..we have similar tastes different containers..I would have never thought of the pate par contre!I save olive oil bottles etc:) It is so true that your little glass jars are so pretty in France..I am with Hélene.. Love your aquarelles.and your photos..plse excuse my errors I am on my daughter’s computer and the keyboard is not like mine for the accents..

    Love your posts..I will be borrowing ideas too..I am certain you will let us:) I still cannot wait for the warm serviettes..Have a lovely afternoon..

    We had baby in bed with us this am..:)

    21/03/2010 at 13:50

  5. Ronelle, HONESTLY, you don’t do anything in a mundane way.

    Thank you so much for all of these lovely little, life-altering tidbits. I adore them.

    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

    P.S. Sardine tins with the lid partially rolled back were used at a GREAT art show in Maine. Tiny wooden fish were colorfully painted and slightly coming out of tin. They’re wonderful and I have one hanging in our cottage. Also, I use the low sardine tins to control earwigs. I bait tins with half canola oil and half soy sauce, put tin out at night and in the morning dump the earwigs and mix into the compost bin.

    21/03/2010 at 17:49

  6. Ronell, the paté looks delicious! You have inspired me once again…this time to look for more creative ways to use recycling items! Thanks Ronell….!!

    21/03/2010 at 19:01

  7. Ronell, you do have the most amazing ideas! Like the comment above, nothing is mundane in your world. I will have to borrow some of these ideas, as well. It seems as if your containers are more lovely in France….but is that a surprise? ;0
    Looking forward to the frivolousness of summer!
    xo ~ Dana

    22/03/2010 at 00:24

  8. Oh les sardines ou les maquereaux en boite! C’est vrai qu’on peut en faire plein de bonnes choses, et en plus on garde les boites pour en faire de la deco, super idee! C’est vrai qu’on a de jolies boites de conserves en France!

    22/03/2010 at 08:35

  9. These are such wonderful ideas. Very clever. I’m bookmarking this so as I find something I think might work, I can come back and look for ideas.

    When we lived in the Bahamas, I tended to recycle more containers as you suggested. Often things aren’t available there so it’s smart to be clever and innovative. But as you suggested, in summer (which it is there almost all of the year) we tend to be less formal.

    Again, thanks so much for these ideas. And thanks for stopping by my kitchen.

    22/03/2010 at 12:42

  10. That’s a great idea about the creative recycling…I chuck anything I think may be useful for something else in an old washing up bowl. I think I will rename it “the creative recycling bowl”

    22/03/2010 at 12:45

  11. I love your creative use of things. I have been catering for 20 years and always look for unique ways to present things. I will remember your ideas. Thank you. Please stop by for a visit. http://www.rosemaryandthegoat. We will have one stop in France on a cruise this fall — Cherbourg. Hope to get to Paris one day.

    22/03/2010 at 14:11

  12. I love the presentation inside the can. Where do you get such lovely ideas? Must be the water in France!

    23/03/2010 at 01:35

  13. Your creativity has me totally gobsmacked every time. Ronelle, I will never look at a sardine can as garbage.Beautiful as always!!

    23/03/2010 at 08:08

  14. Ronell, your site is a delight for almost all the senses – if only I could smell your cooking! Your pate and the way you present it are both beautiful and wonderfully whimsical! Thanks for visiting me and reminding me what a delight I have been missing out on :) If only I had your artistic eye and creative hand!

    23/03/2010 at 08:54

  15. Andrea-Lynne

    I just love your site you are so creative. So many new ideas I am off now to see just what I have in my cupboards . No more throwing away the chipped cups.Thank You. Andrea

    23/03/2010 at 14:33

  16. Great recycling tips! I would never have thought of half of it.

    23/03/2010 at 15:12

  17. Anh

    You don’t know how much i love this post. From the recipe, to the inspiration around your house….

    You are amazing, Ronnell!

    23/03/2010 at 22:57

  18. Thank you so much for stopping by, for taking the tme to leave a comment and just simply for appreciating…on my turn, I appreciate every visit!

    25/03/2010 at 12:36

  19. I found a you know:) And this(similar) will be on our Easter table:)

    Thank you!C’est chouette:)

    03/04/2010 at 00:01

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  23. What a wonderful blog, I love your combination of cooking and artistic recycling! Thanks for the mackerel pate recipe, I used it yesterday with a little twist as I only had walnuts in the cupboard. But it was a huge success…. will keep on reading your blog!! from a fellow part-time french dweller, Lizzi.

    26/04/2011 at 09:28

  24. Pingback: Day 116 – A lunchtime special…. Mackerel Pate « Life with Lizzi

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