Monday, May 2, 2016

Mammal Monday -- Grevy's Zebra!

It's Mammal Monday and time to celebrate the Grevy’s Zebra (Equus grevyi)!  (image is from   The Grevy’s zebra is one of three species of zebra and is found primarily in Kenya (95% of the population), but also in small areas ofEthiopia.  According to the National Zoo, Grevy’s zebras can grow to about 990 pounds, with males being about 10% larger than females.  They graze primarily on tough grasses found on the African savannah, and can live up to 20 years in captivity.  The adults mate in August, September, and October and gestation lasts a whopping 13 months!

Estimated to have declined in population by up to 50% in the past two decades, Grevy’s zebras are on the IUCN’s list of threatened species primarily due to habitat destruction, human disturbance, and competition with grazing domestic animals.  According to the authors of Wildlife Heroes (Scardina & Flocken, 2012), the social system of these zebras makes them particularly susceptible to threats:  “Grevy’s zebras have a totally different social system than the more numerous plains zebra, which served them well in their ecological niche until resources and numbers began to decline.  Breeding males remain on their territories year-round – sometimes even in times of severe drought.  Females and nonterrritorial (bachelor) males will migrate to more habitable pastures.  As fewer than three thousand Grevy’s zebra’s remain over thousands of square kilometers in northern Kenya and Ethiopia, the strongest, most territorial males are often left with a territory no females traverse.  On top of habitat loss, water shortages, hunting pressures and human disturbance, this certainly makes a successful breeding season more difficult, so the downward population spiral continues.”

A few reasons why we should care about zebra populations:
1)  Zebras, wildebeest, and antelope participate in a complex migration each year.  Zebras eat the toughest grasses first, which stimulates new, more tender growth for the next wave of migratory herbivores. *
2)  Zebras are prey species to carnivores such as lions and hyenas.  Grevy’s zebras, in particular, expand the range of these carnivores by inhabiting areas that other zebras do not (Scardina & Flocken, 2012)
3)  Saving zebras helps to protect other species that depend on this complex landscape.
Want to help protect the Grevy’s zebra?  Adopt a Grevy’s zebra at the Cincinnati zoo or support the Grevy’s Zebra Trust, which works to employ members of the local community in zebra monitoring programs. 

Friday, April 29, 2016

Meat-free Friday -- Spaghetti with Tomatoes and White Beans

Here's a tasty recipe adapted from MarthaStewart's website.  It's  quick and easy for a Friday night!  Don't forget to "Like" greenmomster on Facebook for recipes and other environmental news.


  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 can (15 oz.) white cannellini beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 2 cups flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 olive oil
  • 4 tsp jar garlic or 6 cloves, chopped
  • pinch of red pepper flakes, or more if you like it hot!
  • 1 lb cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • grated Parmesan cheese for serving
  1. Cook pasta.  Add beans during the last minute of cooking.  Drain, saving 1/2 cup pasta water.
  2. Saute parsley, lemon juice, and oil.  Add red pepper and garlic; saute about 1 minute.  Add tomatoes and a little bit of pasta water.  Cook until "saucy".
  3. Toss the parsley/tomato mixture, pasta, and remaining pasta water.  Serve with Parmesan cheese.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Mammal Monday -- Ranger Rick!

It's Mammal Monday and we're celebrating Ranger Rick, the raccoon mascot of the National Wildlife Federation!  Vienna VA is working to become the next Wildlife-Friendly Certified Community, which means that we'll have businesses, schools, churches, and homes throughout our town who have committed to making their property "wildlife friendly".

What does "wildlife-friendly" mean?  It means that your property has food, water, cover, and places for wildlife to raise their young.  It's that simple!  And "wildlife-friendly" doesn't necessarily mean "big".  Even a balcony garden can provide the four requirements for butterfly species -- plant milkweed (a larval plant, or a place to raise young) and native flowers (food and cover for butterflies) in flower pots, and put out some water, and you've got a habitat for monarchs!

Join the Town of Vienna and get your home or town certified Wildlife Friendly!  It makes Ranger Rick want to dance for joy!


Saturday, April 23, 2016

Earth Day Bioblitzin'

So what did you do for Earth Day?  Our family headed out to Sky Meadows State Park to participate in the big bioblitz!  What's a bioblitz?  It's a a set period of time (often 24 hours) when people go out to survey all of the plants and animals they can find in a certain geographic area.  We were surveying Sky Meadows State Park in VA as part of the VA statewide bioblitz, but you can find local bioblitz activities worldwide.  National Geographic's 2016 bioblitz will be held in May in Washington DC.

Bioblitz is a lot of fun and you don't have to be an expert -- the organizers will pair you with folks who can help you discover what's out there.  Even this early in spring, we saw several different types of butterflies, including zebra swallowtails!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Meat-free Friday -- Here's to Prince


No recipe this week -- instead, let's lift our glass to Prince and his commitment to going vegan.  PETA named him their Sexiest Vegetarian Celebrity in 2006,  In addition to his great musical talent, I think we can definitely name Prince as one of our "Celebrities Doing Green Stuff" for his vegetarian style.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Faith and science

For much of my life I've been active in my church and active in environmental issues.  Often, I was frustrated by folks who seemed to want to speak for me ... loudly.  I was told that to be a "good Christian" there were certain things I had to believe and science wasn't one of those things.  Conversely, my faith was often questioned by fellow science students.  I remember a student giving a presentation in a biology class I was teaching, saying "I'm a Christian, so I don't believe in evolution. But I'm going to tell you about it, because the professor wants me to."  That statement certainly livened things up in class!

Lately I've been noticing a change; I've seen science and religion coming together more frequently.  This mixing of disciplines is great news.  To me, the two have always gone hand-in-hand -- I love studying the complicated world that God created.  People of faith are starting to acknowledge that science and religion are not mutually exclusive.  They're noticing that "creation care" is also "people care" and that often, the people most impacted by environmental degradation are the poor and powerless.  .

Our church is currently working towards a Green Faith Certification, and one of our tasks was to present an education series on environmental issues.  Today's class was especially interesting, because we showed a video presentation by Katherine Hayhoe.  Dr. Hayhoe is a climate scientist and evangelical Christian.  In her presentation, she does a great job of laying out the basics of climate science, as well as the relationship between science and religion.  Take 15 minutes and check out this talk:

Dr. Hayhoe isn't the only one out there talking about religion and science -- plenty of organizations are active in "creation care".  Green Faith is a non-demominational organization that includes Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Buddhist, and Islamic statements of faith.  The mission of  Interfaith Power and Light (IPL) "is to be faithful stewards of Creation by responding to global warming through the promotion of energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy."  Pope Francis'  Encyclical "Care for Our Common Home" made international news last year.  We even have local interfaith efforts, such as Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions (FACS) which recently held a workshop in my town that included local and state elected officials.

Now that we're seeing that faith and science can work well together, we can take the best of both worlds to take on big challenges  -- this is great news for the environmental movement!  Please share what your local congregation is doing!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Meat-free Friday -- Roasted beer and lime cauliflower tacos with cilantro coleslaw

Thug Kitchen is back on meat-free Friday and I'm providing you some cooking music, too!  This recipe is hot, hot, hot, but really tasty.  It comes from the Thug Kitchen cookbook (given to me by my kids).  By the way, this is a GREAT COOKBOOK if you're looking to eat more meat-free meals.  Here's the recipe, edited by me -- I doubled this recipe for a family of five and everything was eaten quickly!


  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped into small pieces
  • 3/4 cup beer
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tblsp lime juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tblsp of your go-to chipotle hot sauce (I used sriracha)
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic (I used 2 tblsp jar garlic)
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tblsp olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 6 corn tortillas
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • quick lime and cilantro slaw
  • fire-roasted salsa
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  
  2. In a saucepan, heat beer, broth, lime juice, soy sauce, hot sauce, and garlic over medium heat.  Add cauliflower and simmer for about 2 minutes.
  3. Toss the spices, salt, and olive oil in a large bowl.  Add cauliflower and onion, stirring to coat. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes.
  4. Make the tacos using cauliflower, avocado, and some slaw.  We added some salsa and sour cream to cut the heat.

Lime and Cilantro Slaw-- this is so good, you'll eat it as a side-dish!
  • 1/2 head green cabbage, chopped small
  • 1 small carrot, chopped small
  • 2 tblsp lime juice
  • 2 tblsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
  1. Combine lime juice, rice vinegar, olive oil, and salt.  Toss with green cabbage, carrot, and cilantro.