Friday, March 24, 2017

Italian Americans go green!

Well, last week may have been St. Patrick's Day, but did you know the Italian Americans were also celebrating?  Yup, it was St. Joseph's Day! Check out the festivities from NPR's article. (photo:

In order to properly celebrate St. Joseph's Day, we need to eat a meat-free dish featuring fava beans.  So I'm providing several recipes -- check out Martha Stewart's list of the best fava bean recipes and celebrate like a paisan!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

International Day of Forests

This week, the UN celebrates the International Day of Forests.  During this celebration, the UN encourages local communities to conserve forest resources.  The theme this year is "Forests and Energy" which was a little surprising to me.  2016 was "Forests and Water" and 2015 was "Forests and Climate Change".  2014 was "My Forest, Our Future," while the kick-off year was 2013.   The role of forests in sustainable energy is, I think, a unique idea that's going to be a challenge to sell -- that word "sustainable" is really critical to the theme.

I would have proposed "Forests and Biodiversity" as this year's theme.  Tropical forests cover 2% of the Earth's surface but house 50% of our terrestrial biodiversity.  Temperate deciduous forests are some of the most threatened ecosystems on the planet.  Forests can be used sustainably (there's lots to harvest in a sustainable way), but I don't think I would've focused on burning forests as a sustainable use.  I would have focused on other forest products such as cocoa, lumber, pharmaceuticals, coffee, syrup, even mushrooms and ginseng!  What do you think?

Friday, March 17, 2017

Meat free on St. Patty's Day!

Potato and Cabbage Soup
  • 1 small head of cabbage, coarsely chopped into 1 to 2 inch squares
  • 6 yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped into 2 inch cubes
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2  tablespoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme (about 1 1/2 tablespoons if you’re using dried thyme)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water (I used a little more)
  1. Melt the butter in a large soup pot and saute the onion, potatoes, salt, and pepper for about 5 minutes
  2. Add vegetable broth and water; boil until the potato is just soft enough to mash.
  3. Using a hand potato masher, mash the potatoes in the soup until half the potatoes are mashed and half are still in chunks.  If you really like a smooth soup, instead of hand-mashing, use a blender to puree about half the soup.
  4. Add cabbage and thyme; cook until cabbage is soft.
  5. Makes about 4 servings.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Cabbage on a stick

The perfect place to escape the last of the winter weather is the National Botanic Garden.  The building is filled with beautiful orchids and other tropical and desert plants.

They also have a nice display of endangered plants, so the endangered species of the week is (drumroll please.....)

Cabbage on a Stick! (Brighamia insignis)

This critically endangered plant is found on only one sea cliff on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.  Three factors threaten this species:
  • overgrazing
  • invasive plants that compete with the cabbage
  • the loss of its primary pollinator, the sphingid moth
Because of the loss of its pollinator, conservationists actually hand pollinate these plants and use the seeds to grow more plants in botanic gardens or conserve the seeds in seed banks. 

This plant demonstrates the importance of your local efforts to plant pollinator gardens and remove invasives. You might not be able to protect the Cabbage on a Stick, but you can protect your local ecosystems!  Think globally, act locally!

Friday, March 10, 2017

World's easiest meat-free Friday dish

OK -- no excuses.  This is the easiest meat-free Friday dish, and your family will leave NO leftovers.

Eggs and roasted veggies


  • any wintertime veggies you have -- I like to mix sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, and cauliflower, but you can use turnips, white potatoes, cabbage, etc.  
  • olive oil
  • red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper
  • eggs
  1. Chop the veggies into bite-sized pieces.  Mix with a generous amount of olive oil (the veggies should be a little shiny), and add red pepper, salt, and pepper to taste.
  2. Spread veggies on a baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes at 350 degrees
  3. Meanwhile, fry up the eggs -- some folks like them over-easy, some folks like them sunny side up.  
  4. Top the veggies with the eggs and serve with bread and a salad.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Going Green for Lent

Checking out our carbon footprints
Reuseable bags!
Playing the recycling game
Making bird feeders
It's Lent!  In the past I've provided ideas for going green during Lent, and this year my entire church jumped in!  To kick things off, we hosted an event that included informative displays, games, crafts, and even a spot to remove your name from catalog lists.  And everyone received a calendar to guide them through a Lenten Carbon Fast.  Check it out -- it's full of great ideas.

Friday, March 3, 2017

In case you missed it -- EPA cuts

Image result for photo cuyahoga river burning

Did you know that, before we had robust environmental protections in this country, rivers caught on fire?  Google "Cuyahoga river fire" (photo:  Ohio History Central).  And check out Love Canal and Tom's River, too.  We've come a long way, but unfortunately we may be headed back to the bad old days.

The White House has proposed deep cuts to the EPA's budget for implementation of environmental protections.  Here's a summary of the cuts that have been proposed (from Washington Post, 3/2/17):

  • annual budget would drop from $8.2 billion to $6.1 billion, including grants to States for environmental protection
  • EPA staff would be cut from 15,000 to 12,000 employees nationwide
  • the Chesapeake Bay cleanup budget would be slashed from the current $73 million to $5 million in the next fiscal year
  • 38 programs will be eliminated including grants to clean up brownfields, environmental justice programs (yup, protections for our poorest citizens), climate change initiatives, and funding for native Alaskan villages
  • the Office of Research and Development could lose 42% of its funding
The Flint MI lead poisoning is an example of what happens when we don't enforce environmental protections; this disaster will have impacts for many decades to come.  The proposed EPA cuts will multiply the Flint MI disaster and affect folks around the country.   Time to let our representatives know that we don't support rolling back protections.