Monday, October 28, 2013

A Frightfully Good Time!

DSC_0001My family and I had some great luck this weekend and won tickets to the National Zoo’s Boo at the Zoo!  We had a terrific time collecting candy, checking out people’s very creative costumes DSC_0029, enjoying the spooky decorations (the butterfly ecologist in me loved this one!)DSC_0027, and visiting some of the animals DSC_0025.  We especially enjoyed the Reptile Discovery CenterDSC_0023 We visited our favorite Panamanian golden frogs and learned about the Appalachian hellbenders from the Salamander AmbassadorsDSC_0024I really enjoyed learning about these fascinating creatures that are right in our backyard.  Did you know:

  • of the 550 salamander species found worldwide, about 1/3 of them call North America home
  • Appalachia is home to 77 species of salamander
  • salamanders start their lives fully aquatic with gills, and move to land for their adult lives
  • 0ne of the main threats to salamander survival is climate change – they need cool, wet places to live. 

Want to help with salamander conservation?  Check out this webpage

Many thanks to FONZ and the National Zoo staff and volunteers for a fun evening of Halloween trick or treating!

Source:  Smithsonian National Zoological Park.  N.d.  Be An Ambassador for Salamanders.  Accessed 10/27/2013 at

Friday, October 25, 2013

Yukon Gold Potato Soup–a re-post!

Well, the weather here in VA just got chilly!  So here’s a recipe I’ve adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks, A Beautiful Bowl of Soup, by Paulette Mitchell.  This soup is really tasty, particularly when you add the black olive caviar and garnishes!
A Beautiful Bowl of Soup: The Best Vegetarian Recipes

For the soup:
3 tblsp butter
1 cup coarsely chopped onion
5 cups veggie stock
2 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch chunks (about 3 cups)
1 tsp chopped garlic
For the caviar:
1 cup chopped pitted black olives
2 tblsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tblsp olive oil
2 tsp chopped garlic
salt, pepper, and red pepper to taste
For the garnish:
2 hard boiled eggs, crumbled
sour cream

1)  To make the soup, melt the butter in a large pot.  Add the onion and saute until tender.  Stir in the veggie stock, potatoes, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste.  Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer until potatoes are very tender.  With a potato masher, mash the potatoes until half are mashed and half are still in chunks.
2)  To make the caviar, mix all ingredients in a small bowl.
3)  Serve the soup topped with caviar, hard boiled eggs, and sour cream.  Yum!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Neonicotinoids–they’re bugging me

DSC_0072For many years, scientist have been trying to determine what’s killing many of our pollinators and beneficial insects.  A new report by the Xerces Society has consolidated published articles and summarized the possible effects of neonicotinoid insecticides.  When originally introduced, these insecticides were projected to be low impact – both for human and non-target species.  Newer research, though, is pointing to more negative impacts from these chemicals.  Here’s a link to download your copy of the report.  And this isn’t just an agricultural issue – these products are used in residential areas, often at much higher application rates.  Next steps?  Here’s what the Xerces Society is recommending (from a Xerces Society e-mail, no citation available):

  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should re-assess the ecological safety of currently approved neonicotinoids and immediately suspend registration of imidacloprid, clothianidin, thiamethoxam, and dinotefuran for all applications where there is a risk to nontarget organisms.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should significantly speed up the registration review process for neonicotinoids. The risk from exposure to neonicotinoid insecticides needs to be scientifically evaluated against the risk posed to beneficial species by alternative control measures.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should expand the number of nontarget terrestrial insect species used in the risk assessment process.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should adopt risk assessment protocols for exposure to nontarget insects that account for cumulative and synergistic effects, effects of long-term exposure to low concentrations, and exposure to pesticides through pollen and nectar.
  • The USDA Risk Management Agency's Federal Crop Insurance Corporation should approve reductions in crop insurance premiums for producers who avoid prophylactic use of neonicotinoids where the pest pressure does not warrant use.
  • The prophylactic use of neonicotinoids on crops should be halted. Neonicotinoids should only be used as part of an Integrated Pest Management plan.
  • The use of neonicotinoids for cosmetic reasons (such as against aphids in parks and gardens) rather than economic reasons should be banned on city- and county-owned lands.

For more information, check out the Xerces Society pesticides webpage.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Meat free Friday–something’s fishy!

fishingpond8Although it’s meat-free Friday, I know many greenmomsters like to cook fish on Friday, so today’s post is a little different.  Thanks to a world population of 7 billion people and industrial fishing methods, many of the world’s fisheries are severely depleted (and under-regulated fish farming can lead to severe pollution).  So what’s a greenmomster with a hankering for fish supposed to do?  The Monterey Bay Aquarium has an app for that!  Here’s the link for a cool app that tells you which fish populations are currently severely depleted and which populations are currently relatively healthy.  You can head to the grocery store or fish market armed with your phone and make environmentally-friendly decisions as you choose tonight’s dinner.  Of course, greenmomster always encourages you to eat as low on the food chain as possible, but we know that once in a while you just feel like some fish!

So let’s say you find some sustainably raised and harvested shrimp – why not make a little citrus shrimp?  This recipe is adapted from a cookbook we bought during our annual visit to beautiful Edisto Island SC, ‘Pon Top Edisto, by the congregation of Trinity Episcopal Church.

'Pon Top Edisto: Cookin' `Tweenst the Rivers
Citrus Shrimp
2 lbs raw shrimp
1/4 cup butter
2 oranges, peeled and separated into slices
2 lemons, sliced

  1. Preheat broiler to 500 degrees
  2. Clean shrimp and spread in a broiler pan.  Dot with butter, orange, and lemon slices
  3. Broil until the shrimp are pink, stirring often.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Halloween and orangutans

DSC_0020Thanks to the terrific blog, Climate Mama, I learned about an important campaign to try to protect orangutan habitat.  Palm oil is a product used in many of the foods we eat including chips, cookies, and candies.  The source of much palm oil also happens to be critical habitat for the orangutan – the main threat to their survival is habitat loss.  As an added environmental threat, remember that loss of tropical rainforest also means less rainforest to “soak up” chemicals that lead to climate change.  So what can you do to help?


Friday, October 11, 2013

Creamy Tomato Soup

DSC_0061Today’s recipe is adapted from a Cooking Light recipe (April 2013).  Serve with grilled cheese sandwiches and a salad for the perfect Fall evening dinner!

2 tblsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp cumin
dash of salt
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
4 tsp minced garlic
1 large can diced tomatoes
1 box (32 oz.) vegetable broth
1/2 cup half-and-half

1)  Heat oil in a large pot.  Saute onion, cumin, salt, and paprika until onions are clear.  Add garlic and saute another minute.
2)  Stir in tomatoes (undrained) and vegetable stock.  Cook for about 15 minutes and remove from heat.
3)  Stir in half-and-half.
4)  Place half of the tomato mixture in the blender with the center part of the lid removed and a paper towel in its place (to allow steam to escape).  Blend until smooth.  Pour the soup into a bowl and repeat with the other half of the tomato mixture. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Shocking Update on Eels!

If you like getting all the latest environmental news, be sure to "Like" greenmomster on Facebook!

In previous posts, we’ve written about American eels, the catadromous fish that aren’t on the Endangered Species list yet, but are a candidate for listing.  A recent issue of the Bay Journal (photo credit:  Steve Droter/Chesapeake Bay Program, Bay Journaal) reports that there’s good news on the eel front!  Recent stocking of Chesapeake Bay tributaries with eels has been successful.  These fish, predator and prey for many native species, are thriving in a tributary of the Susquehanna.  Check out the full article for this “good news” report!  (and by the way, the Bay Journal is one of the top periodicals for environmental news in the Chesapeake Bay watershed – please consider supporting this informative journal).  Most of the eels, which were only 3–7 inches long when stocked, are now nearly a foot long.  (Steve Droter / Chesapeake Bay Program)

Monday, October 7, 2013

World Animal Day!

IMG_20131005_122857_626October 4 was World Animal Day, a day to celebrate domestic and wild animals!  Greenmomster is always an advocate for protection of endangered and threatened species including the red knot, sea turtles, Przewalski’s horse, maned wolf, Magazine Mountain shagreenthe Lord Howe stick insect, solenodons, creatures in the DMZ, and many more.  On this blog, we’ve talked about the 100 most endangered specieswhy it’s important to protect endangered species and how the Endangered Species Act works.  If you didn’t celebrate World Animal Day yet, it’s not too late – you can still take a few minutes to read about an endangered species and find out how you can help.  At our house, we went a little more “domestic” and attended a blessing of the animals done by my brother at his church – all creatures great and small! 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Breakfast for dinner!

Eggs AvocadoTomatoBasilMichaelSymonThis week’s meat-free Friday recipe is Michael Symon’s Eggs in Avocado with Tomato and Basil (photo credit:  The Chew website).  I was watching The Chew (ABC) yesterday, and saw him demonstrate this recipe – it looks so tasty and easy!  Can’t wait to try it myself!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Good news for the Red Knot

As we’ve mentioned here before, the tiny red knot is an impressive little bird threatened with extinction.  In the last week, we’ve seen from several news sources that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to list the red knot as “threatened” under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.  This is an important step in protecting these shorebirds (the other endangered shorebird on the eastern U.S. coast listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act is the piping plover).   For more information, or for instructions on how to comment on the proposal, check out the Wildlife Society News.  (photo credit:  Peter Gleick,