Friday, August 28, 2015

More zucchini to stuff!

This is the Year of the Zucchini at my house, so this week’s recipe once again features this plentiful vegetable.  The recipe is adapted from 101 Things to do with Zucchini – enjoy!

Egg Stuffed Zucchini


  • 4 medium zucchini
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 2 tblsp butter
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • salt and pepper, red pepper flakes if you like a little zippier dish
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of grated cheddar cheese

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  1. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out the pulp, leaving about 1/2 inch of shell.  Chop the pulp. 
  2. Pour the water in a baking dish and put the zucchini shells in the dish, facedown.  Cook the zucchini in an oven at 350 degrees for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until the zucchini is tender.
  3. Saute pulp and tomato in butter until tender.  Add the eggs, salt and pepper.  Once the egg is cooked, spoon it into the zucchini shells.  Top with cheese and cook in the oven until cheese melts.

101 Things to Do with Zucchini

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Panda Twins!

The National Zoo announced earlier this week that Mei Xiang has given birth to twin pandas!  This is the third time she’s given birth, but it’s going to be a bumpy ride – pandas usually don’t nurse both twins, so the zoo staff will have to employ some creative techniques over the next few weeks.  Fortunately, the National Zoo staff recently successfully raised a sloth bear cub, so they can use that experience in this situation. (Photo: Tallie Wiles, Smithsonian's National Zoo).

Although pandas are cute, why should we care about a panda birth and the conservation of this species?  Pandas are endangered in their native habitat of China, Viet Nam, and Myanmar.  They’re currently only found on a few mountain ranges in China.  In 2004, the wild population was estimated at roughly 1600 individuals.  The major threats to pandas are habitat loss (as is the case with many species) and habitat fragmentation.  Since pandas eat primarily bamboo, they used to migrate whenever they needed to search out new sources of bamboo. Since their habitat is shrinking, this migration becomes harder and harder.  (

The fact that pandas eat bamboo is one of the main reasons conservation professionals want to save them.  As the pandas dine (and if you’ve ever watched them chomp endlessly on bamboo, dine they do!), they help to spread seeds and keep the bamboo forests healthy.  Many other species, such as the crested ibis, golden snub-nosed monkey, and dwarf blue sheep depend on this type of habitat.  (WWF 2015)

But there’s another reason we should save the pandas, as the World Wildlife Fund states on their website:

“We should do everything we can to save the giant panda because we are the ones that have driven it to the edge of extinction. And because we can.” (WWF 2015)

impressionist panda


Arkive. n.d. Giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca). Retrieved on 8/26/15 from <>

World Wildlife Fund. 2015. Why should we save the giant panda?  Retrieved on 8/26/15 from <>

Friday, August 21, 2015

Meat-free Friday–Salad!

During the summer, all the veggies, fruit, and salad we eat come from the CSA or our garden.  It’s all fresh and whole.  But I have to admit, during the winter, I’ll often reach for those bags of salad greens, just because they’re easy.  I always had a sneaking suspicion that I really should just go with the heads of lettuce (and not just because it’s cheaper), but hey, I get a little lazy as the daylight gets shorter. recently posted why my suspicions were correct.  In 7 Reasons to Ditch Packaged Salads, they list why we should stick with the heads of lettuce, spinach, kale, etc.  The reason that’s most convincing to me is the fact that a tremendous amount of water is used to produce those little bags and their contents.  Be sure to read the article for more reasons. 

So in the spirit of fresh salads, this week’s recipe is a favorite – Arugula and Fig Salad!

Photo from
Arugula and Fig Salad

Figs, stems off, cut in half
shredded parmesan cheese
italian dressing, optional

1)  Combine all ingredients in a salad bowl.  I never use the dressing, so test it before adding any dressing to your salad.  Enjoy!

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

5 fun monarch facts!

We often think that the truly impressive natural wonders are in places like Africa or Yellowstone National Park, but there’s a record-breaking migration happening in your backyard every year around this time.  The monarch butterflies are starting to arrive here on the East coast! 

Yesterday, Vanessa (a park employee) and I headed out to collect monarch caterpillars and eggs – they’ll be raised indoors and then released once they’re adults.  The staff and visitors at Sky Meadows State Park participate in tagging and tracking these fascinating insects on their annual migration to Mexico.

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These fascinating insects start as very tiny eggs,

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eat their way through several “instars” or molts to become large caterpillars,
monarch caterpillar

and end up as adult monarch butterflies!

The Sky Meadows staff participates with Project Monarch Watch to tag and release these butterflies,  This citizen science project helps researchers learn more about monarchs, and it’s a fun project families can do together!

Did you know:
  • monarch butterflies have just one larval host plant (the plant that the caterpillars eat) – milkweed!  That’s why it’s so important to provide lots of milkweed in your gardens.
  • monarch butterflies are distasteful and even toxic to many predators, thanks to the cardiac glycosides found in their larval host plants.
  • monarch butterflies complete a transcontinental migration each year, using 3 to 5 generations of butterflies – read Four Wings and a Prayer by Sue Halpern to learn more about this migration
  • it’s easy to tell male and female monarchs apart – just look at their wings.  The males have a pheromone spot (see the broader black line on the bottom or hindwing) (images from Project Monarch Watch)
Male Monarch image
while females don’t
Female Monarch image
  • the monarch butterfly has its own IMAX 3D movie – The Flight of the Butterflies!  This story of the monarch butterfly migration and the scientist who studied it is a fascinating one and appropriate for all ages.
Take a little time out this summer and fall to enjoy this marvel of the natural world that’s right in your own backyard!

Friday, August 14, 2015

3 for 1 pesto from Guest blogger Marna Ashburn Krajeski!

It’s pesto season, so I’m reposting this 3-for-1 set of recipes from Marna Ashburn.  Lots of tasty dishes here! Be sure to “like” greenmomster on Facebook for your weekly recipes and environmental news.

Nothing says summer (even end-of-summer) more than homemade pesto. You can make it now with fresh basil from your garden or the farmer's market and freeze it in small portions for use later. Fresh is best, of course, but even your frozen pesto has more vivid pesto (2)flavor than the store-bought stuff in the dead of winter.

My favorite pesto recipe comes from the original Moosewood Cookbook by Molly Katzen. Her addition of butter and parsley adds a nice mellow finish.  You can add this to a dish of hot pasta, or mix a spoonful into mayonnaise for a terrific sandwich spread. Another favorite way at our house is to spread pesto on pizza dough, sprinkle with shredded mozzarella, and top with sauteed spinach, diced tomatoes, black olives, and feta.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.  (We call it the Popeye Special.) Pesto is so simple to make...


3 cups packed fresh basil leaves (stems removed)
2 large cloves fresh garlic
1/2 cup pine nuts or walnuts
3/4 cup packed fresh parsley (stems removed)
3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup melted butter
Salt to taste
Combine everything in a food processor on low, then medium speed. Thoroughly work into a smooth paste. Toss with hot drained pasta. Refrigerate leftover pesto.
I always say that once you've hauled the food processor from the bottom shelf of the pantry, you might as well whip up some hummus. This high-protein spread goes great on crackers or a baguette slice, especially when topped with bruschetta (the recipe for bruschetta follows.) It's a filling summer appetizer you can eat outside on the deck. This hummus recipe is also from the Moosewood Cookbook, revised edition.


2-3 medium garlic cloves, sliced
a large handful of parsley
2 healthy scallions, in 1-inch pieces
3 cups cooked chick peas (2 15.5 oz cans, rinsed and well-drained)
6 T tahini
6 T fresh lemon juice
3/4 to 1 T salt (to taste)
optional: cayenne and a little cumin, to taste
1. Place garlic, parsley, and scallions in a food processor and mince.
2. Add chick peas, tahini, lemon juice, and salt, and puree to a thick paste
3. Season to taste, if desired, with cayenne and cumin (and correct the salt, if necessary. Transfer to a tightly-lidded container and chill.


(This recipe calls for plum tomatoes, but I also like to use grape tomatoes for their sharp, crisp flavor.)
8 roma (plum) tomatoes, diced
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 loaf French bread, toasted and sliced
In a bowl, toss together the tomatoes, basil, and garlic. Mix in the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper. Serve on toasted bread. (Great if you put a dollop of hummus first, followed by the bruschetta!)

Marna Ashburn Krajeski, Author
Amusing malapropisms and outrageous abuses of the English language
HOUSEHOLD BAGGAGE: The Moving Life of a Military Wife
HOUSEHOLD BAGGAGE HANDLERS: 56 Stories from the Hearts and Lives of Military Wives
Party Planning Notebooks for all occasions

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Happy World Elephant Day!

To celebrate World Elephant Day, here’s a repost with lots of links for you to enjoy and learn about elephants. 

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Adopt an Orphaned Elephant

(photo from David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust)

Who doesn’t love elephants?  At greenmomster, we’ve had several posts about elephants:

We’ve also listed many ways you can help in elephant conservation, including:

Now there are two new ways to learn more about the issue of elephant poaching and ways you can help in elephant conservation:

  1. The Diane Rehm radio show just had an informative hour on elephant conservation.  
  2. CBS Sunday morning just presented a great program on the fight against elephant poaching in Africa.

Take some time; read and watch.  Then decide how you’re going to help out.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Questions I’d still like to ask the candidates

Well, the first Republican debate has come and gone, and not a single question about climate change.  Thus, I’m reposting from earlier this year – maybe we can get a few of these questions included in the next debate? 

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Everyone has issues that he or she hopes the candidates will address. IMG_20150322_154242_493I’m hoping that the candidates for President/Senate/Congress can put down their single smart phones (with only one email address), drop the snowballs, and stop decorating their offices “Downton Abbey” style long enough to answer my questions.

  1. What is your plan to move the U.S. economy toward a sustainable energy supply that decreases our carbon footprint significantly?
  2. How do you plan to work with other nations, particularly India and China, to decrease the global use of non-renewable energy?
  3. How do you plan to support and encourage U.S. industry to innovate to become a world supplier of green energy technology?
  4. Now that we’re in the middle of what scientists consider to be the 6th global extinction event, what’s your plan for protecting global biodiversity?
  5. What is your “national water strategy”, including maintaining supplies of freshwater in the U.S. and abroad, and dealing with refugees from areas affected by sea level rise or drought conditions?
  6. Are you actually planning to support the crazy idea of drilling for oil off the southern U.S. Atlantic coast, particularly off the coast of Virginia?

Friday, August 7, 2015

Greek Spinach and Orzo Soup


This week’s recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, A Beautiful Bowl of Soup, the best vegetarian recipes, by Paulette Mitchell. This particular soup is a vegan recipe and always a crowd-pleaser. Enjoy!

2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup coarsely chopped onion
1 red bell pepper, seeded, deribbed, and finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 cups vegetable stock
1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
6 cups coarsely shredded spinach
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup orzo
1/4 cup lemon juice

1) Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the onion and cook until translucent (about 5 minutes).
2) Add the bell pepper and garlic. Continue to cook until the bell pepper is soft.
3) Add the vegetable stock and tomatoes with juice.
4) Increase the heat and bring to a boil. Stir in spinach, parsley, and orzo. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally until the spinach is wilted and the orzo is tender.
5) Stir in the lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.

I usually double this recipe for my family of 5.

Monday, August 3, 2015

The Clean Power Plan–and that’s no bull!


Congratulations to President Obama for grabbing the bull by the horns on the issue of climate change! (yes, I know it’s a cow……)

The White House and EPA today announced new regulations to combat climate change called “the Clean Power Plan.”  Check out this short video introducing the plan.  The Washington Post published a great article summarizing the ins and outs of the new plan.  Be sure to read this short article by Chris Mooney to learn about the costs and benefits of this plan that’s centered around EPA enforcement.  You might be wondering what happened to the carbon tax or cap and trade?  Well, we can thank congressional gridlock for the loss of those two strategies.  As stated in the Washington Post article:

“These proposals might be more popular than an EPA-centered approach — and they might also be harder to challenge legally (everyone expects lawsuits over the final Clean Power Plan). But gridlock in Congress has prevented the passage of legislation to curb climate change.”

This plan is a welcome step in the right direction, hopefully preparing us for the climate talks in Paris this fall. It shows the world that we’re “acting locally and thinking globally.”  Many folks say the plan will be too expensive, but they’re not taking into account the cost of doing nothing – the costs of increased sea level rise (talk to folks on Smith Island, Kiribati, Miami, or Bangladesh if you think it’s not important), higher rates of infectious disease, and increased losses of biodiversity.  Renewable energy is a worthwhile and attainable goal.  Did you know that the tiny state of Bavaria in Germany has more solar energy generation capacity than the entire U.S.?  Yes, the Bavaria that’s known for the snowy Alps – if they can do it, so can we!



  The Bavarians – their  beer is better than ours and now they’re beating us when it comes to solar?!  We’ve got to catch up!

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