Wednesday, June 28, 2017

What I did on my summer vacation -- wind farms!

I just got back from a fun getaway on Block Island RI, which is the home of the U.S.' first offshore wind farm.  This windfarm will provide enough clean energy to power 17,000 homes, including all of Block Island (replacing their diesel fuel).  People often think that the wind farms are "ugly", but I didn't think they were unsightly, and they certainly look a lot better than washed out cities from fossil-fuel caused sea level rise!  Check it out:

Friday, June 23, 2017

Summertime and the livin' is easy


Meat-free Fridays should be super simple during the summer.  One of my favorite go-tos?  Pasta with fresh basil, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and pine nuts.  Just cook the pasta and then run it under cold water until cool.  Toss with olive oil, basil, tomatoes, pine nuts, and mozzarella.

Side dishes?  A nice salad and some Italian soysage.  My favorite soysage is LightLife Smart Sausage, Italian style.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Penguins and the dad-bod

Fathers week continues with the Emperor Penguin!  These birds play a major role in successfully raising their chicks in a harsh environment -- check it out:

Monday, June 19, 2017


Let's celebrate Fathers Day a little longer -- this week we'll take a look at some of nature's outstanding fathers.  First stop, the seahorse!  In the past, I've written about why seahorses are cooler than thoroughbreds.  Now let's take a look at how they fare as fathers:

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Mammal Monday (OK Tuesday) -- Prairie Dogs, the candy bar of the prairie

It's graduation week at my house, so not a lot of time for writing, thus I'm reposting a Mammal Monday favorite -- enjoy!

Today's Washington Post included an article about prairie conservation on U.S. farmlands, so I thought it might be interesting to take a look at prairie dogs for  Mammal Monday.  Earlier this year, I wrote about black footed ferrets and bison and their roles in the North American prairie habitat   The prairie dog is the species upon which the bison and ferrets depend.  It holds things together on the prairie, because it is the "keystone species" for this habitat.  A keystone species is a species that, in spite of its biomass, plays a pivotal role in its ecosystem.  The prairie dog definitely fills that bill on the prairie.  It's the key prey species for black footed ferrets.  Its burrowing lifestyle provides shelter for many other species.  And its "grooming" of the grass around the tunnel openings affects plant species that other animals depend on. 

And they're just so darn cute!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Soup for Syria

Soup for Syria: Building Peace through Food

If you buy only one cookbook this year, it should be Soup for Syria.  As described in the book jacket, "Acclaimed chefs and cookbook authors the world over have come together to help food relief efforts to alleviate the suffering of Syrian refugees.  Each has contributed a recipe to this beautifully illustrated cookbook of delicious soups from around the world."

And these recipes are tasty too!  Here's a sample, the Curried Cauliflower Soup (my instructions here are slightly abridged from the original).


  • 2 tblsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 small garlic cloves, chopped (I used my ever-convenient pre-chopped garlic from a jar...)
  • 1 medium cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger (or substitute 1/2 tsp ground ginger)
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • salt to taste
  • 4 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 bunch scallions, finely chopped

  1. Heat the oil and saute the onion and garlic
  2. Add cauliflower and saute another minute or two.  Add in spices and salt and saute another couple of minutes
  3. Add stock, stir well, and simmer until cauliflower is soft
  4. Puree the soup in a blender, covering the hole in the lid with a towel.  You'll probably need to puree in 2 or 3 batches.
  5. Garnish with scallions
Makes 4-6 servings.  Enjoy!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Mammal Monday -- Chipmunks!

There's been a bumper crop of chipmunks in my neighborhood this year.  They're not endangered (yay!), so let's learn a few fun facts about chipmunks:

  • They come in many shapes and sizes!  There are 25 chipmunk species in the world, with only one of those species found outside of North America (that would be Asia's Eutamias sibiricus). The largest species is the eastern chipmunk, which can get to 11 inches and weigh up to 4.4 ounces.  (From National Geographic)
  • They're solitary, but then they're not!  Chipmunks usually live alone, unless it's time to breed.  Gestation takes about 30 days and offspring stay with the mother for about 2 months.  The females are in heat for about 6-7 hours and mate with several males during this time.  They produce litters of between 2-9 young, and they can give birth twice per season -- once in April to June and once in August to September.  (From SUNY-ESF)
  • Unlike their cousins the grey squirrel, they don't live in trees!  Nope, these little guys live in burrows underground.  They hibernate in these burrows from late Fall until Spring and they store food for the winter in these burrows, rather than hibernating and living off body fat. (SUNY-ESF and National Geographic)
  • They play an important role in the ecosystem!  During their 8 years of life (although most don't live past 2 or 3 years), chipmunks have an important role to play (what scientists call their "niche").  They're omnivores, eating both plant materials and insects, and they're a prey species for many organisms that eat higher on the food chain.  
And did I mention, they're cuuuute?!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

An easy way to reduce your climate change impact....just sayin'

America is no longer a leader in climate change reduction.  What can one greenmomster do?  I've said it before and I'll say it again -- one of the easiest actions you can take against climate change is EAT LESS MEAT!  Don't understand why?  Check out this re-post that explains why:

A great environmental goal is to “eat lower on the food chain.” What exactly does this mean? Well, let’s start at the beginning. When we talk about a food chain, we’re talking about a series of plants and animals that are related to one another through predation. Food chains always start with a plant (an autotroph, in ecological terms) which converts sunlight energy into energy that can be used by plants and animals. Plants are the source of energy and nutrients for all animals. As we move up the food chain, we’re looking at animals (heterotrophs) that eat certain plants. Moving further up the food chain, we’d see animals that eat the animals that ate the plants. 

A sample food chain would be:
Grass ---> grasshopper ---> bird ---> hawk 

So why do we want to “eat lower on the food chain”, that is, eat more plants and less meat? The way that our food is produced in our industrialized society, much energy goes into the production of food. The higher one eats on the food chain (meat, that is), the more energy that must go into producing that meat. So, if you eat a 2,000 calorie per day diet, a diet of vegetables will require much less energy input, than a 2,000 calorie diet that contains substantial amounts of meat. Another way of thinking about it -- for the same energy input, much more plant-based food can be produced. 

Eating lower on the food chain can also help to reduce greenhouse gases – the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that meat production is responsible for 1/5 of global greenhouse gases! 

Unless you live in an area with a very short growing season, a plant-based diet is a realistic goal. But many folks say they can’t or don’t want to go totally vegetarian. How about 1 night per week? The Utah State University Cooperative Extension website states that if “1000 people replaced one meat meal per week with a vegetarian option, it would save 70,000 lbs of grain per year!” That amount of grain would really feed a lot of people, with much lower environmental impact. 

Our family eats meat-free in our home.  Outside of the house, the kids and my husband eat whatever they want. Why not give it a try? Once a week, I post a recipe that has been a success at our house. I also include meatless products that I like, because people often ask me which products I like best, but you can substitute any brand that you like.  If you want an easy link to the weekly recipes, be sure to "like" on Facebook.  Good luck, and I hope you enjoy “Meat-free Friday!”