Monday, April 30, 2018

Mammal Monday -- the North Atlantic Right Whale

When I was the natural resources program manager for the U.S. Coast Guard, one of the projects I enjoyed most was a program to protect the North Atlantic Right Whale.  Population numbers for these whales hit a peak of 482 in 2010 after almost being hunted to extinction earlier in the 20th century (in 1935, scientists estimated that only 60 whales survived).  Current estimates put this whale population at 451 and dropping.  Today's Washington Post included a very informative article on the right whales and the various issues surrounding its conservation -- check it out.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Meat-free Friday -- Spaghetti 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.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Stinkin' wall

Throughout history, countries have built walls or barriers, either to keep people in or keep people out.  One thing we know for sure, these barriers cause major environmental disruption.  They destroy habitat and separate animal populations.  Here's a great short film that shows the area that could be impacted by the proposed border wall with Mexico.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

More mammal news

Humans are not good news for large animals.  That's the news from a recent paper in the journal Science.  "Body size downgrading of mammals over the late Quaternary" matches up the extinct of various large mammals with the movement of humans throughout history.  It turns out, when humans showed up, large mammals disappeared.  This trend is continuing today with the loss of elephants, rhinos, wolves, whales, etc.  This finding is important, because when we lose "megafauna", it's not just the species that we lose.  Rather, the entire way that an ecosystem functions can be altered.

One example of this ecosystem response to the loss of a large mammal species can be seen in Yellowstone.  After the loss of wolves in this ecosystem, scientists noted that elk became more prevalent, diversity of vegetation changed, and species such as beavers declined significantly.  Since the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone, the ecosystem is beginning to change back to its original structure.

Many large species are on the endangered species list.  Since humans have long caused this change in biodiversity, how does the situation differ today?  We now have the ability to study and change our impact, rather than allowing cows to become our largest mammals.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Moke makes our day on Mammal Monday!

In case you were absorbed in the political shenanigans last week and missed it, there was some great news for the western lowland gorillas -- Moke was born!  This is big news for the National Zoo and for anyone interested in gorilla conservation.  Be sure to check out all the details on the zoo's website.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Breakfast for dinner!

Who doesn’t like breakfast for dinner every once in a while? Here’s a meat-free Friday recipe that’s tasty like breakfast, but has enough heft to keep away the hunger until morning!

Be sure to “like” Greenmomster on Facebook for more environmental updates!

Egg and Green Chile Casserole (source unknown)

  • 18 eggs
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 16 oz. of non-fat cottage cheese, drained
  • 1 can (4 oz.) diced Hatch green chiles (hot is best)
  • 1 can (16 oz.) sliced black olives
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup sliced green onions
  • 2 cups grated cheddar or taco-mix cheese
  • dash of nutmeg
  • dash of lemon zest
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Grease a 13 x 9 casserole dish. Spread the cottage cheese, grated cheese, green onion, and green chiles in the bottom of the casserole dish.
  3. Beat the eggs with the milk, nutmeg, lemon zest, and slat and pepper. Pour over the cheese mixture.
  4. Bake for approximately 45 minutes, until casserole is a little puffy and the top is slightly browned.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Mammal Monday -- Elephants!

I've written many posts about elephants:
So let's add one more elephant post to the mix.  Here's a fun list of 10 Extraordinary Facts about Elephant Trunks from TreeHugger -- enjoy!

Still not enough elephant news for a Mammal Monday?  Then you've got to check out this fascinating book about elephants and an epic escape in World War II:  Elephant Company by Vicki Constantine Croke.

Elephant Company: The Inspiring Story of an Unlikely Hero and the Animals Who Helped Him Save Lives in World War II

Friday, April 13, 2018

Mushroom risotto

This week’s recipe is a repost of a recipe I adapted from the October 2012 issue of Family Circle magazine (picture from I made it a tasty vegetarian dish by taking the sausage out and adding veg sausage – a filling and tasty Friday night meal!

  • 4 cups (32 oz container) vegetable broth
  • 2 tblsp olive oil
  • 1 tblsp truffel oil (optional)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 package veggie Italian soysage, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 lb mixed mushrooms, sliced (I like to mix shitake, oyster, and cremini)
  • 2 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 bag (5 oz) baby spinach, washed
  • 1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend

1) In a large measuring cup, combine broth with 2 cups of water and set aside.

2) Heat oils in a large pot and add onion, cooking for 3 minutes. Add soysage and mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes. Stir in the rice and cook for about a minute. Add wine and cook until the liquid is almost gone (about another minute)

3) Add 1/2 cup of the broth-water mixture. Stir frequently and when the liquid is gone, add another 1/2 cup. Keep adding liquid until the rice is tender.

4) Stir in crushed tomatoes and pepper.

5) Add in spinach and allow it to wilt.

6) Remove the risotto and stir in the cheese, and serve immediately. If you have kids who don’t like cheese, just use it as a garnish at the table, instead of stirring in.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Wildcats and Wolverines

It turns out that wildcats and wolverines don't just have basketball in common.  They're also both threatened by climate change.  Check out this fascinating article at GreenSportsBlog for more details.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Should he stay or should he go?

EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt, has been in the news a lot lately.  Reports say that he has

  • rented a low-cost room near Capitol Hill from Vicki Hart, the wife of an energy lobbyist 
  • gave large raises (one over 50%) to staffers
  • spent significant taxpayer dollars on travel and security.
Does all of this activity warrant removal from office?  I don't know.  What I do know is that Mr. Pruitt has no business being the head of the EPA for the following reasons:
We can ignore Mr. Pruitt's shady management style and still have plenty of reasons to want to see him leave his job as EPA Administrator.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Food waste 101

The weather is starting, very slowly, to warm up in my neck of the woods.  As I look out my living room window, I can see my vegetable garden beds waiting for me.  I've paid my check to my local CSA (community-supported agriculture) farmer to make up what I can't grow in my yard.  It looks like I'm all set for a great season of fresh veggies!

But along with growing and buying veggies, greenmomsters have an additional goal -- avoiding food waste.  Did you know that the U.S. wastes about 40% of the food we grow?  That's over 1 billion tons of food each year!  That's a tremendous waste, not only of food, but also the water (global food production accounts for 70% of freshwater use), energy, and fertilizer that go into growing that food.  I recently came across a nice list of things we can do at home to reduce our food waste, courtesy of the Great Falls VA chapter of the Sierra Club.  Take a look at these suggestions and think about implementing a few suggestions.  It'll save you money AND help the environment!

Tips for Reducing Food Waste
by Helene Shore
  1. Take stock. Know what you have and plan meals based on what’s in your fridge and pantry. Make sure to make a shopping list before you go to the store.
  2. Stick to your list. It’s a costly waste if you can’t consume what you buy, even if that 2-for-1 sale looks like a great deal.
  3. Buy ugly-looking produce. Tastes as good or better. Bananas with brown freckles on the peel are sweeter.
  4. First in, first out. Store older food items in front of your recently purchased items.
  5. Prioritize perishables. Have a section in your fridge for foods that need to be eaten ASAP, or put a label on them.
  6. Keep it fresh. Use airtight containers, preferably glass.
  7. Preserve it. Freeze, can, or dry excess. Think of freezing berries and veggies, as well as cooked beans and grains for future use. Try making jam, sauces, etc.
  8. Understand labels. “Use by” and “Best by” labels are not expiration dates. They’re only the manufacturer’s suggestion. Food beyond those dates is often perfectly safe to eat.
  9. Get creative. Make soups, stews, smoothies. Got a little of this, a little of that—it makes a great soup. Use that last bit of barbecue sauce to make dressing or a marinade.
  10. Use it all. Only compost or toss non-edible parts of produce. Celery leaves, carrot tops, lemon and orange rinds, etc., are great for cooking. Clean out jars. Use a spatula to get that last bit of stuff.
  11. Serve wisely. At home, put less on your plate (better for waistline as well). You can always go back for more. Eating out? Share a portion if it is large, or take leftovers home with you to eat for another meal.
  12. Save it for later. Freeze leftovers. Make sure to label and date the container so you know what it is.
  13. Share. Share the excess with friends. Have a potluck and use it up. Or, donate that extra can of something you bought and decided not to use.
  14. Be aware. Be a better-educated consumer and advocate. Advocate for grocery stores, bakeries, etc., to donate food they aren’t going to sell.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Mammal Monday -- Rabbits and hares!

Happy Easter Monday!  Let's look at rabbits and hares for our mammals this week.  They're actually different species that don't interbreed.  Check out this video where we learn whether Bugs Bunny is a rabbit or a hare.  I'm guessing you'll learn something new!