Friday, June 29, 2018

Zucchini Tacos

Today's meat-free Friday recipe is adapted from You'll see from the details that you can play freely with the ingredients -- we like lots of cumin and zucchini. We've had it twice in one week, so it must be good!


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch rounds (I used 3 zucchini)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin (I used more)
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander (I used more)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp minced garlic (I used 3 tsp jar garlic)
  • 1 tblsp tomato paste (I used 1 small jar)
  • 1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained (I used 2 cans)
  • 8 corn tortillas (I used 16 small flour fajita tortillas)
  • sour cream, salsa, lime wedges for garnish

  1. Saute zucchini in oil with cumin and coriander for about 8 minutes. Remove from pan and season with salt and pepper.
  2. In the same pan, saute onion and garlic until soft. Add tomato paste and cook for another minute. Add beans and 1/2 cup water. Simmer and smash beans with a spoon.
  3. Warm tortillas in a pan or microwave. Fill with zucchini and bean mixture. Garnish with sour cream, salsa, and lime. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

World Giraffe Day!

Last Thursday was World Giraffe Day, and since giraffes are my spirit animal (a vegetarian that can kick the crap out of its enemies), I decided to repost a favorite.  Enjoy!

I was recently asked, if you could become any animal other than human, what would you become, and my answer is definitely "a giraffe!" One of my favorite memories from the zoo is feeding giraffes. These huge animals, with their incredibly strong legs and large hooves (as big as dinner plates!), can be so gentle. Feeding giraffes gives you an up-close look at these beautiful creatures – those 18-20 inch prehensile tongues (designed to work around the thorns of Acacia trees) are pretty impressive!

Check out this video to see that prehensile tongue in action! And did you know that giraffes have the same number of cervical vertebrae (neck bones) as humans – 7?
Here are some more fun facts about giraffes, provided by the Giraffe Conservation Foundation:
  • Giraffe gestation is about 15 months! The calves will nurse for 9-12 months, but they can also eat solid food after about 4 months.
  • Giraffes are ruminants, like cows – they can get nutrients from the cellulose in plants.
  • No two giraffes have the same coat pattern – they’re like our fingerprints!
  • Although giraffes can live to 25 years in the wild (longer in captivity), life isn’t a walk in the park for them. 50% of calves don’t survive their first year, due to predation by lions, hyenas, leopards, and wild dogs
  • Giraffes only have to drink every few days.
  • Giraffes have the biggest hearts of any land mammal!
Unfortunately, the current conservation news about giraffes isn’t all rosy. An article in Scientific American reported that populations of giraffes have decreased by 40% in just the last 15 years. This decline hasn’t been publicized in the news as much as the loss of other big mammals (think African elephant). The IUCN Giraffe and Okapi Specialist Group will be pulling together data in the next few years in order to quantify the giraffe’s status and make conservation recommendations. Want to get involved? Check out the Giraffe Conservation Foundation’s website for ways to help.

Giraffe Conservation Foundation website. Giraffe – the Facts. 2014. Web. July 1 2015 <>
J. Platt. Giraffes under threat: Populations down 40% in just 15 years. Scientific American. November 24, 2014. Web. 1 July 2015. <>

Monday, June 25, 2018

Enjoy the bar!

Bar soap or liquid soap?  We know that liquid soap depends on plastic dispensers (not good for the environment) and takes much more water than bar soap to produce.  But doesn't bar soap carry germs?  Nope.  Check out this article in Tree Hugger that explains why bar soap gets you just as clean as the liquid stuff.  What about anti-bacterial liquid soaps?  Also not very helpful. 

Now that you've decided to go green with bar soap,why not try one of my favorite producers of bar soap, Parsonage Soaps!  Give them a try, or investigate your local soap producer -- feel free to share here!

Friday, June 22, 2018

So f****ing good! A repost

If you haven't yet bought the Thug Kitchen cookbook, you don't know what you're missing. Yes, the language is bad, but the recipes are great -- I haven't found a loser yet! Here's another recipe to try (I shortened the instructions a little and made a little change with the veg broth) before buying your copy:

Black Bean Tortas with Coconut Chipotle Mayo

For the Mayo:

  • 1 cup canned coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup of your favorite chipotle hot sauce
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tblsp chia seeds
  • 1 tblsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder 
For the Creamy Black Beans:

  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced, or about 2 tblsp jar garlic
  • 1 tblsp chili powder
  • 3/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 cups cooked black beans (I used 2 cans of black beans)
  • 1 1/2 cups veg broth (I only used 1/2 cup and still needed to pour off a little liquid)
  • juice of one lime
  • salt to taste
Torta trimmings

  • 4 crusty rolls, split and toasted
  • lettuce
  • sliced tomatoes
  • sliced red onion
  • sliced avocado

  1. Make the mayo first. Combine all mayo ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Put the mayo in the frig and it will thicken up.
  2. Next make the black beans. Heat the oil and saute onion, garlic, chili powder, and cumin. Add the black beans and cook until soft (add veg broth to keep the beans moist). Add in the lime juice and salt. Mash the black bean mixture with a potato masher until it's chunky, yet spreadable.
  3. Now make the tortas! Spread the mayo on one roll and the black bean mixture (topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, avocado -- however you like it). Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

It's Pollinator Week 2018!

I love butterflies!  I studied butterfly gardens for my dissertation, and have written a few blog posts about butterfly gardens, pollination, and books I've read about butterflies, monarch butterfliesbutterfly smuggling, and bees

When I was first learning about butterflies and how to identify them, I participated in a 4th of July butterfly count, sponsored by the North American Butterfly Association (NABA).  It was a great introduction to what my husband calls, "the lucrative world of butterfly conservation."  Lucrative or not, I'm still at it!  This past weekend, I headed to Sky Meadows State Park in Delaplane VA for this year's count.  It was a great day of butterflying!  Here are a few of the butterflies we saw.

Hackberry emporer

Gray hairstreak

Great spangled fritillary

American lady


summer azure

Zebra swallowtail

Monday, June 18, 2018

Mammal Monday

It's Monday.  But it's also the first Monday that the kids are out of school.  Thus, not a Monday to be too terribly serious.  So here's your Mammal Monday video (with one reptile thrown in).  Enjoy your easy stroll into summer!

Friday, June 15, 2018

Eggplant burgers


I've spent the last few mornings pulling english ivy and other non-native invasives from my yard. I've heard that many find the task of weeding to be satisfying and even rewarding.  I. do. not.  I find it to be sweaty and exhausting, and with the constant threat of poison ivy, a little bit scary.  So I need an easy and tasty dinner for tonight!

I found this tasty recipe for an easy “burger” grill in the summer Martha Stewart Living magazine. I made a few little changes and additions (in parentheses).

  • 4 slices eggplant, about 1 inch thick
  • 1 large red onion, sliced in 1/2 inch rounds (I used sweet onion, like vidalia)
  • extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing (I used olive oil spray or mist)
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 pound mozzarella, cut into slices
  • 4 brioche buns, preferably with sesame seeds, halved (I used King’s Hawaiian hamburger rolls)
  • 4 small leaves of Bibb or Boston lettuce (I used spinach, because that’s what was in my frig, and all worked out OK!)
  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves (we added slices of tomato)
  1. Preheat grill. Spray eggplant and onion with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill onion until it’s softened.
  2. Grill eggplant on one side. Flip and add cheese to new side. Grill until cheese is melted.
  3. Layer basil, eggplant with cheese, onion, tomato, and spinach on roll and enjoy!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Caps win the Stanley Cup!

We're painting the town red here in the DC area, where our Caps are the 2018 Stanley Cup Champions!  It's all hockey, all the time at my house, so we'll be watching the parade today!

But is hockey green or sustainable?  We all know that you really should have cold weather to play hockey, and a warming planet is not good news for hockey players and fans.  That's probably a big part of the reason that hockey players and managers are looking at sustainable options for stadiums, rinks, etc.  The solutions aren't perfect, but the league has been moving toward greater sustainability in its NHL Green effort. Greensportsblog has done a great job of reporting on sustainability progress at both the professional and college level with stories on topics such as reusing/recycling hockey sticks, citizen science using backyard hockey rinks, and energy savings at Boston University.  Hockey's definitely moving in the right direction.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Mammal Monday -- Uinta Ground Squirrel

Let's take a look at the Uinta Ground Squirrel for this mammal Monday.  The research being done on this species demonstrates how climate change has definite winners and losers.  It looks like, thanks to a long hibernation period, these little rodents might benefit from warmer temps. 

Friday, June 8, 2018

Zucchini Quiche!

Here’s an easy recipe for an ingredient that we’ll have TONS of later this summer – zucchini! I adapted this recipe from a Cooking Light recipe in their August 2012 issue.

  • 1 frozen pie crust
  • 1 tblsp olive oil
  • 5 cups sliced zucchini
  • 3 tblsp garlic
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup non-fat milk
  • 1 1/2 tblsp all-purpose flour
  • black pepper to taste
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1) Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Bake the pie crust, weighing down the crust using wax paper and dry rice, for about 5 minutes (until the crust just begins to brown). Lower oven heat to 375 degrees.
2) Heat the oil in a pan and saute the zucchini, garlic, and salt. Layer the zucchini in the bottom of the pie crust.
3) Combine milk, flour, eggs, and cheese and whisk together. Pour over zucchini mixture.
4) Bake at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes or until the liquid is set.


Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Are the children our future on climate change?

The phrase, "the children are our future," always sounds like a little bit of a cop-out to me.  Whenever adults have a problem that they're unwilling or unable to solve, they toss it off to the next generation with this handy phrase.  Well, a new study, Do Millennials See Climate Change as More Than Just a Meme?, states that tossing climate change solutions off to the next generation is a pretty bad plan.    By repeating research conducted about 10 years ago, researchers demonstrate these four important findings about millennials' attitudes toward climate change:
  • "Overall, Millennials demonstrate similar or less engagement on global warming than older generations. 
  • Millennials are less likely to discuss global warming with their friends and family than the older generations (p. 4) 
  • Belief in global warming (p. 8), its importance (p. 5), and perceived efficacy in addressing the problem (p. 12) are no greater among Millennials than any other generation
  • Liberal Millennials are less likely than liberals of other generations to have thought a lot about global warming before taking the survey (p. 15) and less likely to believe that people in the U.S. are being harmed now by global warming (p. 17)"
(Kuppa, S. (2018). Do Millennials See Climate Change as More Than Just a Meme?. Washington, DC: Johns Hopkins University, Energy Policy and Climate Program)

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Menhaden -- little fish with a big impact

Menhaden are what scientists call a "keystone" species.  As a keystone in an arch holds the entire arch together, keystone species have a larger-than-expected impact on their ecosystems.  Remove the keystone and things start to fall apart.  In March, I wrote that the Virginia General Assembly had refused to implement the menhaden fishing limits required by the management plan published by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC).  ASMFC has now stated that Virginia may face fines for lack of implementation.  Remember, these limits only apply to the huge Omega Protein reduction company, not to bait fishermen who use the menhaden to catch other fish.  Check out this latest update on this important Chesapeake Bay keystone species. 

If you take fish oil supplements, the fish oil probably came from menhaden.  How can you help?  Try a vegetarian/vegan supplement that still provides Omega 3.  Here's the one I like:

Monday, June 4, 2018

Mammal Monday -- Asian Black Bears

As I read through my newspaper this morning, I came across an article about Asian black bears.  The bile from these bears is used in some traditional medical practices, which is bad news for the bears.  What is bile?  Bile is a substance that is produced (in mammals -- humans too) by the liver, stored in the gall bladder, and then released into the small intestine to help to emulsify fats.  This process allows the digestive system to better break down fats into smaller, more easily absorbed molecules. 

Unfortunately, for the Asian black bear, this bile is also desired by humans to treat various medical issues.  This is a big business in China, where (according to the Washington Post article linked above) over 10,000 bears are kept on nearly 70 farms. Overharvesting by humans is one of the five top causes of species extinction and endangerment (habitat loss, pollution, non-native invasive species, and climate change are the other four).  But there's good news!  VietNam and South Korea are both moving to eliminate the harvest of bear bile.  Hopefully, the Chinese government will follow their lead.

Friday, June 1, 2018

"Sausage" and peppers!

Time for my annual post about one of my favorite summertime dishes -- italian sausage and pepper sandwiches. How can a vegetarian greenmomster have all the tastiness and none of the meat? Here’s the vegetarian version; we call it “Italian soul food” at our house!

1) Slice peppers and onions into long, thin strips.
2) Put 4 tblsp olive oil into each of two frying pans and heat. Fry italian sausage in one pan and peppers and onion in the other (until the pepper and onion are very soft)
3) Place sausage into hot dog bun and top with peppers and onions. Enjoy!