Tuesday, April 22, 2008

EARTH & HEART = anagram (photos from today)

I usually don't wear message shirts. Just not my style I guess.

But today I felt good wearing it.

The shirt felt right and good. Literally because it's 70% bamboo & 30% organic cotton and is the softest shirt I own; and figuratively because today, on Earth Day I felt free to be passionate about the environment.

We know Earth Day should be Every Day, and that is even more crucial after 8 dismal years with Bush (arguably the most anti-environmental president in our nation's history). No matter who wins, it'll be a greener white house. We can make sure of that by educating ourselves and those around us, becoming politically active, and voting with our dollars by supporting those who are making efforts to use good environmental practices. Be a proud tree hugger!

Feeling empowered, I decided to make cupcakes! I only needed: Cherrybrook Kitchen chocolate cake mix and vanilla frosting mix, Keebler Bug Bites (yes, they're vegan), the usual suspects, and a jar of beet juice.

I've been "dying" to try natural food dyes since learning that artificial food colors are derivatives of either coal tar or petroleum. Eck. Red #40 has been banned in at least 8 European countries and linked to several health problems. Oooh.

For a craft, the kids painted ladybug rocks.

I vowed that I wouldn't buy anything from the store, and I didn't.

I'm proud of my resistance to not buy more black paint, even though we were dangerously low. You can see, that as it turned out, there was plenty to go around.

We went for a hike to explore some of nature's wonders.

There were 4 moms and 9 kids whose age ranges 1 to 5 years.

Then, we came back for cupcakes. Ta Dahhh!

I like this pastel shade of pink and will keep the beet juice in the fridge. Next time we cook kale, I plan to bottle some of that juice as well.

Anna mentioned that on St. Patrick's Day she put some kale water in with the mashed potatoes and they turned a bright shade of green. Very cool!

My eco-friendly friends brought some cool gifts. Wendy was finished with a couple copies of 'body + soul' and passed them on to me. I flipped through and spotted ads from Matt & Nat and articles on power foods. Another green gift was a basil plant from Anna. Thank you!

Next time, I'll post about my Earth Day gift to myself.... A COMPOSTING BIN!!!!!! Can you tell I'm excited?! Thanks for your composting tips, Anna and Lynn, I'll add water tomorrow. Until then, happy Earth Day today and always.

EARTH & HEART = anagram

"The world will not evolve past its current state of crisis by using the same thinking that created the problem." --- Albert Einstein

Thoughts of Earth Day flood my mind.

Change. Choices. Eco. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Activism. Co-op. Vegan. Global Warming. Phantom. Greendimes. Refashion. CSA. Xeriscape. Composting. Organic. Local. Sustainable. Carbon Footprint.

One thing is for sure.... Being Green is in! People are recognizing that the best chance for a healthy environment is through the everyday efforts of many people rather then the Herculean efforts of a few.

There are lots of ways to Go Green!

REDUCE ~~ Learning to do more with less can be a rewarding and challenging goal. Recently, my neighbor and her friends challenged each other to not buy anything brand-new for 6 months (other than food and basic essentials). She learned to take a moment and consider each purchase and ask: Do I really need this? Can it be reused? Can it be recycled? Can it be bought used? Can I borrow it instead? My neighbor didn't win the competition, but she did save lots of money and felt empowered by not purchasing potential junk. And by telling me her story, it rubbed off on me a little and I began scrutinizing my own purchases. (Talk about the good stuff you're doing to reap the ripple effect!)

REUSE ~~ Take your own canvas bags to the grocery store, keep them in your car, and be proud of them. Stock your kitchen and dining room with cotton rags and cloth napkins instead of paper towels and disposable napkins. Reuse envelopes to send notes to school. Reuse those fancy glass & plastic containers things come in.

RECYCLE ~~ Everything you can to save valuable resources from being wasted, and keep them out of landfills.

WATER ~~ Many of us think of water as an infinite resource, and it seems that way when the faucet is on, but the truth is that water is an increasingly limited resource. Try capturing water from the faucet while you wait for it to warm up and use it to water the plants. Use non-toxic soaps and detergents. Sweep - don't hose down driveways and patios. Refill reusable bottles with filtered water rather than buying bottled water (I want a Sigg!). Eat less meat - producing a 1/4 lb. beef patty requires as much as 2,900 gallons of water, according to Cornell University.

AT HOME ~~ Turn off lights, and replace them with energy efficient compact florescent bulbs. My friend, Wendy, has inspired me to turn down the thermostat and wear slippers and housecoat. I want to unplug & hook up all the devices such as computers, televisions, stereos, coffeemakers and phone chargers to power strips to easily turn them off when not in use to prevent vampire power drain.

Truth is, there are several things on my Green To-Do List. Bicycle more. Trade in for a Prius (or at least something more efficient). Capture rainwater from the gutters. Install solar panels. Plant xeriscape plants and replace grass. Use a clothesline to dry the clothes. The list could go on and on...

It's easy to feel overwhelmed, powerless, and even skeptical that the efforts of any one person will impact the world's environment. Just remember the message in Dr. Seuss's 'Horton Hears a Who.' It cannot be denied that the greater the number of people who resonate with an idea, the greater the impact. That's why the green movement momentum offers so much hope this Earth Day!

What are your Green Goals this Earth Day?

Monday, April 14, 2008

AeroGarden Review

Olivia and I won two Aerogardens in PeTA's Cooking with Kid's Contest (click to see the winning cookie!) which included two seed kits: Italian herb (mint, Italian basil, dill, thyme, parsley, purple basil, chives) and cherry tomato.
Here's a current photo of the herbs, and as you can see it's raging ~ I can barely keep up! In fact, I need to harvest the dill and dry or freeze more basil. If you like to cook with fresh herbs, you would love an AeroGarden. You don't need to be a gardener to be successful, and it's the absolute ultimate in organic, fresh & local!

Here's some dried Italian and purple basil:
1. Cut the stem. Dip the herbs quickly in a bowl of cool water and shake off the excess water. Pat the herbs dry.
2. Cut several holes in a small paper bag. Place the herbs inside, and secure the opening of the bag and the herbs with a string.
3. Hang it upside down for a couple days until dry. The bag protects the herbs from sunlight and keeps it clean.
4. Store in an airtight container ~ an old sea salt container is perfect.

And yes, we've had our share of pesto! And there's quite a reserve in the freezer as well, so don't be surprised to see pesto on baguettes, pasta, pizza, polenta ~ well you get the picture.
Art threw some basil in the risotto last night and the flavor was very apparent and special. It's a fun charge to clip some herbs for a recipe.

As nice as all the herbs are, what I was really looking forward to was fresh tomatoes!!!!!

But that was not to be. I pulled the plug on my "experimental" tomato plants recently because they grew into the grow lamps rapidly, singeing the leaves, making me trim them back buds and all only to do it all over again. Please understand that these were NOT the original Aerogarden seed pods. The original seedlings were plucked out by my mis-guided 2 year-old gardener. Not wanting to waste the nutrients or opportunity to have fresh winter tomatoes, I started again & "cheated" with regular cherry tomato seeds from a packet. Experiment failed.

The AeroGarden fueled my desire to move away from processed foods, away from food traveling great distances, and away from farming chemicals. To become a little more self-sufficient -- though that could never be, as my seed experiment illustrated. You need their seed kits, and they aren't cheap. ($19.95) But I must admit, the luxury of having fresh tomatoes in the middle of winter would be awesome. I'd like to try them again as well as the strawberry plants.
Why is it that organic produce gets the sticker?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Check it out!

I was quoted in the Scene section of my local newspaper today!

"Why isn't there a vegetarian restaurant in Boise?"

The title of the article is a sad reality for me...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Foods & Fads

It snowed yesterday!

So we made what we think will be our last snowman of the year....

Which is kinda weird, since this is what we were doing just the day before....

That's Spring in Idaho for ya.

Liv's favorite cookie! Oatmeal chocolate chip. I use the recipe '
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies' from The Joy of Vegan Baking and simply sub in the chips. I LOVE that this recipe uses ground flaxseed instead of eggs.
I sent some of these cookies with Art to band practice the other night. Art produced the band's CD and also will be playing guitar for a few numbers at their Record Release Show. You can check them there:

Wolffie's Banana Blueberry Muffins' from La Dolce Vegan!

These muffins are really good - light & moist. I always omit the ginger and use vanilla soy milk.

When I want an easy & reliable recipe, I turn to Sarah Kramer. Who is Wolffie, anyway??

Crock Pot Stew'. I've made this once or twice before, but this time I topped it with Lightlife Steak Style Strips. If you haven't tried the strips before, you should. They are really good and are super easy to prepare.

Blueberry Cake' from The Joy of Vegan Baking for my friend's birthday. (At some point in life, one candle is sufficient)

Ann doesn't like things overly sweet or fattening. I wanted her to enjoy the dessert without feeling guilty, so I thought this would be perfect. Her first post-bite words were, "Light, delicately sweet. Mmmm, this is really good!"

For an appetizer, I served an old favorite of mine -- Dreena Burton's '
Cornmeal-coated Polenta Fries' from the Dec. '06 issue of VegNews. (#52)

The dipping sauce is my own creation!

1 package Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese
1 can Mandarin Oranges
Many squirts SRIRACHA Hot Chili Sauce

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Before eating, think about where milk comes from

I did not compose the following essay. It was a letter to the editor recently printed in my newspaper, which brought me to tears. This letter brings to mind the recent Hallmark meatpacking scandal, which is common in factory farming. I share it here with you.

Once there was a cow #83729. She lived on a factory farm and never saw sunlight or felt grass under her feet. She was repeatedly impregnated. Her babies were always taken away within a day of being born, because humans wanted the milk that was meant for her calves. #83729 was milked for 10 months a year (including seven of her nine months of pregnancy). No wonder that only after four years they sent her worn-out body to slaughter.

She has also become lame because of the strain of constantly being pregnant and giving milk. During the transportation she fell and couldn't get up. They pulled her out of the truck with a chain and she crashed to the ground breaking her hip bone. They rammed her with a forklift in an attempt to make her stand up. When that didn't work they jabbed her in the eyes and sprayed water into her nose. Finally she managed to stand up and with staggering feet she walked to the killing floor where she died a horrible death. Next time you enjoy your ice cream or slice of pizza, please think about where the milk to make those things came from. Terhi Stratton, printed in the Idaho Statesman (02-27-08)

To sign-off on an upbeat, I leave you with a delicious milk-free muffin!

'Double Chocolate Muffins' from La Dolce Vegan, pg. 236.

Trust me, even finicky kids can't tell it's soy milk inside.