Be Simple!More with Less
I am one of those people who tend to dip a bit emotionally when the nights get longer and the days shorter. I used to be quite depressed by October, but I have come to embrace sadness rather than resist it and found that the more I did—the more I just sat with being sad—the less power it had over me. I now find that Fall has become a rather quiet, contemplative and rich season for me. But, like most of us, I can still use a little help….and this year I found a tiny but effective lift in a pretty blue bottle.
As our present Lenten journey comes to an end, what have we learned about ourselves in this “home”; about our agency, responsibility and contribution during our time on this Earth; about our expansion of gratitude and gifts beyond our own existence here, about our ability to go on?
What will it take to build a truly sustainable future, one that not only eliminates the CO2, methane and other poisons that contribute to climate change but also restructures our global systems to heal us forward? CCC member and Sierra Club staffer Virginia Woulfe-Beile inspires us to think beyond the boxes of what we know and expand without fear into what is possible….
Betsy Slosar, a CCC member who has dedicated her professional and person life to creating peace throughout the world, encourages us to keep our hopes up (above ground) even if the threats of Climate Change seem daunting. She offers us creative solutions from scientists, poets and her own lovely spirit.
CCC member Max Pohlman is the director at La Vista Ecological Learning Center in Godfrey, Illinois. At La Vista, Max leads many groups in conservation activities and thoughtful living. This week, she challenges us to “be a benign presence” on the Earth, a calling that could have been our destiny all along….
For our third week of Lenten inspiration, CCC member and Sierra Club Organizer Sally Burgess shares her wisdom regarding the gifts in front of us, her knowledge of solutions to climate change and her joy of thinking way outside the box with author Rob Brenzy. Here’s how we give Hope wings….
This week on our Lenten journey, poet, writer, artist Lynn Beaumont leads us on a path of self discovery. She reminds us that we are enough….
Green Gal of the Midwest is honored to host The Confluence Climate Collaborative’s annual Lenten celebration. We begin with this year’s theme of A Current of Hope. Join us on this journey upon Earth, through the Sky, over the Water, and within the Fire. Today we are at the Water’s edge….
My new market friend MO (aka Marlene Schreiber) is a magically talented textile artist. Her feminine powers turn tossed out woolens into breathtaking tapestries. She is for sure a good (green) witch and the nicest person you will ever meet. Here is a faerie tale woven with love for my new friend MO and in celebration of loving just what we have…even if we give it away to new magic.
Have you ever opened a book, heard the author’s voice as she speaks to you for the first time and thought: “I know her! We must have spent time in my kitchen together. Or…she must be reading my mind!”?
It was just this way for me when I opened Tamar Adler’s An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy & Grace. She had just been there beside me, stirring pots, rolling dough, chopping vegetables the whole time. Why had this connection taken so long? Well, and does it matter? We are connected now through her amazing little book. And here’s the thing: it isn’t a cookbook…not really. It’s more of an enchanted survival manual for anyone who wants to eat well with dignity, reciprocity, gratitude and (wait for it….) inner peace.
We eat a lot of oatmeal in our house. All winter long it is only McCann’s Irish Steel Cut Oats, cooked slow overnight in my cute Crockette. But in summer, I need a different approach to getting my oats—something cool and creamy and fast. So, from June to September, I switch to overnight oats, taking full advantage of summer fruits. In this case, in honor of the June Strawberry Moon, I created a play on traditional banana splits to whip up a nutritious, easy to prepare breakfast that’s loaded with market strawberries.
As the sun sets on Earth Day 2022, we may all be a little overwhelmed, a little lost and feeling far from home. Given the most recent report on climate change, we may all be feeling that the home we love—this beautiful planet Earth–has already slipped from our hands, that there are no magic ruby slippers to click to get us back before everything started to go terribly wrong. But I’d like to suggest that just like those ruby slippers Dorothy wore throughout her harrowing adventure in The Wizard of Oz, we’ve always had the power to “go home”–we’ve always had the power to heal and grow a healthy ecosystem right where we live, right in our own backyards.
With stores of hard sweet carrots from my crisper, a sturdy vermillion squash called Potimarron from the pantry shelf and rusty shallots snatched from my basement storage cart, orange becomes the new green! Steaming bowls of antioxidant power and beneficial beta keratin will warm us up and keep us healthy on cold winter afternoons and evenings.
One of my favorite winter greens are those cute little cabbages know as Brussel sprouts. They are easy to fix in a million ways and bring a real freshness to wintertime meals. They are a family favorite with us now, but that used to not be the case. Years ago when I was much, much less experienced in the kitchen I tried boiling them, steaming them—all to everyone’s disappointment. Then I found recipes for shredding them and sautéing them. That changed everything.
This dish is inspired by a variety of eggplant known as Fairytale, and these sweet tiny globes live up to their whimsical name. About “Barbie” size and variegated purple and white, as pretty as a Monet. Really cute and probably only showing up at farmers markets, Fairytales can perplex cooks as they consider how to prepare them. Most regular eggplant recipes just won’t work here. So I had to come up with something new.
I am always looking for new ways to use ground cherries, those golden globes of farmers markets across the Midwest. I’ve been developing recipes for these one-of-a-kind berries (Actually they are a member of the tomatillo family!) since I started this blog way back in 2015.
This year, I decided to try them as a base for a marinade, using fresh basil from my garden and a fresh blonde habanero pepper (just one, as they are HOT).
I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting with goat milk—I was thinking sort of gamey and strong. I was so wrong! Eddie’s milk is sweet and light and unbelievably versatile. I’ve had it in coffee, on granola and, of course, in these oats. The overnight oats, by the way, are not only delicious but also quick and easy to prepare–great for busy school and work mornings when nutrition is so necessary, and time is so nonexistent.
I can’t think of a more quintessential summer pastime than a cool dip in a favorite swimming hole, can you? Of course, the dip here is about eating, not swimming. Although, the recipe makes a nice poolside snack, I do believe.
What I love most about my Carrot and Fennel Top Quinoa Salad is that the ingredients help us avoid food waste while encouraging the use of really local ingredients. Furthermore, there are any number of variations you could incorporate into this dish as the market season progresses. So on to cleaning those tops!
When my daughter was little, I, like all good mothers, tried to incorporate healthy snacks into her diet. My goal was to keep her out of her great grandmother’s infamous “candy drawer.” You know what I’m talking about—that drawer with bags of M&Ms, Butterfingers, candy corn and chocolate covered peanuts. At Easter, you could find those bizarre speckled malted milk eggs that turned your lips white, peeps of all colors and big chocolate bunnies—usually solid.
To be fair, we all dipped into that drawer in my grandma’s bedroom. She delighted in our petty crimes. And more than once, I overheard my daughter and my grandma in deep conversations about life, love and justice while sharing a Russell Stover’s chocolate bunny or a “Bit O Honey.” Why would I interfere? Sweetness was happening on so many levels.
We eat cornbread and polenta often in my house. That cornmeal flavor is a particular favorite of mine—polenta for breakfast, cornbread for dinner and even cornmeal layer cake for dessert! I love the way rich corn flavor plays off other ingredients like maple syrup, spicy sauces and even—you might recall this post—apple pie filling for an amazing stuffed coffee cake.
So it was sort of a given that once I fell in love with Zubi’s yummy Tex-Mex sauces, I’d eventually use them in a cornmeal recipe. And I did! Well…it wasn’t cornmeal exactly….it was corn flour—lighter, brighter, with strong corn flavor. This recipe really changes the texture of traditional skillet cornbread, turning it more like cake, which allows the Zubi Salsa and Queso to really shine. And it’s easy! Yes, it is. I see that look. Be brave.
I began the month of November with a feel-good activity—I volunteered with my local heroes at Bring Your Own Glen-Ed, a community-based volunteer organization devoted to ridding our planet of plastic pollution, on a highway cleanup campaign. Times are risky in many ways this year—a year like none other I can remember, honestly. But we planned well, took all necessary “pandemic precautions,” and did the good work.
I love these guys for their unwavering motivation and dedication to heal our planet. So I really wanted to be there for them on that first chilly Saturday morning in November. And being there for others means taking personal care of yourself, yes? Enter The New Hope Network with a blogger box product that is now a mainstay in my house: Iconic Grass-Fed Protein Drinks.
It never fails: every holiday season my daughter makes the same request for my Curried Butternut Squash Soup. And while this is quite the compliment, I try to remind her that I have a whole folder full of recipes for butternuts. She never wavers, and I always give in. This year will be no exception. But that concession doesn’t stop me from encouraging her to explore my other butternut favorites, like the layered casserole I made a couple Christmases ago, or the Blonde on Blonde Pasta dish that has become my personal favorite. In fact, I try something new with butternuts every year, including this year.
We love Halloween in my house—the sweet part of it, right? The little trick-or-treaters in their costumes, the homemade goodies for family and friends at harvest gatherings, the seasonal displays of pumpkins and gourds, squeals and laughter. But we don’t mind getting a little salty either, especially when it comes to snacking: just the right combination of salt and sugar is the magic incantation for those treats so good you just can’t stop eating.
But they should be at least a little healthy right? I mean, if you are going to eat a lot of a snack, it should have nutritional benefit, don’t you think? Okay, before you think I’ve taken all the fun out of Halloween, consider my newest creation: Sweet and Salty Roasted Chickpeas. A little bit corn nut, a little bit Payday candy bar in a protein-packed snack. TaDa!