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Backwards to a Bright Sustainable Future

I stood in an empty pasture, staring north toward a stand of trees. It was a sunny day, cool but no wind. The quiet of the rural landscape was pleasant and disarming. In the distance came the pounding—at first a vibration—then sound like thunder rolling in from a...

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Farm Like a Girl

Blaine Bilyeu is a beautiful, statuesque redhead, with enormous blue eyes and flawless porcelain skin. She could have been in high fashion, but she chose, instead, to be… a pig farmer.

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A Peaceable Kingdom

This peaceable kingdom is the honey bee farm of my friend John Accornero. John is my friend who always brings me back to sanity when I get all riled up by the ways of the world. And having visited his farm, I can see why he is able to do this. A bee farm runs by balance, respect and equitability… I guess the way we’d all like the world to run, with a sense of fairness and a adherence to personal responsibility. Bees seem to have this all down; we are—at best—catching on.

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Saving Grace

Clearly wilderness had been under siege for a long time, and defending it now seemed unlikely. Yes, I was a raging torrent of opinion and blame when I first sat down to write.

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Pick Up Your Bag and Set a Spell

Don and I have spent Wednesday nights this spring and early summer at Biver Farm, the guests of Frank, Rosi and Keith Biver. Wednesday night is CSA night at the farm, when subscribers to the Biver CSA program pick up their weekly bag of farm-fresh goodies.

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Choosing a Mindful and Healthy Path of Your Own

My recent road trip to Daydream Farm and Marcoot Jersey Creamery in Greenville, IL offered more than the sweet, tender asparagus and rich artisan cheeses that went into my Asparagus and Caramelized Onion Quiche. These visits left me reenergized and feeling highly connected to the food I put on my family’s table and to the wonderful folks who provide that food. We all need that—connection to nature and moments of calm, but how often do we find it? The once-a-year vacation? The weekly trip (maybe) to the local farmers market? A family meal with everyone at the table—how many times a week does that happen?

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Breaking the Rules with a Quinoa Breakfast Bowl

When my daughter was in elementary school, we spent more mornings than I care to admit in a heated battle over breakfast. I was insistent that she eat a “good” breakfast, maintaining that breakfast was truly the most important meal of the day. She, on the other hand,...

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Magic Beans: How a Bowl of Soup Can Save the World

Toni’s 10 Bean Soup Mix is a beautiful array of lentils, green split peas, pearled barley, black beans, black eyed peas, red lentils, navy beans, red chili beans, yellow split peas and cranberry beans. The package also includes a spice packet of dried herbs, dehydrated veggies and spices, with no artificial anything. They help you make the most of your bean mix by providing an easy-to-prepare soup recipe, requiring just a couple extra ingredients from you. But I saw a blank page just beckoning me to get creative. And I did! Here’s the Green Gal take on this Women’s Bean Project best-seller.

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It was Christmas…. 1965

  In the silence of a snowy December morning, Sylvia sipped her tea and watched with trepidation the weather on the other side of the kitchen window. She had planned this shopping day for more than a month… one day to get the presents for her six little ones. Well,...

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Stumped for a Gift? Let Them Eat Christmas Cake!

We all have one… the elderly neighbor, the second cousin we see only once a year, the cranky aunt, our best friend’s mom who is suddenly flying in from the coast. These are the impossible-to-buy-for people still on our lists. And, it’s already December 18! There’s no time, not much money and absolutely not a clue what they’d like. So I say, it’s time to bake a cake.

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Close to Home for the Holidays: Persimmon Snickerdoodles and Sweet-Hot Nuts

I really have a very short gift list for the holidays, and most of what I give is food I’ve made or bought locally to share. So I love it when what I have to give is something a little special, something unexpected. That’s how I feel about my Persimmon Snickerdoodles and Sweet n’ Hot Nut Mix, both of which draw most of their ingredients from local food.

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Granola Bar-Pumpkin Pudding Squares

Last week I was stuffing little paper sacks with homemade granola, Halloween pencils and erasers, and fairy princess glow wands for the little trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood. We only had a few little ones this year, but they were all quite enchanting. So there I was at the starting line of the holiday season trying to perfect a gluten-free, dairy-free “treat” for my special trick-or-treater, my daughter Heather. I wanted something healthy but delicious, something that could be the star of the dessert table (Think ahead to Thanksgiving.) or a healthy midday snack, something—above all—that involved chocolate and pumpkin. Because… it was Halloween, ya know.

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Southern Comfort: Herbed Ham Hocks and Beans

We had a little taste of fall this past week—rainy, chilly and gray for several days. My husband Don thought this was a great time for some comfort food. My thoughts were going in the same direction, too, and when my friend Deb’s special guest came up from Texas, I knew we needed to head south for a dinner. What could say “southern comfort” better than ham hocks and beans?

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Falling in Love with Harvest Green Beans

I again will be freezing at least a couple of big bags of green beans in the next few weeks. But we also like to have a few dishes right out of the field. For instance, I love this savory-sweet blend of steamed green beans, cherry tomatoes, red onion and red adzuki beans tossed in a lemony basil vinaigrette. It hits all the high notes of summer and ushers in the deep melodies of fall. Gotta love all the harmony on the table.

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Farm to Table: CSA Dinner at Biver Farms

Last Wednesday evening, Don and I were invited out to Biver Farms for the weekly CSA dinner. That’s me with Keith Biver just before things got started. People who are enrolled in Biver’s CSA program get a big bag of fresh produce each week, a selection of what is ripe and ready on the certified organic farm just outside Edwardsville, IL. They can pick their bag up most any evening after Wednesday, but most CSA members sure try to make the informal “dinner night”. As Frank Biver puts it: “We sometimes have quite a wing-ding out here.”

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In a Pickle! Learning to Can with Lony Less

Well, yes I can… can… under very guided, expert help, that is. Last week I spent an entire morning in the kitchen of Lony Less, one of my market-vendor friends who has been canning, drying and preserving his own produce for years. It was a pretty amazing and humbling experience. From his small backyard garden and space-challenged galley kitchen, Lony manages to turn out pickles, pie fillings, condiments, pesto, beets and sundried tomatoes. Enough for himself, his local customers and his many friends. If you are on his gift list, you are truly a lucky green gal or guy.

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Celebrating Birthdays with Blueberries, Lemons, Lavender and Love

If you hit the summer season just right, you can easily give your Fourth of July party patriotic flare with a simple bowl of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, topped with whipped cream. There’s nothing so simple, local or delicious. But we had more than the nation’s birthday to celebrate this past weekend; July marks my friend Theresa’s birthday, as well. So this was no time for mere sparklers; I needed to pull out the big blueberry “cake*.”

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There Is Always Magic at the Farmer’s Market

So I guess the point of this post (that started out so far below the “happy meter” it wouldn’t have registered) is gratitude. Sure there’s plenty to complain about, but complaining won’t change things. Only positive vision turned into action can make change. Of course, there is reason for worry in this world, but “worry is just praying for what you don’t want” (a line I love from meditation guru Bill Harris). I think John has the right idea—if we focus on what is good in people we will create more good in the world, sort of like spreading honey on a golden homemade biscuit. Guaranteed to bring on smiles.

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More Love Muffin Magic: Cherry Almond Oatmeal Delights

Ah, I just love the beginning of summer. My pool has opened, my peas are coming in, and fresh fruit at the market is abundant. Last week I scored strawberries and cherries! The Family Garden was selling both, and I wanted to use my first quart of sour pie cherries to experiment with another Love Muffin. Here’s my long-range goal… and you can be part of its success! Be brave.

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Voluntary Simplicity: Local, Green and Homemade Celebrations

If you read this blog from time to time, you’ve heard me talk about this idea before. The concept of “voluntary simplicity” is pretty important to me because the idea appeared to me at a time in my life when I was beginning to open up to a possibility that I could give up what was making me crazy in my life (my high-stress job, my gas-guzzling commute and the apathy that surrounded my professional work) to find something better. I was browsing a campus book sale at the time and landed on a used copy of Duane Elgin’s Voluntary Simplicity, published in 1981.

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Earth Day: Taking It One Green Slice at a Time

The first Earth Day happened in 1970. By the time my daughter was born in 1973, Earth Day was an established, nationwide celebration with ambitious goals to change our view of and our behavior toward the Environment. Much of this mission has been realized, but the present-day debate on Climate Change says we’ve still got a ways to go.

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Get Your Green On! With Irish Green Gal Colcannon

Of all the dishes I’ve made to celebrate my Irish heritage, Colcannon—a simple potatoes and cabbage dish—has remained the family favorite. At its most basic preparation, it’s nothing more than mashed potatoes, boiled cabbage or kale, and some scallions. Well, maybe a bit’o butter and cream. And it’s really good, just like that. But I couldn’t leave that alone. Elevating Colcannon became a quest.

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