Live Green!Be Kind to the Earth
Recipes are more than just directions on food preparation; at least that’s my take on the rich and beautiful history of global eating. Recipes can tell us a lot about community and ecosystem connections, politics and history, the struggles and successes of races and cultures, even the intersectionality of cultures, religions, racism and power. Take the conversation between my friend Jane and me early this year….
We can learn a lot from the cycles of the seasons and the planning of gardens. Take for example the main ingredients in this hearty vegetarian riff on a traditional French classic, the cassoulet: squash, corn and beans, known to the Iroquois and Seneca as the Three Sisters, star in a comfy stovetop casserole, that pays homage not only to my own French heritage but also to the wisdom and Earth-knowledge of the indigenous people of North America.
Last year I made the decision to start ripping up my front yard—eventually I mean to rip up all my yard. The plan is to give back some of my land to the Earth: remember last year’s post She Went Native Right in the Front Yard? With the help of local native plant expert Tom Shirrell and my daughter Heather, I took out several feet of typical, useless suburban turf and handed it over to cone flowers, foxglove, monarda, hyssop, yarrow, milkweed and bee balm. A transformation from “doing something to the Earth” to “doing something for the Earth” had begun.
If you keep up with this blog, you’ve learned by now that I am the veggie lover and my husband Don is the meat lover. We do cross paths on occasion—I am a strong believer in quality bone broth as part of my healthy winter regime, and Don eats (for the most part and with only a small amount of continual reluctance) my vegetable concoctions. That said, neither of us is willing to adapt in any significant way to the other’s lifestyle. We agree to disagree.
So when I find a vegetable and ways to cook it that make Don clean his plate, it’s a repeater. Which is exactly what I hit on with this new eggplant-inspired curry. And don’t you think the name is just too cute? Hubba Bubba—what’s not to love about that?
It is summer! And for my family this year, it has been the season of gardening and living green. We finally expanded and fenced in our vegetable garden. If the crops fail, I won’t be blaming the deer this year. With a little luck and a lot of faith we may get some tomatoes, beans, potatoes, Brussel sprouts and kale. My little strawberry plant is still too small, but I did spy one tiny berry! I have expanded my herb garden, too, and our front yard is teeming with the pollinator plants I’ve been putting in for the past three years. While we will never be farmers, or herbalists, or native plant experts, it all feels wonderful. So satisfying. So connected to the Earth. And at the end of the day…I’m sore as hell and Don has a smell way beyond sweaty. You, too? I’ve got suggestions, so keep reading.
My featured cake gets heavy inspiration from a September 2009 issue of Delicious Living Magazine; the cake has become a family favorite that I’ve made annually, especially when brunch is happening in our house because it is so delicate, fragrant and subtly sweet–perfect for morning munching. When my daughter had to eliminate gluten from her diet, I created a modified version for her—a Strawberry Sunshine Cake that, while it’s not the same, is pretty delicious, too.
April may be the cruelest month according to poet T.S. Eliot, but for Don, it’s a food fiesta. Every April, we clean out the deep freeze, defrost and scrub it, getting it ready for the new market season ahead. Everything’s gotta go, and for Don it’s sort of like when you were little and the electricity went out and you had 10 gallons of ice cream beginning to melt. Gotta go, right?
Here’s Don: “Look! Another package of ham hocks!” “Did you forget about these ribs?!” “Pork chops…who knew they were buried beneath those green beans!” Yes, meat extravaganza doesn’t even cover the giddiness. But for me, it was all about that one-pound bag of green beans.
I’d like you to meet a new special friend: Here’s Maya, or rather Maya Two. She’s a gift from my friend Jane Zappia—yep Pop’s Pies Jane Zappia. Jane called at the end of March and said: “Would you like some sourdough starter? I have more than I need.” OMG. Can you say Soooooo Hippie! Of course I would!
We are so close to Spring–so close to long walks, decent morning runs, day-trip hikes and noon-time picnics, you can almost taste it. And you can taste it! Because I have created the perfect vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free cookie that is just perfect for dropping in your basket or slipping in your backpack.
When my husband’s copy of the monthly AARP Bulletin arrived early in December, I gave it a casual scan while we were eating breakfast. Then I landed on this headline:
“The Truth About Meat In Your Diet: Going against decades of nutritional wisdom, a group of researchers recently claimed there is no reason to limit red or processed meats.”
Indignant indigestion followed.
The Impossible Burger. It is said to be “the one that bleeds,” a plant-based burger made from “plant meat” (Read: GMO soybean root heme—and doesn’t that sound appetizing.). Finding its way from high-end restaurants to fast food chains to grocery store shelves, this impossible imposter claims everything from “the burger of your childhood” to the “ultimate environmental savior”. I’m not impressed.
Cold, wet outside air meets dry indoor heat. It’s a match made…well certainly not in heaven. Chafed skin, brittle nails and peeling cuticles… so how are those busy little hands these days? If yours are like mine in winter, the answer is NOT GOOD. But I have found some help from the New Hope Network Blogger Box and a favorite new company, Herbal Healing.
Afterwords Books is a family-owned local bookstore, celebrating 10 years in Edwardsville. Customers can purchase new and used books, take advantage of a trade-for-credit program and join a book club like ours—there are clubs going on all the time at Afterwords, for every age and interest. Little shoppers also can enjoy the free children’s story times, while others participate in a thriving monthly documentary club. People come to shop for books at Afterwords, to be sure, but they linger for the community, conversation and coffee and tea.
As we all gather together this Thanksgiving, food will certainly take center stage. For many of us, however, what’s on the table may not reflect what is traditional. Choosing healthy ingredients, reducing carbon footprint and supporting agricultural sustainability are now as prominent in our recipe collections, as Grandma’s pumpkin pie and Mom’s holiday turkey.
What I love most about blogging is the creative witchcraft that takes place. Whether I’ve just discovered another blogger with great cooking ideas, or I’ve dipped into New Hope Network’s Blogger Box for the next Green Gal recommendation, or one of my friends passes on a fabulous recipe that was passed on by someone who found it on another blog somewhere out in the Universe, bloggers are a magic force of sophisticated sorcery.
I thought I’d died and gone to heaven… or at least gone back in time. I was at the Goshen Community Market on a typical Fall Saturday, filling my bags with great food, when I spied this large basket of pears—big green speckled pears like the ones I picked with my grandparents from the side of a country road or in a neighbor’s yard (With their permission, of course!). The Family Garden from over in New Douglas, IL was selling them, harvested from their front yard. I had to make two trips on my bike to get them all home.
If you ask Michael Turley to define “a farm”, he smiles in a way that makes you think you’re going to find his answer a little weird. It’s a hesitant smile, suggesting he is already aware that you are most likely a skeptic. But he answers anyway:
“Remember the opening scenes of the movie The Wizard of Oz? Remember the farm Dorothy lives on in Kansas—there’s Aunt Em and Uncle Henry, barely getting by with a few hired hands to help them, a cow, a horse, some hogs, a few acres of field crops in the distance? Well that’s what I think of as the American farm.” Then he waits for the inevitable response that politely calls his vision “romantic,” “quaint” but in the end “highly impractical” by today’s agricultural standards.
Overall, I’d say I’m a pretty stable and balanced person. Of course, a survey of family and friends might reveal a slightly different opinion, if I’m caught at the “right moment.” And, I’m guessing you have had some of those “right moments” too, when everything in your life is in overdrive, when every box on your little calendar is full. Sometimes it is just the simple and natural change of seasons that can push me a step past coping, especially if all the other factors are in play. And this pretty much describes my September 2019. But still I try to be strong, soldier through, resist help.
Can you say “stubborn”?