Tuesday, November 27, 2012

It's Giving Tuesday?

It's come to my attention that today is "Giving Tuesday." A day of giving is a welcome alternative to the more Get-Themed Black and Cyber days.

Today, I'll donate money to provide Lifestraws to children and families without access to clean drinking water (donate here) and drop off a trunk-load of clothes and winter coats to a Buffalo-area shelter. I'll also puruse the Giving Tuesday website for more ideas about how I can give to others today and every day. I hope you'll do the same.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Greenest Christmas Tree

Now that Thanksgiving is over and the holiday season is upon us, plenty of people are starting to put up their Christmas trees. If you're looking for a "green" Christmas tree option, here are some things to consider.

I first discovered living Christmas Trees when I was living in Santa Monica, CA. I saw the potted trees at my favorite farmers market, and asked the vendor about the service. There, you could rent a potted evergreen tree for a few weeks. The company would even deliver the tree for you, and pick it up when you were done with it. There are a number of companies that offer similar service in California and around the U.S.

In the Buffalo area, Urban Roots offers living trees for purchase (not rental.) When the holidays are over you can plant the tree in your own yard, or you can choose to donate it. If you do, someone from Urban Roots will pick the tree up for you and deliver it to the recipient of your choice (Grassroots Gardens, Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, or Olmsted Parks.)

Whether purchasing a living tree is actually greener than a cut tree is debatable. In most cases, cut trees come from Christmas tree farms which are replanted with new trees every year. Noone's cutting down forests to provide holiday trees for the masses.

Here in Buffalo, the city actually offers a holiday tree recycling program. If you leave your Christmas tree at the curb during the designated week, it will be picked up and used for mulch rather than winding up in a landfill. If you don't live in an area that offers a similar service, perhaps a living tree is a better option for you.

Sonrickers Christmas Tree Farm - Attica, NY

If you're trying to have a green Christmas, it's always good to know where your tree is coming from and where it's going to wind up. Happy holidays to everyone!

Further Reading


Monday, November 12, 2012

Recipe: Macaroni with Creamy Turnip & Leek Sauce

While my CSA share has kept me eating fresh local produce all season, it sometimes throws me for a loop. Occasionally I'll get a vegetable that I've never actually cooked with. That's when I have to get creative!

This week, it was turnips. They seem like a common enough vegetable. I've worked with potatoes and even parsnips, and I adore beets. But turnips were not yet a part of my cooking repertoire. Luckily, I love culinary experimentation! So I took a quick inventory of what I had on hand and came up with a game plan.

I had a box of whole wheat pasta, some veggie broth from a soup I'd made earlier in the week, and the turnips, leeks, and broccoli left from this week's CSA bag. I was out of almond milk, but I'd like to try this recipe with a non-dairy milk in place of the broth to make the sauce a little creamier. I discovered that the leeks were really what made the difference in this recipe, and I almost wish there'd been more of them. They were really what gave the sauce the depth of flavor I was hoping for. I used broccoli because that was what I had, and because it's super easy to cook with pasta, but I think any kind of veggies would be great in this dish.

Creamy leek sauce in the food processor

Macaroni with creamy turnip and leek sauce.

Macaroni with Creamy Turnip & Leek Sauce

  • 6 medium sized turnips, peeled and quartered
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 leeks, chopped (white and light green parts)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 lb pasta (I used whole wheat elbows)

  1. Cook the pasta according to directions. Add the broccoli to cook with the pasta for the last 2 minutes of cook time. Strain pasta and broccoli, and set aside.
  2. Boil a large pot of water (I started boiling while I peeled & cut the turnips)
  3. Add turnips to boiling water, cook for 25 minutes (until soft)
  4. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Add leeks and cook to soften.
  5. Add turnips and leeks to food processor (or blender) along with thyme, nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper. Add a few tablespoons of broth, and blend until smooth, adding more broth as needed to desired consistency.
  6. Toss pasta and broccoli with the turnip leek sauce and serve.
  7. YUM!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Big Chew in Erie County

Here in Western New York, November 6th is The Big Chew! So after you do your civic duty and VOTE today, go out for dinner and help animals. Today when you dine at a participating restaurant or business, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the SPCA of Erie County!


Click here for more information and a list of participating vendors.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Donate Your Unwanted Halloween Candy

I hope you all had a safe and fun Halloween! Whether you didn't get as many trick-or-treaters as you expected, your kids have left you with their least favorites, or you just don't want it around for you to eat, you probably have some candy you want to get rid of after Halloween. That candy doesnt have to end up in a landfill OR in your belly!

There are a few great organizations that will accept your unwanted Halloween candy.

  • The Halloween Candy Buy Back is a partnership between Operation Gratitude and dental care providers around the country. Donors can bring candy to any participating dentist's office in exchange for various oral hygeine products and services. The candy (often along with dental care products from the dentists) is then distributed to U.S. troops overseas via care packages.
  • Operation Shoebox is another organization that sends care packages to troops overseas.
  • You might also consider donating to your local food bank.
  • A local Ronald McDonald House should also accept the candy.