Learning about urban gardening at Rooting D.C.

Freshly dug garden plot
Rooting D.C. 2 began at 10 a.m. last Saturday with the invocation of a Chinese proverb: “If you want to be happy for three hours, get a bottle of wine. If you want to be happy for three months, fall in love. If you want to be happy for a lifetime, plant a garden.” After that introduction and a few more words from one of the organizers, we were free to move on to our workshop sessions.

At first, all I could do was mill around the front hall of the gorgeous Carnegie Library building in Mount Vernon Square in a daze. Who was this crowd of people of all ages and backgrounds who all wanted to garden, or were already raising produce out of concrete? How had we all stumbled into this forum where we could learn about everything from herbs to compost to harvesting rainwater, all for free? What karmic forces had conspired to let me and the dozens of other walk-ins actually get a spot? Continue reading

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Squeezable PB

A random but potentially lucrative thought: Someone should develop squeezable peanut butter! You know, like the mayo and mustard and ketchup you can buy now? It would require just a little tinkering with the consistency (it would have to be a little thinner than traditional PB — maybe with the addition of good-for-you-coconut oil, or nutritious vitamin E oil!) and the container (something like the mayo, but with a slightly larger hole).

But imagine the advantages — no knives to wash, no schmutz to contaminate your jelly, no spreading mishaps… Food innovationists, take note!

An open letter to the three couples I saw shopping at the co-op today

Dear Couples Grocery Shopping Together This Morning at the Co-op,

I couldn’t help but notice you shopping today. You were walking around, figuring out the best version of each thing on your list, debating whether you already had this or that, and from time to time selecting an item and putting it in your shopping cart.

On the surface, this is exactly what I do when I go grocery shopping — which is precisely what I was doing this morning, by the way, really minding my own business and intent on my errand except when I may have overheard your conversation or happened to glance over. I couldn’t help but look because the thing about you guys is that you did all of the things anyone would do at the co-op, but you insisted on doing these things TOGETHER.

There you were, walking up and down each aisle, side by side, deep in conversation about whether the lentils were running out and if you need a new jar of honey.

So my reason for writing this letter is to ask you a simple question: Why??

Continue reading

Click, drag, remenisce… oh, and save the world

Remember those toy pots and pans with plastic fruits, veggies, and that too-red bacon you had as a kid? I think I didn’t actually have a set at home, but I played with one occasionally at preschool and this one time when my parents entered me in a study of kids at play.

I think my favorite part was the apple halves that each had a strip of velcro on the flat side. Put ’em together and you had a whole apple; “cut” the apple with your super safe plastic butter knife and you had two halves again! Continue reading

Brunch recipes

yum - apples!Featuring… local foods! The following are two recipes supplied by Abby D. and Brooke B., guests at last week’s brunch. One features apples (which are still abundant from local farmers) and spinach (which is grown locally in green houses, and I’m sure you could use other greens, too). The other features butternut squash. You could substitute any number of other squashes or even sweet potatoes. As an alternative to peeling, cubing, and boiling the squash, you could also halve it, scoop out the seeds, and roast at 350 F for 30-60 minutes. Then just scoop out the flesh and proceed with the recipe. Continue reading

Sweet on you [updated]

“I’d love to try those truffles, but they’d go right to my thighs.”

“I adore chocolate, but it makes me break out.”

“Don’t let my ass see that dessert tray!”

Many people feel that sugar doesn’t complement their bodies. They may even feel — or joke — that their wayward parts (the thunder thighs and pizza faces) plot to lure in sugary sweets to perpetuate their own existence. Yet we’re drawn to sweet things. That makes sense, because they taste damn good! And our bodies do need sugars — just not necessarily the processed kind. Continue reading

A little freaky

birthday fruit roll-ups

Would you want someone to peel your child off a piece of cellophane and eat him or her bite by sticky bite? That’s what Fruit Roll-ups is suggesting. While personalized processed fruit products may have their charms, I’m not sure I’d be so into it.

What a difference a week makes

scallion pancake

Sunny brunch spread

Last Sunday, the scallion pancake above was my “brunch” before an 11 a.m. Chinatown bus to D.C. The dim sum offerings of NYC’s Chinatown are wonderful, but there was something sad and unfulfilling about that pancake. Yes, it was delectibly oil-soaked, with just the right amount of scallion flavor. Even the crappy soy sauce from the little packet worked with it. But the context left something to desired… something that’s hard to pinpoint.

Maybe it was the rush of buying it, or the single-serving Styrofoam container. Or the fact that I ate it in a tiny bus station just before one of the bus company staff members jumped up, ordered us into a line, and marched us to the waiting coaches, all the while threatening that they were going to leave. Continue reading

Sustainable chocolate for your sweetie — or sweet tooth

Just got this tip from Ideal Bite, a “light-green living” tip service that sends me a daily email. These messages are the Dakota Fanning of the green movement. Though they’re sometimes too cute for their own good, or suggesting things like not washing your dishes before you put them in the dishwasher or not preheating your oven to save .2 watts of electricity, sometimes I dig ’em.

Here’s a tip that’s apropos for those actually planning ahead for V-day: 

Who wishes you’d never opened this tip?

Your waistline. But with so many organic and fair-trade options, you can at least feel a little better about lifting the lid on that box o’ bonbons.

The Benefits

  • Taste you thought existed only in Greek myths. The run-of-the-mill stuff just doesn’t hold up against our organic chocolate picks.
  • Divine support for organic. Only about 3% of the U.S. food supply is grown organically, but as we vote with our dollars in favor of it, that number will climb.
  • An out-of-the-box labor concept. Fair-trade wages help cocoa workers achieve self-sufficiency – fair treatment too.

Personally Speaking

We like to justify our dark chocolate addiction by pointing to its flavonoids, which have major antioxidant power and help relax blood vessels. Continue reading