13 October 2008

green shopping - a few new links

Being that these days I am not in love with sitting in front of the computer for hours at a time, I go on Internet binges and read all of my various e-newsletters and subscriptions as once, as well as catch up on my assorted favorite websites and blogs. This often means I find a bunch of links at one time that are fun and I want to share them with you! Here are a few good ones for finding cool gifts or fun things for yourself.

MapTotes: Cute, affordable sturdy canvas totes with simple, silk-screened maps of major cities around the world in 'natural' and black.


RePlayGround: New York City based sustainable graphic, packaging, and industrial design company that sells DIY 'ReMake' kits to make envelopes out of magazines, trivets of wine corks, and lamps of bottles. Additionally they host parties and workshops so you can do it with your friends or kids! They also take your old junk like bottle caps, credit cards, sheet music, or anything else you might throw out in large quantities.


Water Purifying Wand: For those bottled water junkies who do it for the clean, pure water, save your money and some plastic and pick up one of these small, portable personal water purifiers. Swirl it around in your glass and the wand adds negative ions to your water, ridding it of chlorine and chloramines. Pretty neat, if you ask me.

Sustainable NYC: Cool store in the East Village (Ave. A at 9th) I stumbled upon last weekend. They've been open for a few months, and sell a little bit of everything that you would normally get from the drug store, or say a K-Mart, but only in eco-friendly, fair-trade, sustainable versions, including lots of locally made products. So, non-toxic nail polish and cleaning products, biodegradable 'plastic' bags, vegan shoes by Simple, recycled greeting cards, and more. Word on the street is they are soon moving halfway down the block to a bigger location. Hooray! They also host workshops and have lots of info on composting via the NYC Compost Project. I bought some SoapNuts. But more on those soon.

Static Eliminator: Came across these chemical-free dryer sheets somewhere online. Apparently they're "As Seen on TV" which is very exciting. I'm curious to try them, as I don't appreciate static cling, and that's the only reason I ever really use dryer sheets. Though usually I use Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Lavender ones, because they smell really pretty. These last up to 500 loads and are said to be great with those with sensitive allergies. They also sell dusting mitts and pet gloves, which is neat.

09 October 2008

go scrub yourself!

I like exfoliating as much as the next person, and I find myself running low on a free tube of body scrub I scored at an event earlier this year. But continuing with my new tradition of DIY products, I have come across a few remarkably simple, cheap, and easy solutions.

Why pay the big bucks for fancy salt or sugar scrubs, when the main ingredients are just salt or sugar, oil and/or vegetable glycerin, and fragrance? You deserve baby-soft skin on the cheap!
Even if you go organic with the ingredients, and I recommend you do, it's still more affordable than some of the ingredient-heavy products you find out there. Not to mention you can use that sugar, salt, and oils in the kitchen too!

Here are a few 'recipes' I found on Care2.com.

Sea Salt Glow Formula
2 cups fine sea salt
4 cups grapeseed, apricot or almond oil (olive, avocado, or jojoba oil would be fine alternatives)
20-30 drops essential oil of choice

1. Place salt in a widemouthed jar and cover with grapeseed, apricot, or almond oil. Scent with essential oil.

2. To use, dampen your entire body. Using either your hands or a loofah mit, vigorously but gently massage the salt and oil mixture into the skin. Begin at the feet and work upward in a circular motion. Be careful to avoid any scratched or wounded areas. When you have massaged the entire body, rinse with warm water. Finish with a dry-towel rub.

This recipe makes quite a bit, so jar up small amounts for gifts and your own future use, or make a smaller batch using the same basic ratios.


Super Simple Sugar Scrub
1/2 cup sugar
Enough cold-pressed oil (olive, wheat germ, peanut, corn, or sunflower) to dampen the mixture

Gently massage this exfoliating scrub all over your body and face before you shower with a light soaping and rinse. Repeat once or twice a month.


Click here for a few more sugar scrub recipes from Care2.

Do you make your own body care products? I would love to try out some more!
Post your recipes in the comments!

07 October 2008

a few articles

I just read a slew of short articles and blogs I found pretty interesting, entertaining, and/or enlightening. I hope you do too! In no particular order...

Local fall produce at a glance!

How to keep that produce fresh, brought to you by RealSimple. (I've been using these to put my produce in at the market and store them in them in the fridge. Rinse them out and use again. Love it!)

Skip that toxic dry-cleaners and read about how to 'wet clean' your delicate silk, rayon, and wool items.

An enviro-blogger's response to the Corn Refiners Association recent pro-High Fructose Corn Syrup ads (yes, seriously.) And his re-response.

The Top 10 items you should keep out of your house to reduce your risk to these super-toxins.

The love of dusting and cleaning with highly reusable microfiber cloths.

Someone other than me ranting about the ridiculousness of plastic water bottles.


If you're fooled into thinking Clorox's newish Green Works line is all that, think again. Get the dirt on top mainstream cleaning product companies. (PDF)

Healthy Dinner Tonight: Epicurious' daily healthy dinner recipes! With full nutritional analysis!
(Orzo with Feta, Tomatoes, and Dill featured in the photo. Yum!)

Confused about BPA? Read about how it interacts with the body.

06 October 2008

green 1 thing: give your shoes new life

If you have an old pair of running shoes or other sneakers lying around, dying, or just some sneakers you bought with good intentions but never wear, don't let them be destined for the landfill. In addition to many sports and running stores often taking your sneaker cast-offs to be donated to those in need around the world, there are several organizations that will make use of your old shoes-- some with drop-off locations near you!

Here's two:
One World Running, based in Colorado, takes new or near-new shoes and sends them to Sub-Saharan Africa, Central America, and other countries around the world to promote an awareness of health and fitness and nutrition.

Nike Grind
, Nike's Shoe Recycling Program, takes old sneakers (of any brand) and recycles them into athletic play surfaces, like basketball courts, tennis courts, and running tracks.

Those worn out trainers have life in them yet!

28 September 2008

September Newsletter: Make Change!

Hey Y’all, Happy Fall
One morning very, very recently, I woke up and realized it was Fall. "Fall?! Already?!" I certainly wasn't ready to give up summer, but I guess the time of year has other ideas-- wind, rain, cooler temperatures, and the hint of change in the leaves.
Change. A small word with many different meanings and I think this time of year is the perfect time to reassess, and do things differently. And different doesn't have to be drastic, but it can definitely be important.

What kind of change are you hoping for?
Personally, I'm hoping that the people of the United States are feeling awake and motivated, because this is the year that we can make change together.
How's that? you ask? By VOTING. So I am pulling this directly from one of my most recent blog posts, but it is that important, it's worth mentioning again.

If you are a US citizen and 18 or older, you really, really need to be registered to vote.
I can't say I'm overly patriotic, but I do generally like living here, and the U.S. needs our support and voices. Does it strike you as odd that in some countries (many in Europe), that the government fears their people? That a simple and strong uprising of voice and opinion can invoke... change? Imagine that!
We live in a democracy. We have that power.

The main problem is that not enough of us are taking advantage of the system we live in. And sure it has its own issues, but ignoring it is not going to make anything better is it? Could even make it worse. I'm urging you not to stand idly by!
Make your voice heard. Stand up for something. Vote for action, for change, for a better future, and a happier now. What issues move you? Health care? Global warming? Sustainability? War in Iraq?
Let's not just focus on what's not right, what should be better, who we like and who we don't. Let's not just stand there. Let's not be all talk and no action. Do something.
You can make change. We can make change. We can change. We can be better and stronger and healthier. And happier.

Voter registration deadlines are coming up as soon as October 4th in some states, so NOW is the time to take action. 
Check the deadlines in your state
.
And if you're already registered, take this opportunity to ask your circle of family, friends, and colleagues if they are, and if not, help them get registered.

A few resources:

Vote411 - Everything you ever wanted to know about voting
Rock the Vote - Because voting is cool
VoteGopher - Excellent issue-centric election resource so you can get educated on candidate views
Caucus - New York Times Politics Blog

NEWS FROM AJA  
A Committment to Composting.
I recently adopted the phrase "upping my game" and as a part of that upping, I am committing myself not only to composting my own household scraps, but also the scraps from clients, and other catering jobs as much as possible. Some of the other residents of my building are also into composting and we've discussed getting a vermicomposter, which I hope happens!
I'm also super psyched about the fairly new North Brooklyn Compost Project happening in my neighborhood.
Learn more about composting here.

ANNOUNCEMENTS
In Season:
September is Harvest Month! Get the market and chow down on the best of the summer and early fall: yellow cauliflower, apples, pears, summer AND winter squash, broccoli, late berries, hearty greens, and you can still even get melons, nectarines, tomatoes, and peaches. Make the most of and with it!
Cool Recent Blog Posts: Check out Sabrina's Guest Blog on Carbon Footprints and Offsets. 
Things I Made This Summer: Here are a handful of things I made and photographed this summer. The item with the most requests via blog comments will earn a recipe post!
Guest Blogger Opportunities: I’m always looking for interested individuals to write guest blogs for Stem+Leaf about green and
healthy-lifestyle related subjects, from your own perspective. No need to be an experienced writer-- just enthusiastic with something to say!
Please contact me for more information.
Spread the Word: If you know of anyone who would enjoy this newsletter, please feel free to pass it far and wide! Or, they can sign up here for the
for the monthly mailing list.
Live your dreams wide awake.

26 September 2008

product placement: midel honey grahams


I've used these Midel Honey Grahams a couple of times to make low-sugar graham cracker crusts for clients, which is when I first discovered their tastiness. Okay, let me not give you the wrong idea... I love these, but I tend to like sweets that are not very sweet. These are sweetened only with honey and unsulfered molasses, which gives them a faint sweetness that goes great with tea, fruit, nut butter, or just on their own as a snack or dessert-- which is how I usually eat them! They are also made with 100% whole wheat, which gives them a heartiness that I find, unless I am especially hungry, prevents me from eating too many. So really, with it's high fiber, decent protein, and low-sugar counts, it's almost like a healthy cereal in cracker-cookie-biscuit form. Maybe I'm not selling it hard, but I'd be right to say they're probably not for everyone. But they are very much for me. Yay.

*Midel also makes really yummy gluten-free cookies. I love their Gluten Free Ginger Snaps.

24 September 2008

things i made this summer.

I'm just beginning to get caught up with my summer and it's already over! I had a lot of food projects in mind for the summer, but as it always goes by faster than you anticipate, many didn't (yet) get accomplished. However, here are a few photos of a handful of things I made this summer. If I get enough interest via comments, maybe I'll even post a recipe for the crowd favorite.

sweet organic vegan cornbread with homemade fig&thyme jam and consider bardwell's vermont chevre.

fire-roasted tomatoes.


vegan lavender cornmeal local nectarine upside down cake.
(inspired by the cover recipe of july's martha stewart living.)


my version of angelica kitchen's 'dragon bowl': steamed sweet potatoes, kale, and broccoli atop short grain brown rice with a little salad of sprouts, mint, and cilantro on top. dressed with a mixed herb-lemon-sesame-shoyu dressing.

corn tortilla 'pizzas' with homemade roasted tomatillo and poblano salsa, black beans, roasted corn, cilantro, and raw milk white cheddar. and a side market greens salad.

doughnut plant canapes with vanilla bean ronnybrook creme fraiche and local berries.


rafetto's fresh basil-parsley and lemon parpadelle with sauteed local organic fava beans and maitake, crisped natural proscuitto, in an orange olive oil, orange juice, and orange zest 'sauce'.

all farmer's market salad of local purslane chopped salad with heirloom cherry tomatoes, kirby cucumbers, sugar snap peas, fresh corn, red onion, lemon juice and segments, pomegranate molasses and love.

23 September 2008

vote. register to vote.


If you are a US citizen and 18 or older, you really need to be registered to vote.
I can't say I'm overly patriotic, but I do generally like living here, and the U.S. needs our support and voices. Does it strike you as odd that in some countries (many in Europe), that the government fears their people? That a simple and strong uprising of voice and opinion can invoke... change? Imagine that!

We live in a democracy. We have that power. The main problem is that not enough of us are taking advantage of the system we live in. And sure it has its own issues, but ignoring it is not going to make anything better is it? Could even make it worse. I'm urging you not to stand idly by!

Make your voice heard. Stand up for something. Vote for action, for change, for a better future, and a happier now. What issues move you? Health care? Global warming? Sustainability? War in Iraq?

Voter registration deadlines are coming up as soon as October 4th in some states, so now's the time to take action. Check the deadlines in your state.

A few resources:
Vote411 - Everything you ever wanted to know about voting
Rock the Vote - Because voting is cool
VoteGopher - Excellent issue-centric election resource so you can get educated on candidate views
Caucus - New York Times Politics Blog

22 September 2008

guest blog: on carbon footprints

Sabrina Hu is a yuppie working the corporate world in Atlanta, GA. She thinks that Bill Gates should run for some office and work his “creative capitalism” edge on sustainable enterprises. In her free time, she sits and ponders about her environmental footprint as well the as the internally displaced children and child soldiers in Uganda, while dreaming about blue skies and white beach sands.
Please contact me if you are interested in writing a topical guest blog.

Way back in July, I hopped myself from my current residence of Atlanta, GA to Honolulu, HI to attend my roommate’s wedding. Okay, it wasn’t quite a hop, a skip, or even a jump. In fact, the distance between the two places is a grueling 9-hour direct plane ride to cover some 4,494 miles. I think this flight was harder to get through than my trans-Pacific experiences and thankfully, I had my good friends Harry, Hermonie and Ron to keep me company.

Throughout the planning phase and the actual vacation, I noticed many discussions about conservation of island resources, and the in-some’s-opinion, lack of efforts in environmental preservation of the beautiful state of Hawaii. Since returning back to the Mainland, I’ve been mulling in the back of my mind what to do about my very large carbon footprint. During my vacation, I tried to be conscientious of my water and electricity use. After all, the signs in Maui’s NorthShore hostel were right… I didn’t need to have the water running when I lathered up. And who really needs AC when the temperatures are a pleasant 70 degrees in the evening? So I began to think about how big of a carbon footprint I had left. After all, I did fly from Atlanta to Honolulu to Kahului and back-- not to mention the rental cars, hotel room AC, and laundry. I decided made a quick visit to TerraPass.com to calculate the impact of my plane flights alone. Oh. My. Take. A. Look.


And Carbonfund.org had this to say about my trip:


Dare I add in my business trip to Boston from the week before? Or last summer’s trip to Beijing, Shanghai, and Taipei. I. Think. Not. (Though having corporate support for carbon offsets based on employee travel is an interesting idea, but I digress.)

Sabrina to Hawaii = A LOT OF CARBON lbs.

Stunned, I furiously put my fingers to work to hunt down a suitable way to offset my carbon footprint. Along the way I came across some articles that made me ponder: “Where is my money going?”; “How are these companies really offsetting my carbon footprint?”; “Is there a DIY way?” and finally, “How are they calculating my footprint anyways?” I decided to focus on the first question: “Where is my money going?”

Carbonfund.org uses funds for carbon offsetting in three ways: by planting trees, subsidizing wind and solar power, and purchasing credits on the Chicago Climate Exchange. It is a not-for-profit organization and allows users to choose which method they would like to use to off-set their carbon footprint. To offset my trip, I would have to spend a total of $16.76 on Carbonfund.org.

TerraPass, a for-profit organization offers similar options to those looking to purchase carbon offsets. My carbon offset on TerraPass would run me $17.85. All these websites of blue skies and lush green fields… would I take the plunge?

Not convinced, my attention turned towards a search for news articles discussing the concept of carbon offsets. A 2006 New York Times article summed it up best. Was it fair for me to just buy my way out of the pollution I had collectively helped to create? The articles I read all seemed to have the same conclusion: It is currently unclear how much of an impact carbon off setting programs create.

Ultimately, I decided not to make a carbon offsetting donation. I haven’t convinced that donating my money through a website was going to do any good- and it definitely was not going to bring me any personal satisfaction of becoming carbon neutral for my plane rides. Instead, I decided that there were more tangible and immediate ways through my day to day activities for me to make my impact-- from recycling to limiting electricity usage to general conservation-- which is more than I can say for watching yet another electronic transaction load in my browser.

Editor's Note: Sabrina mentions her CarbonFund offset would be about $17 though the image shows roughly $45. She says this is because she had checked 'Radiative Forcing' option, which is to compensate for the different effect on greenhouse emissions at higher altitudes, and increases the suggested cost to offset carbon emission.

21 September 2008

a technological vacation

I just wanted to quickly write to apologize for my lack of blog presence. I attempted to keep you satiated by 'Green 1 Things' and 'Product Placements', but they ran out before I got back around to the computer. Chalk it up to the compulsory August business vacations that are rampant in New York, or to moving and working a heck of a lot so that my time on the computer was essentially nil.

So enough of the excuses, but I'll just say... I didn't miss being on the computer all the time. This is only the third time I've been on the computer in a week, and you know, I kind of like it. I'm going to consider this an experiment in energy and productivity efficiency, as well as allowing myself more opportunity to interact with other humans face-to-face, and spend quiet time alone that doesn't involve the LED glow of a monitor or cell phone screen. Try it for a day, a few hours... you might like it.

That being said, I still intend to keep this blog happy and alive. So don't you worry!
(But if you're interested in writing a guest blog for Stem+Leaf, I probably won't say no.)

08 September 2008

green1 thing: pay bills online

Still getting those annoying and bulky monthly statements in the mail from all of the assorted entities that say you owe them money? It's highly probable that you can reduce that to zilch in just a few minutes by signing up for online statements-- most banks, credit card and utilities companies are urging you to do so. They'll email you your monthly statements, you can pay online, or still mail in a check if you need to, and you can save all that paper. Do your filing on your computer and you don't even need to print out records 'for your files'. Easy peasy.

01 September 2008

green 1 thing: fetch the e-paper

Read the paper online!
Personally, I love taking a leisurely 15-30 minutes to read the paper online with my breakfast when I can, and am glad my attempt to buy and read the Sunday New York Times every week was a passing phase. Yes, I used to complain about the difficulty of reading long articles online, and even now I still only skim or read about half, but, with many papers featuring boosted online interactive content, it's more fun to get your news on your desktop, and easier to find the news you're interested in reading. Sign up for your favorite paper's email alerts or daily headlines and skim the paper in your email.

In addition to saving trees, gas from shipping trees, manufacturing the paper, printing the paper and delivering it to your doorstop or corner store, you'll also save money, dirty fingertips, and can 'clip and save' your favorite articles by bookmarking them or adding them to your delicious account.

More reasons to read the paper online.
If you have a lot of old newspapers sitting around the house, you should of course recycle them, or first reuse them in one of these ways!

26 August 2008

product placement: chico bags

In another impulsive Whole Foods buy, I purchased a Chico Bag in a really fun orange color ("Mango"), because I thought, "being so tiny and weightless, at $6, it's kind of hard to resist!"

While I'm known among my friends for my fairly wide assortment of canvas tote bags, which I use almost daily for more than just lugging groceries around, I was happy to add a reusable bag to the mix that weighed even less, folded into its own cute pouch, and could fit really easily in my purse everyday or even a pocket-- and the strap is even long enough to wear on my shoulder, but not too long that if I hold it in my hand, the bottom of the bag is dragging on the ground!

In fact, one of the reasons I was excited about getting this bag was this idea I had of waking up early, going for a run, stuffing the folded up bag in one of the pockets of my running shorts, and ending the run at the Union Square Greenmarket. And within a couple days of purchasing it, I did just that, excited to be able to have some of my grocery shopping and exercising for the day already out of the way by 9am.

I've had the bag for about a month now and we've become nearly inseparable-- I can't believe I didn't own one sooner! While I have noticed a little bit of wear along the bottom seam already, I don't doubt it's because I've abused it's suggested 25-pound weight limit. But if it can pass the trials I put it through multiple times a week with my own groceries and clients' groceries being lugged around, I know it's a good find!

You can even recycle any reusable bag through Chico Bag's Zero Waste Program, functional or not, and it will either be given to low-income families to help them drop the plastic bag habit or repurposed by The Grateful Thread.

Check out the "Plastic Bag Self Test" on Chico Bag's website.

25 August 2008

green 1 thing: let the sun shine in!

Instead of depending on overhead or lamp lighting all the day long, open your blinds or use sheer curtains to let natural light seep in and keep your space well-lit, or relocate your reading chair or desk to a sunnier area. This will save energy and bring a little of the outside in! Soak in that Vitamin D!

Let a little sunshine into your nighttime as well, with this super cool Sun Jar!

19 August 2008

product placement: sweet and sara vegan marshmallows

Let me just say this: I am not a marshmallow person. Never really have been though I have enjoyed the occasional S'more or Rice Krispy treat. After trying some Sweet and Sara Vegan Marshmallows... consider me converted.

Recently, I was considering having a bake sale and was pondering the different fun treats I could make. I like to do a lot of my baking vegan when possible, but at the same time, being that it's summer and most NYC apartments aren't air conditioned, baking seemed kind of like an awful idea. In brainstorming with a friend we thought of Rice Krispy treats and wondered if you could make them vegan. (Marshmallows are not vegan because gelatin is one of the key ingredients). Never having done it, I wondered if vegan marshmallows would melt and hold up the right way and also looked into alternative recipes, most containing corn syrup or other syrupy sweeteners. After a few failed attempts of making the treats without a marshmallow product and just enough Organic Puffed Brown Rice left in the box, I shelled out the $7 and bought a container of Sweet and Sara's Toasted Coconut Vegan Marshmallows at Whole Foods. I've had my eyes on these for awhile and was pretty excited because they are made locally in Queens.

So 1 bowl, 1 small pot, some additional shredded coconut, and a couple of tablespoons of virgin coconut oil later, and about 1 hour of 'cooling' time later... a vegan crispy treat feast was had with comments of "this is the best rice crispy treat I have ever had" shared all around. Success! (Let it be known that I ate one of the marshmallows on their own, and was very very pleased.)

Thank you Sweet and Sara! <3


basic recipe: vegan coconut crispy treats
This is dangerously easy to make. It makes me a little happy that the marshmallows a little expensive, because that's the only thing keeping me from making these once a week.

3 cups puffed brown rice cereal
2-3 tablespoons virgin coconut oil (could substitute vegan margarine or organic canola oil)
1 7.5 oz. package Sweet and Sara toasted coconut vegan marshmallows (use plain if you prefer)
1/4 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened), optional

Place the cereal in a large bowl.

In a small pot, gently heat the oil and the marshmallows until they melt. Pour into the bowl with the cereal, add the coconut, and gently mix with a spatula until well combined.

In a 9x9 baking pan lined with parchment, pour in the crispy mixture, and press gently to even out. Allow to cool on the counter for 1-2 hours, if you can stand to wait. Cut into squares or other desired shapes and sizes, and enjoy.

Dip in or pour on some melted chocolate if you are feeling really crazy!

18 August 2008

green 1 thing: bottle your water

Because getting 'going green' can be daunting and overwhelming, this is a new series I'm publishing here once a week with quick tips to make your life a little greener. Bit by bit, you'll have gone green before you know it!

BPA scares aside, it is a far nicer thing for the planet to forgo your bottled water habit. Instead, grab that sports bottle gathering dust in the back of your cabinet and bottle your own water from your tap, or splurge on a sassy SIGG bottle. Refill it at work or on the go as needed, and you'll never go thirsty again. Not to mention you'll save yourself money and reduce the demand for petroleum based plastics. That's worth raising your glass over isn't it?

12 August 2008

product placement: smooze! fruit ice

Unless I am very hungry or feeling spendy, I can usually control those impulse buys on unfamiliar products at the grocery store. But as soon as I spotted Smooze! Fruit Ice in a floor display at Whole Foods a few weeks back, I picked it up and only delayed in throwing it in my basket because I was deciding on a flavor. These vegan, coconut milk based ices are all-natural, preservative free, and sold in the aisle, but are meant to be eaten frozen. They're imported from Singapore, and I think they're just now becoming available in the US.

Coconut + Pink Guava is what I picked and what a taste sensation! Sweet and flavorful and creamy and just plain good on these hot summer days. I have since also tried the Coconut + Passion Fruit flavor, which with its tart sweetness reminded me of a yummy summer cocktail.

See if you can find them near you, 'cause I for one am totally smitten and more than ready to try the other two flavors, Mango and Pineapple. YUM. (I'm also hoping their coconut drinks will be available here soon!)

08 August 2008

a few things i learned about honey

I don't talk much here about honey, and all things being equal, I don't use it a lot. But then, I don't add sweeteners to much-- not tea or cereal, which are the things I consume most often that would be susceptible to sweetening. But I do really love honey. The smell, the look, the taste, and the little cute bumblebees that make it.

I recently had a nice chat with Andrew of Andrew's (Taste Bud Bursting) Local (Wildflower) Honey (Fairfield County, CT) at the Union Square Greenmarket, asking him about his (raw, organic, unheated) products and what he does and all of that. Hmm, that makes it all sound very official. It was more that I was breezing through the market on a particularly nice day and was feeling chatty. Friendly smiley Andrew, noticing my bee necklace, and as usual, generous and quick with the samples, handed me a spoon with some whipped honey on it, and on a sugar high just looking at it, I just let the questions fly.

The 'creamy' raw honey you see in stores in a ploy!
People think that creamy look means it's unrefined and more 'raw' than the amber colored syrupy honey, but no! It has to be whipped to get to that consistency, therefore increasing the volume of a smaller amount of product-- honey comes off the comb all pretty and drippy. More visual volume means they can charge you more for less! Andrew does sell whipped honey but it's labeled as such and it's for those who want to be able to spread their honey or don't want to deal with messy honey drips. Oh, and if you like the honey with the 'bits' of stuff in it, that's added in too-- bits of pollen and honeycomb.

Bee pollen is a, erm, 'pick me up', for the gentlemen.
Andrew commented that he gets a lot of older ladies purchasing bee pollen from him for their husbands. Aside from that, it's also a good antioxidant and energy booster. I guess they say 'busy as a bee' for a reason. I've always wondered what people do with those yellow bits. Andrew says he just lets a little dissolve on his tongue and then chases it with juice, but a lot of people don't like the taste so you can also mix it in your cereal or yogurt, or dissolve it in some juice or a smoothie. I've also seen this sold in capsules in the vitamin aisle. (Hey! You could make your own bee pollen vitamins by buying empty vegetable capsules).

The honey is 'flavored' by the flower pollen the bees primarily gather.
Andrew, like most beekeepers, keeps bees close to the blossoms he wants to encourage them to gather from, ranging from buckwheat, to acacia, to blueberry, but hey, we can't control where the bees go, and they fly up to several miles away from the hive to collect pollen. Andrew samples the honey straight from the hive and determines whether it is potent enough to have a specific flavor. If not, it gets labeled as wildflower, which to me, is just as delicious and tasty, and tastes a little different and special every time!

Local honey and other bee products help alleviate seasonal allergies.
Okay so I already knew this one, but it's such a fun tip! If you suffer from seasonal allergies or want to keep them at bay, including a bit of local (it must be local!) honey, bee pollen, or other bee product will greatly improve your body's ability to tolerate the allergens. Not a bad excuse to have a little something sweet. (Check the labels to see where the honey comes from, some labels say 'local' but if you're buying it from a supermarket, it might not be your 'local'.)

I didn't buy anything from Andrew that day as I already have a cute honey bear filled with his Wildflower honey at home, but I did try a couple different 'flavors' of his honey, including one I can't remember the name of that was kind of cinnamony and spicy. YUM! I could get used to that sweetness. Andrew and his taste-bud bursting honey is at the Union Square Greenmarket on Wednesdays.

If you're interested in learning more about bees or beekeeping, go to your local farmer's market or find a local beekeeper near you to find out about classes or other learning opportunities-- it's possible to keep bees on city rooftops, suburban backyards, or in wide open spaces. The Permaculture Institute also offers beekeeping and permaculture workshops in New Mexico, and other beekeepers and organizations teach workshops across the country-- look for one in your area. In your garden or yard landscaping, you can also plant to encourage honeybees, which with the mystery honeybee crisis (or, Colony Collapse Disorder) we're seeing around the world right now, would be a really nice gesture to the bees to say 'thank you for everything you do.'

03 August 2008

restaurant review: bubby's pie co.

New York is a food town, that's for sure, and I could spend a lifetime eating at different restaurants several meals a week, but like everyone, when I go out to eat, it's generally to the same few places. Or, the places I would go to again are either out of the way or out of price range.

Bubby's has been on the list a long while. Best known for their pies, but also reknown for the pancakes they serve during weekend brunch, it seemed like the perfect post-half marathon brunch spot, where I could get my carby breakfast on, and take my pie to go.

I guess the main reason I haven't gone here yet is proximity-- even with two locations, they are in neighborhoods (Tribeca and DUMBO) little frequented by me and my regular dining cohorts-- because my love for pie and pancakes certainly isn't in question here. But the half-marathon ended in lower Manhattan, making Bubby's the perfect option.

Everyone else thought so too, because arriving a little over an hour after opening, the place was already abuzz with runners and their supporters, but luckily my running buddy and I got a spot right away. And not knowing much more than this is the spot for pie, I glowed more and more excitedly while reading the menu...

THREE kinds of pancakes! Grass-fed beef from ONE partner-farm. Their own house-made to-order soda using organic cane juice. A special of LOCAL bluberry johnnycakes. ORGANIC, SHADE-GROWN, FAIR-TRADE coffee*! There was real maple syrup on the tables. Wow! I was very nearly overwhelmed. Mostly though I was tired and ready to celebrate the run with something carby and delicious.
*If you are a connoisseur of environmentally and socially sustainable coffee, you know that to find coffee that is organic, fair-trade, AND sustainable is pretty rare.

We ordered the Sourdough Pancakes (!), Local Blueberry Johnnycakes (like pancakes, but made with cornmeal), a side of scrambled eggs. What tastiness!

The sourdough pancakes surprised my tastebuds-- imagine pancake batter mixed with a little sourdough bread dough, and cooked on a griddle. A little weird, pretty doughy, but what an inventive and successful idea. I'm excited to go back to try the Sour Cream Pancakes and the Sauteed Banana Walnut Pancakes. They also had a quite a nice looking egg and sandwich menu.

To go was the local and in-season special Peach and Blueberry Pie and the Mile High Apple Pie, one of their regular items. I ate my pie with tea and a movie later that night and was really pleased not to bite into anything cloyingly sweet. Not only does this let the fresh fruit shine, it also is a testament to the bakers knowing they are using fresh, delicious, high-quality ingredients. Anything can be overly sweetened to disguise mediocrity, but this was a tasty tasty slice of summer that was worth running 13.1 miles for.


Other perks? A black and white photo booth and Mrs. Pac-Man arcade console in the basement, outdoor seating, and a fairly recent pie cookbook with all their secrets!


Let it be known that I grabbed these photos from TimeOut and Amazon.com, respectively.

01 August 2008

think less, do more: the nike nyc half-marathon

I've been putting off writing this blog because I was thinking I'd have to write some big saga of this crazy thing I did, this running 13.1 miles in the middle of the humid summer in NYC, as well as aspiring to and successfully raising over $1000 for charity, and waking up before 5am to do it.

But after uploading these few photos, I thought differently.

I've been wanting to run a half-marathon for a couple of years now. One of those bullet points on the 'things to do in life' list. If you let them sit there and allow yourself to keep saying 'One day...', you're not getting any closer to just doing it. So, with the support and motivation of my running buddy and with family and friends cheering me on from around the world, I 'just did it'.

It rained shortly before the start of the race which got the day thankfully off to a cool start. Running a full loop within Central Park and heading south through Times Square and west and then south on the West Side Highway was crazy and at times disconcerting, but what a unique experience! And the times I saw people stop to walk or the unfortunate few who passed out for who knows which reasons, I had to psych myself up and listen for the cheers of the crowds on the sidelines.

I finished the race within my time goal, with a finish of 1 hour, 44 minutes, 26 seconds and placed 1,632nd out of over 10,500 runners. And I will tell you I am damn proud of that!

But mostly I'm proud and very glad that I was able to meet, and exceed!, my fundraising goal for The Fresh Air Fund-- an organization I feel really good about, and I'm always happy to think less, and do more, this time by knocking this life goal off the list-- if only to make space for the next adventure!



Check out my race "action" photos here!


Get out there and have an adventure of your own!

18 July 2008

july newsletter - a breath of fresh air!

Hey Y’all!

It’s very officially summertime and my ‘theme’ for the past couple of months has been “Fresh Air”. This is inspired by the organization of the same name (The Fresh Air Fund) that I have been doing fundraising for as a member of their team for next week’s NYC Half Marathon. Yesterday, I visited their summer camps where thousands of low-income NYC kids go on free vacations ever year, and had a blast walking around the woods, checking out the camps’ farm, singing with the campers, and watching them play carefree in the fields and lake. …And there’s no reason we can’t take that same spirit and apply it to our own summer fun!

Have a Picnic!
Picnics are one of my absolute favorite things about the warm weather. I like to invite a few friends to meet in a public park, everyone brings something to share, a blanket to sit on, their own fork from home, and it’s an instant and easy party! (Not to mention you don’t have to prepare your house for guests or do any major clean up after). Or, you can make an ordinary meal a bit more “ooh la la” special by dining by candlelight in the backyard or on the roof. (If you need some picnicspiration, try my Greenmarket Potato Salad recipe or Mark Bittman’s 101 Picnic Dishes.)

Go Raw Together!

A couple of the things I love about camp is the opportunity to try new things, make new friends, and work together. With the abundance of beautiful and delicious fresh produce in season right now, it’s a great time to experiment with new recipes. But no one wants to slave over a hot stove when it’s hot out, so try some raw or mostly raw dishes. You’ll get to play up the lovely flavors of summer produce with a minimum of sweat-inducing effort! Have a raw foods potluck, encouraging each invitee to bring a friend you haven’t met. (If you feel like getting fancy, check out recipes from Raw Food Real World).

Ride a Bicycle Made for Two!

Or, do something else you haven’t tried that can get you out and about. If you live near a lake or a river, you can probably rent or borrow a canoe, kayak, or tube and go out on the water. If you live near hills or mountains, go camping or for an early morning bird-watching hike. If it’s too hot where you live, go out for some late-night stargazing, run through the sprinkler at sunset, find an indoor ice rink, or check out a museum in town you’ve been meaning to go to. Or, if you’re stuck in the city, spend a day exploring a new neighborhood—try new foods and learn more about your neighbors! (Try TravelSkoot for ideas.)


NEWS FROM AJA
I'm Running the Half-Marathon! NEXT WEEK!!

Continuing with my running streak, I'm competing in the Nike NYC Half-Marathon next week for charity. I'm on The Fresh Air Fund’s team and I’m looking for sponsorship-- anything you can give will help to send 10,000 low-income NYC kids on summer vacations in the country.

I'm hoping to raise $1,310. Or, $100 per mile of the 13.1 mile race!
Though I think it would be great to raise a bit more- $1,600, which is the cost of sending one child on vacation. I would be really grateful for absolutely any contributions you are able to make.

You can donate online: http://freshair.kintera.org/ajamarsh
(There are also instructions there for how to donate by mail)


ANNOUNCEMENTS, etc.
In Season: It’s Wild Salmon season! It wasn’t really until last year that I realized I liked salmon. I always thought it was too fishy tasting and the texture didn’t appeal to me. Last summer, I had some really nice, slightly rare wild salmon, and oh my, what a world of difference. So if you think you don’t like salmon, I implore you to give it a try. Here’s a recipe for my Wild Salmon Burgers.

Cool Recent Blog Posts: Read about the highlights of my trip to Summer Camp, get some Green Cleaning Tips, and make some Vegan Brownies this weekend!

Guest Blogger Opportunities: I’m always looking for interested individuals to write guest blogs for Stem+Leaf about green and healthy-lifestyle related subjects, from your own perspective. No need to be an experienced writer-- just enthusiastic with something to say! Please contact me for more information.

Sign up here to receive my monthly newsletter in your inbox.


The day is yours—soak it up!

Aja

17 July 2008

a few good websites

Here's a roundup of a few websites I recently discovered and love!

RiverWired
"Good Green Fun." This site is kind of similar to TreeHugger, with categorized and quick-to-read blog posts and articles about all things green.

the story of stuff
This super informative and fun 20-minute video is great to watch with the whole family-- it discusses our consumption and waste patterns, and what happens to all the 'stuff' we have around us and get rid of.

tree hugging family
A Blog Focused on Sustainable and Green Family Living
I just found this blog today and have already spent an hour browsing the fun tips and articles!

poolwaddle food clock
Check out this clock to get a grip on what food production looks like in tons per second.

b.happybags
If you're in the market for reusable tote bags for shopping, etc. these are cute bags made of recycled plastic bottles or heavy weight cotton, are machine washable, and come in enough prints to satisfy anyone! They're made in Arizona of all domestic materials.


julep115 - earth and animal friendly designs
Super cute jewelery with a message handmade of recycled metal and other materials in Dallas! Designer Christy Robinson also has another line of whimsy and organic accessories.

15 July 2008

camp day!

If you are interested in supporting the Fresh Air Fund, you can make a donation through my personal page for the Half Marathon.

Today was a day I'd been looking forward to for a couple of weeks-- Camp Day!

As one of the runners who are on the Fresh Air Fund's team for the NYC Half Marathon, I was invited to go and visit the Sharpe Reservation where all of their summer camp programs are held. They took us up in buses, and after only and hour and a half on the road heading upstate, we were in a beautiful land of green hills, lakes, and forest, with views of the Catskills.


As we hopped off the bus, we were warmly greeted at Camp A.B.C. by a group of young girl campers singing and clapping and smiling. This was exciting already! We met up with the camp coordinators, and went on a tour of the camps.

Our first stop was the Farm. This was definitely my favorite part! They have a small learning farm where the kids meet resident and loaned pigs, goats, cows, turkeys, chickens, and rabbits, do chores to care for the animals, and also are taught how these animals are used (for meat, wool, milk, etc.). Behind the Farm, there's an all-organic garden that the kids harvest and taste from, learning how things grow, where food comes from, and practicing traditional recipes-- today they were making Iroquois corn cakes. The camps also source the majority of their fresh produce and dairy from local farms within 50 miles.

One of the things I was really excited about was how the entire reservation is almost entirely zero-waste-- composting and recycling nearly everything they use. This is integrated into meal times where each table of campers cooperatively and willingly separates their uneaten food and scraps into 'compost' and 'trash' (and they know the difference) and as a group, clear and wipe down the table.

After our tour of the highlights of the 2,300 acre property, we went back to Camp A.B.C.-- one of the largest camps on the reservation-- and were sprinkled throughout the dining hall, sitting at tables with the campers. Sitting down and chatting with the girls at my table about their upcoming talent show, how good of swimmers they were, where they're from, and singing songs with them as we ate our dessert, was the highlight of my day! (I was bummed as I left realizing I didn't get any photos of the campers! Was too busy having fun to remember to take any!)

It was great to see these kids learning and doing things they might never be able to do at home or school, and with nothing but green surrounding the camps, and big fields to run and play in, I wish I could spend the summer at camp too! When you spend too much time, or your whole young life, as many of these kids have, 'trapped' in the city, you don't realize how much good a little fresh air can do for you.

Touring the camps, it was exciting to see how the money I've been helping to raise (thank you for your support!) for this organization is being put to excellent use. The Reservation of five camps hosts over 4,000 low-income NYC kids from 9-15 for 2 or more weeks every summer, and providing summer jobs for many of the 'graduated' campers 16 or older. I felt really honored to spend a day at camp, sing songs with the kids, and see that the fundraising and running 13.1 miles is more than worth it.


If you are interested in supporting the Fresh Air Fund, you can make a donation through my personal page for the Half Marathon, or contact them directly about contributions, volunteering, and other means of support.

14 July 2008

recipe: in season - wild salmon burgers

Summer spells wild Alaskan salmon season, so get it while the getting's good.

And for the record, I will never, ever recommend farmed salmon to you-- it's not very environmentally friendly, and really, it has hardly any flavor, especially side-by-side to wild salmon, not to mention that color is added to get it that mediocre orangy-pink color. Wild salmon is a super vibrant rosy orange, super nutritious AND low in mercury.

For these, I took a cue from the turkey burgers I've made a few times, using some Asian influences. I've also made these without the chili paste and garlic, for a less spicy version, and they've come out great! You could eat these without the bun and just have them as nice little patties- or make them smaller and you'll have salmon 'cakes'.

Recipe: Wild Salmon Burgers
Makes 4 burgers

1 lb. wild salmon, skin removed (they can do this for you at the fish counter)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chives or 1 medium shallot, chopped
2-3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1-inch ginger, peeled and grated or chopped very small
1 tablespoon Asian chili paste or sambaal (optional)
1/2 - 1 teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 egg, beaten

4 whole wheat buns

1. To make the burgers you'll need to chop up the salmon. I usually do this by cutting the salmon into long strips, and then dicing it. Take the diced salmon and run your knife through it a few times to get smaller pieces. It's okay if it's a little chunky.
Note: You may notice some pin bones. If there are any that are especially large, remove them with your fingers, but once you chop this up and the burgers are cooked they won't be much of a problem. Plus, hey, extra calcium!

2. In a medium sized bowl, place all of the ingredients and mix well to combine with your hands.

3. Heat a skillet or griddle over medium-high to high heat. Meanwhile, shape the salmon mixture into four equal-sized patties. If you've never made salmon burgers, these will seem a little 'loose' compared to burgers made with ground meat.

4. Once the pan is hot, spray with non-stick cooking spray (I like Spectrum's High Heat Canola spray). Alternately, you could use a little olive oil, but you'll want to leave it on the pan for a minute to heat.

5. Place all of the patties into the pan, or do 2 at a time, depending on the size of your pan. Cook for about 2-3 minutes, or until browned. If it seems to be browning too quickly, lower your heat. Flip and repeat. I like mine a little bit on the rarer side, so I cook them for about 2 minutes per side. This is also a good option if you will be putting them in the fridge to reheat for another meal-- overcooked salmon is a travesty! But if you like yours well done, cook for 3-minutes per side. Place on a toasted bun and enjoy with your favorite toppings!

08 July 2008

think less, do more: cleaning greener

A while ago, my friend Heather wrote to me, asking:
"I was wondering if some day you might give advice on how to be a "green house cleaner"--I find myself using a lot of paper towels, and I'm not sure whether it matters what cleaning products to use. How do you dispose of your waste in a green way--aside from recycling!"
A bit belatedly, I'm happy to share a few easy tips!

Without having to go the distance of making your own cleaning products (even though it's fun and super economical), let's see what we can do to make our normal routines a bit more eco-friendly.


Paper Towels
If you are using paper towels in your home, purchase ones that are unbleached and made from recycled paper. If you are looking to reduce the usage of paper towels try these tips:

for use as napkins: tear each sheet into 2 or 4 pieces-- this is probably all you'll need! or simply use washable cloth napkins.
for cleaning: switch to lint-free towels that you can use again and again, or even more economically, use pieces cut from old towels or t-shirts.

Product Recommendation: The Twist family of biodegradable cellulose and bamboo sponges and cleaning cloths are of a style that's all the rage in Europe, and are great for green cleaning. They are easy to wash and reuse again and again, but are affordable enough that they can be disposed of when no longer effective. To replace paper towels, try the Twist European Sponge Cloth.


Cleaning Products
I try to steer clear from chemical exposure as much as possible, and it's especially important to me to use non-toxic cleaning products and to keep a chemical free home. (Read more on why this is important). What you keep and use in your home affects not only whoever is using the product via exposure, but also who and whatever else is living in the home by disturbing air quality, creating chemical residues, and heightening or creating respiratory or contact allergies.
(I started realizing the importance of using natural products after logging lots of hours in comme
rcial kitchens where I had a lot of contact with bleach and industrial strength soaps-- my hands turned to raw eczema ridden beasts! Now between wearing gloves and using only friendly products, my hands stay in a much more friendly disposition).

Many people have a whole cabinet or two devoted to various sprays, powders, scrubs, and solutions that they 'need' to keep their house clean. The easiest thing to do would be to purchase non-toxic cleaners from natural foods stores or online, or to make your own. You really only need two or three products to do most of your household cleaning. I would also recommend a non-toxic dish soap and laundry products.

Some of my favorite green cleaning products: Seventh Generation Dish Soap; Method Disinfecting Wipes; Mrs. Meyers Clean Day Laundry Detergent and Dryer Sheets


Air Fresheners
Between all the sprays, spritzes, plug-ins, and candles, we have no shortage of opportunity to make our spaces 'smell good'. But all air fresheners are not created equal and most contain perfumes and chemicals that can aggravate allergies and settle on our skin and into our bloodstreams. There are other ways to make your home smell fresh.
get some fresh air! Open windows on opposite sides of your home for a cross breeze and turn on standing or ceiling fans to encourage circulation.
simmering spices. Simmer a pot with aromatic herbs and water - cinnamon sticks, cloves, and nutmeg are lovely options. Refill with water partway through if it's getting low.
burn baby burn. Burn candles scented only with essential oils, use essential oil diffusers, or use natural incense or burning sage to cleanse the air. These products can be found online and at natural food stores.


Disposing Of Your Toxic Products
If you are interested in making the switch to green products but don't know what to do with what you have, you can of course, use them up and recycle the containers, or pass the partially used products off to an organization with limited resources that could make use of them. If you would prefer to dispose of them, read the labels to see if there are any special disposal instructions, and also consult your local hazardous waste department-- I would resist the urge to dump them down the sink, because despite filtration and water cleaning systems, it's still likely that some of that will make their way into our waterways. Here's a site with a few suggestions.

Recommendation: Green-Kits can get you started with a Green Cleaning Kit with all of the products you'll need!


Make Your Own!
I've started making my own cleaning supplies and it's fun how cheap and easy it is! And you could get away with just having white vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice on hand and clean just about every surface in your house, but you can get a little fancier and make your own mixes to keep on hands, add some essential oils, like lavender or tea tree, for anti-bacterial and good-smelling benefits. Here's a guide to making the switch to natural products and a few easy make-at-home ideas.

A few other websites with 'recipes' for making your own natural cleaning products:
25 Non-Toxic, Homemade Cleaning Supplies; Recipes for Homemade Cleaning Products; Non-Toxic Home Cleaning



Waste Not, Want Not
As far as trash and recycling goes, well, it's a big issue. The easiest solution is to purchase fewer packaged items, and when you do try to purchase items that are packed in recyclable containers. Keep the old 'reduce, reuse, recycle' adage in mind, and you'll probably find new solutions everyday!

Reduce. When it comes to cleaning products, by using cloth towels and reducing paper towel usage, that's a big help, but you can also usually buy cleaning supplies in larger containers and use those to refill the smaller containers you already have. You can also streamline the products you have and limit it to just a few, and that will help, too.

Reuse containers as much as possible to store bulk food-- bring them with you to the bulk aisle and save the life of a container that way! Or use them in other creative ways throughout the house. Also check with after-school centers, churches, schools, and other organizations in your neighborhood to see if they can use them for craft projects or other activities. Reuse and repurpose other things around the house too-- jam jars become containers for bulk grains or drinking glasses, a water bottle can be cut and used as a funnel, office paper can be reprinted on, or flipped over and cut into quarters, stapled and used as notepads.

Recycle. Recycling paper, cardboard, plastic, and metal is of course, a great option to reduce what is sent to the landfill, but also be sure that you are following the recycling restrictions for your area, and know what can and cannot go into the bin. (Hard plastic lids, for example, are not usually curbside recyclable; and the tetra-pack containers that rice milk and other beverages often come in are regrettably not recyclable either). In NYC, the Park Slope Food Co-op accepts recyclable items from the community that cannot be picked up curbside. In Austin, Ecology Action of Texas accepts a wide range of recyclable material and also can help you find other centers.

Compost. Food scraps account for a large portion of our daily trash output, but you can save produce and other food scraps and compost them in your yard in a pile or special bin, in your house (with a worm bin), or take them to a local farm, farmstand, or community garden who will probably be more than happy to take them off your hands. Do a little looking around in your area and you'll probably find a way. Since I've started collecting scraps to drop off to the LES Ecology Center's table at the Greenmarket, I've noticed a 50% reduction in what I throw out. Sometimes more. And I can feel happy that the scraps will turn into a fantastic and nutrient-filled earth that can make plants grow stronger and make a new round of produce tastier!

You can actually compost quite a lot of things, but it really depends on where you're composting it and what it's being used for. Community gardens, farms, and other recipients of your food scraps will each have their own set of 'do's and don'ts', so if you're not composting for yourself, you should check what they allow.


Where to Buy
If you have a Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, or other natural foods store nearby, you'll definitely be able to find these green products. Many regular grocery stores and big stores like Target are carrying many of these products too. If you want to save some money and/or don't have easy access to stores that stock these products, buy in bulk and/or split big orders with friends or neighbors, by purchasing directly from the company or another online retailer like Amazon.com.

If you're making your own, you can purchase extra large bags of baking soda for $4 at large grocery or wholesale stores, lemons are available at every grocery store, and white vinegar is only about $1.50 a gallon. If we could only say the same for gas...


Have you tried any make-at-home products or are there any other tips you'd like to share or get more info about? I'd love to know-- post a comment!

04 July 2008

think less, do more: Get some Fresh Air this weekend!

While you're spending your holiday weekend in the country, at the beach, or in the backyard, think about all of the children who have never experienced life outside of the city.

I'm running the Nike NYC Half Marathon at the end of the month for the FreshAir Fund-- an awesome organization that for over 100 years has been sending thousands of low-income kids from NYC on summer vacations in the country to experience what it's like to swim in a lake, see starry skies, catch fireflies, and lay in the grass.

I'm really excited to be running on behalf of these kids, and you can support my efforts with a small contribution! I'm hoping to raise $1,310. And I'm getting there, but still have quite a ways to go! Whether you can give a lot, or just a very little, every little bit helps.

I would be honored if Stem+Leaf readers became a part of this magic.

My personal donations page: http://freshair.kintera.org/ajamarsh

03 July 2008

recipe: ginger-sesame turkey burgers

If you're looking for something different to make when you fire up the grill this weekend, give these a try! I made these up one night with ingredients on hand in the fridge. I've made them for friends and clients several times since-- and they're a big hit!

Recipe: Ginger-Sesame Turkey Burger
Makes 4-5 burgers

1.25 lb naturally raised ground dark meat turkey (can also use white meat, chicken, or beef)
1 teaspoon Asian chili paste
2 tablespoons organic tamari or shoyu (naturally brewed soy sauce)
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2-3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons grated ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tablespoon freshly milled black pepper
2 teaspoons salt


1. Preheat the oven to 425ºF, or fire up your grill.

2. Place the turkey meat in a medium bowl.

3. Combine all of the remaining ingredients in a small bowl and then combine in the large bowl with the meat. Mix well, but be careful not to over-handle the meat. Form the mixture into 4-5 round patties, nearly 1-inch thick.

4. Heat 1-2 tablespoons high-heat oil in a large pan until very hot. Brown the burgers for 1-2 minutes on each side. Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for 15 minutes until cooked through. If you are using a grill, skip this step, place directly on the grate, flipping once, until cooked throughly.

5. Top with some lettuce, tomato, and onion on a whole wheat bun. Or, amp up the spice factor and top with some kimchi. I like Hawthorne Valley Farms' raw, lacto-fermented kimchi.

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