28 April 2009

the wild lunch

Last weekend we (my bf and I) ventured out into the wilds of Prospect Park to go a-foraging with Leda Meredith. So far this is our third foraging tour, the first time we've searched for wild edibles in Spring. This year, I feel especially aware of the seasonal changes - the sprouting leaves, the blooming flowers, the increasing cacophony of bird song.

A lot of the tour was a review of plants I knew, though in some cases, I didn't recognize them in their Spring habit. Here are some of the new things I learned:

Every flowering tree with edible fruit has an edible flower. If a tree blooms in Winter then experiences a deep freeze, it won't fruit that year. This can become a serious problem for farmers (and us) as our climate shifts.

Cherry blossoms in full effect!

There's a tree we've admired every Spring that grows little clusters of tiny pink flowers around its branches. Found out it's called Redbud (Cercis canadensis) and the little flowers and buds are edible. They taste a little bit like green beans.


Close up of Redbud

The last couple of weeks of April are Japanese Knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum) season. The thick stalks can be prepared like rhubarb - they can go sweet, like in a pie, or savory, like in a soup (Leda brought some Japanese Knotweed soup for us to taste). The plant contains reservatrol, the same beneficial substance that's in red wine.

Japanese Knotweed

The stalk of cattail (Typha) is like hearts of palm (you just have to peel off the harder outer layer). The male cattail produces something similar to baby corn. Cattail pollen is a flour substitute. According to Leda, cattail pollen pancakes are delicious.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) flowers are only available for a couple of weeks as well. The whole plant is edible, and it's the only diuretic that does not deplete potassium. It's also delicious beer-battered and thrown in a salad.

Fryin' dandy-lion

Chickweed (Stellaria media) is a mild little flowering plant that's good in salads. Some think that it dissolves fat in the body (still waiting for the clinical trials on that claim!). These were in our salad as well.


Yummy foraged salad!

Check out last year's foraging adventures

23 April 2009

go plant a tree!

Did you know that tomorrow is Arbor Day? I hadn't a clue until I just got this email from MillionTreesNYC. If I didn't have to work tomorrow, I'd be doing this (boo to work!):

Still looking to do something green this Arbor Day – Friday, April 24?

Join New York Restoration Project (NYRP) in celebrating MillionTreesNYC Month with presenting sponsor BNP Paribas by planting over 200 trees in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn on Friday, April 24. By volunteering, you will be helping MillionTreesNYC create a cleaner, greener New York City, while also having some fun under the Brooklyn sun! So dig in and demonstrate just how green you can be by registering today!

Only 100 volunteer opportunities remain available for our Arbor Day celebration tomorrow. So, register today.

Friday, April 24
9:00 am to 3:30 pm
Volunteer sign-in begins at 8:30 am

Sternberg Park – East Williamsburg, Brooklyn
(On Lorimer Street, between Montrose Ave and Boerum Street)

IMPORTANT REGISTRATION INFORMATION: All volunteers must be 18 years or older. To volunteer you must register in advance by contacting Olivia Chen at ochen@nyrp.org. Upon registration, you will receive an e-mail confirming your participation.

Breakfast and lunch will be provided for registered volunteers. Tree-planting will end at 3:00 pm and culminate with an ice cream social in NYRP’s Heckscher Foundation’s Children Garden.

Not in NYC? Find Arbor Day activities in your neck of the woods.

22 April 2009

earth day events from just food

In keeping with the Earth Day theme today, here are some more ways to get involved - through education - from local food advocacy group Just Food.

Garden Maintenance, Planting Techniques and Growing for Market: April 22, 6-8pm, East New York Farms! 613 New Lots Ave corner of Schenck Ave, Brooklyn

Cooking demonstrations and legalize beekeeping outreach at the Earth Fair 2009:
April 24-25, Grand Central Terminal, Vanderbilt Hall (inside) and 42nd Street and Vanderbilt Avenue (outside)

McKinley's Children's Garden Earth Day Celebrations' Seed Saving Workshop: April 25, 12-1pm McKinley's Children's Garden, 108-56 Union Hall Street at 109th Avenue, Jamaica, Queens

Garden Planning:
April 25, 1-3pm Hattie Carthan Community Garden 654 Lafayette Ave at Clifton, Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn And check out Just Food board member and La Familia Verde Garden Coalition member Karen Washington talk about turning a vacant lot into a thriving community garden at Mayor Bloomberg's new volunteerism project, NYC Service. What step will you take this Earth Day for food justice?! Share your commitments/ideas.

earth day ideas from the brooklyn green team

Some more ways to get involved this Earth Day (and every other day of the year) from the Brooklyn Green Team:

In honor of Earth Day 2009, the Brooklyn Green Team would like to suggest some ways to ring in the event...

Volunteer with us this Saturday, APRIL 25 at Prospect Park. 10am-2pm @ Prospect Park Grand Army Plaza entrance (2/3 to grand army plaza). Join us in fulfilling the YES WE CAN Volunteer Challenge as part of Hands-on New York Day! Bring your closed-toe shoes and long pants and do some weeding, path edging, sweeping, and general clean-up. RSVP by emailing brooklyngreen@gmail.com and let us know the number of people you plan on bringing.

Greenmarket Head to the Union Square Greenmarket (or another one in your hood that's open on Wednesday) and get all your ingredients and make a local dinner. Click here to see all NYC Greenmarkets.

Search on Goodsearch.com. If you can't resist combing the internet for the latest developments of Miley Cyrus' career, try using this Yahoo-powered search engine that donates a penny per search to your favorite environmental cause.

Support Local (and sustainable) if you're a BK resident. Pop into 3rliving and help them celebrate their 5-year anniversary and make a $1 donation to their recycling services they provide the community. Or pick your favorite mom and pop (sister or brother) in your neighborhood and support them.

Go Outside and sit in the park.

Give to your favorite local charity. There are so many great green groups in NYC. Our YES WE CAN VOLUNTEER Challenge post has a list of organizations worthy of your support.

Plastic-free for the day. Don't purchase or take anything new that's plastic, from the produce bag you grab for at the grocery store to a bottle of Vitamin water.

Check Out the myriad of Earth Day events in NYC. Check the Earth Day NY site or visit our partners at GreenEdge Collaborative NYC for event listings.

Turn Off either your computer, your ipod, your TV, or all of the above for the day.

Spread the News to others and remind them it's Earth Day and to do one good green thing. You could even forward them this email.

We agree with Grist that Earth Day is everyday, but don't quite agree with their Screw Earth Day concept. One has to start someplace. Just do one thing and have a great day.

Stay tuned for the next challenge. . .




grand opening: green in brooklyn

Live in Brooklyn and not sure where to get things like biodegradable trash bags or organic linens? Now there's one shop that carries it all, Green in BKLYN and they're having an Earth Day grand opening today. I wish I could make it, 'cause it looks like a great place to connect with other green-minded Brooklynites.

I'll be sure to bike on down there soon to check out their eco-friendly merch and chat with the Clinton Hill locals about their new biz.

21 April 2009

tomorrow's earth day

(If the sun hugged a tree you could kiss that tree goodbye... sizzle sizzle. Ok, maybe I'm being too literal.)

Yeah, big deal, tomorrow's Earth Day. I kind of agree with the sentiment expressed by environmental mag Grist: "Screw Earth Day." By now we should all be doing our part, or at least trying to take small steps daily toward cultivating a healthier planet (and selves). I guess it's easy for me to have this attitude since I'm one of those people who's trying her darndest to lighten her impact on the planet. But there are plenty of people and policies that haven't been infected by the green bug that's been sweeping the nation over the last few years. It's really for them that we still need Earth Day.

Not sure how to honor Earth Day #39? Here are a few ideas:

get outside!
Been cooped up inside so long you've forgotten how? Listen to the Nature Conservancy's urging to Spring Outside! and learn about ways to find nature near you.

bid on Leo's stuff
Leonardo DiCaprio is auctioning off some of his goods, and his time, on eBay to benefit Global Green USA.

Global Green USA is greening America's schools, affordable housing, and cities to combat global warming, lower energy bills, and create green jobs. Global Green is the US affiliate of Mikhail Gorbachev's Green Cross International, and is leading the green rebuilding of New Orleans.

A few great ways to do so, via Grist (with a few edits):

get on the bus - to Albany

Join the Audubon Society of NY for a big environmental lobbying event, Tuesday, May 5th from 9:30am to 4pm.

Earth Day Lobby Day is New York's largest annual environmental event, bringing together people from all over New York to hear from government and environment leaders, learn about current legislation, and lobby elected officials on environmental issues that are important to you. We'll be focusing on global warming, e-waste recycling, wetlands protection, and SEQRA standing (aka the "environmental access to justice act").

The all-day event is free and open to all, but you must pre-register by Friday, May 1st.

Please put "Audubon New York" in the organization line when filling out the form. We will send out directions and more detailed information to all registrants in advance of the event. Sign up for Earth Day Lobby Day today by clicking here!

clean out the closets and recycle your e-waste

Two events in NYC are coming up -
Sunday, April 26th, 10AM - 4PM, Central Park, Manhattan
W 67th Street and Central Park West

Saturday, May 2nd, 10AM - 4PM, at Tekserve, Manhattan
119 W 23rd Street (btwn 6th and 7th Aves)
Not in NYC, not to worry. Check out Earth 911 for electronics recycling in your area.

support local recycling efforts (Park Slope, Brooklyn)
The Park Slope 5th Avenue BID has partnered with the Park Slope Chamber of Commerce to launch a new recycling campaign. Green Grows in Brooklyn, will take place from April 20th-April 22nd — right in time for Earth Day. For more info on this initiative, check out Green Brooklyn.

rainy day, bright idea

We're having a string of rainy days here in NYC. Of course we need the rain - the street trees need it, the urban gardens need it, the reservoirs upstate need it. But there's a phenomenon that occurs every time it rains here. And I'm not talking about the trashy run-off that pollutes the waterways. I'm talking about the broken umbrella pandemic.

I'd guess that for every rainy day we have, there are hundreds of umbrellas abandoned. They litter the sidewalks and streets, they fill the trash cans, they even end up in the gutter. All I can do is shake my head as I pass all of that wasted metal, nylon, polyester, and even wood.

Or can I do something about it?

Every time it rains here, an opportunity is overlooked.

After the storm, couldn't someone (or a bunch of someones) go around collecting all of this neglected material and do something with it?

I know of a shop that once lived in Park Slope (ai ai gasa) that makes clothing out of old umbrella material. Here's a recipe for making an umbrella skirt from RePlayGround (via Treehugger and ReadyMade).

How about the metal parts? Maybe someone could make a chandelier with the frame, string some LEDs (like Kenzan Tsutakawa-Chinn) or wire up some bulbs a la Rody Graumans.

Any other bright ideas for ol' broken umbrellas?

20 April 2009

cosmetics consumption and conflict

There was a time in my life when I wasn't a terribly conscious consumer. I would compulsively buy things like inexpensive clothing and makeup without really thinking about where it came from or what it was made of. Those days have long since passed, but I still hold onto some small reminders of that less mindful time. What were these little reminders? A crapload of makeup sitting in bags in my closet.

I don't even really wear makeup. Maybe a little mascara every once in a blue moon. That's about it. So why was I still holding onto these whispers of habits past collecting dust, taking up physical and mental space? Because I simply didn't know what to do with them. I have a really hard time throwing things out that will just end up in a landfill.

Until... I got a tip-off from a fellow twitterer (thanks, Melissa!) about a place I could recycle these wastes of space.

An Origins store.

So inspired was I by this news (and by the book I'm currently reading Throw Out 50 Things - more on that in a later post) that I collected all of this old makeup and brought it to the Origins store on West Broadway and Spring Street. Before I made my way over there, I had to clean out all of the lipstick tubes, eyeshadow palettes, and blush compacts. When I was through, my hands were covered in nasty makeup and the trash can looked like a fairy threw up into it - all pastel and glittery.

When I got to the store, the sales woman was so enthusiastic about my decision to turn in these old conveyances. She rewarded me with the news that this weekend, the store was holding an Earth Day event offering free mini facials to its customers. She also gave me a couple of samples of products from their Perfect World line.

I didn't think much about the exchange, other than feeling good about ridding myself of that old makeup and not having to resort to just tossing it all in the trash.

When I sat back down in front of my computer however, I had to look up the new samples I had acquired to see what their contents really held (ingredients lists don't fit on those tiny tubes of product). Much to my dismay, they're full of all the no-nos in beauty products today: parabens, petroleum, and some other nasty fillers. Check out the full list of what Origins uses at CosmeticsDatabase.com. Not such a Perfect World after all.

So I'm left with mixed feelings. I'm glad that Origins accepted all of my old cosmetics vessels for recycling, but can't really support their products because of the dubious contents. I've even taken down the banner I used to have promoting them (in the right-hand column).

What are your thoughts on this beauty product paradox?

what do you know for sure?

by Bob Hicok

Some people, told of witness trees,
pause in chopping a carrot
or loosening a lug nut and ask,
witness to what? So while salad
is made, or getting from A to B
is repaired, these people
listen to the story
of the Burnside Bridge sycamore,
alive at Antietam, bloodiest day
of the war, or the Appomattox Court House
honey locust, just coming to leaf
as Lee surrendered, and say, at the end,
Cool. Then the chopping
continues with its two sounds,
the slight snap to the separation
of carrot from carrot, the harder crack
of knife against cutting board,
or the sigh, also slight, of a lug nut
as it's tightened against a wheel. In time,
these people put their hands
under water and say, not so much to you
but to the window in front of the sink,
Think of all the things
trees have seen.
Then it's time
for dinner, or to leave, and a month passes,
or a year, before two fawns
cross in front of the car, or the man
you've just given a dollar to
lifts his shirt to the start
of the 23rd psalm tattooed
to his chest, "The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want," when some people
say, I feel like one of those trees,
you know?
And you do know.
You make a good salad, change
a wicked tire, you're one of those people,
watching, listening, a witness
to whatever this is,
for as long as it is
amazing, isn't it, that I could call you
right now and say, They still
can't talk to dolphins
but are closer,
as I still
can't say everything I want to
but am closer, for trying, to God,
if you must, to spirit, if you will,
to what's never easy for people
like us: life, breath, the sheer volume
of wonder.

Bob Hicok is the author of This Clumsy Living (University of Pittsburgh Press) and associate professor of English at Virginia Tech.

19 April 2009

great scott, some good environmental advertising!

Brought to you by Greenpeace

After watching this I decided to take a look at Kimberley Clark's website to see if they've done any cleaning up with regard to their environmental image.

It looks like they're greening up their act, albeit a little half-heartedly. They've launched Scott Naturals line of paper products, "green Done Right." They think "done right" is a "sensible" blend of sometimes up to 80% of recycled content. Some might think this is a step in the right direction, but I'm not sold. There are plenty of high quality 100% recycled paper products out there that, excuse the pun, wipe out Kimberley Clark's attempts at greening.

Here they are:

17 April 2009

listen to this man

Van Jones on Focus the Nation

pier observations

Two boys kiss
Muscleheads sun
Dogs get relief

Girl sips lemonade
Strollers align
Moms picnic on the lawn

A pick-up spot
A tanning salon
A dog run
A lunchtime refuge
A gym

A place for watching
A place to rest your eyes
A place for grass to grow

Sparrows perched under the bench
They see that I see them,
They flee

Hello sea gull
Hello water fowl

JC to the west
HH to the east
WTC was south
Chopper overhead

Tip of the ESB over my shoulder

A plane descends for Newark
Sky meets land

Bicycles, rollerblades, scooters
Sailboats, ferries, yachts
Man-made land meets river meets sea

Men in skirts or no shirts
Tank tops, flip flops, boots, coats
Winter meets summer

Labs, poms, mutts, a Chinese crested
Tourists, locals, straight, and gay

All colors and stripes meet here
At Christopher Street Pier

(Not my shot... image via NewYorkDailyPhoto)

afternoon thrift shop find

On my way back from lunch at the Christopher Street pier, I decided to pop up into St Luke's Thrift Shop on Hudson St (South of Christopher) when I saw the sign out front announcing "dresses on sale, 50% off."

I walked through the door and the first thing I saw was this adorable early 60s style red dress with white polka dots. I took a look at the back and that's what got me.

"Try it on," said the lady working there. "It's so cute, and look, it's new." The tags were still on it. Such is the way of ladies of means - buying dresses, never wearing them, then donating them to a thrift shop. I can't say I'm not completely innocent of this. At least one pair of shoes in my closet have met the sidewalk only once or twice.

I tried it on and it fit perfectly. The tag said $40, but I got it for $20. Thrifty is nifty.

big sale on edun duds @ greenloop

Now at Greenloop, get 50 to 75% off ethically and ecologically minded clothing line Edun - the brainchild of Ali Hewson and Bono (with some help from New York clothing designer Rogan Gregory).

Por ejemplo:

Men's Eclipse jeans were $175, you can get 'em for $79.99 (save $95.01, hey every penny counts!)

Ladies' Calliope dress was $325, now $169.99 (that's $155.01 off, yeow!)

Get 'em @ Greenloop while the gettin' is good.

16 April 2009

making earrings with bonbon oiseau

I've always had the desire to work with my hands, though I hadn't really given myself the opportunity until recently. Partly inspired by the resurgence of DIY, and partly by the budding craft movement, I've begun to pick up a range of new skills.

Over the last year, I reintroduced myself to the sewing machine, taught myself crochet, learned block printing, got into baking & soupmaking, and got acquainted with street tree bed gardening.

Tonight, I added a new skill - jewelry making. Through make workshop (run by sewing guru Diana Rupp), I learned the art of earring assemblage from Deb Stein of Bonbon Oiseau. Deb is super down to earth and seriously encouraging of her students. She'll be teaching another class in memento assemblage with bracelets and necklaces next month (details).

(Focusing on tiny beads and delicate chains. Deb Stein at right.)

Deb makes it a point to use ethically sourced materials -- like antique beads -- in her jewelry line, which is made at her studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Her beautiful baubles are available in the US, Europe, and Japan (she's especially popular there). Deb will also be at the Brooklyn Flea for its Spring re-opening this weekend. She's also designing jewelry for the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Cherry Blossom Festival.

I walked away from class with two pairs of dangly earrings and a new skill to add to my DIY bag of tricks.

celebrate earth day with peaceful valley

Attention conscious consumers: Shop at Peaceful Valley between now and April 25th and you'll be doing something good for your health (and the planet). For Earth Day, this eco-friendly e-tailer will plant 10 trees in your honor when you purchase from their shop.

Some of the great stuff they sell: organic cotton clothing, tree-free greeting cards, earth-friendly jewelry, natural beauty products, organic treats, and so much more!

Shop Peaceful Valley Earth Friendly Clothing & Gifts - for the trees, for the planet, for peace.

15 April 2009

habana outpost grand re-opening

The weather is warming, and so is the globe. So get on over to hot, hot Fort Greene favorite eco-eatery, Habana Outpost to celebrate Earth Day this weekend. Full deets (via Brooklyn Based) below.

Habana Outpost will re-open this weekend, kicking things off with an Earth Day bang. It’s a fitting start to the corn-grilling season for a place that has claimed the title of being Brooklyn’s first eco-eatery. Whether you show for the solar panels and green design or for the Cubans and frozen mojitos, be sure to bring the little ones — the Earth Day Expo includes arts and crafts, face paining and DJs. Noon-6pm, Sat. & Sun., 757 Fulton Street, Fort Greene.

land, people, food... happy days

Not exactly. This isn't your abuela's garden. The Garden follows a South Central LA community fighting to keep their 14-acre garden. The trailer alone was enough to get me riled up about the "powers that be." This one's going on my Netflix queue, stat.

Read more at Black Valley Films official film site.

diy yogurt

I've been wanting to make my own yogurt for a while now. I just read a great tutorial in the NY Times on how to do it. The thing is, I've come to prefer goat's milk yogurt to cow's milk. It's supposed to be easier to digest. I might not have an easy time tracking down goat's milk to make it a regular practice.

(Goat image via Redwood Hill Farm)

Maybe I'll experiment with other types of milk, though I'm not sure if it'll work... hemp milk yogurt anyone?

To make yogurt, first choose your starter yogurt. If no one offers you an heirloom, I recommend one of the ubiquitous global brands, sweeteners and stabilizers included. They tend to have very active bacterial cultures, including EPS producers, and the additives end up diluted to insignificant levels. Delicious specialty yogurts make less predictable starters.

Then choose your milk. I prefer the flavor and consistency of yogurt made from whole milk. Many types of reduced-fat milk replace the fat with milk solids, including acid-producing lactose, and make a harsher tasting yogurt. Soy milk sets into a custardy curd that becomes very thin when stirred.

Heat the fresh milk at 180 to 190 degrees, or to the point that it’s steaming and beginning to form bubbles. The heat alters the milk’s whey proteins and helps create a finer, denser consistency.

Let the milk cool to around 115 to 120 degrees, somewhere between very warm and hot. For each quart of milk, stir in two tablespoons of yogurt, either store-bought or from your last batch, thinning it first with a little of the milk.

Then put the milk in a warm jar or container or an insulated bottle, cover it, and keep the milk still and warm until it sets, usually in about four hours. I simply swaddle my quart jar in several kitchen towels. You can also put the container in an oven with the light bulb on.

Once the yogurt sets, refrigerate it to firm its structure and slow the continuing acid production. To make a thick Greek-style yogurt, spoon it into a fine-mesh strainer or colander lined with cheesecloth, and let the whey and its lactic acid drain into a bowl for several hours. (Don’t discard the whey, whose yellow-green tint comes from riboflavin. It makes a refreshing cool drink, touched up with a little sugar or salt.)

Read the rest

reflecting on l.o.v.e.

A reader requested that I post a summary of how I felt on last week's raw, vegan adventure. Not a bad idea. Here are the highlights of the physical, mental, and emotional roller coaster that is l.o.v.e. (live.organic.vegan.experience).

For the full experience, start reading here and work your way to today.

l.o.v.e. - the recap

On Monday, I took on l.o.v.e. with few expectations. I knew a little bit about what I was getting into. I knew it would be raw. I knew what there wouldn't be -- animal products -- and that was fine with me. I knew there would be juice. I'm generally not a juice drinker. I like to sink my teeth into what I consume. I tend to feel hungry often. Whether this is a real physical hunger or a pattern ingrained in my brain, I would figure out as the week progressed.

During the week I felt hungry alright. Especially in the morning. I drank my juices and I felt hungry. I tried to breathe deeply and focus on work, but that was a challenge. I realized how much I think about food, what an integral part of my day it is. Every meal is a question. Fortunately for me, it's not 'will I eat,' but 'what will I eat.' I thought of this often. How fortunate I am to have this basic need covered. There is never a doubt in my mind that I will be able to acquire something to eat, let alone something healthful and nourishing.

During the raw detox, I didn't need to think about what to eat. All of my meals were prepared for me, I just had to pick them up every morning.

What I needed was self-control.

Before I'd pick up my meals, I would read an email with the menu and instructions for the day. Next to each meal was an approximate time for consuming it.

For the first 3 days, this is how it went. First, the energy elixir at around 8 or 9am. Then, a little bit of self-control. Drink some water. Next, fruit juice at around 10 or 11am. Then a little more self-control. Don't look at the clock, stop thinking about food. Stop salivating when the person next to you is eating an egg and cheese sandwich. Drink more water. At around 12 or 1pm, it was time for veggie juice. Sip it slowly. Make it last. Enjoy the savory flavor. Think about how good this is for you.

At 2pm, time to rejoice. It's time to really eat. This might have been my favorite part. Every day was a new inventive lunch. Spicy burrito, chipotle nappa wrap, sunflower falafel. It was divine. I resisted the urge to just shove it all in. I took my time. I savored each bite. And the funny thing is, it wasn't so hard to do. Eating slowly made the enjoyment last longer, and it fulfilled me even more than if I would have scarfed it all down at once.

Another meal came at around 4pm. Usually something light, a salad of beets or edamame. I had something planned after work every day that week, so I wouldn't be able to eat meals 6 and 7 until at least 8pm. I found I wasn't really hungry in the evenings. I felt really calm. I'd still think about eating my last two courses, both dessert in my mind. But I think I could have done without them, or at least not finished them.

I grew up with the rule of 'no dessert until you finish your dinner.' I don't think it's a bad rule, but it definitely trained me to think that I should always finish everything on my plate, regardless of how full I feel. I try to be mindful of whether I'm eating out of habit or desire, or eating because I'm still hungry. It's amazing how little it takes to truly satisfy physical hunger. The hard part is telling my self that I don't need to keep eating.

And then something clicked

On day 4, something magical happened. My whole body buzzed with energy. I felt euphoric. I didn't need to watch the clock. When it was time to eat, my body knew it. I'd float out of my chair and calmly go to the fridge. Sit down and enjoy. I'll admit that I was getting a little bored with the juices, even though I knew they had something to do with the amazing feeling coursing through me. That night I went to yoga, uncertain of whether I could make it through class. I more than made it through. I could see myself shining in the mirror. A friend and teacher who was in the same class later told me that my aura was aglow. I believe it.

If day 4 was the pinnacle, day 5 was the descent. If you've been following these posts you'll know, that was at the end of day 4, the monthly visitor came to ravage my insides. I thought I had it covered with a hot water bottle and ginger tea, but when I awoke on Friday at 4:45am, I had to give in and pop a couple of pain killers. I felt a twinge of failure, having to poison my newly detoxified insides. But there wasn't really anything I could do. I knew the pain would be even more distracting than any amount of hunger I felt all week would be.

On my last day of the fast, I felt ready to move on. I also felt a bit conflicted. What should I eat tomorrow? There were some basic instructions about coming down from the detox, like eating fruit and salads (which I partly followed). But after having gone through this, I didn't want to screw it up and return to old eating habits. Not that I was an unhealthy eater before. A friend once told me that of everyone she knew, if she had to lick anyone's sweat, it would be mine. (I'm not sure what would warrant that kind of action, but hey, I took it as a compliment.)

Before the fast, I already thought a lot about what I put into my body. I cut back on meat and dairy, I tried not to eat highly processed foods (though one of my vices is Mallowmars, thankfully, they're a seasonal food). I ate veggies, fruits, and nuts regularly.

Now, I have an even greater perspective.

I have a better sense of when I'm really hungry, or just falling into a pattern of eating. And I've been exposed to another way of enjoying food (isn't that what it's all about?). I feel fortunate to have been able to experience this pure way of eating, and the pure feeling of bliss it can bring.

13 April 2009

flatbush farmshare

For any of you interested in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), there's a new CSA in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn. It's called Flatbush Farmshare.

I just got word from them that they're still taking members for this season. These things tend to fill up pretty quickly -- when we tried to join our neighborhood CSA it was all full up.

So jump on it while you still can!

Learn more about Community Supported Agriculture.

Not in Flatbush?

Check out Just Food for a CSA in your area of NYC.

Not in NYC?

Go to Local Harvest to find a CSA or farmers market near you.

12 April 2009

making stock

It's chilly out (41 degrees as of 11:53 am) and my sweetheart's not feeling well, so I'm brewing up a pot of pure healing love. It's really a simple recipe, I learned it from Leda of Leda's Urban Homestead.

It takes a little bit of foresight, or really just having a habit of hoarding. I save up all of my veggie scraps, veggies on the verge (of going bad), and chicken bones and throw them in the freezer. Once there's enough goodness to fill my 12-quart stock pot, in they all go. Bones on the bottom, veggies on top, fill it up with water. The flavor of the stock might vary depending on what I've been stockpiling. This one will be a rich stock filled with whole pieces of spinach, kale, cabbage, scallions, half onions, onion and carrot butts, broccoli stalks, fennel fronds, and the requisite bay leaves and peppercorns. Leda suggests a splash of vinegar to release calcium from the bones. I want it to be as nutrient rich as possible, so I heed this good advice.

After a full day of simmering -- boiling would make it cloudy -- I'll strain out the bulk and then run it through a food mill. This results in two kinds of stock, one clear and one full of pulverized vegetable matter. The former is great for any recipe that calls for broth or stock. The latter makes a great soup all on its own, even better with some chopped carrots and onions and maybe some rice thrown in for good measure.

The aroma is filling our apartment. It's quite comforting. It smells like home.

times coverage of yesterday's seed bombing

Britt Bolnick, her daughter Bella Pagtov Karbownika, 3, and Liz Neves
were among those planting wildflower seeds on Saturday.
Andrea Mohin/The New York Times

The event made it into the Times, and so did I, though it could be anyone under that black hood above. And I'm the "sustainable living consultant from Prospect Heights" that goes unnamed in the article.

Among the volunteers were a sustainable-living consultant from nearby Prospect Heights, two Italian architects, an industrial designer who rode his bike from Bushwick, and the president of a block association on Greene Avenue.

They carried black canvas bags containing the seeds of 18 types of wildflowers, including sunflowers and cornflowers, black-eyed Susans, lanceleaf coreopsis, sweet williams and none-so-prettys. They also had a handful of what looked like malted milk balls — the volunteers called them “seed bombs” and said they dissolve in the rain, releasing seeds.

Read the rest
Find out what other volunteers had to say at 21st Century Plowshare.

11 April 2009

soggy bed-stuy meadow

rain rain rain Pictures, Images and Photos

I had high hopes for this day. The rain was meant to taper off early in the afternoon. I met a friend and her 3-year-old daughter (Bella) at the rendezvous point. We arrived at our destination as the press did. We got our assignment with our zone highlighted on the map. And most importantly, we got our package. A bag full of seed-n-sand and seed bombs.

Maneuvering an umbrella, the bag of seeds, and my camera was pretty much out of the question in the cold April rain. Thus, I have very few pictures for evidence. But I have a feeling tomorrow's news will bring a few that I can "borrow."

We headed out, spreading seeds in sidewalk cracks, untended tree beds, and abandoned yards or lots. A couple of blocks away from the rendezvous I consulted the map. We were heading in the wrong direction. Retracing our steps toward our designated zone, we ran into a reporter from the New York Times. Since at this point, around 11:25 am, we were the only people around on the mission, the press stayed on us. Little Bella and her mom were interviewed by News 12 Brooklyn, and I by the Times.

We were all soaking wet at this point, our hands raw from the seed mix and the inside of the rough canvas bag. The little one was getting restless. We made it a half a block into our intended zone and Bella reached the breaking point. I can't say I was too upset, the cold rain had tired me out, too. This, after only 1 hour of seeding the streets of Bedford-Stuyvesant Brooklyn.

(Pictured above, Deborah Fisher of 21st Century Plowshare, event organizer)

Needless to say, I'm a bit disappointed that we didn't luck out with the weather, and that I gave up so early. But April showers bring May flowers. I hope today's shower brings the wildflowers we sowed today.

I also hope that other volunteers had more stamina than we did. There were about 200 confirmed for the event, assigned to 4 different zones in the neighborhood of Bed-Stuy. I'd like to return in a month or two to see what today's effort brings.

View Planting Zones in a larger map

I am optimistic.

With my bag of seeds, I'm going to try again -- this time in my neighborhood -- to cover some abandoned spots and construction lots. Every place could use a little more green.

Who wants to join me?

Related post

beautify bed-stuy, tomorrow!

10 April 2009

the end of the affair: final day of the lovefast

Only 1 meal left in my week-long live organic vegan experience (l.o.v.e.) and I'm not sure what happens next.

Tomorrow, as I ease out of the fast, I can make my own food choices again, instead of being fed by a sort-of personal chef. It's been quite a luxury to change my routine and be provided meals without thinking about it.

I've been asked if I'll continue this way of eating, and the answer is yes and no. To all of the vegetarians and vegans out there, sorry to say that I'm not ready to completely give up meat just yet. I think this was a step in the right direction though, to at least let me contemplate what other food choices are out there. I plan to eat less meat and dairy than I already do; I already eat meat only a couple of times a week at this point.

I'm happy to have broadened my horizons and get a little taste of what the raw food world is like. I plan on trying out some raw recipes that have come my way, and to replicate some of the meals that I ate this week.

Consequently, I came across this blog post on Melange defending the raw food lifestyle. It's easy to attack something when we don't have all the facts. Before I even considered this 5-day raw food journey I know that I was a little skeptical about it as well. But there is an abundance of healthful ways to eat raw or live food that one could easily thrive on, as long as they are willing to adapt their way of preparing food and maintaining a balance of nutrition. It's not like raw foodists are just eating carrot sticks all day. It goes way deeper than that. And like I mentioned in a previous post, I think preparing raw food is a very creative outlet, maybe even an art form.

As the old saying goes, when one door closes, another one opens. In limiting this one integral aspect of my life for 5 days, I've opened my mind up to so much more.

Thanks to Organic Avenue for preparing such delicious food this week.

If you're curious about raw and/or vegan food, do a little research and give it a try!

beautify bed-stuy, tomorrow!

I can't wait to start throwing those seed bombs! (Rain or shine)

Repost of an oldpost

I've been wanting to throw some seed bombs since I wrote about Green Guerrillas last summer (and maybe even before that). Well now I'm going to have the chance to live the dream, and you can too, if you're interested.

Here's the opportunity -- it's called Bed Stuy Meadow and it's a project being put on by 21st Century Plowshare, who describe themselves as:

... an inspiration-station and resource hub for anyone who wants to deploy environmental actions that matter--actions that prompt an ecstatic recognition of people's surroundings. Do your part! Join the discourse, participate in the actions here and make your own actions happen!
Oh man, if that doesn't make you want to get involved, I don't know what will.

Full details are below. If you want to get in on the action, email them at 21stcenturyplowshare@gmail.com

If you want to make your own seed bomb, get instructions here [via FunTimeHappyGardenExplosion].

Project Description

The goal is to sow wildflower seeds on every single patch of abandoned soil in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bed Stuy this April. By early summer, there should be so many wildflowers growing in the untended treepits, vacant lots, half-built developments and other tiny scraps of neglected soil in Bed Stuy that the whole neighborhood effectively turns into a meadow.

Wildflower seeds are very easy to plant, and they grow well in poor, shallow soils without human attention, so it's going to be relatively easy to make a huge visual impact over the entire neighborhood. The profusion of wildflowers that result from this minimal effort will probably be relentless and visually unifying, and this relentless unity of wildflowers will probably make anyone walking down the street feel good.

I want there to be so many wildflowers on the streets that the summer of 2009 is remembered very fondly every single resident of the neighborhood. I want the continuity of the Meadow to be so strong that Google Earth is compelled to re-photograph Bed Stuy. I want people who don't even live within the five boroughs to visit Bed Stuy for the first time so that they can see the Meadow with their own eyes, and I want people who will never even come to be so inspired by the Bed Stuy Meadow that they make their own amazing neighborhood project and share it on 21st Century Plowshare.

Bed Stuy is a neighborhood of contradictions. There is a lot of crime here, but it's also by far the friendliest neighborhood I have ever lived in. It's got a litter problem and the landscape is dotted with empty lots and condemned houses. But this is also a neighborhood of seriously tended front yards with a rich history of community gardening. Bed Stuy claims as its own Hattie Carthan and the Notorious B.I.G. I think the Meadow is going to work because it doesn't work against what Bed Stuy is. Bed Stuy's low-slung, long-blocked character and the expansiveness of its territory are not like an urban jungle or forest as much as an urban prairie. The effort of the meadow is another chapter in the community gardening history of the neighborhood. Wildflowers are beautiful in the way that the architecture here is beautiful, the way the people who go out of their way to say good morning on the streets here are beautiful. And wildflowers are tough enough to grow wherever the seeds are cast.

double whammy - lovefast day 5

Just as I suspected, as Bikram class was ending last night, something in my body was starting. I won't go into too much detail; let's just say I was being paid a monthly visit. I didn't want to take any drugs to combat the pains I know I'd be feeling once it really kicked in, so when I got home I brewed some ginger tea and slapped a hot water bottle onto my belly. Ah, this works, I thought. I was happy that I didn't have to poison my newly detoxified system with acetaminophen.

But then at around 4:45 this morning I was awakened by the pain. Knowing I couldn't strap the hot water bottle to myself all day, I took the two little pills to get me through the day. A necessary evil that happens only one day a month.

Then this happened: as I was walking down 8th Ave, right after picking up my meals for today (my last day of the raw, vegan fast), I felt a strong tingling tickle inside my nose. AAaaah-AAaaah-choooo!!!

Hello allergy season.

green apple cleaners, in my 'hood!

As I walked, still half asleep, to my subway stop this morning, I noticed a bright green smart fortwo covered in advertisements for Green Apple Cleaners (the non-toxic, CO2 based dry cleaners) parked just by the entrance to the station. Oh, look at that, they're advertising in Brooklyn, I thought.

This shot's is as blurry as my vision was.

I had heard from David Kistner, CEO of Green Apple Cleaners, last year that there would be a Brooklyn store opening this year. For some reason, I imagined it in Brooklyn Heights or Carroll Gardens. But much to my delight, it's right next door in North Park Slope. Hurray!

It's the little things that get me excited. Now I can take all of those delicates, sweaters, and dress shirts out of the "handwash" pile that's been accumulating for months -- I'd been handwashing with The Laundress in lieu of the nasty chem bath of traditional dry cleaners -- and walk on over to the new Green Apple. Oh, happy day!

The new Brooklyn location of Green Apple Cleaners is located at:

78 7th Ave (nr Berkeley)
Park Slope BKLYN

View Larger Map

09 April 2009

lovefast and bikram

Now I understand why some people who do Bikram yoga are into raw food. I hadn't been to Bikram in over a week and was curious as to how I would feel being on this detoxifying diet. Before I even got all hot and sweaty, I could see the glow on my face (in Bikram yoga, everyone faces a mirror -- it takes getting used to). I was able to participate in the class at the same level I usually do, but something felt different. Some asanas just seemed a little easier -- mainly camel (Ustrasana, pictured above), seated forward bend (Paschimottanasana), and seated spinal twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana). I guess everything was a little freer to move inside of me, there was little obstruction, so to speak.

I didn't feel weak, I didn't feel hungry. Those were my original fears. Guess there was nothing to worry about.

Related posts

climate prodigy coming to amnh

This coming Tuesday, Alec Loorz, 14, founder of Kids vs Global Warming, will be speaking at the Museum of Natural History. He was trained by Al Gore, and is his youngest US-trained climate presenter. (Not sure why the caveat of "US," Al must be busy training other kids around the globe).

Details on the event below.

And here's a little bit about the non-profit he started, from Alec himself. Spoken like a true 14 year old, and I mean that in a good way.

Tuesday, April 14, 1 pm
American Museum of Natural History
Kaufmann Theater, first floor

Alec Loorz, a 14-year-old from Ventura, California, founded Kids vs. Global Warming, a youth-inspired and youth-led non-profit organization, two years ago, after watching Al Gore’s movie, “An Inconvenient Truth.” Feeling the weight of the global situation and a sense that he could make a difference, Alec became an impassioned environmentalist with a desire to educate kids about global warming and empower them to take action. In this talk at AMNH, Alec will share his message of hope with an audience of students and Museum visitors. He will suggest ways for kids to get involved in protecting the environment. A question-and-answer session will follow the presentation.

Last October, Alec was invited by Al Gore to be formally trained with The Climate Project and is now their youngest U.S.-trained presenter. Following this presentation at the Museum, Alec will be speaking at the United Nations during the upcoming “Global Partners for Global Solutions” conference on April 15.

lovefast day 4

Sorry this picture is all a-blur.

I'm high on raw, vegan spicy burrito. This stuff is amazing! (and I feel incredible).

Spicy Burrito: Lentils, parsnip, cilantro, oregano, coriander, jalapenos, cumin, chipotle, olive oil, lime juice, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, onions, garlic, coconut, walnuts, sage, miso, bell peppers, flax seed, lemon juice, chili powder, black pepper, mesquite, sea salt

If you live in NYC and want to try it out, head on down to Organic Avenue, now at two locations:

101 Stanton St (btw Orchard and Ludlow)

43 Eighth Ave (btw Jane and Horatio)

The lovefast continues...

i think my cable's out by i don't care, except...

Last night I got home and there was a big fat goose egg on the display of the cable box. Didn't bother me any 'cause I haven't turned the TV on since my boyfriend's been in LA all week. Until now. I just read that there's a PBS special on Appalachia tonight. What's so special about that?

Well, for one: The Appalachians are the nation's oldest and the world's most biologically diverse mountains. Really? Go on!

The Appalachians are at risk for more mountaintop removal coal mining if the hungry coal machines aren't stopped. Find out more about this topic at iLoveMountains.org

Too bad I won't be able to watch the series, but I can read about it on the website.

Appalachia: A History of Mountains and People
Airs tonight @10pm on PBS
Check your local listings!

Thanks to Rob Perks on the NRDC Switchboard for the tip off.