Garden, Plant, Cook!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Greening - Alternative Energy and Your Legacy

Dear Folks,

Some years ago I read for the first time the basis for decisions in the Sioux culture:

"In Sioux culture, no decision would be made without reference to the will of the seven generations previous and in consideration for its effects and consequences for the seven generations following."

I think we all need to stop for more than a moment and consider that belief as a foundation for decisions we make individually and also on a national level with regard to where our energy resources some from and how we use them. (This is certainly true of every nation, too.)

What legacy will you leave for your later years, your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, the families of friends? Some ‘pundits' suggest we have a God-given right to use up any and everything on the earth — I think that is incredibly selfish. My ‘other mom' had a saying for those kinds of people - "eat the whole chicken today, and the feathers and bones tomorrow." Will you be leaving behind more chickens or only the feathers and bones?

At this moment the US Congress is considering legislation which among other things would open up off-shore drilling.

Also T. Boone Pickens has launched a national ad campaign to get the country to refocus on sustainable alternative energy forms, and Al Gore has also launched a challenge — both of them to make and ensure that the US energy usage is both sustainable and self-reliant and not reliant on other countries for non-sustainable sources.

Wheee - lots of words there, but consider these factors:

1) No one - not a person - is indicating that things like off-shore drilling or even opening wild-life areas will produce anything sooner than 5-10 years down the road - in other words this is not a quick fix, folks. (Nor is it as safe as some would like to believe - when humans are involved there will be accidents, errors and just plain stupidity -- on a recent visit to Venice Beach I was saddened to see just how much of the decades old oil contamination is still visible - nasty!)

2) Sustainable - really give that some thought, because with gas, diesel, and jet fuel running at all- time high prices something has got to give.

3) Of the "things" that can ‘give' and not give, the most glaring is that anything which is moved over land has options - anything moving in the air currently has no viable fueling options. We can make electric, solar and hybrid cars, trains, and even boats, but we can't yet make a solar or electric powered airplane — do you understand what that means? If something has to give, it is going to be your car, train or bus or boat ride.

Pickens is making the point that a mix of alternative sustainable energy such as wind, solar and hydro along with ‘some' non-sustainable natural gas exploration, will allow the non-sustainable oil to be diverted to airplane use, period, which would theoretically (yes I used that word) allow for maximum efficient use of depleting oil reserves to be used for planes while all the techno folks get to work on a better fueling system in the future for air travel.

Gore's point is that we have become reliant on outside sources and (my words here) we as a nation need to be come locavores with our energy sources.

The political side effect or benefit, if you will, to having our own sustainable energy sources is to deflect all future discussions about cause and effect of ‘our oil under their soil' decisions by our government. I'm not trying to make a pro or con political statement here, just an observation of every discussion in the last some years over oil and the rest of the world.

If you decide to get solar on your residence or business, then you have made a major decision in taking back some control over where, how and when energy becomes a problem for you personally. If you go further and plug your electric or hybrid car into you solar powered/supported home (or business), you have reduced energy load on the community and increased your control over your life and resources. Make sense?

There is a new company in Arizona which is trying to take the bite out of residential solar purchase decisions, because the big stopping point for most folks is the up-front installation cost.
I cannot recommend them yet, because I have not used them although we plan to get an estimate and consultation with them.

This company consults with you, then builds a system to your property needs, and leases the system to you, for a total of reduced electric company bills, lease payment of an amount less than your average monthly bill. They do this by owning (and therefore they have to maintain) the equipment for a 15 year lease, with options for you at the end. They take the tax credits to make it work for them.

I am not alone in believing Arizona, for example, is so sun drenched that to NOT take advantage of it is just plain wasteful, but the resources to build etc. need to be there. Check out solarcity on your own, don't take my thoughts by themselves.

So what will your legacy be? Will you go for window-dressing quick fixes, which fix nothing, or choose some reasonable, doable options for the here and now, which will have good benefits for the future?

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

Sunday, July 27, 2008


Dear folks
If you have read either my cookbook or any of the my many recipes published in different media, you know how passionate I am about using herbs and spices for flavoring food. Much as I love tomatoes and use them in many recipes, my view is many folks use tomatoes, tomato sauce etc. because they do not know how to flavor foods with herbs and spices. SO...I created this easy recipe to be an 'off-the-shelf' 30 minute dinner - Add extra time if you want to make the cornbread topping.

This recipes is all about the herbs and spices for flavoring No tomatoes. If you are not familiar with the herb Epazote -- it is referred to as 'natural beano' because it works! Mexican Oregano is a specific variety but you can use Greek. And, if you want you can make this as hot(picante) as you like -- I always err on the side of mild for general consumption. Enjoy!

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 Tablespoon granulated garlic
1 Tablespoon minced onion
1 Cup water
1 Tablespoon Mexican Oregano
1 Tablespoon Epazote (divided)
2 Tablespoons mild chili powder
1/2 Teaspoon salt
3/4 Teaspoon cumin
1 Teaspoon Sweet Paprika
1 Can (15 oz) Black Beans w/liquid
1 Can (16 oz) Vegetarian Refried Beans
2 Cups Frozen green Soybeans (shelled)
Optional: Topping using favorite Corn Bread Recipe.
Heat oil in heavy pan, add onion and garlic and stir for 1 minute, add all spices, and only half of Epazote and 1/2 cup water. Continuing stirring until all are well mixed, add other 1/2 cup water, refried beans and black beans (including bean liquid). Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Add soy beans and continuing cooking for additional 15 minutes adding reserved Epazote in the last 10 minutes.
Optional topping. Set oven to 400 degrees and have ready a medium casserole pan. Mix corn bread batter according to your recipe and set aside. After adding soy beans to chili cook for 5 minutes. Add epazote, stir and pour beans into casserole. Gently pour corn bread batter over beans. Bake for 20 minutes approximately, until bread is golden brown.
Chili recipes are all about options: Add any of the following to the top of the beans before serving or before adding the batter: shredded cheese, chopped fresh onions, chopped fresh cilantro, green chilies or jalapenos if you want heat.
- - From the cookbook "101+ Recipes from The Herb Lady" - use this link to view the book through google book search

Or, click on the book cover in the sidebar to go to the publisher site.

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady