Archive for December 2012 | Monthly archive page

posted by | on , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Happy Veggie Holidays: Six vegetarian/vegan recipes for a meat-free celebration

Below is a post by guest blogger Dawn Bickett.  Dawn is our newest blogger and we look forward to reading more from her soon!

The holidays simply do not feel complete without the smells and tastes of traditional meals and sweets. But if you or your friends and family are vegetarian or vegan, the typical holiday spread can be slim pickings at best.

Worried about what to make your vegan friend, or what vegetarian dish you can prepare that your loved ones will enjoy? Here are six quick and easy vegan or vegetarian holiday recipes guaranteed to lower your carbon footprint and satisfy even the most skeptical carnivore.

Breakfast: Pumpkin Waffles
For a cheerful holiday breakfast, try this vegan golden pumpkin waffle recipe from Isa Chandra at the Post Punk Kitchen. Don’t forget to top them with pecan bits and maple syrup for extra flavor.

Drinks: Apple Cider
The classic holiday beverage, eggnog, is not exactly vegan-friendly. However, brewing up some hot cider is a great alternative that has the added benefit of filling the room with the scent of cinnamon and clove.

Tip: You can keep the cider simmering on low heat for hours to enjoy the smell, as long as you add more water or juice as water evaporates. Really want to warm up? Add an ounce of dark rum to each glass just before serving.

Side Dishes: Spicy Chipotle Butternut Squash
If you still have a butternut squash or two left from your fall CSA, consider this simple and spicy roasted squash dish. It can be a side dish for either brunch or dinner.

Main Course: Not Just a Nut Roast
For an exciting alternative to ham or turkey at Christmas, consider one of the many vegetarian main courses from the recipe finer of The Vegetarian Society of the UK. Their nut loaf, a common British replacement for a meat dish, is exceptional.

Dessert: Peppermint Chocolate Cookie Sandwiches
This tasty combo of chocolate and peppermint is perfect to bring to a party, or to keep all to yourself!

Tip: For mini-cookie sandwiches, make the cookies half the size suggested and cut the baking time down to 6 minutes. Also, consider throw a handful of chocolate chips into the cookie batter, if you have them.

Dessert: French Chocolate Bark
Of course, there is always room for more sweets. For another quick vegan or vegetarian treat that doubles as a gift, try this delicious chocolate bark recipe. To make this recipe vegan, substitute semi-sweet vegan chocolate chips for the chocolate the recipe calls for.

Tip: Not a fan of dried fruit and nuts? For a peppermint variation, take out the fruit and nut combination, and add 1 tsp. of peppermint extract. Then crush peppermint candy and sprinkle it across the top before it cools.

Happy holidays from DC Ecowomen!

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The DC Ecowomen Annual Holiday Party was an exciting kickoff to this year’s holiday season.

On Wednesday night, over 100 women – and men – joined together at Cause, or “The Philanthropub,” for one of the only primarily social events put on by DC Ecowomen.

At the event, we enjoyed finger food, good happy hour specials, and an excellent array of raffle prizes including gifts such as tickets to the National Aquarium, gift cards from MOM’s Organic Market, beautiful jewelry from Eco-Artware, and more.

This party captured the essence of DC Ecowomen. It provided a way for newcomers to DC get involved in the environmental community, and for veterans to expand their network. And in fact, there was a very good proportion of women who said the holiday party was their first DC Ecowomen event. It just goes to show that it’s never too late to get involved in a new community.

Throughout the year, thanks to the events put on by DC Ecowomen, we have the opportunity to learn valuable skills from influential experts about excelling in environmental careers in the city. During the holiday party, we had the chance to meet and learn from each other instead.

It’s inspiring to see all of the women that do such great, important work, and equally wonderful to give these women an outlet to talk about what they are most passionate about.

On the way out, guests were given small gift bags with apple-shaped sugar cookies. More importantly, they were given new friends and connections, and wonderful memories to take with them.

Happy holidays everyone.

Special thanks to the following companies for donating raffle prizes: Eco-artware.com; Divine Chocolate; Casey Trees; Main Event Caterers; MOM’s Organic Market; Chix; National Aquarium in Baltimore; Sarah Brooks; Joyful One Prodcution; Christina Sorrento; Nicole Dvorak.

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By DC EcoWomen Board Member Lisa Ramirez

World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, or better known as its acronym WWOOF, is a service work exchange program on organic farms with host farms crossing the globe.

Here’s how it works: WWOOFers purchase a membership to the country of interest and in return receive lists of host farms that have been pre-approved by WWOOF to host workers. The approved WWOOF farms provide meals and accommodations in exchange for hours worked. WWOOFers contact the farms of interest, work out arrangement details with the farms and once the farm agrees to host the WWOOFer, all the WWOOFer has to do is prepare travel arrangements and be ready for work. For more information, check out the official WWOOF website: www.wwoof.org

Not Just Travel

WWOOFing is truly a great travel experience, not as a tourist, but as a genuine immersion into local life and culture. Non-working hours are allotted to personal free time – allowing for opportunities to pick up a new language, catch-up on overdue reading lists, learn to cook ethnic dishes, and explore the world off  its beaten path. Loving organically grown food, the great outdoors, travel and culture, I knew as soon as I read the article about WWOOFing in my local co-op’s newsletter, that WWOOF was destine to make its way to the top of my bucket list.

In September 2010, with my hiking pack filled with rugged wear, cameras, journals and travel books, I commenced my three month journey in the rolling hills of the Chianti region of Tuscany to try my hand at Italian homesteading. My first farm experience led to daily work duties such as: harvesting and pruning grape vines, watering herbs and flowers around the house, ironing linens for the agrotourism on rainy days, raking almonds off their branches, and harvesting wild Macrelepiota Procera (HUGE parasol mushrooms) from the woods. Daily duties were always broken up into morning and afternoon shifts. Morning duties were halted by a grand family-style, outdoor lunch consisting of multi-courses of delicacies harvested straight from the garden, prepared by all family members, served on lots of plates, washed down with red wine and completed with espresso and a siesta. Dusk brought closure to the afternoon work upon which it was back to the house to water the vegetable garden, harvest more from the garden’s bounty, and to once again cook together and enjoy a family-style, multi-course dinner that concluded with dunking biscotti in red wine.

My first farm introduced me to Sangiovese vines, the harvest festival (festa vendemmia), the cellar and the wine making process as well as Tuscan cooking and family traditions. There is nothing more amazing than picking food from its source and eating it! Not to mention, eating it when it is ready to be eaten – not picked weeks in advance, shipped on trucks and ripened on kitchen counters.

WWOOFing,  then Hoofing It

Between farms, I headed to the west coast to hike Cinque Terre, The Five Lands, which are composed of five villages (Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore) all built into the rugged cliffs overlooking the sea. Alone, with only the wall of vineyards and cliffs to my left and the beautiful panoramic view of the sea to my right, every step I took brought another awe to my senses. I had no idea what time it was, how long I had been hiking or even how much further I had to go. There were no plans, no commitments. Just to be in the moment.The towns’ delis provided the pesto, tomatoes, mozzarella and wood-fired bread for the finest picnic sandwiches in all of Cinque Terre that I devoured on rocky overhangs all while listening to the sea crash below me.
From the seaside villages, I made my way south to the coastal region of San Vincenzo to pass my days climbing all over olive trees combing the branches of their plump olives, which pop off like popcorn and bounce to the ground below lined with netting. It was here that I learned the brining and preparation process for the perfect table olives as well as experienced the vivid green glow and the sweetness of just pressed organic extra virgin olive oil, which we sampled drizzled over fresh egg pasta. My neighborhood was lined with pomegranate, persimmon, lime, orange, and fig trees and bountiful backyard gardens cared for by tiny elderly Italian ladies wrapped in shawls and little old Italian men in trousers puttering about the yard or chatting with their fellow little old Italian gents. Our interactions led to me smiling and nodding, them smiling and nodding making our broken languages one big friendly encounter. It was incredibly endearing.

I finished out my last remaining days in Tuscany visiting medieval hill-top towns bearing spirits of times long past, and ancient Roman baths with steam rising up to meet the falling cold rains. I was given tours of underground cellars smelling of musk and wood barrels and was invited into homes and embraced like famiglia, sharing stories of life and laughter. The experience truly was life changing and has cemented the building blocks of which my family traditions will be based.

posted by | on , , , , , | Comments Off on Book Club: Self-Sufficiency

Below is a post from guest blogger Denise Robbins.  You can also read Denise’s blog here and here.

On December 2nd, a rainy Sunday, DC Ecowomen met for the monthly bookclub at a small shop called “Think Outside the Store.” Gathered around 3 small tables in an intimate room filled with rolls of fabric, sock puppets, beads, magazines, and hot glue guns, we discussed ideas behind “The Urban Homestead.”

Self-sufficiency was the theme of both the book and the craft session – being able to create things yourself and lessen your dependence on the consumer economy. To remove yourself from the grid one small step at a time. To be free of the constraints of choosing between one manufactured product or another. To create, and give meaning, to the things that you do consume.

So while we were creating our own crafts, we were also talking and learning.

One woman has made her own kimchi.  A few were interested in infusing alcohol, which is actually quite simple. Another plans to make homemade limoncelllo. We discussed the processes, and dangers, of pickling and canning (if done wrong, and stored for a long period of time, bacteria can grow and make you sick).

This book club couldn’t have come at a better time. The holiday season is a perfect time to try your hand at self-sufficiency.

There’s nothing better than a homemade gift, where you can tailor your gift to your recipient and make it doubly special. It can be as simple or as difficult as you like – what matters is that it was crafted with your two hands.

If you’re new to making things yourself, and the idea of giving a hand-made gift is too intimidating, consider the other end of it. Ask your family for gifts to help get you started, like a how-to book, or beginning materials for gardening, canning, or renovation.

However, I encourage you to learn. The venue “Think Outside the Store,” is hosting several workshops this coming month on holiday gifts, where they provide the materials and instruction for each 2 hour session. Personally, I love picking up a new how-to book and teaching myself a new skill. It gives me the chance to be creative, and test my own capabilities. If done right, teaching yourself something new can be extremely rewarding. But, it can also be valuable to get some instruction and help from people that know what they’re doing!

In an urban environment like D.C., it can seem impossible to grow or create anything yourself. Most live very busy lives and are only able to choose between the products at their local supermarket. But with a little time, patience and creativity, anyone can learn the steps to self-sufficiency in the city.

posted by | Comments Off on Farm to Freezer: Preserving Fresh, Local Food to Nourish the Hungry

Below is a post from Cheryl Kollin.  Cheryl has posted previously for DC Ecowomen about Farm to Freezer.  Please take a minute to read her post and vote for Farm to Freezer’s inclusion at TEDxManahatten 2013. www.tedxmanhattan.org/challenge

“We have a wonderful problem!”, Sue Kirk, executive director of Bethesda Cares explained to me as we chatted between sessions of the TEDxManhattan 2012 viewing party. It was just ten months ago, that the idea for Farm to Freezer—a partnership between Bethesda Cares and Full Plate Ventures was born.

Now Farm to Freezer is a speaker finalist in the TEDxManhattan Challenge! If selected, I will speak about Farm to Freezer in New York at TEDxManhattan 2013: “Changing the Way We Eat” a live webcast that will be broadcast to viewing parties world-wide. The winner will be selected by public vote and a panel of judges. Voting is a simple click—no need to register or provide any information; one vote per computer devise. Please share this story and voting opportunity with your friends and colleagues. Voting closes December 15th, so vote today!

Bethesda Green and Full Plate Ventures will host a FREE TEDxManhattan 2013 local viewing party in Bethesda. Stay tuned on this site for details and how to register to attend the day-long event on February 16, 2013.

The Story of Farm to Freezer

The wonderful problem  that Sue described to me that cold January morning was that Bethesda Cares, a non-profit organization providing social services to homeless in our community, received more fresh produce as the official gleener of a local farmer’s market, than they could use before it spoiled.

Bethesda Cares, whose mission is to move homeless into permanent housing, serves 20,000 meals per year to the homeless population in the Washington DC metro area through a dedicated and caring network of faith-based and community organizations, businesses, and government agencies. In June 2012, Bethesda Cares and Full Plate Ventures launched Farm to Freezer with the generous donation of vegetables from Spiral Path Organic Farm and support from a rich community network of volunteers, churches’ donated kitchen space, and business support. Bethesda Cares’ will use the frozen food in preparing healthier meals for its clients all year long.

In our first 20 weeks, we’ve partnered with 180 volunteers, our county’s pre-release program of residents, a culinary arts training program, and received in-kind donations from local businesses. In our first growing season we gleaned 5,000 lbs. of fresh, organic vegetables. We turned these into 1,500 lbs. of tomato sauce and blanched, roasted and vacuum-sealed packets frozen and ready to incorporate into healthier meals that will serve 2,500 homeless throughout the year.

Our goal is to scale up Farm to Freezer. There is huge potential to glean from other farmers, provide to other feeding programs, and create a job training program. Through the sale of some of the organic tomato sauce and veggies, Farm to Freezer can become a self-supporting social enterprise.

Farm to Freezer Benefits the Whole Community
1). Provides healthier, unadulterated food for Bethesda Cares’ client meals
2). Supports farmers through tax-deductible donations
3). Reduces the amount of waste from farm market surplus
4). Provides community service and job training opportunities
5) Raises community awareness about homelessness, nutrition, and locally-grown food.

Your Vote Counts!

Winning a speaking opportunity at TEDX will provide critical visibility and, hopefully, lead to funding that will support this social enterprise. Vote today! www.tedxmanhattan.org/challenge .