Friday, July 23, 2010

Buy Local - Be Green

A new favorite and handy website I'm using is They keep a running list of local businesses in different categories for the Nashville area.

Recently they responded to an article that said buying local made for bad policy. In their response they noted that buying locally aids in "sustaining vibrant, livable communities and healthy ecosystems in the process." It's not just about keeping money in your community; it's also about cutting back on the shipping process that adds to carbon emissions and the like that result from buying items that need to be shipped to Nashville over items that are already in Nashville. There's something about creation care in here; it's not just about economics.

That's one reason why I've decided over the last few months to be more mindful of my choices when shopping for groceries and necessities, whether I'm at home in Nashville or visiting any number of friends in any number of cites around the country. I am working at intentionally shopping with local businesses for goods I need.

I'm vegetarian and am really found of fresh vegetables. I'm not currently in the position to start my own backyard garden or to join a CSA (community supported agriculture) so the next best thing and the easiest change I've found is visit local farmer's markets for what I need.

The second move, which is requiring a little more patience and willpower, is to buy only produce that is seasonal. Is it the season for bell peppers and blueberries? Then OK, buy some. Here's a good website for finding local seasonal offerings with an easy to use interactive map:

I have also made the commitment to buy certain organic fruits and vegetables. Now, I might end up doing this at the local Trader Joe's, Kroger or Publix but I figure that's as good a start as any. For some items it costs a little more but at least I know with certified organic items, I'm getting healthier food. There's a list called "the dirty dozen," produce items you should buy organic to avoid major pesticides; they are:

The Dirty Dozen:
Domestic blueberries
Sweet bell peppers
Spinach, kale and collard greens
Imported grapes

One of the most fun and delicious changes is to be a patron of local restaurants and coffee shops. I think you get more unique options and maybe even better quality food and drink when at local stores. And it really makes me happy that Nashville is growing in this area.

It takes a little more effort and maybe a little more money but honestly, it's worth it to know that I'm making a little headway to in being greener for the earth's sake.
Sunday is the second Auntie's Day. (It also happens to be my parents' 40th anniversary!) gave 10 (really, 12 as there are two #3's and #5's) ways to show that I'm a Savvy Auntie. See that list here.

Here are the ones that I will do or have already done:

1. Wear a flower! In your hair, on your hat or as a pin.

2. Write about being an aunt on your personal blog or website. DONE!

3. Post a Savvy Auntie's Day badge to your blog, Twitter, Facebook or MySpace page. DONE!

4. Celebrate fellow Savvy Aunties with a call or e-card. DONE!

5. Spend the day with your nieces, nephews and godchildren.

6. Spread the word! Tell your friends about Savvy Auntie's Day. DONE!

7. Tweet your Followers a Savvy Auntie's Day! And see who else is celebrating #AuntiesDay

8. Join the Savvy Auntie Fan Page on Facebook. DONE!

Are you an Auntie? Auntie by relation or auntie by choice or Godmother? Celebrate on Sunday!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Wear a Life Jacket Like You Do Your Seat Belt

Maybe I've just had the local news on more in the last few days, but there seem to be quite a few boating or jet ski accidents here in Middle Tennessee, which resulted in a few deaths. Such terribly sad news. I just feel horrible for the families who sat by the side of the lake waiting for news from officials about loved ones. All they could do was wait.

I just heard the story this morning about a guy and gal on a jet ski on Old Hickory Lake (the lake right by my house). It overturned. The girl survived; she was wearing a life jacket. The man never surfaced; he was not. I don't know their circumstances; I don't know why he wasn't wearing a life jacket. But I'm reminded again why I do. Because you just never what's going to happen. Accidents happen.

I think jet skis are taken for granted. They seem so easy to handle and simple to use but you can be tossed off one quickly and unexpectedly. I know how hard I ride jet skis and I see how hard my brother rides them - anything could happen to either of us.

I've been unexpectedly thrown from my brother's jet ski while he was driving. It was May in Lake Michigan and I landed in 50-degree water. He had a wet suit on; I did not. My body went into complete shock upon hitting that water. I couldn't breath and everything went numb. It was not a serious accident but it happened so quickly and my body reacted instantly to that cold water, I hate to think what my situation might have been if I left the life jacket on shore.

My brother and I were chatting about it today and he said, "Yeah, whenever I'm about to do something stupid, I think about how E Anne and Ava [his daughters and my nieces] would feel when they are old enough to comprehend how I died and how stupid it really driving without a seat belt or not wearing a life jacket on the lake or climbing a ladder with a chainsaw (gas-powered and running). I just don't want to be 'that guy' who orphans his kids by being a dumba**. I can't have them sitting with their mom in a Great Shakes somewhere and have people stand up and yell, 'Shame!' at them. What a disgrace that would be!" OK, he might have gotten a little dramatic there but it's a fair point. Even if you think you handle some unexpected situation, think about those on shore or in the backseat in case that one time, that accident comes your way.

I remember when my parents would put us in a canoe in some Michigan river or on a lake to go fishing and we'd have to wear those gosh-awful-looking orange U-shaped life jackets. Now, they kinda look retro but not a real fashion statement. Today, life jackets fit much better and come in all colors and patterns. They might not be high fashion though you might be able to match your jacket with your bathing suit, if you really needed to. So, if you think it's not going to happen to you, or the life jacket somehow crimps your coolness factor, get over it. Accidents happen. Wear the jacket.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Apple Crumb Pie Recipe

Found this recipe in my Magnolia Bakery cookbook. It turned out perfectly. It wasn't too sweet and while some apple pies can be runny or liquidy, this one was not.

My version:

Apple Crumb Pie:


1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
3 tablespoons ice water

3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups peeled, cored, and sliced tart apples, such as Granny Smith

Crumb Topping:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, unpacked
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, cut into small pieces

Bake at 425 for 10 minutes then at 375 degrees for another 25 minutes.

I baked it as we ate dinner and chatted. It was still plenty warm inside well after I removed it from the oven. Which of course made it perfect with vanilla ice cream.

This recipe comes from the Magnolia Bakery cookbook. I've tried several recipes from this cookbook and have had success every time.

Find the cookbook here at Powells.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Sweet Potato Burritos

My new favorite recipe are these sweet potato burritos:


1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups canned kidney beans, drained
2 cups water
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
4 teaspoons prepared mustard
1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
3 tablespoons soy sauce
4 cups cooked and mashed sweet potatoes
12 (10 inch) flour tortillas, warmed
8 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

2. Heat oil in a medium skillet, and saute onion and garlic until soft. Stir in beans, and mash. Gradually stir in water, and heat until warm. Remove from heat, and stir in the chili powder, cumin, mustard, cayenne pepper and soy sauce.

3. Divide bean mixture and mashed sweet potatoes evenly between the warm flour tortillas. Top with cheese. Fold up tortillas burrito style, and place on a baking sheet.

4. Bake for 12 minutes in the preheated oven, and serve.


Blueberry Breakfast Buckle

In addition to anecdotes about my nieces and nephews and glimpses of my vacation life, I've decided to add favorite new recipes to my blog. Starting with this one....

From "A Sweet Spoonful" blog via Ready Made magazine:

Blueberry Breakfast Buckle:

Adapted From: Rustic Fruit Desserts


1 Tbsp. unsalted butter at room temperature, for pan
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (7.5 oz)
1/2 cup oat flour (2 oz)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter (4 oz)
1 cup granulated sugar (7 oz)
2 eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1 dry pint blueberries (2 1/2 cups or 9 oz), fresh or frozen
1/4 cup rolled oats (3/4 oz)
2 Tbsp. turbinado sugar (or brown sugar) for topping
3/4 cup Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp. agave or honey


Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Sift the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a bowl. Using a handheld mixer with beaters or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and granulated sugar together on medium high speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Then stir in the vanilla. Next, stir in the flour mixture in three additions alternating with the buttermilk in two additions. Essentially, you want to begin and end with the dry ingredients and scrape down the bowl a few times as you go.

Fold in half of the blueberries and spread the batter into the prepared pan. Distribute the remaining blueberries over the cake, then sprinkle the oats and turbinado sugar over the top.

Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the top is lightly golden and firm to the touch. Stir yogurt and agave together in a small bowl and set aside in refrigerator. Let buckle cool.

To serve, spoon a dollop of yogurt over cake and drizzle a little extra agave if you’d like. Buckle will be good for 2 days if stored in plastic wrap at room temperature.

Makes: 8-12 servings

Monday, July 12, 2010

DuneFest 2010

Plans are underway for DuneFest 2010.

What is DuneFest, you ask?

Well, it's where I invite my friends to my parents' cabin near Silver Lake, MI for off-roading, jet skis, beach time, campfires and Mom's homecooking over Labor Day weekend.

And don't just take this to be any other holiday weekend camping experience. No, no. It's much more than that. Especially when my crazy Uncle Bruce is around.

DuneFest includes:

*Off-roading in whatever assortment of Chapman off-road vehicles are available (mostly Jeeps) at the Silver Lake Sand Dunes (i.e. giant hills of sand where they only allow off-road vehicles or ORVs)

*Jet-skiing on Lake Michigan or Pentwater Lake

*Swimming in Lake Michigan

*A visit to Pentwater, including but not limited to The Brown Bear and House of Flavors.

*Campfires with s'mores and doughboy boys (secret family recipe only to be shared with DuneFest participants)

*A t-shirt, possibly

*Food and more food, because my mom is a genius at cooking for a crowd.

This weekend isn't for the faint of heart either. You either have to have a great sense of adventure and a daring spirit or a great deal of trust in the Chapman driving your vehicle that she or he won't kill you. But it's a lot of fun. Really.

And if flying over mountains of sand in a Jeep or doing 360's on jet skis on Lake Michigan isn't your thing...we reserve the right to call you a coward but it's totally fine if you want to sit on the beach or on the porch of the cabin and read.

And the only cost is your transportation there. You won't find a deal like that on