Friday, December 31, 2010

Meatless Monday Recipe-Sweet Potatoes with Coconut, Pomegranate and Lime

Happy New Year Everyone! From my family to yours we wish you a safe and wonderful holiday!

In honor of the holiday I chose this recipe because of all of the beautiful jewel tones.....

Sweet Potatoes with Coconut, Pomegranate and Lime
15 min. prep.; 45 min. bake time; vegan

4 medium sweet potatoes
1/2 cup light coconut milk (divided)
1/4 cup toasted unsweetened coconut flakes
2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 cup pomegranate seeds
2 limes cut into wedges
Kosher salt or sea salt (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Arrange sweet potatoes, pricked with a fork, on rimmed baking sheet and roast until tender, about 45 minutes. Let cool slightly. To toast coconut flakes: heat a pan on medium heat and toss in flakes, stirring until they turn golden and become fragrant.

2. Slice tops and mash sweet potatoes with a fork. Divide coconut milk, toasted coconut flakes, cilantro and pomegranate seeds among the sweet potatoes.

3. Season with salt if using. Garnish with additional sprigs of cilantro and serve with lime wedges.

Per Serving: 272 cal.; 8 grams sat. fat; 1 gram unsat. fat; 0 mg chol.; 44 grams carbs.; 58 mg sod.; 5 grams prot.; 9 grams fiber.

Found: Whole Living December 2010

Monday, December 27, 2010

The amazing ancient modern building material that improves the environment every time it is used

Architect Stephen Colley, coordinator for San Antonio Sustainable Living spoke at the 2010 TEDx San Antonio.  In his talk he introduces the audience to adobe and compressed earth block.  He explains how the words adobe and shack connect the material to its historic roots.

He shows how adobe and compressed earth block allows for deeply green, environmentally and physically friendly building. He explains the phase change that makes adobe homes cooler in the summer and introduces the so called "Mexican green roof" which insulates, protects and cools.

"Put the Grease in the Bin" : a message for Londoners that applies to San Antonians equally if not more

San Antonio Water System is wrestling with EPA over sewage spills.  The current SAWS "Don't feed the grease monster" campaign is part of an effort to control sewage spills.  When the fat congeals it clogs the pipes.  When the pipes get clogged, they overflow.  This is a problem where ever there are sewers.

In San Antonio Water Systems and the EPA are negotiating on a solution to all too frequent sewer discharges into area rivers and streams.  Grease diversion is believed to play a major role in preventing sewer overflows.

If you care enough about the environment to not litter and to recycle then add diverting grease to your list.

The video below features London sewer workers on location with a message in song concerning keeping the fat out of the drain.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Meatless Monday Recipe-Cashew Nut Roast with Herb Stuffing

Cashew Nut Roast With Herb Stuffing

Serve with a colorful salad!

For the Roast:
1 cup margarine
2 large onions, finely chopped
3 cups unroasted cashews
1 1/2 cups white bread, crusts removed
3 large cloves of garlic
1 cup water or vegetable stock
salt and pepper
2 Tbsp. lemon juice

For the Stuffing:
3 cups bread crumbs
1 cup margarine
2 small onions, grated
1/2 Tsp. each thyme and majoram
3 Tbsp. parsley, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 400°F and line a greased 1-lb. loaf pan with a long strip of greased nonstick paper.

2. Melt margarine in a medium-sized saucepan, add the onion and sauté until tender. Remove from heat.

3. Grind the cashews in a food processor with the bread and garlic and add to the onion, together with the water or stock, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and lemon juice, to taste.
Mix all stuffing ingredients together.

4. Put half the cashew mixture into the prepared pan, top with the stuffing, then spoon the rest of the nut mixture on top. Dot with margarine.

5. Stand the pan in another pan to catch drippings and bake for about 30 minutes or until firm and lightly browned (cover the roast with foil if it gets too brown before then).

6. Cool for a minute or two, then slip a knife around the sides, turn roast out, and strip off the paper.

Makes 8 Servings

Found: PETA

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Council Approves mandatory availability of recycling for multi-family residents unanimously. Votes down delay in enforcement by 6 to 4

Figure 14-43.1 Showing acceptable and unacceptable recycling center locations
The San Antonio City Council unanimously voted to require apartment owners to offer recycling to their residents.  However Justin Rodriguez, John Clamp, Elisa Chan, and Philip Cortez voted to delay the enforcement of the ordinance.  Their attempt failed by a vote of 6 to 4. 

Beginning July 2011, the operators of the largest apartment complexes will need to provide for recycling.  Triplexes and fourplex owners will need to provide recycling by April 2012.  The ordinance includes diagrams showing that the recycling centers will need to be co-located with the garbage collection centers so that residents will not need to take their garbage to one location while having to travel further to drop of recyclables.

The ordinance in its entirety appears below:

Monday, December 20, 2010

Where should San Antonio’s residential focus be?

by Randy Bear, Concerned Citizens,

As many of you probably know I’m a resident of downtown San Antonio and have been for over a year now. I moved into the urban core as an experiment to see how living downtown might be. It’s been a good experience so far but, after living here for a while, I’m starting to see where the real focus of residential living should be for downtown and it’s probably not in the core. While San Antonio has aspirations to be a big city like many other urban areas across the country at its heart San Antonio is really a bunch of collective small towns linked by freeways and streets. So what should the focus be?

After participating in the last SA 2020 public forum and talking to some architectural leaders in San Antonio I have come to the conclusion that the real focus should be on the small ring of neighborhoods right around the urban core. In the public forum one of the key indicators listed for Neighborhoods and Growth was the number of pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods in the city, something that would be difficult to achieve in the urban core of San Antonio.

In a blog entry in Kevin Harris’ Neighbourhoods blog he cites 13 points of a pedestrian-oriented neighborhood as defined by US planning/architects DPZ. Of those points are things like a variety of dwelling types such as houses, rowhouses, and apartments, an elementary school close enough children can walk to it, and a small playground accessible to every dwelling. There are several other points listed that the urban core might meet but if you’re really talking about building a thriving and vibrant neighborhood with some longevity you need children, something the urban core is not very friendly to.

But if you look to the areas surrounding the urban core you start to find opportunities for growth in many areas. Just to the north are neighborhoods like Alta Vista and Tobin Hill with existing homes and opportunities for new development such as apartments and condominiums. To the east is Dignowity Hill and Government Hill. South has SoFlo and the Nogalitos/South Zarzamora area. The west has the Guadalupe/Westside neighborhood. Each has its own culture and attractions but, more importantly, all are easily accessible to downtown by both streets and transit.

Recently Ben Olivo of the Express-News’ Downtown blog featured the Cevallos Street Lofts and talked about the developing area located south of downtown. In that area are several schools and parks as well as opportunities for small groceries and other amenities needed by a pedestrian-oriented neighborhood. With other development planned and its proximity to downtown and Southtown the SoFlo area could really become a great walkable neighborhood and close to the urban core.

In seeing how San Antonio rates regarding walkable neighborhoods I put my own address into their Walk Score tool and came up with a 91 out of 100 (you should try it out yourself for your neighborhood). Overall San Antonio rates at about 49 (pretty low) but comparable with most of Texas (Austin is a 51 and Dallas is a 49). Looking at the areas surrounding downtown most walk scores for the neighborhoods rank in the top 10 areas of the city. That means there’s not much gap to cover to turn them into a true pedestrian-oriented neighborhood.

Right now the city is starting to set the plans for our future through the SA 2020 plan process. While much focus has been to really develop downtown into a residential neighborhood I would contend that based on the feedback from the public, the amount of work it would take to make the urban core resident-friendly, and the limited resources the city will have to work with in the coming years maybe the focus should be on the ring of neighborhoods surrounding downtown.

By building up the infrastructure for these areas such as improved public transportation, more business investment and better streets and parks the areas will become attractive places for people of all ages to relocate to and still achieve a goal of avoiding urban sprawl. It also allows the growth to continue inward as market demand increases. It creates new opportunities for growth that don’t overly tax our cities public infrastructure such as public safety and works. It just seems like the right thing to do.

Randy Bear is an observer and participant in San Antonio politics and business.  His December 20, 2010 post in his blog, Concerned Citizens, is re-posted here with his permission.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Meatless Monday Recipe-Garbanzo Salad Sandwich

Garbanzo Salad Sandwich
Makes 4 sandwiches

Garbanzo beans make a delicious and very nutritious sandwich filling.

1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained
1 stalk celery, finely sliced
1 green onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons Tofu Mayo or other vegan mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
8 slices whole wheat bread
4 lettuce leaves
4 tomato slices

1. Mash garbanzo beans with a fork or potato masher, leaving some chunks. Add sliced celery, chopped onion, Tofu Mayo, and pickle relish.

2. Spread on whole wheat bread and top with lettuce and sliced tomatoes.

Per sandwich: 268 calories; 12 g protein; 48 g carbohydrate; 4 g fat; 7 g fiber; 348 mg sodium; calories from protein: 17%; calories from carbohydrates: 69%; calories from fats: 14%<

Recipe from Healthy Eating for Life to Prevent and Treat Diabetes by Patricia Bertron, R.D.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

San Antonio to require Apartment owners to offer recycling if proposed ordinance passes

Although curbside one bin recycling has been a part of trash service provided to single family homes and some duplexes and tri and four plexes by the City of San Antonio' Solid Waste Management Department for several years, multi-family residents have not had access to recycling unless the apartment owner has made special arrangements with their trash hauler.

Since at least 25% of households in San Antonio live in apartments that's a lot of recyclables going into the landfill.

Now it looks like the city council is going to require multi-family complexes to offer recycling and to have their recycling plans approved by the city. According to the Express News some business interests are asking that the plan be delayed.

Below you can find the text of the supporting documents that were included in the council's 12/09/2010.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Meatless Monday Recipe-Butternut Squash Lasagna

Butternut Squash Lasagna

By Melissa Breyer, Care2 Green Living Producer

I replaced ricotta with an easy bechamel sauce made with milk for a lighter (that’s a relative term here) lasagna. If you want to skip the whisking, substitute ricotta for the sauce—two 15-ounce containers will do the trick.

For the Filling
1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup golden raisins
3/4 cup pine nuts, toasted for about 3 minutes at 350 degrees
1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped

For the Sauce
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons white whole wheat flour
5 cups organic milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 pinch cayenne pepper

For the Rest
8 ounces (about 2 cups) grated fresh (if available) mozzarella
3 ounces (about 3/4 cup) finely grated Parmesan cheese
12 fresh pasta sheets (you can use no boil pasta sheets, but they will work better if you are using sauce)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss squash in olive oil, maple syrup, and salt and roast on a baking sheet for 30 minutes, or until squash is lightly browned and tender.

2. Turn oven to 350 degrees. Remove squash, dump in a bowl and gently toss with raisins and pine nuts.

3. Saute garlic in butter in a 3-quart saucepan over medium low heat, for 1 minute. Whisk in flour and cook roux, whisking, 3 minutes. Add milk in a stream, whisking. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly, then reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, for 10 minutes. Stir in salt and cayenne and remove from heat.

4. Mix cheeses together.

5. In a buttered 13-inch by 9-inch baking dish spread 2/3 cup sauce and cover with pasta sheets. Spread with 2/3 cup sauce and 1/3 of filling, then sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheese. Repeat layering 2 more times. Top with remaining 3 pasta sheets, remaining sauce, and remaining cheese.

6. Cover baking dish with foil and bake lasagna in middle of oven 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake until golden and bubbling, 10 to 15 minutes more.

7. Always let lasagna sit for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.
Serves 8.

By Melissa Breyer, Care2 Green Living Producer

Read more:

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Meatless Monday Recipe-Any Veggie Coconut Curry

Any Veggie Coconut Curry
Makes 6 servings; Vegan

The vegetables listed below are favorites, but any vegetables you have on hand can be used along with the coconut milk and spices. If you decide to use coconut milk, it is important to note that this product has a high fat content and should be used in moderation. Try lite coconut to get the sweet nutty coconut flavor without all the fat. Cauliflower, squash, and sweet potatoes are other tasty choices. This is a great way to use up “going-bad” fresh or frozen vegetables! Serve over rice or your favorite whole grain.

1 cup dry (uncooked) brown rice
2 cups water
1 large onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced (about 4 teaspoons)
3 large carrots, cut into rounds or diced
1/4 cup vegetable broth or water
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
pinch cayenne pepper
1 medium potato, diced (peeling optional)
3 cups chopped kale
2 cups chopped broccoli florets, or 1 10-ounce package frozen chopped broccoli florets
8 mushrooms, sliced
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed, or 1 1/2 cups of cooked garbanzo beans
1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
1 cup lite coconut milk, or 1 cup nondairy milk + 1 teaspoon coconut extract
3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

1. Bring rice and water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Lower heat and simmer, covered, until all the water is absorbed (about 30 minutes.)

2. In a large saucepan, sauté onion, garlic, and carrots in vegetable broth or water on medium-high heat until onion become translucent. Add curry, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes, stirring often. Add potato, kale, broccoli, mushrooms, beans, peas, and coconut milk or nondairy milk mixture. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 10 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until potato can be pierced easily with a fork. Sprinkle with soy sauce before serving.

Note: This veggie curry will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days. Transfer leftovers to a dish and cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate.
Nutrition Information
Per serving (1/6 of recipe): 320 Calories; 5.2 g Fat; 2.5 g Saturated Fat; 14.7% Calories from Fat; 0 mg Cholesterol; 12.3 g Protein; 59.3 g Carbohydrate; 5.9 g Sugar; 12.3 g Fiber; 407 mg Sodium; 115 mg Calcium; 4.7 mg Iron; 37.7 mg Vitamin C; 6312 mcg Beta-Carotene; 1.7 mg Vitamin E

Found: The Cancer Project Sept. 2009

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Houston's Mark Johnson talks sustainable housing at TEDx Houston 2010

In this June 12, 2010 talk at TEDx Houston Mark Johnson touches on a number of issues related to sustainable housing with insight and humor.  Commenting on the number of Tuscan and French Provencal mini-mansions popping up in Houston he shares his dream of someday traveling through France and seeing buildings based on the style Houston ice houses

He observes the absurdity of showing the strength and permanence of a building by using brick (but only for 25% of the house) and decorative shutters which not only have no hinges but which are too small to cover the windows to which they are adjacent.

In his wide ranging talk he says that he thinks that people who build should be more concerned with impressing their children than their neighbors and friends and advocates for a slow home movement for housing similar to the slow food movement.  Finally he points to the Beer Can House as an building of unique style made possible by Houston's loose architectural design control.

Mark Johnson operates, a source for stock modernist home plans.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Meatless Monday Recipe-Stuffed Shells with Lentil Ragout and Spinach

Stuffed Shells with Lentil Ragout and Spinach

1 small cinnamon stick
1/4 medium-size onion, peeled but left intact, plus 1/2 onion minced
1/2 cup dried brown or green lentils
3 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 package jumbo pasta shells (about 20 pieces)
3 tbsp olive oil
1 medium-size carrot, peeled and diced
1 celery stalk, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup red wine
1 sprig fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried
2 1/2 cups tomato puree
1/4 tsp cayenne
Ground black pepper
4 cups spinach, washed thoroughly, stems removed and finely chopped
Parmesan cheese for garnish (optional)

1. Bring 1 cup water to a boil with cinnamon stick and the intact 1/4 onion in a small saucepan. Add the lentils, cover and lower the heat to low. Cook for 25 minutes. Discard the cinnamon and onion. Add 1/2 tsp of the salt and stir.

2. In a large saucepan, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil. Add the shells and 2 teaspoons of the salt and cook for 12 minutes; the shells will still be a little tacky. Drain and transfer to a baking sheet to cool. Untangle the shells to prevent sticking.

3. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and add the carrot, celery, the minced 1/2 onion, and garlic. Stir and cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the wine and thyme, allowing the wine to reduce for about 2 minutes. Add the tomato puree and cayenne, stir to combine, and cook over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes. Add the lentils and cook for an additional 5 to 10 minutes. Add the reamining 1 teaspoon of salt and the black pepper, and taste, adding more as you see fit. Discard the thyme sprig, if using fresh. Stir in the spinach, turn off the heat, and cover.

4. Heat the oven to 350F. Ladle a small amount of ragout into a square or rectangular baking dish. Line up the shells in dish, then with a small spoon, fill each shell with the ragout. Top off the shells with a ladleful of ragout, followed by cheese, if using. Bake for 30 minutes.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Virginia is now for lovers of family too. Tiny temporary houses for the infirm made legal .

Accessory or secondary dwelling units are a way to increase the population density of suburban neighborhoods.  With an increase in density public transit is more likely to be successful and businesses within walking distance have more potential customers.   For these reasons and others advocates for sustainable development around the country are promoting government action to make small additional homes legal.

In Virginia a special type of secondary dwelling unit has been made legal.  HB 1307, "Zoning Provisions for Temporary Family Healthcare Structures," over rides local ordinances to allow a secondary dwelling unit to be temporarily placed on a property to provide a dwelling for an ill family member.

The dwellings require a doctor's authorization and are to be removed when the medical need has passed.

MedCottages (288 sq feet) are specifically designed for the infirm elderly.  With remote monitoring, an overhead rail to allow easier transfer from bed to bathroom, roll in showers and HVAC which will allow either positive pressure to keep pollutants from entering the home or negative pressure to keep infectious agents from leaving the dwelling.

The dwellings rent for upward of $2000 per month and are intended as an alternative to nursing home care.

The video below is a bit lengthy but explains some of the ideas behind the MedCottage law and the inspiring story of its passage.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Meatless Monday Recipe-Smashing Corn Casserole

Smashing Corn Casserole (from Christina Pirello)
This truly deluxe casserole is a snap to make and a hit with everyone who has tasted it. It blends the sweet taste of fresh corn, tangy roasted red peppers, rich sesame tahini, sweet squash and the nutritional kick of beans.

1 cup cooked black beans, smashed with a fork
1/3 cup sesame tahini
soy sauce
yellow corn meal
spring or filtered water
2 ears fresh corn, kernels removed
several clean corn husks
1 red pepper, roasted and diced
2 cups (approximately) pureed pumpkin or winter squash
pinch sea salt

Puree the beans with tahini and season lightly with shoyu. Set aside. Mix corn meal with salt and enough water to make a thick paste. You will need about 1 1/2 cups of this mixture. Fold in corn kernels. Set aside. Line a lightly oiled, deep casserole dish with several clean corn husks, allowing them to hang over the sides a bit. Begin layering (like lasagna) by spreading some corn meal mixture on the husks. Add some of the bean mixture, pureed squash and sprinkle with a bit of the red peppers. Continue layering until the dish is full, but be sure to end with corn meal on the top. Fold the husks over the casserole and press into the topping to hold them in place. Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes, until firm. Remove the cover and return to oven to brown the top slightly. Serve immediately.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sustainable Route Optimization seeks to reduce energy use by finding the shortest route from A to B

by Jack Lundee

From algae-based fuel substitutes to solar energy, finding new ways to reduce our carbon footprint comes forms. Numerous 21st-century findings are aimed at long-term viability for increased efficiency, as to contend with oil companies.  For the moment however, who do we have looking into short-term energy challenges?

Municipal fleets, including city transportation (i.e. – buses), use a heavy amount of energy every year. Much like the military however, we’ve seen a steady decline in the rate at which they consume. Reasons for this may include any of the following:
  • Fewer people traveling
  • People living closer to work
  • Hybrid transportation
Nevertheless, I think most would argue that these slowly declining numbers are part of an attempt to increase fuel efficiency through the direct use of technology. One particular means involves fleet route optimization.

The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), a phlilanthropic organization created by Doug J. Band, is one instance of a large number of non-profits, corporations, political figures, and that are helping in the work of route optimization. Route optimization can be distinctly defined as an attempt to find the fastest route from point A to B.   (An easy comparison for the average consumer would be the algorithm found in most modern GPS systems.)

In a partnership with San Francisco, ESRI, and NAVTEQ, the CGI  provides a pledge to add in plans to decrease greenhouse gas emissions from fleets in the San Francisco Bay Area through Fleet Route Optimization Software.

This involves anything from buses to work force vehicles. NAVTEQ actually produces digital maps and content that drive navigation- and location-based services solutions worldwide, including:
  • Mobile navigation devices
  • Internet-based mapping applications
  • Government and business solutions
  • Auto navigation systems
Utilizing GIS mapping software, ESRI also helps the user interpret data, further aiding in transportation-based decision-making, reliant on the best information and analysis. Much of this is similar to what the average consumer finds on his/her portable GPS. Furthermore, it’s important to note that this technology has been around and is widely used.

Again, this is comparable to the “alternate routes” feature on most automobile GPS systems. Similarly, Google Maps can simulate different routes with times, distance, etc…

Both ESRI and NAVTEQ hope to provide powerful solutions for technology companies that enforce municipal transportation efforts. Once a seamless integration of communication and navigation has been implemented, transportation will become much more efficient. Again, this is something that has already taken effect and will continue to improve energy efficiency in regards to transportation fuel costs. As we technology progresses and becomes more affordable, individual consumers will begin seeing GPS as longer just an option, but rather a integral part of any vehicle.

  (Jack Lundee is follower of all things green and progressive. Jack has been an involved member of the Green Blogosphere for quite some time now, illustrating his ideas regarding green infrastructure, sustainability, conservation and more.)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Meatless Monday Recipe-Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers

Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers
Ingredient List
Serves 8

•1 medium onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
•2 Tbs. olive oil
•2 ribs celery, finely chopped (1/2 cup) (I didn't use)
•1 Tbs. ground cumin
•2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.)
•1 10-oz. pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry (I used fresh)
•2 15-oz. cans diced tomatoes, drained, liquid reserved
•1 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
•3/4 cup quinoa
•3 large carrots, grated (11/2 cups) (I'm not a fan of carrots-I used Patty Pan Squash)
•11/2 cups grated reduced-fat pepper Jack cheese, divided
•4 large red bell peppers, halved lengthwise, ribs removed (I used Polbalmo Peppers)


1. Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and celery, and cook 5 minutes, or until soft. Add cumin and garlic, and sauté 1 minute. Stir in spinach and drained tomatoes. Cook 5 minutes, or until most of liquid has evaporated.

2. Stir in black beans, quinoa, carrots, and 2 cups water. Cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 20 minutes, or until quinoa is tender. Stir in 1 cup cheese. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Pour liquid from tomatoes in bottom of baking dish.

4. Fill each bell pepper half with heaping 3/4-cup quinoa mixture, and place in baking dish. Cover with foil, and bake 1 hour. Uncover, and sprinkle each pepper with 1 Tbs. remaining cheese. Bake 15 minutes more, or until tops of stuffed peppers are browned. Let stand 5 minutes. Transfer stuffed peppers to serving plates, and drizzle each with pan juices before serving.

Nutritional Information
Per 1/2 stuffed pepper: Calories: 279, Protein: 14g, Total fat: 10g, Saturated fat: 3g, Carbs: 36g, Cholesterol: 15mg, Sodium: 518mg, Fiber: 10g, Sugars: 9g

Found: Vegetarian Times

Monday, November 8, 2010

International Forum on Climate Justice, with Jim Hightower November 11, 2010

From the Texas Drought Project:
The Texas Drought Project presents populist author and radio host Jim Hightower along, with international experts on climate justice issues. Most will be attending the COP-16 Conference in Cancun later this year. Victor Menotti, Director of the International Forum on Globalization will headline a stellar panel, along with Genaro Lopez-Rendon of Southwest Workers' Union and Movement Generation.

For detailed directions, see the link on the church website.  The church is near the intersection of  (North) IH 10 and Loop 410 and it has plenty of parking!

Watch this Facebook page for more updates!

We're asking $10 donation per person, but NO ONE will be turned away. 
The event will be live streamed according to a post on Facebook.

Buy NOTHING Day November 26, 2010 is coming!

Will you be buying nothing??

Sunday, November 7, 2010

11 year old Birke Baehr's TEDx Ashville talk on "What's Wrong with our Food System"

I shared the video of Birke Baehr with various friends yesterday, and decided that it needs a wider audience! Birke is an extraordinary home-schooled child, 11 years old, ranting about what's wrong with our food system on TEDx(*) in Asheville, NC. It's a MUST-WATCH!

In searching for more information I found a blog, OUR NATURAL LIFE: Provocative Discussions About Leading A Holistic, Sustainable, and Healthy Life, that featured Birke and how he inspired his own family.  

I also think this sweet comment from Birke's mom to someone who had criticized him on the YouTube site was worth sharing here:
"As this 11 yr. old's mother I can assure you Birke plays outside more than most kids and he doesn't sit in front a computer 24/7. He also reads more than just about organic foods -- he is quite the historian, knows a lot about geography, sports and other subjects. His 'soul' is quite intact and isn't lost or pitiful. He has a mind of his own and is curious about the world around him and is allowed the freedom to follow his interests. He is also much better at spelling than you are." 

BTW, for those of you who are familiar with the TED conferences, here's the scoop on TEDx:
Created in the spirit of the TED.conference mission, "ideas worth spreading," the TEDx program is designed to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level. TEDx events are fully planned and coordinated independently, on a community-by-community basis.
(reblogged from with permission from the author.)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Caps not accepted in San Antonio recycling, but Aveda will help schools collect and recycle many of the plastic ones.

Many recycling programs do not accept caps to the recyclable jars and containers that they do accept.   In San Antonio we're not to include any sort of cap in "Blue is the New Green" recycling carts.

Aveda, the salon products company has a program that will accept many of the plastic caps.  It is administered through schools.  

They can't accept metal caps of any kind or caps with pumps but they do accept caps that twist on with a threaded neck such as caps on shampoo, water, soda, milk and other beverage bottles and pharmaceutical lids, flip top caps on tubes and food product bottles (such as ketchup and mayonnaise), laundry detergents and some jar lids such as peanut butter.

Students and parents collect the lids then they are placed in prepaid UPS shipping boxes.  Aveda pays for the shipping.  For more information on how to sign up a school Aveda has separate pdf for parents and for teachers.  I haven't found a list of  participating schools though I understand that the Aveda salons and the Aveda Institute in San Antonio also accept the caps as does Whole Foods.

Top Ten advantages of Geothermal Electrical Production from existing hydrocarbon wells to the Oil and Gas Industry

By Randy Carroll-Bradd

Hydrocarbon wells can generate electricity. Using the waste fluids from hydrocarbon wells, owners can now generate electricity for their pumping needs, with any additional electricity sold to utilities as renewable energy. A small binary electric turbine (250 kW+) is attached between the separation stage and re-injection well. This can be done on one well or multiple wells with temperatures over 225°F and 200+ gpm of combined fluid. Thus waste fluids become a valuable commodity! The amount of electricity is dependent on input and cooling temperatures and fluid flow rate.

Top  Advantages for the Oil & Gas lndustry:

1) In Texas there is now an exemption from oil and gas Severance Taxes for oil and gas co-produced with geothermal energy.
2) Geothermal energy recovery should cover electrical pumping needs and may generate extra energy to sell to utilities;
3) The technology is grounded in practices of the hydrocarbon industry;
4) The infrastructure already exists, i.e., roads, power lines, etc;
5) Geothermal power production can use existing reservoirs or modify them after production ends to increase the available water;
6) Costs are lower than start-from-scratch geothermal development, with estimated payouts possible in 3 - 5 years;
7) Power plants are scaleable with moveable turbines to meet the changing needs of an oil/gas field, plus as systems develop the technology continues to evolve;
8) Renewable Energy Credits (RECS) are an additional commodity that the Hydrocarbon lndustry can use or sell .... It’s GREEN POWER!
9) Pricing of geothermal leases is lower than oil/gas leases;
10) The global Geothermal lndustry has 40+ years of experience in dealing with high temperature drops and geochemistry;
11) Government grants and loans may be available to develop new systems for demonstration sites.

Basic Economics
Current prices and tax incentives for electricity produced renewably
-$0.06/KWh wholesale
$0.021/KWh U.S. tax credit
-$0.005/KWh REC
Thus revenue from a binary turbine installed to produce 225 kWh/yr is approximately $200,000 and 500 kWh/y generates approximately $368,000 in revenue.
Approximate estimated installation costs $500,000 - $1,500,000 for 250 to 500 kW plant.

Thanks to Randy Carroll-Bradd for permission to publish this article which was distributed to attendees at the October 27, 2010 meeting of the Texas Green Network. Randy is a sometimes attendee at San Antonio Sustainable Living meetings and an expert in the manufacture of SIPS panels with EH Systems LLC.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Meatless Monday Recipe-Malpe-Roasted Acorn Squash

In light of Wold Vegan Day (yesterday). I found this recipe to help bring in the Fall weather. Great as a side dish and with little tweeking, made Vegan!

Adapted from Comfort Food (Taunton Press, 2004).

Hurray for the nutty sweetness and deep nourishment we get from roasted harvest squashes! This ultra-simple recipe practically makes itself, and the results embody all the colors, textures, and flavors of fall.

A touch of butter and maple syrup is all it takes to turn this dish into a masterpiece (or you can add optional fresh ginger and pecans to really gild the lily). Anti-oxidants, minerals, and true fall taste: Maple-Roasted Acorn Squash has it all.


2 acorn squash
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (use vegan margarine)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons maple syrup
3 teaspoons minced fresh ginger (optional)
4 tablespoons chopped pecans (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Slice a thin piece off both ends of the squash, including the stem. Cut the squash in half crosswise (perpendicular to the ribs). Scoop out the seeds with a sturdy spoon.

2. Line a pan in which the squash can fit snugly with foil or parchment paper. If you use foil, rub with butter to prevent squash from sticking.

3. Set the squash halves in the prepared baking pan and smear the flesh with the softened butter. Sprinkle with the salt. Drizzle maple syrup over the cut edge of the squash and into the cavity (most of the liquid will pool there) and sprinkle with the ginger, if using.

4. Roast the squash halves until nicely browned and very tender when pierced with a fork, about 1 hour and 15 minutes for a small to medium squash (larger squash may take longer); add the pecans, if using, for the last 10 minutes of cooking. Do not undercook. Serve warm with a spoon.

Serves 4.


Sunday, October 31, 2010

Why Binary Geothermal Electric Generation Makes Sense for South Texas

By Randy Carroll-Bradd

Texas geothermal heat can provide a viable, cost-effective alternative to expanding current coal and nuclear power generation. Solar and wind generation are practical and get a lot of press, but they’re often dismissed as too intermittent for base load electric generation. Geothermal resources are not intermittent and currently provide more electricity, nationwide, than all solar and wind installations combined.

Southern Methodist University’s Geothermal Lab has studied the geology of Texas since the 1970s and identified the local potential lying between the coast and I-35, using binary technology, a workable, low-cost solution available today. Using binary systems, the geothermal resource does not need to be as hot as that around the Pacific Rim. Deep source hot water or low-temperature steam (190-300 degrees F) goes through a heat exchanger to vaporize a refrigerant, similar to that used in your air conditioner, which expands and drives a turbine. The working fluid is then radiator or water-cooled into a liquid again, while the cooled well water is re-injected into the geothermal reservoir. The two fluid streams are separate and never mingle.

Binary units take much less space than coal or nuclear plants, require no fuel to mine or buy, emit no toxic or greenhouse gases, consume no water, have no security issues, and no waste to dispose. They run outdoors, unattended, and are so reliable they have the best uptime percentage of any power source: at 98%, easily beating both coal and nuclear.

Geothermal equipment manufacturers have built power plants around the world, some for over 40 years. Binary generators are typically very similar to industrial AC chiller units, allowing economies of scale since chillers are mass-produced and readily available. ln fact, they are so similar, the number of parts required to convert a United Technologies (Carrier) chiller into a geothermal generator is extremely small- 13 geothermal parts replaced or added to 171 original chiller parts.

A single, binary geothermal unit fits easily on a truck trailer and generates about 250 kW so power plants consist of generator arrays, sized by the available heat source reservoir and desired electrical output. Because of these constraints, geothermal arrays vary in size and location, creating a distributed, decentralized supply. Unlike large centralized plants, they’re immune to the catastrophic breakdowns experienced last summer at CPS Energy coaland gas-fired units.

An equivalent-output geothermal array costs no more than a conventional coal plant and millions less than a nuclear plant. According to a Texas State Energy Conservation Office report, a 1 MW plant costs about $1.5 million, including the big expenses of well exploration, drilling and grid connection.

Fortunately, of Texas’ 600,000+ existing oil and gas wells - producing and not- over 100,000 wells have geothermal resources at depths and temperatures suitable for binary generation:
- All oil and gas wells depth and initial fluid temperature are recorded with the Railroad Commission, greatly reducing exploration costs.
- Since drilling is a large portion of the cost of geothermal generation, the ability to use existing even abandoned wells saves significant site development money.
- Roads and power lines remain in place at all but the oldest wells, so connection-to-grid costs can be mitigated even in relatively remote areas.

The hottest well recorded with the Railroad Commission is 5 10°F @ 23,800 ft., east of Victoria, Texas. In 2004 the U.S. produced over 5xl01° bbl (that's 2, l00,000,000,000,000,000,000 gallons !) of “waste” water along with the oil and gas production, primarily from the Gulf States with temperatures high enough to produce electricity. This hot water could be used to generate power directly, without impacting oil and gas production. Some estimates suggest up to 5000MW of additional power could be generated in Texas alone -- that's more than 10 times the amount of power used by the entire State of Alaska!

So, there’s no reason local geothermal power generation in South Texas couldn’t be developed at significantly reduced cost. All that’s needed is entrepreneurial vision and political will.

Some Geothermal Power Facts
- Direct (non-binary) geothermal energy currently provides more than 2700 megawatts (MW) of electric power to U.S. residents - comparable to 60 million barrels of oil per year, enough for 3.5 million homes. This is only a small fraction of the potential value of geothermal energy in the U.S.
- Geothermal electricity is clean - no fossil fuels are burned. Geothermal electricity produced in the U.S. displaces the emission of 22 million tons of carbon dioxide a year!
- Geothermal electricity is reliable - plants have average system availabilities of 95% or higher, compared to 60-70% for coal and nuclear plants.
- Geothermal electricity is cost-effective - today's cost of geothermal electricity ranges from $0.05 to $0.10 per kilowatt-hour, and technology improvements are steadily lowering that range.
- The average geothermal field uses 1-8 acres per megawatt (MW) versus 5-10 acres per MW for nuclear operations and 19 acres per MW for coal power plants.
- Geothermal electricity is homegrown - it reduces our need for coal and uranium, reduces the trade deficit, and adds jobs to the U.S. economy.

Resources and References
Southern Methodist University Geothermal Department
MIT Evaluation of U.S. Geothermal Potential
Texas State Energy Conservation Office
Pratt & Whitney (binary system manufacturer)
Ormat Technologies (binary system manufacturer)
Sologen (San Antonio geokinetic technology development company)
Greenfire Energy (Geothermal technology utilizing CO2 as well fluid in binary system)

Thanks to Randy Carroll-Bradd for permission to publish this article which was distributed to attendees at the October 27, 2010 meeting of the Texas Green Network. Randy is a sometimes attendee at San Antonio Sustainable Living meetings and an expert in the manufacture of SIPS panels with EH Systems LLC.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Want to feel good about San Antonio progress on sustainable issues? Michael Burke of the San Antonio Clean Tech Forum offers up these encouraging points to consider.

Michael Burke of the San Antonio Clean Tech Forum recently offered this list of interesting signs of sustainability in San Antonio. His list is upbeat, positive and comprehensive.   He gave his kind permission to republish his message here.  He entitled his email "San Antonio, We are not in Kansas anymore".   Be sure to click on the links to learn more about the companies, institutions and products mentioned.  They will amaze.

"San Antonio, We are not in Kansas anymore"
In recent travels to Austin and Houston, I heard numerous comments along the lines, “Wow, I understand San Antonio is on a roll and building significant momentum in the area of Clean Tech and Sustainability.”  So I have decided to prepare a summary list to explain just why they would say that. Here is version one, with much more to come in future weeks.


·The establishment of the UTSA- Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute headed by Les Shephard of the Sandia National Labs is huge. And now with the announcement of $50 million of funding from CPS Energy we are positioned as a potential national leader in clean technology research.

·The decision of Mir Imran (Thomas Edison II and CEO of InCube Ventures) to establish a major presence in our community backed by a new San Antonio $100 million venture fund is also huge. Yes, most of the work will focus on bio-med and medical products, but Mir also has a very strong interest in Clean Technology.


·Hiring Doyle Beneby, a highly qualified CEO at CPS Energy to lead a major transformation of our public power utility sets the stage for continued progressive leadership for our community.  And we have one of the few public power utilities in the nation with a Chief Sustainability Officer – Cris Eugster.

·Wind Power - Electricity generated from the West Texas plains and Texas coastal wind farms makes CPS Energy the largest publicly owned purchaser of wind power in the country. – 710 Megawatts

·Solar – In April 2010,  CPS Energy announced the development of the largest solar pv farm in Texas – The Blue Wing Solar Project. A 14 Megawatt installation of Duke Energy and  Juwi Solar Inc.  A few weeks ago they announced an agreement to partner with Sun Edison for 30 megawatts of solar power. The project also offers the possibility of opening a regional office in San Antonio, collaborating with CPS' research partners on solar research and development, and opening an education center at one of the installations.

·CPS Energy’s STEP program will provide $850 million in funding for energy efficiency projects over the next ten years.

·CPS Energy recently launched one of the first solar feed-in tariff programs in the nation.

·San Antonio enjoys the lowest cost of electric power of the 20 largest cities in the nation

A PUBLIC WATER SUPPLY SYSTEM that also Stands Tall in the Nation

·The San Antonio Water System has been recognized for developing one of the most effective water conservation initiatives in the nation.

·SAWS has constructed the nation’s largest direct recycled water system which to date has reused almost 12 billion gallons of “waste water.”

·Earlier this year, SAWS was recognized with a 2010 Ethics in Business Award presented by The Ecumenical Center for Religion and Health and the UTSA College of Business.

·SAWS is the first large wastewater utility to partner with a private sector company, Ameresco, to actively sell biogas (produced from sewage) in the United States. SAWS ratepayers will receive a royalty on the sale of the gas, estimated at $200,000 a year.


·Mission Verde Center at Cooper Middle School, in the heart of San Antonio, is a revolutionary model to achieve national sustainability goals through Economic Stimulus and green jobs creation; Training/Education and workforce development and sustainability education; and Demonstration/ Validation of energy and water insertion.

·The process of the San Antonio partnership with the Texas A&M university system , UT Austin, UTSA, and SWRI in response to a federal grant of $130 million to demonstrate energy efficiency advancements in homes set the stage for future beneficial collaborations.  We may not win the grant, but the process has been very productive and positive.


Mayor Julian Castro’s Green Jobs Leadership Council, chaired by Larry Zinn, has transitioned into the Mission Verde Foundation initiative. This future non-profit will focus on developing a green economy in San Antonio.


We will feature many in the future, but for now San Antonio’s Cinco Solar stands out. They have constructed the two largest solar hot water installations in the nation: at the Army Residence Community (ARC) in San Antonio and at the Bexar County jail.


·James Madison High School Agriscience Magnet offering has long been a model for urban agricultural education and is one of the largest and most active agricultural programs in Texas.  But their new $23.5 million facility is over the top.  I doubt that there is a more impressive sustainability
initiative of any high school in Texas, if not the nation.


·At 21 years old, UTSA alumnus David A. Gonzales II, UTSA graduate 2008, already has a superb resume to offer to prospective employers. The young inventor was awarded ConocoPhillips' first Energy Prize in October for his Layered Mag Wheel,a revolutionary invention with applications in the auto and wind and industry. Established to recognize and foster creative solutions to the U.S. energy crisis, the ConocoPhillips competition was punctuated by a $100,000 grand prize. David has decided to advance his innovations while living in San Antonio.  You will be hearing much from this young man in the future.


·There is so much more to share with you, and I will do so in the near future.

·Great things are going on at USAA, SWRI, HEB, Valero, Port SA, Rackspace,  the Military Joint Base Operations, and many others.

·A number of impressive Clean Tech start-ups have emerged in San Antonio in the past six months.

·The San Antonio Chamber, the Hispanic Chamber, and the North Chamber have all established Sustainability committees this year.

·And we are most fortunate that our media: SA Express News, SA Business Journal, KLRN –PBS, and Texas Public Radio are doing an excellent job of advancing Sustainability issues. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Meatless Monday Recipe-Autumn Vegetable Tagine

Autumn Vegetable Tagine
Vegan; Serves 6

This recipe shows you how to quick-soak dried chickpeas in a pressure cooker in about 5 minutes—a good technique to know because you can use it with any dried bean. When cooking beans, adding a tablespoon of oil to the pressure cooker minimizes foaming. This dish calls for harissa, a North African chile paste available in Middle Eastern markets and some supermarkets. If you can't find harissa, substitute sriracha sauce and 1/4 tsp. each of ground cumin and ground coriander. To make the tagine gluten free, substitute quinoa for the couscous.
Ingredient List

* 1 cup dried chickpeas, rinsed and drained
* 2 Tbs. olive oil
* 1 small onion, chopped (1 cup)
* 3 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbs.)
* 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed (3 1/2 cups)
* 1 lb. collard greens, coarsely chopped (8 cups)
* 1 lb. plum tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped (2 cups)
* 1 Tbs. harissa
* 1 10-oz. pkg. whole-wheat couscous
* 2 Tbs. chopped cilantro
* Lemon wedges, for garnish


1. Combine chickpeas and 4 cups water in pressure cooker; bring to a boil. Lock lid in place. Bring to high pressure over high heat. Reduce heat, and cook 2 minutes. Release pressure using automatic pressure release, or carefully transfer cooker to sink, and run cool water over rim of lid. Remove lid, tilting away from you to let steam escape. Rinse and drain chickpeas. Set aside.

2. Heat oil in pressure cooker over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté 3 minutes, or until onion is soft. Add chickpeas and 3 cups water. Lock lid in place. Bring to high pressure over high heat. Reduce heat, and cook 15 minutes. Release pressure using automatic pressure release, or transfer cooker to sink, and run cool water over rim of lid. Remove lid, tilting away from you to let steam escape.

3. Stir in squash and collards. Lock lid in place. Bring to high pressure over high heat. Reduce heat, and cook 5 minutes. Release pressure using automatic pressure release, or transfer cooker to sink, and run cool water over rim of lid. Remove lid, tilting away from you to let steam escape. Stir in tomatoes; cover, and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in harissa. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

4. Meanwhile, prepare couscous according to package directions. Fluff with fork. Serve tagine over couscous. Sprinkle with cilantro, and garnish with lemon wedges.
Nutritional Information

Per serving (1 1/3 cups tagine; 3/4 cups couscous): Calories: 414, Protein: 16g, Total fat: 8g, Saturated fat: <1g, Carbs: 74g, Cholesterol: mg, Sodium: 142mg, Fiber: 16g, Sugars: 8g

Found: Vegetarian Times Issue: October 2009

Sunday, October 24, 2010

October Monthly Meeting Topic

On Tuesday, October 26th, the San Antonio Sustainable Living monthly meeting will present another informative program free of charge to the general public. This month, we feature Todd Nava of Soil Management. Soil Management is a professional organic company that specializes in proper application of compost and other soil amendments. Their years of experience in the organic industry is the background for the information they will present on lawn care as we enter the fall season. The trick to having a beautiful landscape depends largely on what you do to your yard in the fall. Just like a bear eats heavily before hibernation, soil needs the correct nutrients just before it goes into the yearly dormant season. Compost is the key for the energy the soil needs for a healthy landscape, water retention, and healthy microbial activity in the spring.

Our regular meetings are the 4th Tuesday of each month (except December), so make a bookmark for these dates on your calendar in advance and check back to this site or the SA Environmental Meetup page for more details on each months' programs. Please attend the next San Antonio Sustainable Living meeting at 7pm on October 26th. The meeting will be held in the usual location in the classroom within Whole Foods Market in the Quarry Shopping Center (Basse @ 281 @ Jones-Maltsberger). There is no admission fee. Hope to see you there.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

SPEEDY WEEDFEED in Austin, Sunday October 24, 2010. Attend and get in the movies (details below)

Here's a message we just received from our friends at Useful Wild Plants

Hi All! It's Speedy Weedfeed time! 
This is the Sunday afternoon short intensive class that Scooter Cheatham teaches on the Edible, Medicinal, and Otherwise Useful Wild Plants of Central Texas. It will be the last class of 2010.

WHEN: Sunday afternoon, October 24, starting at 1:30 p.m. and going until dusk.

COST: $75 per person. Your place in the class is reserved when you pay. You may pay by cash, check, or money order. Make your check out to Lynn Marshall (if it is made out to any other name it will be returned to you for replacement). Mail or bring your tuition to 4700 Loyola Lane, Suite 104, Austin, 78723. That’s at the corner of Manor Road and Loyola Lane. You must be at least 18 to attend.

SPACE IS LIMITED: Space is limited. You need to register in advance.

WHERE: We’ll meet at 1:30 p.m. at the Useful Wild Plants Project office for a short introduction to the class. We will spend the rest of the time in the field. You’ll need a notebook and pen/cil for taking notes (no tape recorders or video cameras allowed, but do bring a still camera if you want). Wear comfortable walking shoes.

WE WILL BE FILMING: Portions of this Speedy Weedfeed will be filmed for a documentary. If you are in the witness protection program, you may want to wear a mask or stand to one side. We won’t ask why you are doing either.

WHAT IS WEEDFEED? In case you are forwarding this to a friend who doesn't know, the Fall and Spring Weedfeeds are Scooter Cheatham's (more about him two paragraphs down) legendary class on the Edible, Medicinal, and Otherwise Useful Wild Plants of Texas. The long class runs for 7 weeks, spring and fall. The Speedy Weedfeed is the condensed version (see next paragraph).

WHAT IS A SPEEDY WEEDFEED? The Speedy Weedfeed is the "bullion cube" version -- lots of plants packed into an afternoon of outdoor fun. We'll go to some interesting locations with plenty o' plants (you've probably noticed that around Austin, that could be just about anywhere you look, including your own back yard, the roadsides, any number of parks, and even some parking lots). We'll look at whatever is where we are -- trees, vines, flowers, understory plants, floating things, stickery things, pretty things, spiny stuff, nuts, fruits, berries, leaves, stems, petals, roots... and talk about their uses -- foods, pharmaceuticals, medicines, domestic goods, and other good and eminently useful stuff. If you haven't done the long Spring or Fall Weedfeed, a Speedy Weedfeed is a good way to "test the
waters," like sticking in a toe before you jump into Barton Springs. And if you have done the long classes, the Speedy is a good refresher.

WHO IS SCOOTER CHEATHAM? He is, among other things, the lead author of 15-volume (three published, the fourth getting close) The Useful Wild Plants of Texas, the Southeastern and Southwestern United States, the Southern Plains, and Northern Mexico. He started teaching Weedfeed in 1974 not long after he founded the Useful Wild Plants Project.

QUESTIONS?” Call Lynn Marshall at 512-928-4441 or email her at or for more information. Please put Weedfeed in the subject line. Visit the UWP website at for information about the Useful Wild Plants Project.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Meatless Monday Recipe-Simple Butternut Squash Soup

Simple Butternut Squash Soup

Vegan; Serves 4

1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 Tbsp. whole peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 cup white wine
5 cups water
2 large onions, diced, with 1/4 cup reserved
3 cups peeled and diced butternut squash
Salt and pepper, to taste
Pinch of nutmeg, to taste
Chopped parsley (optional)

1.) Place the carrot, celery, thyme, peppercorns, bay leaf, white wine, water, and all but 1/4 cup of the onions in a large pot, bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer for 2 to 3 hours. Strain the soup, discard the pulp, and return the liquid to the pot.

2.) Add the squash and remaining onion to the pot and cook over medium heat until the squash is tender.

3.) Transfer the squash, onion, and one cup of the liquid (reserving the remaining liquid in a separate container) to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

4.) Pour the purée back into the pot and add some of the reserved liquid, stirring to achieve the desired consistency. Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle with parsley, if desired.

Found: (PETA)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Is the Texas Department of Transportation making ugly the Texas Highways that Lady Bird Johnson sought to beautify? Dr. Royce Keilers says yes they are!

by Dr. Royce Keilers (Republished by permission of Show Daily Magazine,the comprehensive guide to the twice annual Antique Week in and around Warrenton, Texas.)

In the 1960s, Lady Bird Johnson reportedly said to John Connally, as they sat in their car under one of the giant live oak trees on the highway, that the beauty of State Highway 159 in Fayette County should never be destroyed. Her opinion was that Highway 159 is one of the most beautiful roads in Texas. One passing of TXDoT’s broadcast of poison has changed all that. Brown ugly limbs and swaths of dead grasses are now seen along many Texas highways.

Poisoning the beautiful highways throughout the state of Texas is leaving an ugly scar on our landscape. In the name of economy, TXDoT trucks are spraying thousands of gallons of herbicide, killing and disfiguring beautiful trees, vines, and shrubs. The poison affects grapes, dewberries, and other edibles that both humans and wildlife ingest. The wildflowers, of which we Texans are duly proud and which attract thousands of visitors annually, can be killed by spray drift. Clusters of dead birds and fish have been found in sprayed roadside areas.

TxDot claims that they cannot afford to spend funds on trimming. They further claim that esthetics must be sacrificeds because all TxDoT money is needed for paving. TxDoT claims that it costs thousands of dollars per mile to trim trees versus one hundred per mile to spray.  It is hard to imagine that trimming is ten times costlier than spraying. One cannot help wondering whether this cost comparison includes the funds for specialized spraying equipment, on-going training, worker turnover, quality control oversight, and other hidden costs.

There is the matter of motorist safety. It has been stated that spraying is necessary in order to give a clear view of highway signs. However, the decay of sprayed obstructing branches requires years, and one can’t read the sign through dead limbs. The danger of limited visibility could be corrected immediately by a few minutes-or even seconds-of trimming. Should we wait years for the ugly dead branches to fall off-or be blown onto passing cars during a windstorm-before that sign warning of dangerous curves can be seen by the approaching motorist?

The chemical in question, aminopyralid, was banned in England after malformed vegetables grew from fields fertilized with the manure of cattle that had eaten grass from sprayed areas. Birds, rabbits, and other small animals use fence-line growth as homes and as covers to protect from predators. Organic farmers cannot grow chemical-free crops if runoff from roadways contaminates their fields, which may be rendered unusable for years. Rain from sprayed ditches runs onto our fields and pastures and into farm ponds. If this poison can deform vegetables, what could happen to our fish, frogs, and their affected food sources? This poisoning must be stopped before the damage done is irreparable.

The EPA says that this chemical is safe; however, in the past they also stated that many other poisons were safe. Despite aminopyralid’s current designation as a “green” chemical, in years to come it may be found to have caused problems unimagined at this time. Remember DDT? Chlordane? Agent Orange? An award-winning website,, posts the following quote: “lf something is easy, it will usually have detrimental consequences .... So, my advice is to not use any poison at all as it will not only cause future ill effect on your soil and plant life but, also for you and your community.”

Herbicides used in a responsible manner can be beneficial to mankind in the proper circumstances, but irresponsible blanket spraying with thousands of gallons of this poison, as currently utilized by TXDOT, is harming Texas. It affects Texans, our wildlife, our vegetation, and ultimately those tourists that we hope to attract to beautiful rural Texas. Who want to look at dead roadsides?

Public opinion must prevail in making this issue known, by Texans and our visitors alike. Only by negative publicity and pressure on our elected officials can we stop this atrocity by TXDoT. Remember, this agency follows the directions of our state and local governments. We need the public to help spread the message and to influence your officials. Timing is critical, as poisoning continues even now! 

(Dr. Royce Keilers  a nationally known leader among osteopathic physicians has been advocating for the health and well being of Texans for many decades.)

Show Daily Magazine serves as a four color guide to the unbelievable number of antique related activities that take place in the vicinity of Warrenton and Round Top, Texas during the twice annual Antique Week.  It is an indispensable guide to the show. Many thanks to them for allowing us to republish Dr. Keilers' article and to make it available to an audience beyond Antique Week.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Meatless Monday Recipe-Spinach-Zucchini Soup

Spinach-Zucchini Soup
Vegan; Gluten Free; 30 minutes or fewer
Serves 6

Ingredient List

* 1 1/2 Tbs. olive oil
* 1 large onion, diced (2 cups)
* 1 medium zucchini, cut into 3/4-inch pieces (2 cups)
* 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
* 1 1/2 cups cooked white beans, such as cannellini, or 1 15-oz. can white beans, rinsed and drained
* 4 cups baby spinach (4 oz.)
* 2 Tbs. lemon juice
* 2 tsp. grated lemon zest
* 4 tsp. finely chopped mint leaves


Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté onion 3 to 5 minutes, or until translucent. Add zucchini, and cook 8 minutes more, or until vegetables are well browned. Add vegetable broth and 2 cups water, and bring to a boil. Stir in beans and spinach, and return to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 5 minutes, or until spinach is wilted. Stir in lemon juice, zest, and mint. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
Nutritional Information

Per 1-cup serving: Calories: 133, Protein: 6g, Total fat: 4g, Saturated fat: <1g, Carbs: 21g, Cholesterol: mg, Sodium: 189mg, Fiber: 6g, Sugars: 4g

Found: Vegetarian Times- September 2009

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Compressed Earth Block Workshop

Probably the greenest construction one could choose would be earthen construction, adobe, cob, pise, rammed earth, and compressed earth block (CEB). In November, Jim Hallock and Tierra y Cal return to San Antonio to offer their CEB workshop along with arguably the premier CEB machine maker in the world, our very own Laurence Jetter of AECT (Advanced Earthen Construction Technology). This series of instruction offered by an outstanding earthen construction crew, Tierra y Cal and AECT in compressed earthen block design and construction is the best instruction you can get on CEB and finishing plasters for many months and for hundreds of miles. If you are interested in a great, natural, and durable construction technique using pure earth, you are not going to want to miss this opportunity. Thursday, November 11th through Saturday, November 13th. Cost of the workshop is $350. Find all the detailed information you need on this link to a pdf from Tierra y Cal and while you are there, you can find all the ways you can register for the workshop either online or by mail.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Meatless Monday Recipe-Chickpea Salad Romaine Wraps

Chickpea Salad Romaine Wraps

Makes 4 servings; Vegan
11/2 cups cooked or canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup finely chopped or grated carrot
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
3 green onions, chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons fat-free or low-fat vegan mayonnaise
1 tablespoon stone-ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 large romaine lettuce leaves
1 medium tomato, sliced, or 6 to 8 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1. Coarsely mash the beans with a fork or potato masher, leaving some chunks. Add the carrot, celery, green onions, vegan mayonnaise, mustard, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
2. Place about one-quarter of the mixture on each lettuce leaf. Add one-quarter of the tomato, roll the lettuce around the filling, and serve.
NOTE: Stored in a covered container in the refrigerator, leftover Chickpea Salad Romaine Wrap filling (without the lettuce and tomato) will keep for up to 3 days.
Chickpea Salad Sandwich: Spread one-third of the chickpea mixture on whole-grain bread. Top with the tomato slices, lettuce leaves, and another slice of bread. Makes 3 sandwiches.
Chickpea Salad Pockets: Stuff one-quarter of the chickpea mixture into a pita pocket. Add chopped cucumber, tomato slices, and shredded lettuce. Makes 4 pockets.
Nutrition Information
Per serving (1/4 recipe): 163 calories; 4 g fat; 0.5 g sat. fat; 22% calories from fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 25.6 g carbohydrate; 6.5 g fiber; 3.5 g sugar; 8 g protein; 15.2 mg vitamin C
2555 mcg beta-carotene; 1.2 mg vitamin E; 72 mg calcium; 2.9 mg iron; 525 mg sodium
Recipe from The Cancer Survivor's Guide

Friday, October 1, 2010

Meatless Monday Recipe-Honey Jalapeno Fettuccine with Mixed Vegetable-Tomato Sauce

Honey Jalapeno Fettuccine with Mixed Vegetable-Tomato Sauce
Serves 4; 30 minutes; Vegetarian
So I was talking about this at the Sustainable Meeting, the other night and some said I should post this recipe as this weeks Meatless Monday Recipe. What is great about it, is use what veggies you happen to have on hand. I found the pasta through Shayne Sauce (they have a store opening this weekend in the Artisan Alley on Bitters). It cooks very well, fast, and is fresh, plus it is made in San Antonio.
1 12oz. package Honey Jalapeno Fettuccine
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 portobello mushroom, diced
1 small zucchini, chopped
1 small yellow squash, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 sweet onion, diced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cans 8 oz. tomato sauce (I use Contadina, since it is plain and I can jazz it up for my taste.)
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1 pinch of rosemary
1/2 teaspoon sugar (to cut the acidity of the tomato sauce)
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain pasta and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet heat the olive oil. Saute the garlic and onion, until the onion becomes transparent. Add the yellow bell pepper, stirring frequently 2 to 3 minutes. Next, add the mushroom, continuing to stir frequently for 3 to 4 minutes or until tender. Add the squash and zucchini, stirring for another 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the tomato sauce. (TIP: start with a 1/4 sugar until you find what measurement you find tasty.) Add the basil, oregano, rosemary and Italian seasonings. (TIP: again use measurements to fit your taste.)
3. Add pasta and sauce in a bowl. Toss to coat. Serve warm.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Meatless Monday Recipe-Vegetable Paella with Tofu

Vegetable Paella with Tofu

Ingredient List

Serves 6
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 7-oz. pkgs. spicy marinated tofu, finely diced
  • 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 large carrots, diced (1 cup)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1 14-oz. can chopped tomatoes, drained
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (4 tsp.)
  • 1 cup short-grain brown rice
  • 1/8 tsp. saffron, crumbled
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced, for garnish


1. Heat oil in wok over medium-high heat. Add tofu when ripples appear in oil, and season with salt. Sauté 10 minutes, or until tofu is browned, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms, and sauté 4 to 5 minutes, or until mushrooms release liquid and begin to brown.
2. Stir in carrots, corn, tomatoes, and garlic, and sauté 2 minutes more. Stir in rice, 2 1/4 cups water, and saffron. Bring paella to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover with wok lid, and simmer 40 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed. Add peas on surface (do not stir yet), cover, and allow peas to steam 1 to 2 minutes. Remove wok from heat, and stir in lemon juice and green onions. Season with salt and pepper.

Nutritional Information

Per : Calories: 375, Protein: 22g, Total fat: 12.5g, Saturated fat: 2g, Carbs: 45g, Cholesterol: mg, Sodium: 569mg, Fiber: 6g, Sugars: 5g

Found: Vegetarian Times September 2008

Sunday, September 19, 2010

October 21 - 22, 2010 Transporation Electrification conference features exhibit hall open to the public free of charge

Thursday October 21 and Friday October 22, 2010 the exhibit hall of the Electrification of Transportation Conference will be open to the public free of charge. 

The latest electric vehicles, chargers and other EV related items will be on display from 4 to 8 pm on Thursday and 9 am to 2 pm on Friday at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio.

Registration for the conference, October 22, 2010 from 8:30 to 4:30 is only $25.

Here is the full press release:

Advancing Transportation Choices and Economic Development

On October 21-22, 2010, the Alamo Area Council of Governments Clean Cities Coalition, in partnership with the City of San Antonio and Bexar County, will conduct the first ever Advancing the Choice event on electrified transportation. The title of this year’s event is: Electrification of Transportation: Advancing Transportation Choices and Economic Development.

This event is being held to continue the steps towards building a region-wide alternative fuel infrastructure. By developing alternative fuel infrastructure we will create greater Texas energy security, job creation, and improvements in air quality. To maintain the momentum from previous years, this conference will educate local governments, utilities, businesses, the media, and the general public on the benefits of electrified transportation. With fuel prices back on the rise it is important that we demonstrate the potential cost savings of these new technologies to vehicle fleets and general public in the Alamo Area.

The event will provide attendees with a comprehensive overview of the following topics:

    * Economic, environmental and energy security drivers shifting the market’s move to electrified transportation
    * Which fleets are best candidates for successful electrified transportation programs
    * Information on rebates, tax credits, and grant programs for electric vehicles
    * Expected growth in electrification of transportation and related economic development opportunities
    * Overview of electric vehicles and electric vehicle supply equipment
    * Overview of electrified transit, bikes, personal vehicles, and fleet vehicles
    * Large exhibit hall to view the newest electric vehicles on the market!
    * Electrification of transportation update throughout the Texas cities

Record-high gas and diesel prices are compelling businesses and organizations to explore how to rein in fuel costs.  Besides saving green, many companies are also interested in driving green.  Alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs) fill the bill on both counts.  Utilizing electric transportation promotes energy security by reducing our nation’s dependence on foreign oil.  Electric vehicles are domestically abundant and are becoming commercially available at a growing number of areas throughout the country.

Electrification of Transportation is a two-day, interactive event that provides a comprehensive overview on the economic, environmental and energy security rationale for using electrified transportation.  Available vehicles, funding opportunities, success stories and fuel station development will also be addressed. The event includes lunch and light refreshments, written materials and a large exhibit hall full of electric vehicles. The event is located in downtown San Antonio on the beautiful River Walk at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Meatless Monday Recipe-Farfalle with Tomato-Goat Cheese Sauce

Farfalle with Tomato-Goat Cheese Sauce
Serves 6; 30 minutes or fewer
Mild goat cheese lends a sophisticated tang to this creamy, orange-hued sauce. Tossed with tiny green peas, toasted pine nuts, and festive bow ties (it's fabulous with fettuccine and gnocchi too), the resulting dish is wonderfully easy and original. If your not a fan of goat cheese, try the recipe with Boson or low-fat cream cheese. You can also add a grating of Parmesan cheese before serving, if desired.
Now, I used an organic Cheddar cheese and hemp milk for the half-and-half, and the recipe came out so yummy! (for lack of a better word.) To make the recipe vegan, switch the dairy cheese for a non-dairy cheese and use the "creamy" hemp milk. Happy Eating!
12 oz. farfalle pasta (I used whatever pasta I had on hand)
1 cup frozen petite peas
2 Tbs. pine nuts
1/2 Tbs. olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced (1 Tbs.)
1 1/4 cups prepared creamy tomato soup (I used 2 small canned "plain" tomato sauce)
1/4 cup non-fat or regular half-and-half
1 Tbs. dry white wine (optional)
3 oz. creamy mild goat cheese (6 Tbs.)
If using tomato sauce and hemp milk add 2 teaspoons of flour to help thicken the sauce
1. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water according to the package directions until al dente, adding peas during the last three minutes of cooking. Drain in a colander, and set aside. Quickly return empty pot to same burner (with the heat off). Wait a few seconds until pot looks dry, then add pine nuts. Cook over medium heat 1 minute, or until lightly fragrant and lightly toasted. Transfer nuts to plate.
2. Add oil to a pot, and saute garlic over medium heat for 15 seconds, or until just beginning to brow. Stir in soup, half-and-half and wine, if using; bring to a brisk simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer gently 3 minutes, or until mixture is slightly reduced and begins to thicken, stirring occasionally. (If using hemp milk- add 2 teaspoons of flour to sauce to help thicken. I sifted the flour, so the sauce wouldn't be clumpy.) Add cheese, and cook 2 to 3 minutes more, or until the cheese is completely melted into sauce, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
3. Stir pasta, peas, pine nuts into sauce; toss well, and serve.
Per 1 cup serving: 341 cal.; 11 grams prot.; 7 grams total fat (3 grams sat. fat); 57 grams carb.; 7 mg chol.; 283 mg sod.; 3 grams fiber; 4 grams sugars
Found: Vegetarian Times October 2010

Friday, September 10, 2010

"History will revere this kind of project" says Sologen Systems president. Moving forward to produce clean, less costly electrical power from certain abandoned natural gas wells.

In April 2010 we published a cryptic but popular article on Sologen Systems LLC"s plans to develop power from the heat and pressure found at the bottom of certain abandoned natural gas wells.   Although at the time Sologen's president, Frank Smith did talk to local groups and investors his company did not seek to hype the project though a typical public relations blitz. 

Our article hinted at the potential of the project but gave few details due to Mr. Smith's own restraint in avoiding splashy comments.  While the company still doesn't seem to be engaged in a major public information campaign, on September 7, 2010  Sologen's partner Green Well Power did issue a press release concerning a new agreement with Sologen.  This press release features Frank Smith's most expansive published statement on the potential of the project to date.

His statement on the potential place of the work in history is the sort of thing that seemed apparent as we listened to him in April but since he was not saying such things to the wider public at the time, our article remained circumspect.

Green Well Power's press release also goes into more detail about the project.  It explains that the project will include the harvesting of methane and the re-injection of water into ground formations as well as the harvesting of energy geo pressure and heat.  Our earlier article stated that the wells were in excess of 10,000 feet deep while this release specifies that the wells in question are at least 14,000 feet deep.

If this project works out it really may be seen as a pivotal one in movement toward truly renewable energy production.

Here is the release
Vancouver, Canada, 7 September 2010: Green Well Renewable Power Corp, (GWP) is pleased to report that it has agreed to a non exclusive license for its Total Flow Energy Conversion Technology (TFEC) by San Antonio based Sologen Systems LLC. Terms of the agreement require Sologen to undertake and complete the engineering,construction and testing of the commercial scale technology. In addition, Sologen will provide GreenWell with a 20% Net Profits interest in all projects where the technology is deployed.

Sologen Systems is engaged in the development of geopressured/geothermal (GPGR) energy resources found, in deep aquifers along the onshore US Gulf Coast. GPGR reservoirs are essentially subsurface reservoirs (+- 14,000 ft) containing hot pressurized brine saturated with dissolved methane (natural gas). Importantly, they contain three forms of energy:

(1) Chemical: methane gas dissolved in brine. Once separated from the brine it is then combusted to produce electricity in a gas turbine;
(2) Thermal: hot brines with temperatures reaching 350F can be used to produce electricity using proven Organic Rankine Cycle technology;
(3) Mechanical: high brine flow rates (over 20,000 barrels per day) and high wellhead pressures can be used to power GreenWell’s own TFEC technology to generate electricity.
Sologen plans to acquire and re-engineer wellbores in Texas where all three forms of energy can be harnessed. A U.S. Department of Energy Study confirmed that the recoverable energy potential of a GPGR well, based on flow rates of 20,000 bbls/day, are as follows: Chemical (2 Mw), Thermal (1 Mw) and Mechanical (500 Kw) ( approximate value: $250,000 per month). Once the energy has been extracted the water is re-injected into a lower pressure rock formation in the earth. Sologen expects to commission their first project in Q2, 2011.

Mr. Frank Smith, President of Sologen Systems LLC comments: “Sologen Systems is thrilled by this opportunity to take the Total Flow Energy Conversion Technology from prototype to commercial deployment. . The potential to generate megawatts of baseload renewable power from end-of-life wells along the U.S. Gulf Coast and elsewhere is immense. I believe history will revere this kind of project as a pivotal stepping stone on the path to a truly renewable energy driven society.”

Sologen systems LLC, headquartered in San Antonio, Texas was organized in 2008 to finance and develop solar, geothermal and geopressured energy resources in order to produce and sell clean, green electricity. For more information contact Frank Smith at 210-544-5452 or visit

GreenWell Renewable Power is a leading-edge alternative energy developer that is pioneering the production of electricity from depleted or end-of-life oil and gas wells. For more information contact Malcolm Bell at 604.921.2510 or Robert Young at 604.682.5123 or visit

On Behalf of the Board
Green Well Renewable Power Corp

J. Malcolm Bell, President and Director

Meatless Monday Recipe-Paprika Cauliflower Pita Pockets

Paprika Cauliflower Pita Pockets

Serves 4

  • 1 head cauliflower (2 lb.), cut into bite-size florets
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1 small red onion, diced (1 cup)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 4 pita bread rounds, halved and warmed


  1. Steam cauliflower 7 to 9 minutes, or until tender.
  2. Heat oil, paprika, pepper, and salt in nonstick skillet over medium-low heat, 2 minutes, or until fragrant, stirring constantly. Add onion and garlic, and sauté 2 minutes more. Stir in broth and cauliflower, and simmer 3 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in lemon juice. Serve with pita halves.

Per SERVING: Calories: 318, Protein: 9g, Total fat: 11.5g, Saturated fat: 1.5g, Carbs: 46g, Cholesterol: mg, Sodium: 663mg, Fiber: 6g, Sugars: 6g

Found: Vegetarian Times- September 2007