Sustenance, CSA Cooking, a Weekly Dish – June 6, 2018

One of the best, simple things you can do to make a small practical change is to try a CSA (Community Sustained Agriculture) at least for one season. It may seem a little out of reach for budgeting but there are aspects that make it pay off in the long run—really fresh, healthful food means better long term health; focus on your weekly food planning; learning to waste less food. If able to incorporate the weekly pickup into your routine, rewards will follow. This post may be preaching to the choir for seasoned CSA folks but for those readers who have not tried this food resource I am sharing the benefits for my family. Our CSA is Pleasant Hill Produce in Frederick County, MD.

A caveat of using a CSA for weekly fresh fruit and vegetables is that you will get the most out of it by blending the bounty with a bit of what is in your pantry and supplemental groceries. Some weeks you supplement a little more, some a little less. The advantage of the CSA investment includes, but is not limited to:

Receiving a base of food for the week helps with planning and being a flexible cook.

Some items will be old favorites which you can use for tried and true meals. Some items will be new to you and present the opportunity for new delights.

Overall, having a surprise set of foods to plan around helps me hone my food economy skills. First round of scraps become vegetable broth, second round and whatever remains after the broth making go into the compost.

Pulling together a meal often means that I go to my pantry and check for a pasta, potatoes or rice. If something is working for one or two side dishes I check the fridge & freezer for a protein and go from there.

This week I was so distracted by the euphoria of seeing another box of fresh, prefect strawberries I forgot to photograph the whole bag of loot. But I did manage to come up with something new. A vegan lasagna using the kale and spinach from the CSA along with a superlative cauliflower sauce, zucchini, vegan mozzarella (happened to have in the fridge waiting for the right moment), lots of dried Italian seasoning, more basil and parsley, and the leftover half box of lasagna noodles. It is baked in a fairly shallow pan.

Vegan lasagna with traditional pasta, thin sliced zucchini; chopped and sautéed kale spinach onions; cauliflower sauce, vegan mozzarella, Italian seasoning, basil, parsel salt and pepper to taste.
Vegan lasagna with traditional pasta (1/2 lb., cooked al dente), thin sliced zucchini (raw); chopped and sautéed kale spinach onions; cauliflower sauce, vegan mozzarella, Italian seasoning, basil, parsley, salt and pepper to taste.
Assemble in layers, ending with a coating of sauce. This batch is fairly thin, 3 layers of pasta and 2 veggie layers with the vegan moz rough cut and spread around. Bake at 350° for about 45 min. I’s done when the the inside is a bit bubbly and the top is showing a little crunch.

This turned out to be a really delicious dish and the key feature is the cauliflower sauce. Here’s what I do: You need a deep sauce pot (3 – 4 qt) with a lid that will keep the steam in for all of the cooking time. Chop an onion and simmer in a couple of tablespoons (or more) olive oil for a few minutes, it just needs to get translucent. Cut up a head of cauliflower, just to floret size. I use all but the very end of the stem and I adjust the water in the end, after cooking, to get the thickness I want. Add florets to the onions with a bit of water to get some steam going. Cover and steam for five – ten minutes. Then add about 1-1/2 cups water, bring up to a boil then turn down, cover and lower to a simmer. check in 20 minutes. The cauliflower should be fork tender. Remove from heat and ideally use and immersion blender to turn this into something almost magical. And salt and pepper as you like it. This is flavorful on its own or the base for anything a white sauce is good for. It also freezes beautifully.

A few follow up dishes from last week

IJasmine rice using some leftover veggie broth for liquid,
steamed chopped kale, chard and some large outside leaves leftover from making coleslaw.
Resulting in a side dish with lots of garlic,
some rice vinegar and herbs.
Starting with 3 rice cooker cups of rice, a
big handful of kale and the bunch
of chard from the CSA, and some onions
resulted in about 6-7 cups of a fabulous,
high nutrient side dish.
Some went into the cabbage for rolls.
Some under baked pork chops instead of stuffing.
Or under roasted salmon, really nice with the rice vinegar flavoring.

Recycle like you mean it, Everyday successful Reduce Reuse Recycle Tactics.

Is there really anything better that feeling as though your house is in order? Your home, town, country, planet.

The everyday experience of dealing with your stuff, if you are a typical American consumer of electronics, toiletries, and packaged goods, is that you have a weekly average amount of many recyclables; yearly you may have one, two or more electronic items to dispose of. While reducing the packaging in the manufacture pipeline is ideal, our immediate power as consumers is in how we buy and how we dispose of consumables. Taking care of these daily life recyclables is the front line of the effect you have on our world.

I write this as an American, living in Frederick County, Maryland which puts my experience in one of the most resource rich places anywhere. While there is an enormous array of recycling procedures around the country, the system we have here in Frederick is a great model of single stream recycling for the average household. Combine that with local businesses that have added specialty recycle collection to their services, and even made it their business model, it is clear that Frederick County is moving the basic tasks of life toward sustainable living for everyone.

Things that work for our household:

The following work for me and my household but are not endorsements, you need to find what resources work for you.

First step: Your town has trash and recycling pick up; there will be a list of what is recyclable and what can be rejected.
In Frederick, the County Government Website has clearly listed recycle terms and pick up times.

Second step: The effort needed to get specific recyclables to the right processor.
It is pretty easy to take recyclables to the curb for routine pick up. What is not so easy is finding a recycling venue when you need it—specifically, when and where is it practical to drop off your stuff?

So what works here in Frederick County, Md? For me it is having a short list of places that are on my general route for errands around town. And yes I put that list on my fridge on paper. Scrap paper.

Here is a big shout out to two businesses that make it easier for me to recycle everyday items that we all would like to keep out of a landfill. It is pretty challenging to find a convenient “specialized” recycle center for items such as batteries, light bulbs (of various sorts), electronics, toothpaste tubes. The following two businesses are in close proximity and that means combined errands in one trip.


e-End electronics recycling collection event. Photo courtesy of e-End.
e-End electronics recycling collection event. Photo courtesy of e-End.
e-end recycyling

e-End is certified to dispose of electronic waste in an environmentally safe manner—cell phones, laptops, etc. and will also certify that the hard drive has been shredded for secure disposal. Their location at 7118 Geoffrey Way Unit E Frederick, MD 21704 is easy to find and there are no parking problems while you unload your beloved dinosaurs.

Here is a list of items e-End accepts.

Also, look for the e-End “Small Electronics Recycling Drop-off Bin” now available at Common Market.


My Organic Market Recycling Center
My Organic Market Recycling Center. Photo courtesy of MOM’s.

I absolutely love the recycle bins set up at MOM’s. They cover the odd stuff like toothpaste tubes, snack bags, Brita filters. Once a year they have a denim drive. The MOM’s Recycle Center page explains it nicely.

Located at: 5273 Buckeystown Pike Frederick, MD 21703

More Options:

Many other businesses provide recycling of specific items. Common Market, Lowes, Staples to name a few. Tip for Online list’s: These change but once you find one how do you keep track? Keep a list on the fridge of ones that suit you, and yes, you do need to check on them from time to time. Most recyclable recipients post current recycling terms on their company website and a search this website feature; simply type recycling into the Search Box. If there is none call the company, have a conversation with a person.

Need more options? Try an online search for the item you wish to recycle or try Earth911.

Trash Matters.

Lastly, a note about the value of recycling. Do you know that recycling is a multi-billion dollar global industry. At the time of writing this post I have been reading of a growing trend in the global recycle stream which has been building for more than a few years now.

China no longer wants all of our trash.

Because recycled material becomes raw material for new products, that means more manufacturing opportunity here in the USA.
For a really great read about the economics of the global recycling—aka “junkyard”—economy try Junkyard Planet by Adam Minter, Bloomsbury Press; 1 edition (November 12, 2013).

Minter clearly describes the global value of our recyclables, billions annually, and the impact on local environments around the world.
Other countries see our scrap as raw material. A prime buyer of US scrap and recycled material of all sorts has been China. In recent years China has been slowing, perhaps stopping, these purchases. What this will mean for cost of imported goods and manufactured goods in the US time will tell. The real bottom line is that recycling does affect all of us and there will always be a part for you to play.


Sustenance—It’s spring leaning into summer and time to start our CSA pick ups!

Messages about sustenance—social and environmental—on our planet is the point of this website, blog and our Tiny Planet products. In the spirit of daily sustenance here is a look at the first day of our pick up at the Pleasant Hill Produce CSA in Frederick, MD.

Energy Around the World

Tesla Down Under

My husband, mother-in-law and I had a trip to Tasmania over Christmas and New Year 2017-2018.

This was a trip to see family and have a real change of perspective. Seeing another culture, albeit one that is not too different from our own relative to the entire world of cultures, and living life differently for an extended period of time highlights what works or needs a shake up in our own lives.

Australia and the Unites States have first world innovations and desires, environmental impact similarities—present and potential. Get enough humans together and you will have a push-pull for who gets the benefit resources. From my point of view the accessibility of the natural resources was pretty plain. Where else when the sun goes down can you have a backyard full of wallabies?

We also share first world dreams and solutions.


Tiny Planet, Big Dreams, Room for All

The Tiny Planet, Big Dreams, Room for All design was created in 2001 Dorothea Mordan as a family card for December 2001, in response to cultural turmoil. It has since been a motif on packaged greeting cards, teeshirts and sweatshirts. You can get the latest designs and apparel at our online Tiny Planet Storefront.

New designs will be posted here as they become available.