City Planning Community Resources Uncategorized

Envision your Future

This past Saturday, May 18, I attended a new annual event in Frederick County, Maryland.

Envision Essentials is a 4 part public workshop from Envision Frederick County. Each of the programs presents how we are impacted by decisions about how our cities and towns are organized and shines a light on how those decisions are made. The one day programs are fun, informative, with lunch included in the fee.

Saturday May 18, 2019 all the folks attending the first program of Envision Essentials’ 4 part workshop series. Thorpewood Lodge.

The place you live and everything you love about it, someone had a plan for some or all of it; someone had a hand in creating it.

Today that someone is you.

Where I live, Woodsboro, Maryland, a delightful, tiny town, had to start sometime, beginning with the path, the trail, then the road. At some point someone decided that the location was right for houses and industry. Here it’s farming and limestone quarries.

Over the decades and centuries houses increased, nested into the natural landscape on hills or buffered from the weather by hills. At every stage choices were made according to desires and needs.

Envision Essentials, workshops for the community

Planning serves the same purpose today, to fill our needs, yours and mine and our children. Every town, city, county and state has guidelines and enforceable rules for private and public property and utilities. Each of us, including you, can add your voice to the decisions that affect us all every day.

We have tools of government which may sound dull and be a yawn in party conversation; Planning and zoning, Appeals Process, Comprehensive-Documentation-of-Everything.

But they are not dull. They are tools of action that bring us Clean Water, Efficient Road Systems, Green Spaces in our Urban Landscape.

Envision Essentials aims to give you the opportunity to learn how these things work in Frederick County, MD, and how you fit into the decision process.

The Players

  • Your Elected Officials
  • Government Office Staff

These people are your friends, neighbors, colleagues, and family. Envision Essentials’ first program introduced us to people who do some of this work, who go to work everyday just like you and me and try to make a difference in our lives.

This summer of 2019 you can attend 3 more programs showcasing locations around Frederick County, MD.

  • Saturday, June 15 Local Non-Profit Organizations & Advocacy Training, Bar-T Mountainside
  • Saturday, June 29, Environmental Issues in Frederick County, Middletown Valley
  • Saturday, July 20, Local Government Elected Officials, City Hall and Downtown Frederick

Sign up on the Envision Essentials page.

Someone planned the life you are living now.

Conditions will change.

Today that someone is all of us.

Sign up.


Sustenance, CSA Cooking, a Weekly (or bi-weekly) Dish – June 13 & 20, 2018

One of the things I love best about a CSA (Community Sustained Agriculture, which we buy through Pleasant Hill Produce) membership is that no matter how discombobulated the tasks of life become, my basic weekly groceries are there waiting for me.  Beyond picking them up my only commitment is to the fun of the weekly produce puzzle—what’ll I make with this?  So to catch up with the last couple of weeks of veggies here are some fun things we found to make.

CSA - a weekly small share. Veggies, fruit and eggs.
First, a glimpse of a weekly small share.  Veggies, fruit and eggs.

Pickled Eggs and beets
Pickled Eggs and beets

Nothing goes with kale like kale!

Ok, so a note about kale.  It’s strong, it’s bold, it’s nutritious, and when you have it you have a lot of it.  Just run with it—and by that I mean run with it right through your spice cabinet and with oodles of garlic.  If you find a dish that you particularly like, see if it freezes well.

Salad with kale, chard, fresh lettuce, radishes, apples—all from the CSA
Salad with kale, chard, fresh lettuce, radishes, apples—all from the CSA share.  Embellish with other good stuff on hand—Pine Nuts, sunflower seeds, dried fruit.  Any favorite homemade dressing.

Kohlrabi thin sliced and marinated in oil and vinegar. Kale and any other greens, sauteed
Kohlrabi thin sliced and marinated in oil and vinegar.  Kale and any other greens, sauteed with lots of garlic and oil.  Cook long enough to really mellow the kale flavor.  Good flavors are sesame, honey (with the vinegar marinade) rice wine vinegar.  Lots of garlic; salt and pepper to taste.  Combine the cooked kale with the raw, marinated kohlrabi.

Stir fry base of greens—kale, spinach, chard, beets....
Stir fry base of greens—kale, spinach, chard, beets….  Cook it down till it is nice and soft and has all or most of the raw kale taste mellowed.  Most any cooking oil that you like will do, though greens are especially good with vinegar flavors so I tend toward a zippy Thai peanut sauce with rice wine vinegar.

Broccoli, carrots, peppers added to greens and cooked tender-crisp with steaming from moisture in the greens.  Add any protein you like—shrimp, raw or leftover chicken, Thai peanut sauce.

Kale and Cheese Puff Pastry

Preheat the oven to 400°.  Assemble one box of frozen puff pastry dough, board & rolling pin, grater for cheese, cookie sheet for baking, greens, garlic/other spices, cheese, Dijon mustard.

Other stuff that might come in handy, pastry brush if you want to add an egg wash to the top of pastry before baking.

Rolled out puff pastry
Thaw puff pastry in the refrigerator according to directions on the box.  Roll out on lightly floured board.  Transfer to the cookie sheet and roll the other sheet of dough.

Coat the pastry with 1 - 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard. Have ready sauteed greens. Kale should be really well cooked to soften the flavor and the texture.
Coat the pastry with 1 – 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard.  Have ready sauteed greens.  Kale should be really well cooked to soften the flavor and the texture.

Grate a cup or more of a flavorful cheese.
Grate a cup or more of a flavorful cheese.  In this part you have lots of room for making it how you like it.  I like a combo of cheddar, Parmesan, and when I have it any other soft-ish cheese for better melting.  If I turned this into a ham & cheese & greens tart then Swiss or other mild but rich flavor works to offset the saltiness of the ham.

Spread the cooked kale/other greens on the mustard-spread pastry dough.
Spread the cooked kale/other greens on the mustard-spread pastry dough.

Spread the cheese over the greens.
Spread the cheese over the greens.

Put the other sheet of puff pastry dough on top, pinching the edges together. Cut a few slits in the top for steam to escape in the oven. Bake in a PREHEATED oven at 400° for 20 - 25 min.
Put the other sheet of puff pastry dough on top, pinching the edges together.  Cut a few slits in the top for steam to escape in the oven.  Brush on an egg wash and put in the fridge for about 20min. (this is a good time to preheat the oven if you have not already done so).  Bake in a PREHEATED oven at 400° for 20 – 25 min.

Finished Kale and Puff Pastry.
Finished Kale and Cheese Puff Pastry

Slice as an appetizer or side dish.
Slice as an appetizer or side dish.


No Bees No Pie!

No Bees No Pie is available as an 18″ x 24″ poster. Maybe you know a teacher who could use a fun, informative display for their classroom.
Click on the image to puchase.


March for Our Lives attends Boulder, Colorado Public Hearing on an Assault Weapons and Ammunition Ban

Friend of Tiny Planet, Janet Salmons, wears her Tiny Planet, Big Dreams, Room for All tee shirt to activist events in Colorado and New Mexico. From Events spring 2018:

March for Our Lives in Albuquerque
March for Our Lives in Albuquerque

Janet’s story of speaking at the Boulder City Council Meeting 04/04/18:
“Boulder is considering an assault weapons and ammunition ban. Just happens gun violence is one of the causes our church has been active with this year. When I saw that there would be an public hearing, I couldn’t help but remember what we heard in one of the meetings: even if you think your elected reps will vote as you want them to, you need to show up because the other side is always there.
So I prepared some comments and away we went. It was terrifying! The hearing room, downstairs room, and library were full of people there for the hearing. The place was full of NRA people– they were handing out hats and talking points.  They didn’t look like people we’d see in Boulder! I know I live in a bubble, but seriously! It was uncomfortable being in a room with so many of them– just a few women in their camp. (The tight t-shirt babe types…) The Mayor said, by law they have to allow people in who have concealed carry permits, but please keep guns concealed. Lots of cops! I was sure glad to see them! Testimony did include a number of kids, middle school and high school age, and Moms Demand Gunsense (our group works with them too.) Someone talked about being at Virginia Tech. Another about a sister who was killed at Sandy Hook. I was speaker 72– and there were 149 signed up to speak!
After we were done, we headed right out– get out before it ends, before some crazies follow us to our car! Just outside the door someone called to us and I about jumped out of my skin! She was from the Faith Communities United Against Gun Violence group as well and wanted to introduce herself. Whew!
I couldn’t help but think about those Parkland kids who were brave enough to stand up and speak. In Trumplandia its no small feat. And speaking of courage, the City Council unanimously voted to move the ban to the next stage. One step at a time…”

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.

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.