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Archive | Awesome Autumn

Fresh Market: Beets

AWE-Beets

By Vicky Babcock

 

Favored by Aphrodite, these miniature powerhouses deserve a second look. Beets are older than dirt, a pre-historic root vegetable that grew wild along the African coastline and the coastlines of Europe and Asia as well, although at this time only the beet greens were consumed. It is commonly believed that ancient Romans began the practice of eating the root. What we refer to as beets are actually beetroot and both parts of the plant are edible.  The goddess was said to have consumed beetroots to retain her beauty and women used beetroot to color their cheeks. Beetroot was considered an aphrodisiac and was a popular offering to Apollo, god of the sun. The Oracle of Delphi proclaimed beets to be worth their weight in silver and second only to horseradish in mystic potency. Folklore holds that if a man and woman eat from the same beetroot, they will fall in love.

The natural components of beetroot offer a multitude of health benefits. Beets can help improve blood flow, increasing oxygen (and thus, stamina) and lowering blood pressure. Components provide anti-inflammatory properties and studies show a likely use to help ward off cancers. Beets are high in vitamin C, an immune booster, and fiber, potassium (heart, nerve and muscle) and manganese (bones, liver, kidneys and pancreas).  Beets contain the B vitamin folate, which can help reduce the risk of birth defects.  They have been used in detoxification programs and to help purify the blood and liver.

It has been used to color foods such as tomato paste and sauces as well as ice cream, jams, jellies and cereals; as fodder for animals; as a substitute for cane sugar (sugar beets); and to enhance the effectiveness of road salt. Both the greens and the root have medicinal value and were used as such by the ancients and by holistic practitioners today.

Beet greens are excellent sources of vitamins A, K and C, 220%, 821% and 60% RDA per 1 cup serving respectively. They are a very good source of potassium and manganese and a good source of magnesium and calcium. Per volume, beet greens are as high—if not higher—in iron than spinach and can be used in cooking much the same way.

Yet, like Rodney (Dangerfield) beets get no respect. Aside from the Russians, who love their borsht (beet soup) few people have a liking for the flavor of beets. Some describe it as earthy. Most red beets find their way into jars and cans as pickled beets.

Beet sugar from the sugar beet became popular after sugar cane was restricted by the British during the Napoleonic Wars and Napoleon decreed the beet be used as the primary source of sugar.  It was around this time that the beets were first introduced to the New World. By 1837, France had become the largest sugar beet producer in the world, a position it held until 2011 when it was eclipsed by Russia.  he U.S. ranks third in the world in sugar beet production.

Michigan’s beet sugar production centers around the Bay City thumb area. Michigan Sugar Company is the third leading producer of beet sugar in the United States, selling under the names Pioneer Sugar® and Big Chief®.

Beets can be baked, steamed or boiled—or they can be shredded and consumed raw in salads. Cooking greatly diminishes the nutritional value of beetroots so cook lightly—15 minutes or less to sauté and less than an hour of baking. Cooking times can be reduced by cutting beets into quarters. Wash gently before cooking and leave the “tail” and  a bit of the green end.  Remove the skin after the cooking process by rubbing with a paper towel. Gloves can be worn to prevent stained hands or use a little lemon juice to remove stains from hands. Salt will dull a beet’s color so only add salt at the end of the cooking process.

A few more interesting facts you may not know about beets:

•In England, mangel-wurzel (a beetroot used for animal fodder) hurling has become a team sport.

•Beetroot can be used as a measure of acidity.  When added to an acidic solution it will turn pink, whereas if it is added to an alkali solution, it will turn yellow.

•Beetroot contains “betaine” which is used in other forms to help treat depression and “tryptophan,” the feel-good chemical in chocolate.

•Beet juice is being used today to replace brine in loading tractor tires. It does not corrode like brine and does not freeze. However, if you get a flat tire, you will have to fight the wasps for control of the tractor.

 

Mama (In-Law)’s Harvard Beets

¾ cup sugar

4 cups cooked beets*

2 tsp. cornstarch

3 T. butter

1/3 cup vinegar

¼ tsp. salt

1/3 cup water

1/8 tsp. pepper

Combine sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan.  Add vinegar and water; bring to boil and cook 5 minutes. Add cooked beets and simmer ½ hour.  Add butter, salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

*Remember—the less cooking the better to retain nutritional value.  For this reason we recommend steaming the beets prior to making the Harvard Beets

Fresh Market is brought to you by Solon Market located at 15185 Algoma Avenue.  For more information call 616-696-1718.  Like us on facebook for updates.

 

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Tree Pruning with a Purpose

 

Fall is a great time to be outside in our landscapes and gardens. We take stock of which plants are looking good and which plants seem to need a little help. It is natural to want to “do” something to help a tree – prune it, fertilize it, polish it – we can’t help wanting to touch it in some way.

Pruning is an oft needed maintenance treatment for good tree health, and to keep your tree and yard safe and looking good, but pruning without a good reason is not good tree care practice. Pruning just because your neighbor is doing it may not be beneficial for the tree, and could result in too much live tree tissue being removed. This can cause the tree to become stressed, and perhaps decline.

In fact, industry tree pruning standards (ANSI A300) say no more than 25 percent of a tree’s foliage should be removed in a single season, and if the tree cannot tolerate a lot of pruning, even less should be removed. When determining how much pruning your tree can tolerate, an arborist may consider if the tree:

• is healthy

• is still growing rapidly or has matured and slowed its growth

• had its roots severed or damaged recently or in the past

• suffers from disease

• is a species tolerant of heavy pruning

“All that said, fall is a good time to prune to meet certain tree growth goals,” says Tchukki Andersen, BCMA, CTSP* and staff arborist with the Tree Care Industry Association. A good arborist will work with you to set an objective for the pruning job (i.e., what you want accomplished when the work is done). Pruning objectives usually include one or more of the following:

• reduce risk of damage to people or property

• manage tree health and direction of growth

• provide clearance for vehicles or roadways

• improve tree structure

• increase or improve aesthetics

• restore shape

“Once tree pruning objectives are established, the arborist can provide specific details on how your trees could be pruned to get the desired result,” says Andersen.

The pruning process can be overwhelming to those not familiar with shade and ornamental tree pruning. A qualified tree care expert trained in tree and woody plant health care can answer your questions, as well as help you with your tree pruning goals. Make sure to ask for tree pruning to be done according to ANSI A300 standards, the generally accepted industry standards for tree care practices.

Find a professional

A professional arborist can assess your landscape and work with you to determine the best trees and shrubs to plant for your existing landscape. Contact the Tree Care Industry Association, a public and professional resource on trees and arboriculture since 1938. It has more than 2,200 member companies who recognize stringent safety and performance standards and who are required to carry liability insurance.

TCIA has the nation’s only Accreditation program that helps consumers find tree care companies that have been inspected and accredited based on: adherence to industry standards for quality and safety; maintenance of trained, professional staff; and dedication to ethics and quality in business practices. An easy way to find a tree care service provider in your area is to use the “Locate Your Local TCIA Member Companies” program. You can use this service by calling 1-800-733-2622 or by doing a ZIP Code search on www.treecaretips.org.

 

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Fresh Market: Plums

Photo from michiganplum.org. Check out their website for more info on plums grown in Michigan and to find recipes.

Photo from michiganplum.org. Check out their website for more info on plums grown in Michigan and to find recipes.

By Vicky Babcock

Plums may have been one of the first fruits cultivated by humans. It appears to have several origins and varieties. Prunus domestica has been traced to East European and Caucasian mountains, while Prunus salicina and Prunus simonii originated in Asia. The remnants of plums were discovered in archaeological digs dating to the Neolihic age (Wikipedia).

A relative to peaches, nectarines and almonds, the plum is a member of the rose family. It is considered a drupe—a fruit with a stone pit surrounding their seeds. Plum trees blossom in the spring and a healthy tree will produce an abundant crop in late summer to early fall. Asian varieties can be harvested much earlier, sometimes as early as May.  China is the leading producer of plums, with the U.S. lagging a distant sixth. Of the 50 states, California leads in plum production.

The plum tree is featured significantly in Chinese mythology. It is associated with wisdom and longevity, and blossoms from the plum tree are frequently carved in jade to symbolize resurrection. It is often represented in Asian art and is included among “the three friends of winter” and “the four gentlemen,” traditional groupings of plants which often appear in artworks. The three friends—pine, bamboo and plum—are associated with strength and endurance during the cold winter months, while the four gentlemen—plum, orchid, bamboo and chrysanthemum—represent the seasons, as well as noble virtues.

Plum varieties range from sweet to tart and the skin can be somewhat tart. They are featured heavily in much Asian cuisine, while Americans are more likely to consume them in their natural state. Plums are a good source of vitamin C and a good source of vitamin K, copper, fiber and potassium. With about 30 calories per fruit, plums are an excellent choice to round out your diet.

On a cautionary note, plums contain measurable amounts of oxalates. In heavy concentrations, these can crystallize and create health problems. Individuals with kidney or gallbladder conditions probably should avoid eating plums. If you have any concerns, please speak with your doctor.

Nana’s Plum Bread

1 to 1 ½ cups pitted, chopped plums

1 T. flour1 ½ cups flour

½ cup butter, softened½ tsp. salt

¾ cup sugar½ tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. vanilla extract¼ tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. orange extract2 T. sour cream

2 large eggs2 T. brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350º F. Butter a 9×5-inch loaf pan and dust with about 1 tablespoon of white sugar. In a small bowl, sprinkle plums with 1 tablespoon flour. Toss lightly to coat; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together butter, ¾ cup sugar and extracts. Add eggs and beat until fluffy. In a separate bowl, stir together remaining dry ingredients except for brown sugar. Add to egg mixture, stirring until mixture is smooth and dry ingredients are incorporated. Stir in sour cream. Fold plums into batter, then pour into prepared pan.  Sprinkle with brown sugar.

Bake in pre-heated oven for 50-55 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5-10 minutes before removing from pan. Cool on a wire rack.

Note: Baking times are approximate.

Fresh Market is brought to you by Solon Market located at 15185 Algoma Avenue.  For more information call 616-696-1718.  Like us on facebook for updates.

 

 

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Extend the harvest this season


By gardening expert Melinda Myers

 

AWE-Extend-the-harvest-seasonDidn’t get enough gardening in this season? Don’t worry there is still time to grow garden-fresh vegetables and herbs this fall and winter.

Purchase transplants and seeds that will grow and flourish in the cooler fall and winter temperatures. Lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, root vegetables, edible pansies and calendula as well as cole crops, like broccoli, are a few to consider.

Those gardening in colder regions need to select short season crops like lettuce, spinach and radishes that will mature before extremely cold winter temperatures set in. Extend the fall garden season into winter with the help of floating row covers, coldframes and portable greenhouses. Many of the elevated garden systems now have built in cold frames or row cover attachments to make extending the season much easier.

Try container and elevated gardens like the VegTrug™ (www.gardeners.com) to extend the growing season and increase your enjoyment. These contained gardens allow you to plant herbs, vegetables and flowers anywhere. Place a few right outside the front door or on the balcony for fun and convenience. Plus, contained gardens can easily be moved to a sheltered location or covered and protected from frost.

Or move your garden indoors. Select vegetables and herbs that can tolerate the less-than-ideal indoor growing conditions. Greens, onions and root crops, like radishes and short carrots, will grow in a sunny window. Expand your selection with the help of artificial lights.

Basil, oregano, thyme, sage, parsley, chives and of course mint are a few favorite herbs to grow on your kitchen or other sunny windowsill. Increase your harvest with the help of artificial lights or try an indoor tiered grow light stand to save on space.

Take cuttings from healthy herbs growing in the garden, purchase new transplants or start herb and vegetable plants from seeds.

Take four inch cuttings from healthy herbs. Remove the lowest set of leaves and place the cut end in a well-drained potting mix. Once rooted, plant the herbs in individual containers or mixed with other herbs in a windowsill planter.

Start the seeds in a flat, in individual pots or directly in a planter. Keep the rooting mix warm and moist until the seeds sprout. Move to a sunny location or under artificial lights as soon as the seedlings break through the soil. Wait until the seedlings develop two sets of leaves and then transplant them into their permanent planter if needed.

So get busy planting and soon you will be enjoying the tasty benefits of fall and winter gardening.

Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author & columnist Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening books, including Can’t Miss Small Space Gardening. She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything” DVD series and the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment segments. Myers is also a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine. Myers’ web site, www.melindamyers.com, offers gardening videos and tips. 

 

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Fresh Market

AWE-Fresh-market-winter-squash

Winter squash, one of the Three Sisters 

(part three of a three part series)

by Vicky Babcock

 

Long before the Earth was populated by people, there were the Sky People. This particular tale, of the Three Sisters, speaks of Sky Woman, who, because of her curiosity, fell through a hole in the sky while peering through to the world below, a world of endless sea. The creatures of this world saw her fall and swiftly scooping soil from the sea bottom, they placed it onto the back of a giant turtle, that she would have a safe place to land. This “turtle island” remains today and is what we now refer to as North America.

Now Sky Woman was pregnant at the time of her fall and, when her time came, she gave birth to a daughter, who grew up and in turn gave birth to twin boys by the West Wind. She died in childbirth and Sky Woman (or the woman’s children by some accounts) buried her in the new earth. Three sacred plants sprang up from where she laid—a gift from the Creator. These gifts were corn, beans and squash, the sustainers of life. They became known as the three sisters and were the three major crops raised and held sacred by Native Americans. They were grown together as three sisters, each sustaining the others.

The third sister, squash, provides ground cover for her siblings, crowding out weeds and helping to retain moisture in the soil. It was an important ingredient to a balanced diet, providing nutrition and fiber as well as caloric content. Native Americans consumed the seeds as well as the flesh of this prized fruit.

Winter squash is harvested and eaten when it is mature, as opposed to summer squash, which is eaten in the immature stage. In its mature stage, winter squash can be stored for longer periods. Winter squashes are an excellent source of vitamin A and vitamin C and provide significant amounts of potassium and vitamin B6 as well as dietary fiber.  While about 90 percent of winter squash’s total calories come from carbohydrates, a number of studies suggest that certain starch related components in squash have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic and insulin-regulating properties.  A cup of winter squash, cooked, provides about 80 calories, comparable to a single medium apple.

Winter squash has been consumed for over 10,000 years. However, one of the most popular winter squashes, the butternut, is a relative newcomer to the plate. Charles Leggett has been credited with the development of this squash in the mid 1940’s. With its buttery flavor, its relatively thin skin and plentiful flesh, the butternut has quickly won the hearts of most squash lovers. Other varieties include, acorn, buttercup, hubbard, Lakota, pumpkin and spaghetti. There are over 40 varieties of squash available in the United States and countless subspecies.

Look for winter squashes in mid to late September and in early to late October. These tasty treats are a great way to round out your diet!

Butternut Scones

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

1/2 cup butternut squash, cooked and pureed*

3 tablespoons milk

1 large egg

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the glaze 

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 tablespoons milk

For the spiced glaze

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

2 tablespoons milk

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400º F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or cut a clean brown bag to fit and butter lightly.

In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients.  Add cold butter, working into mixture using a pastry cutter or two knifes until it resembles coarse crumbs.

In another bowl, whisk together squash puree, milk, egg and vanilla. Pour mixture over dry ingredients and stir until a soft dough forms.

Working on a lightly floured surface, knead the dough 3-4 times until it comes together. Roll the dough out into a 10- by 7-inch rectangle. Using a large knife or a pizza cutter, cut the rectangle in half lengthwise, then cut into 4 even pieces crosswise, making eight rectangles. Cut each rectangle into two triangles, making 16 scones.

Place scones onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

For glaze, combine confectioners’ sugar and milk. Whisk until smooth. If the glaze is too thick, add more milk as needed; set aside. For spiced glaze, combine confectioners’ sugar, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and milk. Whisk until smooth; set aside.

Cool  baked scones for 10 minutes and spoon on glaze before drizzling with spiced glaze.

Allow glazes to set before serving.

*Butternut squash can be washed and baked whole in a 400ºF oven. Remove the skin while still warm and scoop out the seeds. Leftover squash from this recipe can be mashed and served with a little salt and butter or frozen for later use. Yum!

Fresh Market is brought to you by Solon Market located at 15185 Algoma Avenue.  For more information call 616-696-1718.  Like us on facebook for updates.

 

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How tall is your corn?

AWE-Corn-heightTracy Skelonc, of Solon Township, sent us this photo of her husband, Martin, and their son, Dalton, in the corn on their family’s farm. She said their corn measures 11 feet 6 inches.

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Join the Arbor Day Foundation in September 

 

AWE-Arbor-Day-Red-mapleReceive 10 Free Trees for Planting in Michigan

 

Everyone from Michigan who joins the Arbor Day Foundation in September will receive 10 free trees as part of the Foundation’s Trees for America program.

Through Trees for America, everyone is encouraged to plant trees that will benefit the environment and improve the quality-of-life. With one million members, the Arbor Day Foundation is the nation’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to planting trees.

Everyone joining this month will receive an eastern redbud, white pine, sugar maple, white flowering dogwood, pin oak, red maple, river birch, silver maple, northern red oak and Colorado blue spruce.

“This group of trees was carefully selected to yield year-round benefits in Michigan, including beautiful spring flowers, cool summer shade, spectacular autumn colors and winter berries and nesting sites for songbirds,” said Matt Harris, chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation.

“These trees will also add to the proud heritage of Michigan’s 125 Tree City USA communities,” Harris continued. “For the last 38 years, Tree City USA has supported effective urban forest management across Michigan, and planting these trees will enhance the state’s tree-planting tradition.”

The trees will be shipped postpaid at the right time for planting between October 15 and December 10. The 6- to 12-inch trees are guaranteed to grow or they will be replaced free of charge. Easy-to-follow planting instructions are enclosed with each shipment of trees.

New members of the Arbor Day Foundation will also receive The Tree Book, which includes information about tree planting and care.

To receive the 10 free trees, send a $10 membership contribution to Ten Trees, Arbor Day Foundation, 100 Arbor Ave., Nebraska City, NE 68410, by September 30, 2014, or join online at arborday.org/september.

 

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Leaf Experiences

By Ranger Steve Mueller

 

The best learning is a family experience with fun. I was raking leaves and thought about my girls helping or thinking they were helping. Then I thought about when I helped my dad rake leaves or thought I was helping. What I remember best from both experiences is that I jumped into the pile of leaves and buried myself and my girls jumped into the leaf pile and buried themselves.

A difference in our experiences was what happened to leaves—Earth Stewardship. In the 1950’s people up and down the block raked leaves into the road and burned them. My girls learned leaves make good compost and should not be burned. As mulch they decay and release nutrients into the soil or garden rather than into the air. We used leaves to spread on trails at Ody Brook to prevent dirt from getting in the soles of shoes.

A great experience helps kids observe the intricate natural world. They see details and gain basic knowledge, comprehend what they experience, apply experiences to life at home and in the community, analyze what is best, synthesize what they experienced to use for new unrelated purposes, and then evaluate the value.

The experience allows discovery. I did a leaf activity with students when I was classroom teacher and at the Howard Christensen Nature Center. In fall we found a sugar maple and each student collected ten leaves and then we found a silver maple and collected ten more leaves.

In the process the students learned to distinguish leaf similarities and differences for the two species. Learning more about adaptations for the species took us deeper into reasoning and mental development. Students compared the amount of substance in the two kinds of leaves to discover that silver maple leaves were lighter with less substance. They curled and shrivel more than the heavier sturdy sugar maple leaves. We weighed the leaves and found sugar maple leaves were heavier.

I shared that sugar maple leaves do not remove most of the nutrients from the leaves but allow nutrients to fall to ground in the leaf, where they rot under the tree to release nutrients for the tree’s use in spring. Silver maples ship a greater proportion of nutrients to the roots with the sap, and store it until spring for new growth. Both species have unique nature niche strategies for recycling nutrients. Silver maples are floodplain trees and their leaves wash away with spring flooding so nutrients would be lost if dropped with leaves. Sugar Maples are upland plants and their leaves stay near the tree and release nutrients to their own roots.

My dad, like most other dads, did not realize that releasing nutrients into the air by burning leaves contributes to air pollution and increased atmospheric carbon. I like fires and “some-mores” so we burn branches cleared during trail maintenance and make our “some-more” treats. We allow many to decay in the woods to replenish soil health. Most nutrients are in the small branches that decay rapidly so we leave those in the woods and burn some larger branches. We use large branches for brush pile construction for bird and mammal shelters.

Create family experiences and build relationships. Our kids are grown but I still desire help with projects at Ody Brook. I can use the help but more importantly I think it continues to build our relationship. Of course, their lives are full and busy but sometimes we still build relationships working together outdoors.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at the odybrook@chartermi.net Ody Brook, 13010 Northland Dr, Cedar Springs, MI 49319-8433.

 

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Fresh Market-Jack o’ the Lantern

AWE-JackolanternBy Vicky Babcock

 

Most of us have heard the story of the wily rascal, Jack, and how he tricked the devil and thereby secured his own soul. Many versions of the tale exist, but all agree on the conclusion that Jack—having barred himself from hell and being unworthy of heaven—was made to wander the world, a lost soul.

One such tale suggests that Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. Not wanting to pay for his drink, Jack convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that he would use to buy the drinks. But Jack instead put the coin into his pocket next to a cross, which prevented the Devil from turning back. Jack agreed to release the Devil on the condition that the Devil never take his soul.  When Jack passed away, he found himself barred from heaven. The devil had provided him with a lit coal in which to light his way. Jack placed his coal into a carved out turnip and so the practice of Jack o’ lanterns began.

In truth, the practice began long before the story of Jack. Carved vegetables, usually turnips or beets, were used in celebrations around the world for centuries.  Wikipedia associates the term jack-o’-lantern with ignis fatuus (foolish fire) named for the phenomenon of strange flickering light over peat bogs.  You may have heard it called the will-o’-the-wisp. Gourds were the choice of the Maori, who used the carved fruit as lanterns over 700 years ago.  s gourds (the pumpkin is one) are the earliest produce known to be cultivated by man—dating back over 10,000 years—it is likely the practice of carving lanterns from them extends back thousands of years.  Irish immigrants have been credited with bringing the practice to the United States however, where they discovered the pumpkin made a much better media than the turnips they used in their home country.

The origins of Halloween can be traced back to the Celtic festival of Samhain—the celebration of their new year, the day of the dead—which took place on November 1. The day marked the harvest, the end of summer and the beginning of the dark, cold winter. The Celts believed that on the eve of their new year the bounderies between the world of the living and the world of the dead became blurred and the dead could return to earth. The advent of Christianity changed and blended with the old rites. November 1 eventually became All Saints Day and November 2 All Souls’ Day to honor the dead. It is commonly believed that the church was attempting to replace the Celtic traditions with more sanctioned beliefs and the two holidays share many aspects, including bonfires, parades and dressing in costume. All Saints’ Day, or All-hallowmas—from Middle English for All Saint’s Day—has itself changed to include more of its pagan roots.  All Hallows Eve, or Halloween as we know it today, became the date of choice and the Jack-o-lanterns we all love, once used to frighten the dead and demons away from our doors, can be found on doorsteps everywhere. Trick or Treat, a mostly American tradition, probably resulted from the old practice of feeding the dead.

You’ve most likely carved your pumpkins for this year. Next year, consider saving the bits of carved out fruit (minus the peal) and throwing it into a pot of chili for a healthy and tasty addition. And the seeds—well we all know what pumpkin seeds are good for.

Have a safe and Happy Halloween, everyone—and Happy Haunting!

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

If you’ve never had pumpkin seeds, you’re in for a treat!  While these are great simply roasted and salted, you can make them your own by adding your own special blend of spices. If you’ve already carved your pumpkins, consider purchasing another. Roasted or baked pumpkin makes a great addition to soups and stews, breads, cookies and pies.

Basic ingredients:

Approximately 1 ½ c. pumpkin seeds

2 or 3 tsp. melted butter or olive oil

Salt

Optional choices (partial list):

A dash or two of soy sauce

Garlic powder

Seasoned salt (I like Morton’s)

Chili powder or cayenne pepper

Pre-heat oven to 300◦ Fahrenheit.  Rinse seeds thoroughly in a colander under running water, removing the majority of pulp and strings.  In a medium bowl, toss together seeds, oil or melted butter and seasons of your choice.  You can also make a sweetened version by substituting sugar and cinnamon.

Spread seeds out onto a baking sheet and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until golden, stirring occasionally. Once these start to brown, they will do so quickly, so be sure to keep an eye on them. Cooking times are approximate.

Fresh Market is brought to you by Solon Market located at 15185 Algoma Avenue.  For more information call 616-696-1718.  Like us on facebook for updates.

 

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Rob Vander Zee’s ArtPrize

Rob VanderZee’s entry into ArtPrize.

Rob VanderZee’s entry into ArtPrize.

By Ranger Steve Mueller

 

Rob Vander Zee, talented young man, was seeking an art project while in high school and has now displayed in Artprize 2013. When I was developing a wetland learning station at the Howard Christensen Nature Center in the 1980’s, it was fortunate that Rob connected with us. I explained a wetlands vision and gave him an image. From there he created the artwork mural that still draws youth and visitors to think about wetlands. Please visit HCNC and become a member.

I gave Rob a picture of a beaver pond and he painted a wonderful realistic rendition. The work entices viewers to think about the world we live in. Rob is at native of Cedar Springs and his work helps people think about the future.

Wetlands are major contributors to Michigan’s recreation economy.  They are economically valuable assets that filter toxics from water, reduce flood damage, are major food producers, and provide desirable sites for human habitation. Wetlands modify weather conditions and determine the depth of ground water tables that recharge city and private wells.  Water moves from wetlands to ground water and vice-versa.  How we handle sewage, fertilizers, pesticides, and toxic substance disposal are important community health issues that are constantly in debate. Safe drinking water is taken for granted and there are those that want to reduce community efforts to protect water quality by reducing government programs protecting our health and the environment.

In the 1970’s we passed the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Endangered Species. These programs have helped restore conditions that improve our quality of life. Those protections are being challenged to reduce taxes. People forget the pollution costs were more expensive and damaging to health than the preventive tax programs. Saving tax dollars spurs efforts to reduce government programs but at what cost? They may not be perfect but the programs protect our economy, health and quality of life. Rob’s art work hopes to engage people to think about the future and I hope my articles do the same.

When we bought Ody Brook property in 1979, the home plumbing from the toilet went into a 55-gallon drum that had rusted away and other water was piped directly to the Little Cedar Creek. We installed a proper septic system and drain field. It was not until 1976 that government regulations changed construction codes to meet the Clean Water Act and provide environmental protection. We recently added five acres to Ody Brook that has an existing home. That home’s plumbing ran to the Little Cedar Creek without a septic drain field. The home construction predated the 1970’s Clean Water Act tax legislation. We recently installed a proper septic system to protect the stream, wetlands, and water quality for Cedar Springs human and wildlife neighbors.

How many homes still have systems that pollute water quality, fishing, health, and damage our community’s economy and quality of life? The current budget battle in Washington is wrestling with what is needed to maintain a high quality of life in Cedar Springs. That brings us back to Rob Vander Zee’s art.

Rob painted a mural for ArtPrize called Michigan Forest: The Future of Genetic Manipulation on an Eco System. He comments his artwork is open for interpretation. He wants people to think about society actions. His work displays possibilities for the future. He wants viewers to contemplate nature niches and our role as participants in the ecosystem. I hope many of you viewed his work. If not, view and read his comments about the painting at: www.artprize.org/rob-vander-zee.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at the odybrook@chartermi.net Ody Brook, 13010 Northland Dr, Cedar Springs, MI 49319-8433.

 

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