November 22, 2011

That Thanksgiving dinner? Mostly from out of state


As we Marylanders sit down Thursday to our Thanksgiving feasts, here's food for thought - less than half the traditional holiday meal we'll consume that day was grown locally. Not exactly what the Pilgrims had to be thankful for. And if the state's farmland keeps getting gobbled up by sprawl, even less of our sustenance will be coming from around here.

According to a survey by the land preservation group 1000 Friends of Maryland, 48 percent of our Thanksgiving staples overall are produced in-state.  Just 44 percent of the turkeys eaten are raised here, 41 percent of the potatoes (that seems high to me, frankly), 32 percent of the apples, 17 percent of the sweet potatoes and only one-half of 1 percent of the carrots.

The only produce in which Maryland is self-sufficient, or nearly so, according to the group, are snap beans, squash and pumpkins.  But if you think about all the pumpkin pies baked and eaten, I'll wager the vast majority of those rely on canned products raised elsewhere as well.

The geographical gap between production and consumption is not unusual.  Nationally, most produce travels 1,500 miles on average before being sold, according to the group's report.  And about 40% of our fruit and 9% of our red meat is imported from other countries.

Some might think relying on locally produced food is an anachronism.  But there's some comfort in knowing where your food comes from, and I've found some of the tastiest fruits, vegetables and seafood I've ever eaten had the shortest trip from harvest to my mouth.  This year, my family is dining on a locally raised turkey, but a lot of the farms in Maryland already had sold out by the time we started shopping for one.

Continue reading "That Thanksgiving dinner? Mostly from out of state" »

Posted by Tim Wheeler at 10:30 AM | | Comments (0)

October 17, 2011

City's "virtual supermarket" gets national recognition

Baltimore's "virtual supermarket," an 18-month old experiment in fighting urban food deserts, has captured some national attention.  Now it only has to catch on better here.

Baltimarket, as it's known, is one of six sustainability programs around the country that are going to be recognized next month at a National League of Cities gathering in Phoenix, Az.  All are examples of "creative collaboration, increased efficiency and enhanced quality of life for residents."

For many city residents, it's not that easy to get fresh fruit and vegetables, because there aren't any supermarkets in their neighborhoods. The corner markets and convenience stores that are nearby just don't carry many perishable items like that. 

Residents lacking cars often took the bus to a grocery store, then had to pay $10 to $15 for a cab ride home with their purchases, according to Laura Fox, coordinator for the online market program with the city health department.

So in March 2010, the city started offering residents of two neighborhoods without many food choices the chance to order groceries and have them delivered to a central location.  The first sites for the experiment were the Orleans Street and Washington Village library branches of the Enoch Pratt Free Library.  Fox said Santoni's supermarket, which already offers online grocery shopping, agreed to participate and waive its delivery fee.

Continue reading "City's "virtual supermarket" gets national recognition " »

Posted by Tim Wheeler at 8:24 AM | | Comments (0)

September 12, 2011

Get your green on at urban farming workshop


Urban farming's the rage these days, at least in some green circles. If you're wondering how to get in on it, there's an all-day workshop Thursday (Sept. 15), with hands-on training, lectures and tours of existing farms in Baltimore.

The free event open to anyone is organized by The Greenhorns, a national nonprofit promoting urban farming.  Besides the health aspects of raising nutritious local produce, the session will focus in part on how productive green space can reclaim the former industrial sites known as brownfields that pepper the city. Baltimore has at least 1,000 brownfields comprising 2,500 acres, according to the group. The city’s Office of Sustainability is aiming to convert 10 acres of city-owned vacant lots into farmland though competitive grant giving.

Visits are planned to Five Seeds Farm in the Belair-Edison neighborhood and Real Food Farm in Clifton Park in Northeast Baltimore. Partners for the event include the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, The Radix Ecological Sustainability Center, Maryland Institute College of Art and the Baltimore Free School.

For details. go here.

(Real Food Farm, 2010 Baltimore Sun photo by Barbara Haddock Taylor)

Posted by Tim Wheeler at 9:58 AM | | Comments (0)

August 10, 2011

Tour Charm City's gardens by bike


The 2nd annual Charm City Garden Tour rolls out Saturday, Aug. 13, offering a chance to see some of Baltimore's lushest community gardens and sample some locally sourced refreshments at a post-tour garden party.

The tour begins and ends at the Whitelock Community Farm, which figured prominently in a recent Baltimore Sun story I wrote about the greening of Reservoir Hill. The farm is at 940 Whitelock Street, and the tour runs from 2 p.m to 5 p.m., with the garden party from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.  Stick around, and you can catch the open-air movie showing at Reservoir Hill's German Park at 8:30 p.m.

The event is sponsored by Community Greening Resource Network, the UME Baltimore City Master Gardeners and Parks & People Foundation.

A bus tour already is sold out, but space is still available for a bicycle tour covering the same route, which makes stops at gardens in Mount Washington and Park Heights as well as Reservoir Hill. The cost is $15 a head, and cyclists are required to bring their own bike and strongly encouraged to wear helmets.  To reserve a spot, email or call 410-448-5663 ext 128.

(Newington Avenue in Reservoir Hill. Baltimore Sun photo by Gabe Dinsmoor)

Posted by Tim Wheeler at 4:19 PM | | Comments (0)

June 8, 2011

Poultry industry going 'cool turkey' on arsenic


The poultry industry is rapidly phasing out use of arsenic in chicken feed after the Food and Drug Administration announced a "voluntary suspension" of the arsenic-laced drug because tests found elevated levels of the known carcinogen in birds fed the substance.

The announcement Wednesday (6/8) comes after years of controversy over the widespread poultry industry practice of giving chicks arsenic-laced feed to combat infection and give their flesh a pinker hue. Scientists and environmentalists have pressed state and federal governments to ban it, raising concerns about food safety and the environmental impact of arsenic in poultry waste getting into soil and streams.

Roxarsone has been fed to chickens since the 1940s, for what the industry calls "growth promotion, feed efficiency and improved pigmentation in chickens." The drug contained the less harmful organic form of arsenic, but scientific studies found that the organic arsenic in roxarsone switched to more harmful inorganic form, which is known to cause cancer.

FDA did tests of its own on 100 broiler chickens fed roxarsone and found elevated levels of inorganic arsenic in the chickens' livers. FDA and industry spokesmen stressed that though arsenic is carcinogenic, the levels detected in the chickens were very low and there's no health risk for people to continue eating roxarsone-treated poultry for the next month or so.

Alpharma, a subsidiary of Pfizer Inc., said it would voluntarily suspend sales of the animal drug, which it markets under the name 3-Nitro. All sales of the drug will be ended in the next 30 days, according to the company.

The FDA's action was praised by Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, who'd joined with other state attorneys general to press for a federal ban after state legislation to ban roxarsone twice failed to pass in Annapolis. Lobbyists for the state's poultry industry, which is concentrated on the Eastern Shore, had complained that a ban was unwarranted and would put Maryland chicken farmers and processors at a competitive disadvantage.

"It's absolutely the effect we've been trying to get all along," said Gansler. "It’s going to take time for people to realize the chicken they’re buying in the supermarket that’s not as pink (as it is now) is not only as fresh but better for you."

Continue reading "Poultry industry going 'cool turkey' on arsenic" »

Posted by Tim Wheeler at 5:58 PM | | Comments (3)

May 3, 2011

Prince Charles to visit D.C. to encourage sustainable farming


Missing news about Britain's royal family since the wedding? Various media outlets, including The Washington Post, are reporting that this week Prince Charles will be visiting Washington, D.C., where he will tour the Common Good City Farm and speak about sustainable agriculture at Georgetown University.

The Prince of Wales is a huge proponent of organic and sustainable farming.  The farm at his Highgrove home is a model for organic agriculture. And he recently wrote a book about regaining balance with nature in "Harmony: A New Way of Looking at Our World." I have not read it yet but have been keeping an eye out for it at the library.

Has anyone read the book or toured the gardens at Highgrove? Tell us about it in the comments.

Photo of Prince Charles at last week's wedding from Getty Images

Posted by Kim Walker at 11:26 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Food

April 29, 2011

Bottled water bans: Needed or a diversion?

Students at the University of Maryland have jumped on a nationwide bandwagon to ban bottled water sales on campus, it seems.

The Washington Post reports that student government groups on the College Park campus have yielded to the pressure and now serve tapwater in pitchers at their meetings and events.    Other schools around the country also are cutting out on the bottled beverage. According to the Post, Goucher College in Baltimore apparently has gone halfway, removing bottles from dining halls and other campus eateries while still offering them at the bookstore and in vending machines.

The rap against bottled water is waste - that Americans are burning up resources and generating mountains of plastic debris for a drink they could easily get from a faucet or fountain somewhere. Of course, the bottles can be recycled, but many aren't, and there's still the energy consumed producing and transporting them.

But some are suggesting it's not an open-and-shut case.  Bottled water helps fight obesity, some say, by offering youthful consumers a more healthful choice than sugar-laden soft drinks in vending machines and at snack bars. That's certainly how the International Bottled Water Association sees it, with a spokesman calling its members' beverage "a healthy, legal product."

There's also the convenience factor - could it be there aren't as many water fountains as there used to be?  And some activists worry that making a fuss about bottled water could alienate the public and lose goodwill for action on other environmental issues arguably of greater importance.

What's your take? Time to dump the throwaway drinks, or is this a diversion from bigger problems? Do you drink bottled water, or carry your own?

(Bottled water on sale in Florida supermarket.  Photo by Tina Russell, Orlando Sentinel)

Posted by Tim Wheeler at 4:30 PM | | Comments (14)

Baltimore VegFest this Saturday

UMBC will celebrate all things vegetarian Saturday at its first VegFest. UMBC Vegetarians and The Humane League are hosting the free festival, which will feature vegetarian-friendly businesses, pro-animal organizations, music, activities and cooking demonstrations. There will also be speakers, including PETA vice president Bruce Friedrich. Yabba Pot, Burrito Bandits, Emily's Desserts and Dirty Carrots will be among the food vendors.

Hours are 11 a.m.- 3 p.m. at Erickson Fieldd on the UMBC campus. For more information, click here.

Posted by Kim Walker at 7:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Food

October 29, 2010

"Reverse trick or treating" targets unsustainable chocolate

Here's another reason to think twice about all the candy handed out and consumed around Halloween.  Not just that it's unhealthy to eat too many sweets, but some chocolate is bad for its producers as well.  Turns out a lot of the cocoa that goes into our chocolate comes from farms where children are forced to work. 

Although many chocolate companies pledged nearly a decade ago to end abusive farming practices in West Africa, source of 70 percent of the world's cocoa, a recent report by Tulane University’s Payson Center for International Development says problems continue.  The practices are spotlighted in a new documentary, "The Dark Side of Chocolate."

So while most of the little bananas and goblins going door-to-door this weekend will gladly take whatever treats are offered, there'll be some out there handing back treats of their own.  They'll be giving the homes they visit "fair trade" chocolate, meant to raise public awareness of the forced child labor and environmental degradation that is reportedly widespread in cocoa farming.

Under pressure from activists, chocolate manufacturer Green & Black’s, which is owned by Cadbury, and ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s pledged this year to achieve Fair Trade certification for all their products worldwide.  Cadbury and Nestle have obtained Fair Trade status for some of their products abroad. 

Now, activists are pressing the Hershey Co. to become the first U.S.-based company to get certification that its chocolate products are made under Fair Trade practices. 

The Pennsylvania-based chocolate maker recently issued its first corporate social responsiblity report and said it was working with others in the industry through the World Cocoa Foundation to improve conditions for cocoa farming families.  The company also has an organic chocolate brand, Dagoba.  But activists fault it for not committing to the independent Fair Trade certification process to ensure its cocoa and other ingredients come without environmental or social downsides.

For more on the Reverse Trick or Treating campaign organized by Global Exchange, go here.

(Reverse trick-or-treating 2008, photos courtesy Global Exchange)

Posted by Tim Wheeler at 9:53 AM | | Comments (0)

October 18, 2010

Urban foraging workshop


Ever stumble across some berries while hiking and wonder if they're edible? Well, Parks & People are holding a workshop this week to help.

Leda Meredith, author of "The Locavore's Handbook: The Busy Person's Guide to Eating Local on a Budget," will conduct an urban foraging tour of Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park on Thursday. She will teach participants to identify edible plants that grow in urban areas and provide some samples of foods made with wild ingredients.

Meet at 10 a.m. at the Orianda House (aka Crimea Mansion), 1901 Eagle Dr., Baltimore. There is a $5 suggested donation. RSVP to Alex Kraus at (410) 448-5663 ext. 119 or

Baltimore Sun file photo of Leakin Park hikers. 

Posted by Kim Walker at 12:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Events, Food

October 5, 2010

SunChips' loud green bags get the hook

A moment of silence, please, for the compostable SunChips snack bags.

Snack maker Frito-Lay revealed this week it is yanking most of its 100 percent biodegradable SunChips bags amid a deluge of consumer complaints that the packaging is too noisy.

The company had ballyhooed the bags, made from plant material, as a game-changer when they were trotted out 18 months ago. But the green appeal apparently was no match for the racket the pouches made when consumers ripped them open and reached in for a chip. No sneaking a snack here. Sales have dropped 11 percent amid an outpouring of grousing about the noise.

Frito-Lay, a division of Pepsico, says it'll keep selling plain SunChips in the compostable bags, but will revert to the oiriginal packaging for the other five chip flavors.

Maybe it's just me and my failing hearing, but I wasn't that put off by the crackling of the new bags. It was obnoxious, sure, but not enough to skip the occasional SunChips snack.

The company's still touting its compostable bags on its website, by the way.  But perception is reality, especially in the marketing world, so it seems Frito-Lay's going back to the drawing board to search for a quieter green packaging.

(Baltimore Sun photo by Sarah Kelber)

Posted by Tim Wheeler at 1:00 PM | | Comments (9)

September 23, 2010

Shade-grown coffee - it's for the birds


Shade-grown coffee may cost more than brew from beans grown on a clear-cut, sun-drenched plantation.  But apparently it's not just the forest you're saving by paying a little extra for your caffeine fix.

A review by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center of more than 50 studies from Central and South America to Indonesia finds more and more different species of birds on farms raising coffee in the shade than on cleared plantations. 

There's also more bird habitat (aka trees and shrubs), better pest control (birds eat bugs and caterpillars) and better pollination (bees), not to mention improved erosion control and carbon sequestration with all the trees and roots there.

Farms growing coffee the old-school way, in the shade of trees, isn't as good for birds as an untouched forest, Smithsonian folks acknowledge.  But they say it's a lot better than clearing the forest out altogether to maximize coffee production in full sun.  

You may be wondering: Why should a Baltimorean care about having more birds in Central and South America?  Well, some of our favorite "local" songbirds birds spend their winters south of the border, including the Baltimore oriole.  And the fall migration season is in full swing now.  Think about that the next time you ask for a cup of Joe.

Smithsonian has devised its own "Bird Friendly" standards for coffee, which go a bit beyond just "fair trade" and organic.  The Baltimore Coffee & Tea Co. in Lutherville and Caffe Pronto Coffee Roastery in Annapolis are among only about 40 roasters nationwide that carry beans grown to the center's "Bird Friendly" standards, according to its website. 

For more about migratory birds and "bird friendly" coffee, go here

(Male Baltimore oriole at Robert E. Lee Park, 1997 Baltimore Sun photo by Kim Hairston)

Posted by Tim Wheeler at 6:00 AM | | Comments (1)

September 21, 2010

Experts debating safety of "engineered" salmon

Are genetically engineered salmon safe to eat? Would they pose any threat to wild salmon or other fish if they somehow got out in open waters? And if they are put on the market for sale, should they be labeled so consumers can know where they came from?

Those are the questions being mulled and debated this week by a panel of scientists advising the Food and Drug Administration on whether to approve the nation's first genetically modified food animal.

The FDA has already made preliminary findings that engineered Atlantic salmon produced by AquaBounty Technologies, a Massachusetts firm, are safe to eat and pose no significant risk to the environment.  But the agency's Veterinary Medicine Advisory Committee Monday deferred giving its blessing, instead urging government regulators to get more information first.

The panel's stance tracks with advice a local biotechnology expert says he gave it Monday. Yonathan Zohar, chairman of marine biotechnology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, said the technology holds promise but still needs more study.

"We keep overfishing and emptying our oceans," said Zohar, who was invited to brief the advisory group on the state of the world's fisheries.  "We need to stop and get more fish through aquaculture, but it needs to be done in an environmentally sustainable way."

Zohar has spent years developing techniques for raising food fish in tanks at the Columbus Center in the Inner Harbor.  By manipulating the light, water temperature and other conditions in which they're kept, Zohar said his team has managed to produce market-sized sea bream in half the time it normally takes to raise them in open-water pens. 

AquaBounty is claiming it can raise genetically engineered fish to market size in half the time it takes to grow Atlantic salmon in conventional fish-farming pens - while using 25 percent less food.   Such technology stands to benefit the aquaculture industry by increasing its efficiency, Zohar said, but before it's given the green light, more information is needed, particularly to ensure the engineered fish won't wreak ecological havoc if they get loose. 

Zohar said he thought FDA was relying too much on assumptions that the engineered fish couldn't survive if they got into the wild because of where they'd be raised - in land-based tanks in Panama.  And he noted that the technique the company plans to use to sterilize its female fish isn't 100 percent effective.

"I'm all for genetically engineered fish making it into the industry," he said.  "But I think we need to be a little bit more rigorous in testing."

Continue reading "Experts debating safety of "engineered" salmon" »

Posted by Tim Wheeler at 12:14 PM | | Comments (1)

September 16, 2010

More hospitals going local for food

A tidbit of good news, for a change. Word comes that nearly 40 hospitals and other health-care facilities in Maryland and the District of Columbia bought - and served - at least one food from a local farmer during this summer's "Buy Local Challenge." 

The challenge is a statewide campaign launched by the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission to promote local produce and food.   There were 38 hospitals buying local during the weeklong drive July 17-25, up from 27 that took part when the first challenge was held last summer.  Thanks to  Maryland Hospitals for a Healthy Environment for the info.

Wonder if they served apples like those pictured here from the farmers' market under the Jones Falls Expressway?  I don't know that this is going to make me want to have lunch at the nearest hospital cafeteria, but I'll bet the local growers appreciate the business.  Now to get hospitals to buy local all summer long, if not year-round.

(1999 Baltimore Sun photo by Algerina Perna)

Posted by Tim Wheeler at 9:45 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Buy local, Food

May 27, 2010

BPA, phthalates, kids & cancer: What's a parent to do?

My colleague Kelly Brewington has a thoughtful piece in the Baltimore Sun today on the dilemma people face, especially parents, in sorting through the confusing information and advice about the health hazards posed by the many chemicals used to make a panoply of consumer products.

The President's Cancer Panel recently issued a 240-page report warning that "the true burden of environmentally induced cancers has been grossly underestimated" and urging steps be taken to reduce people's broad exposure to carcinogens. 

The panel's assertion has been disputed by the American Cancer Society, which argues that lifestyle factors like smoking and diet are the main causes of cancer, and environmental exposures are involved in only a small share of cases.

It's hard to know what to do when even health experts can't agree.  But as Kelly's story points out, some suggest people can and should look for all ways to reduce cancer, stopping or shying away from smoking, eating right and avoiding products with toxic or potentially toxic ingredients.  It can be overwhelming, though, when you consider all the things that are or might be hazardous. 

I felt that way recently after skimming through National Geographic's Green Guide Families, an encyclopedic 400-page rundown on virtually everything about which concerns have been raised, from cell phones to vaccines.  Not one thing did they advise you not to worry about, it seemed, no matter how thin or discounted the evidence of potential harm.  I finished wishing the authors or someone could provide the average person a little triage, at least a ranking of what to avoid or worry about most to least.

On some things, though, many on both sides of the environment/lifestyle cancer debate seem to agree.  More study is needed of toxic substances, and government oversight needs to be tightened to assure the safety of what's in the products we all consume, young and old.  Meanwhile, they suggest at least a little prudent avoidance.

What products do you avoid and why?  Please share if you have any tips for parents ore the rest of us about how to navigate the confusing and conflicting advice about what causes cancer and how to prevent it.

(Baltimore Sun photo by Amy Davis)

Posted by Tim Wheeler at 12:30 PM | | Comments (4)

May 3, 2010

Grazing in the grass: back to the future for farming?


Environmental activists and those concerned about animal welfare are touting a return to pasture-based livestock farming as a more environmentally and financially sustainable alternative to the current large-scale "industrial" agribusinesses raising most of our meat these days.

On Tuesday (May 4), a former Eastern Shore chicken farmer, a rancher and two writers will be hashing out the growth and prospects of this new-old movement.  "Green Pastures, Bright Future: Taking the Meat We Eat Out of the Factory and Putting it Back on the Farm" is the longish title for the panel discussion 6 p.m. at the Pew Conference Center, 901 E. Street NW in Washington. 

The former Shore chicken farmer on the panel is Carole Morrison, who was featured in the Oscar-nominated documentary, "Food Inc."  Also on the panel is Dr. Patricia Whisnant, rancher, veterinarian and president of the American Grassfed Association.  The writers are David Kirby, author of Animal Factory, and Nicolette Hahn Niman, author of Righteous Porkchop.

The event is free and open to the public, but space is limited, so RSVPs in advance are required. To reserve a place or for more info, go to

(2006 AP photo of dairy cattle grazing on organic farm in Minnesota)

Posted by Tim Wheeler at 6:01 PM | | Comments (1)

April 23, 2010

Maryland VegWeek to kick off Saturday

The Maryland animals rights group Compassion Over Killing kicks off its Maryland VegWeek this Saturday with pledges from local officials to go vegetarian for the week.

The goal of the event is to highlight the benefits of forgoing meat. But the week will also offer lots of freebies, such as cooking demonstrations, and discounts at area restaurants, such as Brick Oven Pizza on S. Broadway and Van Gough Cafe on S. Ann.

“Every time we choose vegetarian foods, we’re helping build a kinder, cleaner, and healthier world,” says Compassion Over Killing Executive Director Erica Meier. “And Maryland VegWeek highlights these benefits as well as the increasing availability of meat-free foods in restaurants and grocery stores in and around Maryland.”

For more info on events, go to

If you're looking for more places that serve vegetarian foods, check out The Sun's list of veggie restaurants.

Posted by Meredith Cohn at 9:30 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Food

March 29, 2010

Meatless Mondays: Lentils

This week, I'm not highlighting a specific recipe, though here's a link to The Sun's collection of lentil recipes (be warned: some incorporate meat). Instead, I wanted to bring your attention to an Associated Press article about the renewed attention on lentils.

Here's an excerpt: Lentils are a hot topic among gourmets these days, with recipes for them popping up in most major food magazines.

Lentil and other legume farmers hope to capitalize on this interest and convince consumers and food producers to use them in breads and cookies as well as the more traditional soups and stews.

To do this, they've formed a new marketing venture aimed at promoting the health and other benefits of lentils, dry peas, garbanzo beans and other so-called "pulse" crops. "They're barking up the right tree," said Brad Barnes, associate dean of culinary education at The Culinary Institute of America.

Growing interest in Indian and other international cuisines, along with greater awareness of intolerance to gluten, a protein found in many grains, have fostered an interest in lentils and legumes, Barnes and others said. A general push toward eating healthier also has made high-fiber, high-protein, low-fat legumes more appealing, said Tina Ujlaki, executive food editor at Food and Wine magazine.

Have you baked with lentils? How did it turn out? If you have a favorite lentil recipe share a link in the comments.

AP Photo/Larry Crowe

Posted by Kim Walker at 12:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Food

March 26, 2010

Vegans in Baltimore promote 'cruelty free' diet

Do we eat too much food without thinking about where it comes from?

The animal rights group Compassion Over Killing is trying to draw some attention to the issue and, at the same time, bring more vegan offerings to Baltimore. It's got some things planned:

COK is joining with Emily's Cafe and Deserts, at 4901 Springarden Dr. in north Baltimore, this Sunday from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. in a benefit and free movie event. A portion of your breakfast or lunch bill will be donated to the group's efforts. The movie is Chicken Run.

Beforehand, from 10:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. COK is also hosting a "Dunkin' Cruelty Feed-In." They will ask Dunkin' Donuts at 25 Light Street to stop using milk and egg products. RSVP for this at or 301-891-2458.

Also, the group is working with other restaurants to up the number of vegan menu offering. One such place is Pizzazz Tuscan Grille, at 711 Eastern Ave. inside the Pier Five hotel. It's expanded its menu and is hosting an event on April 9 from 7 p.m.-10 p.m. to show it off and raise money for COK's efforts. The restaurant is offering 20 percent of your bill -- plus all the tips earned by our a COK bartender. Drink specials will include $5 martinis and two-for-one drinks.

Anyone been to these place? Enjoyed vegan offerings? Think Baltimore has good vegan, or vegetarian, options?

Posted by Meredith Cohn at 7:00 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Events, Food

March 22, 2010

Meatless Monday: Quiche with a Kick


Cacique sent in some meatless recipes featuring their cheese and crema products, which can be found at WalMart, Safeway and other stores. The Pumpkin Pasta with Pepitas looked intriguing, but I doubt canned pumpkin is widely available right now. So you may want to give Quiche with a Kick a try instead.

Quiche with a Kick

 Servings: 12

1 cup Cacique Monterey Jack shredded

 1/4 cup cilantro (fresh) chopped

1/4 tsp cracked black pepper

2 eggs

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup red bell pepper diced

1/2 cup red onion diced

1 tsp salt

1 jalapeno pepper diced

1 1/4 cup liquid egg substitute cooking spray (non-stick)

1 whole wheat pie crust (frozen)*

2 tsp chili powder

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a medium-sized skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Sautee peppers, onions and diced jalapeno over medium heat until softened, about 8 minutes. Scrape sautéed vegetables into prepared pie crust. Reserve. Whisk egg substitute, eggs, and milk until frothy. Stir in salt, chili powder, pepper, and cheese. Pour egg mixture over vegetables in pie crust. Bake until top is lightly browned and set, about 50 minutes. Cool 10 minutes, top with chopped cilantro, and serve. *A whole wheat pie crust is available in the freezer section at natural food stores and some large grocery stores.

Recipe and photo courtesy of Cacique.

If this dish doesn't appeal, search our recipes database for other meatless options. As always, if you give this recipe a try, tell us about it in the comments. Or e-mail us your favorite meatless recipe to share.

Posted by at 11:29 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Food

March 18, 2010

Nature Conservancy profits from Crystal Light

Do you buy Crystal Light powdered drink products? If you do, head out to the market on March 22 because the company is giving 100 percent of the net profits from sales to the Nature Conservancy to help protect American rivers and lakes, including the Potomac River.

It's World Water Day, and the company so dependent on water says it will give no less than  $350,000 and up to $750,000.

The money will go to four other projects besides the Potomac: the Colorado River, Great Lakes Basin, Meramec River (part of the Mississippi river) and Southern River. It will pay for an outreach and awareness campaign and an assessment of how to preserve the waterways. 

If you don't know about the Potomac, here are some tidbits from the Nature Conservancy at Crystal Light: 

It's called the “The Nation’s River,” and it flows 383 miles from its source in West Virginia through the nation’s capital and into the Chesapeake Bay. It provides drinking water to 4.3 million people in the DC metro area. It's threatened by rapid population growth and land use changes in its watershed.

For more information, go to

Baltimore Sun file photo of the Potomac in Harper's Ferry, W.Va./Monica Lopossay

Posted by Meredith Cohn at 7:30 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Food

March 15, 2010

Meatless Monday: Mushroom Pancake Salad


This week's Meatless Monday recipe comes from the folks we lifted our name from: the non-profit group The Monday Campaigns, which works with in association with the Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health. Their goal is to help reduce meat consumption 15% to improve people's and the planet's health.

The group got the recipe is from Donna of Fab Frugal Food.

Mushrooms are diced, seasoned and cooked into thin pancakes. These savory mushroom patties are then layered with tomato, cucumber and Greek yogurt to make a refreshing salad stack.

Serves 4

For the savory mushroom pancakes:

2 large eggs
2 cups low fat milk
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 pound mushrooms, roughly chopped
A little butter or cooking spray for the skillet
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cumin

To complete the mushroom pancake stacked salad:

½ cup low fat Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tomatoes, sliced
1 cucumber, sliced
2 bell peppers, sliced
To make the savory mushroom pancakes:

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, soy sauce, hot sauce, flour and baking powder. Set aside.

Pulse the chopped mushrooms in a food processor until very finely minced.

Melt a little butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the finely diced mushrooms, garlic, salt and cumin to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently to release moisture. Cook for 5-8 minutes or until all the moisture has evaporated. Remove skillet from heat and cool to room temperature.

When mushroom mixture has cooled, stir into the egg-milk batter.

Prepare another skillet with cooking spray or melt a little butter in the skillet over medium heat. Pour about ¼ cup of batter into the skillet, spreading with the back of a spoon to form a 4-5 inch disc. Cook for 2-3 minutes per side, or until pancake has been cooked through. Repeat until you are out of batter.

To complete the mushroom pancake stacked salad:

Mix Greek yogurt and Dijon mustard together in a small bowl.

Spread one pancake with a small spoonful of the yogurt mixture. Layer one slice tomato, one slice cucumber and one slice bell pepper on top of the pancake. Repeat so stacked salad has 2 yogurt covered pancakes and 2 slices of all the veggies.

Repeat process until you have made several stacked salads and are out of pancakes. Enjoy!

Photo courtesy of The Monday Campaigns

Posted by Meredith Cohn at 6:45 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Food

March 8, 2010

Meatless Monday: Curry Lentil Soup & Chili


These are some recipes from a little coffee shop and eatery in the Federal Hill/Riverside area of South Baltimore called Koba Cafe (644 E Fort Ave. 410-986-0366).

They are the creation of owner Adama Fall, who likes to travel and sample foods and then come home and produce his own versions for his customers.

He has seating, free Wi-Fi and local art on the walls, so there's usually some people lingering over coffee and lunch. Adama will likely be behind the counter, and he's usually willing to give you a taste. If you prefer to try the recipes at home, he's provided them below:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb. green lentils (soaked overnight)
1 tablespoon spicy curry powder
1/2 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 stack of celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
salt and additional pepper to taste
Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Place chopped onion and garlic in skillet and cook until evenly browned.  Add curry powder and mix well with onion/garlic mixture.
Add 20 oz. water. Stir.  Add cumin, salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
Bring to a boil and add drained lentils.  Cook for 2 hours over medium heat.
Reduce heat, add chopped carrots and celery.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serves 10 people.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb. black kidney beans (soaked overnight)
1/2 small can tomato paste
1/2 onion, chopped
1 bag sweet corn
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 roma tomatoes, chopped
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Place chooped onions and garlic and tomato paste in the skillet and cook until evenly browned.
Add 20 oz. of water. Stir.  Season with chili powder, salt, pepper, cumin, and oregano.
Bring to a boil and add the drained black kidney beans.
Turn the heat to medium and cook for approximately 2 hours.
Reduce heat and then add chopped green pepper, diced tomoto, and sweet corn.  Stir all together, season with salt and pepper to taste, and you're all done.
Best served the next day once all the ingredients have had a chance to marry.
Serves 10 people.

Photo courtesy of Earl via flickr

Posted by Meredith Cohn at 11:08 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Food

March 1, 2010

Dumping on manure, chemical fertilizer

Which is worse for the nation's environment - animal manure or chemical fertilizer? 

According to a story today in the Washington Post, the waste generated by farms raising cattle, hogs, chickens and turkeys is getting into the water (and air) in increasing quantities, even as environmental laws are cracking down on other pollutants. 

Farm animal manure (like the chicken manure being cleaned out of an Eastern Shore poultry house in the above photo) is responsible for roughly a quarter of the nitrogen helping to create a massive dead zone in the heart of the Chesapeake Bay, David Farenthold points out.  It's also a factor in more than 200 other coastal dead zones around the country.  Modern industrial-scale animal farming simply generates too much manure to safely spread on crop fields - the excess washes off into nearby water ways.

But fertilizing farm fields with chemical or synthetic nitrogen (aka "artificial manure") doesn't seem any better for the environment, according to an ongoing series in Grist, the Seattle-based online publication of green news and commentary.   The latest installment, which you can read here, reports on research finding that synthetic nitrogen winds up damaging the soil and destroying its ability to absorb climate-warming carbon dioxide.

What's a farmer to do?  Correction, what are we all to do, since we're the ultimate consumers of those crops the farmers raise?  Is there more that can and should be done to control fertilizer use to protect our streams, rivers and bays?  Can we cut back on fertilizer use without harming food production?  Food for thought.

(2008 Baltimore Sun file photo by Doug Kapustin)

Posted by Tim Wheeler at 2:33 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Chesapeake Bay, Climate change, Food, News

February 26, 2010

Farmers' markets or CSAs -- you decide

This is the time of year when consumers of local and organic foods start thinking about spring produce -- CSAs are signing up people for the spring. But how do you decide on a CSA, which stands for community supported agriculture, or the farmers' market?

There are so many more farmers' markets now in the region and around the country. You can go and pick what you want from seasonal fruits and vegetables, as well as other goodies. Many people like to make a morning of browsing. Many vendors will let you sample.

Some markets, like the main Baltimore City market under the JFX -- which opens May 3 -- have even gotten a little crowded with people who bring the whole family and make an event out of shopping.

But a CSA, where you arrange in advance for a box of fresh seasonal items to arrive at your home or designated location, is also appealing. You know you're getting a lot of good stuff without a trip to the market, including some things you may not have ever thought to buy.

The state has a list of markets and CSAs, if you're interested in exploring one or another -- or both. There are no rules.  

So, which do you prefer? Has anyone participated in a CSA and loved it? Did you still find yourself going to the farmers' market, too?

Baltimore Sun file photo of the farmers' market under the JFX/Amy Davis

Posted by Meredith Cohn at 12:06 PM | | Comments (16)
Categories: Food, Shopping

February 25, 2010

Sustainable food and sustainable grooves


Round up your friends and family this Saturday and head over to Boordy Vineyard’s Fond of You Fondue event. Nothing could be more relaxing than kicking back to the sultry melodies of Bossalingo while sipping local wines and sampling homemade fondues. Learn about winemaking while touring Boordy’s vineyard and romantic nineteenth century wine cellar. End the evening by toasting marshmallows over an open-flame cauldron.

Festivities will repeat themselves on Sunday, to the tunes of The Mudbugs.

Fondues include rich chocolate fondue, five-cheese and roasted garlic fondue, and creamy caramel and butterscotch fondue. Everything is homemade and/or local.

The price for admission is $18 for adults and $5 for children. The event begins at 1 p.m. and ends at 5 p.m. For more information and directions, visit Boordy’s web site.

Image courtesy of elh70 on Flickr

Posted by Christy Zuccarini at 3:29 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Events, Food

February 4, 2010

USDA takes accounting of organic farms

It seems that organic farming is gaining a nice foothold in America and are doing okay business-wise.

The just release 2008 Organic Production Survery conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows the amount of farmland dedicated to organic crops and livestock is still really small but growing fast.  

It survey is the first widescale survey so there's not a lot to compare it to. But there are some telling numbers.

The survery said there are 14,540 farms that were USDA certified organic or exempt from certification because sales are less than $5,000 -- including 129 in Maryland. The number has doubled at least twice since 1990.

They farm 4.1 million acres of land in all 50 states, though California is home to 20 percent of the farms. That's up from about 1 million acres in 1990. (It's still only about a percent of all farmed crop and pasture land.)

In 2008, sales of organic products nationwide totaled $3.16 billion. Some $1.94 billion was spent on crops and $1.22 billion on livestock, poultry and their products.

Organic farms took in more in sales than conventional farms: An average of $217,675 verses a $134,807 average for all farms. But they also spent more on production: $171,978 on organic farms, compared with an average $109,359 on all farms.

Organic farming is largely local with about 44 percent of sales were made within 100 miles from the farm. Though, just 7 percent were direct to consumers at farmers' markets and other means. The rest went to wholesalers and retailers.

What about the future? More than 78 percent of the farms say they plan to keep up the organic farming and even increase production in coming years.

Baltimore Sun file photo of the Columbia farmers' market/Andre F. Chung

Posted by Meredith Cohn at 11:32 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Food

January 27, 2010

Target goes wild for salmon

Attention, shoppers! Target has announced it's stopped selling farmed salmon in its stores nationwide, and will carry only wild-caught Alaskan salmon from now on.

In making the move, the Minneapolis-based retailer said it's doing so for environmental reasons.  Many salmon farms produce pollution, the store's statement pointed out. They often release chemicals, parasites and non-native farmed fish into the open water, where they can affect natural habitat and the native salmon in surrounding areas.

The chain's move was hailed by the Monterey Aquarium, which has long campaigned to promote consumption of only seafood that is sustainably managed.  The aquarium predicted that Target, with more than 1,700 stores in 49 states, would have a "real impact in the marketplace."

Greenpeace likewise applauded Target, noting that even before this announcement the chain had moved up into 4th place nationally in the environmental group's ranking of the sustainability of major food retailers' seafood products and practices.

Target already uses wild salmon in several of its store-brand products. The only exception to the immediate ban on farmed salmon is in its sushi offerings, which Target said it would take until year's end to phase out. For more, go here and here.

(2004 Baltimore Sun photo by Barbara Haddock Taylor)

Posted by Tim Wheeler at 6:05 AM | | Comments (6)

January 25, 2010

Meatless Mondays: Winter vegetarian bean stew

This hearty meal recently ran in The Baltimore Sun's Taste section.

Portobello mushroom, tomato and white bean ragout

Prep: 25 minutes Cook: 20 minutes Makes: 4-6 servings

The ragout can be prepared 4 hours ahead, covered and reheated gently.

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 leeks, light green and white part, finely chopped

2 pounds portobello mushrooms, trimmed, chopped

1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes

1 tablespoon fresh finely chopped tarragon or 1 teaspoon dried

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1/4 teaspoon favorite seasoning salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 cup cooked cannellini beans

2 tablespoons creme fraiche or whipping cream

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add leeks; cook until softened and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms. Cook, stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and tarragon; simmer, stirring to break up tomatoes, until the mixture is thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the vinegar, salt and pepper to taste; heat to a boil over high heat. Cook until liquid thickens to a glaze, 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low; stir in the beans and cream. Heat 1 minute. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Nutrition information: Per serving: 178 calories, 32% of calories from fat, 7 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 7 mg cholesterol, 24 g carbohydrates, 8 g protein, 345 mg sodium, 6 g fiber

Do you have a favorite vegetarian recipe? If so, share it with us in the comments for a chance to win a green-themed prize.

Posted by Kim Walker at 9:53 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Food

January 4, 2010

Meatless Mondays: Moroccan Stew

This weekend, most of the Food Network cooking shows highlighted light and healthy recipes. One that I can't wait to try is Aida Mollenkamp's Squash and Chickpea Moroccan Stew. It features bold flavors of cinnamon and preserved lemon, and the recipe received 5 stars from the Food Network web site users. I think the episode of "Ask Aida" was a rerun, but I hadn't seen it.

If you give it a try, let us know how it turned out, and feel free to share your own vegetarian recipes.

Of course, the big Food Network show of the weekend was the Iron Chef battle that featured the White House chef and Michelle Obama. Garden Variety writes about it here.

Posted by Kim Walker at 2:27 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Food

December 28, 2009

Meatless Mondays: Stuffed Peppers

After indulging over the holidays, I found a lighter recipe from our database that you can feel a little better about eating.

Peppers Stuffed with Quinoa, Corn and Feta Cheese
Yield: Serves 4
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste

1 cup quinoa, rinsed well several times

3 tablespoons olive oil (divided use)

1 bunch of scallions, including 2 inches of the greens, thinly sliced into rounds

2 jalapeno chiles, finely diced, seeded if desired

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 cups, more or less, fresh or frozen corn kernels (from 3 ears of corn)

1 bunch spinach, leaves only, or 1/2 pound spinach leaves

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1/4 pound feta cheese, cut into small cubes

freshly ground pepper

2 large red onions, thinly sliced into rounds

1/2 cup white wine (can be riesling)

4 yellow and/or orange bell peppers

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add the 1/2 teaspoon salt, then the quinoa. Give it a stir, then cover and simmer over low heat until the grains are tender and reveal their spiraled germ, about 15 minutes.

Warm half the oil in a wide skillet. Add the scallions and chiles, cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes, then add the garlic, cumin, corn and spinach, along with 2 tablespoons water. When the spinach is wilted, add the cilantro, quinoa and feta. Toss everything together, taste for salt, and season with pepper. Heat a tablespoon of oil in another wide skillet. When hot, add the onions and saute, stirring frequently, until they start to color around the edges, after several minutes. Pour in the wine and deglaze the pan, giving the onions a stir as you do so. Season with salt and pepper and distribute in a baking dish or two large enough to hold the peppers.

Slice the peppers in half lengthwise without removing the tops or stems, then cut out the membranes and seeds. Simmer them in salted water until tender to the touch of a knife but not overly soft, 4 to 5 minutes, and remove. Fill them with the quinoa and set them in the baking dish or dishes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle the rest of the oil over the peppers and bake the peppers until heated through, 20 to 30 minutes, then switch the heat to broil and brown the tops. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Per serving: 520 calories, 17 grams protein, 20 grams fat, 6 grams saturated fat, 73 grams carbohydrate, 10 grams fiber, 25 milligrams cholesterol, 665 milligrams sodium
From "Vegetarian Suppers From Deborah Madison's Kitchen," by Deborah Madison

Do you have a go-to vegetarian soup recipe? Share it with us in the comments for a chance to win a green or vegetarian book.

Posted by Kim Walker at 7:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Food

December 21, 2009

Meatless Mondays: Velvet Lentil Chestnut Soup


This soup from our recipe database looks perfect for the winter season. Do you have a go-to vegetarian soup recipe? Share it with us in the comments for a chance to win a green or vegetarian book.

Velvet Lentil Chestnut Soup

Yield: (Serves 8)


2 large onions, chopped

 2 large garlic cloves, chopped

olive oil

2 cups lentils

10 cups vegetable broth

3 teaspoons dried thyme

2 dry bay leaves

salt and pepper to taste

2 cups cooked whole chestnuts (canned or in a jar, available in most specialty stores)

1 tablespoon honey, or more if desired 1

 tablespoon creme fraiche or good-quality yogurt (Fage, available in most grocery stores)

Peel and chop the onions and garlic. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat up enough olive oil to amply coat the bottom of the pan, and cook the onions and garlic on medium heat until translucent, for about 10 minutes. Add the lentils, vegetable broth, herbs and a bit of salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, and let simmer gently for 30 minutes.

Add the chestnuts, and cook for another 10 minutes. Try a spoonful to see if the lentils and chestnuts are cooked to your taste, and correct the seasoning. Add 1 tablespoon honey and taste again, adding more if you like. Remove bay leaves.

Transfer the soup in batches to a food processor, being careful not to fill more than 1/3 full to avoid leakage, and mix it, being careful not to mix too thoroughly because chunks are particularly desirable in this soup.

Return the soup to the pot, add the creme fraiche or yogurt, and stir over low heat until nicely blended. (Alternatively, you can add less or no creme fraiche at this point, then add a dollop to each steaming bowl as you serve, or, if people are serving themselves, leave a bowl of creme fraiche or yogurt next to the soup tureen so guests can add as desired.)

Serve while hot.

PER SERVING: 389 calories, 20 grams protein, 5 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 68 grams carbohydrate, 20 grams fiber, 1 milligram cholesterol, 1,182 milligrams sodium

Courtesy of Jennifer Crutcher Wilkinson

Baltimore Sun file photo by Amy Davis

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:30 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Food

November 27, 2009

Report: BWI airport not so veggie friendly, healthy

The food police have gone snacking at BWI Thurgood Marshall and the nation's other busy airports and have not been so pleased with everyone's offerings in the health and veggie departments.

BWI ranked closer to the bottom of the 17 busiest airports for healthy fare. The two other DC area airports -- Dulles and National -- did worse.

BWI ranked 13th with just 71 percent of its restaurants serving at least one healthy meal. 

Detroit got a perfect score from the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine., which promotes preventive medicine and does clinical research. San Francisco got Most Improved. Diners there could easily find healthy, cholesterol-free vegetarian meals.  

The goup's dietitians examined food served at the nation’s busiest airports and found that 79 percent of the restaurants there now offer at least one low-fat, high-fiber vegetarian entrée. This is the first year (out of nine) that the report gave an airport a perfect score. That was Detroit's Metropolitan Wayne County.

“Greasy airport food is often as big a pain for travelers as long lines or baggage fees,” says Susan Levin, the group's director of nutrition education “Low-fat, high-fiber vegetarian meals can help prevent many common health problems, and healthy eating can even make passengers feel less frazzled.”

The group says meatless meals can decrease tension and improve mood.

The restaurants got a point if its menu included at least one low-fat, cholesterol-free vegetarian entrée. The group came up with the final score by dividing the airport’s number of restaurants serving health-conscious fare by its total number of restaurants.

The actual rankings are on the next page.   

Continue reading "Report: BWI airport not so veggie friendly, healthy" »

Posted by Meredith Cohn at 7:00 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Food

November 23, 2009

Meatless Mondays: Sweet potato gratin

This week's meatless recipe is a decadent dish from "Vegetarian Suppers From Deborah Madison's Kitchen." If you can't indulge this week, when can you?

Sweet-Potato Gratin With Onions and Sage

Yield: Serves 4


2 teaspoons oil plus a little for cooking dish

1 large onion, chopped into 1/2 -inch dice

2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage or 2 teaspoons dried

3 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), thinly sliced

1 large handful of fresh parsley leaves, chopped

1 plump garlic clove, finely chopped

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

3/4 cup grated Gruyere or smoked mozzarella cheese (divided use)

1 to 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese (divided use)

1 cup cream or half-and-half, warmed (milk won't work)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 2-quart gratin dish and put a moderately large pot of water on to boil. Put 2 teaspoons of oil in a skillet over medium heat and add the onion and sage. Cook, giving them an occasional stir, until soft and golden, about 12 minutes.

Meanwhile peel the sweet potatoes, then slice them as thinly as you can manage. Salt the water, then drop them in. Allow the water to return to a boil, which may take a few minutes. Boil for a minute or until the potatoes are partly tender when pierced with a knife, then drain. Toss them with the onions, chopped parsley and garlic.

Scoop a third of the potato mixture into the prepared gratin dish and even the potatoes out. Season with salt and pepper. Add half the Gruyere and grate a little parmesan over the mixture. Repeat making one or two more layers, covering the last with a dusting of parmesan.

Pour the warm cream over all. Cover with foil and bake in the center of the oven for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the potatoes are soft and the gratin has browned, another 25 minutes of so. Let the gratin stand a few minutes before serving.

If you have a favorite vegan or vegetarian dish, email us with the recipe, source (if it's not your own) and photo (if you have one), and we may feature it in future posts. If we choose your recipe, we'll also send you a book related to vegetarian or green eating.

IStock photo

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:30 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Contests, Food

November 19, 2009

Drink your greens

Vegan Bloody Mary

On Friday, Nov. 20th (tomorrow), Baltimore Vegan Drinks will host their monthly social networking event at Dionysus Restaurant and Lounge in Mt. Vernon.

Baltimore Vegan Drinks is the local chapter of Vegan Drinks, whose mission is to bring together a diverse group of people to build new coalitions and promote the sharing of resources.

The event will feature a totally vegan menu, including a vegan Bloody Mary, Organic Crop Cucumber Martinis, specially made vegan Bailey’s Irish Cream, and Dionysus’ own Basilicious (Organic Crop Tomato vodka muddled with fresh basil and topped with soda water). The menu also includes vegan wines and microbrews. Yum!

For more information, visit the Baltimore Vegan Drinks web site or RSVP to the event via Facebook.

Image courtesy of Lauren Musselman

Posted by Christy Zuccarini at 10:55 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Events, Food

November 17, 2009

Veg Meet 'n Greet

Vegan banana bread

On Nov. 21, from 6-9 p.m., Earth Save Baltimore will host a Pre-Thanksgiving Vegan Potluck at the Learning Center of Your Prescription for Health in Owings Mills. The dinner will feature live music from local musicians Michael Harris, Norm Hogeline, Lorna Sampson and Don Robertson, and prizes will be awarded to the two best dishes of the night, one raw and one cooked.

A volunteer-operated nonprofit, EarthSave Baltimore’s mission is to educate people about the impact that food choices have on the environment and health, and to educate and support people in making the shift toward a whole food, plant-centered diet. The Baltimore chapter of the New York organization holds a monthly Dinner Ed series on the last Saturday, and other casual “veg” gatherings, including Vegetarian Friends (formerly Vegetarian Singles) at local veg-friendly restaurants, and potluck dinners at various local residences.

If you’re interested in attending the Pre-Thanksgiving Potluck, RSVP to Guests are asked to bring a dish made without animal products to serve five times the number in their party, along with a donation of $5 (members $2). Or guests may attend without bringing a dish for a $12 fee (members $10). For more information, visit the EarthSave Baltimore web site.

Image courtesy of Crystl

Posted by Christy Zuccarini at 2:38 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Events, Food

Local meatless meatballs are ranked among the best

The animal rights group PETA is out with a new list, and this time, a local eatery is ranked among the nation's best. (Maryland prisons and ballparks have made past lists.)

PETA says One World Cafe's vegan meatball sub sandwich is in the Top 10 best faux meatballs in the country.

The other winners were in states including California, New York and Massachusetts. But there was also one winner in Texas. They made soups, pastas and other meals out of their meatballs.

I couldn't find this item on One World's menu online. Maybe it's a special? Anyone had the One World creation?

Anyone know of other good places to acquire a good meatless meatball?

Posted by Meredith Cohn at 8:00 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Food

November 16, 2009

Meatless Mondays: Squash dish for the holidays


With all the talk about vegetarianism becoming more common, we decided to feature recipes on B'More Green. We have plenty to choose from in's recipe database, but we also want to hear from you. If you have a favorite vegan or vegetarian dish, email us with the recipe, source (if it's not your own) and photo (if you have one), and we may feature it in future posts. If we choose your recipe, we may also send you a book related to vegetarian or green eating. 

To kick things off, here's a recipe from our vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes page. 

 Stuffed Butternut Squash with Wild Rice, Apricots

1 large butternut or Hubbard squash
1/3 cup fat-free, reduced sodium vegetable broth
1/2 cup chopped onions
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped apples
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 teaspoon dried sage, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups cooked wild rice
1 cup toasted* bread crumbs
1/4 cup toasted* pine nuts, optional
1/3 cup chopped celery
Salt and fresh-ground black pepper, to taste

Halve squash and scoop out seeds. Set aside.

Pour broth into a 10-inch nonstick skillet and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring, 8 minutes or until soft. Add garlic, apples, apricots, sage, thyme and wild rice. Cook 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Stir in bread crumbs, pine nuts, if using, celery, salt and pepper. Mound mixture over squash halves. Place on baking sheet and cover with foil. Bake at 350 degrees 1 hour or until squash shell is soft. Remove foil and bake 15 minutes longer or until stuffing is lightly browned. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Per serving (with pine nuts): 242 calories, 8 grams protein, 5 grams fat, 47 grams carbohydrates, no cholesterol, 159 milligrams sodium, 17 percent calories from fat.

Per serving (without pine nuts): 207 calories, 6 grams protein, 1 grams fat, 46 grams carbohydrates, no cholesterol, 158 milligrams sodium, 6 percent calories from fat.

*To toast nuts or bread crumbs: Spread in a single layer on separate baking sheets and toast in a 350-degree oven 5 to 10 minutes or until golden. Use a spatula to turn bread crumbs or shake the pan to turn the nuts.

Recipe courtesy of South Florida Sun-Sentinel

 So speak up vegetarians. What are your favorite holiday dishes?

AP file photo


Posted by Kim Walker at 6:30 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Food
Keep reading
Recent entries
About the bloggers
Tim WheelerTim Wheeler reports on the environment and Chesapeake Bay. A native of West Virginia, he has focused mainly on Maryland's environment since moving here in 1983. Along the way, he's crewed aboard a skipjack in the bay, canoed under city streets up the Jones Fall from the Inner Harbor, and gone deep underground in a western Maryland coal mine. He loves seafood, rambles in the country and good stories. He hopes to share some here.

Contributor Christy Zuccarini has been blogging about the local DIY craft scene for a year for She brings her pespective on all things handmade to B'More Green, where she will highlight projects you can do yourself as well as crafters who are integrating sustainable methods and materials.

Most Recent Comments
Baltimore Sun coverage
  • Sign up for the At Home newsletter
The home and garden newsletter includes design tips and trends, gardening coverage, ideas for DIY projects and more.
See a sample | Sign up

Charm City Current
Stay connected