Shop Local this Holiday Season

With the upcoming holiday season it’s more important now than ever to buy local.

Supporting your local business helps keep everyone more sustainable. When you buy from an independent, locally owned business, rather than nationally owned businesses, significantly more of your money is used to make purchases from other local businesses, service providers and farms. This helps strengthen the economic base of the community.
When we buy local, local businesses are more likely to donate to local charities, because our support has enabled them to do so.

Supporting local business also helps reduce the impact on our environment. Buy locally keep those daily deliveries from online purchases from crowding our streets. The same goes for making purchases at the mall, millions of trucks delivery daily and weekly to department stores. Why not buy hand made, locally supplied goods?
Buying local also creates more jobs. In this tough economy it’s very important to contribute to the greater good.

This year before shopping, ask yourself a few questions.
1.             What do I really need?
2.             Can I make something for my loved ones instead of purchasing?
3.             Do I really need worthless plastic crap made in China, just to fill a stocking?

About 4 years ago I made a pledge to myself, and my family to stop the consumer nonsense. I’ve banned WalMart from my life, I make many of my gifts, when buying books I always buy used. We are very blessed in this little town of Bethlehem, not only with amazing shops in the Historic District but we have an eclectic Southside with handmade goods lining the streets. We also have very talented artists to purchase original heartfelt gifts from. Besides that Bethlehem has plenty of shops and restaurants off the beaten path that would add a surprise to your kids stocking.

A really important step is to talk to your children about consumerism. After all, they are our future. I’ve talked to Lily about the importance of shopping local, and why we don’t have mounds of unnecessary gifts under our tree. She has actually said to me while shopping, ‘Mommy, is that a want or a need?’ TEACH YOUR CHILDREN, so they can teach you in return. Take the time to make presents for people. Three hours trolling the malls can be better spent knitting a scarf or painting a picture for someone. Gift cards to local businesses are a great way to keep local business alive. I encourage local businesses to respond to this blog with their information and Holiday specials so we can all work together to BUY LOCAL!

"Going local does not mean walling off the outside world. It Means nurturing locally owned businesses which use local resources sustainably, employ local workers at decent wages and serve primarily local consumers. It means becoming more self-sufficient and less dependant on imports. Control moves from the boardrooms of distant corporations and back into the community where it belongs."
-                Michael H. Shuman, author of the book Going Local.

Vegetarian Potluck

The Potluck was a great success! We will be having another one on November 19th with a Thanksgiving theme. Although we did cut out the $5 part, it was one of the yummiest spreads I've ever experienced. Thanks to my dear friend Chris, I remained sane and all went quite smoothly. If you'd like to join us for the next one, get in touch. 


Vegetarian Potluck

You're invited to join me in taking the $5 Challenge on September 17 -- we're cooking fresh, healthy food that costs no more than $5/person. Why? Because slow food shouldn't have to cost more than fast food. It's time to take back the value meal.

People all over the country are taking the challenge that day. Together, we're sending a message to our nation's leaders that everyone should be able to afford fresh, healthy food every day.

Please facebook or email me your email address if you'd like an invite to this event.



While at an EcoFilm Festival this weekend at the SteelStacks in Bethlehem, I was able to see Farmageddon, and I wanted to share the link. If you haven't seen this, put it on your 'must see' list. 

We need to be aware of who are enemies are and unfortunately it's our very own USDA! We need to stand together and tell them what's acceptable for our food and we need to tell them it's not okay to terrorize small scale farmers for providing healthy and safe food!

What If? By Cathy Frankenberg

What if, while you read this, I broke your window, took the computer off your desk, and then tried to sell it back to you for a thousand dollars? 

Would you threaten me, call the police, and have me arrested? 

Or would you hand over the money and return to your reading while I slipped back out the window? 

Of course you would call the police.  Giving me money for what you already own would be ridiculous.  Yet, today, millions of Americans will happily purchase back what is naturally theirs- and far more necessary to life than a computer – and that thing is water.  According to the documentary film, FLOW: For Love of Water, we spend more than $30 billion on bottled water each year.  As we buy, we drive up the demand for petroleum, and the bottles stack up in landfills- 3.62 billion annually, according to the National Association for PET Container Resources. 

So why do smart people buy bottled water, when they can get tap water for free?  In part, because corporations like Nestlé (which produces Deer Park, Pure Life, and Poland Spring) and Coca-Cola (which produces Dasani) have us convinced we are doing something positive for our health.  The truth is, those billions of bottles of water undergo far less scrutiny than the water coming out of your kitchen faucet, which is subject to government regulations and inspection.  Indeed, research shows that bottled water frequently comes from the very same sources as tap water.  The Natural Resource Defense Council did a study on 103 brands of bottled water, and found not even one to be safer than water from the tap.  In some ways, bottled water is more harmful than tap water – bisphenol-A, or BPA, a chemical compound in plastic, leeches carcinogens and endocrine-disruptors into its contents.

 And as these companies - the very same agencies which contaminate our earth’s finite supply of potable water, scramble to bottle what’s left and sell it back to us, the price of what is rightfully ours, critical for the sustenance of life, is driven higher and higher.  It’s a classic illustration of supply and demand.  The problem is bad here.  It’s worse – and continuously growing worse- around the world.  In some countries, like Bolivia and India, clean water has become so privatized, and so expensive, that poor people are forced to drink contaminated water, leading to deaths from preventable diseases like cholera.  Meanwhile, at corporate headquarters, profits skyrocket – Muhtar Kent, the C.E.O. of Coca-Cola, brought home 22.4 million dollars in 2008.

Clearly, it’s time for a better strategy.  Let’s hold our governments accountable to making free safe, clean drinking water a human right.  And let’s each resolve to quit bottled water.  Making the switch to reusable bottles doesn’t need to be complicated -stylish BPA-free options abound in grocery stores and online.  You can also reuse glass bottles for an even more economical solution.  Invest in a water filter – a basic one will run you about $20.   Then keep one bottle on your kitchen counter, one at your office, and one in your vehicle.  By doing so, you’ll protect your health, your wallet, and your planet – getting both clean water and a clean conscience.


Get your garden ready for the next season.

As fall approaches we often feel an end is near, as it’s time to put our gardens to rest for the season. One important thing to keep is mind is to prepare your garden for the next season.

Awesome tips handed 
down for generations:

  • Tomatoes – Many tomato plants yield right up until the first frost. Take all your green tomatoes and line them up on a baking sheet. Wax paper on the bottom and newspaper on top. Place them in a dark place. I put them under my sink. Keep an eye on them, they will slowly start to turn red over the next two months. Yes, it’s true! I had fresh tomatoes well into November. Some may rot, quickly remove them and compost.

  • Winter Hardy Pests – Many of us have never even thought of that. I know I didn’t until recently. If you had a pest that invaded your garden, be sure to remove the roots completely before fall. Some pests can survive in your garden over the winter, which means they’ll happily return to your crops come spring. Don’t compost them either, only compost pest free and non-diseased plants.

  • Mulch: After removing all roots and debris from your garden, cover your beds with mulch. If you live in Bethlehem, it’s free at the Compost center.
         Organic Materials: compost, bone meal, cottonseed meal etc., are some many options. Thoroughly work them throughout the beds once it’s cleaned out.

  • Repair Work – Now that you’ve removed everything from your garden, repair any problems, like rabbit holes, or water drainage issues before the spring. This way you have a lot less work in the spring and you may just forget by then also.

  • Make a List – take a look at your garden and see if you come up with a list of ideas, changes or fixes that you want to be ready for next year. This will help you from forgetting.

As always I welcome comments and tips so we can share with each other. I’m also opening the blog up for contributing writers. Seems my school schedule is a bit busy lately, and I’ve had less time to post tips. Any ideas are appreciated. 


Back to School Tip #1

As it's coming closer to our little ones heading back to school, I thought it'd be great to share some sustainable tips to smooth the transition.

My favorite find would have to be a bento box. The best part of laptop lunches was how cool all the other kids thought Lily was for having one. She also enjoys filling the containers herself, it gave her ownership over her lunch. It keeps the portions at a reasonable size and helps maintain freshness in BPA free containers.

On a side note, this can be used for an adult as well.


Recipes from my Tofu Class

  • I've included a few recipes that I use for my 'Takin on Tofu' class. They are really easy, any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.
  • Also the website link provides plenty of info on the health benefits of Tofu. 
  • Keep in mind eating Tofu is much more sustainable and healthy than eating any of your other meat products.
takin’ on tofu • recipes •
Honey Glazed Tofu
10oz. pkg. extra firm tofu
2 tsp pepper
2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. salt
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1/4 c. honey
•Lightly squeeze excess water out of
tofu and set aside on a paper-towels.
Combine spices in a bowl
Cut tofu in to 1/4 inch thick slices
Coat tofu with spices & set aside
Heat oil and honey in deep frying pan
Fry tofu in bubbling mixture for
3 minutes
Set aside on paper towel
Serve atop couscous, pasta,
rice or vegetables.

Fried Tofu
Yields 2/3 cups
Olive oil for pan
1 pkg. extra firm tofu
Few squirts of Braags
•Sprinkle of Gomasio
Fry on both sides adding Braags
and Gomasio then Oregano on one side last.
Serve on fresh bakery bread with
vegannaise, lettuce and tomato.

Tofu Breakfast Scramble
1 pkg of firm tofu (crumbled)
2 chopped scallions or 1/2 cup onions
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp turmeric
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp parsley
1 tbsp butter
•Combine scallions, onions, garlic,
turmeric, pepper, salt and parsley in small
Melt butter in frying pan, add tofu. Sprinkle
seasonings over top, mixing repeatedly.
Cover and cook on medium until heated

Breaded Tofu Cubes
1 pkg xtra-firm tofu (drained and cubed)
1/4 cup cornmeal
vegetable oil
•Place tofu cubes in a bag with cornmeal.
Shake gently to coat the cubes.
Heat vegetable oil and sautee tofu until
golden brown.
Add Breaded Tofu Cubes to just about any
meal for extra protein. (Stirfrys, Wraps,
Salads, Veggies, etc.)

Veggie Tofu Quiche
1 pkg of xtra-firm tofu
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 (small) onion chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
10-oz pkg. frozen chopped spinach (thawed
& drained)
3 medium tomatoes (chopped)
1 tsp salt
9 inch pie crust
1/4 C. Mozzarella (shredded)
•Purée Tofu in blender until smooth
In saucepan, saute onion and garlic, stir in
spinach, tomatoes and simmer for 2 to 3
minutes. Remove from heat
Add tofu and salt to the mixture.
Pour into pie crust. Top with Cheese. Bake
350 for 35 min. or until browned.

Website with healthy facts about Tofu:

Coming Soon! Tofu Recipes.

Hey everyone, as many of you know, I'm a Tofu advocate. I've taught classes on how to cook Tofu and have always been able to get the biggest meat eaters hooked! My challenge to you is for a bangin' recipe. What got you hooked on Tofu? What keeps you cooking Tofu? And lastly please share any recipes, questions or concerns about Tofu you have? Maybe we can eliminate some common misconceptions or get some people hooked like my family is. Also if you know a local restaurant or not so local where we can get a delightful Tofu treat please share.


Natural Dog Treat Recipe as requested :)

Peanut Butter Goodness Dog Treats

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups white flour
1/2 cup peanut butter (all-natural or organic)
1 cup water
2 tablespoons oil 
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Combine oil, peanut butter and water. Add flour, one cup at a time, forming a dough. Knead dough into firm ball and roll to 1/4 inch thickness.
Cut into 3 to 4 inch pieces. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes. Makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

Green Tip #2

Who needs all those pesky plastic bags just to keep your produce separate? They're not reusable and they seem so wasteful. Here's a great option, I love mine!


This the first and second step in Reduce, Reuse, Recycle... and they really are steps. Always try to reduce your usage and impact first, then reuse and much as possible, and lastly when it can no longer be used recycle.

Green Tip #1

We all forget our reusable grocery bags at times. Here is a tip to help you remember. 

Always throw your keys in them, that way whenever you head out of the house you have to take your bags.

Stinky Fridge?

My first step began with my refrigerator. It seemed overwhelmingly crowed at most times, with rotten veggies and containers of prepared meals from random olive bars. All the best intentions in mind, I promise, yet it was out of control, I couldn’t begin to identify the random odors escaping at each opening. I knew it could be maintained more efficiently.

First things first, I made a list. While grocery shopping, ask yourself, ‘do I really need all that spring mix or spinach, or would maybe half suffice?’ Chances are you’re not only wasting food, you’re wasting money. I started to push myself to shop more responsibly.

My second step and a very simple one, was to invest in freezer bags and glass reusable storage containers. Glass keeps everything fresher and freezer bags can be rinsed and reused for a long time. Whenever I slice up any fruit or vegetable I immediately grab a freezer bag and throw it in for my next cooking adventure. When my bananas start to turn I place them in a freezer bag, my daughter uses them often to make herself frozen smoothies. Not only sustainable, but also much healthier and she is taking ownership of her own snack and the creation of it.

A Few Storage Tips:

  • Store your veggies properly. Place a paper towel in with your greens and sprouts, it will help absorb a lot of moisture, remember to change it every few days.
  • Invest ($10) in a salad spinner. Freshly cleaned and spun greens, last a lot longer, and then move them to a green storage bag to extend the life. Storing them in the bags or plastic they come in tends to help them get soggy and stinky a lot quicker.
  • Here is a website to help you learn how to store your veggies. http://www.angelicorganics.com/Vegetables/vegetablescontent.php?contentfile=vegstorage
  • If you have a root cellar or cool basement, throw your root vegetables (potatoes, carrots, turnips) in a canvas bag and keep them cool. This also works will with a variety of squash.
  • Herbs can be frozen and reused for just about any recipe. Most likely you’re buying them in a large bunch at the grocery store and chances are it’s way too much for your recipe.

Lastly and certainly not least, lets not forget about soup, when you notice your veggies starting to turn, grab a stockpot and get creative. There are millions of recipes online to help you throw a quick soup together and save those last veggies. Many fruits can be used for juicing or for a chilled soup as well.

In many posts I’m going to share at least one recipe and ask anyone to contribute the same. I would like to keep them all vegetarian or vegan as they provide the most sustainable options for our environment.

As it is coming up on the glorious and delicious peach season I thought I’d share this yummy delight, especially since peaches tend to turn fast, here is a quick soup to throw together to avoid waste and enjoy a refreshing chilled soup.

Pretty Peach Soup
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries, thawed
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen peaches, thawed
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup peach nectar
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (I use vegan)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract


   1. Place raspberries in a blender; cover and process until smooth. Strain and discard seeds. Cover and refrigerate puree. Place peaches and lemon juice in the blender; cover and process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl; sit in nectar, yogurt, sugar if needed (if fruit is tart) and extract. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
   2. To garnish as shown in the photo, drizzle 1 tablespoon raspberry puree in a 3 in. circle on top of each serving. Use a toothpick to draw six lines toward the center of circle, forming a flower.

Nutritional Analysis: One 1-cup serving (prepared with fat-free yogurt) equals 129 calories, 1 g fat (0 saturated fat), 1 mg cholesterol, 42 mg sodium, 31 g carbohydrate, 0 fiber, 3 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 1-1/2 fruit, 1/2 fat-free milk.

When it all began

Hello Fellow Tree Huggers,

I'd like to introduce myself and open my home to you. My name is Summre (pronounced like season) and I'd like to share my sustainability blog with you. I welcome helpful advice and positive posts, we are here to guide each others into a happier and healthier existence.

For years I had attempted to treat the earth a little better, often procrastinating or making one excuse or another. Then I met someone, a whole family to be exact who lived to this ideal. My eyes quickly opened, at first I was a little overwhelmed and yet completely astonished by the system in they had in place. Over the years I was privileged enough to observe and slowly incorporate the lessons I've learned into my own home.

Many times it occurred to me that I would love to share my findings and sustainability tips with the masses. Being a single mom can prove to be a bit of work, sustainability after all works best in numbers. However, this is no reason to throw in the towel. Work with friends and family to collaborate on larger projects and remember one step at a time. Sustainability begins with one tiny step, then another and another. Next thing you know you're investing in a composter and ripping out your lawn to plant a garden. Life has a way of moving forward in a positive direction if you just put a little bit of effort into.