Thursday, February 25, 2010

Eat yogurt = offset carbon

OK, I know that title sounds kinda silly. Yogurt is produced from milk produced from cows that spew a whole lot of carbon into our atmosphere. But Stonyfield Organic Yogurt, based right near me in Londonderry, NH, has started a rewards program where you can save up points from their containers and redeem them for things like more yogurt, snacks and even carbon offsets.

So I redeemed 25 points just now and offset 1/4 ton of carbon via Native Energy, enough to offset 500 miles of driving, which pretty much covers last weekend's trip to see grandma and grandpa in Westchester, NY. But wait, we still drove about 450 miles, our car producing CO2 the whole way. So what does this mean? According to the Native Energy website a renewable energy offset is explained thus:

For every kilowatt hour of electricity a renewable generator generates, it also generates a one-kilowatt hour renewable energy credit. The generator can sell both commodities together as "renewable electricity" or sell the electricity as "generic" electricity to one buyer and the RECs to other buyers. Legally, it's all about who owns the RECs

The way I see it my redeeming this renewable energy credit is supporting a wind farm, a farm methane gas generator, solar plant or other kind of renewable energy source. Kinda makes me feel good. Think my toddler and I will go eat more yogurt! One more container and I'll have enough points to offset another quarter ton of carbon!!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A maple flavored Valentine: maple cookies

For those of you who have been reading my blog for a while you might know I have a sensitivity to cane sugar which exacerbates my Crohn's Disease. What you might not know is that I also detest chocolate. I know, I must have some sort of rare recessive gene. What woman hates chocolate? It actually makes me gag. I swear. So no heart-shaped box of chocolates for me on Valentine's Day!

I've had a little too many store-bought cookies and Swedish Fish over the past few weeks and it set off a nasty week-long Crohn's disease spell. Considering I'm 20 weeks pregnant I have my growing baby to think about now, so back to cane sugar-free eating for me. Which isn't as hard as you might think. Yes, cane sugar seems to make its way into just about every product on the shelves. But a little internet research, and a lot of home cooking and baking, and you can have your sweets and eat them too!

So on this Valentine's Day in lieu of nasty, sugary chocolate (Yuck!) I've made myself a sweet treat of my favorite maple cookies. Next to vanilla, maple is by far my favorite flavor. A warning: these are in no way a "diet" cookie. Just because they don't contain cane sugar, they do contain a whole cup of butter, YUM!

This recipe comes off an excellent website full of cookies and treats with cane sugar alternatives, I altered it slightly by using only one cup of maple sugar and replacing the extra half cup with maple syrup since it's slightly cheaper than maple sugar. Enjoy!

Debra Lynn Dadd


Maple Cookies

As autumn leaves fall, I love to make these maple cookies cut out with leaf-shaped cookie cutters. They are crisp and crunchy like an autumn leaf and are flavored and sweetened with maple syrup, which, as you know, is the sap of a tree.

They can also be used instead of graham crackers to make a flavorful cookie-crumb pie crust.

Makes about 4 dozen medium-sized cookies

NOTE: Dough needs to chill at least four hours, so don't make these at the last minute for a party. Make the dough ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator. My dough was delicious after chilling for a week, and seems to improve with time.

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated maple sugar or unrefined cane sugar (such as Sucanat or Rapadura)*
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon maple extract
1/4 cup maple syrup
4 cups unbleached white flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

  1. In a medium bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer.
  2. Gradually add the sugar while you continue to beat.
  3. Add the eggs, vanilla extract, maple extract, and maple syrup, and beat until light and fluffy.
  4. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together.
  5. Mix the flour mixture into the butter mixture.
  6. Bring the dough into a ball, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
  7. Chill at least four hours.
  8. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  9. Roll the dough out 1/4-inch thick. Cut out cookies and transfer them to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat.
  10. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.
* Granulated maple sugar is more expensive and hard to find, but would result in an all-maple cookie. unrefined cane sugar (such as Sucanat or Rapadura) is less expensive, available in most natural food stores, and has the added benefit of causing less blood sugar rise.



Copyright ©2005 Debra Lynn Dadd - all rights reserved

Thursday, February 4, 2010

If a tree falls, would a hawk notice?

If an old, dead tree along the highway was cut down would anyone notice? Well, I did, and I wonder about the red tailed hawk pair who used it as their perch.

On the north bound side of Route 95 in Danvers, MA - just north of the Center Street overpass and before route 62 - there was an old, dead tree that stood twice as tall as anything around it. I doubt anyone would have taken notice of this tree unless you were a birder or had an inclination towards the natural world. Most people probably drove past it everyday while on their cell phones or sipping their lattes and never knew it was there. But I knew it, and every time I passed I'd look to see if the hawks were there. And they almost always were.

Sometime this past fall it was suddenly gone, just a clean-cut stump and a hole in the space it occupied in the sky. I assume State highway workers removed it to prevent it falling over in a storm and blocking one of the most traveled routes through northern Massachusetts. I can see their reasoning, but did they think of the hawks?

I thought about the tree again this morning, as I always do, when I drive past the stump. And I thought about it even more because I saw both of the hawks, perched a few hundred yards apart, one on a highway sign and one in another not-so-nice dead tree. Do they miss their old tree? Do they even remember it? Do they fly towards it expecting it to reappear as mysteriously and suddenly as it disappeared?

If I could be another species for just five minutes I've always wanted to be a hawk or an eagle -I know, you're surprised not a dolphin or a whale? It's true. I would love to see through their amazing eyes, feel what it would feel like to fly, and find out if they miss their tree. What sets humans apart from most other animals is our ability to feel empathy for others. And I feel sad for these hawks even though I'd like to think that they don't mind their tree being gone and have found other perches that suit them just as well. Perhaps I'm anthropomorphizing a bit too much, but I am only human.