Eating locally. Eating ethically.

One thing I love about Minneapolis and St. Paul are the number of locally owned restaurants with delicious menu offerings. You can imagine my excitement when I spotted a new restaurant guide, Atlas of Ethical Eating, over at The Heavy Table.

Their matrix currently (they hope to expand this in the future) highlights 8 local restaurants and their answers to questions around composting, use of organic dairy, vegan options, LEED design and so on and so on. I'm pleased to see two of my favorites completed the survey and appear to be quite ethical (as defined by the survey): Common Roots Cafe and Bryant Lake Bowl.

Can't wait to see more restaurants added to the list.

***Since my original post, six new restaurants have been added to the list. I'm confident that it will continue to grow. Awesome! (10.29.09)



A delicious dish.

I’m a sucker for eggs, blacks beans and salsa, so when I found a recipe for a remake of “huevos rancheros” (truly a remake; this is in no way authentic), I knew that it would be a match made in heaven.

“Huevos Rancheros”
Serves 2
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

+2-8” tortillas
+can of black beans; drained, rinsed and heated on the stove
+4 eggs; use whole eggs or just whites, whatever you prefer
+salsa fresca; whipped this up with a few tomatoes, small onion, lime juice, jalapeno, clove of garlic, salt and parsley (could use cilantro, but my mom isn’t a fan); you can also just buy a jar of your favorite salsa
shredded cheese; amount is really up to you; I only like a little, but some people love a ton
+bit of olive oil

-heat the oil in a fry pan over medium-high heat.
-warm the tortilla on one side for a couple of minutes, until a crunchy spot or two appear
-flip the tortilla over and sprinkle with cheese; let the cheese melt
-crack an egg or two (whatever you prefer) onto the tortilla
-flip the whole tortilla, egg and all, over
-let the egg cook completely
-flip onto a plate, egg side up
-garnish with salsa, black beans and whatever else you desire (some people probably want to add more meat, some might add sour cream or guac...the sky is the limit.)

I prefer to eat this flat, but I’ve also had people roll this up more like a burrito. There’s no science behind this dish; make it art. Make it your own. Enjoy with a seasonal fruit.



The little things.

Some people shy away from making sustainable, “green” choices in their lives because they fear that this means making BIG or drastic changes to their comfortable lifestyle. You don’t need to stress about making big changes when simple, small steps can make a difference. They may feel a bit uncomfortable at first, but soon enough it will become the norm.

Below are some little things I did over the weekend. Small habits can lead to something bigger down the road.

+Dropped off compost at one of the citywide drop-off locations in Duluth. No, I didn't just drive to Duluth to drop this off, but I do collect and freeze compost until I can make a trek up there.
+Walked outside. Self-powered exercise. Embraced fall and all it has to offer.

+Walked to and from the Duluth Dunn Bros. A 5-mile round trip.

+Used a ceramic mug at Dunn Bros. since we were enjoying our beverages at the coffee shop.

+Collected my brother and sister-in-law's used #5 plastic to be dropped off at Whole Foods for the Preserve Gimme 5 program. You can visit this link to learn more. A future post will highlight the program.

+Borrowed the book Omnivore’s Dilemma instead of buying it. Read about it here. Hopefully I’ll get through it and write about it someday.

My goal is to make this post a weekly event. We’ll see if that happens.

*photo by my sister-in-law



I didn't know that, but now I do.

While reading my latest issue of OnEarth magazine (a quarterly publication from the NRDC), I came upon a small tidbit of information that seemed like something worth sharing. It made me a bit smarter, so hopefully it will do the same for you. I had heard some rumors surrounding this idea in the past that made me feel a bit guilty. However, after reading this, my love of searching the Internet can continue.

A disputatious blogger recently worked out that a typical Google search used half as much energy as boiling water for a cup of tea and produced 7 grams of CO2 emissions. It seemed like a classic piece of blogosphere silliness, but the company, which takes it commitment to energy efficiency very seriously, decided to crunch the numbers for itself. It found that the average search actually produces only 0.2 grams of CO2. For good measure, Google also calculated that producing a single cheeseburger generates as much CO2 as 15,000 searches. And to equal the CO2 emissions from the monthly electricity use of an average U.S. household, you’d have to hit that search key 3.1 million times. So click away! (Source: OnEarth, Fall 2009)



Swanky swigs.

Do antique stores scare you? The smell, the junk, the creepy doll in the corner whose eyes track you as you move through the store? Sounds like you haven’t been to the right one or maybe you haven’t found that one piece of “junk” that keeps you coming back for more.

I’m selective about the ones I will walk into and I’ll make a quick exit if any of the three things I listed above connect with one of my senses. My favorite store - Hunt & Gather (Minneapolis, MN). This place never fails to disappoint. Vintage ribbon for wrapping gifts, eclectic ceiling tiles for my upcycled wall art (etsy site coming soon...hopefully.) or swanky swigs to add to my collection of juice glasses. A world of objects discarded by previous owners. A world of objects loved by new owners.


What's in a name?

What’s a mottainai? Who’s mottainai? What does mottainai mean? Until June of this year, I would have asked those same questions. My mom, recently in Tokyo, feverishly typed message after message to me on g.chat one morning to tell me about mottainai. She had been traipsing around the city and happened upon this store - Blue and White. And this is what she told me: “I was talking to this woman in a little shop called Blue and White. And we were talking about recycling, I said I had a bag ... they make their bags. I'll show you and then she said let me show you something else and she told me about mottainai. I was very excited. I think we should use that word.” The concept behind the store was built on the meaning of this word.

Mottainai is a Japanese term meaning "a sense of regret concerning waste when the intrinsic value of an object or resource is not properly utilized." The expression "Mottainai!" can be uttered alone as an exclamation when something useful, such as food or time, is wasted. In addition to its primary sense of "wasteful," the word is also used to mean "impious; irreverent" or "more than one deserves” [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mottainai]. On the opposite side of the globe, my mom found it - the name for this site. An idea born so many months ago finally had a name.

You may find value in this site. You may not. Visit it once. Visit it daily. The choice is yours. Either way I hope you walk away from the site knowing something new; inspired to make something; or willing to change from the old way of doing something to a new way of doing something.