Getting Back to Nature With Kids: Bit by Bit, Bug by Bug

May 11th, 2011

As I look at that headline, I purse my lips and shake my head. It’s hard to admit that even “green Moms” find it challenging to get enough time connecting with nature – for ourselves or our families.

Who isn’t busy? It often seems easier and faster to run an errand by hopping in the car or walking along a sidewalk rather than to take a hike on a wooded trail.

I knew I was in trouble today, with this post still unwritten yet due for this month’s Green Moms’ Carnival. I thought about searching through my camera for pictures of my kids communing with nature. But heck, there’s no time like the present, is there?

I needed to get to the CSA for our weekly pick-up, and had about an hour to spare between a 5 p.m. conference call and the time my son came home off the diesel spewing school bus (one huge irritant, why must they be driven to school when walking is so much healthier?).  Time slowed as he asked for a friend to come over for a playdate. Phone calls, coordination with the other parent, and then the litany of the divine right of children: ice cream. (By the way, Alden’s, you’d sell more if you started calling it Cotton Candy Organic Ice Cream instead of Strawberry Organic Ice Cream. It’s what all the kids call it!)

With 45 minutes left, I decided to chance it – and headed out, two eight-year-old boys in tow, for a walk to the CSA. Normally we’d take the main roads, but mindful of our carnival topic, I headed for the trail instead. Before we had even hit the trail, I knew I had made the right decision: the boys were rolling down the hill, laughing all the way.

Luck was with us. We made it in plenty of time. I was back with nearly 10 minutes to spare for my conference call – enough time to rustle up yet another snack for the boys (this time, cantaloupe).

And the adventures we had!

Bugs to behold!

Scary steps to climb!

And why are they closing this trail anyway?

“Save the trail!,” “Save the trail!” they screamed all the way home.

It’s amazing what happens when you get outside. Exercise, fresh air…and the birth of eco-activists!

When was your last hike?

Leave a comment and share.

Thursday’s Green Mom’s Carnival will be hosted over at The Green Phone Booth. Head on over and read some thoughts and tips from the wonderful women of the Green Moms Carnival about getting outside with the kids.

PS: And if you like this trail, head on over to Facebook and “like” their page here. Looks like they could use some more visibility! Only 66 likes on that site!

— Lynn



Wednesdays at the CSA: Those Perfect Biodynamic Grapes! They’re Ugly!

October 6th, 2010


Wednesdays are my favorite day of the week, because it’s “CSA Day.”  The day when I pick up our weekly share of biodynamic surprises. We get whatever the farmers were able to harvest, and the abundance and variety is just one of the many special parts of belonging to our CSA.

A special note about the grapes in our share made me realize I was in for a very special treat.

“The special treat this week is GRAPES! They are small, green, Thomson grapes and are the same ones that produce the raisins we have in the CSA.  Members from previous years will remember these grapes from last year at this time. We plan to offer them 3 times all together this year every other week, starting now.


What is special about these grapes? First, they are biodynamic and there is no other biodynamic farm in the country from which to get grapes. (only wineries). These grapes have no growth hormones, no shrinkage, no gibberillic acid which are used even on certified organic grapes and they are picked ripe and fresh to order. They should hold up a week or so refrigerated but
don’t take chances.”

Sure enough, they were out-of-this-world good, like so much of the food at the CSA. I still remember the first time I tried biodynamic produce – I felt like my pores and my bloodstream were literally opening up to receive the food.

I could have eaten them all myself, but being a “good Mother,” I wanted to make sure my boys got their share, so I dutifully gave up some of the grapes and packed them away in their school lunch.

When they returned home, I was disappointed to see that the grapes were largely untouched.

“I can’t eat them,” my 3-year-old told me. “They’re bad. They’re brown!”

It’s true…there were some brown spots.


“Honey,” I explained,  “God made those grapes. They weren’t made by a machine in a factory, so they’re not all going to be the same. Some will have spots, each one will be unique, because each one is a part of nature.”

He wasn’t buying it.

His verbal skills aren’t advanced enough to construct an argument about how the Chilean grapes I purchase at the supermarket are uniformly glossy, round, and perfectly red….while these are…imperfect (at least to the naked eye).


My eight-year-old joined the argument. Forget biodynamics. He was sticking to the “perfect” (albeit less tasty) market grapes.

Have you ever noticed that what appears ugly on the outside can be beautiful on the inside?  Not just a story of nursery rhymes or the human condition, but very much the story of real fruit and farm fresh veggies, straight from the garden – or the CSA.

Today was the last week we’ll be getting these amazing biodynamic grapes from the CSA.  My kids aren’t eating them. But at least I don’t have to share them with anyone other than my husband!

— Lynn

Wednesdays at the CSA: Recipes at Last! 4th of July Potato Salad with Green Beans and Salsa Verde

June 30th, 2010

For years now, I’ve been blogging about my wonderful CSA. I love it. I love everything about it.  The biodynamic food, of course, is delicious – out of this world good. The atmosphere is more Berkeley than Bethesda. It’s like a mini-vacation into another world every time I head over there, a few short blocks from my home.

June 23 share photo

But cooking?

That’s what my husband does.  I really don’t know how to cook.

Now I have a wonderful surprise for you: each week this summer I’ll be featuring a recipe and post from guest blogger Mattie Kahn.  A green teen and foodie, she’s also, as you’ll see, a wonderful writer. And she knows how to cook! She’ll be at culinary school in the fall, but for now, we get to enjoy her explorations with my weekly CSA share.

— Lynn

Think summer picnic. Go ahead. Picture it, you can close your eyes if you need to. If you’re like me, you’re probably envisioning a rolling, green lawn, a checked blanket, friends, family, kids–company of some kind, anyway, maybe, if you’re feeling optimistic, a warm mid-summer breeze, and definitely a picnic basket. The picnic baskets that dot my childhood memories were always filled with some variation on sandwiches, salad, brownies, and watermelon. My siblings and I munched on PB&J in Central Park, tuna-cucumber along the pier on the Hudson River, even an adventurous spread of hummus and veggies on a pebbly Cape Cod beach.

But my most persistent summer picnic memory is the sweet, salty taste of the perfect, cold potato salad, carted along in some container to satisfy every picnic participant, every time. My family’s trademark German-style potato salad–meaning, a mustard-based dressing–was so pervasive, that it wasn’t until I was ten or eleven that I’d ever tasted a potato salad made with mayonnaise. Since then, I’ve been to many more picnics, with families other than my own, and sometimes just with friends. I’ve tasted a LOT of potato salads.

With fourth of July around the corner, and this week’s CSA share list boasting delicious, flavor-packed new potatoes, and brimming with other potato salad ingredients, I thought I’d introduce you all to a potato salad that’s a little more adventurous than your average picnic side-dish fare. This one’s lightly adapted from the geniuses over at Food and Wine magazine, and it’s been a staff favorite over there for ages. Embrace the vibrant flavor of salsa verde as a delicious and unexpected dressing for this salad. In it’s original Food and Wine incarnation, the recipe is made with green beans, but being a green peas lover as I am, and because peas appeared on the CSA sharelist this week, I decided to sub out the beans for peas. Enjoy!


Potato Salad with Green Beans and Salsa Verde:


1. 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2. 1/4 cup minced chives

3. 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley (another CSA sharelist goody!)

4. 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint or cilantro, or a mix of both, depending on your taste preferences

5. 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

6. 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

7. 1 large garlic clove, minced

8. Salt

9. 1 1/4 pounds new red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

10. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

11. 1 1/2 pounds green peas, fresh if you can find them! They’re in season.


  1. In a medium bowl, combine the olive oil with the chives, parsley, mint or cilantro, lemon zest, lemon juice and garlic and season with salt. Let the salsa verde stand at room temperature for 15 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, cover the potatoes with cold water, add a large pinch of salt (Kosher salt, if you have it on hand) and bring to a boil. Cook the potatoes over moderately high heat until just tender, about 8 minutes; drain and return them to the saucepan. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the peas and cook until tender, but not mushy, 3-4 minutes; drain. Return the beans to the pot and stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Season with salt.
  4. Add half of the salsa verde to the potatoes and half to the peas, stirring to coat. Transfer the peas to a serving bowl. Top with the potatoes, and serve. Keeping this potato salad warm lends the potatoes and added velvety texture, but from my trial experience, it’s just as delicious after being cooled in the fridge!

Enjoy your holiday weekend!

– Mattie

Copyright 2010 OrganicMania

Wordless Wednesday: Gotta Love the Quirkiness of a CSA!

January 7th, 2009

Finding Time for Gratitude Amidst the Chaos of Everyday Life

November 1st, 2008

I normally approach the Green Moms carnival topics with gusto. Global warming? I’m all over it. Back to School? Sign me up. But when my bloggy friend Karen of Best of Mother Earth asked the Green Moms to blog about gratitude, I paused. I procrastinated. As the days ticked by and the deadline passed, I found myself making excuses. I’m sick. The boys are sick. DH has been away on travel quite a bit lately. I’m behind. I have major deliverables for three different clients due within a few days of each other. Oh, and we’re bidding farewell to our well loved nanny of six years and transitioning my youngest into a part time day care situation. I’m stressed.

Busy, behind, call it what you will, but I wasn’t feeling particularly gracious or full of gratitude. Sure, I went through the motions. In our family, we say grace before the evening meal. We go to church Wednesday evening and give thanks again. And sometimes, when we don’t oversleep, we all make it to church on Sunday.

But the fact is, when things aren’t going the way you expected, no matter how good things are – no matter how much better off you know you are than so many others – it can be hard to feel truly grateful. By truly grateful, I mean something deeper, simpler and more profound than that twisted form of  Schadenfreude that strikes Moms who  think “Well, the whole family has been sick for two weeks but at least it’s not cancer.”

At times like this I think of my friend and rector Margaret Guenther, who in her many books has written about the need to be still. You have to get away from all the everyday madness before you can look inside yourself and have the capacity to truly think, reflect, and yes, appreciate.

Perhaps that’s why one of my favorite green things (back to the Carnival theme!) is to steal away to my CSA. I love the simplicity of the place. The clean garage stocked with bins full to overflowing of fresh, mud splattered produce. Sweet beets, stocky carrots, fresh baked bread and more. A chalkboard with the day’s share carefully written for all to see. Old fashioned hanging scales ready to weigh our shares. I always feel refreshed by the time I leave there, canvas bag filled to overflowing with biodynamic produce. It’s like a trip back in time.

But that’s just one green thing for which I’m grateful. The other two?

That’s easy.

OrganicMania and the Community of Green Moms who participate in the Green Moms Carnival. Why? Because of the wonderful people I’ve come to know through both of these online communities.

And I know, I know…I have lots to be grateful for. It’s just that sometimes, it’s hard to stop and really, fully appreciate all that we have been given. But I did stop. Finally. And I do appreciate these three green wonders and so much more…

What about you?

Leave a comment and share!

And don’t forget to check out all the Green Moms carnival posts on Monday over at Best of Mother Earth.

— Lynn

Copyright 2008 OrganicMania