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    Ecological Footprint Calculator via Derek Sherwood

    Ever wonder how much your carbon and ecological footprint really is? Now from the Center For Sustainability, you can take this quick quiz that asks you questions about daily habits. Everything from food, to housing, to travel. It seems to be a a pretty good estimator of where we stand, and helps to show you where you stack up against the rest of your country.

    Here is the link:

    Ecological Footprint Quiz

    I took the quiz in about ten to fifteen minutes and here are my results:

    My carbon footprint is 68.45 global acres and the average American's is 91.43. My food footprint is 38.46 global acres compared to the average American's of 65.74. My housing footprint is 16.61 global acres compared to the average American's of 31.58. My goods and services footprint is 16.98 versus the average American's of 57.66 global acres. I found these numbers to be interesting. Living in a fourplex and my home garden helped a lot with these footprints. Overall my global acres consumption is 140.5 global acres versus the country average of 246.61. Also, for those that are interest in what exactly a global acre is, here is what I found at FootprintNetwork:

    global hectare (gha) : A productivity weighted area used to report both the biocapacity of the earth, and the demand on biocapacity (the Ecological Footprint). The global hectare is normalized to the area-weighted average productivity of biologically productive land and water in a given year. Because different land types have different productivity, a global hectare of, for example, cropland, would occupy a smaller physical area than the much less biologically productive pasture land, as more pasture would be needed to provide the same biocapacity as one hectare of cropland. Because world bioproductivity varies slightly from year to year, the value of a gha may change slightly from year to year.

    Interesting stuff indeed. What did you score? Share with us and lets see what we can do together to reduce our numbers!

    ---Justin J. Stewart (link via Derek Sherwood)


    Arizona Weatherization funds still available! provided by Angie Fretz

    Back in January and February of this year, Jay Fretz & Angie Fretz had their home Weatherized professionally. They received funding as part of the Low Income Weatherization Program, which was part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that was passed in 2009, or aka The Stimulus Package. Their experiences was a great one, and is documented here for the January part, and here for the February part.

    In a recent article from the Arizona Republic on September 19th and related side article from the same day, much of this money is still unspent and available for use. The grants so far have helped about 2,200 homes in the Metro-Phoenix area be weatherized out of the anticipated 6,400 homes. With many of this help still available, if you are thinking of weatherizing your home, now would be a great time to consider it. Last year, more than 1,200 additional people were trained and put back to work to help with this project. Les Woody who oversees this program for the state says that the average home could get up to $5,500 worth of free repairs through the grant money and rebates. The department has until 2012 to spend the funds, but weatherizing your house now will save you money month after month, and reduce your energy consumption!

    ---Justin J. Stewart (link via Angie Fretz)


    Meatless Monday 09.27.10

    Ok, this is our third installment of Meatless Monday! Today, most of the food is food featured from the local farmers market, or from our own garden. I also promise, after today, there will be other updates besides Meatless Monday, I have a whole bunch of links and ideas coming! Regardless, on to the food!

    For breakfast, as usual, I had nothing. Laura had some Cheerios. So on to the lunch!

    Crazy Cucumber!    For lunch we tried something different, that I have seen in many restaurant, so decided to try it on my own. We picked up a Armenian Cucumber at the Brazos Valley Farmers Market. I must admit that we bought this vegetable due to its strange shape. For lunch it was a simple pita sandwich. We cut up the cucumber, but a few slices inside of the pita (which was cut in half), and added some homemade baba ganoush, which I also made for a previous meatless Monday, and the recipe can be found here. I must say it was a delicious and refreshing pita sandwich, and I do plan on trying it again sometime. Even Laura, who is not a huge fan of Cucumbers, though that this sandwich was tasty.








     For an in between snack, we went to our favorite Frozen Yogurt Bar, Spoons Yogurt. Needless to say, there was not any meat involved in this. But there were nuts, kiwi fruit, and strawberries!

    For dinner we decided on an recipe that we tried a few weeks ago for the first time. Now yesterday, we harvested from our garden over forty banana peppers, so we had to do something with them. We pickled two jars worth, but then with twenty-two of them, we decided to make stuffed Banana Peppers. We make two variates. One is stuffed with a rice mixture, and one is just stuffed with cream cheese and shredded parmesan cheese.

    RICE!First to make the rice mixture, I make one cup of white rice. I cut one large lime in half and squeeze both sides worth of juice into the rice, add about 1 tablespoon of butter, some chopped up cilantro, and some salt and pepper. I mix it up together, and there ya have it. I usually also put in some sour cream for flavor, but this time, alas, our sour cream was bad, and we went with out it. It was equally delicious and better for us anyways.



    Sliced peppers...








    I then cut the top off of the banana peppers, and slice them down the middle. For the cream cheese cheese and parmesan peppers. I add just enough cream cheese in each pepper to fill it, and then take a pinch of parmesan and press it into the cream cheese. (With both the cream cheese and the rice, I use my hands to handle the filling and to stuff the peppers. Way easier than trying to use a spoon, but more messy).

    Ready to put in the ovenFor the rice stuffed peppers, I fill as much rice as possible into the pepper. Then when all the peppers are stuffed, I sprinkle some cheddar cheese and chili powder on top of the peppers. I then put all of the peppers into the oven set at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Pull them out, serve the rest of the rice stuffing with them, and your done. Quick and easy, and also delicious!

    Finished peppers!!!

    Look out this week for some mad posting! I have link and suggestions from everyone out there! Thank you! Plus I will finally look at my electric and gas bills and tell you how I've been doing. Remember, if you have any suggestions or ideas, send them my way! Thank you!


    ---Justin J. Stewart



    Meatless Monday 9.20.10

    2 for 2! We stuck with it! No meat! I hope you guys did too! Today was a pretty easy day, since yesterday we went to our favorite place to get vegetables (besides our own garden), the Farm Patch, in Bryan, Texas. It was easy to create meals today from veggies only! Let me tell you, I am excited to share today's adventure with you, because they were delicious!

    Once again there was no breakfast, so we are going to go straight to lunch.

     For lunch I steamed a whole cauliflower head for about 15 minutes in a closed steamer. Once it was near tender, I pulled it out. I mixed 2 tablespoons of honey mustard (I guess I was supposed to use regular mustard, but we are out of that) 2 tablespoons of tahini. I then spread the whole mixture over the cauliflower head and sprinkled cheddar cheese on it. Put it in the over for 10 minutes at 350 degrees, and it was done! Let me tell you! It was delicious. Next time for sure we will be using regular mustard, but besides that it was a perfect lunch, with plenty of left overs.

     YUM!Out of the Oven!








    Chopped Eggplant

    That was my contribution to the day. The big star ofthe day was Eggplant Parmesan. We bought 8 Chinese Eggplants for a killer deal yesterday and decided today would be the day they would be eaten. Laura used this recipe, but did not use the breadcrumbs, used real tomatoes and simmered them down into sauce instead of using a food processor. She also substituted shredded mozzarella for real mozzarella. Laura also added a lot of fresh oregano (picked from the garden fresh) to the sauce, and is telling me that she did not use ground pepper. Now, you have to remember all of the adjustments, but here is the receipe:

    Eggplant Parmesan Recipe


    • 2 lbs (about 2 large) eggplants
    • Kosher salt
    • 1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes
    • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
    • Olive oil
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup fine dry breadcrumbs
    • 4 large eggs, beaten
    • 1 1/2 lbs of fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
    • 1 cup grated high quality Parmesan cheese
    • 1 packed cup fresh basil leaves


    1 Cut eggplants lengthwise into 1/4 inch slices. Arrange one layer in the bottom of a large colander and sprinkle evenly with salt. Repeat with remaining eggplant, salting, until all eggplant is in the colander. Weigh down the slices with a couple of plates and let drain for 2 hours. The purpose of this step is to have the eggplant release some of its moisture before cooking.

    2 While the eggplant is draining, prepare tomato sauce. Combine tomatoes, garlic and 1/3 cup olive oil in a food processor. Season with salt and pepper to tasted and set aside.

    3 When eggplant has drained, press down on it to remove excess water, wipe off the excess salt, and lay the slices out on paper towels to remove all the moisture. In a wide, shallow bowl, combine flour and breadcrumbs. Mix well. Pour beaten eggs into another wide shallow bowl. Place a large, deep skillet over medium heat, and pour in a a half inch of olive oil. When oil is shimmering, dredge the eggplant slices first in the flour mixture, then in the beaten egg. Working in batches, slide coated eggplant into hot oil and fry until golden brown on both sides, turning once. Drain on paper towels.

    4 Preheat the oven to 350°F. In the bottom of a 10x15 inch glass baking dish, spread 1 cup of tomato sauce. Top with one third of the eggplant slices. Top eggplant with half of the mozzarella slices. Sprinkle with one third of the Parmesan and half of the basil leaves.

    5 Make a second layer of eggplant slices, topped by 1 cup of sauce, remaining mozzarella, half the remaining Parmesan, and all of the remaining basil. Add remaining eggplant, and top with the remaining tomato sauce and Parmesan.

    6 Bake until cheese has melted and the top is slightly brown, about 30 minutes. Allow to rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes before serving.

    I also made a side salad that included romaine lettuce, feta cheese, red peppers, and crutons. We also had a delicious freshly juiced juice made from pears, oranges and grapes.

    ---Justin J. Stewart


    Pools and Plants...enter the GardenPool a whole new way for backyard gardening via GayLee Fretz


    WOW! I don't even know where to start with this new technique in backyard gardening. I am blown away and overly jealous. Who and how do you get a garden in an old pool?! Well the people over at have found a way to do it, and it is truly a work of amazement.

    Swimming pools to being with are a pool of energy waste and excess, if you ask me at look at the numbers (yet, I am not down at all on anyone who wishes to take a dip in their backyard pool on scorching days, especially in the Southwest). This family from Mesa, Arizona took an empty, run-down pool in a new house that they just purchased, and instead of pouring money into it to continue pouring more money and energy into it for recreation, they put money into an investment. The investment was food grown in your backyard (from crops to chickens, to fish!), in one of the most difficult growing regions in the United States.

    The garden pool uses solar power to power the self-sustaining garden (farm?!). They are using hydroponics gardening to reduce soil use, aquaponics to grow their fish, and are using naturally grown insects and plants (duckweed to filer and purify the water) to feed and combat nasties from their crops and fertilize their crops. Did I mention they have a chicken coop?!!

    This is the empty pool that they started with!They use SPIN (Small Plot Intensive) gardening techniques, which we also have seen in the more common term, square foot gardening. They are promoting this as a way to get as much as what little room you have. Which I have fully supported, I have been saying since my own organic gardening experiences this year (article coming soon!), that if everyone planted a one foot by one foot or two foot by two foot garden we could take a huge strain off of the American food system. They are using gutter planting techniques as 5 gallon buckets as planters and appear to be getting quite the harvest, 365 days a year. DID I MENTION THEY HAVE CHICKENS?! I can't get over the the chicken thing. Even though some people would probably be more impressed that they literally have a Tilapia farm in their back yard. The family also gives tours of their pool, and offers a volunteer program so you can get some hands on experience and think about how you can build one of your own in your desert backyard.

    I see this The inside of the GardenPoolas a step, even though a huge step, that we can all work towards. Maybe not at this scale at first, but something we can look at and think about. I am super impressed with these guys, and if you are in the Phoenix area, I would suggest checking this out. If not, please visit their website and read all about it. The information that they have places on their website about this project is so  in depth and fascinating, yet simple reading. I applaud the family for their outreach on this project. Also, check out their facebook page while your at it. Big props to this family for their dedication and demonstration of showing us that you, yes you, can own your own food supply!I will now leave you with a video of their GardenPool!





    ---Justin J. Stewart (link via GayLee Fretz, all pictures and videos from