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Roz Cummins' Posts

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Building an eco-home from a favorite holiday sweet

When my friend Deanna told me that she wanted to make a gingerbread house this year -- and, in particular, to do so on Black Friday, aka Buy Nothing Day -- I immediately asked if we could make an environmentally sound house. The chances of my ever being able to afford the real-life eco-house of my dreams are slim unless I win the lottery, but I figured I could at least afford the gingerbread version. Deanna agreed and we were off and running, dreams of sugary solar panels and rammed-earth gingerbread dancing in our heads. Chez Gingembre Vert. Photo: Bonnie …

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In which we attempt to calculate how much an organic feast would cost

There's something about Thanksgiving that seems to prompt people to think about where their food comes from. Maybe it's all the cornucopias and sheaves of wheat depicted in supermarket circulars, or maybe it's the focus on the harvest. Visions of farmers bringing in the crops may lead people to think about how food gets to their table, and whether it would make sense, or even make a difference, to try to buy organic food for the holiday meal. The Grist editors asked me to create a Thanksgiving menu and compare the costs of using organic ingredients versus using conventional ones. …

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A recipe for no-boil pumpkin lasagna

For most of my adult life I've been anti-lasagna. It's not that I refuse to eat it. Quite the reverse! I love to eat lasagna. I just refused to make it. The idea of boiling giant, unwieldy sheets of pasta always got on my nerves. It didn't seem worth it, no matter how delicious the result. For years, a little depiction of a pan of lasagna superimposed with one of those internationally recognized "No!" circles occupied the part of my brain where enthusiasm for making lasagna should reside. Recently, though, I heeded the siren call of no-boil lasagna noodles. It's …

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Cranberries? Tofurky? We’ll eat it all up

It's that time of year again. In between taking down Halloween decorations, excavating coats, hats, and mittens from last year's pile of never-quite-got-washed-or-put-away outerwear, and putting up holiday lights, Thanksgiving sneaks up on us. Once I smell the smoke from my neighbor's woodstoves and hear the crunch of leaves under my feet, I know that the time to savor pumpkin, squash, and sage is just around the corner. This year we're asking readers to send us your own recipes, suitable for a Thanksgiving dinner. We are looking for recipes in three categories in particular: vegetarian entrées, vegan entrées, and side …

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An unseasonably warm night and a doomed-to-melt dessert

November is the new September. -- Aladdin Ossorio I've been itching to make a Baked Alaska. In 1989, the year the Exxon Valdez spilled oil all over Prince William Sound, my friends and I had several Baked Alaska parties featuring a whiskey-laced "Exxon Valdez Fudge Sauce" that I concocted to recreate the oil slick -- and to commemorate the fact that Captain Hazelwood reputedly imbibed a great deal before the tanker ran aground. Do try this at home. Photo: iStockphoto So what, exactly, is Baked Alaska? I'm glad you asked. When I mentioned it to someone I recently met, he …

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On accepting invitations from strangers, and a harvest festival

A few years ago, I heard an actor say on a talk show that he had decided if someone invited him to a party, he was going to attend, whether he knew the person or not. When I repeated that to my friend Pagan Kennedy a few days later, she responded, "That's great! That should be my policy!" Then, half a heartbeat later, she said, "Wait a minute! That is my policy!" Laura Meister at work on her Berkshires farm. Photo: © Jason Houston This exchange came to mind recently when I got an invitation to attend Berkshire Grown's annual …

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An autumn swim at Walden, a warm robe, and a piping hot bowl of soup

Walden Pond, a hit with tourists and Transcendentalists. Photo: Sonny Morningstar It's an odd fraternity, the group of people who continue to swim at Walden Pond well past Labor Day. Dusk comes earlier and earlier and the water begins to cool, but these autumn swims are one of the great pleasures of my life -- and, of course, each swim feels increasingly precious as we move inevitably toward the cold and dark of winter. The little I knew about Walden Pond I learned from my 10th-grade American Literature survey course (hey, Mrs. Garr!), and it never once crossed my mind …

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On kids, zucchini, and an experiment with pizza soup

A few weeks ago, when I made zucchini blueberry bread with my friends' kids, it was revealed that one of them didn't care much for zucchini in its non-dessert incarnations, seeing as how it was a vegetable and all. So I challenged myself to invent some kid-friendly zucchini dishes to see if I could get him to enjoy it and include it in his list of things he might -- might -- consider eating. Do I have to? Photo: iStockphoto As part of my strategy, I contemplated the things about zucchini that kids might not like, and came to the …

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As the season fades, it’s time for one last blueberry blowout

Before summer gets away from me entirely, I'd like to share a few more moments from the Northeast Organic Farming Association conference I went to a couple of weeks ago. (By the way, I referred to it as the Farmers' Association last time, which may seem like a small difference, but is actually an important one: you need not be a farmer to be a member.) It was a berry good year. Photo: iStockphoto On the first afternoon, it began to rain, and I ducked inside the Hampshire College bookstore to see if they sold umbrellas. They did, and some …

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