Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Event: Hugo França at the Fairchild Botanic Garden ~ Dec. 1 thru May 31

“Itapema Chaise”- designed by Hugo França, 2013. Made from pequi wood. 43.3” H x 86.6” W x 49.2” D. Approximately 441 lbs.

Brazilian artist Hugo França can see form and texture in the remnants of once living trees. His hand crafted accents and furniture evoke the essential beauty of well seasoned burl and exotic wood grain. There's no better place to experience such natural creativity than at the Fairchild Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, Florida. Here the artist and the Garden are committed to fostering sustainability and promoting conservational awareness.

This is part of the Art at Fairchild program dedicated to introducing the community to the beauty and power of art in a natural setting. The Fairchild is more than a natural setting, it's a wonderland that celebrates the tropical plants around the world. Such an exotic setting is the ideal surround for França's creative works which originate in similar ecosystems of the northern Brazilian state of Bahia.

Franca's skill was learned by living with the indigenous people of his homeland to discover their long used woodworking techniques that bring out the natural beauty of discarded remnants of felled, burned or dead trees found in the Brazilian forests. By working them into functional designs, França gives new life to trees that are sometimes hundreds of years old.

These hand crafted pieces demonstrate França's ability to assess each piece of reclaimed wood and see a finished project hidden inside. Instead of masking irregularities, he accentuates them to enhance the natural quality of his materials. The pieces are organic and show a true appreciation and understanding of nature.

Franca's collection will be on exhibit in the garden from December 1, 2013 to May 31, 2014 and will be curated during Art Basel Miami Beach by Cristina Grajales of the Cristina Grajales Gallery in New York.


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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving! From Me and My Fairytale Pumpkin

It was spring, the May plant sale at the Rodale Institute, when I came across a pumpkin called the Fairytale Pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata). Of course I had to buy it immediately. I planted it in a bed near my driveway …

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Maria’s Five Favorites: Ladies, Start Your Shopping Engines!

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. If you’re revving up for holiday shopping, here are five great ideas that make a world of difference! 1.  Cashmere V-Neck Sweater Renew your wardrobe with this essential cashmere sweater that’s designed to …

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

No Duds, Please: Getting Great Fall Color Trees

Fall colors along the Eastern Sierras in California. Photo by Josh Endres.

In Vermont, fall color trees are a no-brainer, but elsewhere in America these same species may not be nearly as bright, and some trees show little color at all. This unpredictability is related to your local climate and each tree's unique genetic makeup. Do not assume every individual of a species will bear the same intensity of color. All too often a tree that's supposed to turn fiery red may yield only muddy colored leaves.

For those in the south and west where conditions are warmer, even the brightest species in the north may be dismal. The only way to know for sure is to visit the local tree farm in the fall and tag the best performers for your project. This is how landscape architects ensure their visions manifest perfectly in the finished garden.

Fall Trees

The southeastern native sweetgum, Liquidambar styraciflua, shows considerable variation in color in this alee planting (above). This occurs often with seed grown trees which are all unique individuals. However, growers wanted more reliable color too so they selected the most vivid colored trees and cloned them to sell under a varietal name. With Liquidambar, one example is 'Festival' which bears a reliably spectacular rainbow of hues on the same tree. For deep reds, 'Burgundy' is the most desirable. While you can rely on varieties with this tree, most others without varietal designations are best purchased when they're all dressed up for cooler weather, so your autumn bright spot won't end up a dud in your yard.

Yellow Trees
Photo provided by Garden Design reader Lana Hovinga in Kitchener, Ontario.

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Giving Thanks for Winter Squash

"Of the nearly 500 colonists living at Jamestown in the fall of 1609, only 60 remained by the spring of 1610. This period is remembered as "the starving time". The following year remaining colonists redoubled their efforts to grow enough food. They had only the seeds of English plants that were not well adapted to the heat of the Virginia summer.

Tribes of New England were well entrenched in growing winter squash, which became known by the colonists as "vegetable marrow". The first Thanksgiving featured various hard shell squash and pumpkins grown by the Indians. The colonists quickly saw the wisdom in cultivating a plant that was native to the area yielding fruits that could be stored in a cellar for much of the winter.

The best way to get a real time feel for how the first colonists grew their own food is to visit Colonial Williamsburg. This living history museum at Williamsburg, Virginia shows visitors just how these gardens were set up to feed a family. This was done without garden centers and hardware stores, using only what they could find in their New World home.

Vegetable Gardening

Gardening in the 18th century has changed little from how we cultivate organic backyard vegetables today. A truly inspirational book lays it out for us from paling fences to crops and cloches. Vegetable Gardening: The Colonial Williamsburg Way (Rodale, $30), by Wesley Greene helps you get a real feel for what it was like to garden on a primitive homestead. The title page states "18th Century Methods for Today's Organic Gardeners" proves little has changed here except that we thankfully don't have to tote buckets of water to keep our plants alive. The natural simplicity of these early American gardens created with little more than natural soil, animal manures and plant materials reminds us we are a nation rooted in agriculture, blending the Old World plants with New World natives for the richest heritage on earth.

Photos by: Barbara Temple Lombardi

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Meatless Monday Roundup: 4 Savory Quiche Recipes

crustless quiche

If you’re looking for a quick and easy recipe for a Monday night supper, quiches are where it’s at. Be they crustless frittatas, vegan, eggless tarts or a more traditional quiche recipe, all you need is one bowl and one tart pan, and dinner’s on the table. This Meatless Monday, try out some of our favorite savory tart and quiche recipes.

For a vegan option, the mini crustless quiches, depicted above, are perfect. A variety of vegetables and herbs come together with a silken tofu-based filling for a quiche that everyone will love. For dinner, serve a few alongside a green salad. But these mini quiches also make a great appetizer or passed hors d’oeuvre for a party. Feel free to change up the variety of vegetables to suit the season.

Onion and Cheese Tart

Photo courtesy of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board

Nutty gruyère cheese and sweet-and-savory onions make up the base of this delicious tart. Thyme and nutmeg add just the right amount of spice to the dish. Choose local organic gruyère from Wisconsin to make this onion and gruyère tart.

spinach tart

Image: Isabelle Palatin

This spinach and feta tart is full of vitamin-rich leafy greens. To make it slightly lighter than other similar tarts, the base of this one is made with Greek yogurt instead of the more typical cream. Feta, with its strong flavor, can be used sparingly.

asparagus, red pepper and potato frittata

Image courtesy of AllWhites/ARA

A frittata is similar to an Italian omelette, but it’s also a great substitute for a crustless quiche. Our version, with asparagus, red pepper and potato, is hearty and flavorful. If you didn’t jar your own spring asparagus, you can also use another vegetable, like Swiss chard or spinach, while you wait for them to come back into season.

Top Image: Regan Jones

Related on Organic Authority:

Meatless Monday Roundup: 4 Vegetarian Pasta Recipes

Meatless Monday Roundup: 4 Autumn Hors D’oeuvres Recipes

Meatless Monday Roundup: 5 French Recipes

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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Food Babe:1 Chick-fil-A: 0—Chain Changes Ingredients After Blogger Pressure


Chick-fil-A, the popular fast food chain, has announced that it will immediately begin removing ingredients, including high fructose corn syrup and artificial food colors, found in many of its menu items.

The decision reportedly comes after Vani Hari, the blogger behind, put pressure on the chain because many of its sandwiches contained close to 100 ingredients, reports the Huffington Post. The controversial ingredients pointed out by Hari include peanut oil with TBHQ (a chemical made from butane), artificial colors, flavors, and high fructose corn syrup, which has been linked with the nation’s obesity and diabetes epidemic.

“The fast-food chicken chain says the reformulated buns are being tested in about 200 Georgia locations, while the sauces and dressings will be tested starting early next year,” reports the Post. “It says it also removed a yellow dye from its chicken soup and that the new recipe should be in all restaurants by the end of this month.”

Hari first targeted the chain in 2011 with a post entitled “Chick-fil-A or Chemical Fil-A?” After seeing the post, Chick-fil-A executives invited Hari to their headquarters to discuss making improvements to the menu. “They took my concerns and started developing a road map of how to address them,” Hari told the Post. While recent labeling laws in Washington state and California failed to pass at the polls, the decision by Chick-fil-A is a welcome victory for Hari and bloggers of all kind—highlighting the power of the internet and social media as tools capable of creating major improvements in our food supply.

Chick-fil-A has been battling image issues in recent years. The chain has been involved in a lawsuit with a Vermont t-shirt company over use of the slogan “eat more kale,” which the chain says infringes on its “eat more chikin” slogan (in ads featuring cows with spelling challenges). The chain was also recently called out over anti-gay comments made by founder Truett Cathy.

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Related on Organic Authority

Which Came First: The Chick-Fil-A Facebook Page or… The Fake One?

Eat More Words: Chick-Fil-A Addresses Anti-Gay Comments

Hey Chick-Fil-A: Kale Isn’t Chikin!

Image: alberthuynphoto

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