Zapping Manure with Lightning to Fight Pollution?

One of my recurring freelance projects is to write monthly about good news for kids. Recently, I read an article that adults could be very interested in, as well! You’ve probably read that the methane from cow poo, farts, and burps is more than 20 times as destructive for our environment than the carbon dioxide from our cars.

Short of ending or cutting back on the raising of cattle, what’s to be done? A Nordic company has come up with an idea that is now being tested in the UK. By producing artificial lightning bolts as plasma to zap manure, they are turning most of the ammonia to a usable form of natural fertilizer AND reducing almost all the methane emissions!

Truly great and promising news. Now we need to see how much governments are willing to chip in to help the farmers shoulder the costs of the electricity needed for the process. One thing is certain, we cannot just keep doing things the same.

Air pollution and climate change are real. What can you do today to help? Here are some “greener living” ideas from the EPA!

Fight Climate Change with Your Fork: Meatless Monday

Source: Pixabay

Extreme weather, rising sea levels, and species extinctions are all signs of climate change. Many scientists agree that greenhouse gases are a major threat. What can we each do to make a difference? Fight climate change with your fork! The livestock industry contributes about 14.5% of the greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans, which is even more than those brought about by transportation. Tweaking our diets away from animal products and towards plant-based eating is one way we can each help!

Source: Pixabay

Check out Meatless Monday for more details about the following:

*Adopting Meatless Monday

*Eating more plant-based meals

*Reducing food waste

*Composting

*Eating sustainable foods

And make sure to use the links for great recipe ideas!

5 Ways to Eat a Rose

roses

I’ve seen the beautiful photos and know many of you have roses in your gardens or areas nearby! If they aren’t sprayed with any chemicals, then they’re healthy and safe to use in salads, butters, beverages, honey, and vinegars. Check out the following article from Yes! A Better World Today for the details!

Source: 5 Ways to Eat a Rose

Essential Tips and Tricks for Making the Best Plant-Based Meals: from Meatless Monday

Source: Essential Tips and Tricks for Making the Best Plant-Based Meals

NOTE: If you’re “on the fence” about tofu, I know from experience that freezing it makes a world of difference with the texture! I buy the firmest type I can find and cut the block into thirds or fourths to freeze for later. After I defrost a section for cooking, I then squeeze out all the moisture. No more jiggly tofu! ~Becky

Tales of the Fairies Reimagined

For many children, some versions of popular fairy tales can be frightening! An evil witch who bakes children in her oven? Not a great story to lead into bedtime. In fact, folktales collected by the Brothers Grimm were often ghastly and not even meant for kids! And even some of the stories written by Hans Christian Andersen contained very dark and tragic themes.

When I was recently tasked with retelling a collection of fairy tales in rhyme, I knew right away that I wanted my versions to be positive, fun, and uplifting. Jack‘s giant doesn’t have to die, Pinocchio can use his nose to save Geppetto, and Goldi would decide to leave the Bears’ home safely of her own volition. Red‘s grandmother remains safe, of course, while the girl ponders how the wolf might react if her hood were sewn in different colors.

All in all, this was such a fun and challenging project. I hope you’ll take a peek at my 4 rhyming stories published right here at Empowered Parents!

Fantastic Find at the Bookstore #11: Gelatin Gems from the Past

As a kid, I thought Jell-O was a generic term. Although I remember seeing Royal gelatin and pudding mixes at the store, my mom was a loyal Jell-O consumer.

I love finding these cute vintage recipe booklets at the used bookstores or antique shops and snagged this one dated 1942. I even wrote in the back where and when I purchased it, which I often forget to do: Hancock, MI, August 28, 1991. I lived near there, in the Upper Peninsula, for many years.

This booklet contains recipes for puddings, “ice box” desserts, pies, ice creams, candies, soups, gravies, fruit salads, main dish salads, and of course, gelatin desserts! Here’s one that looks rather refreshing for a hot day like today…

Whenever I see a “fancy” gelatin recipe like this, I think back to a major Jell-O fail I experienced in my youth. The spring I graduated from high school, I was supposed to take a dessert to the Junior/Senior Banquet at school. My parents and younger brother were going out of town, I think to pick up my older sister from college. My mother told me how to make the dessert out of Jell-O, fruit, and something to make it creamy…maybe Kool Whip? She warned me to make it well in advance so it would have time to set. Well, that didn’t happen, and I took a very soupy dessert to school that evening.

No one at my table ate any of it, and I certainly didn’t admit that I had provided that particular dish. The next day, we were supposed to pick up the washed plates and bowls from the cafeteria, and I was embarrassed to do that, thinking the workers would connect my face to the disaster in the bowl. I think maybe I told Mom it was nowhere to be found when I went to check. Possibly I never told her the truth. Knowing me as she did, she may have guessed something close to the real story.

Speaking of gelatin, I’m reminded that this particular product is made from animal parts. Now eating as a vegan, this bothers me, so I looked into some likely vegan gelatin substitutes. Several of these are brand name products that may or may not be available at the grocery, health food store, or online. A few of the suggestions are more generic, however, and can be found in many shops. If you know of any similar products that are easy to find, please let us know in the comments.

And if you have any “Jell-O fails” you’d like to share, we’d love to read about them!

Vintage Bedtime Stories

I can still see that dark orange set of books lined up on the shelf in my paternal grandparents’ home. In the mid-1950s, I would have begged someone to read one or two of the Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Stories to me. Later, I learned to read them on my own. That’s when I realized why my parents and older sister often skipped over certain tales they guessed would be much too sad for my taste. People died in some of those stories…even parents and children!

Heavy on guilt, prayer, and in-your-face morals, I did love many of the stories, however, especially those about being kind to people and animals. To this day, Volume One rests on my own shelf, amid other vintage books I’ve saved or collected. When I leaf through the pages, breathe in that old-book smell, and look at the illustrations, I can picture myself sitting contentedly on the floor in my grandparents’ small house, guarded by the highbush cranberry trees at the end of a quiet lane…

I’m happy to say that my own quartet of bedtime stories has recently been published on Empowered Parents! Pushing no heavy-handed morals, they do gently teach some important life-lessons about friendship, kindness, and family. I hope you’ll take a look and maybe share them with a little person in your life!

Uncovering the Asian American Old West – YES! Magazine

I was fascinated to read how Linda Sue Park uses her childhood love of Laura Ingalls Wilder‘s “Little House” books to bring Asian American characters alive in this setting!     ~Becky

“Asian Americans were conveniently written out of history about the Old West. But they were present—and prolific.”

Source: Uncovering the Asian American Old West – YES! Magazine

What Is a Plant-Based Diet?

Source – Meatless Monday: What Is a Plant-Based Diet?

Becky’s Easy Microwave Eggplant

Sometimes I want something fast, without turning on the oven to heat up the apartment or suck all the moisture from the air. I love eggplant and have come up with this easy dish!

In a round, covered casserole, layer/arrange the following:

Portions of your favorite plant-based sauce in the bottom & then between layers

Raw spinach

Eggplant, sliced into rounds (additional option: zucchini, sliced the long way)

Portobello mushroom slices

Peppers, sweet red or green, sliced

Onion and/or garlic, chopped

Top with plant-based cheese (my current fave is Miyoko’s) or sliced tofu dusted with cayenne red pepper (I love the dry texture of Hodo tofu). Optional topping: sliced black olives, drained.

Cover and cook in the microwave for 15 minutes. So easy and yummy!

Trees are the Bee’s Knees!

Quote from Tarun Sarathe

The last Friday in April is National Arbor Day, though some states also celebrate this on various dates, depending on ideal planting times. The importance of protecting our trees and planting new trees to replace those that die or are cut down cannot be exaggerated!

Besides providing the oxygen our bodies require, trees also offer us lovely views. From childhood, I fondly remember the stately maple trees in our front yard, each autumn turning fiery shades of red, yellow, or orange. Near the edge of our property, we had an apple tree that was just the right size for a little girl who wanted to climb trees but was afraid at the same time.

Behind our house, a huge willow tree grew. In my father’s bedtime stories, the Teenie Weenies of his tales, who were based on William Donahey’s books and comic strips, lived under that tree. I suspected for many years that this was truly the case. Walking out by the willow tree by myself was exciting but a little scary. What if I were to come face to face with one of those little people?

In my last home in Michigan, we had many beautiful trees in our yard and nearby. From small to large, some blossomed, while others provided a lovely green cover in the summer. But one small, funky tree holds a special place in my heart. It was a larch I had known since its infancy.

Each winter, I felt certain and horrified that it might die. Its branches were of the “weeping” variety, and the thin trunk appeared rather weak and almost bent. In the summers, I checked it often, lugged buckets of water during dry spells, and marveled at the feathery new growth each spring.

I miss that tree and all the surrounding beauty. There it is, below, near the middle of the photo, just to the right of the house corner. The light green on the ends is the new growth. I wonder if “my” tree still grows in that yard.

Where I now live in Texas, my only gardening space is the balcony. Although some people grow small, ornamental trees in pots, I have not tried this, yet. I recently read about growing miniature citrus trees in containers, which can then be brought in during the coldest parts of the winter. It’s a thought…