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  Saying of the month

"In June, as many as a dozen species may burst their buds on a single day. 
No man can heed all of these anniversaries; no man can ignore all of them."  
-   Aldo Leopold



 Scripture for June

"But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness."  James 3: 17-18.


  Recommended reading

Gift from the Sea - Anne Morrow Lindberg 



Some scripture for June


Saying of the month


Reading recommendation


Give an old shirt a new life as a shopping bag  


 Be a "use-it-all-up" food buyer and consumer
Serve cabbage soup often
"From scratch" recipe of the month  - Cabbage Soup



When you think that the average family returns from the grocery store with 10 or more plastic bags, that’s a lot of plastic. It’s bad for our environment and ends up adding more costs to the food budget. (You are, of course, paying for those bags – they’re aren’t gifts!) The same plastic shopping bags are used about 30 minutes from the store to the home, and then they’re stashed somewhere, and usually end up in landfills. Even with recycle bins at the big stores, only about 1% ever get recycled.

Plastic bags are a big source of pollution, and in some areas of the country, they have even prohibited their distribution at grocery stores. Reusable bags don’t contribute to pollution. For this reasons, many stores sell the reusable cloth bags at a cost of $.50 to $1.00. But, of course, to help the environment, you need to be organized enough to have and carry your reusable bag or bags when you go shopping.

The good news is that you can your make your own shopping bag from a recycled t-shirt with almost no money and with just a couple of hours of work. It’s a great way to use t-shirts from a previous year. So, here I include instructions on how to re-purpose an unwanted t-shirt into a reusable shopping bag.

Your shopping bag will be the exact same size as the recycled t-shirt, and any good-sized t-shirt will do fine. Your need for sewing skills are negligible. With some cutting and just two seams – hand or machine sown – you’ll create your bag. The part left where you removed the sleeves and the scooped out neck will fashion the handles for your bag and the bottom part will hold your groceries. You’ll use it for grocery shopping, but it also can be a tote bag for all kinds of things like library books, cleaning supplies or anything else you need to carry around. The plus is that your t-shirt bag will be strong and totally washable!

You’ll need only a few tools and materials:
Heavy-weight cotton T-shirt
Sewing machine or hand sewing needles
Large mixing bowl (to help trace out the circles to be cut)
Water-erasable marking pen

(If your not sure whether your t-shirt is clean or not, put it in the wash before you begin this project.)

Here's how to make your t-shirt bag:

First, turn the T-shirt inside out. Line up the bottom hem of the shirt, use pins to hold the front and backsides together, and sew the bottom edges together. All the sewing is done with the shirt inside out. To have stronger seams that hold up better, add an extra line of stitching. You may also want to box-in the corners. You can do this by sewing a triangle across the corners at the bottom of the bag.

Next, flip the shirt right side out and lay it flat on table. Make sure all the seams are lined up and place the mixing bowl below the neck hole. Using the marking pen, trace the edge of the bowl. Cut along the outline. This is the opening to your bag. Make sure that the scoop that you cut out is large enough to fit the groceries into the bag.

Then, line up the hems on the sleeves and cut off both arms, including the sleeve seams. Use pins to hold the edges together while you make the cuts. These will form the handles for your shopping bag. For extra strength, you can reinforce the handles of your bag by stitching across the shoulder seam once or twice.

Luckily, most t-shirts are made of knit-jersey and don’t usually fray, but, if you like, you can hem the edges of the t-shirt bag - that will give it a more finished look.

Turn the bag right side out again and your ready to go shopping.

There are all kinds of variations that you can do to have a more attractive bag. You can:

Fashion your bag so that an interesting logo is displayed on the front of your bag.

Decorate your bag with embroidery or a crocheted edge. (I single-crocheted an edge around the entire bag including the handles. It took about 5 hours, but the result was attractive and it made the bag much stronger.)

Use pens to write a “get green’ slogan on your bag – something like: “ I used to be a t-shirt.” or “I’m not your usual plastic bag!”

Add two pockets to the bag using the material from the t-shirt sleeves. Make the pockets as deep as possible so that they can hold a lot of small items. 


Take a good look at your kitchen trashcan at the end of the week (or the end of your food-buying cycle, if you don't buy food every week). If you see food that should have been eaten but wasn’t and later has to be thrown out, you're not alone. American households account for a lot of food loss.

If this is your problem, you need to stop treating food casually. When you waste food, you've lost the perspective that our food is a gift from God. As such, all food should be planned for, bought, stored, cooked and eaten with respect. That means that very little of it should ever end up in the trash. Throwing out food that you bought with your hard-earned cash is like throwing your money directly in the trash. Beyond that, hopefully, you're already trying to make your home life a lot greener and no longer feel complacent about food or any other type of household waste. So start this week to be a USE-IT-ALL-UP food buyer and consumer.

You probably can think of some reasons why you throw out food. Mostly, there aren't really any good reasons for throwing out food. When you waste food, you didn’t do the right kind of planning and bought too much of the wrong kind of stuff. You find that extra food at the back of your refrigerator when it’s too late. So, you go to the store and often buy the same foods in the same quantities and begin the process all over again the next week.

If you want to break away from these useless and costly habits, you need to take steps to make sure the food you buy doesn’t go to waste. First of all, think about what kind of waste you have. Do you have perishable products – like salad makings, fruit, and dairy stuff - that aren’t used fully and then go bad before you cook or eat it? Or, do you have cooked food that was returned to the fridge and then nobody ate the leftovers? You may even have canned food that has stayed in your freezer or pantry for months and you’re not sure if it’s still good to eat.

To correct these mistakes, you need to start by making a realistic meal plan for your family for the week. Include in your meal plan all the food that will be your breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks for one week.

Calculate the average number of meals that are eaten out (like those dinners on Friday or Saturday nights) or just skipped (like breakfast on Sunday morning). Do one or more members of your family often skip a meal that others eat? You need to consider this also. It’s better to underestimate what you’ll need for the week than to overestimate. If you have to, you can make a short trip to the store for a couple of things that you may need.

 If you’re still ending up with extra food at the end of the week, you need a leftover strategy. Always store leftovers in the front of the fridge in see-through containers. That way they aren't so likely to be ignored and can be used within a day or two of their preparation. If they stay in the fridge for more than a couple of days, plan for a leftovers-meal toward the end of the week.

The leftover meal can be a lunch or dinner - on Friday if Saturday if grocery store day or on Saturday, if Sunday is store day. If you don’t have enough dinner leftovers, make an extra meal that includes some breakfast or lunch foods. There’s no harm done in repeating foods in the evening that are normally used as breakfast or lunch foods – just try to fix them up differently or in some unusual combination.

You can also use leftovers for salads or sandwiches or served with a white, tomato or cheese sauce. Add them to casseroles or stir-fry them. Aspire to be a good leftovers chef. Learn to make omelets, quiches, desserts, and rice dishes based on leftover fruits, vegetables, meats and cheese that need to be used.

When your freezer or pantry gets full, plan to eat only items that you already have on hand for a week or two. Buy only some milk, bread and fresh produce during that time. If you still have too much stored food on hand, pull out the items that aren’t being used and donate them to a local charity that feeds hungry people.



For most of us, the most important facts related to cooking are taste and cost. The two recipes that I recommend to you here are tastey soups based on some rather humble vegetables and legumes, and they cost only about $1.25 per person. Family finances aside, these meals should be appealing to you because they have a very low carbon footprint. This means that the resources needed to grow the foods in these recipes represent fewer carbon emissions – relative to those used in producing foods for other common menus based heavily on meat or cheese.

Most of the foods used in these recipes - cabbage, beans, lentils, onions, carrots, potatoes, and leafy green herbs - are readily available in local farmers markets, and their purchase helps to strengthen local agriculture and business. As an added bonus these soups contain some of the healthiest foods you can find. The more expensive foods (that ones that you don't see emphasized here): beef, cheese, pork, and poultry make up a separate group. And foods in this second group are higher in fat and their production involves a lot more carbon emission.

The first group of foods makes for meals that are simple, essential and life-supporting, while meals based heavily on the second group are questionable from the perspective of health and have damaging effects on our planet. A thrifty, eco-friendly kitchen plans for mostly vegetarian menus based on the first group of foods and uses only a little or none of the second group - the exception being their use in small quantities for flavor accents. So, there's wisdom in there. Look for ways to use the first group of foods and downplay the others - this helps sustain your family and community and saves the Earth’s precious resources.

The soups that I describe to you today are built around cabbage. Yes, everyone knows that big heads of cabbage are cheap. But some people have apparently forgotten about the merits of cabbage. All they remember about cabbage is that it can be used to make coleslaw or steamed or boiled, which tends to be a little boring. So, many people don’t regularly use cabbage in family meals.

This page emphasizes the highly positive aspects of cabbage in the diet, and there are many. Cabbage is cheap, eco-friendly, healthy, and available locally almost the entire year. Our ancestors will well-aware of the benefits of eating cabbage. You've probably heard about the custom of eating cabbage (cooked with a ham bone) on New Year's Day. It's done for good luck, and it has been good luck - over and over for thousands of years. Cabbage is easy to grow, available for almost the entire year, and, in hard times, has kept enumerable people from starvation.

 Below,  I'm happy to share one of my favorite recipes for a hearty and frugal cabbage soup. Try it at home. I bet your family will be well-satisfied (there’s a lot of fiber in there) and pleased with the taste. Then make some changes to this soup according to your own criteria. If you’re totally happy with your recipe, reproduce it on cards or nice notepaper and have them ready to share with family and friends.

Let everyone around you know that: “Cabbage soup may (again) save the world.” 


Grandmas’ Favorite Cabbage and Bean Soup

1 large onion
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 of a large cabbage, shredded
2 stalks celery
2 carrots
2 TBS olive oil or coconut oil
(Optional) Can add a little fried bacon or pork to further enhance the flavor of the soup.)
3/4 TPS salt
½ TPS ground black pepper to taste
1 TPS powdered cumin
Can of tomato sauce (may be a small or a large can, according to your love of tomatoes)
2 bay leaves
3 TPS apple cider vinegar
2 TBS brown sugar
2 TBS of fresh parsley or cilantro
1 cup of lentils or navy beans (Beans need to be presoaked or par-boiled, so this needs to be done beforehand. If you’re in a big hurry, just open and throw in a can of beans.)

- Dice the onions, garlic, celery and carrots.
- Cover the bottom of a soup pot with oil and stir-fry the garlic, onions, celery and carrots. Add the salt, pepper, and cumin (along with the pork, if you choose to add it).
- When the veggies are tender, add the beans or lentils and bay leaves, pour in a quart of water and bring it all to a boil. Let the beans or lentils boil until they are almost fully cooked. (You need less water if you're using canned beans.)
- Add sliced cabbage, tomato sauce, vinegar, sugar to the pot, and cook the soup another 20 minutes.
- Serve in soup bowls with chopped parsley or cilantro. With good whole-grain bread or a bowl of rice, you have a hearty meal for 4- 6 people.

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