Managing Waste

Has anyone other than myself noticed how full the garbage disposal or trash bag is after preparing a meal? what about once everyone's plates have been scraped clean?  What can we do with all the vegetable skins, seeds and random scraps? Sometimes it's just skin, but it could also be radish tops, fennel and lemongrass stalks, or a ton of squash seeds. At times, it seems easier to throw things in the trash than to find an alternate use. We live in a world in which waste is so easy to create. I remember my friend calling me from New York City during a series of terrible winter storms, so bad that the garbage trucks hadn't come around for a few days. She described the trash bags piled higher than her head, lining the sidewalk. Think about how much food is wasted by a restaurant (just watch how many plates leave the table with food left on them) or grocery stores. There are increasing efforts to address areas of our infrastructure that perpetuate this approach to waste, from Forgotten Harvest to local farmers partnering with restaurants to turn food scraps into compost. The myopic mindset we are trained to accept fails to acknowledge how each individual action we engage in is connected to the greater whole of our existence. Here are some of our favorite approaches to "waste," ways to "close" the loop, create less waste, and live a more connected life.

Start a compost pile or find one you can contribute to. All vegetable scraps, egg shells, garden waste (leaves, grass clippings), coffee grounds, can get mixed together to create rich soil. Or, freeze vegetable scraps for vegetable stock. I always have carrot peels, mushroom stems, collard green/kale stalks and corn cobs in a bag in the freezer to throw into a big pot, to which I add water, bay leaves, peppercorns, ginger, or whatever I have on hand.

Join a food sharing group with neighbors or friends. I’m a part of a group on facebook called Detroit Food Freecycle, where people post when they have excess food or access to free food that will otherwise go to waste. 

Grate/zest your citrus rinds after juicing them, and add to sauces, salads, eggs, or baked goods for extra flavor. Sometimes I'll zest a bunch of lemons and freeze the zest for later use. 

Dry extra fruit rinds and herbs to use as air fresheners or for tea. You could also add extra herb pieces or fruit rinds to a bowl filled with hot water. Make a centerpiece from dried fruit, a little cinnamon, and herb pieces.  You can naturally eliminate odors by filling the inside a citrus rind with sea salt. If you're lucky enough to have one, throw a couple lemon rinds down your garbage disposal to clean and deodorize the drain. These air fresheners/cleaners eliminate the need of using toxic chemical air fresheners, to which babies, animals and other sensitive populations such as pregnant women and the elderly are the most affected. 

Before throwing away less-than-perfect fruits make jam or jelly or freeze them for smoothies or baked goods. I always lay individual chunks of fruit (or berries) out on a cookie sheet and freeze til solid to prevent unwieldy clumps of fruit later on. Before throwing extra vegetables in the compost pile, make a fermentation! Exercise care to avoid soft spots or any area that could be harboring the beginnings of mold. Here’s a simple way to lacto-ferment extra veggies:

In conclusion, these suggestions are nice when thinking about them but so we can truly decide what to do when we imagine the relevance and consequences behind our current actions.   

The importance of going barefoot

Sitting on the porch steps this morning eating breakfast, I noticed a dull ache in the arch of my foot the longer I it pressed into the edge of the step. Pain is always a message, an indication that something needs to shift, a reality check, a warning, a challenge, at times a desperate battle. But it is always telling you something. And this morning, it was telling me this hurts, but in a good way...keep doing it. So I did--I pressed into the upper arch near my big toe all the way down towards my heel. On both feet. And then I used my hands, focusing on the sore spots and putting pressure with my thumbs and my knuckles. 

As I poked and dug into the sore spots on my feet, it brought back memories of walking down the pebble trail leading to the surf beach I used to frequent before I moved to Michigan. How much it hurt at first before my feet toughened up, and then how good it felt to walk on that bumpy hard surface. Foot reflexology! 

Our feet have reflex points that correspond to our entire body system, including our organs, glands and muscles. Luckily, it's fairly easy to do on yourself. Here's a chart:

Screenshot 2016-05-22 21.03.35.png

Going barefoot helps stretch and strengthen the muscles of the feet and legs. Ever notice how good it feels to take your shoes off at the end of the day, even when you've been wearing comfortable shoes? Even more so with heels or dress shoes that squish your toes together and constrict movement. While wearing shoes is necessary for many daily activities, they can actually contribute to pain in our knees and backs, especially if we have flat feet. An easy way to address the effects of flat feet is to sit in virasana on a daily basis. This pose stretches the ankles and feet and with dedicated practice will help reform your arches.  

Virasana   means hero pose. Use height (a blanket or block) under your hips if they don't reach the floor comfortably. Stretch the hands overhead or rest them by your side. Make sure the spine remains long and straight.

Virasana means hero pose. Use height (a blanket or block) under your hips if they don't reach the floor comfortably. Stretch the hands overhead or rest them by your side. Make sure the spine remains long and straight.

When I first heard about earthing, I thought it was a New Age joke. It struck me as funny that walking barefoot and being "grounded" had actually become a "thing." BUT, once I spent a little time reading the scientific explanation behind the theory, I started appreciating their work. The earth conducts energy,  and anytime we make a physical connection to the earth, its energy runs through our bodies. That's partly why floating in the ocean feels so soothing (salt conducts electricity), or why walking on grass, sand or even warm concrete can feel so good (note: wood does not conduct electricity). Have you heard of inflammation and how it is the root of all disease? Or about how important it is to consume things like blueberries and green tea due to their high antioxidant level? Well, we can get that by walking barefoot. The earth transfers negatively-charged electrons into our bodies, neutralizing positively-charged free radicals, which are related to chronic inflammation.  The earth is one giant anti-oxidant :) Studies have been done that show the effects of "grounding"/"earthing" on the nervous system, linking it to lowered cortisol (stress hormone) levels, reduced pain levels, and better sleep. Here's to spending some of the summer season with our toes in the soil and our soles/souls happy. 

dreaming of a shelter

The idea of a gazebo came a while back. Since we're open every Thursday, rain or shine, we take our chances with this finicky Michigan weather. The rain showers have produced some beautiful and memorable rainbows, but they've also encouraged some folks to stay inside or at home. The fact that we host a weekly gathering in an otherwise vacant lot, where people sit on wooden benches or stumps to eat their meal, and smoke from the bonfire may or may not blow ashes on them, are some of my favorite aspects of the entire endeavor. But I look at the addition of a structure as not just a shelter from the elements, but as another gathering space, and one that is not just for our weekly guests, but for the entire neighborhood. 

Monica LaFlamme, setting up blankets for the acro-yoga group.                            photo: ee berger

Monica LaFlamme, setting up blankets for the acro-yoga group.                            photo: ee berger

This is probably where I should add that the gazebo was not my idea, nor am I alone in this endeavor. Every week, while our wonderful staff is helping me prep ingredients, my boyfriend Kiley is mowing the lawn, filling tiki torches, collecting wood, building a fire, playing music, and talking with our guests (sometimes he grills, too!). While I have tunnel vision inside the airstream making sure everyone is getting fed, Kiley is outside in the lot, watching the clouds, tending the fire and making sure everyone is happy. Whereas I'm the detail-oriented multi-tasker, Kiley is the dreamer, thinking 5 years ahead of now, and thinking big. 

The concept of the gazebo is to bridge the space between the lot where we hold our weekly gathering and the community garden, which is extends to the hostel on the corner. We hope that it will serve the entire community: the residents of Spaulding Court who maintain the community garden and are currently rehabbing their small apartment complex, the international and American tourists and visitors staying at Hostel:Detroit on the corner, the neighbors across the street who were the only ones to stay on the block when everyone else abandoned it. And oh, did I mention it will include swinging benches?

rendering by Colleen Arce

rendering by Colleen Arce

We already have the bare bones erected. The six large posts are solidly cemented into the earth, and the top beams have been screwed in place. Someone has generously offered to donate brick pavers for the floor. Our carpenter friend has designed the benches and has agreed to lead the assemblage once we get the materials. And of course, we'll need a roof and some wall panels that can be closed when the weather gets cold. Piece by piece I can see it all coming together. If you want to see the work-in-progress, have a brilliant idea for building a roof, or want to get your hands and feet a little dirty, you are more than welcome. In the meantime, starting in May, you know where to find us each and every Thursday. 

rendering by Colleen Arce

rendering by Colleen Arce

Herb and Pistachio Falafel recipe

I had a request from a recent catering gig to share this recipe, so I figured I'd make it available to everyone!

This version of falafel is packed with herbs and pistachios, which make them beautifully bright green. They are a little more fragile than their traditional fried counterparts, so be gentle with them. They are great to just pop into your mouth, with a simple yogurt/garlic/lemon juice/herb sauce, a dash of hot sauce, or even wrapped up in a collard leaf with some tahini sauce....the possibilities go on and on....

In a food processor, chop:

1 bunch cilantro (leaves and tender stems)

1/2 bunch parlsey (leaves and tender stems)

6 sprigs mint, leaves only

Add, and pulse:

1 c roasted, unsalted pistachios

Add and blend til you get an even, but slightly rough  consistency:

3 cloves garlic

1/2 small onion

2 t cumin

2 T buckwheat flour (or flour of choice)

2 c pre-cooked, drained chickpeas

1/4 c olive oil

big pinch salt

Wetting your hands to keep the dough from sticking to them, roll the dough into balls (about the size of ping-pong balls). You should have about 20. 

Place on an oiled parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake at 375º for 15 mins, turning them over halfway through, until nicely browned


A new pancake recipe!

I've been messing around with gluten-free pancakes for a while now. The first batch tasted like baking soda, the second batch like cardboard and the third....tasted wonderful! From there, I've been tweaking it and adding extra goodies and now it is ready to share with you!

Here goes:

mix the following together in a medium-sized bowl:

1/2 c buckwheat flour

1/2 c quinoa flour (you could also do 1/4 c quinoa flour and 1/4 c of another flour of choice...I'm going to try hemp flour next time)

1/4 c unsweetened shredded coconut

2 T tapioca starch or cornstarch (optional)

2 T sugar (optional) 

2 T ground flax meal

1 T chia seeds

2 T baking powder

1 t cinnamon

1/2 t cardamom

1/4 t salt


make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add:

1/2 c milk of choice

1/2 c water

dash of vanilla extract and/or almond extract

2 T melted coconut oil or melted butter


mix til just combined, and let sit for a few minutes. Heat some coconut oil or butter in a cast iron skillet til just barely smoking. Cook on one side for 2-3 minutes, until the edges are dry, then flip and cook an additional minute. 

Serve with your favorite jam, syrup, etc

Makes 2-3 servings

it's almost November!

wow, a whole summer has come and gone. The trees are shedding their leaves, all the tomatoes are gone, and we have entered fall root vegetable season. Due to popular demand and contrary to all claims I've been making, the Pink Flamingo will remain open on Thursdays into November. We're throwing some ideas around for winter structures, but have decided NOT to start our hibernation just yet.

If you missed any of the fun this summer, here are some ideas of what it was like!


herb rice balls, salmon cakes with go chu jang yogurt, green salad and chips

herb rice balls, salmon cakes with go chu jang yogurt, green salad and chips

host Kiley with baby Frannie, the youngest member of Brother Nature Produce

host Kiley with baby Frannie, the youngest member of Brother Nature Produce

coconut fish soup, more rice balls and salad

coconut fish soup, more rice balls and salad

the bonfire! always nice to gather around it, now more necessary than ever

the bonfire! always nice to gather around it, now more necessary than ever

come out for a taste this Thursday! as things cool down, the food gets warmer and richer. check out the menu below!



Opening night at the Pink Flamingo!

This past Thursday we celebrated the first summer-feeling day by bringing the Pink Flamingo back into action! We had a great crowd, delicious fresh food and a bonfire. Come check us out every Thursday (weather permitting) from 6-10pm. We're in the community garden on Vermont St, between Temple & Spruce in North Corktown. 

Bring your own plate and get $1 off!

enjoying the warm weather and good company

waiting to place an order

waiting to place an order

the food: calas aka rice balls with fresh herbs, red onion and sardines & farinata, a chickpea flatbread with feta cheese spread, grilled onions, creamed corn, capers and chives {on a bed of Brother Nature greens}

the bonfire

the bonfire