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Offering Hope Healing Minds

Documenting our experience…living

This post shows some observations while walking around Chicago and Evanston, IL

These are just a few examples of different kinds of urban gardens we found, some have definitely given us good ideas and inspiration.

We are getting ready to move, and although we’ll be gardening in a rural setting when we wove to Northern Michigan, we are huge believers in urban gardening,a very important way to utilize space.  In our work we will be looking to get a large amount of production in a small space, so hopefully some of our research will help urban gardeners as well. Hope you enjoy the pictures.

These are 5 x 10 raised garden beds in front of a school, decorated by students.  This size garden bed will be beneficial for our efforts in companion plant research.

This is a public park, first bulbs coming up in Spring

These are Pansies located at a local commercial greenhouse.  Pansies are annual flowers, that are hardy and frost tolerant.  These were sown indoors in January, and brought outside in March.


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Sweet chestnut: Castanea sativa
Spring is in the air, we will be leaving Chicago for Michigan in under two weeks and we are stirring with excitement. This year we will be planting asian chestnut trees that have been cultivated through four generations. These chestnuts are tasty and have been thriving in the central lake region despite doubts that they would not succeed. With the help of our teacher, we will plant these on our project 80 and will plant them for other landowners/stewards interested in this beautiful, productive tree. 
These trees can be adopted by you, the people, with four days left, don’t miss out on this opportunity to support our project, all efforts are appreciated. 

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We are 20 days away from the close of our campaign, and 39% closer towards our goal. The Back to Our Roots album is included in the perks and has been of relevance for this coming season. Part 1 is a short message, followed by the track itself, Thank you.

Part 1

Part 2

Don’t forget to share, and contribute to be part of this campaign.

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This recipe is a much needed take on the classic Italian Salad, Insalata Caprese. This one is definitely suitable for dinner or a romantic date, with white wine. We’ll use Sauvignon Blanc, for both cooking and drinking. Enjoy!


Pasta Caprese with Mushroom and White Wine Sauce

1/2 lb of Dried Penne Pasta

1 cup Crimini Mushrooms, sliced

1 pint Cherry Tomatoes, halved

1/2 lb Fresh Mozzarella (we used the small sized balls of fresh mozzarella to match the size of the cherry tomatoes)

1/3 cup Fresh Basil, chopped

2 tablespoons Fresh Parsley, chopped

1/3 cup Sauvignon Blanc

Salt and Pepper to taste

2 Tblsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Cook the Pasta and strain it, adding olive oil if the sauce is not ready so that it doesn’t stick together as it sits.

Heat the olive oil in large saucepan. On medium high heat, place mushrooms in pan and let cook for 2-3 minutes. Add Cherry tomatoes and allow them to cook just slightly, about a minute.

Add the pasta, and stir in with the ingredients in the sauce pan. Immediately add Sauvignon Blanc and allow the alcohol to cook out, another half a minute. Salt the pasta lightly but evenly.

Turn the heat off. Leaving the pasta in the warm pan, add your fresh herbs and fresh Mozzarella, stirring in to warm the cheese.

Now you can Salt and Pepper to taste, garnish with fresh basil, serve, and enjoy with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

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Check out this video for more information, and enjoy the pics.



Bloggers, Readers, Friends, Fans, People…

We have just launched an Indiegogo Fundraising Campaign, with 30 days to reach our goal.  It’s very exciting!


Click this link to view the page and learn more about our project.


Or you can check the widget on the right side bar  —>

Please share and support,


Have fun!

Sincerely yours, Chris and Mourette

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This is admittedly, a blatant vegetarian substitution recipe, because Bolognaise sauce is a very rightly famous Italian meat sauce.  We are going to use Tempeh (try whole grain, 5 grain tempeh).  We are still staying traditional though, the most important part (after taste!), is bringing people together.  This recipe calls for a large portion to serve family style.

Pasta Bolognaise (Vegetarian)

Serves 14-16

3 lbs. Dried Pasta (Penne, Spaghetti, etc.)
4 cups Tomatoes,
6 oz Tomato Paste
16 oz Tempeh, crumbled
1 cup Mushrooms, sliced (White Button or Crimini)
½  Cup Carrot, minced
½ Cup Celery, minced
1 Tablespoon Garlic, minced
1 Large Onion, diced
¼ Cup Olive Oil
½ Cup Fresh Herbs, chopped (such as Parsley, Basil, Oregano)
Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Dry Spices and Herbs – Oregano, Thyme, Basil, Italian Seasoning, Fennel Seeds, Coriander, Cumin, Cayanne, Paprika, Garam Masala, Cinnamon

note: Cooking the Pasta can take about 10-15 minutes, including getting the water to a boil.  Bring Water to a boil, and add a Pinch of Sea Salt. Start the pasta after the water comes to a boil and follow directions on package.

You should start the pasta about half way through the cooking process for the sauce recipe to have it finished just before the sauce is finished.  When the Pasta is done cooking, strain the cooking water through a colander, and add olive oil to cooked pasta so it doesn’t stick.

1.  Heat olive oil in a large saucepan to medium heat.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, then add Onions.  Add a pinch of salt, and leave garlic and onion to cook on the stove for 1-2 minutes. Then add Carrots and Celery, mix and let cook for another minute.  Add the mushrooms and Sautee for 2 minutes.  Add your fresh tomatoes, stir in and let them cook down so the flavors get released, 3-4 minutes or more.

2.  Add the Crumbled Tempeh.  Stir in and let it sit for the next half a minute or so while you prepare your tomato paste.  Put a 6 Oz can of Tomato Paste in a bowl, then re-fill the can with water. Pour this water into the bowl and stir in together to make a thick liquid. Add the tomato paste into the Saucepan and mix contents together.

3.  Now its time to start adding your seasonings.  The main flavor in this recipe calls for Mostly Dried Herbs.  Add about 1-2 Tablespoons mixed together Oregano, Thyme, Basil, and Italian Seasoning.  Add about ¼ Teaspoon or 10-12 whole Fennel Seeds.  Add Dry Ground Spices about a ¼ Teaspoon or a Pinch of Each; Coriander, Cumin, and Paprika.  Add 1 ½ Teaspoons of Sea Salt, and ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.  Lower the heat to low and let the sauce simmer for 10 minutes.

4.  Now you can add more spices.  Add a pinch of any of the seasonings used in this recipe that you prefer.  Because this has such a kick, use a tiny pinch of cayenne, as well as a tiny pinch of Garam Masala.  Let it sit for 2 more minutes and then turn of the heat if the sauce has come to the right texture.  It should be thick and red with lots of fillings.  Mix in half of the fresh herbs.  Salt and Pepper to taste.

5.  Just add the pasta and the sauce in a bowl, toss and garnish with fresh herbs and freshly grated parmesan cheese.

note: Taste sauce periodically.  Check for natural sweetness from the vegetables.  While simmering, if it’s too bitter you can add a packed tablespoon of brown sugar.


Buon Giorno!

Who doesn’t like Italian Pasta?  I mean c’mon!

We are starting a short series on Italian pasta recipes.  All are vegetarian, packed full of flavor, and they all use mushrooms.  Mostly different kinds of mushrooms, but the Italians have always embraced them as a good food source.  They have used dogs for truffle hunting for centuries, a very different kind of hunting dog, such as a Spinoni.  (My Parents have one.  If only she could learn this skill.  Maybe Micah will learn one day.)  We have unfortunately not had the chance to work with truffles yet, due to their high cost, but maybe if Micah learns to hunt truffles we can bring you a truffle recipe.

Italy is famous for highlighting regional cooking and recipes.  We have a couple of fun swings on these recipes to keep you entertained, if you please.  However, we are starting with our very own Italian pasta recipe straight from Evanston, Illinois…(crickets)

Ok, so we just came up with one on the spot but it’s so good anyone would be proud to call it their own, after you cook it that is.

Find it Here:

Mushroom Ricotta Pesto Pasta