Thursday, January 31, 2013

Our Daily Ocean: Day 178

Lately, the weather has been completely wacky.  Some days it will be cold (you know the way it's supposed to be during winter) and then other days it will be so warm and beautiful that I kick off my flip flops, roll up my jeans and tie my jacket around my waist.

Tuesday was that kind of day.  Flip flops off, feet in the water!

Each beach clean up I do is different.  While there are definitely always similarities... for various (and sometimes not so obvious) reasons they are all unique.  Sometimes I find things that I've never found before... like this little piece of plastic from a Nike shoe.  Umm...why in the world did Nike glue a piece of plastic onto shoes?? Hmmm....  Speaking of Nike, I'm a bit obsessed with this song.
My friend Sara just put up her last post on her blog The Daily Ocean.  She's moving over to her new website <-- go check it out!  Having completed 365 non-consecutive beach clean ups, she's now headed off the sand and on the road for her speaking tour.  Be sure to check out her website and sign up to receive updates here.
20 minutes on January 29, 2013 at Access 16
Litter by weight: 9.7 oz
Cigarette butts: 119
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 178 days:

Our Daily Ocean: Day 177

You know how when the weather is gorgeous and you want nothing more than just to be outside?  That's how it was on Martin Luther King, Jr Day.  Yeah, this is a long overdue post from Monday January 21!!
Feathered clouds, sun dogs, sea gulls.... I love the days when the sky is so alive that it pulls my eyes up from the sand.  I'm so in awe of the beauty of the world we live in... I really get lost in it sometimes.  ...and getting lost in it is good because it keeps my eyes wide open... taking everything in... I take in the wonder and beauty... but at the same time, I'm not closing my eyes to the realities.  I feel it's so important to look at the broad picture and to also take the time to see the little details... whether good or bad.  
 Since I did this clean up on Martin Luther King, Jr Day... I think it's only appropriate to share one of my favorite quotes of his:

"Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve.  You don't have to have a college degree to serve.  You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve.  You only need a heart full of grace.  A soul generated by love."
20 minutes on January 21, 2012 at Access 16
Litter by weight: 12.3 oz
Cigarette butts: 167

Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 177 days: 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Black Bean Veggie Burgers

Let me get this out there.  I love burgers.  When I was a kid, I would look forward to going to my grandparents because they made the best barbecued burgers.  Then as an adult, I would make hamburgers like they were going out of style.  Then in 2009, when I decided to stop eating meat... the first thing I thought was, "well, at least I don't have to give up burgers!  I'll eat veggie burgers!"  Of course, I started off on my veggie burger adventure with the store-bought frozen versions... until I learned how to make homemade versions that had so much more flavor that to buy the premade frozen versions just seemed so pointless... blah.

Now over the years, I've tried plenty of homemade veggie burgers... and I have never been disappointed.  BUT... there is one that I make all the time and one that I would happily make to my most carnivorous of friends and family.  Behold:
When I posted the above picture of  my lunch (which happened to be leftovers... shhhh) on Instagram & Facebook... comments blew up with:

"Yummmmmm!!  Recipe please!"                "You amaze me...."

"You're crazy!!!! Looks amazing!!!!"                    "It looks like a sloppy fat beef burger..."

"Post recipe, please!"               "teach me your awesomeness"

Well, I knew that I was going to have to share my favorite homemade burger recipe! :)  So friends here you go... awesomeness is yours!

Homemade Black Bean Burgers

2 (15oz) cans black beans (rinsed and drained) 
OR 1 cup dried black beans* (soaked and cooked)
2 large organic pastured eggs 
1 TBSP olive oil* + for frying
1 tsp cumin*
1/2 tsp salt*
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper*
1 red bell pepper, chopped fine
1 shallot (or equivalent amount onion), minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs**

  1. Place beans in food processor and pulse until beans are mostly smashed with half beans still remaining.  (Don't over-process or the burgers will be mush.)
  2. In a large bowl, whisk eggs together with 1 TBSP olive oil, cumin, salt, cayenne pepper.  Stir in beans and remaining ingredients until just combined.
  3. Make 6 patties from the mixture.  I like to form 6 semi-smooshed balls. (I flatten when in pan) If the mixture seems too wet and your patties aren't holding together, just add a little extra breadcrumbs (or vital wheat gluten).  Remember you can always add, but you can't take out!
  4. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat until shimmering.  Add burgers (don't overcrowd!) and cook until well browned on both sides (about 4 min each side).
  5. Serve. 

My favorite way to eat devour mine is on a homemade burger bun with caramelized onions, bbq sauce, jalapeƱos, and avocado. (...and sometimes cheese)   YUM.

* ingredients bought in bulk with my own containers

** Homemade bread crumbs:  Every time I have bits of leftover bread, I run it through my food processor to create breadcrumbs.  I store my homemade breadcrumbs in a glass jar in my freezer.

Also, just in case you missed the link: 
Plastic-Free Recipe: Burger Buns

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Our Daily Ocean: Day 176

For the past several days, warm weather has been making winter feel like spring.  It's been really really nice!!  As far as my beach clean ups have gone-- knowing the beach has been getting more traffic than normal-- I've been pleasantly surprised by the minimal amount of litter I've been finding on the beach.
See that plastic bottle of water?  It's only one now, but come summer littered single-use plastic water bottles will abound.  ...and to be completely frank, bottled water is one example of a littered item that is completely unnecessary.  Of course, there are more problematic issues to bottled water than just the littered plastic bottle that could send me on a long winding tangent... instead, I'll recommend watching the documentary "Tapped" (it's available on Netflix) and grabbing a reusable water bottle.  
It's always worth reminding ourselves that with our own conscious purchasing habits we have the power to change the system.  If we all get together to make a change... that change is unstoppable.

20 minutes on January 15, 2013 at Access 36
Cigarette butts: 46
 Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 176 days:

Monday, January 14, 2013

Our Daily Ocean: Day 175

Warm weather is here!! Most likely not to stay, but it's here and it feels like early Spring!!  I LOVE LOVE LOVE it!!!  Warmer weather brings out a lot of people to the beach and... well... 
Love was in the air at Wrightsville Beach.  Ok, a lot of love was in the air.   In one small section, I found a beer can and then....  a used condom.  I cringed.  Then, I saw another.  Seriously?!  You've got to be kidding me!!  And when I found a third used condom, I just laughed.  I guess they had a good time.  

A little mannerism to remember for all those who get it on at the beach:
 Wrap it and trash it, PLEASE

20 minutes on January 13, 2013
Cigarette butts: 48
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 175 days:

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Our Daily Ocean: Day 174

It was 46 degrees this morning when I stepped onto Wrightsville Beach.  Having forgotten my coat, I took a deep breath, thought warm thoughts and set my timer for 20 minutes.
Typical of a cold winter day, the beach was very quiet.... which has to be my favorite thing about winter at the beach.  With only the sound of the ocean, I am alone with my thoughts... and picking up litter becomes somewhat meditative.  To be honest, without a timer set... I could walk the beach without realizing how far I've gone.
One thing that I kept thinking about while on the beach was: Being conscious to how we are connected to our world (and not separate from it or each other) is one of the most important things we can do.  Because when we become conscious to this fact, we realize that everything we do (or don't do) matters.  We know that when we take that refuse that plastic bag, we show others that there's another way.  We do it for the oceans, we do it for the animals, we do it for our air and water quality, we do it for more than we know... because one thing we know for sure is that we're all connected in this great big beautiful world.

Want to help rid New Hanover County of plastic bags?  Go here (yes, it matters)
20 minutes on January 8, 2013 at Access 36
Litter by weight: 8.7 oz
Cigarette butts: 112
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 174 days:

Monday, January 7, 2013

Our Daily Ocean: Day 173

Saturday was an especially amazing and fun day at Wrightsville Beach.  There were wispy cirrus clouds painted across the bluest of blue skies and the air was crisp and cool.  As my two boys and I walked south along the beach, they took advantage of the winter beach erosion and spent their time climbing up and jumping off the sand "cliffs"... nature's playground.

And while my boys played, another one of the most beautiful and awe inspiring natural phenomenons was taking place-- sundogs.  The first time I saw a sundog, I called it a fragment of a rainbow.  Over the years, I have viewed these little fragments as a metaphor for life: a reminder that rainbows are always there... we just have to be in the right place to see them.

On Saturday, I saw sundogs everywhere... I even saw a nearly complete halo of color circling the sun... And after I finished my beach clean up, I sat down on a park bench, let my head fall back and the sky smiled at me.... begging me to ask the question: What does it mean???  

To which I can only answer:  

We live in a great big beautiful world.... and it's worth protecting.

20 minutes on January 5, 2013 at Access 18
Litter by weight: 6 oz
Cigarette butts: 116
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 173 days:

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Our Daily Ocean: Day 172

Well, hello 2013.  It's a new year and because so much has happened and so many things have changed since this time last year... I'm finding myself super reflective.  I guess that's what New Years is about... reflecting on our past to guide us as we move to the new.  Reminding ourselves who we were, who we are and who we could be.  My head is filled with optimism and hope... a new year brings a new perspective. 
This year, Wrightsville Beach will usher in the implementation of North Carolina's first smoke-free beach.  Very BIG deal.  Successful implementation means there will be fewer littered cigarette butts on Wrightsville Beach!  I'm so excited!  I look forward to seeing a change and helping raise awareness about the new ordinance.  ...and as I reflect back, I can't stop smiling because I was part of something big.  I helped create change because I believed... because I had hope.  Because I read the words "You are the difference" and I believed it.
So let me remind you (as I do every new year) 

You are the difference.

Pass it on.  Everything we do matters.

20 minutes on January 1, 2013 at Access 42
Cigarette butts: 271
Plastic caps: 27
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 172 days: