Charity Logo

Charity Logo

Charity of the Month


In December I am riding for Heifer International. Founded in 1944, Heifer International works with communities around the world to end hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth. Its approach is more than a handout. Heifer provides animals (e.g., heifers, goats, water buffalos, chickens, rabbits, fish, and bees) and training to impoverished people in over 30 countries. The animals can give milk, meat, or eggs; provide draft power; or form the basis of a small business. Communities make their own decisions about what crops, animals, and market strategies make sense for their everyday conditions and experiences.

Heifer International is based on 12 Cornerstones, such as Sustainability; Genuine Need and Justice; and Gender and Family Focus. Perhaps the best known Cornerstone is Passing on the Gift, in which Heifer recipient families pass on the offspring of their animals to others in need. In this way, whole communities can raise their standard of living.

A donation to Heifer International also can make a wonderful alternative holiday gift. Instead of yet another sweater for Grandma that she really doesn’t need, why not donate a Heifer animal or a share of an animal in her honor? Does your child really need so many new toys? Instead of five new toys, give him/her three new toys and a Heifer flock of chicks. Heifer has honor cards to let your loved ones know of your gift on their behalf.

I have set up a Team Heifer page to support Heifer International through A Year of Centuries. My goal is to raise $500. Please make your donation through If you would like more information about Heifer’s work, please visit Whether you give to honor a loved one or make a regular donation, thank you for taking steps to transform the world for the better.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Bats in the Pantry

Happy Halloween!  Have I got a treat for you – a bonus recipe from my new cookbook, Bats in the Pantry!  I have about a gazillion cookbooks, but I couldn’t resist this recent purchase that features ingredients that rely on bats for pollination, seed dispersal, and/or pest control.  Additionally, in every recipe a bat symbol is placed next to the bat-dependent ingredients, and the back of the book explains each bat-plant connection.  The cookbook has dozens of delicious looking, healthful recipes for appetizers, salads, side dishes, entrees, beverages, and more.  All of the recipes happen to be vegetarian, including many vegan ones.
Because today is Halloween, it’s appropriate that I share a recipe with a scary ingredient: bananas.  Bananas are scary to me unless they are barely ripe enough to eat.  (I do my grocery shopping on Saturday and buy myself just two bananas at the time; therefore, I usually eat bananas only on Sundays or Mondays.)  Woe to the banana with even one brown spot; it gets banished to the freezer for banana bread.  Here’s a neat trick: when bananas get past their prime, you can put them directly into the freezer, skin and all.  It makes them look truly horrifying, but they work perfectly in banana bread.  Just thaw them on the countertop for a few hours before you want to use them.  Then, split the skin and squish out the innards.  They blend easily into the other ingredients.
Most banana bread recipes are just so-so to me.  However, when I saw the recipe for Banana Ginger Bread with all of the wonderful spices, I knew I’d like it.  In fact, I’m batty about it!  I can hardly wait to try lots more recipes from Bats in the Pantry.
Banana Ginger Bread
2 cups brown sugar
*1 cup mashed bananas
2 eggs
*1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*2 tablespoons vegetable oil (optional)
*3 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
*½ teaspoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon ground cardamom
*½ teaspoon ground cloves
*2 cups dark beer
*2 cups dates, pitted and chopped
*2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger root

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease two 9” x 5” loaf pans.  In a bowl, cream the brown sugar, bananas, eggs, and vanilla.  (Add oil if moister bread is desired.)  In another bowl, combine 3 cups flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, cardamom, and cloves.  Combine the mixtures from the two bowls; mix in beer.  Toss dates with remaining 2 tablespoons flour.  Stir dates and ginger into mixture.  Pour into two greased loaf pans.  Bake for 1 hour, or until inserted toothpick emerges dry and clean.

*This ingredient is made possible by bats!

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