Friday, December 24, 2010

Heavenly Hash: The Sweet Epiphanies of Holiday Feasts

                              Photo courtesy NASA   The Starburst Galaxy

Dear Friends,

            Happy holidays to you all! Here is my Huffington Post by way of a seasonal card. It’s already been picked up by sites as far-flung as USA Today, Dave Letterman's page, S. Korea, India, UK, Thailand,  and Ireland. Bon appétit! And may your New Year be magical and heavenly.
All best, Brenda

BIO The Huffington Post
Brenda Peterson | Posted December 24, 2010 | Religion

My mother always taught us that no one should be alone at Christmas and that we must expect miracles and mysteries. She offered these miracles from her Southern kitchen. The petite Madeleines of her Christmas celebrations were her peanut-butter fruitcake, cherry and pineapple fudges. And who could resist the temptation of Mother's meringue-light Divinity, studded with black walnuts?

In the fervent circles of my childhood, food was love ...

(Read more on The Huffington Post) And here are some photos and recipes from the Internet.

Then there is the sugared inspiration of Heavenly Hash. This holiday concoction is an melange of Cool Whip, cherry pie filling, crushed pineapple, marshmallows, and nuts. In a crystal or glass bowl it looks rather like a suspicious mishmash. But if made right -- especially with buttery French-style marshmallows -- this medley of fruits and nuts sings on the tongue.
 Another favorite was Russian tea, a concoction of citrus Tang, and Lipton's black tea. This spicy brew was always served on our Christmas Eve with Mother's homemade sausage cookies. Battered balls of sharp cheese, sausage, Jiffy Biscuit Mix and milk -- these salty cookies cut the glut of too much sugar.
As one of my Jewish friends, who sampled my mother's Divinity, says, "Isn't food one of the primary reasons to be here on earth? Maybe that's what Eve and the apple were all about -- nothing to do with good and evil, or knowledge, but food, glorious food."

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Why Wolves Matter: The Green World Theory

USFWS Biologist Joe Fontaine with Gray wolf pup from the first litter born to Yellowstone wolves
credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

My new Huffington Post commentary on wolves and the politics of hunting and conservation is just published at this link:

In the cold, dawn light of Yellowstone's Lamar Valley, I watched the Crystal Creek wolf pack at play. It was 1995, and these were the first wolves to return to Yellowstone in 60 years. Fifteen years ago, we had no idea of how successful and popular wolf reintroduction would be. Or how wolves would revitalize this damaged ecosystem -- astonishingly increasing the health of everything from trees to songbird populations.
That morning, the vast, panoramic meadow below was abloom with spring wildflowers as the Crystal Creek alpha male and female loped across the green meadows, followed by their rambunctious pups.
"This is history in the making," said Park ranger and wolf researcher Rick McIntyre, as he let us take turns watching the wolf pack through his spotting telescope. "Our children will thank us for this."
McIntyre, author of The War Against the Wolf: America's Campaign to Exterminate the Wolf, had no way of knowing then that from these few small bands of wolves returned to Yellowstone in 1995, there would now be 1,650 in the Northern Rockies. But this still is far from original pre-hunting numbers; and only five percent of their former range.
"Look!" he pointed excitedly. "Over on the far ridge . . . do you see the grizzly?" (READ MORE at

Here are a few photos to illustrate that article from respected wolf researcher, Cristina Eisenberg, author of the ground-breaking book The Wolf's Tooth and from Rick McIntyre whose book, The War Against the Wolf is a classic. I wrote about wolf reintroduction in Build Me an Ark: A Life with Animals and have followed this issue over the last decade. Please get involved in wolf conservation. Visit the Huffington Post and contact your Congressional representatives to ask them to stop any bill to delist wolves from the Endangered Species List. And to stop any renewed wolf hunts in the Northern Rockies.

Wolf pup and ranges in Yellowstone, circa 1995 First wolf reintroduction

Wolf pack, Colorado, photo credit: Cristina Eisenberg, author of The Wolf's Tooth

Wolves howling. photo credit: Cristina Eisenberg