Urban Naturalist: The Runabout Rodent

It took my wife Jen about five minutes to spot two rats (I missed the first) running toward an overflowing trash can near the center of Rittenhouse Square. No one else saw them. True, it was dark, but the park was filled with couples chatting on benches, bar-hoppers strolling through, a circle of twentysomethings sitting on the grass a few yards away and a handful of homeless folks bedding down for the night.
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Branching Out: Chester County nature preserve inspires Alison Stigora's blackened art

Alison stigora’s art descends like a waterfall into the exhibition space, which is odd because it is comprised of huge burnt tree trunks, seared old fence posts and scorched branches. Her latest and most ambitious piece, “Crossing Jordan,” is a massive installation at the Skybox event space in the 2424 Studios building in Fishtown. The iridescent black wood appears to emerge from a second-story window, pouring into the 6,000 square-foot, former industrial space. A slightly smaller version mirrors the L-shaped installation on the opposite side of the room, making visitors feel as though they are surrounded by the mischievous work of pyromaniac beavers.
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A Welcome Wake-Up Call: A holiday breakfast your guests won't mind waking up for

Open a food magazine in anticipation of the holiday season and you’ll find a world of recipes for grand family dinners or dishes that travel well. Newspapers devote entire sections to items for your Christmas buffet, and more than a few food blogs will offer advice on how to transform your leftovers into satisfying lunches and inspired suppers.
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A Family Affair: The Bynum brothers introduce comfort food with a healthy twist

Patrons of green soul might not realize that the West Oak Lane restaurant is dedicated to healthy living and sustainable efforts. Succotash shrimp salad, Cajun salmon and peach cobbler are on the menu—standard fare for a Southern-style restaurant akin to the Bynum brothers’ other establishments, Relish and Warmdaddy’s.
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Cheese of the Month: Blue Suede Moo

Around the holidays, Blue Suede Moo has become my local go-to Stilton impersonator. Like its famous British counterpart, it’s straw colored with beautiful indigo veining, densely packed beneath a cobblestone-like rind. One whiff, and you smell a burlap sack full of walnuts. One taste, and your mouth fills with toasty nuts and portobello mushrooms. The finish is like green branches on your tongue.
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Endless Summer

For all but the most dedicated locavores, facing January and February with little more on the plate than root vegetables and storage crops can be daunting. “They get to the point where they can’t face another turnip,” says Adam Gordon, co-founder of Winter Sun Farms Greater Philadelphia. “So they pop down to a conventional grocery store and start buying stuff from California, Mexico and beyond.”
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Farming It Out: Bartram’s Garden restores tradition with a new farm and community center

Two years ago during a staff retreat, Tyler Holmberg and his colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania’s Netter Center for Community Partnership started brainstorming about transforming the southern portion of Bartram’s Garden into an operational farm. Since then, their vision has become a reality; last month, ground was officially broken for the Bartram’s Farm and Community Resource Center. 
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Waiting For The Worms

My first, and unfortunate, attempt at composting was using a static pile. The stinking, hot pile of primordial ooze I created was not only unfit for fertilizing my vegetables, but caused a severe rift in my relationship with my neighbors. So, I decided to switch to another method I’d discovered in my composting research: vermicomposting, or the use of worms to break down organic material.
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