Vedge Out


In the almost 20 years since he opened his first restaurant, Horizon in Willow Grove, Rich Landau has been exploring and expanding the possibilities of vegetable cooking. Together with Kate Jacoby, his partner for the last 12 of those years, Landau has continuously raised the bar and won increasingly widespread praise. In 2011, they opened Vedge, a vegetable restaurant that has already earned a national profile as perhaps the best vegan restaurant in America, and one of the best restaurants, period. In their new cookbook, Vedge: 100 Plates Large and Small That Redefine Vegetable Cooking, Landau and Jacoby share 100 of the recipes that have won them such acclaim.
Story by Jon McGoran
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Art Attack on a Plate: Mural Arts celebrates 30 years with an off-the-wall feast for a thousand

On October 5, Mural Arts will gather nearly 1,000 people in Independence National Historical Park for “70X7,” a communal meal and discussion of heirloom foods and their role in creating a healthier food system.
The meal is one component of “What We Sow,” Mural Arts’ summer-long 30th anniversary celebration, and expands the organization’s mission beyond the walls of city buildings. “The meal itself is like taking a mural off the wall and putting it on the table,” says Netanel Portier, project manager for Mural Arts. “Our broader mission is to bring people together around important issues through the creation of public artwork.”
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Teens Go Platinum: High schoolers turn a rundown property into a LEED Platinum showpiece, with help from some friends

A newly rehabbed house is nothing noteworthy in Philadelphia. But when the bulk of the work is performed by teens and when the house is slated for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certification — as in the case with the three-story house at Greene and West Sylvania streets in Germantown — that’s news. Saint-Gobain, the world's largest building materials company, and its locally-based subsidiary CertainTeed partnered with North Philadelphia’s YouthBuild Charter School to transform a once run-down property into a sustainable multi-family home with a Hybrid Insulation System, reflective roof and many other green features.
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Clothes Encounter: Father and daughter collect and donate clothes discarded by runners

photo by Neal SantosFor Michael Resnic and his daughter Madeline, preparing for a marathon doesn’t involve long runs or cross-training sessions. All they need are comfortable shoes, some trash bags and volunteers to help them gather the shirts, hoodies, sweatpants, hats and gloves that runners shed along the race route.

 

After witnessing the mass of clothing discarded at the 2007 Philadelphia Marathon, the Resnics founded Clothes-Pin, a nonprofit that collects runners’ cast-off layers and donates them to local homeless shelters and other organizations. Since then, they have collected and donated more than 100,000 articles of clothing and thousands of pairs of sneakers.
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Last Call At Engine 46?

photo by Bradley MauleCedar-Riverview LP, owner of the Engine 46 firehouse in South Philadelphia, has postponed their planned demolition of the building to entertain ideas for how to fill its vacancy. The Dutch/Flemish Revival firehouse, built in 1894, last housed the Engine 46 Steakhouse, which closed in 2006. Cedar's vision for the site included leveling the firehouse and replacing it with a Checkers Drive-In restaurant. That deal fell through, but Cedar still posted a demolition notice on the structure in February, stirring significant media coverage and a rally to save it. Councilman Mark Squilla and the Pennsport Civic Association have raised awareness about the building, but by right Cedar may demolish it at any time.  For more on this story, visit the Hidden City Daily, hiddencityphila.org.
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Schuylkill Punch: A Story Runs Through It

"The Schuylkill’s bad reputation inspired the story,” says author Chari Towne about her book A River Again: The Story of the Schuylkill River Project. “The Schuylkill has come a long way since it was considered the dirtiest river in the country. I’ve long believed that the effort to clean up the Schuylkill deserves greater recognition, but giving that recognition requires that we also look at the factors that allowed the river to become so polluted.” A Schuylkill Watershed Specialist with the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Towne tells the story of how, by the middle of the last century, the Schuylkill River had gone from a river of “uncommon purity” to one of this country’s dirtiest, and the effort from 1947 to 1951 to reclaim it and save it. 
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Online Landbanking: Philadelphia’s pending land bank bill inspires a variety of high-tech tools

photo by Mark LikoskyWith more than 40,000 vacant lots and abandoned properties currently wasting space, fostering crime and bringing down property values across the city, consensus is growing around creating a land bank in Philadelphia. Last October, the state passed a bill allowing each city to create a land bank — a single public authority tasked with acquiring, maintaining and overseeing the sale of publicly-owned vacant properties.
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Bug Bites: Healthy, sustainable and economical; For two billion people, insects are what’s for dinner

 Anna Mraz dunked a dainty, Vietnamese summer roll in a ginger-tamari glaze, a glass of Neiderburg Chenin Blanc at the ready to complement the roll’s hint of cucumber.  As she opened her mouth to take her first bite, the squat, spongy butt of a silkworm pupae poked out the top. With a wary glance, she bit down anyway, chewing a little quicker than usual.
The U.N. reports that 2 billion people in 80 percent of the world’s nations practice entomophagy (eating insects) as part of subsistence diets — or fried or dried as treats — mostly in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Australia. Edible insects are plentiful (1,900 insect species have been documented as such), healthy, environmentally friendly and economical. But are they pleasurable?
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Figs: Seeds of Content

story and photos by Emily TeelThe late-summer slide into autumn is a particularly bountiful time in the Mid-Atlantic. During this brief period of plenty, you might be tempted to overload your shopping basket at the market, but no matter how full it gets, you should make room when you come across fresh figs.

Figs — unlike apples, pears or the variety of stone fruits that keep us busy in July and August—don’t arrive in bulk at your local farmers market. They’re fragile, and since they’re sweetest when at their softest and most ripe, they require a bit of babying. Fig trees are also sensitive to cold, and they don’t survive if the temperature drops too low. This results in a unique scenario: Figs can’t yet be grown on a production scale in our region, but they can grow quite happily in the city itself, shielded from cold and protected from wind by buildings. The microclimate created by close-spaced urban dwellings actually allows for fig trees to thrive as long as they have plenty of sun and their roots can spread out a bit in urban soil.

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Garden of Healing: Heirloom vegetables, medicinal herbs and a peaceful place in the neighborhood

Latin American medicinal herbs, heirloom vegetables and healing fruits and roots gather in a West Kensington plot, acting as a catalyst for neighbors to restore mental and physical peace. The plants growing in Tertulias Herb Garden are meant to comfort and heal. 
For garden-goers to reap these benefits, they too must gather, talk and, hopefully, remember their own roots. Iris Brown, founder of the garden, believes that if visitors don’t have a familial, cultural or culinary connection with a plant, its healing properties will be lost.
Neighbors in the Puerto Rican community for whom the garden was built may recognize herbs used by their grandmothers, like ruda, a purifying herb used for women’s health and arthritis. Puerto Rico has a strong herbal culture that Brown wants to preserve. 
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Creek Squad: Docent teens take a walk on the wild side

photos by Christian Hunold / CCCEEC docent Jeremy GriffinThe docent starts our walk with the history of the Cobbs Creek Community Environmental Education Center (CCCEEC). Before I relate that history, picture the docent. Maybe a gray-haired white person with a nametag and a fanny pack? Someone who loved the park so much that they decided to volunteer there when they retired? Wrong.

Jeremy Griffin is a 17-year-old African-American student from West Philly. He loves ecology and comic books, and he leads tours of Cobbs Creek twice a week. He knows his trees and birds, not to mention the history of the center. That story started before he was born, in the early 1990s, when community activists led by Carole Williams-Green raised money to convert abandoned horse stables into classrooms, labs and meeting spaces. The center finally opened in 2001, about when Griffin was in kindergarten.
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Stoopified: PostGreen designs a cutting edge development in Francisville

 

When many people think of Philadelphia, they picture the quaint neighborhoods of Center City, filled with Revolutionary-era architecture and period details. But it could be argued that an entirely different history is told in the slouching rows of aged brick homes and vacant lots that line the streets of North Philadelphia. 
And it is in these very neighborhoods that the beginnings of a new phase in the city’s aesthetic and cultural history can be seen.
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Eating Green: Philly's favorite restaurants go the extra mile to be local and sustainable

It seems that in recent years,  no other setting is as apt for a discussion on sustainability than the dinner table. A conversation about the steak on a plate becomes one about industrial cattle production and greenhouse gas emissions. The roasted potatoes spawn a debate on pesticide use or the implications of monoculture. Sautéed spinach seems suspicious in light of food safety concerns, and the iced tea might remind us of the rights of workers on sugar plantations.
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Double Duty: New company offers help with the ins and outs of sustainable parenting

For parents with babies, anything that makes photo by Albert Yeelife easier is appealing. Unfortunately, convenience can often mean sacrificing quality or compromising a commitment to a sustainable lifestyle. Bum & Tummy is a company seeking to prove that “easy” isn’t always synonymous with “disposable” or “pre-packaged.

Founded by Mikki McIntyre and Julia McGuckin (moms themselves), Bum & Tummy is a cloth diaper and organic baby food delivery company serving Philadelphia and South Jersey. For a monthly fee, diapers and/or healthy baby food are delivered to customers’ doors each week, taking the guesswork and time commitment out of cloth diapering and preparing homemade baby food. Cloth diapers can be rented from Bum & Tummy (they keep each family’s separate), and they also offer a laundry-only option for families who have their own stash of reusables. The food menu features three meals a day of organic, vegan and wheat-, salt- and sugar-free options for babies and toddlers. Some dishes sound so good (think golden beets and cannellini beans), mom and dad might even sneak a bite!

For more info and pricing, see bumandtummy.com.

 

Story by Emily Kovach

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