What a Sunday it has been! There are lazy Sundays where you find it hard to peel yourself off of the couch, and then there are Sundays like my little family had today. It was a nonstop Sunday Funday – one of the best kind of days, in my eyes. The day began by going to stunning Mellon Park for Stevie’s 1 year photoshoot. Imagine a magical, secret garden that has historically beautiful architecture in its garden walls, a nearly century-old courtyard, old black iron gates twice as tall as yourself, a water fountain that seems to touch the sky, and a wonderful abundance of colorful flowers in bloom. That is where we got to spend our morning watching Stevie prance around while our photographer friend patiently tried to capture perfect moments. As an added bonus, there just happened to be an orchestra performing live in the park. Score! To make the morning ridiculously perfect, we stopped at our favorite brunch spot after the shoot. Shout out to Square Cafe in Pittsburgh’s Regent Square neighborhood!That was just the morning! Ricky, Stevie, and I spent the rest of the day poolside in our back yard with my mom and step-dad. There were cold cocktails and the grill getting fired up happened as well . That, my friends, is how you do Sundays in the summertime! After a day like that, plopping on the couch is a well-deserved delight. So, here I sit! As Ricky watches the first episode of Game of Thrones along with the rest of civilization, I can’t help but reflect on our day, specifically the park. While at the park, amongst the array of flowers, I found myself surrounded by something that I realized I do not see as often as I once did, and it made me smile. What was it that I was surrounded by? Even though the park was full of many old people on blankets (and in turn many visors) due to the live orchestra performance, that is not what I am referring to. I am talking about BEES! Yes, I was overjoyed to see bees. This may seem odd to you, but I promise there is a valid reason. Before I share one of my favorite Sunday dinner comfort food recipes with you, let me elaborate on this whole bee thing first.
Unless you live in Westeros or something (sorry for the bad Game of Thrones reference; I really shouldn’t try that since I don’t really watch it), you have had to of at least heard about the declining bee population around the world. Since the 1940s, the bee population has diminished by half. It literally went from 5 million to 2.5 million colonies. I mean, think about it for a minute. When I think back to my childhood, I feel like I was constantly dodging bees as I ran around my backyard barefoot because they were EVERYWHERE. As a barefoot loving kid, I would get stung by a bee at least 5 times in a summer. Now, I feel like I am lucky if I even SEE five bees during the summer! I am not talking about pesky wasps or hornets. Being that I see them nonstop when in our yard, I think there seems to be an overpopulation of those annoying things. Come to think of it, maybe we just have a nest somewhere? Ugh! Anyways, I am talking about the regular ‘ole bee. Sadly, I just do not seem to see them in my yard as much. To some, the bee may be viewed as enemy since it does sting. However, those stinging bees are responsible for pollinating the majority of the crops which give us our main food sources. It has actually been estimated that those bees are responsible for 1 out of every 3 bites of food in the United States alone. If this decline continues, we may actually lose the majority of our food. With that being said, some even claim that if bees become extinct, the human population would cease to exist as well. Therefore, I do not give a damn if I get stung by a bee everyday of every summer for the rest of my life if it means that mankind will continue to survive. That sounds extreme, but don’t you agree?
First learning about this was shocking and eye-opening, but then I began to wonder why the hell it was happening and what I could do. There are three main reasons for the global bee decline: industrial agriculture (pesticides/insecticides), parasites/pathogens, and climate change. It is safe to say that us humans are mostly to blame for killing the bees. If the predications are true, that would mean that as we are killing off the bees we are in turn killing off our own race. I guess if you really think about everything the human race has done to the planet up to this point, we have not really been giving a shit about our continuing existence in more ways than one. The whole idea of it can make me fairly depressed. When I think of the future, especially when I think of Stevie, I cannot help but imagine the poor state our planet will be in for her. We already have begun depleting our resources, ruining our waters, and farming in a way that is harmful to the environment and uses unsustainable practices as well. That is just the tip of the iceberg. Don’t get me started. It is scary as all hell! For now, we will keep our focus on the bees though. Overall, the bees need our help or else they will be gone sooner than we realize, and the outlook seems bleak for us if that were to happen. Being that the loss of the bee could have an impact on our very existence, it is shocking (or maybe not) that our country seems to be seriously slacking when it comes to helping save the bees. Despite acknowledging a “complex set of stressors and pathogens,” including agrochemicals, as potential culprits in the die-offs, our country has yet to take any serious action. There have actually been numerous lawsuits filed against our own Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by beekeepers and environmental groups alike due to its lack of protection for the insects. However, there is hope. The agency did state that they would begin reviewing the pinpointed pesticides in 2018 to make a decision on how to handle the situation. We have heard that one before though! Therefore, it seems like we need to do our own part any way that we can to help the bees until our country begins to formally take action, if they do at all! So, how can you help? Here are some of the simplest ways:
- Plant bee-friendly plants and flowers in your own back yard. Give those amazing pollinators something to pollinate! There are lists out there that provide bee-friendly plants for various parts of the world.
- Simply, plant your own vegetable garden and/or fruit.
- Give the bees somewhere to live in your garden or yard. Providing them with a place to create a home is more helpful than you may think!
- Try to eat organic as much as you possibly can. You can read about how this is beneficial to bees here. To put it simply, most organic practices do not use many of the chemicals that are harmful to bees.
- Try to buy local whenever possible. Support your local farmers (organic, pollinator-friendly is a plus) and help save the bees at the same time! Small, local farms are a far better option than the industrial, large-scale, agrochemical-using farms used to supply most of our nation’s food industry.
- Check out this website that provides more information on the topic. Like the old saying goes, knowledge is power.
Once again, your food choices have so much importance connected to them. It’s not just for your own health, but it’s literally for the good of the planet. The human race is depending on you. Man, I love to over-dramatize things! Nonetheless, the more we show the food industry we do not support their chemical-riddled ways by buying organic or local, their profit lowers. The more money they lose, the more they pay attention. It’s all about money. If they see we are no longer buying their poisonous, bee-killing food and lose money, we can only hope they will begin to change their ways. Although it would not be for our well-being but to gain profit, it would be a change for the better!
Now that I have given you the bee spiel, I will now provide you with a scrumptious, comforting meal that contains SO many ingredients that promote bee-safety if you follow the purchasing guidelines above. I am talking about chicken pot pie. Who doesn’t love chicken pot pie?! Every bite makes you feel like your at your grandma’s house; it’s one of those classic comfort food meals. If you say you don’t like pot pie, you have either never really tried it or just tried a shitty one. Don’t even get me started on the frozen ones! I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but this chicken pot pie is ridiculously tasty. Not to mention, there is basically an entire vegetable garden in this pot pie. Delicious, full of veggies and helping to save our existence? Triple whammy! So, try it out! Go buy as many of the veggies as you can at a local farmer’s market or pick some out of your garden if you have one. Enjoy the cooking process and treat yourself to more than one piece or two pieces! Don’t feel bad; Ricky and I ate the entire pot pie ourselves. In one sitting. So if you start to feel guilty when devouring this delicious pie, just think of us. Also, it’s full of veggies – never have guilt when it comes to veggies! We made a small pot pie for Stevie as well, and I am really tempted to go down and eat hers after writing this. She wouldn’t even know, right?
Summertime Chicken Pot Pie
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, diced
5 large, whole carrots, diced
4 stalks of celery, diced
8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
2 large potatoes, cubed
1/2 large zucchini, diced
8 ounces sweet, green peas, unshelled
1 pound chicken breasts, shredded
1/4 cup flour
3 cups chicken brother
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh chopped thyme, to taste
1/4 cup cream
1 raw pie crust (No way do I make my own. Too time consuming. I get mine from a local bakery.)
- Place chicken breasts in a large pot of water. Bring to a boil. Boil for 15-20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Shred using two forks to pull apart.
- Place potatoes in a medium pot of water. Bring to a boil. Boil for 10-15 minutes or until softened. Then, cube.
- Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Place peas in for no longer than 2 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Preheat over to 375 degrees. Melt better in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Place carrots, celery, and onions in pan. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until tender. Add mushrooms and zucchini. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Then, add remaining veggies and chicken. Sprinkle with the flour. Stir and cook off the flour for about 1 minute.
- Pour in the chicken broth. Stir, letting it cook and thicken.
- Add all spices. Be sure to mix the spices throughout. Then, add cream by stirring to mix it into the rest of the mixture. Let cook and thicken. If it becomes too thick, you can always add an extra splash of broth.
- Pour the mixture into a 2 quart baking dish. It is a good idea to let the mixture cool for a little bit before putting the pie crust on top.
- Once mixture is cooled off a bit, roll out the pie crust and place it on top of the dish. Be sure to press the dough around the sides of the pan. Use a knife to cut small vents into the top of the crust. Then, mix the egg as though you were scrambling it. Brush the egg over the top of the crust. Place in oven for 25-30 minutes or until the crust is a nice, golden brown and the inside is bubbling. ***You may want to place a pan under the baking dish incase any of the filling bubbles over. This tends to happen very often***
There it is. It may not be the prettiest pot pie in the world, but it surely tasted like the best!
Stevie’s seemed to turn out looking much more pleasing to the eye. I am just kidding by the way everyone, I am not going to eat my daughter’s dinner. Geez, don’t go calling me a bad mom over that one! Now, get to it! Go bask in the glory of cooking your very own pot pie. Save the bees. Eat a good meal. Happy Sunday!
Peace, Love, and Honest Food,