March-April 2021

Healthy vegetarian stuffed peppers

by cathym on March 18, 2021

by Barbara Goshorn

4 medium bell or poblano peppers
Extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup diced yellow or red onion
1 cup cauliflower rice
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup cooked white or brown rice
3 cups fresh spinach
2 tablespoons lime juice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

avocado slices
salsa (no sugar added)
feta cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment pepper.
  2. Slice the peppers in half and remove the seeds and ribbing. 
  3. Boil peppers for 10 minutes or just until softened.
  4. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, cauliflower rice, cumin, coriander, oregano, garlic, ½ teaspoon salt, and several grinds of black pepper. Cook until the onion is soft and the cauliflower is lightly browned, about 5 to 8 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat and stir in the black beans, rice, spinach, lime juice. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  6. Scoop the filling into the peppers and bake for 15 minutes.
  7. Serve with avocado slices, cilantro, and/or salsa.

Barbara is the director and lead clinician of the nutrition program at Goshorn Chiropractic and Wellness Center. Working with patients who suffer with food and environmental sensitives, her goal is to educate her patients and the community so they will thrive—not just survive—in the 21st century.


Modern hanging planter

by cathym on March 17, 2021

by Cathy Monrad

The most difficult pre-step required to create this project is finding a container and metal ring that will work together. I purchased the rings first and did not find a properly sized container until store number four. I am not convinced that I would have had better luck  choosing a planter first; the metal rings at my go-to craft paradise only come in certain diameters. The rest of the project was easy and fast­—in less than an hour, this cute little ‘String of Bananas’ was hanging out enjoying the sunshine.

Metal rings: 1 small and 2 large
2 pieces of floral wire cut to 4 inch lengths
Twine or string in desired color
Small dish or pot (sized to nestle or sit within the small ring)
White glue (optional)

Wire cutters


  1. Hold the small and one large ring together. Leaving a one inch tail of wire, tightly wrap wire around both rings until the wrapped wire spans about a ¼ inch. Twist wire ends together, bend twisted wires down flat, and cut off excess. (See Figure 1)
  2. Repeat step 2 to attach the remaining ring to the opposite side of small ring.
  3. Cut a 6 inch length of twine or string. Leaving a two inch tail, wrap twine over wire to completely cover. Tie ends with a square knot and cut off excess twine. If desired, dab a bit of glue on knot to guard against unraveling.
  4. Repeat step 4 on the opposite side. 
  5. Fold the larger rings up until they meet.
  6. Cut a 24 inch length of twine and fold in half. Place the folded twine through the large wrings and loop the ends through the fold to create a larks head knot. (See Figure 2)
  7. At this point, you can simply knot a loop at the end of the twine to hang on a hook, or you can get creative and tie macrame knots before making the loop; there are scads of how-to video tutorials on the internet if you are not familiar with the techniques.
  8. Optional: if container does not nest evenly in the ring, wrap and tie 6 inch pieces of twine halfway between connections. (See Figure 3) 
  9. Pot a plant and hang it!

Cathy Monrad is the graphic designer and garden crafter for Upstate Gardeners’ Journal.


Hawks overhead

by cathym on March 16, 2021

by Liz Magnanti

Over the past year, the hobby of backyard bird feeding has really taken flight. With so many people now working from home, many have started the hobby as an enjoyable background to their workday. There is nothing more delightful than setting up your new feeder, filling it with seed, and seeing a bright red cardinal fly in for a snack! You may have found that, along with the beautiful songbirds, there are other, larger predatory species that have shown up.

Seeds, peanuts, and suet are all popular sources of food for songbirds. In turn, songbirds are sources of food for other animals. Hawks can be a common occurrence in backyards, especially in the winter months. The three hawks you are most likely to see hanging out in the backyard are the Cooper’s Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, and Sharp-shinned Hawk. 

The Cooper’s Hawk is the bird most notorious for picking off songbirds at feeders. This medium-sized hawk can look different if it’s a juvenile or adult. The adult plumage of the Cooper’s Hawk is blue-gray on the head and back with a reddish horizontal barring on the chest. Juveniles have a brown head and back with brown vertical streaks on their breast. They have a long, banded tail with a rounded edge to it. The diet of the Cooper’s Hawk, to the dismay of many backyard birdwatchers, includes small birds. They will also eat small mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. In the winter, reptiles and amphibians are hibernating (their hibernation process is known as brumation) and small mammals can be tough to find tunneling under the snow. A feeder attracting small birds is an open invitation for this stealthy hunter. 

Sharp-shinned hawk; photo by Alan Schmierer

The Sharp-shinned Hawk looks like the little brother of the Cooper’s Hawk. The adult and juvenile plumage is almost identical. The Sharp-shinned Hawk is small, about the size of a Blue Jay, sometimes slightly larger. They have a small, rounded head, which makes their eyes look especially large. They are quick and agile, and though their diet is varied it consists mostly of other birds. 

Red-tailed Hawks are common year-round residents. They are large hawks that can often be seen perched on telephone poles or light poles along the highway. They are brown in color with a white “V” on their back and a brown band on their belly. Their most distinctive feature is their reddish tail, which can usually be seen when they are perched or flying. Red-tailed hawks can feed on larger prey and will eat small-to-medium mammals, fish, snakes, large birds and even carrion. While you probably won’t see a red-tailed hawk going after the birds at your feeders, you may see one go after something larger like a squirrel or rabbit. 

Although it can be upsetting to see a bird of prey (also known as a raptor) capture another bird at your feeders, they play an important role in the ecosystem. They take out the sick and the weak birds that are struggling to survive, making the remaining songbird population stronger. All birds, except nonnatives like European Starlings, House Sparrows, and Rock Doves; certain shore birds; and game birds like pheasants and ducks; are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This act makes it illegal to harm, harass, capture, or possess any part of a bird of prey … even its feathers. 

If you think you are seeing more birds of prey now than you had in the past, it is very possible. The use of DDT (a synthetic insecticide) caused eggshell thinning and it hit raptor populations hard. The thin eggs of these birds were easily cracked by the parents themselves and caused populations to tumble. Since the ban of DDT in 1972, many raptor populations have improved. The Bald Eagle is a fantastic example of this. Bald Eagle populations are very strong in upstate New York, and it’s not uncommon to see one soaring overhead nearby any large body of water.  

As you spend time outdoors in the winter, don’t be surprised if you come across a bird of prey on your walk or in your backyard. They are opportunistic predators that may just take advantage of hunting in your neighborhood. As the temperatures warm up you may not see them as often because other sources of food will become more readily available. If you don’t want to attract birds of prey to your yard, the best thing you can do is take your feeders down for a few days. They will go elsewhere, at least for a while. Otherwise, enjoy the sight of these magnificent hunters while you have the up-close view!

Liz Magnanti is the manager of the Bird House in Pittsford.