Thursday, December 29, 2011

Pantry Tips for the New Year, EASY Black Bean Soup!

A well stocked pantry brings good fortune and fosters a feeling of wealth!  Tips : Check your pantry weekly for expiration dates, and plan meals accordingly - Mark the cartons with a bigger expiration date - so they get used before their "best by" date.
Right after the holidays, I like to clean out the pantry and stock up on 365 (Whole Foods store brand) Organic Stuffing. It's a quick and yummy side dish and makes any meal feel like a holiday.
Also must haves : Organic Black beans, rice dishes, couscous, pasta, baking chocolate, balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, organic crushed tomatoes with basil, cartons of free range chicken broth, veggie broth.
EASIEST Black bean soup recipe EVER :
One can of black beans drained
Equal amount of free range chicken broth
8 oz of fresh salsa
Heat over low heat, simmer for 10 minutes
Top with tortilla chips, cheese, sour cream and/or avocado
I'm grateful that I live within walking distance of Whole Foods. I walk up and down the street several times a day and it's a great way to get some exercise with my dog Lucy. Best wishes for a happy and healthy new year!
  - Mari

p.s. : Whole Foods is having a pantry stock up contest!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Coffee Toffee Pie, Gingerbread Brownstone

I don't really have any recipes to share this week, but I do have a line on a locally made pie for the holidays, an award winning, Coffee Toffee Pie, courtesy of my neighbor, architect Kim Jessup : Click here for more info and how to order.

Speaking of baking and architecture, for an awesome tutorial on how to design and bake a "Gingerbread Brownstone," Click HERE

Sunday, November 27, 2011


A growing number of neighbors are in agreement that this current Safe Routes to Schools grant should be refused. The proposal that received the grant contains FALSE statements. LIES.
To me, it is a simple issue. REFUSE THE GRANT MONEY.
Those familiar with government are telling me : "that always happens." "People are always against change." or "You'll get used to it." The DPW says, "Some people are just not going to want a sidewalk."  But this is a DIFFERENT situation. Homestead Valley is not your average suburb, this process was bungled from the start - and it just feels WRONG.
We DON'T NEED a SAFER ROUTE : We are taking funds from a neighborhood that actually needs a "safer route."   Evergreen Avenue has a perfect safety record : 100%
If the actual goal of the grant is a "Safer Route to Schools" -
how can you get any "safer" than 100% safety record?


Friday, November 25, 2011

Homestead, Sweet Homestead

The Evergreen sidewalk saga continues. Someone actually swerved TOWARD me in the roadway last week - DELIBERATELY. Maybe I'm getting a bit paranoid, but if I told you what has been revealed to me since last July, you wouldn't believe it. Reality in our little part of Mill Valley is QUITE a bit different than the bucolic scene depicted in the Homestead Headlines. I think it fair to say that a few of us ruffled some feathers when we found some misrepresentations in the grant proposal...
Sorry, folks - try all you want to bully me - the cat is already out of the bag...

I wrote YET another letter to Supervisor Kinsey about this sidewalk project and posted it on the Homestead Valley Post, a blog I started for the neighborhood.

Speaking of all this talk about "walkable and livable"communities - we should be able to keep a local hardware store in business. I'm not the only person VERY disappointed about General Hardware closing -- what are we going to do when an earthquake happens or the power goes out?

Think about it.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Pizza is NOT a Vegetable and "If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It"

I'm beginning to understand WHY so many people are fed up with government. The lobbyists in Washington have convinced Congress that Pizza is a vegetable and the lobbyists in Marin have convinced some of my neighbors and Supervisor Kinsey that Evergreen needs a sidewalk to make it safer - even though it currently boasts a PERFECT safety record. On top of that, we live in an area that is protected by the TAM plan, which discourages against sidewalks, curbs and gutters - the thing is UGLY and it doesn't FIT. Honestly, if I felt that this neighborhood OR MHS would be best served by this project, I would advocate for it - we have been discussing this project for more than a year and I have spent countless hours researching this issue and feel as if I'm about to burst.
If you want to get the backstory, click HERE and scroll all the way down to the page before you read this most recent email thread between myself and the Marin County DPW:

From: Mari Tamburo Date: November 16, 2011 11:45:46 AM PST
Cc: Scott Schneider <>,
Subject: Fwd: Evergreen Sidewalk : Concerns

Dear Mr, Kinsey :

Please allow me to share my views, once again, about the sidewalk project you and the DPW are FORCING onto my street AGAINST the will of the majority of the community and the residents of Evergreen Avenue. I do not want you to get the impression, from my silence, that I am OK with a 4 1/2 foot sidewalk with curbs and gutters and yellow domes all along Evergreen Avenue.
I appreciate that the DPW is still meeting with neighbors, and I am encouraging them all to call the DPW and make an appointment.

I'm sharing my recent letter to DPW. It follows below. Scott from the DPW came down this week to show me the new plans for the proposed 4 1/2 foot sidewalk on Evergreen Avenue. He was very nice.
I talked to someone in my pottery class at GROW in Tam Junction and she said they just did a Safe Routes to Schools project there. I asked her how she felt about it - she said "I liked it before better."
So, I asked Scott if there were any before and after pictures -  and then he then sent me the flyer with the before and after photos from Bell/Marin Avenue, which made me sick to my stomach. The DPW marketing flyer is attached.
I am trying to be objective here and positive - but it is becoming harder and harder to do that.

The Safe Routes to Schools program requires that we build a sidewalk ALL along the length of the street - if that is so, why isn't there some requirement that there is a certain level of communication to the neighborhood BEFORE you submit a proposal ??
oh wait, there IS - but they found a way to work around that, didn't they?

I understand change. I LIKE change, when it is positive and coming at the request of the community.

There are many creative ways to make room for pedestrians and bicyclists, Evergreen Avenue is used by many different people and modes of transport.

WHY can't we have a flat pathway where no curbs currently exist?
Because it all has to look UNIFORM?

We don't LIKE UNIFORM - Homestead Valley is UNIQUE and different - and full of strange and wonderful charm.
I LIVE IN HOMESTEAD because I LIKE having no sidewalks. If people want to live in a neighborhood with sidewalks, they should MOVE.

I talked to Scott at the DPW again yesterday. Again, he was very nice -  but it seems to me that the Marin County DPW has so many restrictions and guidelines - uniform code standards, etc. that ANY sidewalk built from the DPW is NOT going to fit this neighborhood -
 I have a problem with this - because THIS WHOLE THING JUST FEELS WRONG to me.
WRONG : how the DPW and MHS worked together to acquire the funding.
The HVCA Rubber stamping a proposal and keeping it OUT OF THE HEADLINES for more than FOUR YEARS is WRONG.
WRONG : The back room dealing aspect and old cronyism of all this.
I especially do not like how you, Mr. Steve Kinsey, wrote a letter to Roz Hamar in May suggesting she ask people to write letters in support of the sidewalk.
WHY would you do that?
96% of the people who go to that school do not live in the neighborhood.
WHY should they have a say in what happens here?
Children deserve beautiful, GREEN Safe places to walk - Evergreen already IS such a place. Please do not force this sidewalk upon it.
Straightening out the street, fixing cracks in the road will make it easier to navigate for pedestrians, seniors and bicyclists -
and can be achieved without adding a sidewalk to the ENTIRE street.

WRONG : how YOU/they are pushing this project upon us - a a street with a PERFECT SAFETY RECORD - in the name of SAFETY.
That is a load of WRONG.

Mari Tamburo

Begin forwarded message:

From: "Schneider, Scott" <>
Date: November 9, 2011 10:02:52 AM PST
To: "Mari Tamburo" Subject: RE: Evergreen Sidewalk : Concerns

Hi Mari,
Thanks for your email.
I’ll be meeting with one of your neighbors tomorrow at 2 pm.  Would you be available at 3 pm or so to talk?  If not then, I’m available most days next week as well.
Talk to you soon,

From: Mari Tamburo Sent: Tuesday, November 08, 2011 3:55 PM
To: Schneider, Scott
Subject: Evergreen Sidewalk : Concerns

Dear Scott :

Please let me start by saying I appreciate the time and effort you and the DPW have all put into this project so far. I appreciate that the sidewalk has been decreased in size.
That said, I still have MANY concerns about this planned change for Evergreen.
Most importantly, I do not want to see the street become more dangerous where there currently are few, if any, problems.
Despite "common belief" is "a sidewalk is safer than no sidewalk," the truth of the matter is, Evergreen's safety record speaks for itself.

The loss of parking on Evergreen between Scott and Melrose may not seem like much (average 3 cars) when most people are at work -  but the need for parking increases on weekends, holidays and during school special events.
For example, I counted a dozen cars on the Friday before Halloween - most were Marin Horizon School parents for an event.
This afternoon, I counted at least eight cars on the South side of the street.
Where are these people going to park when this proposed sidewalk is installed?
Does Marin Horizon School plan to make it mandatory that their clients, 96% of whom DO NOT LIVE HERE, use the sidewalk? What sense does that make? Is that even a possibility in the winter time, when it is raining?

Also, I also count many more cars on this street when one of the neighbors on our block has a party or during the holidays.  I am not satisfied with Mr. Beaumont's assessment that "When parking is not available on a street, people park around the corner. " That is a completely insensitive way to address our parking concerns.
WHY can't we make Evergreen, between Scott and Melrose, a one way street going towards the school? That will leave enough room for a flat pedestrian pathway AND parking.
With no right turn available onto Evergreen from Melrose, you will also eliminate the danger of the blind corner  - and this will reduce traffic congestion and pollution by a significant percentage.  The one way would only pertain to cars - bicycles and pedestrians would be able to use the street in both directions.

I am also greatly concerned about aesthetic of the sidewalk. I believe people need beautiful, unique places to walk!  And despite a couple of eyesores (imho, subjective) on the street - it is a charming, unique street. I walk on Evergreen every day  - it is green most of the year - and am VERY distressed that my street will be lose a lot of green, which will be replaced by concrete. I am losing sleep over this.
Are there plans for a planting strip? What color is the concrete going to be?
Why can't you make it a level pathway in the areas where no curb currently exists?
A beautiful pedestrian walkway exists in the Cascade Canyon area, with pedestrian walk space separated by large boulders. Why can't we have something similar for Evergreen in some areas of the street?

What about the environmental impact?  I am concerned about water runoff to Reed Creek - you speak only of the help for drainage on the South side, near Ethel - but the water drains to the north between Scott and Melrose.
Can you use permeable concrete on that section of Evergreen to improve drainage and eliminate the need for gutters ?
Isn't permeable concrete more affordable and more environmentally friendly than asphalt?

Please serve our community by showing some respect for this community's right to a more context sensitive design - something that is in alignment with the TAM plan - no NEW curbs or gutters.  Many people have been walking and biking on Evergreen for many years without any sidewalk.
It's not practical to design and build a sidewalk based upon a consultant's drawing from so many years ago, nor is it fair to force an unwanted sidewalk on our street against our wishes - based on an inaccurate assessment of perceived danger - especially when the person who spearheaded the project is now retired and does not live in our neighborhood.

Thanks for your consideration.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Chilly Days Call for Great Chili!

When I go organic, I use organic black beans and tomatoes and Whole Foods chicken or turkey sausage with turkey thigh meat. If you use all turkey, the flavor is more dense, and most people can’t tell it isn’t beef. I used Jennie O Turkey the first and only time I entered the Sausalito Chili Cookoff and took Third place, right behind two beef chili entries, so that’s “first place” as far as I’m concerned ! ) Serve with hot cornbread!
Mari Mack's Organic Black Bean "Churkey" Chili – yields about 5 gallons
(chicken and/or turkey)

Olive oil for sauté

2 – Large Green Peppers – diced
1 – small green pepper – diced
4  - Large Onions chopped/diced
5 – Bulbs Garlic – minced
2 lbs Mild Chicken Italian Sausage
2 lbs HOT Chicken Italian Sausage
4 lbs turkey or chicken thigh meat – ground

90 to 102 oz.  – Tomato Puree
90 to 102 oz.  - Diced Tomatoes or any combination thereof
8 oz.  tomato paste
approx 91 oz Chicken Broth

1 – bottle of jalapeno peppers – Hatch – 12 oz. Drained (optional : serve on side if you want)

5 Tablespoons – freshly ground pepper (makes all the difference)
1 Tablespoons – cayenne (ground)
12 Tablespoons – chili powder
5 to 8 tablespoons ground CUMIN, depending on preference (I go easy on the cumin)
3 TEASPOONS  - salt
dash oregano
chunk or two of chocolate (baking or dark chocolate)
shake or two  balsamic vinegar (tablespoon??)
16 cans of organic black beans, or 3 lbs of dry beans that have been soaked overnight – if using dry beans, add 1 cup additional chicken broth.
Measure and assemble spices in a small bowl and set aside for later
Sauté separately, onions, garlic, peppers, sausage, and ground thigh meat and place with remaining ingredients in 5 gallon pot , adding ingredients in the order on the list, and then add the spices !

Cook on medium heat for 20 minutes, then immer for at least 3 hours, the longer at low flame, the better. Tastes even yummier the next day.