The forest floor was a mess!
Broken branches littered the ground. Sapling undergrowth surrounded mossy stumps. Trees leaned against one another, their branches fighting for the sun’s rays. Vines encircled tree trunks and ran away onto the ground below. Tiny wildflowers grew in, under, and around whatever it could, and years of layered dead leaves blanketed everything.
Being a city gal, when my husband told me were going to visit the family forest, I pictured straight trees standing tall in neat rows with large spaces of manicured grass in between. Imagine my surprise to discover, instead, nature’s version of an unkempt house.
Current Thinking about Trees
Few folks these days think much about forestry. If we think about trees, we think about wasting trees by using too much paper. Air dryers in the bathrooms proclaim that we’re protecting trees if we use them. Schools and businesses send everything electronically so we can save trees. Children are taught to recycle paper to prevent the killing of trees.
Misperceptions about Using Trees
Protecting trees is a good thing. Misunderstanding what actually helps trees, though, can pose a problem. There’s an island in the middle of a lake in a state where the trees are “protected” by a law stating no trees can ever be cut. As such, it’s so overgrown that all the animals for whom that island used to be a natural habitat have left because there is no longer room for them to live. In what way does this make sense? Nature itself knows the dangers of overcrowding. Natural fires are forests way of clearing themselves of standing dead trees.
In similar thinking, we’re told that using paper products when we cook and bake is bad because it hurts the environment, but we freely and willing use propellant sprays which contain nitrous oxide, an ozone depleting gas, and whose containers add substantially to the problems we have with overflowing landfills. Again, where is the sense in that?
Advantages of If You Care Products
Personally, I’ve chosen to use many of the If You Care products for my cooking and baking. I like that the company is committed to creating environmentally friendly products and to using trees, which are both sustainable and renewable, as opposed to fossil fuels which currently are not sustainable and are definitely not quickly renewable.
As well, if you have food allergies as I do, using products like parchment paper and baking cups helps prevent contamination when you are using a cookie pan or muffin tin, because your food doesn’t touch the baking implement. Additionally, if you are trying to eat healthier and don’t want to grease with butter or oil, parchment paper provides a fat-free alternative which isn’t Pam spray.
Now, about this point, some folks are wondering what sort of kick-back I’m getting, whether it’s from the forestry industry or the If You Care company. I can tell you that small family-owned forestry companies rarely make a profit. The owners are foresters usually because they love trees, and they care about the land. As for the If You Care company, they have no idea that I use their products or that I recommend their products, but if anyone happens to knows the owners and want to let them know that I’m a big advocate, I’d be quite happy to entertain any thoughts of a kick-back! (We have 12 straight years of college tuition stretching before us! We can use all the monetary help we can get!)
Upside Down Pumpkin Pear Cake
2 tbsp vegan butter, melted (or whatever type you prefer)
1 tbsp Agave
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Two 15 oz cans of pears, drained (best to get the ones in 100% juice, not syrup)*
2 1/2 cups 100% whole wheat flour or 2 cups Authentic Foods Multi-Blend Gluten free flour
2 tsp gluten free baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cloves
2 cups cooked pureed pumpkin (can use one 15/16 oz can)
1/2 cup grapeseed oil (or another type you prefer)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (you can use another 1/2 cup of oil if you prefer)
1 cup Agave
1 cup liquid egg whites or 4 tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 12 tbsp water (can use 4 whole eggs if you want)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9 x 13 pan. (I would use “If You Care” parchment paper, but you can use Pam spray or oil or butter.)
2. Mix the melted butter with the Agave and cinnamon and spread over the bottom of the cake pan.
3. Cut the pears into fans and arrange over the bottom of the cake pan. (To make fans, simply put three to four cuts into the pear which only go about 2/3 down the pear. Hold the uncut portion and “fan” the cut pieces away from one another.)
4. Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. Set aside.
5. Blend the pumpkin, oil, Agave, and eggs.
6. Quickly mix the dry ingredients into the wet and mix just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Spread the batter carefully over the pears.
7. Bake for 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
8. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire cooling rack. Carefully flip the cake over onto a platter and remove the parchment paper. (You can also simply serve the cake from the pan and invert the slices onto a plate with your spatula.)
* If you do not want to use canned pears, you can use two ripe fresh pears. Wash and slice the pears into eight long slices. Coat a pan with 2 tsp grapeseed (or another type) oil. Mix 1 tbsp water with 1 tsp Agave or Truvia. Saute the pears in the Agave mixture until they’re softened. Arrange the pears on the bottom of the cake pan and proceed as instructed.