Beef Chili with Bacon and Black Beans   

Spice Blend:

� cup chili powder

1 tablespoon cumin

2 teaspoons coriander

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon dried oregano

� teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper


8 slices bacon

2 cups chopped onion

1 red pepper, diced

6 garlic cloves, minced

2 pounds ground beef 

2 cans (16 oz each) black beans, drained and rinsed

2 cans (28 oz each) diced tomatoes with juice

1 can (28 oz) tomato puree


Combine spices in small bowl and set aside.  
Cook bacon in Dutch oven until browned.
Remove from pan and crumble, reserving 2 tablespoons fat. 

Brown onions and red pepper in bacon fat over medium heat until soft about 10 min.

Add ground beef, spice blend and garlic and cook until beef is no longer pink, about 10 min. Add beans, diced tomatoes, tomato puree and bacon to beef mixture. Simmer for 2 hours. 




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Branching Out with Faith Appelquist



Questions, suggestions or comments are welcome.

Contact Faith at (612) 618-5244 or by email 


Six Things Everyone Should Know
about Milkweed Plants:


What is milkweed? Milkweed are herbaceous perennials, about 3 feet tall. The flower cluster forms a globe atop the plant's rigid stem in the summer. The flowers come in various colors, and are fragrant. Leaves are broad-oblong and light green. Seed pods resemble small cucumbers. The pods in turn burst open in late summer to early fall, exposing their seeds. The seeds are attached to white silky hairs which are carried with the slightest wind.

Its presence is dwindling, along with the monarchs.
Nearly 60 percent of native milkweeds have vanished in the last 20 years. Since then, monarch butterfly numbers have dropped 80 percent. This loss happens to coincide with the wholesale use of the weed killer Roundup on corn and soybeans which have been genetically altered to tolerate the herbicide, starting around 2003. Habitat loss, real estate development, climate change, and parasites also factor into the decline.

It is the stuff of life for monarch butterflies.
Monarchs are specialist feeders, meaning they will only eat a specific kind of plant (milkweeds), and cannot survive without it. Monarchs lay their eggs on milkweed, and milkweed leaves serve as the sole food of monarch caterpillars.

It's both medicine and poison.
Milkweed was named after the milky sap which contains latex. Its scientific name Asclepias is the name of the Greek god of medicine. Monarch larvae retain the toxins they consume in milkweed leaves and as butterflies remain toxic to predators. The toxins that protect the monarch can harm humans. Make sure the sap doesn't get into your eyes and if it does, seek medical attention as it can cause significant damage.

Milkweed plants are easy to grow.
Asclepias spreads both via seeds and underground stem structures called rhizomes, forming colonies. Collect seeds after the pods have ripened, but before they have split open. The seeds are wind-dispersed, so be careful when gathering to place in a paper bag to avoid losing them. Seeds can be directly sewn into the ground in the fall. They like sunny locations.

Not all milkweeds are beneficial.
Avoid Tropical Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) in zone 8-11. Scientists have reasons to think that caterpillars feeding on tropical milkweed face multiple threats, including unseasonal breeding, putting monarchs at higher risk of disease and reproductive failure. Look for milkweeds native to your area.


A caterpillar eating common milkweed. But don't limit yourself; there are dozens of milkweed varieties to plant, and monarch caterpillars will munch them all.

Monarch butterfly visiting a Joe-Pye weed in flower


For more information on Milkweed Plants


Are You Ready for Lightning?


Each year in the United States nearly 1000 people are struck by lightning; about 100 die as a result. Most of these fatalities are people taking refuge under trees. The number of trees struck exceeds a million a year.  


Certain types of trees are more likely to sustain lightning damage than others. Evergreens such as pines, spruce, hemlock, and fir have high resin content. They conduct more electricity than trees with low resin. Trees with high starch content are also more susceptible to damage and are more susceptible to explosion and internal heating. Oak, maple, ash, poplar, and tulip trees are good conductors of electricity. Trees such as beech, birch are high in oil content. Oil is a poor conductor of electricity, making those trees less affected by lightning.     


Many trees are severely injured despite the lack of any external symptoms. Root damage from electricity may cause the tree to decline and die without significant above ground damage. In most cases, it is best to wait 6 months or more before removing or doing major corrective work on a lightning struck tree. As you monitor the tree during the waiting period, remember that a tree struck by lightning has been severely stressed. The intense heat of the electrical discharge takes a great deal of energy from the tree. Provide the tree with additional water, prune dead branches, and watch for yellow or dying foliage. Do not fertilize the tree since this can further reduce energy reserves in the tree.


Lightning protection systems can be installed in high value or historic trees in order to reduce the likelihood of damage. Trees with branches that overhang buildings, in a recreational or park areas, isolated trees on a golf course are also good candidates for protecting.

For more information on trees and lightning.

Along the path of the strike sap boils, steam is generated, and cells explode
in the wood, leading to strips of wood and bark peeling or being blown
off the tree.

Lightning passes from the trunk of the tree through the roots
and dissipates in the ground.

Thanks for reading.
Happy New Year and Happy Planting!    


Faith Appelquist

President & Founder


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