Catholics & Climate | A Restaurant Loudness App | Recipe: Fresh Ricotta

Issue no. 9

I spent this past weekend in Washington D.C. Besides having a completely bangarang meal at Rose’s Luxury, the highlight was being tour-guided around the city by my niece and nephew, who both attend college there. I have a major crush on Gen Z, and these two are engaged and compassionate truth-seekers that embody their generation’s spirit. 

During a middle-of-the-night conversation on religion, politics, and the environment, my niece Julia said something that really helped put into perspective the hard choices necessary for stewarding the planet for future generations (which will hopefully be as rad as Gen Z).

Julia is a devout Catholic, and she explained to me how an overarching theme of her Catholic morality is to fight against a culture of convenience. She observed that so many destructive environmental choices — from throwaway culture to over-reliance on cars and cheap energy- are ultimately about convenience as well.

Tearing down the structural systems that control our consumption and waste isn’t going to be a cakewalk. Transitioning to renewable energy, transforming our transportation infrastructure, and dismantling industrial agriculture will be gigantic challenges that will require some inconvenience — to put it mildly.

But what option do we have but to choose the struggle? 

I’m no longer a Catholic, but my upbringing in the church instilled in me a deep belief that waking up each day on this planet is a miraculous gift- a gift I want future generations to experience. My niece and nephew and I don’t agree on everything, but we share tenets of hope, commitment, and perseverance — and believe those values can guide the climate fight.* Julia reminded me that what separates us feels very small in comparison to what connects us. And we agree that, whether we feel ready or not, the future relies on us to take up this struggle together. 

*Also during this middle-of-the-night conversation, my mother expressed her uncertainty that climate change really would impact humanity in the long run; that perhaps the frightening changes happening now are part of cyclical patterns that will ultimately level out. Unfortunately, the science is clear. Through human-driven environmental degradation, the planet is on its way to becoming uninhabitable for our species (though it’s hard to predict with much accuracy how long we have left). We must act aggressively now.



Julia getting creating with her injera, the sourdough bread that also serves as plate and utensil in Ethiopian cuisine

An App for That


Restaurants are too loud nowadays. There’s scientific proof of it. The minimalistic design of modern restaurants creates spaces that do a poor job of absorbing sound. Plus, a need to be trendy might mean your favorite coffee shop is blasting house music at 8 a.m. as you sip a cup of joe. Some researchers have found the commotion to be loud enough to cause hearing damage. Fortunately there’s now a “Yelp for Noise.” SoundPrint has its own decibel reader, and allows users to submit noise reviews to the app.

Try SoundPrint here (App Store/Google Play)

Fresh Links

Our favorite food and environment reads from around the internet. Give’em a read👇

⚗️ I Gooped Myself | The Atlantic

Amanda Mull covers herself in all the creams, crystals and various other wellness doodads from Gwyneth Paltrow’s controversial $250 million beauty empire Goop. The products ranging from the Goop Martini Emotional Detox Bath Soak ($35) to the Glacce Crystal Elixir Water Bottle ($80) predictably didn’t deliver on all their pseudoscience claims. Although the vitamin regimen can make you stink:

The vitamin cocktail I’d picked up at Goop’s downtown-Manhattan boutique was called Balls in the Air. It promised to defeat fatigue and promote productivity (and maybe make an arch little joke about testicles). Its ingredients include dozens of substances, but the star of the show is a cannonball of B vitamins, including 4,000 percent of the recommended daily dose of niacin and 3,333 percent of the recommended B12. A Google search confirmed my fears: As B-complex supplements break down, they create choline, which can turn bodily fluids into the vat of stink in which I was marinating.

💢Women and the Case for Climate Rage | Popula

Amy Westervelt re-upped this wise take — in light of novelist’s Jonathan Franzen taking the radically lame and much-derided position in the New Yorker that we should accept the climate change apocalypse as an inevitability — on the voices that tend to get centered by mainstream media in discussions on the climate. Those voices tend to be white and male and often rich enough that they can survive the worst ravages of global upheaval. People who take an angry or scared tone about climate change get treated as too divisive or too alarmist and a lot of those voices are women, and especially women of color.

Westervelt, a climate journalist and parent of two young children, concludes that “climate change, its history and its future, needs to be told by people who have already experienced injustice and disempowerment, people who are justifiably angry at the way the system works.” I mean, we’re talking about the end of the world here! Let’s get a little mad.

🎸A Taste of Dollywood | Gravy

Dolly is a national treasure, and a pilgrimage to her shrine should be mandatory for all Americans. But until you get there, enjoy this fun aural exploration of the food offerings at Dollywood, Parton’s autobiographical themepark in her hometown of Pigeon Forge, TN. The Queen of Country’s style might be all glam, but the food at the park is as authentic and carefully-crafted as her songs.

Listen here

And don’t forget, she wrote this…

RECIPE: Fresh Ricotta Cheese

For the novice 🧀cheesemaker, ricotta is one of the simplest cheeses to make: heat milk, add acid, drain, eat. While this recipe uses milk (which increases the yield), it is traditionally made with whey - the liquid by-product of cheese production. When old-school Italian cheesemakers made a hard cheese like parmesan,  they would reheat the whey and draw more cheese curds out of that liquid (trash to treasure!). Hence the name ricotta, which means “recooked” in Italian.


  • 1/2 gallon whole milk (do not use ultra pasteurized or UHT)

  • 1/3 cup distilled white vinegar or lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  1. Warm the milk to approximately 185°F in a 4-quart pot over medium heat. Use a food thermometer to monitor the temperature or just look for the milk surface to steam. Make sure to cut the heat before it simmers.

  1. Turn off the heat, add the vinegar or lemon juice, and stir once or twice to combine. Almost immediately, the milk will separate into curds (the solid bits) and whey (the liquid).

  1. Let the milk sit undisturbed for about 5 minutes as the curds form.

  1. Line a colander with a thin cotton kitchen towel (or fine-mesh cheese cloth if you have it lying around) and place it over a bowl. Using a ladle or slotted spoon, gently scoop the curds into the colander.

  1. Let the ricotta drain for 10 to 60 minutes. The longer the ricotta drains, the drier the final product.

  2. Mix in salt, herbs, spices, honey or keep it plain. Eat fresh or refrigerate in a sealed container, where it will keep for a week or more.

Save some of your fresh ricotta for next week’s recipe: Moringa-Ricotta Gnocchi!

Inside Jackie’s Kitchen

The end-of-summer swelter has me craving cold, fizzy drinks. Today I started a 3 ingredient soda made exclusively from ingredients produced on the property- purple sweet potatoes, honey, and water!
September 10, 2019

The best cover of “Hallelujah.”

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Sunshine + Microbes team
Jackie Vitale is the current Chef-in-Residence at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. and co-founder of the Florida Ferment Fest. Her newsletter explores the intersection of food, culture, environment and community.

Matt Levin is a freelance reporter based in Colombia. He edits Sunshine + Microbes and contributes other scraps to each issue.

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