Wednesday, December 5, 2012


I have never liked to waste ANYthing. Food, money, time, or energy. I definitely don't want to waste my life, because I believe life is precious.

So it bothers me when I see how incredibly much waste is still being created by humans, today, even though we KNOW that we simply can not continue to do this to our planet.

Since I have a small cafe, I have become even more interested in sustainability. I actually became an advocate for natural, whole foods, and simple, waste-free meals over thirty years ago, when I attended La Leche League as a young mom. But even earlier than that, my mother raised chickens and sold the eggs, my dad had an enormous vegetable garden in our home state of New Jersey, and we spent our summers at the beach, so I learned that fresh vegetables, freshly caught fish, and farm-raised eggs can not be matched by supermarket produce.

One problem we face as consumers is that when we shop or eat out, we really don't know where things are manufactured, or how they are packaged. We also don't know how the waste is handled.

This NPR program is just a few minutes long ... Click on the link and you can listen or just read it:
Food waste
It describes what happens to restaurant food waste... about a half-pound per meal served. From the horrors of the dumpster filled with rotting food (which could have been donated, composted, or fed to animals), increases in the population of insects and vermin, methane gases, and landfill overflow.. it adds up to one of the biggest environmental problems we have!

There are actually a few restaurants that go to the time and expense of packaging and donating the untouched food to food pantries. Olive Garden and Red Lobster are two that were mentioned.

Because the Little Red Hen Cafe is small, it's much easier for me to stick to my values. If I keep my menu small, serve fresh, local foods that don't come with excess packaging, compost scraps and recycle everything I can, I have only a few small bags of trash in my dumpster per week (also, there is almost never anything left on my customers' plates, which makes me very happy!)

I hope that as the operation expands, I can continue to stick to the things I believe in. Meanwhile, it's something we can all think about.

Monday, November 26, 2012

What Would Willie Say!?

I just finished reading the memoirs of Wm. C. McChord, the man who built the Little Red Hen Cafe... actually, he had no idea it would ever become a cafe!

He built his law offices there, and shortly afterwards, the home we have made into a B&B and named the "Cinnamon House," 202 Lincoln Park Road. Of course, it will also always be "The McChord Place.'

We received a copy of Mr. McChord's memoirs when we took possession of the house, and I recall being a bit intimidated, since he had been such a prominent citizen of Springfield, a descendant of the founder of both Elizabethtown and Bardstown, and also the man responsible for bringing the railroad line to Springfield.  The photo above shows the L&R train when it was on a turntable in Springfield.
But I should have read the book earlier, because through the stories I got to know the boy Willie. He was born in 1850, and his life spanned slavery, the Civil War, World War I, the arrival of plumbing and electricity (our house was the first in Springfield to be constructed with these) and the automobile and telephone.

He didn't build the house downtown until 1902, when his 3 sons and one daughter (another son died at age 13 months) were grown. Even so, the boys never married and the youngest lived in the house and practiced law in the offices that are now the "Hen," staying on until he died at age 93! The house has only been owned by three families prior to ours. Upstairs is a big open room that was built as a ballroom.
This is one of Mr. McChord's sons, the one that went to VMI and was named after his father. I am going to imagine that Willie looked like this when he was young. He was a bit of a rapscallion! He never paid any attention in school, and had to drop out when he was 14 and his parents lost everything during the Civil War. He only became a lawyer by sheer gumption and perseverance. I'll share some more of Willie's stories as I go along, but right now, I am just having fun imagining him and how he might react to what's become of his town house and law offices. He had a good sense of fun and humor, so I think he'd enjoy it.
The Cinnamon House will be open this Saturday as part of a Christmas Tour sponsored by the Historical Society. Hours are 1-5 and there are several locations on the tour... there is a suggested donation of $10.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

FUNKY Chicken

This is the time of year when many of us get funky.

Call it the doldrums, winter blahs, or just plain old seasonal affective disorder, it hits when the days grow short and the skies darken, and sometimes sticks around until Spring.

For me, mild to moderate depression in its many forms has been a curse throughout life; even though I am an optimistic person who loves life and tends to think positive, those things don't matter when my bio-chemistry decides to go awry. Things look bleak and days can be very challenging.

I've learned a lot over the years about depression. It can affect anyone, even upbeat, happy people, people who have a lot of faith, people who have friends, rich people, successful people! Like addiction or asthma or diabetes, it's an illness that is largely beyond our control.

That said, there are many things those of who have either depression or mood swings can do make life easier and less unpredictable. Whether you use medication is a personal choice, but it is always helpful to eat a balanced diet of foods in as close to their natural state as possible.

It also helps to keep life simple and wholesome, honest and real. That's why I started the Little Red Hen Cafe, and those are some of the values that are behind it! Hey, you can walk over to the cafe and get that exercise in, too!

Meanwhile, if you are doing the Funky Chicken this winter... you aren't alone!

Monday, November 5, 2012

SUGAR! and other scary things

 Thank heavens that is over! Actually, Seth had a wonderful Halloween in Springfield, and so did we!

That's not our pile of candy.. just an image I found online! But, we are lucky. Our adoptive son Seth doesn't ask for candy, and, although he will consume sugar when it's given to him, we've found that since we don't keep it around and don't serve it (no soft drinks, no sugary desserts, no candy) he doesn't even think about it. He has got to be the only kid whose parents have a cafe with a freezer full of ice cream who doesn't even seem interested! His pile of Halloween candy has already "disappeared" and he won't miss it!

But he does NOT like vegetables, and that's something we have to work on, since we have recently confirmed that he has Autism. We need to learn a lot more about the link between foods and behaviors. He only likes certain foods, and some of them come packaged and refined. We made a huge breakthrough when he progressed from chicken nuggets to liking simple chicken breasts, or tenders, which we could then buy locally, or saute, or grill. YAY! He still loves hot dogs, mac & cheese, and Campbell's noodle soup.

Kids, especially those with challenges, may not have the discernment to choose wisely all of the time, but adults do.

Every time we shop, make a choice to dine out, or sit down to a meal, we are contributing to the health of our bodies, our families, our communities, and even our planet.

It adds up.

That's what the Little Red Hen Cafe is all about. Making an effort to use less packaged, refined, foods, with as few artificial ingredients as possible, and as many locally sourced products as possible. Supporting local economy and keeping out harmful pesticides, chemicals, additives, and substances that can harm our health and the health of our community. Educating ourselves and each other. It's the only place I know of where you can ask exactly what is in everything you order and get the answer! If these things matter to you, and if you've read this far, they probably do, it's your kind of place, and I ask you to help spread the word so it can be viable here in our community! Thanks.

Sunday, October 28, 2012


"The sky is falling!  The sky is falling! I must go and tell the King!"

Some of us grew up with the title Henny Penny, some with Chicken Little, but the story is the same. You remember: the acorn falls on her head and she's off,  thinking the world is coming to an end, gathering up a whole gang of followers who believe her dire predictions based on some very skimpy evidence.

Turkey Lurkey, Goosey Loosey, Duckey Wuckey... we have all been Henny Pennys and we've all been followers who listened to the cries of "the sky is falling!" Usually, it didn't do a whole lot of good. Fear mongering is not my chosen mode for leadership, parenting, or life.

It is probably pretty evident that "Henny Penny" would NOT be a good choice for a name for a cafe! But it is easy to worry when starting a business or enterprise. It takes time, and a whole lot of faith and trust. Even when you have a vision and a great place like Springfield, and a wonderful, warm, supportive community who have helped you immensely.. it is VERY CHALLENGING! There are lots of days when I want to be a Henny Penny. I wonder how long it will take for us to get the word out about our Bed and Breakfast, so that most weekends are filled with happy travelers. I wonder whether enough people ARE committed to a local food economy to help keep the Little Red Hen Cafe open. I worry!

I grew up with a lot of negativity and a lot of sky-is-falling talk, and for the most part, I choose people, places and ways of going about my day that are positive and hopeful and joyful and peaceful. I am grateful to have met so many wonderful new friends in this town who seem to have the same philosophy. Our sky's not falling!

 Here's a little clip of the Golden Girls doing "Henny Penny" for you to enjoy!

Click Here:

Saturday, October 20, 2012

So THAT'S what the story means...

If you are reading this, you have probably visited the Little Red Hen Cafe in Springfield, Kentucky, or... know that our family has started this cafe on a very small scale. Since both Eric and Cynthia have more-than-full time careers (at least until Spring 2013 when Cyn will leave the parish ministry), and since we also have our darling Seth who has recently been diagnosed with Autism.. so much for us to learn and absorb... the "Hen" is very part-time. We'd rather do it well and small than big and badly.

That's what this blog is here to talk about. The vision, the meaning, and the idea of community, partnership, cooperation, and sustainability behind what we do and who we are.

Why we chose Springfield and what we are all about.

I'll try to post once a week or so. You can read it if you choose, and I welcome your input!

First, the name. My adult kids think I chose this famous children's story to lay a guilt trip on them: "WHO will help me?"  "Not you?" "Fine! I'll do it myself!"

Here's a great version of the story from Gutenberg press you can enjoy right now:

Really, if you take the story at face value, both meanings that arise are kind of... creepy.

One moral mentioned by interpreters is the biblical idea that those who don't work don't get to eat.  (Thessalonians 3:10) That's not my interpretation of scripture. I think everyone should get to eat! And I think everyone everywhere should eat well, and, by the way, everyone could. It's the greed and short-sightedness of the factory-farming, industrialized-agriculture economy that is helping to create a world where those of us in the West are over-nourished while millions starve.

I also don't really like the idea of being a big martyr and doing everything myself. I think we all need to learn to ask for help for one another. The Hen did ask for help, but the lazy pig, rat and rooster wouldn't lift a paw or a claw. She had a choice at that point. Maybe that's where the Hen Cafe can be a meeting place here in our community. We can help one another learn, grow, and become more healthy, more honest, and more committed to a local, sustainable economy. It's your choice, too!