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  • Melissa Orquiza

Nonna Dominica’s Broccoli Sauce, Green Space & Happiness, Marble Arch Mound, Schumann & Trevor Hall

Updated: Jan 19, 2022

Nonna Domenica's Macaroni with Broccoli Sauce. Easy pantry cooking for last minute meals.

Nonna Dominica’s Broccoli Sauce, Green Space & Happiness, Marble Arch Mound, Schumann & Trevor Hall

I love hiking, walking, and running. Going outdoors for a run has been an outlet for me since my twenties- when the stress of trying to figure out work, life and my relationships was truly a hilarity (as with most people). Even today, I would still rather go on a hike or a run than go shopping (even online shopping!) and have no problems resetting outside, taking beautiful pictures of the scenery around me. I’m grateful I now have that luxury, but it was not always the case. With the world currently grappling with economic and social unrest due to pandemic planning (or not planning), isn’t the viability of cohesive global diplomacy based on resilience, sound judgment, and ethical decision making- all byproducts of sound mental health?

A few weeks ago, I had read an article about the correlation of green space with happiness and was intrigued. The premise was that green space was intrinsic to happiness and if urban centers did not have enough of them, mental health declined. Here’s the original academic article.

Andrew Lee, Value of Urban Green Spaces in Prospects for Planning

So, I decided to research a bit further. Since most cultures revere the sunset and the sunrise, could there be more articles correlating, green spaces, urban planning and mental health? You can thank the British and their Journal of Public Health to try and generalize and quantify numerous studies.

Journal of Public Health: A more comprehensive academic review about green spaces and impacts on our mental health from articles around the world including the UK, USA, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Denmark.

Physical Health: The results concluded a possible link to longevity for older adults and a positive correlation for lower stroke mortality (omg!) and higher levels of greenness in an environment.

Mental Health: There is a correlation of a higher perception of general wellbeing, stress and quality of life with access to green space. There is a lack of quantitative evidence to produce the correlation between mental well being and green space due to to the inability to quantify non-physical benefits. (Boo).

Socioeconomic impact: Lower income communities were less likely to participate in outdoor recreational activities if the park was deemed unsafe. (Duh). Higher income neighborhoods had access to open space of any type.

Ok. That sounds amazing. So basically, green spaces help with longevity, feelings of well-being and happiness across the board. The reality of certain pockets of LA are a bit different. I’m seeing vacant lots being grazed in order to make room for condominiums and the like in order to create more tax revenue. What happens when an urban center wants to incorporate more green spaces and what are some possible cursory solutions?

If it’s economically unfeasible to create permanent parks and green spaces in urban areas, then why not a pop- up park? Genius! Interesting solution, SF and Australia!

Pop-up parks.

And finally, the reverse solution: a permanent “green” tourist structure in the middle of London.

The Marble Arch Mound. I don’t know enough about what happened to make a judgement call. Maybe the intentions were good but it was the execution?

Green spaces and mental health? "Waldszenen" by Schumann of course! I try to be impartial with composers’ personal lives because I feel like it’s a game of telephone with music historians (that are themselves, demographically skewed). Schumann, one of the greatest composers of the Romantic era, had hoped to fulfill his dream of being a concert pianist until a hand injury forced him to concentrate on composition. His protege, Johannes Brahms, fell in love with his wife, Clara, herself, an accomplished pianist and composer, and through a combination of accidental mercury poisoning, and bipolar episodes, attempted suicide and willfully committed himself to an asylum where he perished from pneumonia. (Musicians. Composers. Sheesh). He originally was going to be a lawyer. (I don’t know how to process that.)

Waldszenen (Forest Scenes), Op. 82, is a set of nine short solo piano pieces composed by Robert Schumann in 1848–1849, first published in 1850–1851 in Leipzig.

Here’s Mitsuko Uchida’s rendition. I grew up with her recordings so I am partial to her technique and interpretations.

Schumann: Waldszenen, Op. 82 - 1. Eintritt

The Ninth movement.

Schumann: Waldszenen, Op. 82 - 9. Abschied

And the history.

Finally, since I love classical music with a chaser, here’s Trevor Hall’s “Green Mountain State.” Enjoy! Happy running!

TREVOR HALL - "Green Mountain State" (Live from California Roots 2015) #JAMINTHEVAN

Thanks for reading! I hope these articles make you think, laugh, and hopefully provide a respite in all this silliness. Here’s to more green spaces and happiness! Have a great week! Xo, Melissa

Nonna Domenica’s Macaroni with Broccoli Sauce

by Julia Delle Croce, from “Italian Home Cooking: 125 Recipes to Comfort Your Soul”

Serves 4

This recipe is a specialty from Puglia, Southern Italy, when the author’s paternal grandparents came from. Please don’t add grated cheese. My daughter loves this pasta and I usually have to double up the broccoli because she loves it so.


1 large head of broccoli

2 Tablespoons Kosher salt

1 pound rigatoni, ziti, penne or penne frigate

1/2cup extra virgin- olive oil

1 1/2cans anchovy fillets preserved in olive oil


  1. Wash and trim the broccoli, cutting off any tough or discolored parts. Divide the top part into forest, and slice the stars into 2 inch pieces.

  2. In an ample pot, bring 7 quarts water to a rapid boil. Stir in the salt, the broccoli, and the pasta all at once. Cook over high heat until the pasta is al dente and the broccoli is soft and creamy. Stir several times as the pasta cooks to prevent it from sticking together to allow even cooking.

  3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, warm the olive oil and the anchovies together, including the oil from one of the anchovy cans. The anchovies will dissolve completely in the oil, forming the basis of the sauce. Keep warm.

  4. When the pasta is cooked, drain it, but don’t over-drain; it should still be moist and dripping a little. Toss the pasta and the broccoli with the anchovy sauce in the skillet. Serve immediately.

#nonnadomenicasbroccolisauce, @juliadellecroce, #greenspaces, #mentalhealth, #marblearchmound, #greenspacepopup, @mitsukouchida, @trevorhall, @schumann, #waldszenen, @andrewlee, #urbanplanning

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