For Such a Time as This…

Good morning, from the mountains of Kentucky. Let me first begin by saying, we are blessed! I am not just implying my family, I am saying and proclaiming for all that are reading… “we are blessed!” You might be asking how so, or why did she post that? Deep within, you need to know that if you are physically able to read this post or any other post, you are alive, thus… you have been blessed with another day. Even, if there are things going on in your life, and we all have those days and even weeks, or maybe seasons, if you are breathing, you are blessed. Secondly, accept this day and know Lord has your best interest and will take care of you, walk in it. Make this day count. For every day that passes, is a day that we cannot and will not be able to enjoy again.

God’s beauty…

My mind often drifts back to a simpler time when life didn’t seem as hectic or as chaotic. The world seemed to be a more simple place. Sure there’s always been trouble, trials, wars, and bad things that happen, but that’s because we live in a real world where both good and bad happen. However, it seems to rein in a more bold abundance than in the times gone by. Is that it? Or, is that we, as a whole, are more connected to the media, social media, and here say, than we are to our savior and His word? Is it that we focus too much on what others are saying, or implying, than what the word tells us?

My heart is leading me in a direction to simplify life, my life. How so? By disconnecting from so much of the media. I don’t mean that I will live in a bubble where all is well and I will not acknowledge that bad things do happen. No, not at all. I mean, that I am being selective of what news I read, that’s right, read. I feel lead to spend much less time on social media, and more time in my prayer closet, in the word, and with the Lord, and with myself. I am doing some soul searching, meditation, deep and close reading, and also spending some quiet time listening to His voice.

His beauty abounds everywhere!

I was reminded of how we, as a society, often overlook the simple things and become bored when things begin to calm down, or when there’s no fast paced gratification in most anything we attempt. Have we allowed the use of technology to rob us of the blessings of using our hands to create, our strength to labor, our eyes to actually read a book that we physically hold in our hands, and using precise measurements to create delicious dishes? Have we allowed the clutter in our lives to rob our desire of helping our fellowman? Do we care more for ourselves than the elderly widow who would love to have a home cooked meal, or someone to physically talk to? Have we allowed the convenience of instant almost anything to replace the satisfaction that we once felt by actually taking the time to complete a task?

This is an afghan I’m working on for one of our grandchildren. This is the fourth of five that I’ve made with love and many prayers for each of them.

What tasks am I speaking of? For such as a time as this, almost anything would fit into this category. Anything from baking a scratch cake instead of a boxed cake. From crocheting your own afghan for a friend instead of buying a thoughtless gift. Nurturing a plant from a seed with care and love, rather than picking the finest mature plant from a nursery. Growing your own herbs to dry, rather than buying a cheaper easier version from the store. Canning healthy produce for your family, rather than buying cheap imitations that are full of preservatives? It could be as simple as taking a break from browsing your phone, to watching a squirrel gather nuts. Reading deeper than surface reading the Bible. For such a time as this, this list could continue for far too long. We can’t make a total change overnight with simplification, but we can simplify our life, one habit, one deed, or one choice at a time.

I was inspired by our six year-old grandson to post this blog. While I prepared breakfast a few mornings ago, he was enjoying his pre-breakfast muffins and a cup of milk. He was a bit upset because his tablet battery was low and he wouldn’t have enough battery life to watch a cartoon that he wanted to see. Suddenly, his eyes caught sight of a company’s Christmas toy catalog lying on the table. Immediately he laid the tablet aside and asked what the book was for. I explained how his mommy and uncle used to browse the Sears and JC Penny wish-books for weeks circling their favorite toys in hopes of getting those for Christmas. They were making their choices known. Right away, he asked for a pen to circle his choice of toys, not just for himself, but for his brother, cousins, and friends. Grant it, if the item was given a circle and a check, then that indicated the ranking of interest for that particular item. All the while, he never mentioned being bored, or once stopped to watch his tablet. With excitement, he browsed the pages several times and later declared to his mommy that they too needed a book like Nan’s.

Take time to enjoy something with substance. We need more Sears and JC Penny’s moments in life. Simplify things.

With that being said, for such a time as this, I feel inspired to ask you today, to take time to stop and enjoy what our Heavenly Father has created for us. Simplify your life. Choose wisely how you spend your time. And above all, remember that He gave all so that we could have life and have it everlasting.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this post. It’s a bit different than many of my other posts, but I am a person of many diverse interests, from crocheting, reading, writing, gardening, thrifting, collecting antiques, baking, creating, singing and so many more things. Above all, I love to tell others about Him. God bless from the mountains of Kentucky. Feel free to follow and comment. May the Lord bless each of you abundantly.

Organic Vegan Vegetable “Beef-less” Soup

Hello from the mountains of Kentucky! I hope your fall is off to a great start. Things are beginning to slow down on our small farm. All of the garden produce is either, canned, preserved, dried, or frozen. It was a lot of hard work, but very satisfying and rewarding work. We enjoy the produce year round. But my personal favorite is making soups with all the different veggies. When the cool fall winds begin to creep into the mountains, I feel the urge to cook. One of my favorite dishes is homemade vegan vegetable beef-less soup, especially on wet and drizzly day like today.

A warm bowl of soup on a fall day makes for a cozy meal!

I grew up eating vegetable beef soup. It was always a winter favorite in our house. Our children grew up eating vegetable soup with grilled cheese. Vegetable soup remains a favorite still today. Just because my vegetable soup is vegan, doesn’t mean it’s not tasty. I think you’ll find my vegetable soup to be savory, filling, and healthy.

Ingredients:

  • Half of a large organic yellow onion
  • 1/4 organic red bell pepper
  • 1/4 organic green or yellow pepper
  • 1 tbs organic extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 can of unsalted diced organic tomatoes
  • 2 cups organic vegan meatless chorizo crumbles (I use Morning Star)
  • 2 cups of meatless beef crumbles (my favorite is Simple Truth crumbles)
  • 2 cups organic frozen sweet peas or 1 can unsalted organic sweet peas
  • 2 cups organic frozen corn or 1 can of unsalted organic corn (I use 3-4 ears of frozen corn from our garden and cut it off the cob)
  • 2 cups of fresh green beans cooked or one can of organic green beans (I use a half quart of beans we preserve from our garden)
  • 2-3 medium sized potatoes
  • 2 cups sliced carrots
  • 1 1/2 cups organic vegetable broth
  • 1 quart tomato juice (I use the tomato juice we can from our garden tomatoes)
  • I like to use good quality organic seasonings. Add salt, pepper, onion salt, garlic powder, turmeric, and paprika to taste. I usually season each layer of the soup while I’m preparing it.
  • One tablespoon of organic tomato paste.

In a large cast iron stock pot, heat olive oil over medium low heat. Dice onions and peppers and add to oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and sauté until onions and peppers are tender. Add meatless crumbles and add a small sprinkle of salt and pepper and other spices. Sauté for ten minutes and then add diced tomatoes.

Meatless crumbles are very tasty and textured very close to beef, only better!

While this is simmering peel and dice potatoes, and slice carrots. Add the potatoes and carrots to a pot of boiling water. Add a drizzle of oil and season the potatoes and carrots with salt and pepper. Cook the potatoes and carrots until they’re semi tender or a tiny bit al dent-e, which will prevent them from overcooking when added to the soup.

These are a flavor bomb! Delicious for tacos, chili, or veggie soup!

While the potatoes and carrots are cooking, begin adding the remaining ingredients one at a time. If you choose to use canned veggies, drain the vegetables and rinse well before adding. If you use frozen, allow them to thaw first. Once the vegetables have all been added, season to taste with remaining seasonings and add salt and pepper if necessary. Allow the vegetables to come up to heat and add tomato juice. Allow the mixture to begin to cook and add vegetable broth. When potatoes are the desired tenderness drain and add to the soup. I like to add a tbs of organic tomato paste at this time and add any additional seasonings. Allow the soup to simmer on low for 30 minutes. Serve with your favorite crackers or organic dairy free grilled cheese! Anyway you serve it, your family will love it!

Close up of a bowl of soup to emphasize the delicious veggies!

I hope that you and your family enjoy this savory and delicious soup as much as my family does. Feel free to leave comments or ask questions. I love to hear from my readers. If you are not already following my blog, feel free to follow and receive notifications each time I post. For now, so long from the mountains of Kentucky! God bless each of you!

Holistic Living

Hello, from the mountains of Kentucky! I hope you’re having an awesome and blessed day! Things have been quite hectic in our neck of the woods! As a college professor this is one of the busiest times of the year as we are deep into the fall semester. Each year brings growth and change, which are both welcomed, but not always easy. As famers, life has been extremely hectic as we are harvesting, preserving , and canning the remnants of our garden. As a part of a church family, it’s been a busy time of growth, and a sense of urgency to pray more for our country and family than ever before. We’ve also felt the need to preserve and can more than in years past. With that sense of urgency, we’ve actively been growing our pantry, and stocking our shelves with a little more than usual this year.

Making time for self-care, especially when life gets crazy is a must. I have found that taking the time early in the morning hours to sit quietly, reflect, meditate, pray, and journal has proven to be very therapeutic and healthy for my mind and spiritual well-being, which helps to maintain a healthy mind, heart, and soul. I enjoy crocheting, which is also very therapeutic. After prayer, devotion, and Bible study, a few minutes of crocheting is one of my times to reflect and meditate. Mornings are great for me as the house is quiet and the farm outside hasn’t come to life just yet.

Morning fog hovering in the still green mountains. Morning walks are the best!
Crocheting and reflecting on the past and meditating on the day.

Holistic living is healthy and very satisfying way of life. I am often asked how I made the decision to lead a holistic life. I have been an advocate for clean eating for a great number of years, which made the transition somewhat easier. I chose clean eating for my health. My health was declining at a young age. My cholesterol was out of control, my blood pressure was extremely high, I was over weight, and I was border line diabetic. So, the journey began there! I decided that I would take back my health! I chose clean eating as many fad diets just didn’t work. Day by day, week by week, with the help and support of my family, church and friends, changes started happening! One by one I was able to stop taking meds for all of the above health issues, I lost 75, yes 75 pounds! I was finally in control of my diet and my health!

With the wonderful effects that clean eating had on my health, it evolved into my decisions to become a pescatarian, then gradually that evolved to becoming a vegetarian, which both added vitality and a new zeal for life in my thoughts and my body and evolved into an even cleaner diet. I’ve had trouble with digesting diary for years and had gradually made the change to almond milk and plant butter and cheese, which again made the transition easier. For nearly five years now, I’ve enjoyed a vegan/plant based diet, which has lead to an increase in my overall health, and a peace and satisfaction that I am making a difference in my overall well-being.

Enjoying the smell of mint drying in the kitchen.

I am also a herbalist, and enjoyed growing our own herbs for cooking, making teas, and also for minor medial problems for years. I also love sharing them with family and friends. The most recent addition to living a cleaner and healthier life, was the decision to become a doTERRA essential oil consultant. I’ve used essential oils for years, and finally decided that I would become a consultant and purchase from myself rather than online markets. This line is the best that I’ve used thus far and it’s also a nice little supplemental income as well. With a holistic lifestyle come lots of questions. The primary questions I am asked are, why and how.

Fresh basil in the background and one of my favorite oils. Orange is very versatile.

The first question is the most common question. What inspired you to lead a holistic life? I always answer that question with a question. Why wouldn’t I? Then I begin to explain I chose this lifestyle for my health, my peace of mind, and simply put, for my life. I also add some details about the astounding amount of research revealing the high level of toxins, preservatives, and additives that basically poison the human body and our environment. These toxins are found in food, fast foods, shampoos, soaps, toothpaste, makeup, perfumes. detergents, cleaning products, air fresheners, candles, and even in our pet’s food. I’ll share another story in a different post of how we nearly lost my canine baby due to additives in what was supposed to be healthy doggie treats. That was a real eye-opener!

I always share one of the most informative books that I’ve ever read was, How Not to Die, written by Dr Gregor. There is so much information revealed within the covers of this book that confirmed my reasons for eating clean, and eating cleaner than I had been eating. His research also solidified my thoughts about why I had been food poisoned by fast food on more than one occasion, why we nearly lost our house dog, and why cleaning products and certain air fresheners lead to smothering and irritated sinuses. He exposes much about how these horrific toxins are actually allowed to be in our foods, pet foods, cleaning products, and even in medicines and vitamins that we think are helping us.

An eye-opening read!!! I encourage anyone who is interested in living a cleaner, more holistic life to read this book!

Secondly, I’m asked if it was a difficult transition. My answer is no. You don’t have to make the plunge and change everything at once. I made changes over a period time with my diet and I did the same thing with household items, hygiene items, and even my car air fresheners. I didn’t see the need to waste products that I already had on hand, so as I would empty an item, I would replace it with plant based, organic, and a cleaner item. First on the list, I would begin eliminating the toxins from my our home and our vehicles. My first elimination was laundry detergent. To prevent waste, after exhausting the last of my stock, I began using organic plant based detergents that didn’t require fabric softeners. There were some products that I had in my home that I could not convince myself to continue using. Those plug in air fresheners were tossed in the garbage, empty or not!

With the various air fresheners gone, I replaced them with diffusers for essential oils to help clean and purify the air and also bring a wide array of wonderful scents into the house. One by one I replaced our cleaning supplies with either organic plant based cleaning supplies or homemade supplies from natural ingredients. It’s quite amazing how many options are on the market and what’s even more amazing is the number of cleaners you can make using essential oils! I’ll share my bathroom cleaner soon! It cleans great, easy to make, and also prevents those toxic fumes that no one likes.

The next change was hair care products and tooth paste. doTERRA made that change easy for me as well. They have a wonderful plant based shampoo that incorporates essential oils, and a fantastic plant/based conditioner, and leave in conditioner that is excellent! I can’t even explain how wonderful my hair feels after using these products! My hair shines so much more than before and it feels less weighted. I also made the transition from usual tooth paste to a clean toxin free tooth paste from doTERRA. I chose this toothpaste simply because I’m a doTERRA consultant, and after trying it… it works! My teeth are clean and white and after reading the list of ingredients in my old toothpaste, it was an easy transition and one that I am happy I made.

doTERRA shampoo, conditioner, and leave-in conditioner. All natural!!!

Finally, vitamins was the next item to begin changing. It was easy to switch vitamins with doTERRA. The vegan vitality pack is on my monthly auto order. I love these vitamins as they’re all plant based, no additives, or artificial colors added, and they’re in veggie capsules. Essential oils, homegrown herbs, and homemade teas helps with common cold symptoms, allergies, scrapes and minor abrasions. I could go on forever with the reasons why I chose a holistic lifestyle.

Vitality pack! This was a game-changer! Even though I already took vitamins and had for years… I noticed an immediate change in my stamina!!

I’m asked if I miss fast foods, soft drinks, and what in the world do I do about coffee. Number one, I don’t miss fast foods. As a matter of fact, the cleaner you eat, the less you even want fast foods. My husband and I now prefer food prepared at home ten to one over restaurant foods. I gave soft drinks up over twenty years ago for my own personal health and have never looked back. I’ll be honest, coffee change took a while. It took a little while and a lot of different coffees to find a good organic coffee that I truly enjoyed, but have finally found one that is very satisfying. I have also replaced much of the coffee that I drank during the day and evenings with organic and my homemade teas.

Delicious organic coffee from Amazon!!!

Finally, I’m asked if I feel better physically since making so many changes. Simply omitting meats and dairy from my diet was a game changer with my cholesterol and inflammation. Omitting artificial colors, scents, and toxic preservatives really made a positive impact on my allergies. Plant based vitamins, a good clean diet, and the removal of toxic smells in our home has made a positive impact on my overall health, stamina, and lead to a much more simple life that makes me happy knowing I am doing something to improve my quality of life, my families, and decreasing the chances of disease in our bodies.

Enjoy the simple things that bring joy and support your health. Organic lavender growing near our front door! Love to add to plant butter, cookies, teas, and more.

If you’re interested in holistic living, start slow. Remove one thing at a time. Don’t try to do it all at one time! You’ll become overwhelmed, which might result in giving up. Make one change and allow that change to become a routine. Once you feel grounded and content with that change, make a second change. As you empty or exhaust a supply of one particular item, replace it with a cleaner wholesome item. Read the labels, do the research, do a little soul searching, meditate, pray, and take holistic living one day and one change at a time.

Take time to enjoy the change. One change at a time and you’ll be more likely to stay the course. It’s so worth it!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. Feel free to leave comments. I enjoy reading comments and answering questions. For now, God bless from the mountains of Kentucky! Happy Fall!!!

Old Things Make Me Happy

Each of us are unique and each have our own dreams, desires, and things that brings joy to our lives. I dreamed of becoming a teacher when I was a little girl. I dreamed of becoming an author. I dreamed of working on a newspaper and gathering the facts about a breaking story. I also dreamed of owning a farm and having a family who loved farming as much as I did. Then there were the simple things that I loved. I loved, and still love old things. Old things make made me happy as a child and old things still make me happy.

Mission store find a treasure from days gone by.

I have been a thrifter since I can remember. I loved going to the dime store with my grandmother when I was a little girl. I would hold tight to my hard earned fifty sense because I knew I could buy five treasures with it. It was a custom to rise early, do the Saturday morning chores, dress, and load up with my cousin, mamaw, aunt Doshia, and uncle Roy and head out to the mission store. It was the simple things in life such as the dime store trips that made some of my favorite memories.

I recall searching until I found what I thought was the perfect princess dress. In reality the sparkly satin dress was probably someone’s prom dress in another era of time. We would dig enthusiastically through the bin of baby clothes until we found at least one new sleeper or dress for our dolls. Even though they were resurrected from a babies wardrobe who had long since outgrown them, they were still new to us. I always loved going through the jewelry to find a sparkling pin filled with rhinestones that we thought were diamonds. Yes, we were rich with our dime store treasures.

I love those Simple days that have passed far to swiftly. Some days it feels as though it was only a few years ago, and other times it feels like a beautiful dream. In reality, it actually was another era… another time, a simple time, a cherished time.

Today, our daughter, myself and sometimes our granddaughters or grandsons still love to thrift at the mission store. The prices have increased, but the excitement of bringing life to an object that was cast aside by someone before us, still resonates within me and still brings an element of happiness and joy to each of us. It’s exciting to find tins of old hand-written recipes dated 1963, with noted about the recipe. It’s still exciting to browse the pins and find one full of beautiful stones and rhinestones. Thrifting brings out the kid in all of us. It’s a family tradition that I’m happy to have passed down to our daughter and grandchildren.

A treasured find uncovered in Arkansas by our son in-law. He knows my interests well.

I still love simple things. Simple things make me happy as does old things. I cherish quiet mornings relaxing on the porch, drinking a cup of coffee and watching the fog lift. I love the smell of breakfast early in the morning in the kitchen, wearing my grandmother’s apron while I bake bread, canning tomato juice with our antique food mill, and cooking supper for my family using some of the old recipes to guide me. I love old quilts of all kinds! I look at them and try to imagine the many stories they could tell. I love strange and unusual objects, I love old clocks, old books, old dolls, dishes, old glass door knobs, and old silhouettes! These are only a few things that I love. I’m a person of many interests, but a person who loves old things… they make me happy.

Two treasures finds. One dates 1946 and unsure of the other. I can’t help but wonder who these beautiful ladies are. What words of wisdom would they share?

Reminiscing in the Herb Garden

Good afternoon, from the mountains of Kentucky! I hope your Labor Day weekend is already off to a great start! It was a quiet morning in the mountains in our neck of the woods this morning. A big music festival has been going on in our small downtown area for the past three or four days. But, for myself, I would rather be in the peace and quiet of our small farm. This morning as the fog lifted and the dew glistened and clung like diamonds on the green leaves, I enjoyed the mountain air with a hot cup of coffee. As a result of the scattered showers last night, damp leaves lay scattered over the still damp ground. A feeling of fall was surely in the air. With thoughts of the inevitable season swiftly approaching, I felt an unction to walk through the herb garden that would all too soon be gone.

My favorite Italian basil.

With the sounds of the hummingbirds feeding and crickets still chirping, a peaceful feeling filled my being. The smell of the herbs filled the air as I brushed past the holy basil, rosemary, lavender, and my favorite Italian basil. The mint caught my attention. It was still thriving as a result of quenching their thirst with organic mint teabags this year. There was such a harmonious feeling being in the midst of the bright and fresh herbs that would soon hang in my kitchen to dry. I felt an anxious feeling for the aroma that the herbs omit while they’re drying. Our entire kitchen would be filled with scents of lavender, basil, and mint. Yet, another indication that fall is near.

My thoughts lingered in many places this morning as I enjoyed the surroundings that I so love. Lingering thoughts of our cemetery service yesterday where we gathered to have church on the graveyard. This is an old tradition that still lingers in the Appalachian mountains. It’s a time to pay respect to our loved ones, worship together in song, preaching of the word, and prayer. It’s also a time when the world outside with all the doom and gloom seems to stop… and family gathers together to remember and celebrate the lives of our family who have gone before us.

My great grandparents grave.

The songs that were sung on the cemetery still felt alive in my mind. While sitting quietly among the herbs, one of my favorite morning fragrances enticed my senses. The earth was alive this morning! The aroma of the rich soil was thick in the air. The smell of the soil after a rain instantly transported me back to my childhood. Rising early to the sounds of our mother singing. I would eagerly follow the sound of her soft voice. Many mornings I found her sitting on the back porch drinking coffee, enjoying the mountain morning air, and other times she would be shucking corn or stringing beans she had picked earlier that morning while my brother, sister, and I slept. The aroma of strong black coffee filled the kitchen and the cool morning air. The scent of damp soil enticed me to run barefoot between the rows of corn, but the freshness of the garden vegetables sustained me. I loved stringing beans, or chopping corn, even as a young child.

Everyone I string beans, I think of my youth.

After a slow and thoughtful walk through the aromatic herbs, reality called my name. It was time to go inside and enjoy a little time with my latest adventures in writing. I’m excited to share more news and details as the project approaches completion. Also, upcoming posts include canning crushed tomatoes, preserving like a pro, vegan zucchini bread, and an update on our fall adventures in the mountains. For now, may the Lord bless you each with a wonderful and restful Labor Day. Feel free to leave a comment. I love hearing from my readers. God bless from the mountains of Kentucky!

Canning Crispy Garlic Pickles

Good evening, from the Mountains of Kentucky. I hope wherever you are this post finds you blessed and well. It’s been a bit of a strange summer in our part of the world. We’ve encountered extremely dry weather that resulted in hand watering our garden, to extremely wet weather that is resulting in our picking buckets of tomatoes as they start to ripen to prevent them rotting on the vines. We’ve been laying our tomatoes in the sun and allowing the sun to finish ripening. We’ve juiced the majority of the tomatoes and will begin canning whole tomatoes next. With the diverse extreme weather our grape tomatoes have flourished! The weather don’t seem to have affected them. We’ve enjoyed them with salads, sides, and more. We’ve had so many of them that I’ve already started freezing them to use in stir fries, sautéed dishes, and for one of my favorites, sautéed basil tomatoes!

Stewed basil tomatoes with breakfast

Our cucumbers are still coming and we’re still picking them! We’ve blessed others to have cucumbers to make pickles, relish, and also to enjoy eating. We’ve canned spicy kosher, pickle relish, and enjoyed them as sides with all meals… and they’re still producing.

Garlic pickles

So the question became… what can we do with those lingering cucumbers? It suddenly came to me. Garlic pickles, I would can garlic pickles! You’ve probably ate those delicious big crunchy garlic pickles that you can pickup at gas stations, convenient marts, and several other businesses at some time in your life. If not, you’ve missed a real treat. We usually pick one up when we visit our local Tractor Supply. It’s enjoyed to its entirety on the trip home. So, with the thoughts of those delicious pickles… I decided to try my hand at making them myself. And, it turned out quite well! I’ve already consumed nearly a quart of them by myself! So, for you pickle lovers… here you go!!!

Ingredients:

  • Approximately three pounds of cucumbers
  • 3 cups white vinegar
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 8-12 cloves fresh garlic
  • 5 tbs dried dill seeds
  • 7 tsp minced garlic
  • 5 tbs whole black peppercorns
  • 7 sprigs fresh dill
  • 7 tbs Pickle crisp

Process:

Sterilize seven quart jars, rings, and flats and set aside on a clean folded towel. Wash, scrub, and dry cucumbers. Trim the ends of the cucumbers and set aside. (We add these to our chicken’s feed) They appreciate it! Happy chickens lay more eggs! Cut clean cucumbers into spears. You can change the cutting to the type of cut you prefer.

In a stockpot, I prefer to use an enamel coated cast iron stock pot, add vinegar, water, salt, dill seeds, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil slowly. While brine is coming up to a boil, divide garlic cloves, sprigs of dill, and minced garlic to clean jars. Add sliced cucumbers to jars. I usually lay the jars on their side with dish cloth folded beneath the ring to create a bit of slant. This prevents all of the garlic from being one-sided and prevents spills. I then carefully stack the cucumbers in jars until tight. Remember, there will be shrinkage as the pickles process. Now add a full tablespoon of pickle crisp to each jar.

After the brine comes to a rolling boil, remove from heat and ladle the brine over the cucumbers leaving at least a half inch space for headspace. Make sure all cucumbers are covered. Run a butter knife or spoon handle around the jar to remove any air pockets. Wipe the rims with a paper towel that has a bit of vinegar on it and add the flats and rings.

Add warm water to the water bath canner until about half full. Turn the stove on medium high heat, and add the filled jars to the canner. Finish filling the canner until the water is at least an inch over the jars. When the water in the canner comes to a rolling boil, set a timer for ten minutes and allow the pickles to process for the full ten minutes. When the time has exhausted, turn the stove off and allow jars to sit for about five minutes until the water simmers down. Using the jar lifters, remove the jars from the canner and set aside on a folded bath towel or wooden cutting board. Soon you should hear the ping from each jar letting you know the jars are sealed.

I couldn’t wait any longer than two weeks to try them!!! Oh my! They’re delicious! We’ve about devoured a quart in a few days.

I hope you and your family enjoy these delicious crispy garlic pickles as much as we do. I have a feeling they’re going to quickly become a family favorite. Please feel free follow and leave feedback. I love to hear from my readers. I enjoy answering questions and reading comments. For now, may the Lord bless each of you. I’m off to can more tomato juice today! God bless from the mountains of Kentucky.

Kentuckians Band Together to Help Their Fellowman

Hello, from the mountains of Kentucky! It’s been a rough couple of weeks in the mountains. With the heavy rains hovering over our beautiful mountains along with flash flooding many of our beautiful small streams turned into raging waves of muddy water. Waters that ripped hard working peoples homes from the foundations, ravished their land, and ripped small children from their parents arms. Areas of our beautiful mountains look like a war zone littered with pieces of homes, broken dreams, memories, children’s toys, clothing, remnants of once thriving gardens, crops, churches, and cars. Schools that were preparing to open for the fall 2022 year are now demolished.

WYMT photo credit of Buckhorn School

As the death toll rises, so do horrible cartoons being published making jokes about the outpouring of rain on poor people. While Hollywood depicts Appalachian people as poor and ignorant. But the pictures that are painted by the heartless overpaid media does not even begin to describe the wonderful people who live in Kentucky! We are Appalachian strong and proud citizens, churches, neighbors, families and neighboring citizens who pull together to help each other in a time such as this.

Random possessions left behind by the raging water.

Appalachia is filled with hard working people. Doctors, lawyers, teachers, bankers, pharmacists, professors, congressman, senators, farmers, authors, artists, surgeons, laborers, judges, welders, Chefs, cooks, homemakers, miners, and truck drivers to name a few. Many of these hard working people are missing days of work to help out their fellow man. Our state is filled with a diverse population made up of many professions, cultures, and ethnicities, some Kentucky born and others who have migrated to Kentucky who now call the mountains of Kentucky their home, but above all our area is filled with genuine good people, kind hearted Christian people, and a community who truly cares about each other.

Photo credit Betty Jo Davidson (local pharmacist, Robin Combs, working to help neighbors clean up)

While much of the media and Hollywood are making money by degrading Kentuckians, Kentuckians are binding together in the trenches offering themselves and their own resources to help their fellow man. Tractor trailer loads of water and supplies have been collected and are being delivered. Businesses are working to help restore, offering free meals, a place to stay, and support. Churches have come together and going into their neighbors homes to clean the loads of mud that filled their floors. Many are delivering hot meals, gathering clothes, rebuilding, offering hugs, prayer, conversation, and a shoulder to lean on and cry on. Men with heavy equipment and tractors are making new drive ways where the old ones washed away. Rerouting gullies and ditches to divert future water from wreaking havoc on their neighbors land. Appalachian people spread the word through word of mouth, Facebook, go fund me, offerings, churches, and through collections to support our fellow man. Many are working tireless hours to clean, create, recreate, scrub, shovel, relocate, and support their fellow man, regardless of who they are, how difficult the situation, their socioeconomic status, beliefs, race, ethnicity, or culture… we are Kentuckians that band together when faced with devastation as so many faced and are still facing.

Photo credit- Betty Jo Davidson (neighbors helping neighbors)

Kentucky is a beautiful land filled with both good and bad people as is all states, but one thing is for sure… in the time of crisis, everyone comes together to help each other. It’s sad to read the derogatory comments, to see the false stigma that lingers about Appalachia, and to watch the media and Hollywood make a profit at the expense of families who’ve lost their parents, their children, their homes, their pets, food, toys, and all of their belongings. Many who are physically unable get in the trenches to help clean search, and restore, are calling, collecting donations, and praying for all who have been affected, and for those working hard to help those in need.

Worries and fear still hovers over many in our small communities as many of their family members remain missing. It’s a time of uncertainty for many, but one thing I know, I am, we are, proud to live in such a caring and compassionate community. I am, and will always be proud to be an Appalachian. My home and family were spared through this raging storm. However, I am confident if we are ever victims of such devastation, my family, churches, friends, neighbors, and community would be there for our family, just as they are, and have been for our community during this horrific crisis. I feel blessed and proud to call Kentucky my home. I am honored to give God praise that our communities still recognize and give Him credit for all, even when for many, all their possessions and in some families, lives were was lost.

May the Lord bless all. Let’s band together, love each other, give grace, and be there for each other. Be positive and shining examples of God’s love today. Your smile and kind words may be the only positive thing that someone encounters in a time such as this. Don’t wait for a crisis to show love toward your fellowman. Feel free to leave comments. I love to hear from my readers. We Are Kentucky Strong!

Kentucky will rebuild and come back even stronger!

Canning Our Favorite Pickle Relish

It’s bean picking time in the mountains!

Good morning, from the mountains of Kentucky. I hope your Saturday is off to a wonderful start! It’s been a busy day already for our household. Early morning prayer and meditation with our Heavenly Father, devotion, and studying His word and enjoying fresh perked coffee. God is so good. I love seeing His fingerprints on the small things in our lives as well as the big things. We are truly a blessed people. As you can see from the picture above, it’ll be bean picking time this week!

A larger pot of spearmint grown primarily for mint water and teas.

I was amazed to see so much new growth in the mint garden this morning. I created a weak mint tea from teabags yesterday and generously watered both the peppermint and spearmint. Wow! This morning both mints were strutting and showing off lots of new leafs that were healthy and shiny. Don’t throw away those used teabags or tea that might be out of date. Create your own fertilizer that is a rich organic treat for your herbs. I’ll try to make a post later about the uses of tea in the garden. Now, let me share our favorite relish recipe with you!

So, for this delicious pickle relish you’ll work in two a two complete this relish in a two day setting. You’ll need the following ingredients for day one;

Day one:

  • Two or three gallons of fresh cucumbers washed and dried.
  • One medium yellow/sweet onion.
  • One small red bell pepper washed and dried.
  • One tablespoon of salt.

Process for day one; dice cucumbers, yellow onion, and bell pepper into very small diced pieces. Put in a bowl that has a lid. Sprinkle the tablespoon of salt over the veggies and gently toss. Put in the fridge over night.

Day two:

Wash and sterilize pint jars, rings, and flats. Allow them to drain and dry on a clean towel. If you use the dishwasher to sterilize you can bypass this step. Next, remove the veggies from the fridge. Line a colander with either cheesecloth or sturdy white paper towels. Put the colander in the sink bowl and pour the veggies into the lined colander and drain well. You may use additional paper towels to blot and gently squeeze the veggies to help remove the excess liquid. Allow veggies to sit and drain while you make the brine.

For the brine you will need the following ingredients;

  • Three cups of distilled white vinegar
  • One cup of water
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons diced garlic
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of mustard seeds
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of course black pepper
  • One tablespoon turmeric
  • A couple sprigs of fresh deal
  • One teaspoon of dried dill weed

Combine the ingredients above other than the fresh dill along with the diced veggies in a large pot. Bring slowly to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer on low for ten minutes. Put a little fresh dill in the bottom of each jar and then add the relish mixture to clean jars. A funnel makes this process easier and less messy. Wipe the rims of the jars and add the flats and rings. Place jars in water bath canner with the water covering the lids. Bring the water to a hard boil, and set timer for 10 minutes. Turn the stove off when ten minutes has passed, and remove jars with a jar lifter. Set them aside on a folded towel or cutting board and listen for that wonderful pinging sound to assure you that your jars have sealed. Once the flats have cooled, write the date on them with a permanent marker.

I hope your family enjoys this relish as much as we do. We add it to chili dogs, hot dogs, and hamburgers. My husband loves it on beef burgers and I love it on plant based burgers! Using organic ingredients creates an even tastier and healthy choice for dishes. You may also add a jalapeño in the diced veggies to create an extra spicy relish. Both are a great addition to your summer dishes! This relish is also quite tasty in potato salad or egg salad. Experiment and feel free to let me know you how used this recipe.

Feel free to leave comments or ask questions. I love to hear from my readers. God bless from the mountains of Kentucky.

Canning Savory Indian Relish

Good evening, from the mountains of Kentucky! It’s hard to believe that we are nearing the end of July. It seems we were just welcoming spring in only a few weeks ago. Summer time is a time of lots of work, fun, and more work, but one of my favorite seasons of the year. I love to plant seeds, water them and watch them grow. I love to work in our flowers, herbs, and vegetable garden. I love the smell of fresh plowed dirt as much as any summer smell I can think of. The aroma of the fresh earth takes me home to a much more simple time growing up in the mountains. I loved the garden even as a child. I loved to walk through the garden barefoot. I have a confession, I’m guilty of this at times right now. Enough reminiscing, as I promised, I am exited to share my Savory Indian Relish recipe with you. This is one recipe that I plan can each year! It is awesome, and it is relatively easy to make.

Let’s get started! You’ll need the following ingredients;

  • Two large zucchini
  • one large yellow onion
  • One large red bell pepper
  • One green or orange bell pepper
  • One medium size yellow summer squash
  • Two tablespoons salt
  • Two jalapeño peppers
  • Two cloves whole garlic
  • One tablespoon course black pepper
  • One tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • One tablespoon ground turmeric
  • One teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • One pinch nutmeg
  • Two teaspoons of mustard seeds
  • One cup of white sugar
  • Three cups white vinegar
  • Two cups of water

Process: Day One:

You’ll need a large bowl that has an air tight lid. Wash and dry zucchini. There’s no need to peel the zucchini or squash. After drying them dice them into small pieces. You can remove the seedy part of the zucchini if it’s a real big zucchini. Dice the onion, peppers, and squash into the bowl with the zucchini. I removed the seedy part of the squash and used primarily the meaty parts near the peel. Mix gently with hands and then sprinkle the salt over the diced veggies and toss gently again. Cover the bowl and put the veggies in the fridge over night. This will allow the moisture to come out of the veggies.

Day Two:

Wash and sterilize your jars, rings and flats. The dishwasher will sterilize them or boil them in the canner. Remove them with your tongs to prevent contamination. Next, take the bowl of veggies out of the fridge and using a colander rinse the veggies well two times and thoroughly drain. Dice garlic and jalapeño peppers into the veggies and toss. Be sure to wash your hands after slicing the jalapeño peppers. Avoid adding the seeds of the peppers as this might make the relish hotter than desired. In a large stock pot bring the water, vinegar, diced veggies, and remaining spices to a rolling boil. Reduce heat and simmer for ten minutes.

While the brine and veggies are simmering, set up your work area with the jars, flats, rings and a ladle. After ten minutes of simmering ladle the veggie and brine mix into the sterilized jars. Run a knife around the mix on the inside of the jar to remove any air bubbles. Be sure to leave at least a half inch of space for headspace. This will allow the jars to seal appropriately. Wipe the rims of the jars and place the flat and ring on the jars. There’s no need to tighten the lid really tight. A snug fit will be fine.

Place the jars of relish in the canner of warm water making sure the jars are covered with water. Allow the water to come up to a boil slowly. When the boil is rolling, set the timer for 25 minutes. When the time exhausts, turn the burner off and allow the water to reduce to a simmer on its on. After 15 minutes using your jar lifter, carefully remove the jars of relish and place them on a wooden cutting board or on a folded towel on the sink or table. Soon, you’ll hear that lovely sound of the jars sealing one by one. Once the jars have sealed, and cooled, you may choose to remove the rings for future use. Some people remove the rings and others leave the rings on jars, either way is fine. It’s the flat that seals the jars and once the flat is sealed, the ring really doesn’t serve a purpose. This is a great tip from the days of the depression when canning rings were hard to come by. It’s a great money saver.

Don’t forget to write the date on the lids. You’ll appreciate this date in the future when trying to determine which jar of deliciousness you should select for a tasty side for supper. I always like to use the jars with the oldest dates first. Most flats have a seal date of 18-24 months. Most will stay sealed longer though. I’ve opened jars that were six, seven, or eight years old that were perfectly fine.

I hope you enjoy this zesty and tangy relish. It is family favorite around our house. It’s great with soup beans, chili, tacos and many other dishes. Feel free to leave feedback. I love to hear from my readers. God bless from the mountains of Kentucky!

A Busy Day in the Mountains

Hello, from the mountains of Kentucky! I hope your July is off to a beautiful start! We’ve had a blessed week with just enough rain to water our thirsty garden and make the zucchini, summer squash, and cucumbers explode. The number of gorgeous veggies awaiting my attention caused me to wake even earlier today. After having a hot cup of coffee, relaxing with my daily devotional, prayer, and another fascinating chapter of the word, I looked at the tasks that lay ahead of me for the day. Farming looks glamorous to those who see it as all the veggies you can eat, decreased payout at the grocery store, and the many wonderful health benefits. All of these benefits are true, but the work and the labor are also very real… but satisfying. Chores are a big part of planting, growing, maintaining, and harvesting the rewards. After reading a chapter of my chosen summer read, What the Wind Knows, it was time to get up and get started checking things off my list. Yes, I am a list maker! It helps me feel organized.

The day began with watering the herbs, which needed harvesting again. It’s been a great year for all of our herbs. I quickly clipped lavender blooms to dry for flavoring teas, and clipped various types of mint. After washing and drying the herbs, I quickly tied them in bundles to hang for drying. The aroma of fresh herbs drying in the kitchen makes me happy.

Fresh mint hanging in the kitchen! This is chocolate mint. It makes great tea!
Lavender Blooms for flavoring Tea

Weekly household chores were next on the agenda. One by one, I checked them off my list. But, between chores… the squash, zucchini, and cucumbers were reoccurring thoughts. So, I decided to bake a little zucchini bread. I also vacuum sealed a few bags of sliced squash and zucchini for the freezer to enjoy this winter. Next on the list, was the sink full of cucumbers. Checking my time, I decided that I would have time to make seven quarts of spicy kosher dill pickles, which are always tasty any time of the year. If you’ve not tried my recipe for spicy kosher dills, you can follow the link below to learn more. These pickles are a family favorite, as well as a favorite among many of our neighbors. Canning Spicy Kosher Dill Pickles

We’ve had an abundance of summer squash and zucchini this year!

Now to proofread. My editor is expecting the final revisions of the last chapters to be ready later this week. I am in the homestretch of finishing this nearly year long project. I’m excited for my students to have this new workbook in their hands. It is designed to accompany the textbook I wrote in 2019. Thankfully, the abundance of rain we received over the last few weeks allowed me to work ahead of schedule, but also resulted in lots of weeds. That was another thing on the list to attend to. Hoeing usually means all hands on deck! Again, lots of hard work, but very satisfying work.

The zucchini kept calling my name! I ended up grating several zucchini for the freezer for bread this winter. I use a hand-held box grater and a glass measuring cup lined with white paper towel or cheese cloth. I grate the clean zucchini into the cup until the measuring cup is full. This is perfect for breads as my recipe calls for one full cup of grated zucchini. It also works well because the paper towel or cheesecloth is already holding the zucchini, and ready to be squeezed to remove the liquid before freezing. I felt better about having used several of the beautiful green bounty.

Three hours later, seven quarts of spicy kosher pickles are cooling and waiting to be taken to the basement for good eating this winter! Zucchini bread will be cooling soon. One loaf to eat and one for the freezer. Yes, you can freeze whole loaves of homemade bread. Allow the bread to completely cool, remove from loaf pan, and wrap twice with plastic wrap, then once with aluminum foil. Once the bread is frozen, you can vacuum seal for reassurance of no frost gathering on the bread. When you’re ready to eat the bread, allow it to thaw in the fridge. Once it’s completely thawed, remove the vacuum seal and unwrap and enjoy. It’s amazing how moist the bread is.

Spicy Kosher Pickles

I hope you’ve enjoyed spending a little time with me in the mountains of Kentucky. It’s been a busy day, but one that makes me feel accomplished. Feel free to leave comments. I love to hear from my readers. I’ll share the vegan zucchini bread recipe soon. It’s a keeper. Also, I’m excited to share my new Indian relish recipe with you! I’m hoping to have it posted later this week. Check out the picture beneath the bread photo! God bless from the mountains of Kentucky.

Fresh baked chocolate chip zucchini bread.
Indian Relish recipe coming soon!