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!

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!

Five Organic Gardening Tips

Quote of the week:

Garden work is satisfying to the body and soul, as is the harvest.” ~Dr Bowling

Hello, from the mountains of Kentucky! I hope you’ve been blessed with awesome weather for your gardens! It’s been very dry in the mountains. Our garden is growing and we’re picking, but a lot of hard work has been involved with watering by hand through the month of June. Needless to say, we’ve decided to invest in ground soaking hoses that will water the ground when we want it, or as we need it. For a garden of our size, I’m not sure why we hadn’t already thought about this. I’m often asked questions about the difficulties involved with organic gardening. So, I decided to share five organic tips that can beneficial for your garden at this time of the year.

Love eating from the land… even though it’s a lot of hard work. Our garden early in the year!

Tip One: We’ve also dealt with low calcium in the soil through this very dry beginning to summer. So, through research and back work, we’ve added ground organic oyster shells to the soil around the squash and zucchini. As well as eggs shells and diatomaceous earth. Thankfully the rotting squash and zucchini have come to a stop and we’re back to picking our fill and then some of both fruits!

A few of the straight neck summer squash from our garden.

Tip Two: to add a little extra fertilizer to our herb garden, I’ve been saving organic tea bags and reboiling the bags for a weaker tea and watering the herbs. This is a game-changer for herbs. My favorites are chamomile, mint, and black tea. The plant feed on the rich antioxidants, and the the tea bags are added to the garden as the bags are biodegradable. We add the spicy cinnamon black tea bags around the garden for an additional deer repellent.

Nothing better than fresh herbs to cook with.

Tip Three: in the battle against those pesky beetles on beans, cucumbers, and squash plants. In a spray bottle we mix a spray of 10 drops of lavender essential oil, 10 drops of peppermint essential oil, and 10’drops of citronella essential oil, with a tsp of organic plant based dish detergent. Then fill the bottle with water. This makes a great spay to repel all kinds of munching little friends. We also dust our plants with organic food grade diatomaceous earth for an extra layer of protection.

Tip Four: adding a little potassium to tomatoes while repurposing banana peels. A lot of bananas are consumed at our house. I eat two a day most days. I love organic bananas for oatmeal, baked oatmeal, and as a snack and frozen ones in smoothies. So I’ve learned that not only roses like bananas, do do tomatoes in the form of a tea. To make tea, keep a pitcher of water in the fridge. The pitcher should be about half full to allow for room as you add banana peels. Once you’ve peeled the bananas, add them to the water. You can cut the peels, but don’t have to. There’s no need to cover the pitcher. After a week, take the bananas out and add one part banana tea to five parts water. Use this transit the base of tomatoes. It provides potassium to the soil. This will help produce stronger roots, stems, and great fruit. Banana tea can also be added beside of pepper plants as well.

Banana peel tea.

Tip Five: Begin saving egg shells a couple of weeks prior to planting tomatoes. When it’s time to plant, place an egg shell in the hole before putting the plant in the ground. Egg shells are loaded with calcium and will feed the soil at the roots of the tomatoes and help prevent blossom rot and what some of the old timers called, the blight.

I hope that you find these tips helpful and you have success with your garden this year and for years to come. Feel free to leave comments or ask questions. I love to hear from my readers. Well, it’s time to go pick a while and reap the joys of our labors. God bless from the mountains of Kentucky.

Harvesting Mint for Teas

Good Morning from the mountains of Kentucky. I hope your morning is off to a great start on this beautiful Saturday. We’ve been hammered with extreme temps this week, so today’s high seventies is a welcomed relief. It’s that time of year when the garden needs to be hoed, the weeds need to be pulled, herbs are coming in like crazy, and the harvesting and drying have begun. I took advantage of the cooler temps this morning to prune my herb garden, which desperately needed a trim. I like to trim my herbs in the early morning hours while the dew is still on the ground, and clinging to the leaves. I also like the cool temperatures as it is easier on me and on the herbs.

This is about a fourth of our vegetable garden.
Spearmint for teas and salads.

I have been enjoying mint-infused water this summer, and quite a bit of mint tea. I have already dried two cuttings of various types of mint, as well as other herbs. They’re carefully tucked away in my kitchen herb cabinet in glass jars in the kitchen. Glass jars with air-tight lids are the best method of storing dried herbs. I have had several questions about how I harvest mint. It’s actually quite easy. As I mentioned above, I trim herbs before they become leggy. Trimming herbs actually causes the herbs to take on a more bushy consistency.

Lemon balm for cooking, teas, and health.

As I trim the mint, I place the fresh-cut mint on large cookie sheets lined with a white paper towel or butcher paper. This allows me to keep the mints separated and labeled if necessary. I rinse the mint to ensure there are no ticks or other small pests. While the mint is draining in the sink, I inspect the mint for the best leaves. I try to pick the mint that is void of holes where insects may have nibbled, dark spots, or any other imperfections. I gently pat the leaves dry and place them on a clean, lined cookie sheet and place them where they are not in direct sunlight. It doesn’t take as long for the herbs to dry with this method.

Chocolate mint tea drying in the kitchen.

A second method I use is to follow the above steps, except do not remove leaves from stems. I pat the stems of aromatic leaves dry, gather the mint into a bunch, and wind cotton twine around the stems to tie the mint in a bunch to hang dry. I hang the mint in an area that is not directly exposed to windows or sunlight. It takes a little longer for the mint to dry by this method, but it allows you to harvest the stems as well as the leaves, while also filling the kitchen with a nice fresh mint aroma.

Once the mint in the tray is dry, you may either crumble the mint and add the mint to the mint jar or simply store the leaves in the jar. I use both methods. I like the crushed mint for baking and the whole leaves for tea. You may use either method of storing the dried bundle.

Chocolate mint leaves drying for tea.

A second question that is often asked is; what type of mint do you grow? To answer that, I respond as much as possible. Then I elaborate and explain that I grow peppermint, spearmint, chocolate mint, apple mint, lemon mint, and strawberry mint. I always reply that spearmint and chocolate mint are my favorites.

Finally, the third most asked question is; how do you make your tea? I tell them that I enjoy iced teas and also hot teas, depending on my mood and seasonal temperature at the time. For hot teas, I will typically place an organic black tea bag in my cup, put the water on to boil, choose the flavor of mint I want to have in my tea, and then add the mint to my tea ball. Once the water has reached the right temperature, I pour the water into the cup and allow the black tea and mint in the tea ball to steep for three to four minutes. I add a tiny bit of organic agave to the tea, stir and enjoy. You may add milk if you like your tea milky. I occasionally add almond milk or oat milk to mine.

Small jar of dried chocolate mint.

For cold tea, I boil enough water for a quart jar. I add two black tea bags, and if you like green tea, you can add green tea bags instead of black. I also add a larger tea ball filled with my choice of dried mint or even a mix of mints. Allow the tea bags and the tea ball to steep for forty-five minutes to an hour in the glass quart jar. Stir occasionally, and once the tea has darkened and cooled, you can pour tea over ice and add a little lemon, agave, and fresh mint leaves. This is an awesome drink, that is refreshing, full of antioxidants, and tastes great!

Tips of the week: you can pot various types of mint in flower pots to prevent the mint from taking over your garden, or if you have the room, you can isolate each type of mint in separate herb beds. Mint has a way of being intrusive and will quickly take over and can smother other herbs out. I like to do both pots and beds. My second tip is; as you know, I am a doTERRA essential oil consultant and recently I discovered that one drop of peppermint essential oil takes my peppermint tea to a totally new level. One drop of spearmint essential oil can be added to spearmint tea as well. Do not add essential oils from typical over-the-counter, or aromatherapy blends. doTERRA oils that are identified as supplemental can be added for internal use and wonderful internal benefits.

Lavender awaiting plant butter, teas, or cookies.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed learning about how I harvest mints for teas. I encourage you to grow mint, as it is probably the easiest herb to grow. It is also a very versatile herb that can be used for bee stings, headaches, bruising, as a natural pesticide, and also baking and delicious teas. Comments, ideas, and questions are welcomed. For now, God bless, from the mountains of Kentucky. Remember, God has given us an abundant supply of plants that will help sustain us.

Teatime Treasures

Good Morning, from the mountains of Kentucky. I hope your week has been filled with happiness, good food, family, and lots of sunshine. We’ve gone from 70 plus degree temperatures to forties within a few days and now, we’re expecting up to six inches of snow for the weekend! March weather in Kentucky is always full of surprises.

I love a good surprise! One my favorite kind of surprises comes from thrifting! When you thrift, you never know what you’ll find. I have found thrifting to be a therapeutic hobby, and a lasting tradition in our family for generations. When I grew up in the mountains of Kentucky, spending time with family was a priority. We found joy in things that we loved to do whether it was congregating for a big family dinner, attending a special church service, gathering on my Mamaw’s store porch to catch up on the events of the week, working the gardens, or thrifting at the dime store.

A Hidden Gem

I am a bit of a creature of habit. I love many of the old traditional dishes from my youth, but I also love trying new dishes. However, I find it a bit of a struggle to change a timeworn tradition. As a child it was a tradition to go to the dime store on Saturday mornings. The dime store was what we called the second hand mission store where everything cost a dime. My cousin, and I, would load up with our grandmother, great aunt, and uncle who was the designated driver. Neither my grandmother or grandfather ever learned to drive, but they never planned a trip that didn’t include a family member who enjoyed driving them. It was an exciting time as kid to hold those well earned dimes in our hands and dream of the treasures that awaited us.

As time passed thrifting wasn’t as much of an interest for us as teens. But, what most of us discovered is that the love of thrifting never completely left us, but lay dormant waiting for just the right time to surface. Since the days of our youth in the late sixties and early seventies, dime stores have grew in popularity. They’ve become the stores to find retro clothing, farmhouse decor, and much more. The prices have increased from everything being a dime to various different prices, depending on the store. But the love of searching for treasures remains the same and for many a way of carrying on a mountain tradition.

Redbird Community Store in Beverly Kentucky

Our daughter, daughter in law, and two of our granddaughters share a love for this time worn tradition. We enjoy a couple of days a month browsing vendors malls, GoodWills, estate sales, mission stores, and flea markets. There’s something about searching the shelves that are filled with dishes, glassware, odds and ends, baskets, and bins of household goodies, shelves of books, and racks of clothes, that brings an element of excitement and unity. We’ve learned that the joy lies not only within the findings, but also in the search and spending time with family.

I’m excited to begin sharing weekly treasures with you! I’ll share just a few of the treasures we found, but it would be impossible to share them all. The picture below is one of my new favorites! This absolutely gorgeous hand embroidered and crocheted table runner was definitely a score for only 1.25. Once it is washed and pressed, it will adorn the fireplace mantle in my bedroom. Based on the material and research, it appears to be an early 1950’s piece. Whoever made this treasure, really put a lot of tender loving care and obvious heart into the intricate details. It’s also in excellent condition.

A gorgeous hand crocheted and embroidered table runner.
Seven Star Vintage colander

I also found an aluminum seven star vintage colander. It didn’t look like much when I pulled it out of the bin, but after cleaning it up… it was in excellent condition. It has been housing bananas in our kitchen, and I’ll be honest, I’ve enjoyed using it as well. There’s something about the simplicity of its lightweight design that makes straining foods easy. Truly another great find that has stood the test of time. I’m not sure about the date, but I’m still researching and will update you later.

I’m truly a nerd at heart. I love to strap on my vintage apron, and cook barefoot in our kitchen while using some of my thrifting treasures. I like to imagine who’s kitchen the sifter or crock came from. I like to imagine their homes, their faces, the dishes they’ve prepared, and wonder what their lives were like and what their names may have been. I also enjoy decorating with vintage utensils, crocks, linens, and other tried and true treasures.

Thrifting is a year-round hobby, that brings joy to my heart, keeps a tradition alive, and family time well spent. We found an abundance of treasures on our last thrifting spree. I’ll share more teatime treasures next week. For now I’m going to relax with a cup of sweet and spicy hot tea and enjoy re-browsing our treasures. God bless from the mountains of Kentucky!

Scrambled Tofu and Spring Daydreams

Good morning, from the mountains of Kentucky! It’s a beautiful sun shiny Saturday morning in the mountains. The birds are whistling their good morning calls and filling the trees with beautiful spring-like music.

I’ve missed everyone! Its been a while since I’ve posted. We had a fairly mild winter in the mountains with enough snow for the grandchildren to enjoy sledding and building snowmen. I love snuggling in with a good book during winter, but the colder weather also brings out the crafty side of myself. I’ve enjoyed perfecting a few older dishes and creating a few new ones. One of my previous favorite breakfast dishes is now a new favorite! I am super excited to share with you my new and improved recipe for tofu scramble! It’s even tastier than before and tastes more like scrambled eggs, is very satisfying, and also keeps you full for hours! See the recipe beneath the image below.

Scrambled Tofu for breakfast.

Ingredients:

3 ounces of extra firm organic tofu pressed

One teaspoon of organic extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup organic vegetable broth

1 tsp of your favorite nondairy plant butter

Cup of sliced organic portobello mushrooms

Two cups of organic baby spinach

One slice of preferred nondairy cheese

Spices include: turmeric, paprika, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion salt, and black salt

Begin by warming a skillet over medium heat add the olive oil and sliced mushrooms. I like to add the vegetable broth next which allows the mushrooms to absorb the broth. Lightly season the mushrooms with salt and pepper.

While the mushrooms are sautéing, dry and press the tofu and weigh if it isn’t pre weighed. When the mushrooms appear to be moist and darkened, crumble the tofu in the pan. Add turmeric, about a teaspoon should suffice. Fluff the tofu to incorporate the turmeric, which will give it the color of eggs and also be beneficial for your bones and inflammation. Add remaining seasoning, except the black salt, which adds the eggy flavor. Reduce the heat and shred the slice of your preferred nondairy cheese. My preference is provolone. Add the spoon of nondairy butter. I enjoy Country Crock best. Add a generous sprinkle of the black salt and spinach to the scramble. You may add extra seasoning to suit your preference. Sauté until the spinach has wilted to your liking and the nondairy cheese has melted.

I enjoy the tofu scramble with Ezekiel toast lightly buttered with non dairy plant butter and fruit. You may add any breakfast side or seasoning that you enjoy. For instance, some mornings I add sautéed onions and peppers with a dash of cayenne for a Mexican dish. The possibilities are endless. I was amazed at how adding the black salt made this scrambled egg imposter a vegan delight! I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I do.

I’ve also enjoyed crocheting again! With winter came several new projects. I’ve enjoyed crocheting and sharing handmade afghans and other gifts with family. I’ll share pictures of this project once it’s completed. I can’t wait to surprise a very special family member with this afghan.

A surprise gift in the making!

While the mountains slept beneath the snow and the cold temperatures surrounded our home, my laptop was ablaze with a new book! I’ve been busy writing a workbook to accompany the textbook that I wrote for my college courses. I’m happy to say that this project is in the home stretch, and will go to print before the fall reel begins. My goal is to have all edits complete before time to plant our garden, which I’m more than ready to begin.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my post this morning and will enjoy my scrambled tofu dish! I love to hear from my readers! Feel free to stop by and read other posts and enjoy new and upcoming recipes and experiences from life in the mountains. My next post will include my recipe for delicious vegan protein balls!! They really satisfy a sweet tooth with no guilt! Honestly, it’s hard to stop eating them!

Now, let’s go enjoy some sunshine and a little porch sitting! God bless from the mountains of Kentucky!

Porch sitting, planning gardens, flowered, herbs, and counting our blessings.

Canning Green Tomatoes For Frying

Hello from the mountains of Kentucky. Can you feel fall in the air? With the days becoming shorter and the nights getting much cooler, you can tell that fall is just around the bend. With fall also comes garden remnants. Lingering tomatoes here and there, an occasional head of kale that decides to sprout new growth, and the last nubbins of corn. We’ve had a really good tomato crop this year. We’ve ate our belly’s full, canned nearly one hundred quarts of tomato juice, an abundance of tomato sauce, and a good deal of crushed tomatoes. We’ve canned pickled tomatoes and and fried quite a few, which by the way is one of my all time favorite dishes!

A few of our tomatoes early in early summer.

A few years ago while frying a pan of fried green tomatoes memories of eating my mom’s delicious fried green tomatoes filled my thoughts. I savor those memories and enjoy the trips down memory lane. When I was growing up life in the mountains was simple, plain, and a time filled with family and always good southern cooking, With that thought, I decided that fried green tomatoes didn’t have to be a seasonal food. I wanted to enjoy them year around. So, I began the journey of trying new recipes.

I fried the tomatoes as if they were ready to eat and froze them in vacuum sealed bags. That was a great way to have access to a quick dish of deliciousness, but it wasn’t quite the same as frying them fresh. They’re good, just not as good as fresh fried tomatoes. So, moving forward, I decided to try an idea to can green tomatoes. This is what I died. While canning a batch of my grandmothers pickled tomatoes, I made up a jar of sliced tomatoes with a few preserving ingredients, sealed the jar and added them to the canner of pickled tomatoes. All I could lose was one jar of tomatoes. I was excited to see how they turned out. The rest of the story is why I’m posting about my recipe for preserving green tomatoes for frying! It was a success!

Sliced green tomatoes preserved for frying!

It’s a simple recipe. I hope you like it.

Ingredients: Green tomatoes, lemon juice, salt, and water. You’ll also need clean pint bars and a canner.

Process: Wash and sterilize jars. Add a teaspoon of lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon of salt to each jar. Rinse tomatoes, pat dry, and slice tomatoes. Place slices of tomatoes in pint jars leaving about a half inch for head space. Bring a tea kettle of water to a boil and using a funnel add boiling water to each jar. Don’t forget to leave about at least a half inch of space for head space. Add a teaspoon of lemon juice and 1/8 teaspoon of salt to each jar.

Wipe rim of jars and place clean and sterilized flats and rings on each jar. Place jars in a canner of water with water covering the jars by at least two inches. I use a stove top canner because I enjoy the old fashioned method of a water bath for canning. Allow water to come to a boil. Allow to jars of tomatoes process under the boiling water for 35 minutes. Remove carefully and allow to cool. Always add the date to the lid of all jars. This year, I added a 1/8 teaspoon of pickle crisp to few pint jars as an experiment. When I fry the first batch, I’ll let you know how they turn out. Experimentation is one of the best methods of learning. Feel free to check out my pickled tomato tomato juice recipes!

I hope you enjoy this method of canning and winter fried green tomatoes as much as we do! Feel free to leave comments and also check back for my new recipe of refrigerated spicy pickled grape tomatoes. I’m going to try to post that easy and delicious recipe next week. For now, God bless from the mountains of Kentucky!