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!

Vegan Apple Bread

Good Evening from the mountains of Kentucky! It’s a gorgeous day in the mountains today! I enjoyed a walk around the garden today with the warm sunshine on my face. It felt good to relax a bit. Life has been hectic on our small farm this week. We picked our first picking of beans this week. We picked a bushel and a half, which is not bad for the first picking! We enjoyed them with dinner last night and canned the remaining beans for a total of thirty quarts. Farm life is a busy life, but one that I truly enjoy. There’s a sense of satisfaction with planting, tending, watching the crops grow, and then harvesting, cooking, and canning the fresh veggies! It’s nice to have home canned vegetables and fruit for meals in the cold winter months while the garden is resting beneath the mountain snows gaining nourishment for the next season.

First batch of beans of the season canned.

I’ve also enjoyed trying a few new recipes this week, with fresh produce. Im excited to share my recipe for vegan apple bread with you. It’s the perfect time to try this recipe as the apple trees are loaded with beautiful apples right now. My family described the vegan apple bread as being the best bread I had made! This brought a big smile to my face. I love to create recipes that makes my family happy! I hope you and your family enjoys this recipe as much as mine did. I have a feeling that I’ll be making this moist, flavorful, and delicious bread for most family gatherings in the future.

Vegan apple bread

Ingredients:

  • Two apples of choice (I used honey crisp)
  • One half cup of craisins
  • One half cup of golden raisins
  • One half cup of chopped organic walnuts
  • Two cups of whole wheat flour
  • One cup of organic raw cane sugar
  • Two tablespoons cinnamon
  • One tablespoon nutmeg
  • One teaspoon cardamon
  • One pinch of salt
  • One tablespoon baking powder
  • One teaspoon pure vanilla
  • three flax eggs (see recipe below)
  • One cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • One half cup unsweetened almond milk
  • One half cup unrefined coconut oil

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a Bundt pan with organic cooking spray and set aside. Mix all dry ingredients fold in fruit and nuts. Add remaining ingredients one at a time folding the mixture after each addition saving the milk until the final ingredient. Once all of the ingredients are combined (the mix will be thick) use an ice cream scoop to dip mixture into the pan. Press mixture gently once all of the mixture has been added to the pan. Bake for 60 minutes. Remember oven temperatures may vary. When a tooth pick comes out clean, your bread is ready. Allow the bread to cool completely before trying to remove it from the pan to prevent it from sticking.

Once the bread is cooled, place a large plate on top of the pan and gently turn the bundt pan upside down still holding the plate and the pan to allow bread to come out onto the plate. I run a small flexible spatula or small handle of a spoon along the edges of the bread to help ensure it releases. You might have to tap the bottom of the pan as well. Once the bread is on the plate, using a small mesh strainer, sprinkle organic confection sugar over the top of the bread.

This bread is a great breakfast treat, can be made into muffins, and also tastes great with hot cup of coffee. I hope you and your family enjoy this delicious bread. Feel free to leave a comment and tell me how you enjoyed this recipe and if you ate it for breakfast, or dessert. For now, God bless each of you. Have a blessed week and weekend. Check back in a few days for my newest squash soup recipe and more memories from the mountains of Kentucky!

Tomatoes are doing great this year!

Flax eggs are basically ground flax seed and water. Mix one tablespoon of flax seed to two tankards of warm water for the equivalent of one egg. Mix ingredients using a fork in a small bowl.

A Mountain Way of Life

Good morning from the mountains of Kentucky! It’s a beautiful and finally dry morning in the mountains. Rain has been a part of our daily forecast for most July! With rain comes growth. Growth of garden delicacies and also growth of unwanted weeds. We’ve been busier than ever pulling weeds, hoeing, and tilling. Because of our hard work and God’s grace our garden is flourishing, all except our cucumbers. We’re still picking quite a few cucumbers each day, but not as many as we should consider the amount of plants we have. But, I’ll not complain as we’re truly enjoying the harvest!

Early July Garden
Beans are ready for picking!

With the cool spring-like temperatures this morning, I took full advantage of the comfortable morning breeze. It was a perfect morning to trim and prune the herbs. Growing and harvesting fresh herbs is another mountain tradition I thoroughly enjoy. I love the smell of fresh herbs. I enjoy growing them, cooking with them, and most of all the taste of them in home-cooked meals. I also love to dry them for spices. Fresh, dried basil is so much more fragrant than store-bought basil. There’s no other sage quite like fresh sage! After the cutting and trimming, I spread the beautiful green herbs on a clean cloth and enjoy the aroma of fresh herbs in the kitchen and through most of the house for days. Once the herbs are dry, I grind, crush, and store them in empty glass jars and place them in a dark cabinet for future dishes!

Fresh cut sage
Discerning the Voice of God, a great book written by, Pricilla Shirer.

Rainy days are also a great time to sneak away from all the responsibilities that come with working from home, maintaining a home and the farm to enjoy the simple pleasures in life. Simple pleasures such as snuggling up with a hot cup of coffee and a good book. There’s also something about a rainy day that inspires me to cook. I’m excited to share two new recipes I tried this weekend with you. I plan to post both recipes later this week. For now, I’ll give you a visual taste with pictures! The first picture is a new summer squash soup I created. It’s rich and full of flavor, fiber, and also very satisfying served with rice, a few croutons, or with crusty bread. The second picture is the delicious apple bread that I created this weekend. Both recipes are vegan friendly and also clean. Be sure to check back later this week for both recipes.

Summer Squash Soup
Apple bread… log in tomorrow for full recipe!

However, weekends are not complete for me without attending a church service. The fellowship is much needed in the day we live as is hearing the word. During church last night, I thought about how important it is to know God’s word, but also the importance of the knowledge of how to apply it to our own lives. During the sermon, the thoughts of my own words rang loud and clear in my mind. One concept that I teach students is reading comprehension. I remind them that recalling and summarizing is only part of comprehension. The goal of comprehension is application. That was the exact thought that I had about God’s word. It’s vital that we know the word, can recall it, but we must also know how to connect it and apply it to our lives to truly receive the full benefits from it.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my Monday memories for this week. Be sure to come back daily for new posts and for new recipes. I’ll be posting both the summer squash soup and the apple bread recipes later this week! For now, we’re off to the garden to pick beans! God bless from the mountains of Kentucky!

Finding What Works

Hello from the mountains of Kentucky. I hope your week is off to a great start! A memory popped up on Facebook this morning reminding me of the changes that have happened in my life the past ten years. Weight loss changes, dietary choices, and health changes that have had me worried and also celebrating! I hope you enjoy learning a little more about my journey with food, weight loss, and health.

For me, weight loss was like a roller coaster ride! Many ups, many downs, unsure of what was around the next curve, and occasionally the feeling of accomplishment. Diets, like a roller coaster ride, left me with the feeling of accomplishment, but both were usually short-lived.

My journey with roller coaster diets began a long time ago, I mean a long time ago. I, like many others, would find something that worked but it always seemed to be temporary. I was always changing my diet up to try a new diet, fad, or what worked for someone else. My countless endeavors include low fat, low calorie, low carb, no bread, multiple tracking apps, multiple prepackaged diet foods, diets that famous people recommended, liquid diets, protein diets, and the list could go on and on. Were they successful? Some were and some were not. Did I lose weight? Sometimes I did and sometimes I didn’t. Did I gain the weight back? Sometimes I did and a few more pounds to boot! So when did this viscous cycle end? It stopped for me when I found what worked for me. When I found what I believed in, was passionate about, and most of all what I enjoyed!

First of all, I stopped dieting. Yes, you heard me right. I stopped dieting! I adopted a new lifestyle. My journey with fad diets and dieting period took on a new perspective and seriousness when my doctor asked me what I wanted to do. Did I want to live or did I want to die? I chose life! I prayed seriously about what I should do.

After much prayer, my journey began with clean eating. I soon learned that I could eat a wide-variety of good foods, but the food needed to be organic and with the least amount of processing and packaging as possible. I also discovered a new way to cook, new foods to try and new food foods I enjoyed. I also discovered that I could still eat, enjoy my food, and not be hungry. I could actually have dessert too! Clean dessert that is!

My journey evolved into my becoming a flexitarian, which meant the only meat I ate at that time was organic poultry, game meat, and seafood. That lifestyle eventually evolved into my becoming a vegetarian, which removed all meats from my diet. What I realized from this drastic change was that my joints slowly began to feel normal. I had less inflammation. My health was drastically improving and I felt energetic again. Did the change stop there? I was determined to regain all of my health and live a lifestyle that promotes life, not encouraged disease. No! I researched vegan lifestyles and learned that I could live happily, and even more healthy, without eggs and dairy products. My stomach felt better, my digestion was at its peak and I felt more energetic. I began to lose pounds slowly but happily.

My journey with eating vegan has evolved into whole food plant-based eating, which has really changed my life and my health. I feel that I have come full circle with my dietary choices as the whole food plant-based vegan lifestyle is truly one of the cleanest diets possible. The benefits have been tremendous! I no longer take any prescribed meds, other than the smallest dose of blood pressure meds available and expect that to be taken away at my next dr appointment. My blood panel is always good, and contrary to what many believe, my iron and protein levels are fine! Yes, you can get sufficient protein from plants! One of the most notable things that changed with this final change of roller coaster diets, is the positive impact that a plant based diet has made on my joints and gut health! I believe that good gut health is key to living a happy and healthy life! I said all of that to say this, find what works for you and what you are passionate about, not what’s popular.

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about my journey with food, diets, and lifestyle choices! I’m happy to say the roller coaster of eating has come to a permanent stop. I’ve been vegan for two years and can’t imagine turning back. The benefits of plant based eating are far too beneficial! I enjoy eating again, I can maintain my weight, lose a little weight and also feel happy about what I’m eating while not feeling deprived. Feel free to leave comments. I enjoy hearing from my readers. Click follow to be notified of new posts. From the mountains of Kentucky, God bless and have a wonderful week!

Easy Vegan Creole Recipe

Good afternoon from the mountains of Kentucky! I hope all is well in your part of the world. It’s been a roller coaster of a ride with the weather in the mountains for a few weeks. We’ve experienced a lot rain that resulted in flooding, thunderstorms, hail, and a lot of sunshine. I can’t complain, I love spring time whether it’s warm or chilly temperatures, but can do without the flooding. The warm days have been really good for my herbs! My chocolate mint already needs thinned. Strawberry mint seems to be taking over one section of the herb garden. I’ll be giving several starts off of it this year to friends and family. The chamomile is off to a great start too!

We were blessed with an abundance of produce last year and are still reaping the rewards of our veggies this year. I decided to cook Easter dinner today for my husband and myself. Last year’s green beans, corn, potatoes and spring onions are on the menu as sides! Now, if I could only figure out a way to preserve cucumbers! I’m anxious for garden time this year, because with all of the fresh produce, also comes great ingredients for new and delicious vegan recipes.

The most recent dish that I’ve made include, creole roasted veggies, with a wilted kale salad, and polenta on the side. I’ve been posting pictures of my vegan meals and tagging our daughter, who is also vegan, on Facebook. We’ve gotten a lot of great feedback, as well aroused much curiosity, and also had a lot of requests for recipes. So…here goes!

Creole Roasted Veggies Ingredients:

2 small sweet potatoes
5 small fingerling potatoes (or small potatoes of choice)
1 half of a yellow sweet onion
1 small butternut squash
6 to 8 eight baby carrots or 1 large carrot
1 hot banana pepper
1 small zucchini.
Creole seasoning
Extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper

Cube all of the above veggies, except the onion and pepper, into small cubes, then slice pepper and onions. Add all of the vegetables to an air fryer and drizzle very lightly with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with creole seasoning and salt and pepper. Shake the air fryer pan and sprinkle again. Roast veggies on high for twenty minutes. Check to ensure the veggies are done by piercing with a fork. I like to allow mine to caramelize a little and will allow them to roast a little longer. You can also roast the vegetable in the oven on 375 on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper for 40-45 minutes. I like to use the air fryer if I’m not going to be using the oven for another dish, especially in the summer.

Wilted Kale Salad Ingredients:

Fresh kale, extra virgin olive oil, remaining half of onion, 4-5 sliced portobello mushrooms, and a half a cup sliced grape tomatoes.

Process:

While the veggies are roasting, I heat a saucepan on top of the stove on medium heat, and add a good drizzle of olive oil. Using a pair of scissors, cut kale into pieces and add to the oil, slice four or five portobello mushrooms and add to the kale, slice the remaining half of the yellow sweet onion and add to the kale an mushrooms, slice a handful of small grape tomatoes in half and add to the skillet. Add a generous sprinkle of the creole seasoning along with black pepper and onion salt. Saute the vegetables until tender and turn the heat off.

Polenta Ingredients:

Instant polenta, non-dairy butter, unsweetened almond milk, non-dairy cheese of choice.

I also added a side of instant polenta to this dish. This is the easiest side ever! I buy polenta that’s in a roll. It has a great shelf life, and tastes great. It’s much easier to prepare than cooking polenta from scratch. To feed two people, you will need to slice four or five slices of the polenta off the role and cut it into small pieces. Add the polenta pieces to a small saucepan and add about 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk. Turn the burner on to medium low. Using the back of a fork, mash the polenta until it’s mixed with the milk and smooth. At this point add a teaspoon of non-dairy butter and season with creole seasoning and a little black pepper. I like to add a piece of no -dairy provolone cheese just before serving. Allow the cheese to melt and give it a final stir.

Serve roasted veggies, with a side of wilted kale salad, and few spoons of polenta. Sprinkle the servings with a light dusting of the creole seasoning and a drizzle of hot sauce and you’re ready for a delicious and filling dish.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do! Feel free to leave a comment, ask a question of just drop a greeting. If you’re just stopping by, feel free to click on follow for upcoming recipes! God bless each of you! Happy Easter!

Vegan Strawberry Salad Dressing

Hello from the mountains of Kentucky! We had a beautiful morning filled with a mix of rain and sunshine in the mountains today. I don’t mind the rain. I love an occasional rainy day, especially a rainy summer morning. For me, rainy days are a time to catch up on chores inside the house. Chores that I pushed aside to allow for time to maintain the outside can now be completed. Rainy days are also a welcomed change as they allow me extra time to do a little baking, grade student’s assignments, and try to squeeze in some time to read. I always appreciate and enjoy my quiet morning devotional reading and time spent meditating and talking to our Heavenly Father. My day always seems to be better, less stressful, and more appreciative after bible study and prayer.

I am an avid reader and enjoy the pages of a good novel anytime, but especially on rainy days like today. I am currently reading the fourth book in the Hunger Games series. It is truly a book worthy of reading! I may post a review of it when I finish it. If you’re a fan of this series, now is the time to delve deep into the pages and enjoy the continuing saga of the Hunger Games. As much as I enjoy spending time indoors catching up on work, household chores, reading and cooking…my love for the great outdoors always seems to lure me outside.

Before enjoying a brisk morning walk this morning, I enjoyed a small bowl of Silk non-Dairy vanilla yogurt with a mix of berries and walnuts with a slice of sprouted non-flour organic sprouted Ezekiel bread with a teaspoon of avocado plant butter. It was quite tasty with a sprinkle of ground flax seed and a drizzle of agave. Eating vegan doesn’t have to be boring or tasteless.

As I enjoyed my walk after breakfast this morning, I was reminded of how much I love early summer mornings outside! Our view of the mountains never grows old. The sounds of the creek flowing and the morning farm sounds are always a soothing and welcoming sound to my ears. The gentle cooing of the doves, the low rumble of thunder, birds singing from high in the trees, and the sounds of the farm are always satisfying, soothing, and comforting and a time of peace.

I always feel abundantly blessed on quiet morning walks. I feel especially blessed when walking after a morning rain. The earth is damp, the leaves glisten with drops of rain, and our small farm seems to come alive. I love to walk, meditate, and count my blessings, while also enjoy the sounds of life in the mountains, reminiscing, and enjoying the view.

The sounds of the hens cackling from their nests assures me that there will be at least a dozen or more fresh eggs by midday. Our latest addition to our farm are guinea’s. Our son gave them to us and they’ve earned their keep through their loud alerts of arriving guests and strangers. They’re a security system who also provides tiny eggs for our family and friends. This morning their calls let me know they were awake and on guard, while the roosters chimed in with their good-morning crows.

Two of our guinea’s enjoying picking a little green

There’s something about the sound of roosters crowing that take me back to my childhood growing up in the mountains. I found myself a bit teary eyed as I thought of my grandparents who have gone home, and of all the wonderful times we enjoyed with family while growing up. Times were simple then. Evenings were spent with family and friends porch sitting laughing, talking, and sharing the events of the day. I recall early summer mornings where we spent many happy hours wading in the creek, and warm summer nights that were filled with star-gazing and dreaming of our tomorrows. Those are memories that I will forever cherish and hold close to my heart. Walking this morning was one of those mornings. One flooded with a mix of emotions, memories, and also filled with gratitude.

Our garden in mid May.

The view of our garden was a satisfying sight this morning. Hard work pays off! We worked several long hours yesterday in the garden. It was a long evening of plowing, hoeing, planting, and also picking with family. Hard work, but also a time of making memories. The smell of the freshly plowed earth still lingered heavy in the air this morning. The scent of fresh plowed sod is one of my favorite scents in the morning along with the fragrance of the honey suckle blooms. Both of these fragrances transports me back to my childhood in the mountains. Yes, mountain life is the best life.

I hope your gardens are flourishing this year! Our labor is paying off with an abundance of cabbage, kale, lettuce, onions, zucchini, squash, and cucumbers so far. I am super excited to begin picking tomatoes, digging potatoes, and also picking beans and corn in upcoming weeks.

Even though our garden is doing well right now, gardening has been an unusual journey this year. First, with the bitter cold freezes that came in the early spring also came several evenings of covering each plant in hopes of preventing freezing, and uncovering the next morning. Then came the rain…boy, did it rain…a lot! The rain didn’t harm all of our garden, but wreaked havoc on our beans, which rotted in the ground. This resulted in plowing the beans under and replanting. I am happy to report that our second planting of beans are flourishing! We fenced the long rows of beans this week and the beautiful green bean vines are already climbing the tall fence lines. Our corn has been a challenge as well this year. We are are tending our third planting, which is finally doing well.

We are accustomed to battling and discouraging deer every year from getting in our garden. We won the battle with groundhogs eating our beans a few years ago, and crows pulling our corn up last year. However, this year we were faced with a new unexpected force that destroyed two entire crops of seed corn. Just as the corn reached two or three inches tall it would disappear. Chipmunks were the culprits this year. Who knew that those cute little creatures could destroy row after row after row of corn. They maybe cute, but they can be deadly on a corn crop. Through many creative efforts of soap, peppermint essential oils, moth balls, and many other creative methods…it appears we may have finally won the war with the furry little burrowers.

I am overjoyed with our herbs this year! They are flourishing as well. I’ve enjoyed harvesting basil, and peppermint several times already this year. I am currently drying both to add to the pantry. I plan to make peppermint tea from the medley of mints that are hanging in the drying room. I love the taste and the smell of all mints. My favorite has to be chocolate mint, which is a great addition to brownies, cookies, and makes a great tea all by itself. I purchased a new mint this year, which seems to be doing great. I’ve haven’t harvested any of it yet, in effort to let it get well-established first. I found strawberry mint! I am overly excited about the possibilities that this mint has. I admit, the leaves of the plant are quite tasty and very aromatic. Yes, I’m guilty. I nibble on my herb plants sometimes as I’m watering or pruning. My plans for this mint consist of tea, cookies, bread, and also a fresh berry salad with homemade strawberry salad dressing. It’s the simple things in life that makes me happy.

Speaking of fresh veggie and berry salad, I hope you’ll enjoy my new recipe for strawberry salad dressing. I apologize for neglecting to post my recipe for this refreshing and tasty salad dressing earlier. It’s been a crazy couple of weeks with the garden, grading, and teaching this summer. I hope you and your family enjoy this simple recipe as much as we do.

With warm weather, regardless if it’s raining or the sun is shining…also comes my usual craving for crisp summer salads. I love to experiment with the veggies and herbs from our garden, and also with fresh fruit. While cleaning the refrigerator out the other day, I realized it was time to do a refrigerator cleanup in my produce drawers. What better time to create a summer salad! While foraging through the crisper drawers, I discovered an abundance of fruits and veggies that were perfect for a tasty summer salad. I found a honey crisp apple, a few ripe strawberries, a few leftover blueberries, and score…blackberries that were more than ready to be used. I added a little bib lettuce from our garden, bits of baby kale, and some baby spinach, romaine, and iceberg lettuce. I included chopped cucumbers, green onions, tomatoes, cauliflower and purple broccoli.

Now, the veggies were ready to toss, but I wanted a crunch factor for the salad, so I tossed in a few toasted walnuts. I clipped some fresh basil, peppermint, spearmint, and a few chives and tossed them in the veggies. I can’t wait to include leaves from the strawberry mint plant in my next salad. I like to use a small pair of scissors to cut the fresh herbs into small strips, which prevents a lot of bruising on the tender leaves. I once again gently tossed the fruit, herbs, and veggies to ensure a bit of everything with each bite. What a visual and colorful bounty of beautiful deliciousness!

Crisp summer berry salad with homemade strawberry dressing. 

Finally, if you’re like me, a summer berry salad is not complete without a sweet dressing. So, I decided to create my own dressing. I hope you enjoy this sweet and savory dressing on your summer salads. It’s quick, easy, and takes only a few ingredients.

Ingredients:

1 cup organic chopped strawberries
3 tablespoons of organic extra virgin olive oil 
2 tablespoons of organic balsamic vinegar 
1 teaspoon organic strawberry jam (I prefer homemade)
1 teaspoon of organic agave
1 pinch of course black pepper

Process:

Wash, drain, and chop strawberries and add to the blender. Add the remaining ingredients and blend on medium-low until smooth. Pour into a container with a lid, and chill for about thirty minutes before drizzling over your salad.

How easy was that? I added this beautiful dressing to our summer salad last week, and it was a huge hit! With the addition of a few plant-based homemade croutons, the salad was complete and absolutely delicious.

Hint: Don’t neglect toasting the walnuts before adding them to the salad. It’s amazing how much the flavor is enhanced when toasting nuts of all kinds before adding them to your favorite recipes.

Finished product…a pint of delicious vegan strawberry salad dressing!

Garden tip: If your herbs are not as green, vibrant, or bushy as you would like for them to be, don’t neglect clipping and pruning your herbs. Clipping promotes new growth. Without regular clipping and pruning your herbs will become leggy and less bushy. 

For now, I’m off to enjoy a cup of camomile herbal tea and delve deep into the next chapter of my book!

God bless from the mountains of Kentucky. Stay safe, stay close to home, and stay positive during this time of uncertainty. Feel free to leave comments or ask questions. I always enjoy reading your comments.

Keeping All of Those Veggies Fresh!

It’s been quite some time since I last posted. I’ve been one busy professor, wife, grandmother, mother, etc. and all of the other hats that I wear. My apologies to my readers for neglecting you. However, I am back with good news! Yes, that’s right some good news. We can all use good news and a fresh break away from all of the negativity that floods our news, news feeds, and often our conversations. I like to be an uplifting and positive person who spreads cheer, hope, love, and joy as much as possible. So, today I am going to share something with you that sure brought a smile to my face, a little relaxation on my grocery budget, and also hope for all of you that love a plant-based diet and have a vast amount of veggies in your fridge!

For the majority of my adult life I have always been frustrated at how quickly the veggies in the refrigerator go bad. I was tired of throwing away peppers that had suddenly developed soft places, cucumbers that became soft and mushy, and mushrooms that were slimy. Yes, that’s right they get slimy. You know they do. All of this is especially true if you buy organic fruit and vegetables. Why, you may ask. It’s simple reasoning actually when you think about it. Organic produce hasn’t been genetically modified and are not full of unnatural preservatives. I did a little test a couple of months ago. I purchased a couple of non-organic bell peppers, which I must say was a hard thing for me to do, as I always use homegrown veggies, or organic vegetables from the grocery in off seasons. I also bought a couple organic bell peppers. I placed them both in the same vegetable bin and discovered that the organic peppers did not have the same shelf-life that the non-organic peppers had. As a matter of fact, the non-organic pepper is still in my vegetable drawer after three weeks and is still firm. Now, that was an eye opener. My analysis of the experiment is as follows; non-organic veggies last longer due to preservatives and being genetically modified, whereas organic veggies have a true shelf life because they are in their natural state, and haven’t been preserved in some manner. I also am a firm believer that organic produce is healthier and always tastes better. That’s my spill on organic produce. Now for the big reveal…

I have always been guilty of washing and drying my produce when I came home from the grocery store, and then proudly putting them in their appropriate bins in the fridge. They looked colorful and the bin was full with a lot of choices. However, the veggies just didn’t last very long. It was a struggle to either dehydrate, make stock, or try to use the veggies to prevent from throwing them away or feeding them to our farm animals. Now for the good news! What I discovered was this; when I bring produce home, I did not and I repeat, DID NOT wash it, but simply wrapped the beautiful veggies in a good quality white paper towel, the veggies had a longer fridge life! I prefer Viva paper towels as they are thicker and more absorbent.

The paper towel absorbs moisture that often collects on the produce and prevents it from spoiling as quickly. For those organic mushrooms that were always a chore to keep and or use before they went bad, I now simply line the paper bowl they come in, or use a natural basket with a white paper towel, empty the mushrooms in the container, and then cover them with another paper towel. It’s hard to believe, but I have kept organically grown mushrooms for up to three weeks this way. Now, that’s a big deal as the organic mushrooms never seemed to have a long shelf life and I was stopping several times during the week to buy more. Now, they stay dry, firm, and they don’t get slimy in a few days. They are also still fresh and delicious. Now, that is a bargain money saving tip or what?

Preparing to roll these beautiful baby cucumbers in white paper towel.

I house carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower the same way that I store my mushrooms. My vegetable drawer is not as colorful as it once was, but instead filled with odd shapes of vegetables wrapped in white paper towels. But, I know that two weeks after I put cucumbers away with each being individually wrapped, they’re still fresh and crisp!

I individually wrap each cucumber as I roll them into one big bundle. This prevents the cucumbers from touching and also ensures that the paper towels absorb the moisture from each cucumber. 

I love unwrapping vegetables and feeling the firmness of their skin, the freshness of their smell, and holding crisp firm veggies in my hands. I also love the freshness of vegetables while I am preparing them. The taste of the vegetables is still fantastic and their integrity is still top quality. One more advantage about this fabulous discovery is that the vegetable drawer remains dry and requires much less cleaning as opposed to just placing the veggies in the drawer. I know you know what I’m talking about. That veggie drawer can get nasty, but not with this really simple trick. It only takes a few minutes out of your time when putting your groceries away. It will save you a small bundle on your groceries at the register and allow you to have quality vegetables available for all of those wonderful plant-based recipes that you love cooking! Oh, I didn’t mention how delicious, fresh, and crisp that salads are after wrapping the veggies!

I hope you enjoy this wonderful bit of information and find it as useful as I did! Feel free to follow my blog, leave feedback, or comments. I look forward to posting an upcoming new favorite go to plant based soup that I am totally loving right now! I am excited for you to try my recipe for Three Bean Mexican Soup! For now, God bless, happy eating, and remember to always eat fresh and organic when possible. Until the next post God bless from the mountains of Kentucky!

Nanny’s Clean Vegan Potato Soup

My walking path this morning. The beautiful fall foliage surrounds us in the mountains of Kentucky!

It’s been a while since I last posted. Life on campus get’s really hectic during the fall semester, but it’s a hectic time that I enjoy. I also truly enjoy walking in the crisp fall air. As I walked this morning I was reminded just how beautiful the mountains of Kentucky are this time of year. There’s no need to travel far to look at the fall foliage as the foliage is all around us. The trees are alive with brilliant colors that remind me of my youth and my grandmother’s patchwork quilts.

With a chill stinging my cheeks, and leaves swirling through the air, memories flooded my being as did the craving for rich hot coffee, spicy pumpkin bread, and warm savory potato soup. My thoughts drifted to the chilly fall days of my youth in the mountains. A faint smell of the smoke rising from the neighbor’s chimney enticed me and saddened me as I recalled the smell of coal and wood burning in fireplaces and heating stoves that filled the evening air when I was a child. How I loved that smell. It reminded me I was home, safe, warm, and with a family that loved me. I loved the simple days of my youth. The days seemed much longer than they do today, neighbors were more than just acquaintances, they were friends that could depend on each other, that visited each other, and that knew each other. It was a time when supper was enjoyed by the entire family, together at the dinner table. Where cornbread, soup beans, fried potatoes, and sour kraut were enjoyed by all. It was a time when days seemed to last forever and days when my mom would make delicious soups that helped take the evening chill off. Tears stung the corners of my eyes as I walked and reminisced about the memories of my youth, memories that I will forever cherish in my heart.

Now, for that soup to warm my bones! I hope you enjoy Nanny’s Best Potato Soup as much as my family does.

Rich and savory potato soup. This one’s a family favorite! 

Ingredients:

8-10 large potatoes
1/2 large yellow sweet onion
Cup of baby organic carrots
1 tbs of cornstarch
salt
black pepper
1 tbs plant butter of choice
3/4 box of organic vegetable broth
1/2 cup of Unsweetened almond milk
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

Process:

Wash, peel, and cube potatoes and put in stock pot of warm water. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and cook potatoes, but do not overcook. Wash and grate baby carrots into the pot of potatoes. Take potatoes off heat when you can pierce with a fork with ease.

Heat remaining olive oil and plant butter in a skillet. Dice onions and add to oil and butter mixture. Saute until onions are translucent, salt and pepper to preference. Slowly add cornstarch to onions stirring the entire time. Add half of the vegetable broth and stir to create a thickener for the soup.

Drain potatoes leaving only a little of the starchy water and add the onion mixture to the potatoes, stir and add additional vegetable broth. Return the soup to a very low heat. Once the soup has warmed through slowly add the milk/cream while stirring. Add additional salt and pepper if needed and simmer for about ten minutes on low, then reduce heat to keep the soup warm. You may add additional broth if your soup is thicker than you would like for it to be.

Optional: You may add shredded vegan cheese. I like to add dried parsley to my soup to add a little color and another layer of flavor. My family enjoys hot cornbread with this soup. It’s delicious on its own!

Each time I serve up heaping bowls of this rich and savory potato soup, I am reminded of days gone by. The older I get, the more I realize how quickly time seems to pass. I also realize how important family, culture, and tradition is to the present time. If we don’t pass our favorite recipes to the next generation, they will lay and become dormant, and eventually are forgotten.

Good food, family, laughter, reflection, and fellowship has always been a tradition in the mountains and with our family. I want to carry on that tradition as well as pass on our favorite recipes to allow you to create your own family favorites, and your own family memories.

Making this potato soup helps me to hold on a little tighter to those wonderful days of growing up in the beautiful mountains of Kentucky. I hope this soup will be among your families favorites. Feel free to leave comments or questions. I enjoy hearing from each of you. For now, God bless from the mountains of Kentucky!

Vegan Chocolate Chip Coconut Protein Bites

Hello from the mountains of Kentucky! Has your week been as busy as mine? It’s that time of year again! Time to can, preserve, dehydrate, and freeze all the wonderful veggies, fruit, and herbs that the Lord has so graciously blessed us with. As busy as it can get, I still love this time of year!

Canning in the last days of summer reminds me of the hot summer days of my youth when helped with the canning each year. It also reminds me that summer vacation is quickly coming to an end and a new academic year is about to begin. Where did summer vacation go? Seems we were planting our garden only a few weeks ago and now we’re harvesting and the fall semester begins next week!

Eight of the 21 quarts of tomato juice we’ve canned so far this year. 

Eight of the forty-two jars of green beans we canned this week.

With all that being said, even with all of of the hard work picking and canning, I did have a little time to work on a new recipe that I think you’re going to enjoy! My family is in agreement…this recipe is a keeper! It’s easy to make, requires no cooking, very versatile, sweet, satisfying and really tasty! But, best of all, it’s clean, healthy, and vegan! I hope you enjoy my vegan chocolate chip coconut protein bites as much as we do!

Ingredients;

10 Whole pitted dates (I prefer medjool dates)

2 tablespoons of Organic or non GMO peanut butter

1 scoop preferred plant protein powder (this ingredient is optional)

1 cup organic gluten free oats

1 tablespoon organic chia seeds

1 teaspoon ground flax seed (optional)

1/2 cup organic vegan dark chocolate chips

1cup organic shredded unsweetened coconut

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup (I have substituted Walden’s Chocolate syrup for a more of a chocolate taste and also less sugar)

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Process:

Put all of the ingredients in a food processor or a ninja reserving the chocolate chips and half of the shredded coconut. Process until blended well and forms a dough. Add chocolate chips and pulse a few times until chips are incorporated but not completely ground up.

Roll dough mixture into preferred size balls or you may press the mixture in a pan lined with parchment paper for protein bars. Roll the protein balls in shredded coconut and chill for at least an hour or place in the freezer for thirty minutes to eat sooner. The longer these bites chill the better they are!

My choice of preferred dates! They’re delicious right out of the box!

You can change these delicious bites up by melting a few of the vegan chocolate chips and drizzling the melted chocolate over the protein balls. You can also substitute almond butter for the peanut butter. They’re delicious either way! They keep in the fridge in a sealed plastic container or zip lock bag. I have found that they keep their shape in my lunchbox chilled with blue ice and they make a great midday snack!

Delicious peanut butte coconut protein balls!

I have modified this recipe a few times and added coco powder for a deep chocolate taste. I’ve added cinnamon, different flavored protein powders, added craisins, and different flavored Walden’s syrups. Either way, they’re delicious and powerful protein snack. I have to say the recipe above is my favorites as well as my family’s favorite! FYI: If your dough feels sticky you can add a few more oats to make the consistency more dry and easier to handle.

Protein balls with drizzled melted chocolate.

For now, I’m off to grade a few more assignments for the students in my summer course…yes, I even teach during summer vacation, but just one or two classes. I hope you enjoy these delicious protein balls. I’d love to hear from you and maybe your modified version.

If you’re interested in my canning recipes for homemade tomato juice or canning green beans, check out the following links to the recipes that I have used year after year.

Canning Green Beans the Time-Tested Way

Canning Tomato Juice the Easy Way!

God bless from the mountains of Kentucky! Remember, it’s never too late to begin your journey to a healthier and happier you!

Making Memories in the Mountains…

Hello from the mountains of Kentucky! We’ve had a couple of beautiful fall-like days in Appalachia. It almost feels like fall with temperatures in the upper seventies! I’m not complaining, this is perfect weather for outdoor activities, porch sitting, and for picking and canning beans.

Fourteen quarts of green beans picked and canned this morning!

I enjoyed the morning yesterday with our oldest granddaughter working up beans that we had picked from the garden. It was a memorable morning for both of us. We enjoyed small talk, reflecting on different things going on our lives, sharing fun-filled memories, and also our dreams and some of our future plans. I love days like this. It reminds me of my days as a young girl sitting on the front porch of my mamaw’s little grocery store. We would string green beans to hang dry for shuck beans, or as some prefer to call them, leather britches. We also sat countless hours breaking freshly picked beans for canning. These were experiences that helped mold me into who I am today and memories that I will forever cherish.

Rows of vining beans on fence from our garden last year.

As we sat working up the beans yesterday, i couldn’t help but allow my mind to drift back to a much simpler time…a time when days seemed to be forever long, summer vacations were the best, hard work was appreciated, porch sitting was welcomed, and families actually talked to each other… face to face! Those were the days prior to personal technology (AKA cell phones) and also days that make me long for those simpler times! I recall sitting for hours on the old bus seat or wooden ladder-back chairs helping my mamaw work up her beans. I never remember saying I was bored or complaining about helping. I enjoyed helping and also working the produce from our garden, even as a kid.

I loved spending time with my mamaw, and also hearing the stories of her youth, and when her kids were growing up. She would talk about the importance of putting away/canning enough food for winter and for what she called, hard-times.

I also thought about the days we spent on our back porch with our mom working in freshly picked cabbage. She would divide the big heads of white cabbage and place a half in a large bowl for me to chop. I loved having the job of chopping cabbage with the sterilized open ring of the empty cream can, and then gradually graduating to using a grater, only after she was sure I wouldn’t lose a knuckle.

I worked along side my mom as she would fill the sterilized jars with beautiful white shredded cabbage to be pickled into delicious sour kraut. We enjoyed the fresh kraut immensely with soup beans, AkA pinto beans. The heat from working outside didn’t bother us or deter us from our mission whether it was work or play. We were not accustomed to air conditioning and often went outside to seek refuge from the heat inside our house. Some of my fondest memories of summer and summer vacation are playing outside, playing hide and seek in our papaw’s corn field, making club houses in the barn, and playing in the creek. Regardless the heat index or what the thermometer read, we enjoyed playing and having fun outside!

Our youngest grandson running through the rows of young corn.

I can also remember as a kid pondering on the words that I had heard my mom and both grandparents speak of. Hard-times, I wondered what they were, when they would arrive, and why would canning hundreds of jars of beans, cabbage, and corn help us when hard-times arrived. I thought canning, drying, and preserving was just something that everyone did, what we were supposed to do.

I didn’t realize that many times in my youth we were actually living in those hard-times that my mamaw and papaw spoke about. We always had plenty to eat, a full root cellar or pantry of canned goods, which included fried apples, peaches, beans, corn, jams, apple butter and more. Today, I am thankful that I learned from my mom and grandparents how to garden, can, preserve, and how to plan for and also to survive and make it through real-life hard-times.

I recall in our youth, and in our own children’s youth relying on our pantry of dried beans, canned beans, baskets of potatoes we dug from our garden, corn from the freezer, and many other goodies we put away. I learned early on in our marriage that when the primary source of income comes from coal mining, pink slips and lay offs were inevitable. Unfortunately, we also learned that unemployment insurance barely met the bills. This was when I truly learned that having a well-stocked pantry of preserved and canned food helped families to survive those real-life hard-times.

Our garden early in early spring.

But, more than anything, I learned from my mom, grandparents, and experience that God will always provide, and He honors hard work. I’ve also learned that planting and working the garden as a family creates many cherished memories, provides nourishing healthy food for our entire family, supplements the weekly grocery bill, and also ensures that an Appalachian tradition of gardening and preserving is still handed down from generation to generation and remains a way of life.

Our oldest grandson hoeing young tomatoes in late spring.

I hope you have enjoyed my Appalachian memory and a small part of my heritage. Feel free to leave feedback. I enjoy hearing from my readers. For now, God bless from the mountains of Kentucky!