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!!!

Canning Savory Indian Relish

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

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

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

Process: Day One:

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

Day Two:

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

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

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

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

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

A Busy Day in the Mountains

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spicy Kosher Pickles

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

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

Air Fryer Baked Blueberry Oatmeal

Hello from the mountains of Kentucky!! It’s been a while since I’ve posted. It’s been a busy semester with lots of changes and some exciting news. I’ve just finished writing a lab workbook that aligns with the textbook I wrote in 2019. It should be on the market by the end of summer.

We’ve also been working hard to get our garden planted this spring. With all the rain and some vital equipment breaking down, it’s been a journey. But, we’re in the home stretch! Now comes the hard work, but also the wonderful rewards of fresh veggies!!

Delicious baked blueberry oatmeal

I’m anxious to share one of my favorite breakfasts with you! Baked oatmeal… but not traditional baked oatmeal. I stumbled upon this delicious and very easy recipe while experimenting with ingredients and on the search for something delicious, filling, vegan, and healthy!

I like Quaker Oats because they’re Non GMO

Ingredients include:

1 tsp organic cinnamon

1/2 cup old fashioned oatmeal

1 scoop organic vanilla protein powder

1 tsp organic ground flax

1/2 tsp organic chia seeds

1 tbs organic smooth peanut butter or preferred nut butter

1 tsp baking powder

1 tbs organic raw agave or honey

A splash of plant milk (I prefer almond milk)

1/2 cup organic blueberries

My favorite plant-based protein powder!
Add dry ingredients first and mix before adding moist ingredients.

Process:

Before you begin mixing, preheat the air fryer for five minutes. My air fryer doesn’t have a temperature gage, but would assume a moderate temperature would work. Mix all the dry ingredients. Then one by one add the most ingredients. Wash the blueberries and add them as the last ingredient. I like to mash some of the blueberries for extra flavor. The mixture will look similar to a thick cookie dough.

Mixture after mixing all ingredients

Don’t worry about having a big fancy air fryer! my larger air fryer is actually taking up space in the basement! I love this small air fryer for individual servings and servings for two! It works just as well and easier to store away when finished. Empty the mixed ingredients in the pre-heated air fryer. I alway form mine into a larger patty and bake for ten minutes. Check oatmeal at the half way mark as all air fryers vary in baking time. When the oatmeal is browned to your preference, empty the oatmeal in a plate and flake the oatmeal up with a fork. I like to add a drizzle of organic maple syrup over my oats, but that’s just my preference. I also like some type of fresh fruit on the side.

A small air fryer works well for this dish!

There’s something delicious that happens when the peanut butter and protein powder bake together. The berries are tender and burst in your mouth! This is honestly more like a dessert fruit crumble than breakfast. I’ve made this with pumpkin instead of fruit and it’s quite awesome! check out the plate! This was a recent thrift find. I automatically grabbed it when I saw it. It is identified to the plates that my mom used when we were growing up. I enjoy reflecting on the meals she prepared while eating. It’s now my favorite breakfast plate.

One of my favorite breakfasts!

I hope you enjoy this delicious, quick, easy, plant based breakfast. Feel free to leave a comment or share your version of air fried baked oatmeal. For now, God bless from the mountains of Kentucky!

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!

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!

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.

Organic Vegan Apple Tea Bread

Good Evening from the mountains of Kentucky! We’ve been blessed with a beautiful sunny day in Appalachia today! We had ideal weather this morning for working in the flower and herb gardens. There’s something special about spending a little time on a peaceful, cool morning outside that transports me back to my days of youth.

Beautiful June morning in the mountains of Kentucky.

While working in my herbs with the scent of the morning dew still lingering on the soil and in the air, I enjoyed recalling early mornings from many years ago. Oh, how I loved going out and setting on the porch in the early morning hours with my mom. Mommy, always enjoyed her weekend coffee on the front porch enjoying her beautiful flowers. I can still recall the wonderful aroma from her rich black coffee that filled the morning air. It was a warm and inviting time. Early mornings on the porch was a peaceful refuge then… and remains a peaceful place for me today.

I love the peaceful tranquility of the soothing sounds of the water from the creek flowing over the smooth time-worn stones. Early mornings on the porch is also a favorite time for me to catch up on a little reading, reflect on days gone by, plan for the days ahead, work on a writing project, and also a time to slow down and savor the beauty of our mountains.

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Our blooms attract an abundance of butterflies. I love to sit quietly and watch them. Our garden loves them too!
I love to watch the colorful butterflies enjoying the blooms of our flowers.

Today was one of those days, but it was also an exciting day. It was the first day that our local farmer’s market has opened since last summer. Typically we would’ve already made a few visits, but due to COVID-19 most businesses have experienced delayed openings, including our farmer’s market, which made opening day even more special. The crowd was at a minimum today, but the market wasn’t short on delicious produce, homemade sweet treats, savory items, fresh-baked bread, a variety of vegetables for planting, and even a local author. The crowd filtered in and out throughout the time my daughter and I browsed the market. It was a wonderful morning with some great people.

I was happy to see a few familiar faces and also happy to meet a few new people. Conversations were interesting as there were so many of the vendors who had similar interests as I do. After discussing natural fertilizer, methods of promoting growth in herb gardens, and our favorite teas, we left with a wide variety of wonderful items. My favorite was a packet of homemade Holy Basil Chai tea. I’ve already enjoyed a hot cup of the tea and a cup of it on ice, which was amazing as well. Her delicious homemade tea was delicious either way.

Something that I’ve noticed over the years is that I have come to enjoy the pleasures of a wide-variety of herbal teas. I love the spicy taste of red chai tea, the flavors of rich dandelion tea, relaxing lavender tea, and so many other flavors. I also find so much enjoyment in experimenting and creating different flavored teas from the herbs in my own herb garden. I find it satisfying to sew seeds or plant herbs, nurture them, delicately prune them, and especially taking time to smell their wonderful diverse fragrances. My daughter and I agree that evening tea is similar to evening coffee….they’re both great with a sweet treat!

Two of the latest additions to our little farm family.

As you know, I enjoy creating new recipes of all kinds. But, there’s something about summer that makes me want to bake sweet treats! The other day while I was enjoying the rich flavor of a vanilla chai tea, I began to think about how a delicious sweet bread would be great to eat with my tea. I thought about my Mamaw’s apple pies, and all their deliciousness. Soon I was thinking about a clean vegan apple bread, an apple tea bread, a sweet bread that would be a tasty addition to tea, or coffee! I mulled the idea over, for a few days, jotted down a few notes, and then began to experiment, which is one of my families favorites. They are my taste testers and enjoy sampling and giving their opinions about my new recipes! After a few tries, I finally found just the right amount and mix of ingredients to satisfy my palette, as well as my husband’s. This is one of his new all-time favorite breads! I am super anxious for you to try my Vegan Apple Tea Bread with your evening coffee or evening tea, and also happy to hear your comments.

Ingredients include:

2 cups all purpose whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cardamon 
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 cup of monk fruit to replace sugar
1/2 cup organic brown sugar
1 cup of chopped walnuts
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 pound of diced Granny Smith apples
1 cup unrefined coconut oil
Zest of one Meyer lemon
Juice of one Meyer lemon
3 eggs for non-vegan (I use Nice Egg an egg substitute)
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
Drizzle of organic agave

For the drizzle you will need;
1/2 cup organic confectioner sugar
1/4 cup brewed Apple cinnamon tea cooled
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Process:

Mix all of the dry ingredients and spices, add walnuts and peeled diced apples. Prepare the egg substitute and set aside. Cream brown sugar, monk fruit, coconut oil, vanilla and egg substitute in a separate bowl. Gently combine wet ingredients and dry ingredients and fold in remaining ingredients. Don’t worry if the mixture seems to be too thick, trust me it will bake just as it should! 

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a bundt pan with organic cooking spray. I like to use an ice cream scoop to scoop the mixture into the pan. Don’t press the mixture as the airy pockets between the scoops will make the bread even better than you can imagine. Drizzle the top of your bread dough with a light drizzle of organic agave, place on the bottom rack in the pre-heated oven, set the timer for 45-48 minutes, and get ready for a delicious aroma to fill your kitchen! While your bread is baking brew your apple cinnamon tea and allow it to cool. Once the tea is cooled add the sifted powdered sugar and vanilla to the tea and whisk. Place in the fridge to help it setup.

Test bread at 45 minutes with a toothpick. If the toothpick comes out clean remove from the oven and allow it to cool before turning it onto a plate. If the bread is still a bit wet, bake for three to five more minutes as oven temperatures will vary. Once the bread is baked and cooled, turn it out onto a plate and drizzle the glaze over the bread and allow the glaze to flow down the sides. Now, all that’s left to do is…slice your bread and enjoy!!!

Vegan Apple Tea Bread

I hope your family loves this Apple Tea Bread as much as my family does. Feel free to leave a comment. I love to hear from my followers. For this evening, I’ll say so long and God bless from the beautiful mountains of Kentucky! Remember that faith overcomes fear! Happy baking!

I love the veggie blooms as much as the flower blooms!

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!