Wednesday, December 15, 2021

How to Create a Perpetual Fridge-Full-of-Food!

Have you ever gazed at those Refrigerator advertisements vintage or modern and wondered if you could fit that much food in your fridge? You know the photos; there is usually a Roast or two, a cake, fancy cups of pudding or parfaits, a beautiful fruit gelatin ring as well as a bowl of salad, a bowl of fresh fruit a boat of gravy or dressing along with the usual coke bottles, eggs, milk and juice bottles? Not to mention produce drawers packed to the brim... Sigh. Just me? Okay, but I'm sure I'm not the only one who was wishing I could have more ready-to-eat healthy food in my fridge, even for a party!
I have struggled to keep fresh ready to eat food in my fridge ever since I left home for college. Wouldn't it be nice to just open the fridge, warm or chop a few things and have a nice full meal within a few minutes.
After staring at dozens of these Refrigerator advertisements for several days, I had a light-bulb turn on in my brain. What if I always made sure there was food ready to eat in my fridge, not just ingredients, but already prepared food. (I'm not talking about ready-made prepackaged preserved substances that grace the groceries isles.) If I always had a bowl of washed fresh fruit in my refrigerator, why wouldn't my family and I be more likely to eat it for lunch or as a snack. Likewise, if I were to always prepare vegetable tray items such as celery and carrot sticks, green onions and sliced peppers, wouldn't I be more likely to add it to my lunch or throw together a snack? A few more items would easily keep a few days and allow for easy meal options. First I noted what kind of foods could be cooked or prepared and last several days in the refrigerator and still be good to eat. Next I thought about the versatility of such foods and soon I came to realize not too shockingly that most of the foods in these vintage advertisements were smart things to have in refrigerators at any given time.
As for the bowl of salad, well that could be easily put together after lunch clean-up and be just ready for dinner so that one would not have to scramble to add a salad to the main course while one was cooking it. All that chopping could and should be done ahead of time so that dinner really could be on the table when the main bread-winner returned home famished. What a delight to come home wash hands and sit down to eat a well rounded meal with a family that is not hurried or stressed, but comfortable and happy to see you. I understand both sides of this equation and I feel very certain, this is the a great way to run things smoothly. The more I learn the more I realize my Grandmother and Great-grandmother were not naive about this part of life at all, but I and my mother (as many others) have been. Because I didn't learn to efficiently run a home, because I thought I didn't need to do things the old-fashioned way, I have had to struggle along and learn it on the job. Trial and error of a craft that was organized long before I was ever born, what a waste.
Well all that to say, I figured out I should start shopping for what I wanted to have ready to eat in my fridge, instead of just getting ingredients I knew I could cook into a meal.
By doing this, I have a perpetual gocery list I can quickly see what needs to be replenished and be on to the shops in minutes. I no longer have to meal plan because I can put together whatever we feel like eating with little forethought, because the forethought has been systemized and streamlined!
Here is the list I came up with, of course, yours may be different since everyone's diet is personal.
#1 Eggs. Hard boiled eggs can be peeled and kept submerged in water for several days without spoil. I peel them because I am more likely to eat them that way instead of letting them go to waste. I also keep them in a clear jar in the front so my son can see an easy snack right away. Hard boiled eggs can be made into egg salad sandwiches especially nice on fresh baked dinner rolls, they can be made into devilled eggs for a nice side for lunch or a snack. The hard boiled eggs may also be quartered and added to a salad (love me some cobb salad!), or just eaten whole with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
#2 Vegetables. Duh, right? But if I buy vegetables I want to get ones I can keep in the freezer until dinner-time or lunch (novel idea) and steam in a few minutes. In addition; I want to get vegetables I like to eat fresh, like what I would find on a vegetable tray to munch on. So I can buy celery and carrots and immediately wash and cut them into sticks when I get home. I stand them on end in jars with water to keep them crisp and they will easily keep a week or two. Peppers are different, but I will still wash and slice them so they are ready to eat for the next few days. Likewise I can slice a large onion and keep it all week and us it as I need it on sandwiches or in main dishes. This also cuts back on prep time later because I can easily grab a handful of this and that and dice them into soups, salads, stir-fries and casseroles. It becomes easy to add more vegetables to just about anything.
#3 Fruit. I can have a drawer full of fruit and not touch it for weeks, but if it is washed and ready to eat I will grab it day after day. If I put washed and dried apples, pears, grapes and what-have-you in a bowl, I can easily pull it out and put it on the table to entice everyone at any meal! Not to mention add to the landscape. Bowls of fresh berries, cherries, chunked watermelon or pineapple in season have the same value. 
#4 Lettuce or Greens. I know you can make a salad without lettuces, but I don't really like to. So when I get home from the market I can chop and  submerge lettuce in water for ten minutes, drain, dry and keep it in a glass container for a week or two... or three if I'm lucky. Likewise a quick dressing should be made right away to go with it so that even if you have nothing else but greens your salad will taste delicious.
My favorite vinegrette recipe is one my mother taught me.
Equal parts Balsamic Vinegar and fresh squeezed Orange Juice, add the zest of said Orange. Maybe a tsp of brown sugar, or not- just as you like. So yummy.
Easily done and now it is easy to throw together a side salad even if all you have is lettuce and dressing. (Dried Cranberries, Cherries, or blueberries and a little cheese and nuts is nice to have in the pantry and fridge in these emergencies.)
#5 Cheese. One you can cube and snack on, or put on a charcuterie board.- I like Gouda. A few you can shred and put on anything (mac and cheese, top carreroles make pizza.)- I like Cheddar, Parmesan and Mozzarella. One or two you can slice or buy sliced for sandwiches.- I like Cheddar, Havarti or Swiss. 
#6 Roasted Meat or Alternative. Whether it's beef, chicken or ham it can always provide some protein to whatever you are eating. Add it to stir-fry, soup, salad, sandwiches, charcuterie, snacks casseroles, it will keep for only a few days so freeze whatever you can’t eat in that time for up to a month. It cuts back so much time to have meat already cooked and ready to eat. This is an art I am working on mastering.
A few neccessary pantry staples to compliment your fridge would be Pasta, Rice, Potatoes, Olives, Nuts, Dried Fruit and baking supplies.
Then a meal can be made in about 20 minutes which is just the amount of time it takes to cook rice, potatoes or dinner rolls. (Especially if you made up the bread dough at lunch.) I like to make up my own Biscuit, Cornbread, Pancake and Pie mixes. Homemade mixes come together quickly in jars I keep in the cupboard so it takes care of measuring time when I want to quickly add a baked good to a meal. I just add butter, milk, eggs or water and mix it up and bake it quickly. I can mix these up on a weekend measuring them all out at once and cleaning up one time.
When thinking in these terms it is also a snap to make a grocery list after a quick inventory of fridge and cupboard.
Juice and other beverages
Eggs (some to boil and some to cook with)
Cheese (to shred, slice and cube)
Butter and/or Oil
Vegetables (to cook and some for a tray)
Salad Greens
Rice and Beans
Fruit (for a bowl, salads and/or pie)
Meat (something to slice and special cuts for dinners.)
Bacon or Sausage for large breakfasts
Nuts, Seeds and Dried Fruits (for snacking and baking)
Crackers or Chips (unless you bake them)
Olives or Pickles
Baking Supplies (flour, sugar, salt, yeast, baking soda, etc.)
Special items for planned recipes or Condiments

If I keep a running inventory of these things as well as soaps, paper goods, garbage can liners, batteries, lightbulbs and other consumable household items. With this kind of organization, I only have to shop every two weeks, there is always something to eat when I look in the fridge and I have more time to keep the house clean and orderly as well!

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Homemade Lunches 'Look Book'

Turkey and Vegetable Wrap with Stone Ground Mustard
Koyo Ramen with Ham, Boiled Egg and Green Onions
BBQ Sandwiches with Red Onions, Homemade Coleslaw and Bubbies Pickles
Grilled Cheese, Kale Chips and Homemade Tomato Soup
Mini Sausage Stir-fry with Gochujang
Homemade Chicken Salad Sandwiches and Watermelon
Kimchi Fried Rice with Boiled Egg and Seaweed

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Homemade Dinners/Suppers 'Look Book'

Corned Beef and Cabbage Stew
Chicken Pot Pie
Taco Salad with Limeade
Sloppy Joes with Coleslaw on Sourdough Toast
Sausage Pizza
Chicken Curry with Rice, Tzatziki and Crispy Chickpeas
Korean Hot Wings with Marinated Spinach and White Rice
Chicken Soup
Hamburger Gravy, Mashed Potatoes, Candied Carrots, Salad and Homemade Dressing

Pre-preping Vegetables

I find it so helpful to prep vegatables as soon as I bring them home from the market (ideally). If I can't prep them right away, I usually make it a priority for the next day. The reason is, if the vegetables are ready to eat, I am more likely to do so instead of letting them go to waste because I'm too tired to prep them. It also keeps me from looking for packages of junk foods. 
I know it can sound like a lot of work and the vegetables will just go to waste anyway if they are cut up right? Well, it depends, I have found a few ways to prep common vegetables that even extends their fridge-life! I want to share these tips, because we all know we need to eat more vegetables right, but I feel like we have forgotten how to add them to our diets.
I like to have fresh vegetable tray items ready to go in the fridge, and it's so much cheaper and fresher if we DIY these items. If you store them with the following methods, the vegetables store longer, can be eaten right away or chopped faster for recipes. 
For Celery:
Before washing, chop both ends off and remove the heart so that only the edible part remains.
Soak the spears for about 5 minutes. If the dirt does not wash off at this point go ahead and scrub off the remaining dirt.
These size spears fit nicely into a pint and a half mason jar and I can always fill two jars with one bunch of celery. 
Pour one cup of filtered water into each jar and fill with bottom of the stalks at the bottom. These will last up to 3 weeks this way!
For Carrots:
Scrub dirt from carrots stalks. Cut off both ends of carrots and cut each in half width-wise and then length-wise until each half carrot has been quartered.
Pour half a cup of water into 1-2 pint size jars. Place carrot sticks into wide-mouth pint jars standing on end. Carrot sticks will last for two weeks in my refrigerator stored this way!
For Green Onions (or Spring Onions):
Remove any limp, brown or slimy layer.
Wash onions.
Cut off any wimpy green ends and the roots.
Slice part of the white end and part of the green until a length of onion remains that will fit in a pintand a half jar.
Pour half a cup of filtered water into jar and add the length of green onions.
These will last two weeks in my fridge.
Place the presliced green onions in a half pint jar and use within the week!
For Radishes:
Remove rubber band and soak the whole radishes for ten minutes, stirring with your hand to remove dirt.
Pull off the green leaves at the radish leaving a bit of green stem. 
Store radishes in a glass container with a paper towel in the bottom and a loose lid. They will last up to 2 weeks in my fridge this way.
Dry radish leaves and eat quickly in a sandwich or wrap for lunch or sautee with butter for a green side at dinner!
Radish leaves have a delightful green and peppery flavor that go great with beans, chicken or turkey and other vegetables. Try it with meatloaf!

For Lettuces:
Chop unwashed lettuce about an inch in length and then soak it in filtered water for ten minutes. (If lettuce becomes wilted in the fridge, this method will also crisp it up again.) Stir the lettuce in the water with a hand now and then to make sure any dirt will wash off. I use a salad spinner and a towel afterwards to dry the chopped leaves and place in a glass container with a paper towel in the bottom and a plastic lid on top. This method for storing lettuce keeps the lettuce fresh and ready to eat for up to a month! I have used half gallon jars with the same success.
Another way to ensure you eat your salad greens, is to prepare a good dressing right away. Then, if you have nothing else, you can always have lettuce and dressing as a side for meals.
I also like to quarter and slice a red onion and store in a pint jar for one to two weeks. This makes it so much easier to thow together a salad, sandwich or cook a soup. Just grab a few carrots and celery to chop, you can easily add them with the sliced onions to soups, stir-fries or roasts.
Doesn't that look beautiful? Fresh vegetables ready to eat, no chopping or washing left to do! Now store them in your fridge where you can see them and eat them up! Wishing you good health and easy cooking!

Friday, February 5, 2021

Keeping up with the Dishes

I think it is about time I shared my new system for keeping my dishes washed and my kitchen clean. For a few months now I have experienced great success and I feel so thrilled that I just have to share with everyone I know!
Of course, I have to tell my story so you can see the full value of my discovery right?
To begin with; when I was growing up, we did not have a dishwasher. All the kids in my family took turns washing the dishes as soon as the youngest was old enough to participate. The dishes would pile up all day and then some time after dinner, one unfortunate soul would stand for at least an hour, elbow deep in scalding pungent water until our hands were numb. We scrubbed at every dish with a rag until the dried-on-mess-from-a-family-of-seven would submit. My mom made every meal, snack and dessert from scratch, by the way. 
I remember the powerful odor of the dishsoap and how it gave me a rash and made me itch while the hot water stung my skin. I gritted my teeth, my clothes becoming soaked with every dish that plunged into the water.
My parents had no idea that anyone could be allergic to dishsoap, or that any cries of despair could be anything but laziness. (Just to clarify, my parents were both caring and loving.) My point is, this was not a good first impression to washing dishes (or housekeeping for that matter) and I grew to dread the activity altogether. I'm sure many people can relate to my story.
When I left home, at least there were fewer dishes to wash, but then there were roomates and I am not going to go into detail what kind of problems ensued. Then I was married and there was usually a dishwasher I learned to use, but the struggle continued because it took so long to fill the dishwasher and it didn't do so well getting crusty bits off. So, I would scrape and rinse all the dishes so the dishwasher could get them "clean". The problem is that rinsing and scraping isn't far off of washing by hand and I would frequently fall behind. The dirty dishes would pile up as I avoided the misery that was-washing dishes.
I felt stressed and bogged down by the never-ending chore that no one wanted to help me with. For a short time I sold kitchen tools and soon came to understand what every man who values tools knows, using the right tool for the job gets it done faster and with less effort so you have energy and patience to get more done. I learned how to work smarter to get good healthy food on the table. With this new understanding I thought, surely this applies to cleaning as well, and I went on to find cleaning tools that made my housework easier. This took several years and I tried to utilize the dishwasher, but I kept falling into the same avoidance issues and still felt unhappy and stressed all the time about it.
I looked for better dish washing tools, but I didn't really know what to look for, so much trial and error followed.
One day I was watching an episode of I Love Lucy which included a scene where Lucy was washing dishes. The process was a little different and intrigued me since,  I had been applying the wisdom of older generations in my cleaning routine with great success. Lucy plucked a dish from a sink full of steaming water wet a miniature mop, scrub a block of soap with it, scrub the dish with the mop, rinse the dish and put it in the drainer. A light went on in my brain. I remembered a girl I worked with at Dairy Queen who was an amazing dishwasher. I asked her what her secret was and I watched her, but as far as I could tell at the time, she didn't do anything so differently than I did! It was frustrating. What I didn't realize was, she soaked the dirty dishes in scalding water first and didn't scrub the dishes under the water as I did.
I could see the dish mop Lucy used gave her 360 mobility instead or the brushes I was used to, which only give about 90 degrees mobility. I decided to look for a dishmop. I also decided to try using a bar of soap after reading an article about how women used to use a bar of soap to wash everything back in the day, before all the household cleaners were invented! At first I used an unscented Dr. Bronner's Bar and it worked! I started to notice a bit of a film on my dishes and as I researched soap making I realized that the Dr. Bronner's bar I was using was made for skin and had a moisturing amount of oil in it that was coating my dishes. Just at that time, I discovered through MightyNest, a solid dishsoap block and I immediately ordered the unscented block. I have been using it for 3.5 years now and never plan on going back to liquid. I do keep a bottle of unscented liquid dishsoap for the sole purpose of cleaning my blender (it has a heated self-cleaning function.) 
Not long after finding my dishsoap bar, I found my dish mop! At first I was considering the kind of mop used to paint barbecue sauce on ribs as you grill. It had a cotton head and looked much like what Lucy used in the show. However, I didn't feel good about it, so I prayed for guidance to find the dish mop I needed. Soon I found a dish brush made with horse hair and a 360 head. I worried because some said it was smelly and I had had a smelly horse hair brush before and it was overpowering. I kept feeling led to this brush and so I timidly bought it.
Hair is very sharp, most barbers know to quickly sweep it up so it does not present a problem. If you were to get a dirty hair sliver in your foot it can be hard to detect and cause infection. I learnt this a long time ago when I was learning to cut hair. Because hair is sharp, it workes excellently at scrubbing dishes. I also knew this by experience, but in order for it to work optimally it must be kept untangled and pliable. I have a tendency to scrub really hard because I have used those plastic-bristled-brushes for too long, but this grinding the bristles into dishes tangles and mattes hair and makes the less efficient, so I had to learn to be gentle and trust the many sharp hairs to do the scrubbing for me. As with brushing teeth, the number of strokes used is more effective than the force applied. Therefore, the horsehair dish mop requires no elbow grease. It does shed a hair now and then, but I have accepted it as part of the package and it doesn't bother me now. I keep my brush clean by rinsing and wringing excess water out when I am down using it and it has never become stinky. I rinse my dishes in hot water with white vinegar added when I feel like extra sanitation in needed and I will also rinse my brush in it at the end. Also, I never allow food particles to lived in the bristles. I love my brush so much, because it saves me so much time and effort! I have been considering a routine of daily brushing it's hair to keep the bristles from matting and extending the efficiency. I will update this post once I have that figured out.
So I had my dishwashing all figured out right?
Well, you know what they say about old habits dying hard? I moved to another state and through stress and displacement, my routine and emotional healing from former dishwashing habits were forgotten. My brush became matted and I tried to use the dishwasher again. After a few years, I was watching some YouTube channels I enjoyed about cooking and cleaning and feeling like I could stop running on autopilot. All three of the ladies on these YouTube channels handwashed all their dishes, didn't even want dishwashers in their kitchens and one of them said something about it that reminded me it is easier to handwash dishes than to use a dishwasher. I bought a fresh dishmop and fell in love with it all over again. I found my routine and lived happily ever after!
The nature of my move was traumatic and it caused all kinds of emotional and psychological distress. So I started to run on "autopilot," while I untangled the mess in my brain and my heart.The reason I forgot how to wash dishes is because, I was in survival mode and TV and popculture tell us we should be using a dishwasher, so I followed the path of least resistance. It is hard to do something different than you see everyone else doing, especially if you are not feeling particularly secure on your own. So, I want to provide support for others and myself, because we all have our own personal struggles and we are all trying to find our own best path to follow. Sometimes all the countless influences in our lives distract us and make it difficult to focus on what is really important to us. 
Now I'm going to share my strategy for taking care of one of our most basic and persistent needs. Washing dishes. Washing dishes is important because we need to cook and eat with clean dishes to be healthy. If our dishes and counters are clean, we are more likely to cook our own food rather than going out to eat (which we all know is not healthy.) If washing dishes can be considered part to the deal whenever we eat (and is a painless process) then we can readily gwt up from the table, scrape the scraps off our plates, run a little water and wash our dishes before moving on with the rest of our day. It really is that simple. Some people force themselves to do this by only having enough dishes in their house for one meal at a time, but I feel like there is a much more pleasant way to accomplish this than force. (Which probably leads to eating out and disposables which aren't always pleasant either.)
Make a calm and pleasing picture in your mind of mealtime from start to finish. You enter a sparkling clean kitchen, fresh fruits and vegetables are placed in your shining sink and washed and then leisurely chopped and cooked. Utensils, cutting board and measuring spoons are washed as the pot boils and the pan sizzles or the oven bakes. The counters and sink are wiped clean with little effort. Then the meal is brought to the clean table already set and cheery. A prayer of thanks is given and everyone enjoys eating a nutritious meal. The plates and flatware are gathered, scraped free of scraps and placed in the sink of fresh hot water. The leftovers are carefully divided into appropriately sized containers and promptly stored in the refrigerator or freezer. The dishes are washed and put away. The table is washed and set for the next meal and the family returns to their day.
Does this sound like the kind of mealtimes you would enjoy? Do feel health and happiness would improve in your life with routine meals like this? If so, then priority must be placed on it. We must think ahead to whatever might disrupt it and make preparations. Put other worthy goals on hold long enough so you can sit and make a plan for the routine you want and any disruptions that may arise. Do you have small children vying for your attention? Plan to give their small hand something important to do (or learn) like washing measuring spoons, scrubbing potatoes and carrots, sweeping the floor where you are not standing, reporting the progress of dinner like a newscaster for the family, or whatever suits your family best.
Do you have frequent visitors? Make them a part of mealtime or block out time for their visits that won't interfere with your important work. Take into consideration how long they like to stay and make preparations for it. Etc.
Now how and what you cook is another topic altogether. I cover some of my own methods in other posts so I will refer you to those instead of making this post any longer than is needed.
This is the part where I tell you how I wash dishes with the right tool in the most efficient method, or how to use the tools I have introduced!
Here is my method:
Fill the sink with hot water.
Scrape as much debris from dishes as possible into the trash or compost or whatever you do with them.
Add dishes to the hot water and let soak until the water is barely hot and doesn't scald the hand. 
If sanitation is desired, fill second basin with hot water and about ¼ cup of white vinegar.
Wet dishmop and coat with soap from dishsoap bar. 
Pluck dish from right basin make a circle motion with dishmop lightly all over dish (somewhat like painting.) 
Dunk dish back into water to remove soap.
If any food bit remains, repeat.
Place clean dish in vinegar water of left basin to sanitize. 
If you are not sanitizing the load, simply rinse soap off with hot water from the tap.
Continue until all dishes are washed.
Place dishes in dish drainer to drip dry, or dry with a clean dish towel.
Wash counters with dish rag and soap, rinse dish rag and finish cleaning counters with vinegar water in left sink basin.
Drain water and wash both sink basins with the dish rag.

That's it! No more pruny fingers or red hands! With the solid dishsoap and 360 dishmop I get my dishes washed faster and with much less effort.
Now that I have the best tools, (that I even have fun using) next I had to figure out a system to keep washing my dishes and keep my kitchen clean!
I read home economics books which had also helped me develope my new method for washing dishes. I took note of the routines used by the ladies on YouTube who handwash all their household dishes, and I remembered reading about Ma washing dishes in, The Little House on the Prairie. What I realized was, no one ever used to leave dishes to the next meal in past generations. That would be self-inflicted pain! (Duh) Well, one might think, "hey, I don't want to take time out of my day to wash dishes after every meal! What a pain!" 
What I came to realize is, the meal begins when I start cooking it and isn't finished until I've cleaned up after it. Clean up is part of eating (one could say the same of cooking) and if I want to eat (healthy meals at home), I have to accept the process. 
Now that I wash the dishes immediately, soaking is not required and the dishes come clean easily. With the right tools, the process is no longer painful. With the developement of good habits, the cleaning gets done with a good attitude (no resentment!) I am happy and my kitchen is clean. Seems like a good solution to me!
I felt the need to share this journey because, simple housekeeping skills seem to be widely forgotten in our current era, but they are still sorely needed. I hope what I have shared will help even a few stuggling housekeepers transform their relationships with dishwashing, or at least help ya'll to find what works best for you if you are struggling like I was.
I'm wishing you all the best in your endeavors to keep a happy healthy homelife!

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Making and Using Homemade Laundry Detergent

I have now been making and using my own laundry detergent for over 5 years now. I have made almost as many formulas for laundry detergent. I also used soap nuts for a couple years, but I think I finally landed on my favorite recipe. The problem I had with soap nuts is that I frequently had to clean my washing machine with Lemishine because there would be lots of build up and that is probably because I did not remove my soap nuts for the rinse cycle because I could almost never catch it and then if I did I couldn't find the bag of soap nuts. But also because I could not buy them locally or order them when I was running out. The last time I ran out of soapnuts I couldn't afford to order them in bulk and I found a new recipe for laundry detergent that proved to be a keeper!
I use a 5 oz bar of Castile soap to 2 cups of homemade washing soda. This year I bought a bucket of powdered soap to use in this recipe instead of grating soap, and I just use 5 oz of it with the Washing Soda. 
Once mixed, I use 1 Tbsp for smaller loads and 2 Tbsp for large loads. I always fill the fabric softener cup with white vinegar in each load of laundry. 
For white clothes I soak with Hydrogen Peroxide and cold water first. I noticed after a year my whites started looking dingy and retaining oils. I soak them in hot water and dish soap to strip them and then soak again with Hydrogen Peroxide. It really does work great, but every few months you may also need to clean your washing machine with citric acid. These little extra steps may sound like a pain, but it is actually really simple and to me it is worth it to not be using heavily processed chemicals and fragrances in my home and wearing them on our bodies. Also, I can make a year's worth of laundry detergent and not have to worry about running out or budgeting for it all year or spending time shopping for it. So when all is said and done, it makes life much simpler for me.
Hope you enjoy it!

Sunday, October 18, 2020

The Harvest

 I've done some personal growing recently and have started to uncover a few "hidden wedges", I started digging them out and realized how awkwardly I have grown out from them and I am going to have to do some serious emotional pruning. If you have no idea what I am talking about, please read or watch this talk given by President Thomas S. Monson in 2002. I didn't fully understand what it meant back in 2002, but it has recently become clear to me why this was so important and stuck with me all this time. I'm making some changes in myself. Little seeds have been planted and now comes the harvest, not a big one, but I am hoping for greater yields in the years to come. (I like metaphors)

This year I successfully planted and harvested a garden. I had Roma and Cherry Tomatoes, Sweet Peppers, Zucchini, Green Beans (although they didn't make it to fruition they did come further than last year.), Rosemary, Parsley, Mint, Oregano and Strawberries. I also had Marigolds, some which survived the hot summer, Geraniums, Lemongrass, Citronella, Basil and Peppermint which were not as good at deterring pests as I had hoped they would be in my organic pesticide-free potted garden on my patio. This last spring I had decided to start small, but buying huge pots to grow tomatoes in, other smaller pots, organic potting soil, wood chips and organic fertilizer was not small on my budget. I am so glad I did it though because it is wonderful to grow my own food! My six-year-old even cooked and ate some zucchini! A miracle in and of itself. He and I have learned so much this year and I can't even tell you, if you don't already know, how delicious fresh veg from your own garden is. Planting seeds and seeing them grow into something I can feed my family has been a very educational, comforting, satisfying and faith promoting experience for me in a very natural way. I highly recommend it.

A recipe my six-year-old made up this summer is, Garden Fresh Minty Sauteed Zucchini, and I was all surprise how delicious it is.

Thickly slice a Fresh Zucchini

Add it to a pan of about 1-2 Tbsp melted sizzling butter

Sprinkle with salt to taste

Saute until they begin to brown and soften  

Add some washed mint leaves roughly chopped (about a TBSP)

Stir until minty fragrant

Add a minced garlic clove

Season to taste and enjoy hot