Kindness is essential in our daily lives.
I will share weekly a new post with a message of how powerful kindness really can be.

Canning and Scratch Cooking

Growing your own vegetables and preserving them gives you healthier choices for the food you eat, tastier meals and good exercise.

Most everything I can is done using a pressure cooker. This provides a 100% guarantee that my jars will seal if done properly. I also use the pressure cooker to cook root veggies such as beets and carrots. By following the guide that came with the purchase of the cooker the vegetables are processed in very little water and cooked to perfection for eating fresh or freezing for future meals. My pressure cooker is somewhat old, but not yet antique (kindly refered to as vintage.). I'm very fortunate to have a kitchen set up in the basement where I can do my garden preservation so as not to disturb my main kitchen. This means that if I'm too tired to clean up when I'm done I just leave the mess and it won't interfere with my other kitchen obligations. My stove, on the other hand, is antique but has never let me down. It was already set up for use in the basement by the prior owners of our home for their own personal use and I'm very thankful for that.
Nothing tastes better than creating a homemade soup in the dead of winter from the ingredients of your preserved garden harvest. Using a base of canned tomatoes add to it garden carrots, string beans, potatoes, onions, maybe a few noodles and maybe even some frozen corn with favorite spices and the outcome is a hearty, healthy meal. On occasion I fry up some fat-free ground venison or low-fat ground beef in olive oil along with the onions for a meatier flavor. A suggestion for extra flavor is to add lots of home-grown dried mint from the herb garden. OMG - to die for!

Beets harvested from the garden can be cooked, sliced and used for freezing or pickling. Cylindrical beets are our choice of beets as they take less time to cook and they are much easier to slice. There is no comparison in the taste of commercial pickled beets vs the ones pickled yourself. After the beets get sliced they can either be placed in freezer bags for freezing or added to a brine for pickling. I'll be sharing a terrific no-failure recipe for the pickled beets in my Recipe Box that was provided to me by a kindly neighbor of my parents.

At the end of the growing season, when we know the green tomatoes won't have enough warm weather left to ripen, I use them to make green tomato relish. The main ingredients to the relish are ground green tomatoes, green peppers and onions with special added spices. Again, there is no store-bought relish that can compare to this recipe of green-tomato relish. Another favorite recipe for sharing in my Recipe Box.

Homemade (made by scratch) cookies and cakes are every one's favorite for home or sharing with a friend, a neighbor or fellow employees. I remember taking treats to work to share with my fellow co-workers with lasting memories of the compliments. Now that I'm retired (and the doc suggested that my husband cut back on his sweets intake) I try not to keep large quantities of baked goods available for snacking. Instead of baking a cake in a 9x13 baking pan I spread the batter into two smaller pans (round, square, heart shape - it doesn't matter); I keep one for our enjoyment and share the other one with another family. I've never met anyone who wasn't thankful for this kind deed. It's also possible to freeze the second cake for enjoyment at a later date. Cookie recipes generally produce 3-4+ dozen cookies which if left sitting on the kitchen counter will tempt even the strongest of us. The solution for this is to freeze portions of the baked cookies where they can stay fresh for a long time. Decide on the number of cookies you want to have on hand at a time (I use just a dozen) and fill your freezer bag with that number. Seal your freezer bags and place them in your freezer knowing that at a later date when you have unexpected guests, you're going to a pot luck dinner, you're craving a sweet or you just want to bestow kindness to your neighbor all you have to do is reach in and grab a bag or two. It doesn't get any simpler than that.

Live a more natural lifestyle - pull up a chair, pour a cold drink and watch your garden grow.

Note:  All of the recipes listed in my recipe box are true and tried and approved by our very own personal taste buds.

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