Canning – it’s easier than you think

I grew up with a mother who canned.  We rarely had veggies from a can, just popped down to the basement or pantry to grab a jar of fresh goodness. It seems nowadays that most people don’t garden or know how to can. Luckily, both of these pastimes are making a comeback. There are 2 types of canning – water bath and pressure canning. I took a water bath canning class from The Gardener’s Kitchen in Cary last weekend. Water bath is used for fruits and tomatoes or other low acid veggies. Pressure canning takes care of the rest. Water bath canning is super easy and I was surprised how much I remembered from watching my mom growing up.  We made blackberry jam and then used that jam to make sorbet which was super tasty and finished it off by enjoying a glass of sparkling wine.  It was a lovely afternoon and I highly recommend trying water bath canning.  Many co-op extension offices offer canning during the summer so try it out.  Your family and friends would love to receive something from your garden or that you canned yourself.  You can even go to the farmer’s market, purchase a bunch of fruit and freeze it to can later when you have time.  Just think, if we planted even one or two items and froze or canned the proceeds what a difference it would make on our eco-footprint on this earth.

Do you can?  Did someone you know can growing up?  Share your thoughts and favorite memories.



The dirty dozen and clean fifteen

You may be wondering what is the dirty dozen? A new action movie, a banned book? Is the clean fifteen some kind of new beauty trend?  Nope – it’s a guide to help you determine when to buy organic or not.

Buy the following items organic if possible, as they have the most pesticides:

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Strawberries
  4. Peaches
  5. Spinach
  6. Nectarines (imported)
  7. Grapes (imported)
  8. Sweet bell peppers
  9. Potatoes
  10. Blueberries (domestic)
  11. Lettuce
  12. Kale/collard greens

If you’re on a budget, you can skip organic on these:

  1. Onions
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Avocado
  5. Asparagus
  6. Sweet Peas
  7. Mangoes
  8. Eggplant
  9. Cantaloupe (domestic)
  10. Kiwi
  11. Cabbage
  12. Watermelon
  13. Sweet Potatoes
  14. Grapefruit
  15. Mushrooms

You can find the list at the Foodnews site.

Paper dollars vs. coin dollars

There is an article in the Sunday News and Observer entitled “Dollar coins piling up at reserve bank”.  Apparently the Government says we would save $5.5 Billion over 30 years by switching from paper dollars to coin dollars.  They also go on to say, these coins take up space and sometime the Feds have to rent additional space, thereby spending more of our tax dollars. However the study by our Government says Americans seem to prefer paper and haven’t embraced the dollar coins.  Um, hello, how about just saying the paper dollar is gone as of a certain date?  Or telling all of us how much it is costing us and our children to come? Sure we might complain, coins are heavier, we like paper – but hey, most people dread change, so let’s just suck it up and save ourselves $5.5 Billion dollars over the next 30 years.  Sheesh, can’t someone in Government just say, let’s save the taxpayers some green and make this decision and move on? I know it doesn’t seem like much in the face of our Nations large deficit but at least it’s a start.

What do you think – are you in love with the paper dollar so much that you’d give up $5.5 Billion savings over the next 30 years?

How is a painting like a green smoothie?

Hmmm, so how is a painting like a green smoothie?  Well, they both take creativity to come up with an idea and translate it into a finished product, they’re both super fun, and one helped create the other.  The painting came about after a day I spent at the State Farmer’s Market purchasing fruit and veggies, including super delish Kale.  It was Fall and all the mums were out on display looking like a rainbow touched the ground in front of me.  I was buying veggies and mums and overheard two ladies talking.  You could tell they’d been friends for a long time.  I found myself following along behind them, listening to them talk.  It made me think, “wow, I hope I have friends that will be in my life for as long as they’ve been friends” and when I looked up we were in the middle of all the mums.  The beauty of the scene grabbed me and I pulled out my camera to take pictures before anyone moved.  The end result was the painting you see below. This is the same painting shown in the image at the top of my blog. Use the greens you buy at the farmer’s market or supermarket or from your own garden to make a healthy, energizing Wicked Green Smoothie.

It’s a Cranberry Day Wicked Green Smoothie
1 c. V-8 fusion cranberry blackberry juice
1 c. mixed fruit (frozen strawberries, pineapple, and peaches)
1/2 kiwi
1/4 bunch of parsley (if you’re new to green smoothies, only use a couple of sprigs)
1/2 c. vanilla greek yogurt
Blend and enjoy, your body will thank you.

How do you satisfy your creative needs?

The road less traveled

A while back I became interested in eating in a more healthful, mindful manner and ran across green smoothies.  There was lots of information out there but most of it seemed to be geared towards the vegetarians, vegans and raw foodies which was great but I wasn’t there yet and needed to start at the beginning.

After much research and reading, I decided to come up with my own green smoothies which I call Wicked Green Smoothies.  These are for all of you who may eat vegetables or have never met a veggie you actually like. Same with fruit, maybe you occasionally eat fruit but don’t think too much about it.   Or maybe, you are already healthy and just want to incorporate more fruits and veggies into your diet.  Many of us are stressed out, tired and feel like we don’t have much time.  Does this sound like you? No worries, smoothies are super fast and your body will thank you.

Let’s meander down the road less traveled to Wicked Green Smoothies.  Self-educated on the goodness of greens; I’m a processed food eater trying to reform one Wicked Green Smoothie at a time.  Follow me along the road as we travel to great health, reversing aging and boosting energy.  All that from fruits and greens – who knew?!


Kale Chips

Have a craving for a crunchy, salty potato chip?  How about trying Kale Chips?  I know, I can see your little wrinkled noses from here but, they are very tasty and I betcha can’t eat just one!

Wash kale and dry with salad spinner or blot with paper towels.  Tear off the thick stems and discard them. Tear kale into big bite size pieces. You will need the following:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar
Seasoning (whatever is your fave: celery salt, sea salt, old bay, sage, cinnamon, etc.)
Toss kale in bowl with oil, vinegar & seasoning
Preheat oven to 350, line your cookie sheet with parchment paper
Bake until crispy but not burnt, they will change to a dull green color.  Check at 10 min, might need to go 20 depending on how hot your oven runs
Serve warm or wait until cool.

This will be one of the bonus recipes in the e-book I’m working on and hope to launch at the end of the year.