I adore food! Planning and preparing healthy meals for my family is an art form, to me. Granted, I would prefer to collect my “fuel” from our own happy and healthy farm. But, living in the mitten state does not allow for this privilege year round. Wifey is determined to find new ways to expand our growing season. Last year, we constructed a hoop house, designated specifically for growing greens. At this very moment, we have spinach, kale, and leaf lettuces emerging from the soil. There is snow on the ground, but it is warm and toasty inside our little seedling hotel. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. We are determined to get the most out of our growing season and continue to expand our methods.
Keep in mind, I have never been a hoarder. In fact, the word “pack-rat” is not in my vocabulary. If I don’t use it or need it for a future endeavor, it is donated…unless we are talking about fruits and vegetables! Throughout the growing season, as I harvest sun-kissed fruits, such as raspberries, boysenberries and blackberries, I find myself filling my freezer, as if a zombie apocalypse is about to occur in the near future. Starting my morning with an almond milk/ berry smoothie, filled with chia seed, flax seed and hemp powder is a must. Having numerous varieties of frozen berries at my fingertips is a gift throughout the year.
I would like to say my hoarding ends with berries, but this is not the case. I love zucchini. Let me restate that… I love zucchini bread. Yes, that recipe passed down to me from my Great Aunt Caroline’s farm in Illinois, is another perfectly sensible reason to hoard zucchini. In early summer, I excitedly fill baskets full of long and luscious dark green, pale yellow and striped fruits. After cutting them into long pieces, I usually beckon for one of the teenagers to feed the machine. Even at this age, they seem to enjoy food processing the zucchini into perfectly shredded bits. Or maybe, they know that once it is shredded, there is bread to be made. They are getting to the age that they grumble,at times, about experiences like these, but I know inside that I am giving them the gift of knowledge. As adults, I can only hope that they will embrace these memories and carry on our family traditions of health and wellness.
When I’m not freezing items such as zucchini and berries, I am canning. Yes, people still can food. Do you know how many people my age are shocked when I mentioned that it’s canning time?! Their first response tends to be, “People still do that?”. I recall helping my parents, at a very young age, process vegetables from our garden. I have to admit, I am not a fan of mushy vegetables. I prefer them fresh and crunchy. After years of eating meat, potatoes, and mushy vegetables, I have to say, my canning focus tends to look differently than it did growing up.
During the harvest season, I spend my time making homemade jam, roasting vegetables for sauces, and creating numerous types of salsa. Having the sauces and salsa on hand allows me to create quick and healthy meals, as well as wonderful starters for soups and more complex recipes, throughout the year. As I step back and gaze into the pantry or freezer, filled with homegrown goodness, I am pleased.
It is this time of year that I truly begin to recognize my hoarding issue. As spring approaches and I think about making homemade jam, I realize the numerous jars that still reside in the jam freezer. What an amazing problem to have! You can pretty much guarantee, if you stop over this time of year, you will find yourself taking home homemade jam, farm fresh eggs and extra frozen fruits and veggies. I always smile when there’s a knock on the front door and I realize that someone is returning an empty jar of our homemade jam. I always tell people, if they return the jar they receive more jam. Share the health… Share the wealth!
Love Yourself…Embrace Yourself…Just Be You!