Brooding On

Thanksgiving Week Challenge

(Disclaimer:  If some of this sounds familiar, it's because pieces of it were borrowed from last year's post.)

Thanksgiving will be here soon!  That means that we're all busy planning our menus and making our grocery lists and readying our tables.  Most of us will gather with family and friends and eat amazing, comfort food until our belts need loosening.  Let us not forget in this season of thankfulness the many who will not be joining us in our overindulgence. 

World hunger statistics are sobering, to say the least.  I like this video because it uses the numbers to get our attention rather than the emotionally evocative images involved with so many of the world hunger videos we've been subjected to over the years.   One child dies hungry every 6 seconds.  Now that's sobering.  How many children would that be during just our Thanksgiving meal alone? 

As our family met to discuss how we wanted to approach feeding the hungry this holiday, I mentioned this statistic to Girl 1.  She just looked at me and started slowly counting as the tears welled up in her eyes. 

I don't mean to be a downer this holiday.  I do mean to challenge you to do something about the plight of the needy.  So, I'm doing what the video asks of me and telling a friend (who will hopefully tell a friend who will hopefully tell a friend, etc.). 

Our family plans to do our part this season by donating to Bread for the World.  We plan to raise the money for this the same way we did last year.  And, you can do it, too -- without even having to reach into your pocketbook (what is a pocketbook exactly?  Does anyone even really use one?)  You want to know how, don't you?  Well, lean in.  And promise not to tell MeeMee that we plan to do it again this year.  Promise?  Okay.

We plan to eat Ramen noodles every night for a week.  The grocery money saved will be donated and help to feed others.  We do this in an attempt to better understand the plight of the hungry.  Now, rice and beans would be a much more appropriate meal if we were trying to eat the way most of the hungry world eats.  But, my kids won't eat rice and beans.  They just won't.  And, contrary to what MeeMee seems to believe, we do plan to feed our kids this week.  (Bless her, she's only got their  best interests at heart!)  We choose Ramen because it's about the cheapest thing I can think of to feed us that we will all eat.  Also, it probably pretty closely approximates the way our closest hungry neighbors eat. 

Why the same thing every night of the week?  When you're truly hungry, food diversity is a luxury you do not have.  You eat what is available, and often it's the same thing . . . over and over again.

The week leading up to Thanksgiving seems a fitting time to undergo this challenge and prayerful focus.  So, we will begin this coming Wednesday and continue until the following Tuesday, two days prior to Thanksgiving.  (Ideally, we would run it right up through Wednesday, the day before the holiday, but it just doesn't fit our schedule this year.)  To focus our mealtimes on the task at hand, we will begin each of our seven evening meals together with a special prayer.  (This was my favorite part last year!) Here are links to the beautiful prayers we intend to use this year.

Wednesday -- Sharing our Abundance
Thursday -- That We May Be Satisfied
Friday -- Prayer of Confession
Saturday --  May I Hunger Enough
Sunday -- Traditional Native American Prayer
Monday and Tuesday (this link contains two separate prayers) --  Prayers at the Table

Will you join with us?  Put your own spin on it.  Eat something else.  Or, don't change the way you eat at all but click on the prayers when you sit down to the table each night and join with us as we pray for the hungry of our world.

Clean Taco Soup

Well, it's cold outside.  And, I've got a freezer full of grass-fed beef since our half of Georgie came home from the meat packaging plant (I don't know. It's just what the kids decided to name him).  So, it seems like a good time to make a big pot of Clean Taco Soup.

Lots of taco soup recipes will invite you to toss in a packet of store-bought taco seasoning mix.  I could do without the unrecognizable ingredients found in some packets; plus, all the ingredients needed to create the same effect are waiting patiently in my spice cabinet.

So, forgo the packet and make your Taco Soup the clean way, using whole ingredients that you recognize.

Throw it all in a CrockPot:

1-1.5 lb. cooked ground beef
a can black beans, rinsed and drained (or 1/2 lb. dry beans, cooked)
a can/jar diced tomatoes
box/jar of your favorite broth (I used chicken because I have a ton made up right now)
1 can corn, drained or 1 c. frozen
1 Tbs. each of chili powder, ground cumin, garlic powder, and onion powder
1/2 to 1 tsp. crushed red pepper
salt to taste

Give it at least a few hours in the CrockPot, but you could leave it all day on low, if necessary.  Serve it up alongside a salad or as a stand alone meal with shredded cheddar and tortilla chips.  Yum!

It fogged up the lens of my camera. :)

Everyone gobbled it up.  But, Girl 1, who has a tendency to eat like a bird, kept going back for more and was the last one to push away from the table.  "It's like Mexican chili!"  Yep, it's pretty tough to beat!

Brood Farm is Growing . . . to Include YOU!

Yep, we're growing . . . big time!  While we've been producing eggs in our backyard for about 2 years now, we're about to REALLY expand that operation so that we can make these amazing eggs available to you, too!

In about 2 weeks, our new farm will be home to over 100 pastured egg-laying chickens, and we couldn't be more excited about it! 

We've done our homework to find out what we have to do to legally sell our products and are pleased that we now have a marketing plan. 

Basically, eggs have to be refrigerated up until the point of sale.  Luckily, we're in a pretty handy location for people to stop by and pick up a dozen.  We plan to make it even easier for customers by having eggs available in a mini-fridge on the front porch.  You won't even have to feel like you're interrupting us -- just drop your $3 in the jar and grab a dozen farm-fresh eggs! 

We are also toying around with a small-scale CSA so that local folks could sign up for once-a-week delivery.  (I'm open to suggestions about how this ought to work.)  So long as the homes we're delivering to are close enough to our home/refrigerator, we're cleared to do this.

Additionally, I can arrange to bring eggs to the many folks I see throughout the normal course of my day (school, dance, sports practices, etc.).

For now, we plan to reuse as many store-bought cartons as possible.  So long as we make a clear attempt to black out the previous markings on the cartons, this is acceptable practice.  Additionally, we plan to affix our own sticker, claiming the eggs as ours. 

That said . . . ALL DONATIONS OF USED EGG CARTONS WOULD BE GREATLY APPRECIATED!!!!!  Drop them off on my doorstep, gather them for me in your classroom, bring them in big bags to me at church!  Seriously, we need them all! 

So, to recap:
1.  We need egg cartons ASAP.
2.  We'll have eggs available in a couple weeks.
3.  Do you have any thoughts on the weekly delivery idea?

Work Begets Work

Lately it feels as if every time I cross something off a list, another thing is there to take its place.  I just can't seem to get ahead.  

As I mentioned before, our half a cow will soon be on its way, so I needed to clear out some freezer space.  After a bit of work, I was able to free up half of this freezer and another fridge-top freezer.  Hopefully, that'll be enough space.  So, I can cross that project off the list.

But, in order to create all this space, I needed to make some chicken broth.  

Often when I take a chicken from the freezer to the kitchen, it's just to make use of the breast, thighs, and legs.  I stick the rest of the carcass back into the bag and toss it into the freezer.  I do the same with leftover parts of celery.  

To make a batch of broth, I just throw in two carcasses, chopped celery, chopped carrot, chopped onion, garlic, thyme, parsley, bay leaf, and salt and let it all simmer for as long as I can stand it.  Yummm!

Once the broth has been strained off, I pick the bones of any meat that's leftover and store this cooked, shredded chicken in little 1/2 c. bags so that it's at the ready for chicken salad and the like.

This is actually a great time of year for me to be making broth.  It's at the end of the growing season, so I'm able to make use of whatever jars aren't already occupied.  And, we're just now entering the season in which I use a lot of broth for cooking hearty winter soups or big pots of rice or beans.

If you're looking to make use of your chicken leftovers and are thinking about making your own broth, you should definitely give it a try.  The finished product is so much more flavorful than anything you can buy at the store.  And, if pressure canning is out of the question and you don't have a 1/2 a cow headed your way, you can always freeze your broth in quart- or gallon-sized baggies.

DIY Frozen Yogurt (New and Improved)

Last year, I posted this recipe for strawberry frozen yogurt.  And, while this recipe does make a very yummy product, I've found a new one that is more resourceful, so I thought I'd pass it along.

The problem with the old recipe is that it calls for sweetened condensed milk.  This product can get pricey when you're throwing in 3 cans per batch of yogurt. I love the new basic recipe because it uses plain 'ole sugar as the sweetener.  The recipe calls for "caster sugar," which is basically sugar that has been processed so that it's consistency is somewhere between that of granulated sugar and powdered sugar.  This just-right sugar helps the yogurt to freeze into a nice consistency.  I didn't have any caster sugar, so I made my own.  You can do the same.  Just whirl your granulated sugar around in your food processor for a minute or two, allow the dust to settle before removing the lid, and, voila!, caster sugar!  I processed a bunch and keep it in a mason jar in the pantry so that it's always ready for a batch of yogurt.

Chocolate Frozen Yogurt
2 cups (or 16 oz.) yogurt

4-5 tbsp cocoa powder

1/2 cup caster sugar (or to taste)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp salt

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

2 cups (or 16 oz) yogurt

1/2 cup caster sugar (or to taste)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice

1 cup fresh/frozen strawberries, pureed  (You can basically sub in any fruit here.  

We've done a batch of mixed berries that turned out great!)

What I love about this recipe is that you can just play with it.  Here is a mid-process batch of lime frozen yogurt.  (John loves those Edy's frozen lime bars, so I thought I'd try this for him.)  I basically used the fruit recipe above (minus the vanilla) and added frozen limeade concentrate in place of the fruit.  

You can double or triple the recipe to make a decent-sized batch.  Just combine all ingredients and process in your ice-cream maker like you would ice-cream.  Enjoy!

Thank you to "To Food with Love" for the original recipe.

Are Bananas in Season?

The other day, my darling Girl 2 asked me whether bananas were in-season.

Just hearing her ask the question made me so happy.

It told me that she understands that produce doesn't grow year-round and that as conscious consumers we shouldn't expect to have access to ALL foods ALL of the time.  Her question tells me that she understands that at our house, we try to respect those rhythms of nature and enjoy each fruit when it is locally available and doesn't have to shipped half-way across the world to meet our demands.  Her question also tells me that she loves bananas and has noticed their absence .  :)

You should have seen her face fall when I told her that, in fact, bananas are NEVER in season here in Arkansas, that they tend to be grown much closer to the equator.  "Like in Guatemala!" she proclaimed.  Precisely.  In fact, the bananas I picked up as her treat from the store this week were actually grown in Guatemala.  I guess it should be no surprise that she loves this fruit; her foster mom says it was one of her earliest foods.

"They" say that kids are like sponges.  It is so true.  We've never set down as a family and had a lesson on the importance of eating local or eating in-season, but they are picking things up all of the time.  And, once explained, these concepts just make sense to them. I do intend to buy my Guatemalan-born child a few bananas from time to time.  We'll just chalk it up to appreciating her native culture.  ;)

Move Over Campbell's: Homemade Tomato Soup

In the wintertime, there's pretty much always a can of Campbell's Tomato Soup on some pantry shelf at our house.  If I'm in need of a quick dinner, it's go-to that everyone will eat.  I've had lots of good tomato soups out at restaurants, but I personally LOVE the smooth, creamy texture of this old favorite.  

But, in an attempt to find more ways to use the many, many tomatoes we've been blessed with this year, I found this recipe.  And, oh, is it good!

 Campbell's may be able to boast taste and texture, but it does pack some high fructose corn syrup and other unrecognizable ingredients.  So, move over, Campbell's, because this recipe has got you beat on flavor, texture, and ingredients since it's made with items I can feel good about (including bell peppers and parsley from our garden).

If you love tomato soup, I would encourage you to give this one a try.  Be warned: it does take about half a day to complete the project, but you wind up with 9 shelf-stable dinners for your family.  

Another warning --  it does require several pieces of processing equipment:  

1.  a food processor to chop your veggies pretty small (or I guess you could dice them up the old fashioned way)
2.  an immersion or stand blender (immersion is preferable because it is safe to use with hot liquids.  If you go with a stand, you'll have to allow your soup to cool a bit before proceeding with this step)
3. a sieve (I didn't own one, but it's definitely on my Christmas list now that I've had a chance to play with one.  Thanks, Heidi!)
4.  A water bath canner to process and seal your pint jars 

Now, if all of that hasn't scared you away, then get to work!  I promise, you won't be sorry!

I told John that soup just tastes like fall to me.  It's rich and creamy and smooth -- everything you want in a bowl of tomato soup.

The Long-Awaited Caprese Salad

I've been dreaming of this salad since we first became goat farmers last spring.  

I love caprese salad.  And this one was entirely produced using ingredients from our backyard.

Our backyard heirloom tomatoes are topped with goat-milk mozzarella and organic backyard basil.  A turn of the pepper mill and drizzle of good olive oil make this a mouth-watering backyard masterpiece! 
And, yes -- it was worth the wait!

Messy, Messy Ketchup!

If next year I start talking about wanting to can some more ketchup, please remind me that Heinz is just fine.  :)
A buddy from Canning Club told me that I'd never go back to store-bought ketchup once I'd tasted homemade.

And, yes, I'll grant her that if I were making a decision based on taste alone, she would be entirely correct.  This stuff is GOOD!  

She forgot to mention and thus factor in, though, the time involved and the MESS!  

My amazing hubby worked with me for the solid 5 hours it took for us to complete this project.  As it got later and later and neared midnight, I admit that I got a bit cranky about it all.  He persevered, though, and encouraged me, and we did (finally) get finished.  

Then, though, we had to begin the clean-up.  And, if I'm being honest, it's still going on. I keep finding sticky splatters in remote places.  And, even though the kitchen floor has been mopped twice, our shoes are still making that sticky sound when we walk across it.  :(

I'm guessing it was so messy because my pots weren't really big enough to accommodate the boiling goop, and it was so sticky because it contains about 1 cup of sugar PER PINT!  Wowza!  Still, it's got to be better for us than the high-fructose-corn-syrup-packed store-bought variety that currently inhabits my fridge door.  

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Some dinners follow the recipe to a "T" and are the result of a plan I map out days in advance.  Then, there are meals that happen like this.

I really needed to make a run to the grocery store but didn't know how that was going to fit into my day, so I went scavenging in the freezer.  It didn't take much more than opening the door to remind me that what we had in excess was CHICKEN.  So, I grabbed a small one and allowed it to thaw awhile as I set out to see what I could do to it that would make it presentable for the dinner table.
I found a few half-used bottles of stuff in the fridge that basically approximated barbecue sauce, so I threw it in the Crock Pot, along with the breasts, legs, and thighs of the chicken.  (If you're not sure how to throw together your own BBQ mix, a good one to try is just a bottle of cheap barbecue sauce and a can of crushed pineapple.)

Okay, now I had chicken being prepared.  But, how was I going to serve it?  I had no rolls, bread, or chips in the house.  I did have some white rice.  That could work to sop up the sauce.  Rice it is!

But there's still no veggie.  What veggies have I got coming out my ears?  Peppers.  Oh, now I'm seeing this all coming together!  I'll stuff bell peppers with the rice and chicken!  That will even solve the Little-Boy + rice-for-dinner = pushed-around-all-over-the-plate-until-it-falls-into-the-floor dilemma!

So, I set the peppers upright to halve them (stems and all -- it just looks cuter-- that's important, right?) and removed seeds.  Then, I shaved just a little bit off the backs (as seen in the photo above) so that they wouldn't rock in the baking dish.  I browned them a little on all sides in a hot cast-iron skillet.  This just gives the peppers a head-start on cooking so that they're soft enough when the dish is complete.  If you'd rather, you could submerge them in boiling water for a minute or two to achieve a similar result.

Then, I stuffed the peppers with rice and shredded barbecue chicken, topped them with cheddar cheese, and cooked them in a 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes.

I served them up with some fresh garden greens with oil, and they were delicious!  -- Not bad at all for a day that started with, "I have nothing to serve for dinner tonight!"

Go Glean!

When your tomato plants look as sad as mine do right now, and your father-in-law calls and offers you the rest of the ripe tomatoes he's got on his plants, you high-tail it up there and glean away, baby.  It doesn't matter that you're leaving town the next day and really need to pack, or that you've got a bazillion things still left on the all-important list-of-things-to-do-today, or that it's pretty much the hottest afternoon we've had all year. You drop it all, and you go.

Blinded by your own sweat, you pick about 60 pounds of ripe tomatoes. And, then, all hot and sweaty, you stop by the store for some more canning jars, mushrooms, and a bottle of wine.  And, once the kids are in bed, you bring that pot to a boil and have a spaghetti-sauce-making party with your sweetie -- skinning and coring and chopping and boiling and filling and sealing -- as you enjoy one another's company.   . . .   Or, that's what I did anyway!

Thanks, Sam!

Skip the Fast Food: DIY Ched 'R' Peppers

So, last week, I made some Ched Pepper Quiche that was amazing!  And, it got me to thinking that there had to be a more grown-up/whole-foodsie way to make those good 'ole Ched Peppers.  And, it turns out, I was right!

So, instead of sidling up to the stall at Sonic, give these a go.  They'd be a hit at a party, but also hit the spot when you just happen to be craving something spicy and cheesy.

12 jalapenos, halved and seeds removed
1 box puff pastry (2 sheets)
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 c. bacon pieces
1 c. cheddar, shredded
garlic, minced
1 egg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Unfold thawed pastry sheet and roll into a  rectangle.  Slice each sheet into twelve squares, making a total of 24 squares with both sheets.  In a large bowl, mix together cream cheese, bacon, cheddar, garlic, and a pinch of salt.  Spoon filling into jalapeno halves.

Wrap pastry squares around stuffed jalapenos and arrange on a baking sheet.  Whisk together egg and 3 Tbs. water and brush over poppers.  Bake for 20 minutes or until puffy and golden.

This recipe is a modified version of the original, which can be viewed here.

Eating in Season: Ched Pepper Quiche

If you read this blog from a PC, you'll see the cute little gadget in the right-hand column that indicates what's in season now in Arkansas.  For late August, it suggests that nothing is in season.  My garden begs to differ. And, my peppers find the notion absolutely hilarious.  In fact, I've never had larger or more plentiful jalapeno plants.
In honor of my old high school friend Kim Lankford Bice, I'm calling this recipe Ched Pepper Quiche.  Even Kim may not recall the reference, so allow me to fill everyone in.

"Back in the day" when Ched 'R' Peppers were first introduced at Sonic, on the menu board, they put the "R" in this (as I recall) upside down triangle/decorative thingy between the words ched and peppers.  Kim and I would roll into Sonic after basketball practice (or pretty much anytime) and, not noticing the "R" at all, order us up some Ched Peppers.  They were delicious.  And we called them that for a REALLY LONG TIME . . . or at least that's the way the story goes in my memory. 

Anyway, this delicious quiche is basically a whole-foods version of the Ched Pepper.  And it, too, is absolutely delicious.  We ate an embarrassing amount of it the night I served it for dinner and then finished off the leftovers at the very next meal. 

For the complete recipe (they call it "Jalapeno Popper Quiche, but I like my name for it better), click here.    Whether you're looking for a way to make use of your show-off-y jalapenos or would just like to give something new a chance at being a hit at your dinner table, I'd highly recommend giving this one a try!

Cheese is God Going Over and Above

For those who don't know much about where cheese comes from or how it's made, here are some contemplations on cheese from my lunch today.  

The very first cheese was an accident-- it happened when milk being stored in an animal stomach began to coagulate and separate into curds and whey.  Rennet, an enzyme found in the stomach of some animals, is the magic-maker that starts the process that eventually makes cheese out of milk.  And, don't you know those first people who stumbled upon this knowledge must have been beside themselves with happiness!  They'd just discovered a way to preserve milk.

We currently have one goat producing milk in our backyard.  That's one goat providing all the milk for our family of five.  Some days it seems Razz produces for us just enough.  In fact, milk seems to come to us like our daily bread, or our manna.  God is always so good to provide us with enough for the day.

Cheese, though, is what happens when God is truly blessing us with an over-abundance!  Cheese gets made when it's hard for me to fit any more jars of milk into the refrigerator.  And, when that happens, it's cause for celebration and for thankfulness.

Pickled Watermelon Rind

Though I've never seen or heard of them before, pickled melon rind is apparently an old southern delicacy.  I realize these may not be for everyone, but they are actually pretty good.  AND, they make use of a part of the melon that even the goats don't want to eat, so that's super homestead-y (yes, that' s my new made-up word).  

To make them, you'll need . . . 
about 6 lbs. of watermelon rind
3/4 c. salt
3 qt. water
about 2 trays of ice cubes
9 c. sugar (yes, you read that right)
3 c. white vinegar
3 c. water
1 Tbs. whole cloves
6 cinnamon sticks, 1" pieces
1 lemon, thinly sliced with seeds removed

Day 1:  Using a vegetable peeler, remove the hard, green, outermost part of the rind.  Also, remove all the pink from the innermost part of the rind.  Cut into whatever shape you prefer (I cut mine into long, thin strips).  Cover with brine made by mixing the salt with 3 quarts cold water.  Add ice cubes.  Let stand 3-4 hours.  

Drain; rinse in cold water.  Cover with cold water and cook until fork tender, about 10 minutes.  Drain.

Combine sugar, vinegar, water, and spices (tied in a clean, thin, white cloth -- I used butter muslin).  Boil 5 minutes and pour over the watermelon;  add lemon slices. Let stand overnight in the refrigerator.

Day 2:  Heat watermelon in syrup to boiling and cook slowly 1 hour.  Pack hot pickles loosely into clean, hot pint jars.  To each jar add 1 piece of stick cinnamon from spice bag;  cover with boiling syrup to 1/2 inch from the top.  Remove air bubbles.  Wipe jar rims.  Adjust lids.  Process 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.


Oh, Yea, Green Tomatoes!

Just look at that smile!  Girl 2 was so stinkin' proud of herself as she presented me with this basket full of her hard work in the garden.  Yep, that's a giant basket full of GREEN tomatoes!
I asked John what I was to do with all these green tomatoes.  He suggested I make lemonade.  Haha.  My Facebook buddies suggested fried green tomatoes or pickled tomatoes.  I've honestly never had either.  For a couple different reasons, I've basically not cooked all week, so the opportunity for fried green tomatoes never presented itself. I decided to pickle them according to a recipe I found in my trusty recipe book from Canning Club.

In fact, I went a little crazy with the canning today.  Here's a sampling:  green beans, cucumber pickles, pickled tomatoes, and tomato sauce.  Also, I completed the Day 1 portion of the recipe for Watermelon Rind Pickles.  Stay tuned . . . .

Follow-up Friday: Avoiding GMO's

As referenced earlier this week, GMO's are a highly controversial topic in the food industry right now.  Unfortunately for those of us who wish to avoid them, the US doesn't yet require foods containing GMO's to be labeled.  This chart, though, can help you in figuring out which foods in your pantry contain them and which are clean.

There's Nothing Like the Smell of Freshly-Baked Bread

If your family, like ours, feels like it's constantly running a million different directions, may I suggest you bake a loaf of bread.

If you feel like your conversations with your spouse are harried and more filled with times and schedules than with dreaming and hoping together, may I suggest you bake a loaf of bread.

If you feel like your kids have spent so much time watching TV or glued to their hand-held devices that they may not remember how to exist in a 3-D world, may I suggest you bake a loaf of bread.

If your experience in the kitchen lately has been a mad-dash to get something edible to the table (or just in-hand, while mad-dashing to the car), may I suggest you bake a loaf of bread.

If you've forgotten what it is to taste real food, may I suggest you bake a loaf of bread.

And, bake it at such a time as to come out of the oven (or bread machine, whatever the case may be) at about 9:00 pm or whenever everyone is assured to be home.  You won't even have to tell them to gather 'round.  There will be no timer or all-call needed.  They'll smell when it's ready, and they will come.  Pour a few glugs of olive oil into a dish, grind some fresh pepper into it, and tear it off in warm, soft hunks, offering it up to those you love most in the world.  
As you huddle 'round the kitchen bar in your pajamas, reveling in the warm comfort of the bread and rehashing your day and laughing together, don't forget to whisper a little prayer of thanks to the One who provides us moments like these, families to huddle with, and bread to share.  

And once you've sent the little ones back to bed with their "just-one-more-piece-please" piece in-hand, fill a couple of glasses with wine (or milk, or whatever you prefer) and move the bread loaf to the living room and get so wrapped up in the kind of conversation you would have when you were first discovering that you wanted to break bread with this person forever that you don't even notice when the cups run dry and the last crumb's been eaten.  And, as you turn out the lights on this evening, may you count yourself full -- full of bread, full of life, full of blessings.

Don't know where to begin?  Here's a recipe that works for me every time.

Why to Support Labeling GM Foods

You've likely at least heard the term GMO or genetically modified organisms.  But, you may not be up on the controversial movement here in the US to have foods that have been genetically modified to be labeled as such.  This is a great article by Mother Earth News explaining why all of us, whether we plan to eat GMO's or not, ought to be in favor of having foods labeled.

Zucchini Chips

Last year, I'd found a recipe for zucchini chips on Pinterest and gave them a try, but they didn't really turn out right.  At my most recent River Valley Canners meeting, though, we were learning about all kinds of dehydration, and I decided to give zucchini chips another try on my dehydrator.

These were super easy.  I coated my dehydrator trays with non-stick spray and covered them with thinly-sliced zucchini rounds.  I sprinkled them with salt and Tony Chachere's and allowed them to dehydrate for about a day. The result is a spicy, healthy chip!  

My zucchini vines have now basically given themselves over to the squash vine borers (errrgggggg!), but if you're more lucky than I am, you may have zucchini coming out your ears right about now.  This is a great way to make use of all that extra zucchini, and if dehydrated well enough and stored in an airtight container, your chips ought to have a long shelf life.