Category Archives: Soups

The Organic, GMO-Free Prepper

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I really hate that word: Prepper. It denotes some crazed conspiracy theorist who believes the end of the world is imminent.

Lots and lots of canning jars

Lots and lots of canning jars


In the past two years, many of us have experienced extended power outages from storms. The future may mean more outages or even a disruption of what we take for granted every day: regular food deliveries to our grocery stores. I have heard that most stores have a 3-day supply of food. I will tell you that it is actually an 8-hour supply because as soon as word of a storm hits the news, the shelves are emptied. And after power is restored, here in Connecticut it took at least two-three weeks for delivery schedules to become normal again which means that a lot of food items were not available for weeks after power was restored to our area. This is a wake-up call to all of us.

I have had a lot of people ask me what they should purchase. I tell them to store food and buy a generator and gas cans. But what food should we store? For my family, since we have decided that the mainstream food supply is full of GMOs and toxins, we can’t just buy a bunch of store-brand peanut butter. In a stressful situation, such as an extended power outage, the body’s immune system will already be stressed. Wholesome, healthy food will be a huge priority. This will not be the time to skimp on quality and buy a bunch of junk.

I have decided to start a series of posts on this topic.

Here are directions for creating Soup in a Jar. Substitute organic ingredients and you have a full meal that merely requires adding water and cooking in a pot (and you are going to be sure to have a gas burner or camp stove for emergencies, though you could cook this over an open fire in a cast iron Dutch oven).

Homemade Gifts Series: Soup in a Jar

Here is a wonderful book filled with recipes for Meal in a Jar kits:

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Some basic supplies you will need to make Meals in a Jar:

  • Quart-sized canning jars and lids
  • Canning funnel — you really want this
  • Oxygen absorbers
  • Optional: FoodSaver with can vacuum attachment
  • Cool, dry space to store filled jars

If you have a dehydrator I recommend buying organic celery, onions, carrots, and other veggies and start dehydrating. Stock up on organic beans, pasta, and other ingredients, preferably when they are on sale. Choose a weekend when you will put your jarred meals together.

The final component will be to have safe access to drinking water. Either store bottled water or invest in a water filtration system (like Berkey or similar quality).

It is always a good idea to have emergency supplies in stock. None of us knows when some unforeseen event could cause a power outage and/or delays in food deliveries.

I have addressed this general set-up in a series on my other blog (I will move them eventually):

Surviving Extended Power Outages Part 3 contains the list of supplies that I keep on hand.

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Seeds, Delightful Seeds

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I received one of my seed orders in the mail today. I love looking at what I ordered (because I usually forget). It is like Christmas! Seeds are the promise of delicious, fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, and this year a few new crops:

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Ground Cherry

Last summer at the GMO-Free Farmer’s Market in Hartford, the boys and I were treated to Ground Cherries. These insanely delicious little fruits that are sometimes called Chinese Lanterns, Cape Gooseberry, that some get confused with the Tomatillo (it is a relative), Physalis peruviana is not a cherry or a gooseberry or a lantern, nor is it Chinese. It is, however, oh so sweet!

It is in the nightshade family as are tomatoes. This will be a first time for me but from what I read these little treasures fall from the plant before they are ripe, are to be collected, and allowed to ripen for a week or so before popping into your mouth. They can be stored for up to three months in their paper husks. I am very excited about these little sweeties!

Growing ground cherries from Organic Gardening

Swiss Chard

Okay, true confessions: I am not really excited about swiss chard. I have never grown it, though. It is one of those “good for you” veggies that I know is chock full of vitamins and minerals, holds up well in soups, and continues to grow in the garden long after the first frost. This variety advertises being less bitter than most of the others. We shall see.

Homemade Pickles Cucumber

My 12 year old absolutely loves dill pickles. I have only enjoyed pickles while pregnant. Healthy, organic pickles (you know, without the Yellow #5) are very expensive. I learned how to can using the water bath method last summer and know how to ferment vegetables so I know I can make pickles. I also have the coveted wild grape leaves growing on my property to help achieve that desired crisp pickle. I am very excited about growing my own organic cucumbers and making pickles for my youngest child. I paid $8 for a pint of organic pickles last summer. I can make a dozen jars to last us throughout the year. I can do this!

Early Wonder Beet

I have never eaten a beet in my life. They can be fermented, though, for a super healthy food. So beets are another “good for you” crop I am growing this year. But you never know: I might actually like them. I do know that beet juice can be used as a natural food coloring and even textile dye. Maybe I’ll just ferment beets, also known as Beet Kvass. This doesn’t sound appetizing to me but I know I’ll try at least one batch. I eat so many bizarre foods and drink so many bizarre drinks now what is one more?

Anaheim Peppers

A medium hot pepper suggested by a friend is being added to my peppers grown this year. I think I will need to put these in a planter in my driveway area which gets the most sun and heat. Most people grow peppers in greenhouses up here in Connecticut so we shall see how my pepper crops turn out this year. I envision using these in my homemade salsa.

Romano Pole Beans

I grew up eating canned green beans. As an adult I discovered the much more exotic Italian Green bean, canned, of course. They were delicious. The first time I tasted a fresh cooked green bean I grimaced. I thought it tasted disgusting. You see, green beans are supposed to taste salty and are soft. Right? Last fall I ventured forth into something different. I bought a bag of organic green beans and lacto-fermented them. Placed them in a Fido jar I poured brine over them, then tucked a cabbage leaf on top to keep them submerged. The resulting sour, slightly salty, sort of crunchy, just starting to soften fermented green beans were absolutely delicious. Really, I had finally found a non-canned green bean that I liked!

This summer I will attempt to grow those Italian green beans. I grew Cosse Violette pole beans last summer and tried one, hated it, and then just enjoyed their beautiful flowers. This summer I will try to grow enough that I can harvest and ferment a jar at a time. I have such limited garden space that I am not sure. If not, I might lightly steam and add to a marinated salad. I am determined to like non-canned green beans in more than one way.

Cosse Violette Pole Bean

Cosse Violette Pole Bean

Gardening is such an adventure. Along with many of the heirloom seeds that I saved last summer and fall I have these new crops to look forward to experimenting with. Oh, and growing a small plot of popcorn just for fun makes me smile just to think about. Now that I have ended two sentences in a row with prepositions I will say good evening. Happy growing!

Potato and Cheddar Soup (with non-dairy alternative)

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Occasionally we just need a really fast dinner, something that comes together in less than an hour. And sometimes we need to go meatless. This soup is so hearty and filling that it is a great entree with a small salad or steamed broccoli. I have made my potato soup dairy free for years, and still do not add milk, but I have started adding cheddar cheese with delicious results. And if you just happen to have a few slices of cooked bacon, chop those up and put them in the final seasoning stage. Oh my!

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs organic potatoes — red or golden are best, peeled and cubed
  • 2 large or 3 medium onions, sliced
  • 2 cups grated organic mild or medium* cheddar cheese (optional)
  • 1-2 Tbsp organic butter or oil (optional)
  • 1-3 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried mustard powder
  • 2 cloves fresh organic garlic, minced

Putting it Together

  • In a large sauce pan or stock pot place potatoes and onions with just enough water to cover them; add 1-2 tsp salt
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, cover and cook until very tender (approximately 20 minutes) — potatoes fall apart when a fork is inserted
  • Remove from heat (do not drain) and puree potatoes, onions and water using a hand blender (stick blender) until creamy. You can use a regular blender but be very careful as the soup is very, very hot and you will need to puree in several batches.
  • Add grated cheese and butter, and stir until melted.
  • Dairy-free or vegan version: omit the cheese and butter.
  • Season with salt, pepper, cumin, dried mustard powder, and fresh minced garlic to taste. Amounts listed are suggestions; you season your soup the way you like it. The fresh garlic adds a delicious kick. If you prefer, you can use granulated garlic powder (1/2 – 1 tsp). I use a wire whisk to incorporate seasonings.
  • Ladle into bowls and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving. Caution: hot soup can burn mouth — blow on each spoonful for the first few minutes.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve with organic blue corn tortilla chips
  • Add a few slices of cooked bacon to soup in seasoning stage for another level of flavor
  • Delicious with grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, or just grilled cheese
  • A chewy, crunchy bread and fresh organic butter is perfect with each bowl.
  • Gently stir in small steamed broccoli florets to soup when finished for a bright green splash, or serve steamed broccoli on the side
  • Great with a crunchy raw veggie marinated salad: colorful bell peppers, red onions, cucumbers, broccoli florets, sugar snap peas, and for a Greek touch, feta cheese, all marinated in a delicious vinaigrette.

*Sharp cheddar cheese lends a slightly bitter taste to this soup. Although I do use sharp if that is all that I have I much prefer mild or medium cheddar. Of course, you can always experiment with other cheeses, or just use what is on hand. You don’t even need any cheese at all which is the way we ate potato soup for over 20 years. This soup is delicious dairy free!