Friday, July 8, 2011

Summer Squash Relish

Our garden is flourishing this year even though we lost our yellow summer squash plants. Honestly, I'm not sure we could handle any more loaded plants so perhaps the attack of the cut worm is a blessing in disguise.

My sister has a good portion of my aunt's garden and she grows it mostly to share. So we end up with tons of squash anyway. I told her we would take any of the over sized zucchini and squash she had to make relish. Ask and ye shall receive!

My search for a good and simple recipe lead me to this Summer Squash Relish recipe. Honestly, when I first tasted it just after we made it I thought the cinnamon was too strong. But a couple of days later it's perfect! It was simple to make, especially with my new birthday food processor!

As you can see, the recipe calls for apple cider. We assumed it was apple cider vinegar since it's a relish, so that's what we used. You can click here for the recipe or read it below.

Summer Squash Relish

10 cups chopped zucchini and yellow summer squash
1 medium white onion chopped
1 medium red bell pepper chopped
1 medium green bell pepper chopped
2 cups apple cider
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons mustard seed
2 teaspoons celery seed
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon pickling salt

Combine all ingredients in large sauce pot, then bring to a boil over medium heat.
Stir occasionally, then reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
Immediately fill hot pint jars with mixture, leaving 1/2" head space.
Carefully run a nonmetallic utensil down the inside of jars to remove trapped air bubbles
Wipe jar tops and threads clean, then adjust two pieces.
Process jars in boiling water canner for 15 minutes.

And that's that! Super easy and double dog yummy!

Happy day!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pruitt Pickles

It's that time of year again! Gardens...picking...canning...pickles! We've been very blessed this year with a bumper crop of cucumbers, and we have canned about 28 quarts of bread and butter pickles so far. But yesterday we had another massive pile of cucumbers and a big round of onions and green peppers. In addition, we had a mess of green tomatoes on the vines. So we decided to get our neighbor's recipe for hot pickles. We are naming them the Pruitt Pickles, after them. We have to let them sit a while before we can try them but last year we had some of the Pruitt's pickles and they were fantastic. Here's hoping ours are as yummy!

Pruitt Pickles

1. Put in the jar first: 1 clove garlic, 1/3 teaspoon dill seed, 1/3 teaspoon mustard seed, and 1 or 2 pepper pods (hot or mild).
2. Pack the jars with pickles and/or veggies.
3. Put in the pot to boil: 1 1/2 quarts vinegar, 3 quarts water, 2/3 cup canning salt, 1/4 teaspoon alum.
4. We processed our pickles in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.

Give these a try and see what you think!

Happy day!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Minty Greener Recipe for Homemade Toothpaste

Recently I tried making my own basic tooth powder with baking soda and Stevia. While I can tolerate the powder, my husband cannot. So I thought I'd try making a paste. I found some recipes online but they didn't sound good to me, so, as usual, I made up my own out of some things I had purchased to make lotion and balm out of. Here's what I came up with. While it isn't a zero waste recipe, the ingredients will definitely be used to make lotion and balm that will help me avoid many plastic containers to come. The coconut oil I bought from our local bulk store, though in a plastic tub.

So, here it is for all those who have been asking....

Minty Greener Homemade Toothpaste

2 tablespoons coconut oil
3 tablespoons baking soda
2 teaspoons Stevia powder
5 drops Stevia liquid
30 drops peppermint oil
5 drops spearmint oil

Mix together in a small bowl. I had to melt the coconut oil a few seconds in the microwave because it's too cold in the house to melt (coconut oil melts at 76 degrees F). While still creamy, transfer to your glass jar or container.

Hope this recipe will work for you. Next time I think I'll try spearmint. Please post any variations to the recipe you try! I'm always up for new things.

Happy day!
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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Letter to Ingles: A Customer's Plea for Bulk

The WallImage by bcmom via Flickr
Dear Sir or Ma'am,

Hi! My name is Joy Beshears and I'm a customer of Ingles in Elkin, NC. Although, I do spread my shopping out among all of the stores in the area, both Food Lions, Wal-Mart, IGA, and even Yadkin Valley General: the only bulk store in the area. Here is my request...I'm going to actually beg you to carry some bulk food I items.

And by bulk I don't mean huge cans of green beans or 50lb bags of rice. I'm talking about bins of loose grains and snacks and the like that one could purchase in the amount they wish: a handful of nuts, a cup of oatmeal, or 4 pounds of pasta. This would enable me to purchase things I want without all of the excessive and wasteful packaging. Frankly, I don't want to pay for packaging. I know that Elkin may not seem the best market for it, but perhaps you could take a serious look at the possibility.

My family has been moving toward a zero waste lifestyle and it is virtually impossible to accomplish that in this area. Even the bulk store I mentioned above will not measure things out into my container for me. Our goal as a family is to not fill landfills with unnecessary waste. When every single item one must purchase is packaged at least partly in plastic, this goal is almost unattainable.

Supply is generated by demand, and when we purchase something over packaged, we send the message that we want more of that item. But consider for a moment that your consumers--including me--may not mean to send that exact message to you, but rather these packaged items are our only option. I urge you to consider becoming the only supplier of natural healthy bulk items in the area. Seriously, I have to drive an hour to buy out of bulk bins. If you do this then I would certainly become a loyal (and monogamous) customer of Ingles. And I'd be willing to bet that I'm not alone.

So, please consider this...bring it up at your next meeting. Should you need a voice from your customer field, I'd be more than happy to attend any meeting or write any letter.

Joy Beshears
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Friday, April 1, 2011

Moving Toward Zero Waste

Monday will mark week three of our move toward zero waste living. What a challenge! As of today, we still have not filled a kitchen trash can of waste. However, keep in mind that we are not including diapers in our calculations because we can't really get around putting diapers on our child for now. We began with cloth diapers in our efforts to be green and save money but Eli kept getting a rash even though we constantly changed his diaper. So, we've decided to give ourselves a break to keep from giving up our zero waste efforts all together. Also realize that as we transition, we are recycling things that must be recycled. Before we toss something in the trash or recycle bins, we give thought to whether or not someone could use the item. We compost scraps and newspaper, and offer reusable containers (egg cartons, coffee cans, bottles, etc. on or Craigslist. We are currently reducing our use of plastics, but are finding it difficult to maneuver around certain evils such as juice and milk.

First I thought of making my own juice for Eli, but it seems the only affordable option for us would be to make orange juice, and he just doesn't care for orange juice. Besides that, I don't own a juicer and money is tight. I became very excited at the option of frozen juice in a paper container, but as I dismantled the container, I found the horrible plastic lining inside the paper container! Yuck! Now my attempts at better options for juice are limited to recyclable cartons.

While we live across form a dairy, it seems impossible to purchase a gallon of milk around here in anything other than a plastic jug. And while I may be able to run one hour to the nearest town with bulk shopping, I cannot do this on a weekly basis as we need milk. So, our recycling continues but decreases.

Still, we are making progress. We are using cloth napkins and towels, reusable glass and stainless cups for traveling. I'm making our toothpaste and will make my next batch of lotion and lip balm from some of the same ingredients to ultimately cut down on waste. Not a perfect solution, but then I haven't found one yet.

We are very proud of our efforts toward zero waste. It seems, however, that we are somewhat limited, as we do not have the luxury of a variety of bulk stores to shop. We live in rural NC, in the middle of farm country. The only bulk store sells pre-weighed and prepackaged items. Our only option is to leave their bag with them for them to discard. And while this surely keeps the trash out of my can, it doesn't keep it out of my county landfill. Without driving an hour to do so, I have yet to find a bulk store for food, dog food, etc, milk in a glass bottle, or a meat counter that will sell me things in my own container. I have found eggs, a deli counter and pinto beans. Of the five grocery stores within 25 minutes of me, only one carries white vinegar in a glass bottle. The Whole Foods an hour away does not sell shampoo in bulk.

While others say there are no excuses, I challenge them to attempt a zero waste home from here. And though we will no doubt have plastic or paper juice and milk cartons in our recycling bins--and shampoo bottles-- we will be proud of our many accomplishments in these two and a half weeks. Seriously, we are rockin' this attempt at zero waste!

So I encourage you to do what you can. Every bit helps, does it not? And if someone tries to blast your attempts, ignore them and continue with your efforts.

Happy day!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Pimp My Clothesline!

What can I say, I have the best husband in the world. He pimped my clothesline!

I wish I had some before shots of the mangled tin, antenna-like contraption the previous owner left behind; what a horrid metal weed it was. Completely inadequate!

Since we needed a new gate leading out the back fence to the garden, Steve (best husband in the world) incorporated the clothesline and gate frame together and added in some floral metal panels my father-in-law rescued from the dump.

He also built in a wooden bench to sit my clothes basket on. And if that isn't snazzy enough, my clotheslines, all six of them, are on pulleys. I don't even have to move to hang or remove my clothes from the line!

Jealous? Well, you should be.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

PULLZ on Etsy