Canning Soup for Instant Winter Lunches

I am terrible when it comes to lunch inspiration.  I despise sandwiches, don’t like wraps, not really into salads as main courses, don’t want processed foods, and have little time to make anything the night before or morning of.  My husband leaves at six in the morning and needs a packed lunch.  Sometimes I just have to feed myself, sometimes I feed three or four girls when I work at my shop.  I need lunch solutions!

soup 2

Enter the beautiful pot of soup.

I generally make at least one soup a week for a meal.  It doesn’t take much energy to make it a bigger batch.  I serve a delicious soup with homemade bread and vegetables from the garden for dinner then the next morning I can the rest of the soup in wide mouth pint jars.  Instant lunches through the winter.  Choose a soup, take it to work!  I always have bread made and with a side of fruit or canned applesauce, maybe some crackers, or carrots and dip, this is a great lunch.

soup

So long as the soup doesn’t have dairy or rice in it, this will work.  Pour soup into large mouth pint jars leaving an inch head space.  Make sure rim is clean and replace lid.  Put three inches of water into pressure canner.  Put jars in.  Secure lid and turn on heat on high.  Listen for lovely ticking sound from the shaker, turn down heat a little, and pressure can (10 lbs of pressure for most folks, all the weights all the time for us high altitudes) for 1 hour.  Anything with seafood goes 1 hour and 40 minutes.  Let steam release naturally.  Then remove from pot and let cool on towel on counter.  When the jars are cool and the you know the seals are set, label, date, and add to root cellar shelves.

Enjoy instant homemade lunch all winter.  I love this homesteading life.

 

 

A Deliciously Simple Spring Salad

IMG_0849

This salad was like medicine after a long winter’s nap.  There are a lot of nutrients in this delicious and very simple salad.

Snap the woody bottoms off of asparagus and place on a cookie sheet.  Add a handful of pine nuts over the asparagus.  Drizzle with truffle oil (or olive oil) and sprinkle on salt and pepper.  Roast at 400 degrees for five minutes.

Meanwhile place a handful of spinach and arugula in a bowl.  Drizzle with truffle or olive oil, a dash of red wine vinegar, and sprinkle with salt and pepper and mix.

Top with sliced muenster cheese (the kids used to call it Monster cheese) or one could easily substitute goat cheese or any other favorite cheese.

Top with asparagus and pine nuts.  And there you go, a simple and scrumptious lunch!

This salad would pare nicely a cool Chenin Blanc or Pinot Grigio.  Happy Spring!

Lunch Creativity (seeking it!)

picnic

Ahh, lunch.  My nemesis.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind going out to lunch!  But standing in my kitchen at lunchtime trying to figure out what to prepare always leaves me baffled.  Once farmer’s market season starts (next week!) I have to pack lunches.  Oy, then it really gets fun.  We go out a lot during farmers market season.  Now, since I have to be saving up money for the entire year, it seems silly to be spending a fair amount on breakfast and lunch.  Breakfast is a little easier.  I could make some banana bread, or pack some biscuits and coffee, but lunch…It also looks bad that we are at our booth selling delicious, healthy fare, then running over and grabbing fast food.  Contradiction!

I always start out with good intentions, I always envision a full cooler of delicious fare.  Then farming season hits full swing and our herbal business takes off!  I am too tired to pack anything come a week into the whole venture.  This year, I am doing one or two less markets.  I am going to embrace healthy living…all the time, and saving money.  Here’s my problem and that is where you can help.

I don’t care for most sandwiches.  I don’t like the consistency of mushy bread.  It is a little hot for soup.  I can only eat so many salads and then I am starving and go get something else.  I need creativity, ideas, wise housewives to give me a clue!  Surely that is not the entire makeup of lunch!  My friends out there, please reply with your favorite lunch ideas.  Particularly ones that I can pack easily.

If you were going to a farmers market at 5:30 and wouldn’t be home until 2:30, what would you pack?  Don’t forget the thermoses of coffee!  We also need filling food.  We work really hard in the summer and are always hungry.  And since we are working while eating, something easy to eat.

Thanks ahead of time for the ideas!

(I love this picture from Williams-Sonoma!)

The Long Farm Lunch

IMG_0461

They sat together comfortably at a long table in the vineyard under the trees.  The slight breeze was not menacing but sweet and lifted the warm air so that the scents of flowers all around could be inhaled.  Grapes hung heavy on the vines and the birds sang sweetly.  Friends laughed and poured another glass of wine.  Shared plates circled the table and the hours went by with companionship, rest, and food.  Crispy baguettes and fresh olive oil that taste of hay and summer.  Sliced ripe tomatoes and salty mozzarella……

These are the kind of things I read.  I read book after book of travel and ‘moving to Europe’ memoirs and drool incessantly over the pages then go back to my farm kitchen and do dishes.  The people in my books never do dishes.  They just eat.  It is amazing I am not a larger woman as I think I am perhaps part hobbit and love to eat…often.  My favorite memoirs take place in Europe because they do something that we here in America don’t do.  Rest.  On a workday.  With wine.  In the middle of the day.  Can I get an amen?

I grew up on peanut butter and jelly or cheese sandwiches with chips and two small cookies.  Packed in my Muppets lunch box with a thermos of kool aide, lunch became less than exciting and to this day I do not eat peanut butter and jelly or cheese sandwiches!  When my kids were little, packing lunches was my nemesis because they would not just eat sandwiches and my gourmet offerings could only go so far.  Still, planning lunches is difficult.  I can make the most elaborate dinners in minutes, never repeat a recipe, write book after book filled with delicious dinners but lunches…mais non.

I am doing well this year with my resolutions.  I am flossing regularly, doing yoga once a week, taking my daily herbal tinctures, and being nice.  I am adding to my list a new lunch routine.  I do hope you’ll join me.  Too often lunch is a rushed thing.  We just weren’t raised with any type of lunch knowledge save for back to back commercials of fast food.  So, here is my lunch plan.  I started it last week and it is lovely.  When I am at the shop, I am rushed so I still have to work on that, but on days I am home doing laundry and cleaning, I am Italian or French…sometimes Spanish.

IMG_0500

I prepare “peasant plates” of what my family calls mish mosh.  Romantic term; probably won’t make it into any of the books I read.  It is a bit of heavenly cheese, crackers, homemade bread, olives, homemade pickles, salad, leftovers, whatever inspires me.  Some dates, grapes, or some type of fruit.  I get bored very, very easily and one bowl meals make me wander off and forget to finish my food so the variety pleases me.

And now breaking all the rules.  I pour myself a half a glass of wine.  In the middle of the day.  I am tired of self inflicted rules.  I am tired of “appropriate”, who the heck made that up, expectations.  I did not have a sip of wine or alcohol until I was twenty seven years old.  Doug jokes that he drove me to drink.  My mother was quite serious and adamant that I would become an alcoholic if I had but one drink.  I believed that with all my being and religiously did not imbibe.  So when I got married and saw Doug had a beer and did not become an alcoholic I was shocked.  So, I had a bit of wine.  Lo and behold, I am not an alcoholic and that has taken me years of analyzing how many ounces of wine I put in the glass, how many did I have (usually one or less), how much did I have this week to see if I was becoming one.  Though it worked that I did not drink as a teenager or young adult, her plan has set silent boundaries in my head I seek to release.  I know my body and I know that a glass at lunch does not make me any less than brilliant.  I work much harder after a good rest.

So, great book in hand, dreaming of being in Italy, I read and nibble and sip.  Ahh, it is wonderful.  When all is said and done, I have only sat for thirty minutes but if feels like a two hour break for my mind and body.  When summer comes sneaking in, with all its busyness and tasks, I will sit beneath the Elm tree next to the lilacs and read, nibble, and sip my way to happiness…and maybe a few friends will come by and join me.  I’ll work on growing a vineyard.