Harvest Time Means Winter Food Preparations!

I have been so preoccupied the past few months that I totally forgot one (of the many) reasons I started this blog:  I was wanting to try other healthier, whole foods based on what my body was telling me I needed to consume, takes photos, create new recipes and blog about the process.  What a great time to get into it!  It is harvest time and Fall and Winter vegetables are some of my favourites!  This is also a great way for me to combine a few of my hobbies into a single project:  cooking, health and wellness, preserving, photography and blogging!

Before I started blogging on a regular basis over the Summer, we picked up a sprouting kit for a donation at the SFU Farmers Market.  The kit we got is using the jar method but after being told that it was better to get one that has the 3 (or more) levels for sprouting, I have been on the hunt for one.  You can sprout more then one type of seed at a time and because there are three levels, you can spread out your sprouting every few days.  This ensures so you always have all three sprouted and would not have to wait a few days for new sprouts.

One of my favourite lunches to have when I had lost my 65lbs, was toasted veggie sammiches with FF cream cheese, sprouts and veggies.  There was also my Yummy Tuna Sammich that I need to figure out a substitute for because Uprising Breads is in Vancouver.  I will have to re-calculate but it was a 2 or 3 point sandwich that I lived off of at one point.  When I was really hungry and was exercising a lot, I would also either make a container of the Campbell’s Gardennay or home made soup which are between 1 and 3 points per 500ml serving.  I have butternut and acorn squash at home that I will be cooking up and either canning or freezing for the Winter.

With there being so many problems associated with eating meat, I have been trying to find other ways of getting other healthy protein in our diets such as quinoa, pois chiche and other foods that are high in iron and protein.  There was a bunch of really great looking recipes in the September 2012 issue of Alive magazine that I would like to try out.  I am an avid reader of the Alive magazine which has me heading to a couple of local stores at least once a month (great marketing) and I always feel as though I have to buy something in there when I take a free magazine.

Am I the only that feels like I’m stealing if I mainly head to a store to pickup a free magazine but feel that even if they don’t have anything I want to buy at that time, that I still should buy something?

What I did on my Summer Vacation

Summer of 2012 is probably the first in 20 years that I have been able to manage in the heat and enjoy my Summer.  It also feels like the one that has whizzed by the fastest.  Even though I have been enjoying it, I am (as always) looking forward to it being Fall – one of my two favourite seasons of the year (the other being Spring).

May 2012:

Beginning the first week of May, my partner started teaching a 12-week course at SFU in Burnaby.  This meant weekly commutes between White Rock to the in-laws and back home to Kelowna until wrapping up the first week of August.  Some of those trips were overnight and others were a week or longer when our kitties were left to fend for themselves (with visits from friends, our neighbour and an abandoned dog).  Over the Victoria Day long weekend in May, I traveled home to Parksville with my son while my partner worked in White Rock on her dissertation.  Most of May for me was prepping for surgery and getting chores done around the house I would not be able to do once I had my surgery.

June 2012:

On June 1st, I had my surgery and thankfully, it was a great healing experience for me.  I have a lot of gratitude for those who helped my body and I prepare both for the surgery and the recovery in the weeks that followed.  I still cannot believe I had surgery three months ago.  We spent the first week of June in a hotel room while I recovered from surgery closer to my surgeon in Vancouver before returning home for our sons last few weeks of pre-school.

Two weeks into my surgery recovery, I took on the position of Volunteer Coordinator for Okanagan Pride where I was trying to coordinate over 50 volunteers for eight events during Pride week.  Something I really do not recommend any one take on while recovering from surgery.  As much as I was looking forward to what was the biggest and most successful Okanagan Prides ever, I was burnt out long before it started and was looking forward to it being over.

July 2012:

In July, my partner and son were out of town and I was a Bachelor for Two Weeks.  Most of the time I spent in Kelowna by myself but I did take a Road Trip for five nights to my home town of Parksville.  The same nights that my partner was in Paris presenting at a conference, my son was gone to the Rockies with his grandparents (and most of those nights, I was in Parksville).

In early July, I got a lot of work accomplished (noted in Bachelor for Two Weeks) and started working on goals for primarily the Summer of 2012 but also preparing to head into the Fall of 2012.  It took me a few weeks, but I eventually turned what was initially just a quick checklist in Back to Reality, into well thought out SMART goals and a list of tasks that I am tracking on my Dreamboard Goals page.  At the end of July, I wrote and passed two of my Crystal Healing Exams and officially became a Crystal Healing Practitioner.

August 2012:

The first week of August was spent between White Rock and New Westminster.  I have to say that most of the weekend felt like a family vacation which was great!  I published the following blog posts about our adventures while we were on the coast:

Our son attended his first (Grossology) Lego Camp with Bricks for Kidz in Kelowna.  The following week he spent away from us with his grandparents in White Rock where he attended another camp.  As if I was not busy enough coordinating volunteers and volunteering myself for Okanagan Pride week, that same week, we started our canning for the year.  We started canning season with Cherry and Apricot canning and then on to making 46 jars of Canned Peach Salsa.  While recuperating the week after Pride, I landed a job that has me heading Back to Work in September.  I also caught up on work, relaxed and enjoyed the week off while our son was away before picking him up at Britton Creek.  I even spent four hours one morning on the patio of Blenz catching up on reading my Popular Photography magazines.

During the Labour Day weekend, we went to the IPE in Armstrong and also started canning just plain old Canned Peaches.  Because of how much canning we had already done this season, I bought two 12 packs of quart sized canning jars and will need to buy more.  Pears are just coming into season and I am not sure yet if we will can any tomatoes or spaghetti sauces this year.

Summer of Firsts:

Summer 2012 has also been a Summer for a lot of firsts for me thanks to the surgery I waited over six years for:

  • Felt the sun on my back
  • Felt the rain on my chest
  • Went topless in public
  • Enjoyed the Summer heat
  • Bought men’s swim trunks
  • First successful career change
  • Played with my son in the water park
  • True confidence and motivation
  • Living and enjoying life
  • Present in the Here and Now
  • Feel complete and the man I was meant to be

It was not until at least two months post-op that I realized just how much not having had my surgery affected my ability to live a healthy and fulfilling life.  Since surgery on June 1st, I have not just had the desire or dream of doing certain things in life (such as blogging and photography), I am actually doing them as you can see from the progress noted on my Dreamboard Goals page.

Now that Fall is settling in and our Summer is winding down, I really look forward to going back to a somewhat scheduled weekly routine:  my partner and son at school and most of all, my being back at work!  I am looking forward to getting back to Geocaching and finally succeeding in my Weight Loss Journey.

This post marks my first 1,000+ word blog post!  Now to celebrate with my first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season!

Pumpkin Spice Latte and Pumpkin Scone

What did you do on your Summer vacation?  Did you go to any fairs?  Take in any parades?

Canning Supplies Shopping List

Growing up on the West Coast of Canada, we spent a lot of time fishing for salmon in the Summer and canned several cases of it a year.  My grandparents had cherry trees and I always enjoyed my grandmothers canned cherries.  Since moving to the Okanagan, we have been doing a lot of canning to take advantage of all the cheap (and free) fruit we have access to.

I was fortunate enough to be able to buy both an 11 and a 21 quart, seven jar, black enamel canner on sale for cheaper then the regular price on the larger sized canner.  Both canners came with a rack in them and I picked up one of those five piece home canning kits which has come in very handy.

Essential Canning Supplies:

  • Hot Water Canner and Canning Rack
  • Stove (or other heat source)
  • Canning Jars, Canning Jar Rings and Canning Lids
  • Canning (wider mouthed) Funnel
  • Magnetic Lid Lifter
  • Jar Lifter
  • Tongs
  • Canning Recipes!
Useful Supplies:
  • Tea Towels
  • Cutting board
  • Baking sheets
  • Pearing knives
  • Cooling Racks
Optional Canning Supplies:
  • Jar Wrench
  • Cherry pitter
  • Air Conditioning (certainly nice to have in Summer heat)
  • Sturdy Shelf (no sun exposure)

We have been fortunate enough to get a lot of jars given to us by family and have found boxes of them by our mailbox.  We also re-use a lot of jars that our food from the stores come in.  I have heard people say they have had nothing but problems (cracking jars) from using them but we have never had a problem.  My MIL has jars that are probably 20-30+ years old from store bought items and they work just fine.

My mom always made raspberry jam (sealed with wax) and strawberry jam (sealed with lids).  We have found in making apricot jam and sealing with wax, that our jars of apricot jam have gone moldy underneath the wax even a few short months after they have been processed. (anyone have any tips or suggestions on this?) Because of this, we have started sealing them with hot lids instead to ensure they don’t go moldy.

When it comes to canning and the lids need to seal the jars, do not re-use the lids!  The lids are only meant to be used once for sealing.  But you can re-use the lids in between the jars in the hot water canner (to reduce them bumping together in the boiling water) or on the tops of jams that are sealed with wax.

Have any tips or tricks for canning?  Leave a comment below!