Tuesday, August 8

Smokey Hot Vegan Red Lentil Soup

This recipe for Smokey Hot Vegan Red Lentil Soup is so easy to make. It cooks up quick, tastes delicious and is kid approved.

Our tomatoes are ripening almost faster than we can pick them. I should add, we planted 16 cherry tomato plants, and 34 other tomato plant varieties. Don't ask me what I was thinking. Really, I can't give you an answer, other than we started them from seed and I couldn't handle the idea of "wasting" one of our precious baby plants.

We gifted quite a few plants to friends and I've been busy canning salsa's and diced tomatoes like it's my job. I plan to give a few gallon sized bags of cherry tomatoes away, but I also want to use up and save as much as I can too.

This recipe is perfect for those of you who may have an over-abundance of cherry tomatoes coming in from the garden right now.

It's also perfect for those of you wanting a nutritious, filling plant-based meal option. We are not Vegans (though I was a strict vegan for a while in my past), however we do make plant based meals multiple times each week. It's incredibly healthy, sustainable and less expensive than a meat based meal.

Scroll down to make this easy, tasty vegan lentil dish.

Smokey Hot Vegan Red Lentil Soup

2 TBSP Avocado Oil
1 Large Red Onion Chopped
2 lbs Cherry Tomatoes Cut in Half
1.5 Cups Red Lentils
4 Cups Vegetable Stock
1 Tsp Smoked Paprika
1/4 Tsp Cayenne Pepper Flakes
Salt & Pepper to Taste
Fresh Basil (for garnish - optional)

1) In a large stockpot or skillet with a tall edge, sauté the chopped red onion until caramelized over medium/high heat.  Season with salt and pepper.

2) Reduce heat to medium and add the tomatoes. Let simmer for a bit until most of the juices have been released.

3) Add red lentils, smoked paprika and pepper flakes, followed by one cup of vegetable stock. Simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed and then add another cup of stock. Continue doing this until the lentils are soft and tender.

4) Serve hot and garnished with fresh basil if desired. We found the basil added depth to the dish and really was a great addition.

Wednesday, August 2

Right Now

Right now, the garden is producing a TON of food, and as a family, we have been busy preserving the bounty. You'll notice if you click on the label "right now" at the bottom of this post, I have been blogging about our "right now's" for quite some time. I think it's fun to go back and look at these, it brings me back to those moments, almost like a visual journal.

Here are a few photos from the last week or so around our little homestead...

The older two children like to spend time with me out in the garden, as well as the kitchen. They always have.

My youngest however, has declared she will never be a gardener, she doesn't have time for that. She's going to be a rock star. If I want to, I can bring her vegetables after her shows. Really, these were her exact words. She may still come around, but it will have to be on her own terms. I don't force the kids to garden or participate in anything homesteading related they don't willingly want to. That is, aside from age appropriate house chores, for fear they may end up resenting it down the road.

The carrots pictured above were washed, peeled, cut into sticks and put in a large bowl of water in the refrigerator. They stay fresh and crisp for an incredible amount of time this way. This works with chopped lettuce and pretty much any other greens as well. It also makes for quick, easy and healthy snacking for everyone in the house. I'm proud to say not a single carrot went to waste, and that bowl was huge.

There has been a bit of jam making, but not nearly as much as I would like. I'm going to get adventurous and try some unusual combinations this year. I'll be sure to share those when I do.

Here are links to the recipes for the jars you see pictured above...

** The pickle relish was made with a Mrs. Wages spice packet. **

My youngest won't help in the yard, but she's more than happy to help make things pretty label. We buy most of our grains and flours in bulk. My poor neighbor ended up with a 50lb bag of oats on his doorstep the other day and walked it over to us. I'm sure he thought we were crazy when I told him what it was.

Buying organic can get expensive, so to cut costs, we buy bulk when we can. This should last us all year. I store the gallon sized bags in our freezer to help preserve freshness. We do this with whole wheat flour as well.

Why is it so important to buy organic?

Commercial oats and wheat are heavily sprayed with pesticides prior to harvesting. Even though they are hulled and for the flour, milled, a large amount of pesticide residue is left on the grains. It's worth every extra penny to me, to know that when I feed my children (with their tiny bodies that can not handle as much pesticide residue as an adult), they are ingesting wholesome, clean and pesticide free food.

Not sure what to do with all those oats?

After we chopped up all the carrots, I gave some tops to the chickens and the rabbit. The only one interested in them was the dog. She scared off the chickens...

Then promptly turned her nose up at the carrots. These were cleaned up and the chickens went back to happily searching for bugs.