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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegetarians in Paradise

Using Your Bean

With this issue Vegetarians in Paradise continues the bean explorations of VOW, a diabetic who has discovered the importance of beans in her diet. In subsequent VIP issues VOW will enlighten our readers with the further Adventures of the Bean.

Adventures of the Bean #31
Canning Is Similar to Diabetes Management

By VOW, of course

Last Mother's Day, I put out my request for a canning pressure cooker. EVENTUALLY we hope to be growing our own food out in The Promised Land, and I wanted to be ready for my first harvest! Canning your own food is like anything else: it takes practice to get it right. And the finished product sits on your pantry shelf and smiles at you, letting you know that you have provided for your family. Now tell me, what is better than THAT?

VOW And what a coincidence! Diabetes management sounds very similar! You take care of your body, control your blood glucose levels, eat proper foods, and exercise, all of which take practice to get them in sync and working right. Your results are better health, longer life, and knowing that you are able to be an active, participating member of your family. There's NOTHING better than that!

Years and years (and years!) ago, after my husband and I bought our first house, I got into the whole "Earth Mother" mindset. I think my subscription to Mother Earth News probably contributed a lot towards my thinking. I started out with a dehydrator, and I advanced to jams and canning applesauce in a water-bath canner. Eventually, I progressed to the goal of obtaining a pressure canner.

I think I used it once.

And I have no idea where that original pressure canner finally ended up. I've moved so many times since then, it could be just anywhere. I hope somebody found it and gave it a good home. Now that we're progressing to inhabiting our home in Arizona, and making at least some of the thirty-six acres productive, I find that those "Earth Mother" instincts have re-awakened. I want to fill pantries and closets and shelves with food that I have grown and preserved with my own two hands. I have a need to provide not only to my husband, but to my grown children, my friends, and especially The Center of the Universe (COTU), also known as my gorgeous granddaughter. Boy, my journey of food preservation also sounds like the story of diabetes management! We start out gung ho, blasting away like gangbusters, eager to do it all, try it all, have it all. Things change, we may move, get a new job, even retire. We add new family members, and our children grow up and start their own lives.

And all those good intentions fly out the window.

But like food preservation efforts, you can always begin anew. You can rediscover your path, and rededicate yourself to your health. And you can nurture that spark, and make it grow to a brilliant light, to illuminate your path so you can participate fully in Life.

Gosh, just makes you want to stand up and salute the flag, doesn't it? My first project with the pressure canner was my homemade chili. Like a lot of things I do, I went overboard. I actually filled an entire 18-quart roaster with a humongous batch of chili. I discovered that when approaching a canning project, the smart thing is to NOT try to cook and pressure can on the same day. I ended up refrigerating the chili, and then canning another day. I conquered the awkwardness of learning something new, and now I feel semi-proficient at pressure canning. So much, in fact, that I cooked up a double batch of my Apricot Lentil Soup and now I have a dozen jars of deliciousness waiting for a future meal.

Home Canning Make that eleven jars. My gorgeous granddaughter (COTU) has developed a notorious reputation for not liking her vegetables. I donated a jar of the Apricot Lentil Soup for her consumption, and she proclaimed it to be delicious! I plan on cooking more of my bean recipes and putting them in the pressure canner. It's the perfect solution since there are just the two of us out at The Promised Land. I've got portion-controlled, diabetes-friendly meals sitting on my shelf, a testament to my "Earth Mother" attributes.

Canning your own foods is perfectly safe, but I must caution anyone thinking of following in my footsteps to please research the subject and insure that you are using the proper tools. All low-acid foods (vegetables and beans) must be processed in a pressure canner. A regular pressure cooker won't work: it must be a system that is designed to handle jars and keep the interior at a constant pressure. You'll need canning jars, new lids for each batch, and the knowledge of the elevation of where you are doing the canning.

There are plenty of resources available to educate you about correct pressure canning. The instruction manual that comes with a new pressure canner will have most of your information, along with some recipes you might want to try. Through the ages, many home canners have relied on a famous book called Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving. It's published by the manufacturer of one of the biggest brand of home canning essentials, such as jars and lids. Another book that I consider to be priceless is Stocking Up, published by Rodale Press. My personal edition was published in 1977, and no, it's not chiseled on stone tablets! Rodale Press has published updates since then. And the absolute pinnacle of authority on home canning, in my eyes, is Jackie Clay. She's one of the featured contributors to Backwoods Home Magazine.

My next project is canning Adzuki Apple-"Bacon" Soup. --After I buy some more jars!

Click here for more Adventures of the Bean

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