Last summer, one of my sisters-in-law called me up and told me that a still small voice whispered in her ear and told her to give all of her canning gear to me. I said, sure! Bring it on! Who am I to argue with the voice of God!
A few days later, my mother-in-law, Pat, showed up at our house, and her truck was filled to the brim with canners, a pressure cooker, more mason jars than I had ever seen of all shapes and sizes, rings, lids, and any and all contraptions you can possibly use to can and preserve with. I was ecstatic – at that point in my life I was embracing anew the joys of home canning and preserving, having a certain amount of time to devote to it, and having a plethora of fresh veggies to deal with. That was the first summer we did the veggie bus, and we did it out of our house. My husband turned our porch into a walk-in refrigerator. It was INSANE!! We had vegetables EVERYWHERE!!! Needless to say, there was many a day I was on a mission to save the tomatoes, or the peaches, or the peppers from over ripening and feeding the compost, and I was indeed grateful for the canning gift from God/Melanie.
Armed with the Ball canning book, and a hot line to Mom, I made pickles, canned tomatoes and the most beautiful canned peaches I have ever had. Opening them up in the cold of winter was like rays of golden sunshine.
Then I received a great spaghetti sauce recipe from Melanie via Facebook, and I promptly made a dozen quarts of it. It was really another gift from God, because it combined all of my surplus veggies together. That canned sauce saved a LOT of veggies, and me time and energy all last winter. Every time I used it in some way or another, my husband would say, “This is good, when did you make this?” and I would proudly say,” last summer!”
I love looking at my jars of canned goods when they sit cooling on the counter in my kitchen. I feel satisfied, although I may be hot and tired, and that I have done good work, and accomplished something. I write the date, and then “Love + Gratitude” on them. It makes me happy, and when I give a jar away to a friend, they always smile when they see the words.
I try to write “love + gratitude” on as many things as I can. I had them written on my checks, so I can send my bills good energy it makes paying them easier. I notice my friends are starting to write the words “love + gratitude” on things too. Today, the day after I drafted this blog, Joyful, one of our volunteers came in with her water bottle and it says:
Dr Matsuro Emoto, the Japanese scientist and author of Hidden Messages in Water and other books, photographs water crystals that have specific emotions directed at them. He has scientifically proven that the words “Love and Gratitude” are the two most powerful loving words we have and have direct impact on whatever they are directed at, whether animate, or inanimate. You may have seen Dr. Emoto in the film, What the Bleep Do We Know. If you get the opportunity to see him lecture, go.
Here’s a short video that explains his work and demonstrates the profound effect our words and emotions have on water.
A couple of years ago when I lived in NYC I had a music/performance project called “Reverend Suzi and the Shanthi Gospel Project” which involved crystal singing bowls, drums, flutes, Tibetan gongs, bowls and longhorns, and other crazy performance art depending on the venue. We dressed up in wonderful costumes and once we got invited to play at the United Nations, at 2 in the morning on the Spring Equinox for Earth Day. . It was post 9-11, and the area was in lock down, so it was just us and security. Guillaume projected videos on the UN building while Steve-O DJ’d off the I-pod. Jeff wore his alien outfit. It was a wonderful night.
Later we were lucky enough to be invited to play at one of Dr. Emoto’s lectures in NYC and I was honored to meet him. I think of him as a personal hero. At the lecture, he told a story about some school children who did an experiment with him, using fermented jars of rice. The first jar of rice they gave loving, grateful thoughts to. The second jar, they gave thoughts of hatred, and the third jar they ignored completely. Guess what happened! The first jar of rice that was loved, fermented beautifully. The second jar, that was hated, started rotting after a couple days. The third jar, which had been ignored, turned black, putrid and rotten almost immediately. Ignoring something or someone is the worst thing you can do.
That story, and the beautiful photographs of water crystals that Dr. Emoto takes, really inspired me to devote consciousness about the energy that I project towards people, things and situations. Sometimes when I am alone in our farm market I meditate on the vegetables, sending them love, gratitude, vitality and Reiki. I hope it helps them be especially delicious. I imagine our customers eating happy food. I try to have a spiritual approach to everything I do, especially the mundane, or difficult tasks. It makes everything easier. What is the alternative?
Ingredients are approximate – vary according to your personal taste (-:
1/2 bushel tomatoes (5 gallon bucket I like to mix up the varieties – Hanovers, heirlooms, romas)
3lbs chopped onions
4 sweet peppers
3 hot peppers
1 box garlic – @5-6 cloves
1 lb mushrooms (if you like them)
1 handful fresh or Tbsp dried Oregano
1 handful fresh or Tbsp dried Basil
10 small cans or 5 large Tomato paste (more or less depending on how thick you like it)
1/2 cup honey or sugar – depending on how sweet the tomatoes are
1 cup olive oil
¼- cup salt more or less to taste
Get your tomatoes. You can order a box of them from your local farmer, farmer’s market, or pick them from your backyard. It’s OK if your tomatoes aren’t perfect, for this project, so see if you can get a deal on some that aren’t picture perfect. Core, and peel bad spots, and cut tomatoes into pieces. I blend them in small batches in the blender for a few seconds, with the fresh herbs, just until chunky. You can also squish with your hands, foley mill or food process. Don’t overdo it with the blender or food processor – it will be too juicy. I have a K-tec blender that I love and use every single day and it was worth every single penny.
Saute onion, garlic, mushrooms together with olive oil. If there is left over oil, mix it into the sauce once you add the tomatoes. Once vegetables are done, add the tomatoes and cook until as thick as you want.
Add to sterilized jars (I sterilize mine in the dishwasher) and water bath 10-15 minutes.
Write “love + gratitude” on the lids, along with the date.
Yields: 5-6 qts.
You can, of course, use this to feed a crowd of people, instead of jarring it up.