seed saving

seed saving-4678We had a prolific crop of bush beans this year.  It was probably the best yield in the garden, second to lettuce, with no pest issues.  We planted three rounds of bush beans in purple, green & yellow.  The purple is my favorite simply because they turn green when you cook them.  Right before your eyes!  We’ve been eating them fresh for a couple of months and I blanched and froze some for winter.

As we continue to harvest more, I’ve grouped the pods together in bunches to dry out.  Once the bean pods are all shriveled up, they’re ready for seed saving.  The pods open up pretty easily along the seam with a fingernail or scissors. And boom, there’s next year’s seeds so we can do it all over again.  A frugal little DIY…

seed saving

I have repeated these steps with snap peas as well so we have a little stash of peas to plant next spring.  This is a fun garden task to engage kids in.  The seeds are big so they’re hard to lose although I’ve had a few pop out of the pod and fly across the room!

These seeds are, in fact, the actual bean.  As in, the dry bean you buy from the store so we could always soak them and eat them this winter.  It is just another way to preserve the bean harvest.  I think we’ll plant a bigger crop next year so we can produce a decent amount of dry beans.  At this point, we have a few dozen – enough to plant but certainly not enough for a bean soup!

seed saving jar

Speaking of next year, The Old Farmer’s Almanac for 2015 is now available at The West End Garage.  I took a sneak peek at the weather forecasts!  Let’s just say that we may have been spoiled by our mild summer weather this year.

The Old Farmer's Almanac 2015 now available at The West End Garage

frigid weather soup

On a frigid cold day, like today ’round here, there’s nothing like hot spicy soup.

Tortilla soup, that is!

Spicy Tortilla Soup

I adapted part of this recipe from Happy Herbivore (which I am a big fan of) but gave it my own spin.

It all started with a jar of salsa and a 15 oz can of pinto beans.  Not the most glamorous ingredients in the world of eating fresh plant-based foods but the pantry choices were slim and we were in the midst of a snowstorm.  So my friends, the two main ingredients came from a can and a jar.  And I think it’s quite genius in a pinch.

Puree 1 cup of salsa, 1 cup of the beans with 1 cup of broth.  Fortunately I made my favorite French Onion Soup the night before so I simply drained a cup of the flavorful broth from there.

Spicy Tortilla Soup

Once blended into a creamy broth (you know how I love creamy soups, right?) I transferred into a stock pot.  Adding a fresh diced mango, another half cup of salsa and a teaspoon of cumin.

mangoes

I let the soup simmer on low while juicing mangoes.

sliced mangoes

The perfect drink companion to spicy tortilla soup.

freshly squeezed mango juice

The soup was served with feta cheese and Late July brand tortilla chips, which I also love.  Yep, I go heavy on the feta.

Spicy Tortilla Soup

There you have it, spicy tortilla soup in a bind.  Super tasty and ready in under 30 minutes!

Let me add that in the future I am going to make this as a follow-up to Taco Tuesday.  Usually there are diced tomatoes, peppers and more left over that I am going to try as a fresh substitute for the jarred salsa.

Spicy Tortilla Soup