Rebekah Lyn's Kitchen

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Making Old Traditions New Again July 7, 2014

Available July 20. 2014

Available July 20. 2014

With Jessie finally written, edited, formatted, and awaiting launch on July 20, I have started research on my next book in the Seasons of Faith series. A new character began tickling my brain a few weeks ago. He’s a blues singer and I know virtually nothing about blues music so to the library I went.

I didn’t know what exactly to look for, but managed to find a couple of books to get me started. When I was working on Jessie I found simple biographies in the children’s section on Neil Armstrong and Gus Grissom that provided a quick snapshot of information. I found a children’s book on blues and jazz on this trip to the library and again, it gave me a good basic understanding of the roots of both genres and ideas on where to go from there. The next book I started reading was by George Mitchell, Blow my Blues Away. Mitchell’s book is a collection of interviews with African-Americans in the Mississippi Delta region compiled during the 1960s.

I only had time to read one interview before I had to return the book to the library, but I was struck by the discussion of working in the fields, mostly cotton, as well as the home garden, which provided most of the family’s food. As I read, I thought about how the settlers of America had to rely on their home gardens until towns grew and markets could be established. Through the years home gardens continued to fall by the way side and many traditions were lost.

Over the past ten years or so there has been a movement to organic foods and more people are tying to grow their own vegetables. Large cities have started community gardens and those with tiny balconies as well as those with small yards are doing container gardening. Do a search on urban gardening and you will find pages of websites with educational videos and how-to articles.

Papa in the Garden, Summer 1992

Papa in the Garden, Summer 1992

Grandma picking beans, Summer 1992

Grandma picking beans, Summer 1992


My grandparents had a garden that grew a bit every year. Even when my grandfather’s health was failing, he still spent time in his garden, perhaps remembering his youth in the fields of North Carolina.I’ve been trying my hand at gardening the past couple of years. I don’t quite have the green thumb by grandparents did, but I am learning.


Last weekend I took some of my fresh tomatoes to a friends’ house and taught them how to make and can salsa. It made me feel closer to my roots, sharing an old practice that is being made new again.

Salsa in the making

Salsa in the making

Sharing old traditions

Sharing old traditions


Not Quite Sun-Dried But… June 17, 2013

Last summer I made salsa with my bounty of Roma tomatoes. This year, the Romas aren’t doing so well. I went with one Roma and one Heirloom plant this year and it seems like there must be something wrong with the soil where I had the Roma because the Heirloom is giant and has tons of fruit. I have to fight the raccoons for the Heriloom tomatoes, even pulling them before they are fully ripe.

My tomato thief

My tomato thief

I do still have more than I can eat alone though, so I decided to try something new. I cut up all of the nice, ripe Romas I had in the fridge and laid them out on dehydrating racks. The book said it would take about 10 hours for them to be completely dry, but I had several stubborn slices that took closer to 18 hours. It’s amazing how a dozen or so tomatoes now fit into a quart size jar.

One Day in the Garden

One Day in the Garden

The process was incredibly easy, just dip the tomato in boiling water for a minute to loosen the skin, peel, slice and place on the rack. It probably took me 30 minutes to do this, then I plugged in the dehydrator and went on about my day. I will most likely do this again in a few days when more of my Heirlooms are ripe. Hopefully the larger slices will fill more jars. I’m looking forward to not exactly sun-dried, but dried none the less, tomatoes in my cooking the rest of the year.

My first dried tomatoes

My first dried tomatoes


Fireworks, Salsa, and Memories July 4, 2012

Filed under: Family,Fresh Foods,Recipes — itsrebekahlyn @ 11:55 AM
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Happy 4th of July!  I hope you all take some time today to reflect on what makes this day so very important in the history of the United States, especially as times are so rapidly changing for us.  There is another reason this day is so important to me though.  Today would have been my grandmother’s 90th birthday.  I have been thinking about Grandma Pearl all week and wish she could have been here over the weekend to help me with my first endeavor at canning on my own.

I have many memories of helping her can preserves, green beans, and tomatoes.  I remember setting up the Coleman stove on the back porch, watching the giant pot boil, peeling the skin off the tomatoes and skimming the froth off the strawberries. Those are memories that I will always treasure.

Since I had so many tomatoes of my own I took 25 of them and made salsa.  I don’t recall the process of peeling and coring tomatoes taking so long or causing back pain when I was kid, but I plunged ahead and found my 25 Roma tomatoes would make about 2 pints of salsa.  It may not sound like much, but split them up into ½ pint jars and I probably have enough to last me the rest of the year.  I can’t wait to crack open a jar at my next social event and share the fruits of my labor.

If you are interested in learning more about canning your own salsa check out this website:


Backyard Harvest June 29, 2012

Filed under: Cooking,Recipes — itsrebekahlyn @ 11:52 AM
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Roma Tomatoes

Last month I shared with you some pictures of my potted garden herbs and tomatoes.  My yard is tiny so keeping plants in pots and even some of the reusable shopping bags has given me access to fresh herbs and tomatoes right outside my back door.  Over the weekend I harvested about 20 Roma tomatoes and was at a loss of what to do with them.

Tomato Basil is one of my favorite soups so I searched for a recipe to make it from scratch.  I was thrilled when I found one that was super easy, but it only called for two tomatoes to make enough soup for two.  Since I was using the smaller Roma tomato I decided to use five, and I probably could have used two or three more.  I had some left over cheese tortellini, from the recipe I referenced on June 22,  that I added to my soup as well.  Check out how easy this recipe is.

w/ cheese tortellini  Rich and Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

Serves 2

2 tomatoes-peeled, seeded, and diced

2 cups tomato juice (I used a can of diced tomatoes that I pureed in the blender)

7 leaves fresh basil

½ cup heavy whipping cream

¼ cup butter

salt & pepper to taste

Place tomatoes and juice in a stock pot over medium heat.  Simmer for 30 minutes.  Puree       the tomato mixture along with the basil leaves and return the puree to the stock pot

Place the pot over medium heat and stir in the heavy whipping cream and butter.  Season with salt & pepper.  Heat, stirring until the butter is melted.  Do not boil.

If you want to serve more guests, you can multiple each ingredient by 2.  I still have a ton of tomatoes left so this weekend I will be making salsa and searching for ways to preserve whatever is left over.  I’ll keep you posted.


The Joy of Fresh Foods May 7, 2012

Filed under: Fresh Foods — itsrebekahlyn @ 11:33 AM
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Living in Florida has the benefit of being able to grow plants pretty much year round.  In December I planted basil and mint.  They did so well, I added cilantro, chives, parsley, lavender, lemon verbena, and even tomatoes.  This weekend my first tomatoes ripened and I am planning to use them for dinner one night. I’ve already had the joy of using my fresh cilantro, and add mint leaves to my iced tea every chance I get.

Cilantro, chives, parsley

When I bought the lemon verbena I didn’t know what I would use it for, but knew it would smell good in the garden.  After searching the internet I found two recipes that I’m looking forward to making as soon as it grows up a bit more.  I’ll let you know how those turn out.


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