Mason Jar Gifts: Mixed-Bean Soup

When adapted to be gifted in a jar, one of my favorite soups packs in all of the flavor of the fresh recipe. Learn more at
Every December, I share ideas and recipes that make delicious food gifts. These ideas have ranged from tags and bags to suggestions for food gifts that include homemade treats, kitchen tools, and of course my books.

This year, I’ve added to the food gift ideas with a meal-in-a-jar recipe in my Twice as Tasty column for the Flathead Beacon. It was surprisingly straightforward to adapt one of my favorite fresh soup recipes so that it could be gifted in a jar, ready to by pulled from the cupboard and made on a chilly night with minimal added ingredients. It still packs all of the flavor of the fresh recipe without relying on salt-heavy bouillon cubes or store-bought seasoning blends. It’s also easy to scale up or down for larger or smaller households and to make multiple jars to cover everyone on your gifting list.
Learn to make Mixed-Bean Soup as a mason jar gift


Spiced and Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

You can spice pumpkin seeds with so many seasonings and can even roast the seeds of other winter squash in the same way. Learn more at
Roasted pumpkin seeds feature among my favorite homegrown, homemade snacks, not just because they’re delicious but also because they’re easy. You can spice them with so many seasonings and can even roast the seeds of other winter squash in the same way, as I explain this week in my Twice as Tasty column for the Flathead Beacon.

The hardest part of roasting pumpkin and other winter squash seeds is getting the stringy mess out of the squash—which you need to do anyway when you want to use the flesh. As you scrape out the seeds and soft center of the squash, pull off any large pieces of membrane, dump everything else in a bowl of warm water, and let it sit for a couple of minutes. I’ve found it easiest to clean the seeds by plunging my hands into the bowl, rubbing the seeds free of the warmed stringy bits, and then plopping the seeds into a large-holed colander to drain.
Learn to make Spiced and Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Winding Down the Season

Techniques that rely on freezing, dry storing, and dehydrating let you quickly save the garden’s last fruit and vegetables. Learn more at
This September, we’ve been lucky to have fairly warm days and nights in Montana, with just a couple of hints at a killing frost that we were able to protect against temporarily. But the garden is still winding down. In the main garden, I’m finding fewer cucumbers and snap beans, with vines starting to dry and lose leaves. In the greenhouse, tomatoes and tomatillos are putting all of their energy into ripening existing fruit. It’s time to grab the last of the garden’s treats and stash it all away for winter.

This week, in my Twice as Tasty column for the Flathead Beacon, I share some of my favorite storage techniques for a range of vegetables. The article focuses on easy ways to save individual vegetables without needing to can or ferment them or changing their base flavor into a pickle or sauce. The techniques rely on freezing, dry storing, and dehydrating and can be done quickly with minimal prep.
Learn about winding down the season

Choosing Soup Ladles

For a recent piece for The Spruce Eats, I tested 15 soup ladles. Learn more at
I’ve put quite a bit of thought into recipes for a wide range of soups, but I didn’t think much about the tool I use to serve those soups until I tested 15 soup ladles for The Spruce Eats. It turns out that how comfortably and cleanly you scoop soup from a pot and pour it into a bowl depends mostly on the ladle shape, size, and material. The latter can be especially important if you have nonstick cookware. Size might be the key consideration if you make soup in a small saucepan or giant stockpot. And shape and other features can be crucial if you’re skimming fat, drizzling gravy, or pouring into an oversized mug or wide, flat bowl.

By testing so many ladles, I developed all sorts of opinions and ideal uses for various ladle shapes, sizes, and materials. I also made a lot of soups, many of which will be lunch and dinner staples now that cool weather is becoming the norm.
Learn about choosing and using soup ladles