What Did We Eat? August 10, 2018

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Last Friday, I did not find time to do my normal weekly shopping.  I was too busy with canning and taking care of kids.  I didn’t seem to be out of very many things, so just kept cooking with what I had, and had Patsy make a list on the whiteboard of things when I ran out of something.  I rolled the weekly grocery money over for another time, as I know not buying groceries is not sustainable, and I will need to re-stock sooner or later.

I ran out of some things I wasn’t expecting, such as baking powder and baking soda.  Thankfully, there was some in the camper, and I just continued cooking up a storm.

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I soaked and cooked a large amount of pinto beans.  Most of them, I froze for later.  I made a small batch of chili from the rest.

Patsy was in a cooking mood.  She made gluten-free calzones one day, and tamale pie casserole the next.  Both recipes were very good, and used items we had on hand.  She got the recipes from Pinterest, and enjoyed looking at all the choices before she chose those recipes.  She picked wild blackberries from my sister’s house and made a crisp with them.  She also froze a few more for later.

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I needed to cook a bunch of food for the college-age group at church.  They have a retreat this weekend.  The leader asked the ones of us who regularly cook for their Tuesday night dinner/Bible Study/worship time if we could each sign up for a meal, cook the food ahead, and then send it along so that all that had to be done on the retreat was warm food up or put the finishing touches on it.  It needed to be enough for 30 people.  I made 5   cake-sized breakfast casseroles with hash browns on the bottom, eggs plus 1/2 and 1/2 filling, with ham and cheese on top. To go with it, I made 3 loaves of zucchini bread and sent 5 cantaloupes for them to cut that morning.  Then, I made gluten-free zucchini muffins, gf brownies and 3 tiny gf spaghetti pies and sent small quantities for those who needed that option.  While I was at it, I made our family a spaghetti pie, some brownies, and some zucchini muffins.  It was a cooking marathon for sure! (I will be reimbursed for the food I bought for that project, except what I had on hand and donated.  I would have paid them to take the zucchini-ha, ha!  Seriously, I was glad to find a use for more of this bumper crop!)

My excellent helper, Jake, helped me shop for the college-age food.  He carefully checked the 2 dozen eggs I bought for the casseroles/baking.  He found a broken one, and then proceeded to march over and inform a near-by worker about this discovery, stressing how bad it was that they had a broken egg in their cooler, and so on.  The worker was very patient, and agreed that it was bad, and assured him it would be taken care of.  He had fun shopping with me, and later in the day, we discovered that he likes gf yellow zucchini muffins.  That was a pleasant surprise!  He ate them for 2 days straight.  I hope he likes them next week, too.  I’ll make more.  I’m not short on zucchini!!!   (I think I’ve picked at least 60 by now…)

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Garden produce played a large part in my menu plans this week.  These cherry tomatoes were picked at my sister’s house.  She has a LOT!  I am getting a few from my bushes, and plenty of regular tomatoes.  I picked and served corn a couple of times.  The earliest variety of corn I planted is almost finished. Boy, was it good, but I only had space for a small square area of each planting.  The green beans are still putting out a handful every few days, but are almost finished.  I ended up freezing a few quarts, and we ate beans a couple of times.  I picked the last of the lettuce that was ready and am waiting for the next succession planting to get big enough to eat.  I have 2 more small plantings growing, and a third that just came up to take me into the fall. IMG_7605

There were enough cucumbers to make a few quarts of dill pickles, to add to the 2 batches of sweet pickles I’ve made so far.  Today, there should be more that need to be picked and processed.  I keep picking the dill heads off as I make pickles, and so far, there have been enough.  The plants keep making more smaller flowers, and so sometimes I have to put 2 small heads in a jar, rather than one big one, and I also add in some leaves if I think the flowers weren’t enough.  It’s working so far, but I may need to plant more dill next year.  Most of these are volunteers anyway, but the plants are getting hit pretty hard.  I’ve made an awful lot of those zucchini dill chips…..:)

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The peach tree in our back yard has been providing us with plenty of peaches.  I made more jam and keep freezing more every few days.  We are eating sliced peaches frequently.

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We spent yesterday up at my sister’s farm.  The menu was taco bar, watermelon, and birthday cupcakes for our friend, Harnet’s, birthday.  Everyone brought something, and we had a lovely time eating, visiting, and taking turns helping at the u-pick peach stand, as they were open for business!

Yesterday morning I ran out to the store very early, as I was down to about 1 cup of milk.  I ended up spending $30 on whole wheat bread, milk, celery, baking powder, baking soda, grapes, garlic, and a few other things.  I was very pleased that I only needed that many groceries after 2 weeks!  That garden is really paying off:). We will do the same this week as we did last week–just make a list as we run out of things while focusing on eating garden produce. I would not be surprised if I went back to the store in a few days to re-stock a few items, but I’m not sure which day.  I’m just setting the extra money aside and will go to Costco one of these days for a few things I usually get there.  I like to get 5-dozen packages of eggs there, and am getting low.  My sugar supply has also taken quite a hit with all the jam I’ve made, and I’m going to get 25 lbs. either there or at Cash and Carry.

It’s a busy time of year, as I get all of this produce stored away for winter, but I wouldn’t trade it, as I enjoy it so much!  I will, however, not turn down a nap if I can ever carve out the time for one:). We’ll see what today brings.

22 thoughts on “What Did We Eat? August 10, 2018”

  1. My husband has been gone on a work trip for the past few weeks, so I have been cooking a lot less, which of course means my grocery shopping got spaced out like yours. It always surprises me how little we need at the grocery store if I try to use up things around here first. I guess I am usually a creature of habit, but it feels nice to delay shopping by a couple of days. If I did this on a weekly basis, I could probably cut down my shopping to three days a month, which would be nice:)

    1. I do find that staying out of the store reaps huge benefits for me. Also, staying off the ads on-line helped this week because I didn’t really need anything. I will skim them each week, regardless, in case sugar comes on super sale:). Worth a try…

  2. You have been one busy busy lady! Everything looks and sounds so good.

    You must have been very proud of Jake. Not many kids his age would have done what he had done – getting his point across in a very nice precise manner. Definitely a life skill that he will need in the future.

    Sounds like Patsy will definitely be taking after you. The crisp that she made looks really yummy. With the extra that she made will be nice eating this winter.

    1. It was pretty cute to see Jake informing that worker about the broken egg. After that, I noticed he was extremely careful with our two cartons that we were taking home, which I though was awesome.

      All the other kids, even the boys, had 4H cooking. Patsy hasn’t been able to participate in the same way, but I still want her to learn to cook. Maybe next year, we can muster up the energy for the fair and all……

    1. Thank you. I wish you could have seen the tamale pie casserole. It was eaten here, for both dinner and breakfast, it was so good. And, we shared a bit with the crew up on the farm. I was glad Patsy showed an interest in cooking and will have her make it again soon!

  3. Your food always looks so yummy in your photos!
    I’m feeling the same way about zucchini and yellow summer squash – I’m swimming in it. I’ve made more refrigerator bread and butter ‘chips’, used them for omelet filling and eaten then sauted in garlic. I’ve frozen a bunch both shredded and in ‘slices’. The latter is an experiment to see if I can use them later in the food dehydrator. It was so hot here all week, I couldn’t bring myself to use the dehydrator and I don’t have a good place outside to set it up. And, I donated a bag full to the food bank.
    My green beans are really coming on as well. I’ve frozen some, eaten a lot and donated some.
    That’s the good side of this heat. The garden is really taking off. And, yes, like you it really helps stretch my food budget. I’ve also been enjoying lettuce, chard and cucumbers.

    1. I know…crazy, right? I just picked 15 more zucchini! Yikes!!!! While I was up at my sister’s yesterday, I think they came up with a conspiracy and decided to take over the place:). It actually has been 3 days since I picked, and a few were over the hill. I have a whole bag full in the fridge and think Mr. Jake and I will be making some more gf yellow zucchini muffins soon:)

  4. I have zucchini envy! I can’t grow it because we don’t have enough hours of sun and the grocery store stuff is so and so. My 10 cherry tomato plants have produced only about a quart of tomatoes all summer so that has been disappointing. We haven’t really shopped for 2 weeks but my husband keeps giving me an inventory of milk, eggs and OJ so tomorrow is the day. I think we have only spent about $35 all this month so far but that is okay. It will be there when we need it.

    1. I’m sorry your garden is not producing very well. My cherry tomatoes are just getting going. I’ve only gotten a few handfuls. My sister’s tomato patch, on the other hand, is giving out bowls-full of all colors and shapes. I ended up helping my other sister with a bbq for the high school kids from church tonight at her house. I took a big bowl for those kids, and have another big bowl for the college-age kids on Tuesday, and I didn’t even pick them all when I was there Friday!

      I don’t ever have trouble using up extra money, either. No worries, I will find a home for any extra! :).

  5. Considering my zucchini plants produced a grand total of TWO zucchinis, last year (I didn’t plant a garden this year) and my patty pan squash plants produced NONE before they got scorched in the heat, I loved seeing that pile of freshly picked zucchinis! You have such a bountiful garden!

    Those peaches look good, too. Just yesterday, my daughter was bemoaning the fact that store bought peaches don’t taste half as good as the ones we used to pick off our tree in the backyard, back when we had a peach tree (it died during the drought and the replacement tree got scorched and died, last year).

    Glad you were able to roll over the grocery money to the next week! I hope sugar goes on sale so you can stock up, again. I usually buy sugar when it goes on sale for under $.50/lb. That’s my “stock up” price.

    Hope you have a lovely week ahead, Becky.

    1. If I can get the sugar for 50c/lb, I will be happy. If it’s lower…thrilled. Last summer, I got a bunch for 25c/lb and got tons and tons. That’s what I’m finishing now.

      The peaches are suffering from brown rot, and don’t keep well. I need to slice and freeze what did not rot today while I was at church and my sister’s and that will be the end of my crop. I will still get some more to can later from my sister’s orchard.

      I WISH, WISH, WISH I could share the zucchini with all of you. I certainly have enough to go around.

  6. How do you know how much to can each year of each item? I have had trouble because my family seems to expand then shrink as the boys leave home then return. I use up the freezer food first then move to the canned goods next. I can’t seem to be able to let myself open a canned jar until December then I double down on my canned goods. In March I inventory my pantry and plan for the next garden. My plan is to can enough of each item for 2 years because I never know when there might be a crop failure of a specific item.

    Do you have a specific plan?

    Jeannie@GetMeToTheCountry

    1. I, too, always have extras, because I have had years when there isn’t a certain crop available to preserve.

      I have kept a written list for years. I write down how many leftovers of an item, let’s say green beans. So an entry would look like this: Canned Green beans: 23qt l.o. 16 pt. l.o. Frozen: 4 baggies. That would mean I had 23 quarts and 16 pints and 4 baggies of frozen beans left over after the winter. Then, I add on all new green beans I canned this summer. At the end of summer, I total them up. By looking back at the previous summer’s record, I can easily see how many green beans we actually consumed during the winter. I go from there. Now, this summer, I really didn’t need to can a single bean. I had 40+ quarts and a lot of pints left over. I still canned more beans last month because they produced way beyond my wildest dreams from the 3 very short rows I planted in the garden. Now, I know that I will offer to take beans to family Sunday dinner several extra times, because I have extra.

      It is very difficult when the family changes. The numbers don’t really tell the story the way they need to. Also, my family is famous for eating quart after quart after quart of, say peaches one winter, only to refuse to eat peaches in the same quantity the next winter….. now they want applesauce….and so on! But, for the most part, good record-keeping helps me have at least a general idea of how many we might eat in a year. And, as I said before, we always do more than a year’s worth if the produce is available.

      That method works well for an item that I have an unlimited supply of, such as peaches from my sister’s orchard on a year with a good crop. Just because I can have 1000 pounds of peaches does not mean it is prudent, helpful or wise to can 500 quarts of peaches in any one year. It’s more than our family needs. It helps me know how many boxes of apples to buy and so forth for the things I don’t grow myself and can’t source for free.

      Other times, I simply can or freeze absolutely all I can get my hands on of an item, such as all the berries on my bushes in the garden, and call it good. When they are eaten, they are gone. We then eat something else.

      As the family has gotten smaller, I have cut back. I remember canning around 120-150 quarts of green beans one summer. We were in a situation where 11 people were eating meals daily. Because we opened 2-3 jars each time, we really went through the beans. I am still finding a balance of how many we really need now, as the family keeps changing.

      The other thing I’m always doing is trying new things in my food preservation, because I like to serve variety, and it’s fun. This year’s new thing is the zucchini dill chips and using the new-to-me produce called “pickle crisp.”

      Another thing I do is go through the canning and make sure I am using the old stuff first, and putting the new stuff to the back. Each jar and frozen package is marked with the year it was processed. The other day, I found some relish from 2011. It was getting very soft. It was edible, but the quality had dropped. I chose to throw it away. I wanted those jars for blackberry jam. It’s a constant management issue. I just over-canned relish in 2011, clearly. We couldn’t eat it all. 7 years later, it still was not gone. I don’t know if it got pushed back behind things at the old place, or in the move, but….it’s gone now!

      I hope this helps. I know each of us has her/his own method, but that’s mine. Feel free to ask any other questions. It sound like you have a way you do things, as well:)

      1. Enjoyed reading your reply. I love your record keeping and need to put that into practice for myself.
        I too picked more zucchini yesterday — what a year for it! Will make another batch of refrigerator chips today.
        Cheers.

        1. I will say that zucchini is absolutely crazy this year. I wish I could keep some nice for winter, but they are so much better fresh! I’m glad you are enjoying the zucchini dill chips.

  7. You have been eating great. Tell Patsy her blueberry crisp looks wonderful. I am so glad that your garden is doing so well and that you having been using the fruits and veggies. That was a great idea to use some of the zucchini up for the church group. That is great that they give you the money for what you cooked.

    I hope you get in a nap of two. I know when I start canning I could use one. It is a lot of work getting everything processed and canned. Then you have to clean everything up too. It is worth it in the long run. We recently ran out of our sauce that I made last year from garden tomatoes. I had to make some with canned tomatoes. They are so expensive and it doesn’t taste as good. I am out all of last years zucchini too. I have 1 jar left of pickles and so I am hoping to make some of them soon. The cucumbers are doing great this year so I may make some relish to can too. We will see how it goes.

    You did great shopping this week. We have a white board that hangs on the fridge and that is where our grocery list is. It is so easy. I shop in several stores so I can always see what I need or am running low on. Glad you had some extras in your camper. Have a wonderful week.

    1. Because we cook for 25-30 on those Tuesday night dinners, and sometimes even more, it would be pretty hard for us to afford to do it very often if they didn’t pay us back. So, I’m glad, too.

      I took such a hard nap on Saturday afternoon that I didn’t sleep much at all during the night. Not good. So, I toughed it out yesterday and did great today. When will I learn?!!

      I hope you get a lot of tomatoes so you can make more sauce and it sounds fun to make the pickles and relish as well.

      The camper was a life-saver this week, for sure, and it will be good to rotate the baking powder and soda as well. I’m not sure how old they are!

  8. I am trying to devise a new system. My old one does not seem to work anymore, or maybe this has been a crazy year or perhaps crazy is going to be the norm. When my sons leave home, I pack their cars full of canned stuff from my pantry. When they move back home, they bring their leftovers and I incorporate it into my supplies and then we use it up first. Added to the confusion has been Mom moving in with my sister and so we cleaned out her cabinets and added her food to my supplies. She, like me, or perhaps I should say, I, like her, always had a well-stocked pantry. I learned from the best.

    You once said you would love to see my pantry in a blog post and I refused because it was located on three different floors, in different closets, under beds, inside the entertainment center, in the laundry room, etc, etc, etc… Since then I decided to try and pull it all together in the basement. I can do that now that Bill no longer has his office down there so the light is usually off. I used to keep a loose inventory in my brain, but this year, it has been impossible. I need a new system. As I add new things, I put it downstairs but continue to draw from the scattered areas. Downstairs is a jumbled up mess of stuff needing to be sorted. I had to throw a few things away because the dates were too far gone and that just killed me! I just don’t feel organized…well, I’m NOT!
    Jeannie

    1. One day at a time:). Things are confusing at your house, but it will settle. It will.

      It sounds like your system is good at the core, just circumstances have thrown it off!

      And, hey, there’s no rule that you have to show total reality on your blog! If you want to leave your basement to my imagination–no worries:). (I will warn you that my imagination is pretty vivid!!) I’ve got a few areas that I don’t take pictures of, either, until I clean them up anyway, and then they are probably messy within a couple of weeks. My garage…..after Mr. Jake spent a little time in there last weekend, let’s just say an hour was not enough to clean it, although it helped!

      I think grabbing from the scattered areas and using that stuff up will help you know what you’ve got–great plan! It’s nice you have big boys to help use up those odds and ends you my have forgotten.

      As for the old canning…it happens. Something gets pushed back, you have a bumper crop of an odd item one year and no one liked it after you canned it…and so forth. It will feel good to have those jars empty so you can fill them with something you want.

      I will probably even go so far as to get rid of a few empty jars this year. I saved way more than I needed when we moved, because I had been decreasing my canning supply in anticipation of the move and didn’t know how many I would want. I think there are lots of extra quarts, as I am canning pints of some things now. Maybe this winter I will get to making those decisions. It would be easier if I could find someone who really wanted to use them, not just a random donation.

  9. The garden really did produce well. The blackberry crisp looked delicious. My favorite desert, I guess home school is right around the corner. Life never slows down.

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