All posts by Becky

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–May 20, 2023-Rob is Back From Bangladesh!

It has been a wild couple of weeks! Rob has safely returned from Bangladesh and I successfully made life work while he was gone, with lots and lots of help from my family. He saw so many interesting sights on his journey. One thing he noticed was how crowded everything was. It was also noisy, with lots of honking and even police sirens mounted on cars. The contrast of how quiet is is here was noticeable to him and he’s enjoying the peace of it. It is considered polite there to honk at everyone!

After traveling for 30 hours to get there, they were put into a van the next morning for a 9-hour ride out to the country where they worked with 100 boys in the 100 degree heat….it went amazing, despite the fact that the team was not used to the heat and their days and nights were swapped from what they were here. They returned to the big city a few days later to work with girls at a couple of girls’ homes.

They got to tour a garment factory one day. This man was showing them how clothes were made. The interesting thing was the clothes are going to a local store right here in our area!

They had so much wonderful food! Most of it was quite spicy. There were a few dishes that were mildly spicy, but more often than not, Rob found his mouth might be on fire after eating the meal. At the breakfast buffet, there were no signs to tell you how mild or spicy things were so he just had to take a small portion and test it until he found one he enjoyed. He had rice for every meal and a lot of curry.

He got to taste fruits he had never had before. These grew on a tree, but he doesn’t know what they are called. He had an excellent time, and felt good that they got to work with so many kids, as well as a group of men one day. Then they travelled home. He’s very tired and getting his days and nights sorted out, but every day, I’m hearing a little more about his trip. We are both so happy he got to go. So many prayers were answered.

It was very inspiring and eye-opening to see how others live in a part of the world we know so little about and to help so many orphans, even in what felt like a small way. They sang songs, did crafts, told stories, played with them and encouraged the staff at the facilities they worked at. The people were so warm and friendly to them everywhere they went.

In the meanwhile, I was home working frantically on the garden and yard, working and taking care of the house and life. On the days I worked a different family member would come over to play with Malcolm and on the weekends his auntie helped with him. We took him to get his hair cut, to the McDonald’s play place, to the carousel, to the park, and had little brother over to play twice. We had to keep him busy because he was so sad that Papa was gone. The first day after Rob returned, he followed him everywhere. If Rob got in bed, he got in bed with him, if Rob went outside, he went out, and so forth. I found them both asleep at one point, with Malcolm holding onto Rob’s beard–he wasn’t taking any chances!!!

I got almost everything planted in the garden. I weeded for hours, but have so much more to do. The crows ate our green bean sprouts so Mac and I replanted those. I was able to clean up the deck, re-work some pots of flowers saved over from last year and put geraniums back into the ground. Rob digs them each fall, and I put them back out each spring. I had a few little flower starts we planted in the greenhouse that I tucked into the pots that held overwintered geraniums and got the Columbine plants Rob green into pots or the ground. There were about 16 of them, so there should be lovely flowers for years to come here and there.

On Friday, we went on a small hike, just the two of us. It was fun to hear all about the trip, and just spent time with Rob after his absence.

There are so many wildflowers in bloom right now. It was amazing! We just went about a mile in and a mile out, and had a wonderful time just being together.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week-May 8, 2023

While Rob’s away, the troops will play…..

Rob went off on his big adventure last Friday. Lovana and I are holding down the fort here. We decided to let the babies play on Saturday for hours. When they were getting too interested in the garden, i.e. stomping on my plants, I bribed them out with ice cream. Works every time:) I used cones we’ve had on hand for at least a year, and some sale vanilla ice cream and they felt like they had a really big treat, for just a few cents.

The little white dot in the corner of the raised bed is a butterfly. Zai was so happy and excited to see it flying around and spent quite a bit of time chasing it, but never caught it.

Most of the last couple of weeks have been used to frantically get Rob ready and get things in ship shape order here, as much as possible.

I made 2 kinds of soup and have been eating them for breakfast, lunch and dinner to make life easy. Tonight, I made hamburgers for dinner, and chili for tomorrow night, and split a pound of hamburger for that. I stopped by the store for a few items, but did not do any large grocery shopping trips at all before he left. I will cook a little more in a few days, but also plan to use may home-canned soups, frozen items, etc. to make life easier. We aren’t going to need to buy much this week, either. I’ll do a bigger shop again when he gets back.

He made sure the tiny tiller worked in case I want to use it while he’s gone. He made sure there was gas in the lawn mower. I’m spoiled. He always gets those kind of things going for me, and then I do my thing–like mow. I hope to do that in the next couple of days. He downloaded the Sunday school power point for me for both Sundays…things like that. I just appreciate him all the more while he’s gone as I do all the dishes myself…..

He did not get all the laundry caught up, and I assured him that even though he does most of it all the time, I did still know how…..I’m actually fully caught up with it as of this minute..

I’m filling my time up with all those chores and hours and hours of garden work, along with working several days this week. I like to be busy, because I miss him and the time passes quickly when I keep myself occupied.

I have heard from him several times. He made it there safely, after a 30-hour journey. He travelled through several airports, time zones, and a few countries. All the luggage made it, too. Whew! This is some kind of fried banana, he said. I wondered when I saw this picture if he was eating fried socks or something–ha, ha! We’ve had very brief communications–enough to know he’s safe, sound and happy. I’m excited to hear all about it when he gets back. In the meanwhile, I will keep praying for him and the team he’s with and keep holding down the fort here, with help from my family, who are taking turns coming here to help me several mornings:). This is a busy place!

Garden Update: May 8, 2023

The garden is starting to grow at last! I got some radishes, which seems like a small thing until you realize I plant them often and rarely get anything to harvest. This time I thinned them much better than usual and it paid off. It was also rainy and cool, and they love that so aren’t very spicy.

There have been many changes in the garden over the past few weeks. Lettuce is growing. In fact, this lettuce has almost doubled since I took this picture last week. Tonight, I picked 3 leaves from a green plant to use on my burger. It starts….

All of these Japanese Irises have been dug up and removed. Compost was added and squash and pumpkins will be planted there with the intention that they will grow into the flowerbed and back behind where all I have is grass and mint. I would like to dig out more of that grass one of these days. I’ve been doing a lot more shovel work this year than normal, and it’s paying off.

On the left, you can see my little celery plants. You can also see a partial tray of onions. They are all planted now–some there and some in other areas. The tomatoes are in as well, to the left of that area.

Last year, I had a goal to make some areas easier to keep clean, so I laid down some bark dust, weeded diligently, etc. Those areas are better and were much easier to clean out this spring. Hopefully, I will get a few more places conquered each year. Although these irises were very pretty, and a lovely yellow color, they were almost impossible to weed and were becoming over-run with those weeds.

Of course, the dandelions are having no trouble spreading all over, especially when two super cute little boys blow the seed heads all over whenever they play together:). So, I’ve been digging those plants out with a shovel whenever I have a few minutes.

I’ve filled in the rest of this raised bed with leeks. I’ve also tucked in some pepper plants, and those are Valentine grape tomatoes you see on the left.

The area on the right is planted with green and yellow beans to can. They have not come up yet, as it’s been a cool, wet week again. I dug down and they are sprouted, so they will pop out with the upcoming warmer weather, I hope. There has been a crow trying to eat them, so we shall see what’s left.

I get a little more done each day, so I will hopefully have more to report about the garden very soon.


Thriving In My Thrifty Week–The Weather Has Finally Cheered Up! April 26, 2023

The weather has turned! It’s finally sunny and warm this week. I have really been wanting to till the garden. I had some help getting the tiller started and a refresher on how to manage it and did quite a bit today. This is our mid-sized tiller and I seem to be able to manage it just fine.

I won’t be able to plant until it is worked up again in a couple of days, so I’m glad the weather is supposed to stay nice for a while.

I also got some weeding and clipping done in the flowerbeds. There is SO much more to do, but at least I got a start. I was able to get quite a bit into the yard debris bin and hope to fill it up this week. Since they take a bin full each week, included in our garbage service, it’s always a goal to use that part of the service whenever I can. It’s also a nice way to challenge myself to keep on working away, bit by bit.

Rob found an amazing deal on bags of bark dust, garden soil and got some steer manure/compost while he was at it. We’ve been spreading that around here and there as we get a spot ready, and used some of the compost to enrich the garden. I have 2 sections of my home-made compost ready to spread once it dries out a bit. It’s too heavy now for me to handle.

Normal cooking continued: Sausage Spaghetti Pie (green peppers, onion and sausage sautĂ©ed and put on top of spaghetti/cottage cheese base with mozzarella on top) for us and young adult group, salad, peanut butter/chocolate chip cookies for the freezer, lots of leftovers, home-baked chicken nuggets, chicken and pepper filling for burritos, gf wraps from a Bob’s Red Mill mix, and jars and freezer containers of fruit, veg, etc. I’ve been working on emptying the fridge of leftovers and produce and am continuing to work through the pantry and freezers. It’s just not that long until the garden will start producing and I need room to put the freshly preserved produce!

Our microwave broke and Rob found another one quickly at a hardware store we’ve used and loved for years. We got a medium-priced one, and it’s amazing that it does 4 things–air fries, convection cooking, toasting or broiling(not sure), and of course, microwaves. I’m excited to see what I can do with that. If I only use the microwave feature, that’s just fine, as well–after all, I was trying to buy a microwave:)

We took Malcolm for a drive Sunday afternoon. We ended up at the beach late afternoon, so stopped in at the Oregon Coast Aquarium, used our membership, and he enjoyed himself for the 45 minutes we had before it closed. He just needed to get out of the house, as he’s had a cold, and well…Rob likes to drive:). What can I say? It was a great afternoon.

I anticipate that I will be outside as much as I can find the time for as long as the weather stays nice because I’m so eager to get some work done out there. Meals will probably be quite simple, and I’m not sure if I will bother shopping or not. It will be fun to see how the week shapes up!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week-April 18, 2023

We had 2 nice days last week. By late afternoon on Friday, I was able to get into the small part of the garden that I planted a few weeks ago. Those have been the only two dry periods this spring and it’s been raining ever since. I knew I needed to work out there as much as I could. I did what I could Friday evening and then started in at 7:15 Saturday. I finally stopped around 5:30, with a couple of breaks in-between. I will admit I was tired and sore, but felt wonderful to finally be able to get outside.

Rob had a lot of other things to do that day, so gave me moral support and a little help in the morning and throughout the day as he breezed in and out, everyone else had other plans as well, so it was just me and Malcolm digging in the dirt all day. It was a dream day for both of us.

Mac loves to dig in the dirt so much that he spent quite a bit of time moving dirt from one flowerpot to the raised bed. He used a little shovel and bucket and dug out so much dirt and surviving flowers from last fall. They aren’t looking so good anymore. They survived winter, but not Mac. He took so much dirt from the pot that I finally got him a bag of steer manure compost and let him spread it on a raised bed, one little shovelful at a time. So then, the pot didn’t have much dirt left and he started in on other pots. Rob got a bag of cheap soil at the store and we poured it into the pot when he wasn’t looking and he started on that again, hopefully saving our overwintered geraniums:). My little pot of lettuce wasn’t so lucky. I’m so glad he likes it outside and I want to cultivate that in him, so all this is worth it to me.

The blackberries (Marion berries) needed attention. I dug out copious amounts of quack grass from underneath. It was a terrible mess, to be truthful. We untangled the new canes and cut out the old ones. We tied up the new canes. Some organic fertilizer was applied later and Rob picked up a van load of steer manure compost, soil and mulch at Home Depot. Some of that will go on those berries, but I figured I could do that when it was raining, so I focused on the things I needed to do while it was not pouring rain.

During the previous dry few days a month or so ago, I worked on the raspberries and got those all tied up. Friday evening, I did start to weed out underneath them again–of course the weeds are having no trouble growing. I will put down the amendments and mulch once I finish.

Between the two days, I was able to hoe, hand weed and thin all of the area I had planted. I’m so happy that the crows did not decimate my peas–there’s a great stand there in the middle–5 rows. The seeds Rob saved for carrots and beets came up so thickly that I went ahead and started some rough thinning. I may need to thin more later, but baby plants can still get eaten by slugs, bugs, or birds, so I left a good amount until I see what happens.

I planted cabbage–both Copenhagen and Pinetree Mix, Romensco broccoli and Hybrid Broccoli Blend from our greenhouse. In this picture, I had only started planting onions, but I did finish that row. It’s half White Sweet Spanish and half Red Bull onions. I have many more to plant, especially my Patterson storage, but I ran out of tilled earth.

I planted some lettuce starts–Romaine, Drunken Frizzy Headed Woman lettuce and a few seeds of a mixture. In one of my raised beds (not shown), I planted another small area of snow peas, lettuce, marigolds, a few more radishes, and a few extra leftover plants of broccoli and cabbage. I did put in a few kale plants, as well.

We did get a few more things done this week. Rob found these jars at a thrift store. He ordered new seals from Amazon for the ones that needed them and replaced the old ones on all but one. I have some bulk foods in them now and they seal up very well when I close them.

The boys made snickerdoodles on the day after Easter. I guess more sugar was needed:)

They had fun.

Later in the week, I made pumpkin cookies with cinnamon frosting. Most of these cookies were frozen and I sent some along to the young adult group I cook for on Tuesdays.

I sent Mustard Barbecued Chicken Drumsticks, Cranberry-Walnut Coleslaw, green salad and cookies to the group today. Guess what our meal was today. Hmmm–chicken, coleslaw, salad and cookies? Yes! You got it on the first try. That and chicken soup.

I also made lasagna, pork roast, chicken-rice soup, Peanut Chicken with Rice Noodles, a large pot of brown rice which was eaten with a sweet and sour chicken Rob made and by Malcolm, who loves it with milk and cinnamon sugar. We finished up the soups from last week, and the chili.

I had so much food left over from Easter that I skipped a week of shopping. I did go last evening and got a few items at Safeway and a few more at Grocery Outlet and we are all set again.

Although I’m longing for nice weather so I can get outside again, I see lots and lots of rain predicted when I look at my weather app. Still, there’s plenty to do inside and I may need to drum up a couple more “inside” projects if the rain keeps on.

Rob continues to prepare for his upcoming trip to Bangladesh. One thing they are doing at church to help out is to collect school supplies to take there in his extra suitcase. The children at church have a campaign going to “fill Mr. Rob’s suitcase” and they have his extra one down there, filling it up. There have been lots of supplies gathered and he’s excited to take them. In fact, he’s getting so excited about the whole trip. It’s good to see him so excited.

Rainbow Sherbet Angel Food Cake

This year, for Easter dinner, I wanted as many food items made ahead as possible

I was very busy at church that morning, and wanted to enjoy my family, not feel stressed over the meal. One thing I made was this angel food cake layered with rainbow sherbet.

First, I made an angel food cake in a tube pan. Because I am gluten-free, I used a recipe for Gluten-Free Angel Food Cake from Taste of Home’s website. You can use any cake recipe, a boxed mix or even buy one if this is not an issue for you.

Here is a link for the cake I made:

https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/gluten-free-angel-food-cake/

I cut it into 3 pieces and filled each layer with slightly softened rainbow sherbet. I used a large spoon to scoop off slabs and laid them on the cake because I was trying not to mix the colors up too much. After I got the main slabs laid on, I filled in the gaps with small spoonfuls, added the next layer and repeated. It used almost all of the carton of sherbet.

I covered the cake and put it into the freezer to harden up.

The next day, I whipped heavy whipping cream with a little powdered sugar to stabilize it. I frosted the frozen cake with this whipped cream and put it back into the freezer until Easter dinner was over.

When it was dessert time, I pulled it back out and decorated with fresh raspberries. Rob cut some slices with a large serrated knife, we served it to those who wanted it, and put it back into the freezer to store the leftovers.

It had been several years since I made this cake and I’m so glad I did. It tasted great and people enjoyed it. It was so handy to be able to make it ahead over a couple of days’ time, then pull it out to serve at the end of dinner. In fact, I’m still enjoying the leftovers, because I sliced what was left and froze the slices to pull out one at a time whenever the mood strikes. Which it already did:). Of course, you could fill it with any kind of ice cream or change up the raspberries on top to another decoration or leave plain. For those of you that do need to eat gluten-free, this recipe really works and is forgiving, even if you don’t sift the flour together, but instead just give it a good stir. Just saying!

Easter–2023

Happy Easter! We had a wonderful weekend around here and I hope you all did, too.

We started the weekend on Saturday with 6 adults and 2 babies all working together. Seriously, that’s what it took to dye eggs with 2 toddlers:). We had so much fun. Then, my sister and aunt helped clean and tidy up for Easter.

Sunday was a super busy day at church. I was in choir and then Rob and I helped in a classroom 2nd hour after attending 1st–he held down the fort while I sang for 2nd, then I hoofed it upstairs ASAP. So, I wanted Easter dinner to be done ahead as much as possible. I wanted to be in the moment during services on Easter. It is a highly significant day for me, and I didn’t want my mind distracted by the meal. It wasn’t!

I got to make the angel-food, rainbow sherbet cake because I finally made room in my freezer for it! I hadn’t made this cake for several years, so it was nice to have it again. I did it all ahead, except for the fresh raspberries, which I added when I pulled it out to serve it.

I made a banana-walnut bundt cake early Saturday morning.

I made a gluten-free bread bunny last week and froze it. I hadn’t done this for years, and was happy with how it turned out. I cut all the veggies and dip the day before Easter, and only had to fill his “tummy” and put the veggies around right before we ate.

It served as the centerpiece and candy served as the main decor along with the eggs the babies colored.

We did not have an egg hunt for the big kids, who are mainly in their 20’s. Instead, I put a few coins in about 12 eggs and candy in another 10 and the babies and my nephew hunted for those. I told all the adults to just eat the candy off the tables. Everyone was happy.

The babies got a small Easter basket with toys. Play Dough was the biggest hit and Mac played with it for a long time. Zai played with the container….:)

We had a joyous Easter!

Beefy Basil Pesto Soup

I’ve been asked to post the recipe for this beefy-basil pesto soup that we love so much. It really isn’t a strict recipe, and you can easily change it up to suit your taste, but here is what I do:

I start with some beef. Sometimes it’s beef chunks, such as stew meat or cut up roast. I often use hamburger. I use around a pound, usually, but that can vary if I have less thawed or am using the leftovers from a roast.

I brown that if it is not cooked already (leftovers) with a large onion.

Then, I add whatever veggies I have on hand, sometimes including, but not limited to the following:

Large chunks of peeled carrots or a pint of canned carrots, large chunks of potatoes (fresh or canned), celery (fresh or frozen), green beans (fresh, canned or frozen), zucchini (fresh or dried), and peas (fresh or frozen), added right at the very end so they don’t get overcooked. For our family, I usually add 3-5 of things like carrots, stalks of celery, and potatoes, 1 large or 2 small onions, around a pint of green beans, and a small amount of zucchini or peas, if using.

For the liquid:

I add a quart of beef broth, a quart of canned tomatoes and a quart or more of water, depending on how much soup I want. If I don’t have beef broth, I can just use water or add boullion to some water. I don’t like it super acidic from too many tomatoes, so I find 1 jar is enough for our taste, but you could do as many as you like in your soup.

Seasoning:

I usually put in a healthy amount of Italian seasoning (probably at least a tablespoon), but sometimes add garlic powder, basil, parsley or other dried herbs I find in the cupboard. I find the Italian-type herbs go well with the pesto. I add salt and pepper to taste–AFTER I add the pesto, as mine is salted and peppered when I make it. I usually add 3-4 ice cube tray-sized pesto cubes. I put in 2, taste it and add more if needed.

I bring the liquid, seasonings, browned or cooked meat and veggies to a boil, then simmer for up to 2 hours, depending on how tough the meat is or when I need to serve it. It really only takes about 1/2 hour to softened the veggies, so I have served it sooner when desperate, but the flavors do not meld together very well in such a short time.

Pesto is what makes this soup so amazing. I make my pesto in the summer with basil we grow. It doesn’t have any nuts in it. It has basil leaves from the garden, olive oil, parmesan, garlic, salt, pepper and lemon juice in it. I whirl it around in the food processor until mixed and freeze it in ice cube trays. I then pop the cubes out into freezer bags and use them all year.

I made a lot last year. I can already tell it wasn’t enough, so I’ll make even more this summer. It takes a lot of basil leaves for a batch. I find that if I go out and harvest once there are a good amount of leaves on the bushes, they will grow back so I can do several batches over time from one set of basil plants. I’m just careful when I harvest to cut above the place where new little leaves are trying to bud out–it’s like giving the plant a good pruning and it just grows more basil over time.

I’m sure any purchased pesto would work just fine. You would have to add some, taste, then add some more to make sure the flavor is to your liking. This would be a great way to use up that partial jar of pesto you have lurking in your fridge!

Please feel free to ask any questions you have in the comments below, but be creative and feel free to customize it to your family’s taste.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–April 5, 2023

We have had an exceedingly cold, wet spring. Things in the greenhouse are growing, but very, very slowly, in some cases. Peppers are having the most trouble, because they love more heat than we have right now. The tomatoes are looking great, as are all the cool-weather crops such as onions, cabbage, broccoli, etc.

Despite the fact that we had SNOW again, my little lettuces are still alive. Once it warms up (if that ever happens), they will take off. The seeds I planted in the garden a few weeks ago are sprouting, as well. I have French Breakfast radishes and Buttercrunch lettuce up. The beets are just coming up, as of yesterday.

I’m worried about the Maestro peas, though, since the crows have been out there feasting. Some are up, and it remains to be seen how many seeds those crows left.

I’m still working on this cabbage that Rob found in the garden a few weeks ago. I used another part of it in a huge salad I made last night for the young adults group we cook for on Tuesdays. It’s holding up really well.

Last evening, we cooked for the entire group, not just for the gluten-free ones. That’s about 25, plus the usual gf 5. Rob had cooked a ham on Monday and we boiled the bone for broth. I made a large crock pot of ham and bean soup and sent that over.

We also pulled a turkey from the bottom of the chest freezer and cooked it, took the meat off the bone, and made broth. From the meat, I made huge turkey-noodle casseroles–2 large pans from some regular wheat noodles I’d gotten for 50c/package a long time ago with regular Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup, and 1 small one using gf pasta and gf cream of mushroom soup. Walmart carries a nice canned gf cream of mushroom soup that works well in casseroles for under $2/can. I added a bag of frozen mixed veggies, peas, dried onion, odds and ends of several kinds of cheese that were in the fridge, and baked it all together.

Some bananas that were looking sad became a banana-walnut bundt cake and I used berries from the garden with canned apple slices to make a crisp. Both were gf, so everyone could eat the same desserts. I had never made that cake before, but found the recipe in an old cookbook. It was SO good. It’s a keeper and I’ll make it again.

Rob got several bags of grapes for 97c/lb on sale at Safeway and I cut a large plate of grape clusters. I used one head of lettuce, one leaf lettuce head, 2 carrots, some red cabbage and cherry tomatoes to make a large tossed salad.

I made another batch of the beefy-basil pesto soup. We love that soup so much I’m already running low on my pesto. I make it from garden basil, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper and parmesan and freeze in ice cube trays.

I went shopping and got a few things–spent about $45. I’ll go again later in the week and finish up any last minute shopping for Easter.

My counter and dish drainer are both filled with drying baggies. I know I’ve used lots of freezer items this past week, since I pulled both a turkey and a ham out, as well as all the fruits and veggies from those bags. SO WHY IS MY CHEST FREEZER STILL SO FULL? Maybe it’s just fluffed up? That is the question of the century, and a mystery that only Sherlock Holmes could solve, I’m afraid. I’m still working on that project this month–it’s now “clean-the-freezer April.”

I even canned a load of turkey broth so I didn’t have to freeze it! Of course, I did freeze the rest that didn’t fit into the canner, plus the ham broth that wasn’t used in the ham and beans ….a little bit of the mystery explained.

I used broccoli, peas, frozen beans and corn, broth, meat bits and pieces, baked goods, bread, and proteins such as fish, burger, etc. I’ve also emptied many, many jars this past week.

We celebrated our daughter’s birthday Friday, and I made a huge chocolate layer cake. Yum! I also made her lasagna, which she requested. It was simple and tasted great.

Because I have used so much freezer and pantry food, I was able to cut my normal weekly grocery budget drastically in March. Since our grocery budget is purposefully quite small, we always use every cent, but I was able to send some in other directions than our local grocery store this time. (We’ve tried to set the amount at what we actually need to spend and seem to be in the ballpark) I saved some in my envelope for the 1/4 beef we get each fall, and am using the rest for an Azure Standard order (bulk food and some cleaning supplies and soap). I’m especially happy about already setting aside money toward the beef–I’ve really made progress towards that in the last 2 months.

I will not be one of those people who let the pantry go all the way down to zero–that makes it impossible to eat from the pantry any more without a huge, huge, expensive stock-up. I like to just fill gaps as I make them with fresh supplies and keep rotating what is there.

Thank Goodness for the Pantry! March 29, 2023

Have you ever had one of those weeks? The kind where you are hit on every side by unexpected activities and situations, and have to maintain your “regular” life at the same time? I think we all have.

We had one of those weeks! Our pantry saved the day for me!

I did have time to run into the store once, while Rob stayed with Malcolm in the car on the way back from one of our many commitments. I spent around $6. Otherwise, I have been relying on my freezer and pantry shelves because I have been too busy to worry about organizing a big shop.

Rob cooked some of that 87c/lb chicken we got last week. He barbecued it with some home-canned plum sauce. That sauce has been sitting on my shelf for quite a while, and since we liked it a lot, I know what I’m going to do with the rest of it now.

I had him pick up a Costco chicken last week when he was with our niece. She loves, loves, loves to get a hot dog there, and they occasionally do that after her other activities. We ate that a few times, then I boiled the bones and now have about 3 quarts of broth and some bits of meat.

I made some home-made gluten-free Bisquick mix and made Impossible Gluten-free Cheeseburger Pie, right off the Betty Crocker website. I made three of these this past week, as we had lots of company at various times and also needed to take food to the college group yesterday. I used the same mix to make cheesy-garlic biscuits like the ones from Red Lobster. They were great! Now, I’m out of that mix and will need to mix up more if I want any of those again. I have a huge assortment of gluten-free flours in the garage that need to be used, so I’m purposefully looking for some recipes to use them.

I practiced making gluten-free angel food cake and fed it to my mom and aunt. I want to make one for Easter and haven’t made it for so long I wanted to practice. It came out great and also used some of those random flours in the garage.

I made up another bag of gluten-free bread crumbs from a loaf that was given to me a while back. We were given a few quite dry ones, and this is the second time I’ve made crumbs.

The schools handed out free lunches for spring break. They are doing it differently–handing out a large bag every few days, rather than one small bag each day. We managed to make it one time so far, and have one more chance today to hit their one-hour window. The kids have been enjoying some different foods from that source. I made tapioca pudding from some of the milk. I also made hot chocolate by mixing some chocolate and white milk and warming it. I cooked the broccoli and cauliflower and will put the celery in something I cook. I froze a few items and will feed them out over time. There were apples and oranges. My nephew and his friends ate apples Monday afternoon while they were playing, but there are still a few left.

Yesterday was the busiest day of all. I made muffins early in the morning, using frozen peaches and Pamela’s gf pancake mix. I doubled it so I could freeze some. I didn’t freeze any. We ended up with some unexpected company that stayed all day, so I served them up, along with sending some to the college group. I grabbed 2 quarts of home-canned broth because what I was making on the stove was not finished, canned carrots, a garden onion, rice, spices and some of the Costco chicken and quickly made some soup.

The pantry and freezers really came through for me this week. We even got out a packet of instant mashed potatoes (saved for desperately busy times), pulled soup from the freezer, and used some other odds and ends. Fresh produce is what I purchased, we have carrots, potatoes and onions, the eggs are holding out from some we got reasonably a while back, the milk was stretched by the school lunches so I still have plenty, so we are good to go for several more days. What a blessing! I’ve saved quite a bit of money this month from my grocery budget, due to how busy I’ve been. Perfect! I’ll just replace some of my pantry items if I need to and be ready for the next super crazy, busy time in my life.

Although this picture of the canning shelf is from last fall, while I was grabbing jars one day, I arranged the shelves and tidied them up a bit and noticed that we still have jars and jars and jars that are still filled. Amazing! I’m glad I filled so many.