My basil is getting sad. It’s been SO hot. Thankfully, I have made lots of pesto already. I still hope I get more from these bushes.
My recipe is simple and uses no nuts.
I fill my food processor with basil leaves that I have picked and washed. This is 4-1/2—5-1/2 cups because I press it in there a little.
I add: 3-6 garlic cloves, depending on size ( I cut them up a little bit)
2-1/2 teaspoons pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
I then put the lid on and turn on to low setting. As it processes, I slowly add olive oil. I use about 9 Tablespoons but it can take a little more or less , depending on how many leaves I pushed into the bowl in the first place. Scrape the sides once or twice. The pesto should be quite thick, not watery.
I spoon into empty ice cube trays and freeze.
Once frozen, transfer to a baggie or other freezer container and enjoy all winter!
We have had 2 good pickings of peas so far. I grow Maestro bush shelling peas. This year, I got them planted in March and now they are ripe. They like cooler, wetter weather, so I’m glad I got them in when I did.
The first picking was smaller, and I filled 4 baggies. I use quart-sized Ziplock bags and fill them so they lay flat in a larger freezer bag. There is no where near a quart of peas in each bag because we use much less than that amount each time. I also want them flat so I can break off a chunk when I only use a very few peas for something without thawing the entire baggie.
Yesterday, I filled a small bucket, a large Tupperware bowl, and then grabbed 2 plastic flowerpots from the planting table and filled those, too. Rob and I both shelled until we needed to go to a grad party, then put the rest on ice to wait until that evening when we were home again.
Rob ended up shelling out all the rest himself because I got caught up in another project. Then, I dumped them in a pot of boiling water to blanch them and set the timer for 3 minutes. After that time passed, I fished the peas out with a hand-held strainer and put them into cold water to begin cooling immediately. After they were cool, I put them in 1 quart Ziplocks.
We got 9 baggies this time, bringing us up to 13 so far. In a couple of days, there will be another picking, but it will be smaller again. We will then be ready to pull the bushes, enrich the soil and plant some late summer and fall crops in their place. Pea plants are a legume and fix nitrogen into the soil. We still feel we need a little more compost in the area when we plant a second crop.
Last year, I planted fall broccoli and cabbage where the peas were. I think I will do some more of those a little later in the summer, but may add lettuce, snow peas and possiblybeets or carrots, if I find I need them.
I’m delighted to have this project well onto its way. It’s very time-consuming, but the finished product is very, very tasty and good. I already have more peas frozen then I did last year altogether because there are more peas in each baggie and I’m getting more baggies. So, of course, that makes me happy with my yield.
I never stop anyone from eating peas, and if we run out, I’ll buy a bag at the store. But, that being said, most years we have enough with what we grow. We don’t use very many in a year.
I like to put them in tuna-noodle and turkey-noodle casseroles. Sometimes I pop a few into a soup or stew to brighten it up. We occasionally eat some in a pile on our plate, but that’s more rare for us. There are a couple of other recipes I add a few peas to, but I can’t remember them right now. No matter. When I do remember, I will have some peas to put in those dishes.
This week, I went to a U-Pick strawberry patch, all by myself:). I know he would have enjoyed it, but I was so glad he wasn’t there when I saw the (seriously) 150+ people who were swarming the field. I got enough for a batch of jam and some to freeze for smoothies and some to eat fresh. It was hard to find ripe berries, actually. After seeing the people come and come and come, I could see why. I may try again soon, or just make out with what I got.
I think Malcolm is trying to wink at Papa. He loves “bahberries.” In fact, I stepped outside for a minute the day I brought them home and came back only to see the floor littered with little green tops–he’d eaten as many as he could grab. We got those picked up and I turned my back and …….yep! We had to clean the floor again. I’m so glad he didn’t get sick.
The garden still takes quite a bit of time each day. It’s growing so well, as are the weeds. We are eating lettuce daily and sharing with many. The peas are almost ripe. I mean they maybe would plump up if a certain little boy wasn’t out there stripping off any that look like they are growing….It warms my heart to see him enjoy them so much and like Rob says, “He’s eating vegetables, we can always buy a bag of peas at the store.” I’m pretty sure we will get a big batch one of these days–it will be beyond what he can eat.
We are harvesting a few snow peas every couple of days and my cilantro is bolting. I’ve been using the lower leaves anyway in salads and marinades. I will pull that out and let the next planting be used very soon. I put more seeds in the ground but have none yet. I may need to replant.
The compost heap on the right has been emptied completely. I’ve been working on it for a while and now we have started dumping new scraps in there. I have side-dressed the celery, some cabbage and cauliflower and some onions with part of it, as they were struggling where they were. These 3 buckets are all that’s left to disperse and I have plenty of places that could use it. There’s never enough compost! There is one more bin that needs emptying on the other side of the garden.
Malcolm has spent hours and hours working on this project and pouring his buckets all over the place. It’s so cute! I’m glad to have this bin finally empty and he still has another bin to get into in a different place. Otherwise, he just digs holes in the garden. That works, too.
We went to the library this week and watched a preschool show. We also signed up both Malcolm and my nephew, Jake for summer reading.
It was party week. We attended a graduation ceremony Friday, a grad party Saturday and a birthday party Sunday afternoon. I haven’t cooked a whole lot this past weekend.
I did make gluten-free hamburger buns early in the week. They came out great. I made pulled pork sandwiches for us and the college group I cook for weekly. I used extras for sandwiches a few times.
We loaded up on $1.99/lb boneless-skinless chicken breast and thighs today. 3 packs in all. I froze them in meal-sized portions. I popped some Mexican-inspired marinade on some of the chunks to use tomorrow for SW chicken salads for the college group and some to freeze. Milk was $1.29 for 1/2 gallon so we got 2 of those. There were sausage rolls for $1.99 and those kielbasas for $1.99 each. I grabbed a few of those.
We passed up the $5.99/package tator tots. Seriously? It wasn’t even a big package. We got 10 lbs. of potatoes for about $5.
I’m already having an easier time stretching my time between grocery store trips, due to the abundance of lettuce in the garden. I’m also still loaded up with home-canned food and things I froze last summer. This is a wonderful time of year to be cooking and there’s so much more growing out there. I love it!
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.
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.
We finally finished up all of the apples we had, except a very few we refrigerated again for fresh eating. This includes the boxes on the porch, and all the random apples stashed in refrigerators all over the place. Whew!!! I feel like it was an accomplishment and a blessing to get those apples processed so they will last longer.
I have lost track of how many we have dried, but there are glass gallon jars full, and other assorted containers full as well. We did one final batch yesterday.
I made and canned more applesauce. In the end, I got 18 more jars of assorted sizes. They were mostly pints, but there were a couple of quarts as well. With what I did the other day, this should give me enough 2023 applesauce without buying boxes in the summer, but I still have that option just in case people suddenly decide to scarf this all up. Of course, we have not worked through all that is in the shop, yet. I’m excited about this because it should make my summer a little bit easier, since there is always plenty of other things to can during that busy season.
I did something fun with some of the apples–gluten-free apple fritters! They were SO good I don’t dare to make them again very soon:)
I made enchilada casserole, using some corn tortillas that had been around quite a while. I used the rest to make some home-made cinnamon-sugar chips, and fried them in the same oil I used for the fritters.
I worked hard this week to use up more odds and ends from the fridge, freezers and cupboards.
Chili-mac was on the menu and used garden onions, some peppers from a party, a can of beans that had been lingering in the pantry and home-canned tomato sauce from ’21.
I used some bread crumbs I made a little while back, home-canned beans, and some cheese that needed using to make what we call “puffy.” It’s from the “More-With-Less” cookbook and is called Puffy Green Bean Bake, I think, but I’ve been making it for years. It is actually not very puffy when I make it, but tastes good.
Although much of what I’m doing this time of year revolves around cooking and cleaning, we also had some greenhouse work accomplished. Rob is still planting seeds every few weeks, according to his plan of when they need to be ready and how long they take to grow. Many things are up and he spoke of doing some first transplanting soon.
I was given several loaves gluten-free bread. I decided to make some crumbs from part of it. I chose the loaf that seemed like it was getting a little hard and dried the slices. Then, I used the food processor to make crumbs. I had trouble getting even crumbs–some are extremely fine and some are still small chunks. I’m happy to have them no matter what they look like. I froze the rest of the loaves that were in good shape and composted the other one that wasn’t. You can see dried apples in the background of this picture. We are still drying them whenever we get time to do so.
We had a family party to celebrate birthdays in January, February and March, but mostly just to get together. I chose a tropical theme, cooked some food and people brought food as well.
I made a teriyaki-lime chicken that tasted delicious.
I also made pineapple-shrimp fried rice. Those were the two dishes I made to go along with the tropical theme. I’ve only made this once before, and I loved it, again!
I colored the frosting on the cupcakes a coral-orange tint and they looked festive, too. We held the party on Sunday afternoon, so I was gone all morning at church. I got almost everything ready on Saturday so I could get lunch on the table as soon as possible once I reached home. Even the veggies were cut up for the fried rice (Thank you, Rob), and I peeled the shrimp, so all I had to do was quickly stir-fry the shrimp and veggies and rice and was done very quickly.
I made all of our meals at home this week, and cooked a little for others, as well. I used some medium-sized eggs for deviled eggs, and used this teeny-tiny jar of mayo in there.
I also threw in some home-dried chives. I notice the chives are starting to grow, so I will have more very soon.
I took every single item out of the kitchen refrigerator, washed down the shelves and drawers and put most of it back in a better way. I was ruthless when I sorted and if it was very old, tasted terrible, or almost gone, I either repurposed it, or tossed it. I hadn’t gotten around to cleaning out the door the last few times I’ve cleaned it, and it was time! Bottles and jars were just stacked in on top of other ones in there, and now they are not. I put some items in baskets in the fridge, such as little yogurt containers. They have been falling out and frustrating us all. All tortillas are in a basket now, keeping them from slipping around, flopping all over, or sliding out at the worst moments. Now they can’t, as long as people remember to put them back!
Right after I cleaned it out, I went shopping and actually had room to put away the new groceries without pushing things around! Ahhhhh…… I also had room for party food.
I got out of Safeway for $39. To do this and get what I wanted, I downloaded several store coupons on my phone. Along with the small ones, I had a $10 off $50, and $10 reward, a $10 baby club coupon, and $24 of Bottle Drop money. I purchased boxes of soda pop, 2 boxes of diapers (over 120 total), fruits and veggies, and other things I needed for the party, such as ice cream, which, in the end, I forgot to get out of the freezer…..
I had coupons for several free items, such as a package of frozen ginger, a box of biscuit mix, non-dairy cheese (our daughter likes that stuff), and a box of kid’s instant protein oatmeal packets. I had 3-4 shopping bags full, plus the 2 boxes of diapers and sodas. I was happy with that.
I ordered from Azure Standard this week. I get bulk, healthy food from there. Cocoa powder has been difficult to get around here, except in pricy, small containers. Even at the restaurant supply store, 5 lbs of cocoa powder was about $60 when Rob went in there and checked the other day. Costco had none. I got 5 lbs for around $23 from Azure. I got 10 lbs of raisins. We have burned through 5 lbs. quite quickly. Now let’s just hope my little raisin eater doesn’t decide he has a new favorite. There were other yummy items in my order, along with a few non-food items.
Rob found some more small jars at the thrift store for 25c each. I have a lot of jars, but we do give away a few of the small ones at Christmas time, so we need a certain amount of replacements each year.
I cut the bottom off of a lotion container and got several more applications of lotion from the inside of the tube.
My mom came over and we made flatbread together. Since we are both gluten-free, we made a triple batch and both froze some for future open-faced sandwiches, pizza crusts or just eating. She also helped me fold many baskets of laundry, along with some other boring, but necessary chores:). Most of all, we had fun visiting!
Although we do not have the necessary channel to watch the Super Bowl, our son added an app to our t.v. and he, Allison and Rob were able to watch most of it. Since changing to all internet-based t.v., using the Fire Stick from Amazon, we have saved a lot of money from what we used to pay for cable, even with paying for a couple of add-on apps, such as Disney+.
We would have been just fine without watching the big game, but it was so nice for Rob to be able to watch it. When we first got our sons, Rob thought that would be a fun thing to do with them. I thought it would be nice to have a tradition of making brownies every Monday night since that was when they showed football at that time. I would make the brownies every week, and sometimes snacky foods for dinner and they would turn on the football game. They would eat the brownies with the rest of the family, and snacks, and………… take off to play:). The girls had already made it clear they were interested in brownies, not football, except occasionally. So, it’s fun to see it come full circle and have the son want to watch it……and as far as I know–NOT eat brownies, although there were some:)
This week, Rob dried 2 batches of apples. He removed all of the apples that were stored in the drawer of the camper and turned them into delicious dried apple slices. With all the apples we were blessed with all fall and into early winter, we decided to preserve some of them before they became shriveled or rotted. The ones in the fridges are still in good enough shape to peel and slice in the peeler. The ones in a box on the outside porch are starting to get too shriveled and soft for the gadget to work, but they still taste great and I plan to make more applesauce.
He had lots of willing help, especially for turning the handle and eating extra apples.
We had some frosty, cold mornings. We enjoyed both the gorgeous frost on the leaves of the ivy and the sunny skies later in the day. There was a beautiful sunrise one morning–I could have looked at that all day, if sunrises lasted that long!
We took our grandson, niece and nephew down to the carousel on day. It is very inexpensive, so we let the kids ride twice. Malcolm was brave enough to get out of the wagon, where he sat the first round, and onto a horse–one that did not go up and down, for the second time.
He finally got brave enough to wave at Papa.
Of course, the big kids are old pros at the carousel, and love it any day, any time. After that, we went to the park and they all played. We were having such a good time, it took quite a while before I finally noticed Malcolm still had sandals on because we had gone straight from the pool at the YMCA to the carousel! By that time, he was quite wet from the equipment, his toes were cold, and we took them all home for lunch, with him yelling and screaming to stay— all the way to the car. Clearly, I was the only one bothered by the lack of proper footwear and the wet pants. Thankfully, I had snacks, so it all ended well. All the kids had a blast. It was a fun day.
I continued cleaning small areas. One day, I worked for about 15 minutes in my room. I didn’t get very far, but the area I did clean looks great and I got a lot of dirt and dust cleaned up from that area, which was under a dresser and under some shoes. We did another couple of areas at other times.
We (mostly Rob) planted celery, more green onions, and a few other items. Some things are up already, which is encouraging. I hope to have him take photos and show you all progress there one day soon.
Last week, our local grocery store had beef roast for only $1.97/lb. We thought it might be of poor quality for that price. It wasn’t. When Rob went down to check it out, the kind butcher offered to cut him some and package it up, as they were out in the display case. He asked how much Rob wanted, and Rob replied, “As much as I’m allowed to have!.” So, the man loaded up the trays, and Rob happily brought it all home to deal with.
It came in large slabs. I’m not sure what kind of roast it was.
I wanted to can some of it, so it would be shelf stable. I’ve only canned beef once before when some friends gave us some, so I had to look up the directions in my canning book. I found I could just press the chunks into the jars, add salt, and can for 75 minutes on 11 pounds of pressure, for pint jars, at my altitude, with my canner. I put 1/2 teaspoon salt in, although they recommended a whole teaspoon. I can always add more later, if needed.
Rob chunked it up and I washed and filled jars and loaded the canner. I got it going and sent Rob out to the covered porch in the freezing temperature to watch it. What a guy! He had to come in once to warm up a bit, but he got it done. My nephew and grandson enjoyed breaking the ice on the buckets with sticks–it was that cold for the entire time.
We froze one package of stew meat and a couple of roasts. I cooked 2 large roasts with carrots for the college group, my sister, and us to eat.
There were a couple of jars that did not seal. I noticed that there was a little food that had siphoned out and under the seals, which did not allow them to seal properly. I took that meat and put it into the crock pot with carrots, potatoes, home-canned tomatoes, onion and celery, along with some Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. After cooking all night on low, I added 3 of my basil-pesto cubes from the freezer and enjoyed delicious beef stew for breakfast.
I am very pleased with my beef project. The stew tasted great and the meat tasted just fine in there. The texture was about the same as if I had just put raw beef into a crockpot all night, so that was good. It was not stringy or mushy.
I had fun trying something relatively new to me and honing my food preservation skills. It is good to know that I was able to put something on my pantry shelves, as I decided I wanted to save freezer space for other things, other than the 2 roasts and small package of stew meat.
We buy beef from a farmer each fall, and have a great deal of it made up into steaks and hamburger. There are very few roasts each time. It’s great to have a couple of extra roasts to work with now.
I was amazed that beef was less expensive than chicken breast. We continue to feed quite a few people each week, and the Lord continues to provide all we need and more to do that. Getting this meat at this price was a true blessing. Although it was time-consuming, it was actually a very easy process. I’m glad we seized the moment!