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!
Rob had a birthday this week. He wanted to drive down to the beach for the day to celebrate. We did that Friday, as we were working on his actual birthday. It rained a little, and the wind blew, but overall, it was gorgeous for a winter day at the beach.
Neither Papa or Malcolm cared at all if there was a little rain! Rob got Mac this super cute “fireman” rain coat at the Union Gospel Mission store for under $7. It seems like brand-new and kept him dry on this day. We took snacks and drinks, and Rob and Malcolm got chicken from a store and we all got French fries from a restaurant–I had a salad and Lovana had fish tacos. After we had gathered our food items from the various locations, we all had a blast eating our goodies and watching the ocean from a lookout point!
On the actual day of Rob’s birthday, I had some help with the cake. Malcolm and I made and frosted the cake. Jake supervised and consoled us, saying that Malcolm’s extra huge handful of mini chips there on the top looked just like a sideways heart and went with the cake just fine! We were trying to get the mini chips on the sides and the sprinkles on top, but such is life when you are two:). Most of this delicious cake is in the freezer, but we enjoyed it’s richness before I cut it up, layered it between waxed paper and froze the rest.
I experimented some more with my air fryer. I got it last Christmas and haven’t utilized it as much as I wish I had. This was parmesan chicken and was delicious with our home-canned pasta sauce and green beans. I used a fresh mozzarella log we got for 99c during our recent trip to the scratch and dent store, so it was affordable. Rob saw the same logs of cheese for around $7 elsewhere. This one was short dated, but I used it up right away.
I made egg flower soup twice. I slipped in some tofu for added protein. This is a new recipe to me and it was SO good. There was sesame oil, garlic powder, turmeric, seasoning salt and ginger in there, along with pepper. It was slightly thickened with cornstarch.
The first time, I used some chicken broth in a carton I had been given and the second time I used bone broth I boiled from some Costco chicken. I put in less egg the second time. I split the 99c tofu brick I got from the discount store and split one can of diced water chestnuts between the two batches. As I have previously mentioned, I am not a tofu fan, but Rob is. I have to say, I liked it in this soup. (I am not canning this. I just used a jar for storage in the fridge.)
I did can these, though.
We were blessed with more apples again this past week. It seems that no matter how fast we eat, we cannot use up all the good food we have been given this year. My sister had a large crop and generously shared. Rob’s sister works at an apple orchard each fall and gets free apples. Somehow, those apples keep ending up at our house over the past few months. Yum!
I decided to do some applesauce with some since they are still nice. Why wait until they aren’t to face the fact that we can’t eat them all fresh? So, I did 10 pints of applesauce Saturday. I picked out the worst looking ones to use up. It’s going to take off some stress during the canning rush next summer. Win-win! I also made a small batch of chunky applesauce this week we are eating fresh. Lovana made an apple crisp. Such a nice problem to have.
Last, but not least….I have a budding mechanic on my hands. He decided his lawn mower was broken and turned it over and proceeded to “fix” it with his toy hammer. This guy landscapes with his bubble mower, repairs equipment and works for applesauce. Now that’s the kind of help we all need!
I love the new year, every single time! It’s just so fun to “start over” even if it’s just psychological! I spent some time cleaning up Christmas (to the music of sobs and crying as my poor grandson was not on board with my decision to put those fun things away!), and put out a few cold weather-themed candles, just because it’s so dark this time of year.
He does like the cleaning part, though! He swept and vacuumed and scrubbed for quite a long time.
I am very predictable in January. I always want to clean out foods that have been sitting around for a long time on my pantry shelves, continue hitting the home-preserved foods hard, clean the house, and save money. It’s just what I do this time of year.
Rob and I removed an area rug in the living room, cleaned it, hung it to dry on a ladder in front of the fire, and swept, vacuumed and mopped under the couches. It was a huge job, and the rug is still drying, but it’s good to get such a big project underway.
I got out a big bowl of beans to soak and am also making split pea soup with ham broth that had been previously frozen and split peas from the shelf. I brightened it up with a pint of my canned carrots, and they do look pretty in there. The beans will become chili, refried beans, and plain beans to freeze for later.
I checked out a library book called “The Simple Comforts Step-by-Step Instant Pot Book” by Jeffrey Eisner. This recipe was in it and it was SO good! It’s called Teriyaki Chicken. I’ve made a couple of other recipes from there, also, so I had Rob look it up on Amazon and was able to buy it for only $11!
I spent some time sorting my herbs and spices and re-filling my jars in the kitchen. I buy them in bulk and use the same little jars over and over. I save a tremendous amount of money this way. Some spices or mixes, like Mexican seasoning and chili powder are used so much I buy huge packages of them. Others, such as cream of tartar and ground mustard are used much less often, so I buy only a small bit of them at a time. Now they are all full again, which saves me time on busy days and lets me know what I need to buy before long.
I canned some pineapple. We don’t use much of it, so this will likely be all I need for the next year.
I was given hazelnuts and walnuts, and look forward to using them this year as well. I froze them to preserve freshness. The ones you see in this picture are last year’s, pulled from the freezer to rotate them. I roasted a large pan before Christmas and took a few to Christmas dinner, as did almost every other sister in some form or other:). That’s what your get when you are all raised on a hazelnut farm–hazelnuts say holiday to us!
Recently, Rob found a good deal on potatoes. They were a little over 20c/lb. He bought several 10-lb bags, as I asked him to do, because potatoes have been over 50c/lb around here. I’ve seen them for about $4.50/10 lb bag and higher the last 2 weeks. This has been a steady price for several weeks now, and this is fall–a time where potatoes are usually less expensive due to the new crop.
We ate mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, diced and fried potatoes. I canned several quarts and many pints of potato chunks. I made potato salad twice. They were huge bowls and I shared with the college group and served it for my sister’s birthday.
I set 20 lbs aside in the garage, in a cool, dark, dry place, and put one bag under the sink, which we’ve mostly eaten up by now. I checked them this morning. Much to my dismay, they weren’t looking great. It’s no bargain to pay less for something if you let half of it rot…a person might as well pay the full price for fewer good bags, but obviously, in this case, we didn’t know they were going to go bad quickly. Normally, they last a long time when stored in my garage.
I didn’t want to can any more potatoes, so I got creative.
I made a pot of potato soup. It’s very simple. I just diced potatoes and one onion and cooked them with salt and pepper in some water until the potatoes were soft. I mixed some cornstarch with milk and added that and cooked until slightly thickened. Then, I stirred in some cheese and it was done.
I baked 4 potatoes that looked good.
I peeled and parboiled over 1/2 of my big pot full of potatoes. I left them whole, and cooked for about 10 minutes. Then, I grated one tray full. I then froze that flat in my chest freezer and will transfer them to a baggie when hardened up. They are hash browns. The internet gave several choices of how to keep them from browning, and this is the method I chose.
I took the rest of the parboiled potatoes and grated them into my largest Pyrex mixing bowl. I had about 2/3 of the bowl full of shreds. I put in 2 Tablespoons cornstarch, 3 Tablespoons Bob’s Red Mill 1-1 flour, 1/2 tsp Xanthum gum, 1-1/2 teaspoon salt, a dash of Cayenne pepper, and a dash of regular black pepper, and mixed it all up. I formed into little “tots” and fried in hot oil until brown on both sides.
This was a mixture of several recipes I found on the internet. Many of them had cheese, but I didn’t want to add that at this time, as my purpose was to use up potatoes!
We ate a bunch, and I am freezing 3 containers for later. I will either bake in the oven until hot and crisp or use my air fryer to warm up. If this is something we end up using and liking, I may experiment with cheese, or more cayenne, not cooking before I freeze, and many other ideas I have rolling around in my head. But, for the first time, I followed what most recipes advised, and we’ll see how we like them! The ones we ate fresh were SO good!!!
There is still a partial bag of potatoes that will need using up very soon, so I have plenty more to experiment on….if I hurry:)
The shelves are starting to fill up nicely. I have most items canned that I want to do, and a few blank spots to tuck away the remaining items. The boxes on the left are now almost filled and labeled with jars that won’t fit or that I have canned an excess of.
For example, there are 2 boxes of pears. I canned extra of those this year and don’t anticipate using them all this winter. So they can remain stored in a box and the shelf can be used for items for immediate use, but are always handy in case people around here start gobbling pears up!
Dealing with this many canned items is a big organizational task. There is always a lot of arranging and re-arranging during the winter. There is a constant parade of full jars marching into the house and empties marching out. I organize them in sections according to their size and whether they are small mouthed, or wide mouthed. I keep all jelly/jam and tuna jars in shoeboxes in a different location to keep them organized as they empty. I use baskets and keep empties on the dryer until the basket is full, then deal with the jars. I keep a few jars of food in the house to grab quickly, but the rest is stored in the shop. It’s only a few steps to run out there and grab more at any time.
I keep good records. I use a simple journal with blank lines I bought years ago at the Dollar Store, and it’s not complicated. I count what’s left from last year, and add what I did this year. I often refer back to last year’s record sheets to see how many we actually used. This gives me an idea of how many jars of a certain item I need to can this year. Sometimes I look back 2 or 3 years to get an average, as people are fickle around here. One year they may gobble a certain item, like cherries, and the next year they might stop eating them!
This week, I was able to get pickled sweet pepper rings done. I also got several more tomatoes products canned, including crushed, more salsa, whole tomatoes and juice. I did 2 canner loads of vegetable beef soup and also canned beef broth. The broth used all the beef soup bones in the freezer, as I like to clear them out in anticipation for the new 1/4 beef we get each fall. The soup used up some of the broth, many vegetables that were lingering in the fridge and all the small bits of this and that I could pick in the garden and quite a few tomatoes. There’s just a small amount of meat in it, from the soup bones, and lots and lots of good veggies and herbs for flavor.
I went out and found quite a few pickling cucumbers I was not expecting, so I started another small batch of sweet pickles. There are never too many of those and I really don’t need more dills. It’s so cute when my autistic son comes over, as he did this past week. Every time, he shyly asks for a jar of those sweet pickles. I’m happy to share.
Because I have such a bumper crop of tomatoes, I am purposely canning more than I need. We eat a LOT of tomato products, so that’s been a big job. I learned to do this the hard way years ago when I lost my entire crop, except 7 quarts, to a blight of some kind. I was again reminded that crops are not always readily available when you want them, when the peach crop was very, very small this year. I only canned a few jars, but thankfully have many left over because last year’s crop was so huge.
I also canned quite a few items for others, especially my niece, who is getting married in a couple of weeks. Between her mother and myself, she will start off with a good supply in her canning cupboard. I enjoy canning, so when she asked for that for her wedding gift, I was delighted to agree. Rob already took her the canned goods, and they are put away at her new apartment, ready and waiting for the newlyweds to enjoy.
Rob is working almost every day on items for my niece’s wedding. I’m going to do another post on those, this one is getting too long.
We did a few more activities this past week, although the main focus was food preservation. We stacked firewood that was given to us. The pile is getting huge, and we fell blessed.
I picked many veggies and used them in meals. We’ve also been utilizing the jars that didn’t seal, which you always get a few of when you can as many jars as I do. We ate soup that did not seal, another batch of soup I made from extra veggies, tuna noodle casserole, hamburgers, spaghetti, salads, chicken gravy over mashed potatoes, and a Costco chicken. It’s always a bit of a struggle to cook when I’ve been canning for hours, so the chicken really helped out and you can’t beat the $5 price tag. I’m pretty sure I only have a pint of tomatoes in the fridge that needs to be dealt with from the items that did not seal. I’ve had tremendous success in getting them to seal this year, and have only had a very few that didn’t in the hundreds of jars I’ve canned.
I was able to fill the yard debris bin this week for the first time in a while. There is much more yard work to do, but the canning has been a priority, so that felt good to at least get started.
Last, but not least for this week, we were able to collect a few seeds to save for next year. We’ve collected parsley, snap peas, beet seeds, and a few more. I will still buy many seeds, especially of a few hybrid varieties I like to plant, but it’s been fun to learn this skill over the past few years and to see that it really works! We have enjoyed many veggies from our own seeds this year, such as all pole beans–purple and green, most of the cucumbers and some green onions, and a few more, as well.
Rob and I got away to the Oregon Coast for a few days over the weekend to celebrate our 40th anniversary. We stayed in a hotel with an ocean view, and spent hours staring out our window, reading, and relaxing.
We took several short hikes. The above pictures were taken down near the town of Yachats, Oregon. There is a trail there that runs along the beach. It’s easy to hike and you get to look down at the ocean and these rocks the entire time. I’ve always wanted to hike along it, and finally got to. We also hiked a little bit at South Beach State Park in Newport, Oregon.
Although we did stop in at the Lincoln City outlet mall, we did not find a single thing we could not live without. It was fun to look around, though.
We did not go down onto the beach this trip, as Rob is still recovering from his wound on his leg. Since the wound care clinic was kind enough to give him a lighter wrap and let me change the bandages for this trip, we did not want to get sand on his leg…..and it paid off. They were very happy with how it looked Monday morning when he went in! He goes 3 times each week.
We went out for a couple of meals, and ate food I took for the rest of the time. Although it was such a momentous occasion, we could have eaten out the entire time, I feel better when I cook my own food, for the most part.
We had one short-lived scare, as a grassfire broke out just a few short miles from our home. People in our area were put on alert. After we figured out that the evacuation center was the school very near our house, we relaxed a bit, and figured that if people were told to go to our neighborhood, it was probably a safe place to be. Lovana, who was home taking care of things at the house, ran the sprinkles anyway, just to keep things damp, just in case.
On our way home, we stopped at the docks in Newport and got tuna to can. We last canned tuna 2 years ago, so it was time to do some more.
I was canning right up until I left for the trip, and started in right away when I got back. It’s that time of year. I gave away several boxes of tomatoes right before I left, as I couldn’t quite finish.
I am typing this on Tuesday. Over the past 2 days, I’ve picked 8-10 buckets full of tomatoes. It might have been more. I lost count. Yikes!!! Talk about a bumper crop. We are still laughing, as last spring, those were the worst looking tomato plants Rob has ever grown!
I canned 7 quarts of diced tomatoes from the Romas that were left home over the weekend. I knew they would keep. I did a few jars of dilly beans from the pole beans. I took the very small tomatoes I picked and made tomato juice (10 pints) and taco/enchilada sauce (12 assorted pints and 1/2 pints). I chopped and froze some peppers that ripened.
There are still quite a few boxes of tomatoes. I have several tomato products to can, but I’m gaining on the project.
I sent produce to my sister and my next-door-neighbor. I cooked with it, as well.
One day last week, we took Jake and both babies to the library. There was a baby story time, which I attended with the babies and their mom. Rob took Jake to the library to choose books. Then, Rob and I took Jake and Malcolm for a walk in the area and enjoyed ducks and a pond. It was fun to go somewhere new.
It’s becoming a tradition for whatever babies are here to pile onto the bed and look at books with Grandpa.
Of course, there’s lots of tickling involved, as well as jumping, flashlight waving, and more. But, they can call it reading if they want:)
I have been spending up to 12 hours a day preserving food lately. Even when I don’t have hours to spend at it, I do try to do a little early in the morning, or in the evening. It’s my kind of fun, but also a lot of work. In the end, I’m super happy with all the food we’ve preserved so far.
In late summer and fall, many things usually ripen in our area. This year has been very strange. We had a late spring and several crops were completely lost or severely damaged, so we were not sure what we would have available this year.
Every year, my sister’s neighbor gives her several boxes of pears. This year, he said there were going to be none. We were fortunate enough to find some at a fruit stand we love to go to and ordered 2 boxes. This was about 80-90 pounds, I think. Then, the neighbor gave her some after all. Surprise! I’m not sure how many pounds came our way, but I’m guessing 50 or more. Those from her neighbor were ready to work up immediately, and some were starting to spoil the day I received them. My mom delivered them, so we started in on them right away.
I dried a dryer full each day for several days, so have many baggies of dried pears now. I made a batch of pear butter and canned it. I made a huge bowl of fruit cocktail and canned it in pints.
Over a several day period, I canned 43 quarts and several pints of the purchased pears, as they ripened. I just finished them Tuesday.
My sister’s farm had a terrible peach crop this year. Earlier, we were able to get enough early peaches to freeze and dry some. She kindly scrounged the orchard for the later kind, Elbertas, and sent several small boxes full to me. I canned 9 quarts and 4 pints. Thankfully, with what I have left over, that should be more than enough. I intentionally did extra pears since we were almost out of those and the peach crop was not abundant.
Since the babies eat here so often, I anticipate that we will go through most of what I canned this winter, as they love canned fruit. They also love soup, carrots, beans, etc.
We also ate some fresh and my daughter made a big peach crisp. It was just finished last evening. Yum!
Of course, during all this abundance, I went out to pick tomatoes from the garden, and there were 4 buckets. Yes, 4! A few days later, there were 4 more. This is really, really funny to us. When Rob grew these tomato plants this spring, it was just too wet to plant them for a long, long time. They got leggy. They turned yellow. They were ugly and looked half dead. He was so embarrassed by his tomato bushes, he refused to give them to most people and apologized profusely to anyone who did wheedle him out of some. For the longest time, I had bushes, and no tomatoes. But all of a sudden……Oh, boy! I have huge bushes with the biggest tomatoes I ever remember growing in my life on some bushes and the tiniest ones on others, but all are loaded. They are quickly ripening now.
I have canned crushed tomatoes, quartered and whole tomatoes, pizza-pasta sauce and one batch of salsa. I gave my mom tomatoes to freeze and Jake’s mom tomatoes to can. We have been eating them daily. I still want to can more and there are so many more still ripening, I know I will get more than I want. That’s fine with me. Ever since the year (long ago) when my tomato crop died from a blight after I only got 7 measly jars canned, I like to do extra each year, just in case.
At the same time as the pears were picked up, Rob got a box of Gravestein apples for applesauce, and my mom brought me another 1/2 box. I made applesauce and canned about 30 pints of it.
A few pints of dill pickles were made. I have many dills left from last year, so only need to do a few.
Zucchini was dried. I don’t use much of this each year, but noticed my stash was almost gone from last year.
I made a double batch of basil pesto and froze 2 ice cube trays full. I popped the cubes out into Ziplock bags and plan to do more later on when the basil grows back a bit. We used last year’s supply too quickly and have been hoarding the last few cubes for a long time. It’s easy enough to just make more this summer. The basil is growing great!
I got a few ears of corn for 9c per ear at Safeway. I used them to make one batch of corn relish.
While I was at it, I boiled 2 frozen chicken carcasses I had saved when it was so very hot, and canned a canner-load of broth.
Most of the big canning jobs are done now. Although I love, love, love food preservation, I will admit that I’m glad to have that monumental pile of pears, peaches and apples in jars! It’s good to see my table again and be able to walk around here more easily without tripping on boxes of produce:)
There are still quite a few veggies in the garden. I slip out there and pick whenever I find the time. There will be a few more items that I will preserve this year, but we will eat quite a bit of the garden harvest fresh from now on. My sister has sent fresh corn several times, and we have been enjoying that. I didn’t grow winter squash, or cauliflower, so I will buy that from a produce stand, plus more corn if her supply runs out and I need more. The fall veggies I planted are coming along nicely and there will be broccoli, cabbage, snow peas, kale and lettuce. The spinach has been eaten up by slugs twice. Some lettuce did not germinate and some was bulldozed over by little bulldozer man, who loves to “work” in the dirt at the edge of the garden. I try to direct his bulldozing, but sometimes he gets carried away:). It’s so cute, it’s worth a little lettuce.