Category Archives: food preservation

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–June 13, 2022

Toward the end of last summer, I was only getting a few strawberries each time I picked. I washed them and put them in a large baggie in the freezer, and ended up with about 8 cups, mashed. Today, I used that large bagful, together with the last 3 baggies from 2020 that had been lost in the freezer, the freshly picked ones from my bushes and a few from some my sister gave us to eat.

I made a double batch of jam and canned 17–1/2 pints. I will be u-picking or buying more berries to freeze for smoothies, and likely make more jam once it dries up a bit.

This flowerbed is looking great. The dahlias in the back come back every year. Rob grew the marigolds from a Dollar Tree packet (4/$1 at the time of purchase). The poppies came up volunteer from last year’s poppies and so did the nasturtiums. The geraniums were wintered-over by Rob, in the greenhouse. A neighbor told me last week she paid $9 for one geranium and $7 for one impatient. I told Rob he was worth a fortune…but not just for his geraniums:)

This flowerbed is shaping up, too. The dahlias are Rob’s project. The nasturtiums came up volunteer and I transplanted several volunteer zinnias into this area.

We helped chaperone a party for the 5th grade Sunday school class we teach. It was at an indoor trampoline park. Jake got to go with us, and had so much fun bouncing. We had fun watching all the kids we have been teaching have so much fun. Our church’s Children’s Director had to set it up as a birthday party to reserve one of the little eating areas, so the kids had pizza and pop and each got a pair of socks as part of the experience. Those kids moved up to mid-high last week, and yesterday we got a new batch of students. We are looking forward to getting to know these new-to-us kiddos and have lots planned for them.

Our local Safeway had a grand re-opening celebration. The store was recently renovated and, although it stayed open the entire time, it was kind of hard to navigate at times. Patsy and I went down early. I grabbed my groceries–about $20 worth, as that’s all I needed, and was given this bag of groceries, along with a bag of granola which is not pictured. Patsy was buying an item for herself and was given a bag, as well. I love having new bags, too, as some of mine are getting sad-looking.

The groceries were in limited supply, but there were fun activities that were going to start, so Rob took Jake by there a while later after he picked him up for the day. To our surprise, Rob also was given a bag of groceries, plus many free products and coupons from the produce area. Now I have coupons for free salad dressing, baby potatoes, sourkrout, and more, along with the free products he got. Jake got to sample things, play games, spin wheels, and ended up with chap stick, which he adores! Although it would have been fun to stay at Safeway all day, they came home and left the hot dogs and Mac and cheese behind for others.

Patsy cut Rob’s hair. He just couldn’t find time to go to the barber shop, so he had her do it. It is cool for summer now.

I took the kids to the library and got books and movies.

We have 3 birthdays in 8 days, for 3 daughters. I made cupcakes and a spaghetti dinner for Patsy on Tuesday, went to dinner with Abbie on Wednesday, and am still waiting for the 3rd one to happen this week. I sent Jake and Rob to the mall to buy gifts and they did a great job using coupons at Bath and Body Works, and got what I asked for at Macy’s. I made the cupcakes and Rob decorated them.

Those two also went to a few yard sales. Jake was given all kinds of Pokemon items, which he loves. We will be helping with the reception for our niece’s wedding this fall. A loose plan has been formulated for decor of the food area, and now Rob has some items to source. He will be looking at yard sales to see what he can find. For instance, they want a cookie bar. Boards will be placed between 2 old, but decorated rustic ladders and used for shelves for platters of cookies. Crates and baskets will add height to the food display. Food will be simple, but decorated with garnishes to look catered and fancy. Rob’s 100 dahlia plants (that’s kind of a joke–not sure how many he actually has) will hopefully give some blooms of good colors and we will use those and chrysanthemums–probably white mainly.

We will be using things around the house, as well. Our niece asked me and Jake’s mom to organize the reception and do the cooking. Our husbands just got lucky and get to help as well:). We are all very excited! Rob sent a text to quite a few of his friends saying: I need ___, ___, and ____ for a wedding reception I’m helping with. If you have any of those items that you never want to see again, let me know, because I won’t be returning them. If you want to keep your things, do not feel bad, I just want the things people are finished with. He got quite a bit of response already, even offers to go through basements, etc. He’s going to gather up what he can and start from there re-using the items. My sister and I can add bows, paint things, etc. , if needed. We are a long ways out from this event, but I will certainly post when that day comes, or items are finished. Not only is this a frugal way to do things, it uses items that are simply languishing in basements and putting them to good purpose. It’s win-win!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–March 6, 2022

This week, Rob was able to take Patsy’s senior pictures. Truthfully, the final selections have not been chosen or edited, but this is one I like.

And this one….

And this one…..

There are so many good ones, I can hardly choose. Rob hopes to get down to the coast and take a few down there, but if it never happens, I can easily find good ones in the ones he took.

We took a short hike at Silver Falls State Park while we were taking pictures. I also purchased a year-long day-use park pass for $30 while I was there. We’ve been blessed with a park pass for both day use and camping for the past several years, but it is expiring as we are no longer going to have an adoptive/foster child under 18. Plus, even though she’s not quite 18, the pass only works when the child is there, and she’s going off to work at a camp before long, so Rob and I will be hiking and picnicking without her. I’m not sure what the day rate is anymore, either $5 or $3, but either way, it won’t take us long to get our money’s worth from that pass. Before long, we will be paying for camping as well, but that’s o.k. We appreciate all the times we got to go and not pay, that’s for sure.

We got bone-in chicken breasts for 99c/lb. Rob de-boned them and we froze the now boneless/skinless breast pieces for meals. We boiled the bones to make broth, then pressure canned them. We got 7 quarts and 14 pints.

A close family member gave us some extra Bottle Drop money she wasn’t using. I took that, along with $93 of my grocery money and did a big shop for the next 2 weeks. I used a $10/off $50 coupon along with many other digital coupons. I used the extra money to focus on hygiene supplies, such as deodorant– dish soap, laundry soap for Patsy to take with her, and some other items she needs to take when she goes.

I haven’t done the Ibotta rebate app for a while, so they were trying to entice me back. I got free crackers and popcorn and $8 in bonus money, over $20 in all. I bought things I was buying anyway, except for the last 3 items needed to get the extra $8 in bonus money. I got 2 candy bars and some instant oatmeal, and spent about $4+ on those, still putting me ahead. I use the oatmeal while camping, and won’t have trouble find a home for candy bars.

I made a vegetable soup with home-canned carrots, tomatoes, broth and frozen beans and dried zucchini. I used my pesto I froze in ice cube trays in there, as well, along with some rice noodles. There was a little bit of the roast beef I cooked this week in there, too. I love that particular soup and will even eat it for breakfast. Malcolm has eaten it several times this week, as well. I love to see those veggies go down the hatch! Carrots seem to be a favorite, along with beans. He pokes at them with his fork, until he either spears them and eats them, or gives up in disgust if it takes too long, and just holds the fork in one hand and grabs the carrots and beans with the other. So cute! (To a grandma, anyway. Everyone else probably thinks it’s the huge mess that it really is!)

I checked the garden a few minutes ago. I am happy to report that there are a few peas poking up at last, in the raised beds. In the small section of the big garden that was planted, very little has managed to come up. I did notice a few Boc Choi babies, though! I’m super happy. We love that in stir fry and also in chicken soup, so I hope a few of them do grow!

Rob and I drove to a county Covid-19 test give-away. I was wrapped up in taking care of Jake and Michaela and some of the things we were doing, and forgot to go right at 3 when it started. I was sure that they would be out by the time we got there around 6:30, but contrary to my thoughts, they were coming to the end of their event with a lot of the free tests left over. They asked if we would take a few extras and keep some and hand some out, if we could think of anyone who could use them. I got tests for the girls, my Mom, Aunt, 2 sisters and ourselves. What a blessing. If we need them, we’ve got them.

I also heard you can request 4 more tests from the federal government, the same as we did not long ago, starting this upcoming week. Rob and I feel we have about enough after that. But, it’s the kind of thing that when you need one, it will be so much handier to have one here, then have to go buy one, so we are happy to keep some on hand. We do need to test negative to work, if we have Covid symptoms.

There are just a few apples in our box Rob’s sister gave us. Rob made apple crisp from some of them, and we keep eating the rest.

This week will be a bit busy. We have Jake extra hours. We said we would keep the babies one day, as J is getting her hair done. In the midst of that, Patsy is doing hours of schoolwork each and every day, including Saturdays and Sundays. She is going to make it, the work will be finished. I know if she doesn’t do it before she goes off to camp, it will never, ever be finished. So that’s what we are doing. I’m working with her a little more than usual, keeping her on track and doing some things verbally, to make sure she understands it without needing to write it down, in some cases. I won’t lie, we are both heartily sick of doing school for the hours we’ve been doing it, but the end is in sight, so that’s wonderful! This week, we should finish most of it. Any odds and ends will be done the following week, and she goes on the 22nd. She will come home most weekends, and we will have her graduation party on one of those weekends later in the spring.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–January 10, 2021

My seeds have arrived! I ordered them all from Territorial this year for several reasons. It saved shipping fees. I got the varieties I wanted. (I look for certain traits in different vegetables, such as short-season growing and disease resistance in tomatoes, especially.). I love their seeds because they grow well for me.

Rob saved quite a few seeds this past summer and we will plant those. We will also look at the Dollar Store for seeds for things that I don’t care about variety on, such as green onions and dill. They are not there, yet. I’m not really worried, because if they never show up, those are the things that seem to self-seed quite easily and they may just pop up in the garden all on their own.

As I think I mentioned last week, I spent a morning with my niece, sorting out all the old seeds and saved seeds to make sure I ordered only what I needed. It was still over $100. Some years, I spend much more than that, and it was nice to not need so many this time. Regardless, it is always worth the money I spend to me as I get back so much from my investment. I do not want to do the amount of work I do for a small yield, or to have the plants not produce in time, or die of blight, which has happened to me before.

We need to organize the greenhouse and planting supplies very soon. Some things, such as peppers and onions need to be planted before long. Others can wait a little longer.

We only bought a few items at the regular grocery store this past week. For the most part, we cooked with preserved items or pantry items. I did an Azure Standard order for myself and my sister. For myself, I mainly got pantry items, such as gluten-free pasta and cleaning supplies. I also pulled several odds and ends from the freezer for meals, mainly things that had been frozen during the holidays when there was too much food around to eat before it went bad.

I used up odds and ends in the fridge, too. A small amount of pesto in a jar was thrown into a soup. Yum! We were given that jar a while back, and it was nice to finish it off. There were 6 corn tortillas that had been lingering, so I made a casserole with home-canned salsa verde, chicken and cheese to use those.

I made soup from home-canned carrots, beans, broth, tomatoes and 1/2 lb. hamburger. I made spaghetti, using our home-made pasta sauce from our garden tomatoes. Small bits of jams, relishes, and fruit were finished, too. I had to carry out 2 baskets of empty jars to the shop last week! That’s a success in my book. If I’m cooking with my own preserved foods, everyone is getting fed without me spending an excessive amount of money. At this point, I don’t plan to raise my grocery budget, even if food prices continue to rise. I seem to be able to still get some good deals, and have so much food on hand to use.

Rob returned all of our bottles and cans. He hadn’t done it for quite some time, as in months. It took him 2 days. We had cans the girls and others had given us, plus the ones we found while walking, and our empties. He put $70 on our Bottle Drop card, and I will use that for groceries one of these days! I will use the +20% feature at Safeway or Fred Meyers to stretch that money even further.

Patsy and Jake continue to do puzzles when they have spare time. I only have time to put in a few pieces now and then, but it’s fun when I do.

We spent a couple of days with the babies, as usual. Zai is starting to eat a little food, so that’s been fun. Mac continues to eat everything I put in front of him, except bananas, which I find odd, but…..We took walks, read endless books, played toys and, yes…watched the Wiggles.

We also had an entire day where we didn’t do anything. No babies, no kids, no big projects, just a nap. Frankly, I was ready for that! I did manage to clean the bathroom and cook something, but that was about it. Pretty easy day! I need that now and then.

One Last Mad Rush of Food Preservation–Fall, 2021

The cauliflower has ripened in our area. I’ve been waiting for this moment. On Saturday, Rob and I decided to make our giardiniera. Last year was the first time I had ever made it. It was hard to know exactly what recipe to choose because there were so many variations out there. We just picked one that wasn’t too sweet, made a few jars, and Rob loved it so much he was rationing it by January or February. We wanted to make a large quantity this year.

I sent him out to buy cauliflower from a farm stand, carrots from the restaurant supply place in a 25-lb bag, and lots of celery. While he was gone, I washed jars and picked all of the remaining peppers I could find. I also started peeling all of the tiny onions we had separated out into a box for this purpose. Some were only an inch or so, and some were larger. Those were cut into 1/4ths. When he got home, he kept peeling onions. That was time-consuming, but provided a way to use some onions that would have possibly gone to waste.

We may have gotten a little carried away. As I was cutting veggies, I just kept having to get more bowls because they were so full I couldn’t stir the veggies up. They were really, really big bowls. Rob quickly filled all the jars I had washed and needed more. I had to climb to the attic in the shop where we store “un-needed” jars and used every single one of my empty wide-mouth pints, except 2. I had to make batch after batch of brine. 18 quarts and 50 pints later…..well, needless to say, this project went on for about 10 hours. It’s a good thing I had Rob pick up another gallon of vinegar while he was out and about. I did get 15 pints of carrots canned in the middle somewhere….so that job is done now, as well.

The entire 25 pound bag of carrots was used, except about 2 pounds I saved for fresh eating. 4 heads of cauliflower didn’t sound like much when he called from the stand….Again, I saved enough for a meal to eat fresh but there was still a lot more than I thought.

It was a big project. I’m delighted it’s done. I’m really glad to know that no one will need to ration vegetables around here.

Yesterday, we stopped by a different farm stand where they had cauliflower for only $3 for huge heads.

Even the colored ones were only $3. I got 6. I cleaned, cut, blanched and froze 12 baggies of white and 16 baggies of mixed colors. This is about double what I froze last fall. We were completely out by a little after Christmas. Sometimes it’s quite amazing to think about how many vegetables we eat around here. It’s why I keep very detailed records. Otherwise I wouldn’t believe we could eat as many as we do.

You may wonder why I don’t grow my own cauliflower. I tried a few times. It turned out terrible. It was small, buggy, bitter, or didn’t grow at all. One time Lovana grew one nice one. Not me. So I support local farmers who have it down to a science.

Last, but not least, we needed to pick the basil and make our pesto before it frosted and possibly froze the bushes. That meant we had to do it yesterday. We did 2 double batches and got 2 ice cube trays full. It’s incredible how many basil leaves it takes. We don’t eat a lot of pesto, but we love having it on occasion. I already made some salad dressing with some of it. Yum!

I left some in case it didn’t die from frost just yet, but it’s on its last leg, regardless, and it won’t be long until I pull what’s left of it. I’ve been pulling other plants each week, but still have quite a bit of clean-up to do outside.

The weather has changed. We’ve had a fire in the wood stove several times now. It’s been raining occasionally, and did frost last night. I’m getting ready to snuggle down and do some inside tasks. Each season has it’s own set of things I enjoy, but I do have to admit I will miss being in the garden so much.

Thriving In My thrifty Week–October 4, 2021

We had a few days of beautiful weather, and a few days of much-needed rain lately. On one of the nice days, Rob played bubbles with our grandson. Bubbles are one of the most economical “toys” a person can buy, and boy are they a favorite. I’m sure I could save even more by making my own, but I’m quite willing to spring for the 50c or $1 I paid for these for the sake of time. I took him for a walk in the rain another day. He seemed to enjoy that, too. Almost every time he comes over, I push him down the street in the stroller we used for his mother. We are sure getting our money’s worth out of that!

It looked like quite serious business to me, at times!

We read a book about apple picking during school one day and went on a field trip to pick one bucket of apples from a near-by orchard. Jake was dying to ride in the wagon, so we took turns pulling him.

The kids really got into posing for the “apple-picking photo” and in fact posed for 3 or 4. I was surprised about how much fun they had at an activity they’ve done many times before, and how quickly that bucket filled! You could fill it for $15. We offered to pay an extra dollar or two because ours was ultra-full. But, they declined additional payment, which was kind, I thought. The kids would have filled several buckets they were having so much fun, but I didn’t need more, and I didn’t want to can a whole bunch as I’ve already done applesauce and pie filling. We do like dried apples and also canned apple slices and wedges with red hots, but I can always go back if I get enthusiastic.

I canned a few more diced tomatoes and did stewed tomatoes for the first time, ever. Rob fondly remembers his Mom making them and he loved them. Her method was to fill her sink with tomatoes, peppers, onions and celery and stir it around with her hands and can it up. I needed more direction, so got a recipe from the new Ball Canning Book I bought this summer. It was called stewed tomatoes with vegetables and I had to can it in a pressure canner. The 11 jars came out great. Rob made some jalapeño jelly, as well.

I picked tomatoes, peppers, green beans, lemon cucumbers and zucchini from the garden. I used chives from one of the raised beds.

I put coverings on one raised bed to encourage the tiny lettuce, spinach, snow peas and cilantro that came up. The kale and cabbage look awful. I think the slugs are the victors this time, but we will see. I spread old walnut shells around to discourage them, but…..

I started removing a few old tomatoes bushes if they looked done and started cleaning up a couple of spots in the flower beds. There’s going to be a lot to remove and I don’t think I can do it all at once! I put what I could in our compost bins and filled the yard debris bin with branches, ivy and weeds that had gone to seed. It’s so nice to fill that when I can as I don’t want any more ivy or weeds around here!

Rob and I did a little sorting in the freezers. We wanted to know how much beef was left from last year’s quarter beef we bought to make sure we really needed another quarter as our beef farmer was asking us. We inventoried the other protein as well while we were at it. I’ve got lots of chicken, trout, 1 turkey, 1 ham and a little pork, a lot of hamburger and a very few other pieces of beef. We will get the beef, as usual, but may share some of it, and some of the cost with another person who has an interest.

I’ve been working hard at fall cleaning. The garage was my first mission. It was a huge mess, and that’s an understatement. I tend to just dump things out there and run to the next thing on the list during heavy canning season. Now, all of the homeschool materials are sorted, binned up, and organized in a better fashion for both Patsy and Jake. The grocery sack of books I got for $2 at a yard sale are shelved. The pantry shelves are organized and inventoried. A huge pile of old clothes and a few other items have been hauled away and donated. Bulk foods have been re-packaged into my old ice cream buckets and glass jars and labeled. The seeds are semi-organized for next year in their section of the garage.

We use our garage for an extra room, mostly for storage as our house is very small. I plan to host Thanksgiving here this year and plan to have extra seating out there so everyone does not need to be so close together. (I’m aware some family members still may not want to come, due to Covid, but some do.). I love that the garage could be set up for a party right now, so there will be no pressure later as long as I keep it clean. I love that I know exactly what food supplies I have in my pantry. Very little gets wasted that way, since I go through that a couple of times a year. Occasionally I find something that we just don’t like and I can’t get anyone to eat, and this year was no exception, but I had very little I chose to throw away.

I identified gaps in my pantry and placed an Azure Standard order for some bulk buy to fill it in. I also made a small list for Costco and a few other stores.

I continue to cook mainly from the freezers, pantry and garden and to use the grocery money for bulk purchases. The garden is still producing a few veggies so I want to use them as much as possible while I still can. I also want to use the little tidbits I found while organizing the shop freezers. It’s so easy to “lose” things out there, especially in the chest freezer.

This week I plan to cook or have already cooked: corn flake-coated chicken drumsticks (using older corn flakes found while cleaning garage), teriyaki beef and chicken (from a package of beef that had strawberries spilled all over it somehow and chicken that had been around for way too long but was still fine), a new potato soup recipe from a library cookbook in my Instant Pot (using very sad, old potatoes found in garage under something, 1/2 brick cream cheese that needed using and some other ingredients), potato salad (from rest of old bag of potatoes), stir-fried vegetables (zucchini, carrots, onion from garden), white rice (from 50 pounds purchased for$10 at beginning of Covid), brown rice (from a package that was getting old), ground pork sandwiches (from frozen, already cooked pork in freezer), something from some pork roast and lots of home-canned and frozen fruits and vegetables, plus garden produce.

We were allowed into the library for the second time since Covid started. We had to make an appointment. I made one for the first hour, first day available and had a great time:). Holds are finally starting to come in less than 4 months, although I still have some things that have been on hold for that long or longer. Things are looking up:)

God has been blessing us right and left. When we need something, it’s there. It’s that simple. We have had several needs met lately by people who had no idea we even needed anything because we didn’t tell anyone. Anyone but God, that is. It’s a little early for Thanksgiving, but we feel very thankful and blessed right now, so I couldn’t help throwing that in today:)

Salsa

I was asked for the salsa recipe I use. Here it is:

Tomato Salsa (using paste tomatoes)

from: Salsa Recipes for Canning (A PNW Extension publication)

7 quarts peeled, cored, chopped tomatoes (I pour boiling water over a big bowl of tomatoes, drain it off, cover with cold water, peel and pulse in a food processor, then measure it out)

4 cups seeded, chopped long green chilies (Anaheim mostly, some Ancho in this batch–again, clean them, then pulse in food processor, then measure–it’s whatever grew for me. None of these have heat in my garden, but they do have a good flavor. The heat comes from the other peppers.)

Jalepeno or Hungarian Wax (hot) peppers–I used 8, but you have to taste as you go–add 4, then taste, then add more if needed. The temperature varies so much in my home-grown peppers. I’ve added a Serrano in the past if I needed more heat.

5 cups chopped onions

6 cloves garlic, pulsed with a batch of the tomatoes, onions or peppers

2 cups bottled lemon juice

2 Tablespoons salt

1 Tablespoon black pepper

2 Tablespoons cumin

3 Tablespoons dried oregano leaves

2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro

Combine all ingredients except spices and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. I actually use 2 pots if I make the full batch, 1 if I do 1/2 batch. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add spices and simmer 20 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Ladle hot into hot pint jars. Leave 1/2 inch headspace. Adjust lids and process in hot water bath for 15 minutes at 0-1,000 feet altitude, 20 minutes at 1,001-6,000 feet, 25 minutes above 6,000 feet.

Yield: 13 pints

This works best with Roma tomatoes. If you have to use a lot of the more juicy ones, there is another recipe that suggests using a little tomato paste to thicken or to cook it down for quite a bit longer to thicken it up. I use this in cooking sometimes, but mostly it is eaten right out of the jar on chips, tacos, taco salad as dressing, etc. Jar after jar after jar after jar:). They love it!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–September 21, 2021

My garden looks like a complete mess! Still, on Sunday after church when I went out to pick a few things, I got all this and another huge bowl of beans. They were the surprise, since I found the bulk of them on the 3 short rows of bushes I just haven’t gotten time to pull out. They obviously bloomed again and reset more beans. So, among the dried-up, too-old beans was another batch of beautiful, just-right beans.

I cooked a pan full for eating. I gave a bag to my sister and one to my aunt. Then, I froze 4 bags. We don’t eat that many frozen beans, but always use a few each winter. I had only frozen about 4-6 previously this way, so these will be used with no problem. The pole beans should continue to give us enough for fresh eating for a few more weeks.

With my freezers groaning with all of this summer’s bounty, I need room! I pulled a turkey I purchased last fall when they were very inexpensive and Rob cooked it on the bbq. Then, I de-boned it, made broth and canned most of it. The rest was eaten fresh and some is for turkey enchiladas.

I used the boxes and bowls of tomatoes and finished up the salsa. I believe I have enough for these salsa-crazy people around here. With the few that were left over and what I made, I now have 72 jars of assorted sizes–everything from 1/2 pint to quart. Salsa is one of the more time-consuming things I can, so I’m glad to have that project finished.

I also got one canner load of tomato juice and one of crushed tomatoes. I need to do a few more whole tomatoes, but those are easy.

There are still tomatoes on the bushes, but they are winding down. There will be plenty for us and the extended family to eat for several more weeks, until frost.

I froze jalapeño peppers and Hungarian Wax peppers together, as they have about the same level of heat. It was very easy to pick and food-process them while I was making salsa. We don’t use very many of those in a winter, but it’s nice to have some. I package them very thin and flat in a quart-sized ziplock bag so I can break off little chunks when I want to throw just a few into a recipe.

Even though I’m still canning, and school is going full-force, meals need to be cooked. I made this breakfast “egg pie” with a frozen hash brown crust and eggs, a little ham, some leftover garlic cream cheese, spinach, ham and cheddar cheese. It came out great.

I’ve used all the chicken, meat and baked goods from the camper freezer, and am concentrating on using things from the house fridge freezer. It seems to cause an avalanche every time we open it, so it’s time:). Past time. Since we crack out our ice from ice cube trays and fill a Ziplock in the door, AND use a lot of ice daily, this can happen multiple of times each day. It’s getting annoying, to say the least. I can see why housewives of years gone by did fall cleaning. After all the food preservation and gardening, there are just too many areas that have been left to themselves around here.

The grocery money that was spent this week was for basics such as turmeric, salt, milk, eggs……you get the idea. As with most spices we buy, Rob was able to get the turmeric in bulk so it was not expensive. I don’t use much, but it was depleted in some of my pickles recently. It was nice to not need much else so I could fill those things up (and more) with my regular grocery budget. I did get a Coke Zero and some riced cauliflower for free from my Safeway card. The Coke Zero is long gone. The riced cauliflower—-hmmmmm. I’m going to try it soon so it doesn’t linger longer and make that freezer problem worse.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–September 5, 2021

Once again, we concentrated on food preservation during this last week. The last of the pears went into the dryer.

I made German red cabbage and apples today, and one other time. Now, I have a lot! The last of the Gravenstein apples we bought went into that and they are officially gone as well. There is one more red cabbage in the garden, but the others were splitting and cracking and really needed to be used without delay–2 weeks ago! But, I did the best I could and got to them when I could. Rob specially grew the red cabbage for this purpose. I made this last year for the first time with the one red cabbage we grew and he loved it.

I pulled up all remaining beets and turned them into pickled beets. It was a great beet crop and we got around 20 pints. Some are for my Mom, and some for us. We had quite a few left over from last year, but the crop was outstanding, so I canned them up. We also ate quite a few fresh beets.

I’ve started on the salsa. I will do more in a couple of weeks as I didn’t get nearly enough, but it’s a start. (It is not in the picture) Peach pie filling used up the rest of the Elberta peaches we had picked at my sister’s. I’ve been making dilly beans with the extras from the pole beans. I’ve just mixed the purple and green ones. The red tomato product pictured here is pizza/pasta sauce.

Rob even froze some peppers. He uses them throughout the year, mostly for breakfast.

More dill pickles were made, as was another batch of Bread and Butter Pickles. Most of those will end up as gifts, likely around Christmas time. What I choose to give away at the holidays usually depends on what has grown prolifically during the summer, and, boy, are the cucumbers out-doing themselves this year.

Preserving food wasn’t all we did last week, though. I used some carrots that were starting to look bedraggled. Rob picked up a Costco chicken and I used the last of it to make this casserole.

I boiled the bones and made a huge pot of chicken-rice soup. I froze several meals worth in addition to what we have out for fresh eating. The rest of the chicken was eaten right away for meals, or put on salads. I also made a vegetable soup another day. It’s finally cooled down enough here for us to feel like both cooking and eating soup.

We watched our grandsons several times. One time, I wanted Baby Z to go to sleep, and he woke up the minute Patsy and I laid him in the crib, so I told Rob to lay down on the bed and I tucked baby up in his arm. Baby slept. Rob didn’t, but boy did he have fun watching Z sleep. Malcolm, on the other hand, would not go to sleep no matter what we did. He was having too much fun. So we just played with him.

Our daughter got a temporary job at the fair, working in a booth. Her older sister did the bulk of the babysitting, but we pitched in when we could with one boy or the other. Thursday evening, it was both, for quite a while. It took all 3 of us to keep up with him, but the boys were bathed, fed and happy by the time their Mama came for them. We, were exhausted, but happy, too. The fair is over tomorrow. I’m just glad she was able to work some extra hours and we were able to fit in time with the grandsons.. They are a joy to be with.

We had a slow start to school a few weeks ago. That just means I didn’t do all the subjects each day at first.. I homeschool Jake 3 days per week, and Patsy, of course, all the days. Each week, I’ve added a little more. That way works best with Jake, especially. We are doing “outdoor school” this coming week, so I have lots of fun activities planned. I spent quite a bit of time preparing this past weekend, but I’m ready now. Because our library is closed down again, due to the Delta variant, I was disappointed in not being able to get some materials I wanted. Thankfully, I have some books from the one time we were able to go in the short time it was open. I hit the motherlode at a garage sale this summer and got some books and teaching materials that I can use, so I organized all that along with the crafts and extra activities. At one place, I got a whole grocery sack full of books for $2. At other places, books were a quarter. I ended up with quite a few.

Rob got a few baby clothes at the Union Gospel Thrift Store. He found a Foley Food Mill in a “free” pile on the side of the road. A spare will come in handy.

All-in-all, it was a pretty good week+. My 4-page, double-sided list did not get all the way done. But, the wood is stacked and the canning that had to be done right away is done! I think the list served its purpose, but its time to generate a new one.

Thriving In My thrifty Week–August 27, 2021

This past week, we were blessed with so much produce! My sister had already frozen a lot of corn from her garden, so offered us the extra. We happily accepted. (The pan of meatballs was something I made early Tuesday morning. Our mantra soon became, “At least we have meatballs,” as the week got busier and busier and my cooking got less and less!).

It was more than any of us thought. We ended up with 2 coolers full! She added some pears she was given, the Gravestein apples she had purchased for us at our request (she got everybody’s at once), some tomatoes from her garden, and lots of peaches. (The tomatoes on the chair are only part of what I got from my own garden!)

But wait….there’s more! The same day we were making plans to pick all the produce from my sister’s house, Rob’s cousin offered him two rows of corn they did not need. So, we went on Monday night to pick from my sister’s and he and Patsy went the next morning to get the additional corn. It was also more than anyone thought! It ended up being 3 rows. He got 3 coolers full of shucked corn! I cannot tell you how much corn that is. There are no words. And then, she gave him 3 boxes of tomatoes, which we were not expecting!

We canned 14 quarts and 36 pints of corn. We froze a bunch of corn. I made peach salsa and peach pie filling. I’ve made pizza/pasta sauce, canned whole tomatoes, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce so far. I still have a large bowl of Roma tomatoes to made salsa from. Thankfully, they hold well.

Little Z is obviously too little to enjoy corn like his brother does, but he sure grew in the short time that passed between visits.

I made 14 jars of dill pickles and 4 small jars of dilly beans from the produce from my garden. I canned 7 quarts of pears and we dried several dryers full. I also dried some zucchini.

So it’s a Very. Good. Thing. that we spent a few days down at the beach last week. We went camping at Ft. Stevens State Park. We spent some time with Jake and Michaela, and we spent some time completely alone since Patsy went to spend a couple of nights with their family at the condo they had in a nearby town. We had planned all along to swap kids back and forth a bit. Rob and I haven’t gotten away alone together for so long, I can’t remember. It was amazing and I got a LOT of sleep. I knew I was going to be busy when I got back, so I made a 4 page, both-sided list. Then all that produce showed up……Needless to say, I’ve only got a few items done from my list, but I’m thrilled to have all that canning done. Things are ripening early and so prolific this year. My October is going to be so much easier!

My sister and brother-in-law took us out for dinner. It was so awesome to eat at a restaurant. We ate outdoors and were delighted to feel mist coming down as we ate. At least Rob and I were. We’ve been so hot. It felt great, mostly because it didn’t last long. We’ve had a little rain here, too. It wasn’t much, but it’s not hot and miserable here anymore. Whew! What a great week for canning.

As always, we ate at the camper most of the time. I had pre-made food, as usual, and kept it very simple. I realized I had forgotten some things in my haste to take care of the garden produce before we left, but we made out just fine. I did send Rob to the Safeway for the 99c/lb turkey burger, along with new toothbrushes. There was a little mix-up. Someone used mine a couple of times before I figured out what was going on. I cooked with one turkey burger there, and saved the other one I was allowed for next time. I did not save the new toothbrushes for later. 🙂

We walked on the beach a lot, and on the trails. We didn’t crab, clam or fish this time. Instead, I read and napped. One day, I played games with Jake all morning. That day, Rob took Patsy and Micheala on a drive across the bridge from Oregon to Washington. It’s becoming a tradition since Michaela loves doing that.

We visited the Ft. Stevens Military museum, which includes a small indoor museum and a large outdoor compound of bunkers and ruins from the past. Even thought the kids got behind bars, they soon showed that they could “break out” from a different window. They had fun crawling out of the “jail.” We found a nearby playground and let them swing and play. It’s the simple things that go over the best with our crew.

We saw lots of wildlife including elk, deer, baby fawns, birds of many kinds and even whales! It was an amazing week on a lot of levels and I’m glad we could go.

Before we left, I did slip away one day to the 4-H fair where we used to live and judge the food preservation for the 4-H. I haven’t been able to do that for a couple of years, and it’s so fun to do. As a bonus, I also got paid, but it’s so fun I’d probably do it for free. Shhh….don’t tell them. I’ve already got plans for that little bit of extra money.

I’ve got 2 big boxes of apples to preserve in the next few days. There is salsa to make. I’m ignoring the fact that I can see red tomatoes appearing on the bushes again. I’m also ignoring all the weeds. After ignoring the house cleaning all week, Patsy and I got busy with that for a while this morning and at least there is a place to sit down in peace between canning. And, there’s hope that a person could actually sit at the table to eat in a day or two. Thank goodness, Rob did not ignore the laundry and has washed and folded it all. I don’t have to can wearing my Sunday clothes. Whew!

I plan to get back to regular posting, hopefully early in the week as is my habit, but I make no promises until this pile of produce is safely in jars and the freezer. It’s that time of year. So, I may be spotty for a little while longer before I can bask in the glory of full cupboards and freezers.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–August 16, 2021

Every other day, I’m getting this huge Tupperware bowl full or half full of cucumbers. On Saturday, there were 7 full quarts in there. Some days, it works out to several pints and a few quarts. That’s a lot of pickles, folks! I’ve been making jalapeño dills this week, plain dills, and today, Rob plans to try some sweet-hot pickles. I hope they turn out. I’ve got all the Bread and Butter pickles, sweet pickles, and relish I can eat or give away. I’ve also made a fresh pickle salad with cucumbers, onions, salt, pepper, a little sugar and a little rice wine vinegar and water sauce. Rob loves it and eats it by the bowl full. What a year for cucumbers! It’s the most I have ever grown.

We used the bowlful of tomatoes and all the cherry tomatoes we could find and made 9 pints of tomato sauce on Saturday. My tomatoes are coming on slowly, but it was nice to get started when we had too many to eat.

We’ve had all the garden produce we care to eat, except for lettuce. The heat is not it’s friend. Fall is going to be better for that, and I have some baby lettuce up in a row out in the garden.

We haven’t just canned this week. We spent a couple of days with our grandson. He loves the peaches his auntie grows. Patsy cut this up for him and he ate it all!

One day, Jake and I took the baby to the park. We walk there quite frequently. It’s been super hot around here, so we went early in the morning.

We took the kids to the library. I has only recently re-opened–like in the last month, then will close again for 2 weeks to move back to it’s original location. It’s been rough getting any books from there for the past 2 years. The kids were super excited and hauled home tons of books. There’s no better deal on earth for books than the library…if it would just stay open long enough for us to get some of them. Once you get books from our library, you can basically keep them forever…..since even the drop box is usually closed. No fines are charged, so that’s nice. I’m hoping once they get re-opened, back in their renovated building, things will improve greatly. I’ve got books that have been on hold for a year, books I really need for school that I can’t get….you get the idea. Hopefully, it will get better in September.