Category Archives: food preservation

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 jalapeƱo 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–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. šŸ™‚

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 jalapeƱo 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.

thriving In My thrifty Week–July 20, 2021

The weather has remained hot, but manageable. Rob has been making jar after jar of sun tea so he always has a cool drink.

The garden keeps pumping out the produce.

This morning, I got 2 small bowls of cucumbers, so I will make pickles later today. I noticed a few dill heads beginning to form, so they will be dill this time.

I picked all this broccoli this morning, as well, and it is soaking in salt water while I do some other things. That gets rid of any critters that might try to hide in the florets. Then, I will put it with what I got the other day and blanch and freeze it. Last time, we ate a bunch fresh, but I’m not sure we can eat all the veggies we are picking right now, so I’m happy to freeze some for later.

We froze several baggies of blueberries and ate raspberries and blueberries fresh. The June-bearing raspberries are winding down, but there are still a few every couple of days.

We are spending as much time as possible with the babies. So cute, and so much fun:). This one gained a pound in the last week. Go, baby!!

We took a drive on Saturday and hit a community garage sale. We found a man who was selling grocery bags of kids books for $2. We filled a bag. Since I’m going to be working with my nephew this fall, doing part of his schooling, I grabbed several educational books for the whopping price of 25c each. Even if I only use one idea from each, it’s worth it. We also scored a few fall flannel shirts and pants for $1 each for our older grandson. The baby has plenty for now and there’s a huge bag of the next couple of sizes up Rob got at a yard sale a while back, plus the outgrown clothes of his brother. So, right now, we look for the bigger sizes.

Yesterday, Rob cooked a small turkey we got last fall for a very low price. He put it on the BBQ, so it didn’t heat up the house, and we will use a lot and share some.

I’m off to Safeway to get a couple of things. 74c ice cream tops my list. I can have 2, so I will get them if there are any left. I don’t need much, actually, as we are eating mainly from the garden and freezers. It’s a good time of year for my grocery budget!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–June 14, 2021

This past week was dubbed “party week.” We went to a birthday party for our oldest daughter, then 2 graduation parties. We had fun.

It was a challenge to get everything done in-between all the fun we had. I was surprised to find my peas were ready. In two sessions, I froze 10 baggies, and a large bag of sugar snap peas, and 2 large bags of snow peas. I don’t usually freeze the last 2 kinds but there were so many and I’d already taken baggies to all the relatives that would take them, so….hopefully they won’t be too limp when we eat them.

We picked lots of lettuce and had many salads.

We took our niece and nephew to the Cascade Raptor Center in Eugene, Oregon on Wednesday. It was a fun outing. In this picture, we were in the right place at the right time and the turkey vulture trainer told Jake to stay right there and he would bring the vulture out for a walk. It was so interesting to see the training methods.

I made 2 of the ugliest pies ever. I had 2 gluten-free frozen crusts that had been jostled around so much they broke into pieces. I pieced them back together and made a chocolate pie and an apple strusel pie. The crusts looked awful, but the pies tasted great. I used the extra chocolate pie filling to make popsicles.

My berries continue to ripen and I froze 2 gallon bags of them. Mine are quite sour, sadly, with all the rain we’ve had, so I dumped a little sugar in with them. That will help:)

This week looks to be much more quiet than the past few weeks. I have to say that I’m glad. It’s been difficult to get to everything that needs to be done, but we’ve powered through. The end of the month looks very busy with lots of time with the children, gardening, and a 4th of July barbeque in the works, so I plan to rest up this coming week. Here’s hoping my plan works out…..

Thriving In My Thrifty 2 WeekS–June 8, 2021

I picked berries from my yard. I also went U-Picking and got 20 more pounds. Some were for my sister, but lots were for us. As you can see, there are some that got bitten by critters, such as slugs and potato bugs, from our yard. I cut all of those places out when I got them ready for dinner.

Today, Rob set up my canning area on the outside porch. I used it immediately.

I made quite a bit of strawberry-rhubarb jam and a smaller amount of strawberry. My niece helped me. She measured out the sugar and watched breathlessly to see if the pot was at a full rolling boil or not, while staying way back so she wouldn’t get burned. We had fun. I have only 1 jar of the strawberry-rhubarb left but more of the plain strawberry. We’ve also been cutting them up and eating them for meals.

It was nice to have a frozen gluten-free pizza in the freezer to have for dinner tonight. Rob got a few for $4 each at Grocery Outlet a few weeks ago. That’s a great price, and they are easy when I’m tired.

I’ve been so busy that I’ve had the recipe and ingredients for these blueberry muffins out on the counter for days. It became a household joke, but I FINALLY made blueberry muffins this evening!

It’s birthday season at my house. 3 of my 8 children have birthdays within an 8-day time period. There was a party on Saturday for my oldest, and we went and had a great time. Sunday, after church, we took Patsy and Ja’Ana to the Oregon Coast Aquarium, then out to dinner in a restaurant, a big deal for us since we have been only out to eat a very, very few times in the last couple of years. We used the membership we purchased a few months ago for admission to the aquarium, so that helped make the day feel more affordable. Of course, baby came, too. Our daughter, Lovana, joined us as well, so we were able to get the maximum amount of people our pass covers in, utilizing it to the max!

If I look like I was drenched with a bucket of water, you are close. We were caught in a heavy rain shower while going to our car. Perfect timing, I thought, as the aquarium in part inside, and part outside.

He wasn’t sure what to think. He tried in vain to “get” those fish, but mostly just looked around with wide eyes the entire time.

The raised beds are looking good. I was able to get in there and weed and do some succession planting. The garden is all planted and things are coming up. We even got a bunch of trimming done and filled the yard debris bin each week. Quite a few weeds were removed from flowerbeds, as well. It all takes time, but things are looking much better around here. Except the cucumbers. Just as fast as the pickling cukes come up, some bird pecks them out and leaves them laying there to die. I. AM. NOT. HAPPY. with those birds. I replanted again, and Rob rigged netting over them. I have a few new ones, but now the birds are trying to take away the netting…….Hmmmmm. We will see who wins.

We are eating lettuce frequently, along with artichokes and the strawberries. The pea pods are very prolific, as well. In fact, there are so many ready that I’m going to have to freeze some. We like them fresh the best, but I can use a few frozen, as well.

Our flower pots are looking great. Rob grew these all from seeds or cuttings. We have several hanging ones, pots on steps and porches, and flower beds galore, all from his efforts.

I picked, blanched and froze the hearts from all those artichokes and the ones in another place that you can’t see. I got 3 tiny bags full. We simply couldn’t eat them all, and we can use these in salads or casseroles. It’s a lot of work for a small amount of gain, but since they grew so well, I didn’t want to just waste them.

Rob peeled and chopped up a large quantity of onions left from last year’s garden.

He froze them in bags, in one or two cup amounts. I will use them when I make salsa or relish at the end of the summer. We grew so many onions last summer, and they kept until June, but were starting to show some signs of starting to rot, so it was time to preserve them in a different way.

We exercised several ways. We went for walks, down to the Kroc center for swim classes or to walk in the lazy river, and took a big hike to Silver Creek Falls. Last time, we hiked the shorter, lower loop. This time, we hiked the longer, upper loop and went about 5-1/2 miles. It was so beautiful.

I didn’t grocery shop, except for one watermelon and one bunch of celery. The last time I did a major shop was before Memorial Day. We’ve got a lot of food, and I have been working on making room in the freezers. It really helps that the garden is starting to produce, and that I have a good stockpile. The need for milk will be the thing that forces me into the store, I think, and it will be soon.

There are so many things that are keeping us occupied these days. We are needing to take one day at a time, and hopefully get most of our list completed before we collapse on the couch, and are trying to stay frugal while we do so. Mostly, we are succeeding!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–May 10, 2021

Here is my lovely Mother’s Day basket Rob grew for me in the greenhouse. Each of our mothers got one as well. Grandpa helped our grandson a little with his present selection, by doing some shopping for a very small gift and a card. So did I. I put the one choice on the table and let him crawl toward what he wanted to give his Mama. Not surprisingly, he chose the present I put out, although for moment I thought an empty milk jug in the vicinity might actually win out:).

Much of the week centered around work and a small gathering we decided to have on Mother’s Day. Many significant people, including both of our mothers, had other important places to be, so the numbers were few. That turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as I severely pulled a muscle in my leg while working on the flowerbeds. Rob and Patsy did all the work to get the house ready and Rob did most of the cooking. I sat on the couch and read or watched t.v. while they did those chores. Hmmm…some people will do anything to get out of work….. I say in my defense that I did clean 1/2 the bathroom. Gladly, I’m much, much better now and Rob and I took 2 super short walks today to get that leg back in shape. Tomorrow’s going to be much better yet, I can already tell.

I saved a lot of money sitting on my couch. How, you ask? Well, we made up a menu entirely of food we had on hand, except for some sugar soda Rob picked up. All we use here is diet soda, but some like the regular kind. It was on a very good sale, so that didn’t cost much. Thankfully, I had shopped last weekend for 2 weeks, and my plan payed off. We still have lots of groceries. People also brought things, and that’s always a nice gift to the host! This time, we really appreciated it more than ever.

I did not buy paperwork at the Dollar Store or anywhere else. I used regular silverware, not plastic and my usual glass plates for dessert. I did use a few paper plates I had in the cupboard, but bought no special napkins or anything for the occasion. I put fabric placemats here and there on t.v. trays and on the table for people to use, so did not buy a paper or plastic tablecloth. I put basil plants Rob grew in the center of the table for a centerpiece with the intention of giving them away after the party, so did not buy flowers or any other decorations.

I did not go to JoAnn’s as planned to buy new patterns on the pattern sale. Because I was not there, I bought nothing else, either. Because I’ve not chosen to go often during the pandemic, I do buy things when I’m there and can find something I like. There will be other chances to go to JoAnn’s, and other pattern sales, even though my phone is constantly telling me “It’s you LAST chance to get a good deal at JoAnn’s!” I have so many projects to work on, I’m not worried.

We also spent extra money when I sat on the couch. For one meal, Rob ordered me some gluten-free pizza from Dominos. Yum, yum, yum. If it didn’t hurt so much, I would definitely think it was worth doing it again…..but….it did hurt, and I got very bored sitting down, so I’m not planning on it.

I sent artichokes home with my oldest daughter. I said anyone who wanted some could pick some, so she did. She picked some for us to eat as well.

I picked lettuce a couple of times already and have more getting ready. I was able to re-use the nets from last year to keep the birds off.

The Little White Snowpeas are blooming and the Maestro peas on the left are about to bloom. In the back the Sugar Snap Peas are climbing the fence, as they should. Since we can’t till properly, as the new tiller is still delayed, I’m so thankful for the new raised beds Rob built last fall.

My aunt kindly texted me that there were eggs for 98c/dozen at her local Waremart (like Winco). Rob needed to run over there anyway for another reason, and, since I didn’t have as many eggs as I thought I did, he stopped to get me some and SCORED!!!!! Around here, jar lids are still very scarce. But, now we have enough to add to what he’s purchased here and there to finish up what we need for this upcoming canning season and so do the rest of my sisters and my mom, as some of these are for them. He just couldn’t believe it when buying a whole case was an option. He couldn’t believe there were any at all, much less that many! He has checked over and over in basically every store he has entered for any reason, and also on line. (Yes, there are some there, but we refuse to pay outrageous prices like $9/box, or other equally ridiculous prices.)

Now, if that elusive jar lid super sales comes along, I may buy extra to have a backlog, but for now, I’m super happy with what we have. The people he’s talked to where we often buy lids told him they got some, quickly sold them, and have no idea when, or IF, they are ever getting more. And, there are limits on how many a person can buy posted on the shelves when they are found in this area. We are not jar lid hoarders, but it is a fact that I canned over 1,000 jars last summer and that’s a lot of boxes of lids. I’m also a jar lid snob and only want Ball or Kerr. I’ve had some bad experiences with other brands and it’s just too much work for me to risk repeating those experiences. This year, I probably don’t need to do quite so many as I tried to can a few extra of each item last year, but we hit some items pretty hard this past winter. Good thing I love canning and gardening.

The other thing Rob and I did last summer was dry more items. We plan to do even more of that this year, as we found uses for most of what we dried. There’s just no point in growing such a large garden to preserve if I can’t find supplies to do just that and a way to use what I preserve. If they don’t like it, they won’t eat it. Plain and simple, sad, but true, and any other cliche you have heard. They are all true around here:)

Are any of you having success finding lids where you live?

Thriving In My thrifty Week–December 7, 2020

Or otherwise known as “Eating Cinnamon Rolls All Week!” Patsy has been making gluten-free cinnamon rolls all week long. There are some in the freezer, we have shared a few, but, I have to confess we’ve eaten quite a few! I think one of the reasons I have been enjoying them so much is because it has been a long, long time since I’ve had any, as gluten-free cinnamon rolls are few and far between in my world:) While gluten-free ingredients are not inexpensive by any means, it would have cost even more to buy them.

We have taken a few walks this week, for obvious reasons!

We finished up the cherry tomatoes. I picked them green and put them in a dish in the garage and most of them did ripen. We also finished the last of the larger tomatoes Rob picked green and wrapped in tissue. Not bad for the first week of December, we thought!

I got a small bowl of Yukon Mix Winter lettuce from the garden. I mixed it with iceberg from the store for 2 salads. I cut it off, rather than pulling the few bushes remaining, and maybe it will grow some more. Who knows? Not me. I’ve never harvested lettuce in December before. I’m thrilled with what I’ve picked and will happily pick more if it grows. There’s some little plants under my covered cold frame, but they were planted later than the ones I harvested today.

I also got some cilantro and some celery, which is still mostly leaves. I made soup with celery leaves and a small Waldorf salad with the tiny stems and an apple.

I have been working on a grocery list for the past week or so, by simply writing down items as we run out and scouring the ads for good deals. It took me until today to get a big enough list to use my coupon, as my menu plan has focused on my stored food. I sent Rob to Safeway to get the items and use the $10 of $50 coupon. He also had to go into Fred Meyers during the weekend to get prescriptions so picked up a few of the good deals there. I had him get plenty of head lettuce, carrots, milk and other things that will hold well since I don’t plan to shop again for 10 days or more, if we can make it.

I did notice I was making a few more substitutions as I cooked toward the end of this stretch, but it worked out.

I made a menu plan again, to continue to manage my food. I was able to use up a few more items that had been around for ages and lots of my preserved food.

A while back, Rob built me some wooden boxes to put empty jars in to leave me more “wiggle room” on my shelves until we use up more full jars of canning. We canned so much this year that he was afraid I might break some while shuffling things around getting desired ones out. Once the boxes are fully full, I should have no trouble fitting the remaining empties on the shelf.

I was also able to repurpose some food that was leftover from the free school lunches. Some celery went into soup and some chopped pears and peaches were mixed with my frozen raspberries and made into popsicles. One of the apples went into the Waldorf salad. Michaela helped drink up the extra milk and ate one of the leftover apples.

Snipped, dried tomatoes went into a pasta salad, dried zucchini went into a vegetable soup at the last minute so they wouldn’t get mushy, and grated zucchini went into a snack cake. We are sharing most of the cake with some friends, as there have been just too many desserts around here lately.

My Azure Standard order got lost for the first time, ever. After a few phone calls, they just mailed me another order, instead of sending it to the drop site. There were a couple of things they were out of, but I was glad they were so quick to make it right and glad to have the things I got.

I watched another beautiful, absolutely free, sunrise! It was even better than the picture.

Thriving In My thrifty Week–October 6, 2020

This is my miracle. Rob picked up some wood from my brother-in-law, came home, split and stacked it.

He is still limping, and has a few other muscles that aren’t working quite right, so he was improved for another round of physical therapy. He started that today.

When Patsy was helping Rob pick up wood, she found a praying mantis. We also found caterpillars in the garden and brought them in with the hope of her being to observe them turning into butterflies. So far, no luck, but it’s good to try.

Our onions are dried nicely now. Rob built some wooden boxes to store them in. We have many, many more than this:). He’s sorting them, a little each day since the white ones will go bad first, then the red and yellow because of the varieties and storage capabilities they have.

He worked with Patsy in the shop while he was building them, and taught her how to safely use a tool she had not used before.

Every time Rob goes up to my sister’s farm, she send home garden goodies. We have been enjoying corn. We have dried the last of her tomatoes, as she has what she wants, and worked with apples, apples and more apples. We also dried zucchini, made Giadiniera, and apple pie filling and bread and butter pickles. I thought I was done with pickles, but found more cucumbers. Those were the absolute last, though, and I pulled the bushes up. My canning shelves are over-full, so Rob build me some wooden boxes to store empty jars in as we empty them to free up a little space on the shelves so I can safely move things around without danger of breakage and more easily see what I have as things in front are used up.

She sent kiwi and kiwi berries for us to snack on.

I spent 4-5 hours tying up my blackberries this week. The new vines grew extra long and were very tangled up with each other, grown into the garden and covered with weeds and otherwise entangled. It was not fun, but it’s done.

This was the week for people to give us food, multiple people for several reasons. What a blessing they all were! I was given a bag of popcorn, many fruits and vegetables, and a box of assorted cans of foods that Rob’s mom was given, but could not use. In that box were canned beans, a can of baby corn, some clams and oysters, and some sauces, plus more. I sorted them. The ones that were slightly over-date were set out for immediate use, the rest put on the shelves for later. I made a baked bean medley from some of them, plan to give away the oysters as we don’t eat them, have a stir-fry planned for the baby corn and will make clam chowder soon. I ate the can of very strange soup, but….hey, we don’t all have the same tastes and it’s gone now:).

I picked some lettuce, the first I’ve had for a while. Summer heat and smoke were not kind to the garden and there wasn’t any for a while. I also picked peppers, green beans, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, zucchini and beets from the garden.

I went grocery shopping last week. I used the $10/off $50 coupon at Safeway and also clipped several store coupons to my phone account. I will need very little at the store this week, between what I bought, the end of the garden, and what I was given. I like to stretch out my shopping trips if I can, to save time and to stay home, and as always, save money!