Tag Archives: food preservation

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–Feb. 4, 2023

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.

Thriving in My Thrifty Week-Jan. 29, 2023

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!

Potatoes, Potatoes, Potatoes!

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:)

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–Still Canning–September 20, 2022

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.

Canning and Other Food Preservation–September 2022.

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.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–July 12, 2022

We took the babies to the beach this week. Zai went straight for a little creek that meandered across the sand. It was pretty cold. Good thing he had his coat on:). After he soaked himself and we changed him, we spent the rest of the time chasing him, and pulling him back from another plunge. It was so cute. We all had a blast.

It was one of those rare, perfect beach days. There was little wind, lots of sun, but not too much, not too many people and a little river for the kids to more safely play in and by. Malcolm was content to sit next to the creek and dig, unlike his brother.

We kept it frugal by dividing the fuel costs and packing a big picnic lunch instead of eating out. Even if the food at all the restaurants had been free that day, I think a picnic was the best idea for those sandy, sandy boys anyway. We took sand toys we’ve had for years. After letting the boys play in the sand, we drove down the coast a little bit and stopped at a small rest area. The tables in the shade were full, so we just used our own lawn chairs and had our picnic overlooking the ocean next to our van.

The week had quite a few very warm days, so the pool on our deck got a lot of action. I got some swim diapers at last. I paid full price for them. The next day, Rob found a package on clearance at another store for $3. He grabbed them.

I picked most of the broccoli. It may make more side shoots, but all the big central heads are gone now. I froze several baggies and made a batch of broccoli soup from some tougher stems and some florets that were a little more loose than I like to freeze. I also picked snow peas, lots of lettuce, cabbage, a few small tomatoes and one mis-formed zucchini that I believe did not pollinate correctly.

I weeded when I could and mowed the lawn. Although my little landscaper with his bubble-blowing lawn mower will work for food, there’s still plenty for me to do around here, so we just keep chipping away at it every day.

We used food left over from the parties and spent about $10-$15 for odds and ends we wanted/needed at the grocery store.

I used as many little bits of food that were hanging around from the parties last weekend as I could, along with garden produce, in my meals. We ate a lot of salads. Today, I used the small ends of cream cheese packages left from some frosting in macaroni and cheese, along with some cheddar and mozzarella. I used up the last little bit of heavy cream in the broccoli soup I made, along with milk. I used buns up, along with extra burger patties and hot dogs, and the pulled pork from Saturday. I made a stir-fry with snow peas, onion (including green onions I’d pulled a while back, but were still good), noodles and chicken thigh meat. I also added a little broccoli.

Rob bbq’d hamburgers again Monday with some more of the buns I had popped into the freezer for our adult son, Anthony, when he and Allison came for lunch. Their group home has moved and is now 10 minutes away from us rather than 30-35. I anticipate we will be able to have so many more of these mini visits, rather than needing to rely on long holiday visits only. They have only lived there for a little over a week, and he already called me yesterday to let me know they would love to come today. I’m glad he is excited. I’m excited, too! I had agreed to help take the babies to their well-child checks in the afternoon, so it was great to be able to visit for a while, then move on to the next thing without having to say “no, there isn’t time.” Although they have transportation sometimes, many times we drive them at least one way, and now it won’t take an hour of driving to get them or take them home anymore.

Ice cream was left here, both home-made and purchased. I’ve been bringing one partial carton after another into the house freezer, and they just disappear like clockwork.

The brakes went out on the car. Rob’s friend offered to help him fix them on the 4th, so that’s what they did early that morning. We still had plenty of time to celebrate, and I’m so excited it got done. His friend has a mechanic shop, and graciously used both it and his holiday to fix our car. I’m feeling very blessed.

I got a great deal on diapers at Safeway. They were $14.99 for 64. If you got 2 boxes, it was an additional $10 off. It ended up $20 for 128 diapers. I had tried the Safeway diapers out on Malcolm before I did this and they work just fine for him. (Zai was just gifted a huge box of diapers, so he didn’t need more this time.) It is a long time since I bought many diapers, but that just seemed like an amazing deal to me.

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–July 26, 2021

We are spent much of our time with babies this past week, with Jake 5 days in a row, and watching the Olympics.

Our daughter has a friend from out of state visiting with her little 8-month-old daughter. So, this week, we enjoyed between 1 and 3 babies on several occasions. We watched our older grandson a couple of times and had the whole group over for a couple of visits and meals.

We all went to the park one morning. We walked down there, pushing Malcolm in his stroller and the girls and younger babies drove to join us. Jake enjoyed riding his new “bike” there and back 3 times this past week. His new toy has 3 wheels, is very low to the ground, is pedaled like a bike but in the recumbent position, and he holds handles on the sides to steer and brake. I should have taken a picture of it, so I could describe it better, but lets just say it looks very, very fun and he loves it because he can manage it and it’s really, really cool.

Rob and I took great pleasure in giving our grandson a spaghetti dinner.

He really, really liked it. Afterwards, I gave him a bath and gave Rob his clothes to wash. It was worth the extra effort to see him having so much fun. My sister suggested we feed him his spaghetti IN the bathtub next time:)

Even though kids and babies were the most fun activity we did this past week, we did some more mundane things, as well, such as go to the dentist. It’s so nice to have dental insurance. We didn’t have any for so many years.

I weeded several times. Rob planted some fall crops. So far, he has a few types of lettuce, some broccoli, cabbage, and a little kale that have sprouted. My next planting of lettuce is up in a raised bed, along with some snow peas.

Two times, I picked cucumbers and made dill pickles. Although the batches were both just a few jars, it’s nice to get that process going. I started counting and recording how many jars of different items are left out on the shelves. That way, after I look at last year’s records, I know how many jars I want to can of each item.

I did 6 quarts of pickles and just 3 pints this week because I had good pickings of cucumbers. It saves jar lids when I do that as long as it’s something we can eat a quart of. Rob can definitely eat a quart of dill pickles. We all love them, but it’s nice to have a mixture of sizes for different occasions.

I’ve picked tomatoes, zucchinis galore, cabbage, lettuce, snow peas, a few assorted peppers, cucumbers and lemon cucumbers, and a very few beans this week. I’ve been able to get a few raspberries and a couple bowls of blueberries as well.

Patsy helped with a Science Camp at church 4 days this past week. It was basically a Vacation Bible School. She had a really good time and we were able to go down to the church last evening to watch the kids sing a few songs, hear about the week, and watch them shoot off a candy cannon. Like Rob said, “it was either going to be the coolest thing ever, or a big mistake…” Thank goodness it was a rousing success and all the kids were kept away from the flying candy until it had been shot into a field. Then, they could run and pick it up. What fun!

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!

A Fall Frenzy of Food Preservation–October, 2020

My sister’s apple trees have yielded a bumper crop this year. She has kindly shared a LOT of apples with us over the last couple of weeks.

This week, I have made apple pie filling, dried apples, and we have eaten SO many apples!

As you can see, the garden tomatoes are coming to the end of their days. But, despite a few spots, Rob brought home this box from my sister’s. We also picked some equally spotted ones from our garden.

We dried them. I did this a few years ago. You can use them in any recipe calling for sun-dried tomatoes that are not packed in oil.

In the cabbage mixture I grew, there was one head of red cabbage. We ate a little off the side of it, then it sat in the fridge. I found a recipe for a German cabbage with apples in it and used the rest of the head to make it. It’s a sweet and sour, pickled mixture and I’m getting excited to try it. I’m just waiting to let the flavors meld together before I do.

Rob wanted to make Giadiniera. He found huge heads of cauliflower at a farm stand. They were only $3/each. We froze some and used the rest for this pickled vegetable mixture. There were many, many recipes on the internet, and they all seemed to be different. I did a little research to make sure the brine was safe, and then just picked one.

The zucchini, Tromboncini and summer squash bushes all ripened more fruit. We dried them. I did this a few years back and used them primarily in soup. I added them at the end of the cooking process and they rehydrated nicely and did not turn to mush. I have another idea or two that I plan to try with these.

When I went out to dump one of my many bowls of apple peelings into the compost heap, I felt a “crunch” under my feet. Much to my surprise, there was a cucumber under my feet in the bushes I thought were finished. I started searching and found enough misshapen cucumbers to make 8 little jars of bread-and-butter pickles. That was a very nice surprise since I had not made any this year and a great way to use these ugly cucumbers in a tasty way.

We have spent considerable time this past week preserving food. This task is winding down, though, as we have also spent a great deal of time putting the garden to bed for the winter. We are not done, but are making great progress. The last few fruits are being picked, bushes are being pulled, vines are being tied up, compost is being spread from the one bin that is finished, and Rob is planning to till soon. I have hoed around my fall plants that will not be tilled up, as they are not finished. I hope to finish that job in the next couple of days, before the rain that’s supposed to arrive this weekend. It’s been a wonderful gardening year, and I’m grateful for all that we have been able to harvest.