Tag Archives: Garden

Thriving In My thrifty Week–Garden Update–May 24, 2020

Most of this week was rainy and wet. On the day we homeschooled Jake, one thing we did was venture out with umbrellas for a nice walk–he’s required to exercise daily for P.E.

Rob took Michaela train spotting.

They saw one this time!

Jake spent the night, as he’s been doing every Wednesday. His Mom works Wednesdays and Thursdays, from home, and needs complete peace and quiet to do so. This is a great schedule for us, as well, and he loves it, school and all.

One day we had a pretty bad hail storm. It was brief, but violent, and beat down some lettuce, put holes into cabbage leaves, crushed some spinach, and laid low some other delicate garden plants. Thankfully, most things survived, or will outgrow the damage with no problem, but a few had a setback, to say the least.

I went ahead and picked the outside leaves and the damaged ones off the spinach and Rob ate them in salads this week. I froze 2 very small portions for later, using the torn up leaves that way. The inner leaves have already grown since then, in the few days since I did it.

We picked most of the artichokes on the bushes. I froze 2 packages of artichoke hearts from the small ones, shared some and have some to eat.

We put strings up on the pole bean trellis so they can climb up as they grow.

The box on the right is a potato box Rob built after seeing it on U-Tube. The bottom box has some old potatoes in it, covered with dirt. (As in, we did not buy them, they are left over ones that are trying to grow anyway and some his mom couldn’t eat in time, I guess–). The idea is that as the potato bushes grow, they are covered with dirt and another board layer is added, making it taller and taller. Supposedly, the potatoes will continue to make bushes and then more and more potatoes as you stack it higher and higher throughout the season. He thought it would be fun to try. He used reclaimed wood and junk potatoes…..so it’s a fun experiment for no out-of-pocket for him.

Every time I think the garden is full, I find another place to tuck a few more plants…. Like celery under the sprinkler tripod. They say it likes it really wet. Rob planted some really old seeds that have been around for several years, and got them to grow. There are more, but no more space right now.

Tiny head lettuce plants around the rock that holds the sprinkler head and hose down….

More head lettuce by the dahlias….

…And leaf lettuce under the Tronboncini trellis. Rob can eat a head a day, if it’s small, or close to a gallon ziplock full of leaf lettuce, when he’s in a salad mood, which is almost always. He’s been eating lettuce at least twice a day, stir-fried snow peas, zucchini and mushrooms with onions and peppers for breakfast with his eggs….you get the idea of how much produce we are going through right now! I’m going to keep planting lettuce everywhere I can, all summer long, and fill in every area with other succession plantings as space fills up. He’s got another batch of lettuce growing in the greenhouse, so I can plant it out when space frees up. It’s all worth it to me!

I picked all the rhubarb. I froze some and shared some.

We did get into the garden to weed and hoe, but not until the end of the week. There is plenty left to do in the upcoming week, and the weather promises to be very nice. I’m glad, because some things really need some sunshine to explode with growth. They are just sitting there, waiting for the opportunity.

I made banana bread again, using up the rest of the bananas Rob found in the chest freezer.

He stumbled upon 10 pound bags of chicken for $2.90–29c/lb. He bought 6. He was at the store getting prescriptions and a little produce. Go, Rob!

This was the week we usually would not shop, since we’ve been going every-other-week, so it was a real blessing that he had to go in there for another reason, and found the chicken.

Our county is opening up a little. For us, since we have so many underlying health conditions in those we have around us, it won’t make much of a change for a while. Speaking only about ourselves, my diabetes and asthma keep me at home. Rob absolutely cannot risk getting sick before his surgery. As it is, he’s got a couple of owies on his legs that are being well cared for so they will hopefully be healed in time. But, it’s still encouraging to see that things are moving forward. Let’s hope this pandemic continues in the right direction! In the meanwhile, I can be found at home, pulling weeds:).

Thriving In My thrifty Week–May 10, 2020

Happy Mother’s Day! I had a nice, relaxing day. I hope you all had the same. We watched church on the live-stream, Rob drove me through McDonald’s for a Diet Coke (doesn’t seem glamorous, but I’ve literally not been leaving the house so it was an outing for me), and I talked and/or texted with many loved ones.

My sidewalk chalk artist daughter spent some time decorating the sidewalks in front of our house. I’m glad she enjoys doing that. I found another box of sidewalk chalk tucked away in the back room for her to add to her bucket of bits of chalk.

We found quite a few packages of beef bones in the freezer. They are from our 1/4 beef the last couple of years. I have made dealing with those bones one of my quarantine projects. I don’t use them in the form they are in, so I am turning them into something I will eagerly grab–ready-to-use broth. One day I boiled 3 packages of bones and canned 7 quarts. I also got a large bowl of broth and quite a bit of meat from those bones. I made soup with that.

I filled up my spice bottles in the kitchen from my bulk spice packages I keep in the garage. I wiped them off and wiped out one of the baskets I keep some of them in. I also filled up salt and pepper, and cornstarch. I save a lot of money by purchasing things in bulk, especially spices.

I used some millet flour to make a pizza crust. I also used some rice flour and cornstarch in some brownies. I went through my gluten-free flour supply and will continue to target the odds and ends that have been in the bin for a long time. To that end, I’ve been using my favorite 1-1 flour, but also looking for recipes that use some of the other flours in them.

I used the last 2 brown bananas in banana bread. I also put in some walnuts that I had in the freezer. I was going to share them with a friend, but I confess…..we ate them all! I shared some other food with our friends.

We’ve been eating a little fresh fruit Lovana left here last weekend when she was over, but mostly opening jars of peaches, applesauce and pears for fruit. We used many small packages of frozen bits and dabs from the freezer over the fridge in the kitchen.

I baked blueberry-cream cheese coffee cake with cream cheese I got free from the Safeway Monopoly game and some blueberries my mom sent our way. I found the recipe on the internet.

Pear-raspberry popsicles were made 2 times, and devoured. It’s an easy, practically free way to keep Patsy happy during warm days.

The garden continues to grow. I spent time weeding and hoeing. I also planted more Blue Lake Green Beans, Rob’s okra (I’ve never even tasted okra, but you can’t blame someone for experimenting!), dill, cucumbers, all the pepper plants, the remaining tomato and basil plants, and any and all odd plants that were left laying around. I even planted the “mystery-label fell off” tomatoes in a flowerbed and threw lettuce seeds under the Tromboncini trellis! Lots of seeds have sprouted, including those old Alderman Pole Peas that I wasn’t sure were good.

I’ve picked 2 large bowls of lettuce. I thinned out the lettuce and we’ve been eating the small leaves. Rob’s back to eating copious amounts of salad daily. He’s several pounds down again, and wants to stay ready for his surgery, which is still scheduled for June 29.

This was not our grocery week, so we didn’t do a big shop. Rob just picked up a very few items (mostly tomatoes) when he got the prescriptions. A list is being generated on the whiteboard, and next week we will gather those items. I’d like to wait until the end of the week, stretching it to 2-1/2 weeks, but we will see.

Rob’s had Patsy and Jake out building in the shop.

I also spent a couple of mornings cleaning and bleaching the doorknobs, bathroom and so forth.

What we are filling our stay-at-home time with right now isn’t glamorous. It isn’t very exciting, and there are times when it isn’t fun at all (I’m not super fond of wiping down the bathroom, if you know what I mean). Still, we have a deep sense of satisfaction with every single project we cross off our list, and I think we are getting a lot of home-made entertainment out of the deal. We have lots of projects left on our list, lots of food left in our cupboard and freezer, and more on the way from a garden that’s growing like crazy. The house is cleaner than normal, and we haven’t caught any sicknesses. We’re making out fine, and feel thankful for all the blessings the Lord has poured on us during this difficult, crazy time, and we thank the Him for each and every one of them.

What have you been doing with your time at home?

Garden Update–May 2, 2020

I’ve spent many hours this week working in the garden. We have had an unusually early spring. I’ve never had this many things planted at the beginning of May, as long as I can remember.

Rob grew such large, healthy tomatoes. We dug every cage we could find out from behind the shed, and planted them. I’m trying something different–I made quite a wide space between the rows, but planted the tomatoes close together. I’m hoping I can still get in there to pick them, but wanted to plant as many as I could. I put a little organic fertilizer under each plant as I planted to give them a boost.

Rob finished his bean trellis. I planted the pole bean starts on the end, Blue Lake seeds in the middle and a small handful of Violet-Podded Pole Beans down on the very end. The damp patch in front of the trellis is planted in Blue Lake Bush Beans and Carson (yellow) Bush Beans. In the background, you can see artichokes, snow peas, cabbage, carrots, and lettuce. The raspberries in the back are about to bloom, so I know those will be giving me a crop in the next few weeks.

The broccoli is growing nicely, as well.

The Trombonconi Zucchini is planted at the base if its trellis. There are lemon cucumbers near there, as well. The onions are very faint and hard to see, but are starting to grow. To the left are rows of beets, carrots, a few more snow peas, dill, basil, cilantro, a few more snow peas, and peppers and slicing cucumbers to the far left.

These are Sungold, Chocolate Cherry and Yellow Pear tomatoes. The peppers are Anaheim, Italian Pepperoncini, Carmen, and a Hot Pepper Blend from Territorial. I have Serranos, Bell Peppers, Hungarian Wax Peppers and Lola Peppers elsewhere.

These are a mixture of the above-mentioned peppers in the flowerbed under my bedroom window. The trellises are there because I planted some very old Alderman Pole Pea seeds at the base of them. If they grow, they will give us a few peas, if not, they won’t take up space in my seed bucket anymore.

In front of the blueberries, but hopefully not too close that I can’t get in there to pick the berries, is 1 tomato plant and some little Bisquino (Little Beak) Peppers. They make tiny peppers and should be decorative. I’ve had them pickled before, and thought I’d try to grow them this year. The plants themselves are quite small, and the peppers are tiny. It’s always fun to experiment.

I will continue to plant more seeds in every extra space in the garden throughout the next few weeks–and then later in the summer and fall, my time will be focused on harvesting and canning. I like to succession plant Oregon Pod II Snow Peas, head lettuce, Buttercrunch Lettuce, mixed lettuce blend, green onions, and whatever else I can fit in so we can eat a continuous supply of fresh vegetables. I only planted part of the beans I need. I have space for a few more rows. We need to can quite a few. I have Sugar Pie Pumpkins and Butternut Squash plants to put out, and Rob grew some Okra. I worked as long and hard as I could, but didn’t finish before the much-needed rain came. I really pushed myself to get as much done as I could, because the rain will water everything in and the cooler weather will give the plants a chance to settle in a little. I’m happy to stay inside today and do other things. It’s supposed to be gorgeous next week, and I can get out there again. The plants should grow nicely, but then, so will the weeds, so I won’t lack in garden work to do!

Thriving In My thrifty Week–April 19, 2020

Rob’s tomatoes and peppers are looking insanely good! He’s starting to harden them off. It will be a while before it’s time to plant them out, but when it’s time, they will be ready. We are having such an early spring. It won’t be long.

This turned out to be a good week for me to work in the yard and garden. I weeded for hours. Several bags of compost/steer manure were spread in different places. My soil is quite poor in the flowerbeds and the garden always needs ammending.

The new compost bins Rob built are in place against the fence and quite a few buckets of weeds have been put in them already. The old compost bins he made last year have been organized. I moved any un-decomposed weeds from the top of the pile on the right to the left. Now, everyone has been instructed to leave the right hand side completely alone and not add any new scraps or weeds. I am going to remove the nice compost from that side very soon, and spread it over the corner of the garden. The slats come out of the front of the bins, making it easy to shovel the rotted compost out. Then, I will instruct everyone to put new debris in the emptied side, and let the left hand side finish.

Last fall, I dug up a small corner of the garden with an old-fashioned shovel, added a bag on compost/steer manure and planted a few snow peas and beets, along with a few green onion seeds. The beets flopped for the most part, but the snow peas are about to fruit and there are a few green onions. It was a successful experiment. I can’t wait to eat some.

I’m getting a few artichokes. They are quite small, so I fertilized them, the raspberries, the blueberries and the strawberries.

We received one day of much-needed rain. I was so happy to have one day where I didn’t have to lug water out to the garden to hand-water my tediously planted baby onion plants, tiny carrots and beets, and lettuce. It’s been so dry this spring. Later, when the garden is fully, we will run the sprinklers over it all, but the system isn’t set up yet. We have to get the hoses out, set up the sprinklers, etc.

Patsy made another mason bee house. Being Patsy, she painted it purple. The mason bees are working busily in the houses Rob built and put up. They are already filling the straws with mud and new offspring. They are also very busy pollinating all over our yard.

My sister sent over a beautiful hanging pot of flowers.

Rob dropped some baby veggie starts on her doorstep. It’s been difficult to not be able to really see and visit with this particular sister, so we’ve had to be creative with texts, visiting from a wide distance, and phone calls.

Michaela was getting very restless, so Rob took her for a drive. They drove around and dropped things on people’s doorsteps (like my sister) and looked for trains. Sadly, they were working on the tracks, so they didn’t see even one, but there’s always another day.

We had the kids over for a “party.” My sister needed to work 2 days this week, from home, and we wanted to take the kids somewhere to give her the peace and quiet she needed. Our house is the only other place they can go right now, since we are back and forth so much, we consider ourselves as one small circle, and our work with them is considered necessary. So, we got out the 2 kiddie pools we own and put water in them. They used any and all water balloons we could find from either house. We ran the yard sprinklers so they could run through them. Rob build a fire in the fire pit and we roasted hot dogs, marshmallows and Peeps our niece, Alissa, brought over. We made ice cream cones and decorated them with M and M’s and gummy bears. They were so tired, they came inside and I put on an educational tv show about wild cats, which they watched as if in a coma, then went home where their dad said they had a great, exhausted evening, and fell into bed. I confess, I fell into bed at 8:30 as well, since we’d had Jake for 2 days and one night. The girls just joined us for the second afternoon. Of course, Alissa just joined us for the fun of it, and to help out. Since I homeschooled her for 3 years, it felt very right to have her over here for the afternoon. I miss her now that she’s getting so grown-up and busy with her adult life.

We needed to get produce, and some other groceries. One day, I went down to Safeway. I took the little handful of Monopoly tickets I had received weeks ago, not really knowing if they were even doing that game any more with how busy the stores were. They were. I was able to get several free items, such as gummy bears, French bread, and extra tickets. Some other people did not want their tickets, and so I brought them home to Patsy. She and Jake worked for quite some time un-wrapping them (bless you people who shared!). They got quite a few free items. I wasn’t sure if we were going to redeem them, but to my chagrin, I found I had forgotten something very important, and Rob had to go back and get it that evening. So, we were able to get them after all. We got a brick of cream cheese, several donuts, a box of pasta, and another handful of tickets.

Rob has done a little shopping here and there, getting things to fix things around the house, things for the yard, a few groceries, etc. I took Lovana shopping, as she doesn’t drive. I’m hoping we are all set up for a couple of weeks again, now. I’d love to go a month, but I will probably not be able to make it that long, due to the fact that I always need produce since Rob is still working hard on maintaining his weight loss.

They called and rescheduled his surgery for June 29. If the virus erupts here, of course they will postpone it again, but we are hopeful, so it’s even more important that he be the correct weight.

I was able to take the scraps from Patsy’s skirt and make a little summer sundress for my little friend, Danait. The pattern was one I’d had for years and the trim was from a garage sale years ago. There was an extremely long piece of it, bought for a very low price, and I’ve used bits of it several times over the years. I was delighted to use some more of it and to finish up the blue print fabric. The entire dress cost less than $4, and I had a lot of fun sewing it. Rob, Michaela and Patsy dropped it on their doorstep, along with a few Easter items, and visited briefly from a safe distance. I was working, but was glad they could take my love.

Garden Update and Plans–July 18, 2019

The garden is getting very full of plants and blooms. I’ve been busy picking veggies and flowers, preserving, and making plans to renew it for my fall crops.

I canned my first green beans of the season. It took me two days even though there weren’t that many because Jake was at our house…..need I say more? Rob and I just swapped off duties and we got the job done. Now there are 20 pints and 6 quarts to add to my canning cupboard.

Almost every day now, I pick another 2 or 3 Glacier Ultra Early tomatoes. They are small sized and more of an orange-red than some other varieties, but they sure have good flavor. I am also getting a handful of Sungold Cherry tomatoes every couple of days. They disappear off the counter almost as soon as I put them down there!

I’m still getting raspberries from the June-bearing variety. I’ve been delighted with the yield from my fairly-short row. I’ve frozen lots of them. I’ve also been freezing blueberries. My mom has sent some my direction from her bushes, and we had a few from ours. Most of ours are disappearing right down the hatches of the family!

I got some beets from my mixed beet packet I planted. Alissa chose it from the Pinetree seed catalog, but later informed me she didn’t care for beets, they were all for us:). I roasted these with olive oil and salt. They shrunk when I roasted them, but they tasted good and are hands-down the prettiest beets I’ve ever grown.

I’ve been picking broccoli every couple of days. I froze 6 more quart-sized baggies, we ate a head fresh and there are several more still growing. This is the Hybrid Broccoli Blend from Territorial Seed Company. It gives a staggered harvest. I’ve grown it for years and love all the kinds that grow. I will have lots of side shoots after I pick the main heads.

Two and a half weeks ago, I bought 3 zucchini. Then mine started to get ripe! Since then, we have eaten it several times, and I have given it away to my sisters and a friend. My fridge has several in it, and there are more ready to pick. All in ONE and ONE HALF weeks! It’s going to be a good zucchini year, for sure:)

We have plans to get some fall crops going. The green beans will be pulled shortly, after one more good picking. There is lettuce that will be pulled. So, some areas will be opening up soon.

Rob picked up some bags of steer manure at the farm store. I will dump a bag on an open area once I pull the spent plants, till with the tiny little tiller we have, and replant for fall. I will plant more lettuce, possible a new zucchini for when these succumb to mildew, maybe some additional pickling cucumbers since I’m not sure I have enough, maybe spinach, boc choi, snow peas, Swiss chard, more green beans for fall eating, and what ever else I can squeeze in. It’s getting to the point where some things may not mature before frost, but if I get going on it right now, I will be able to get veggies far into the month of October. Some crops will take a light frost, like cabbage, broccoli, chard, and snow peas. It’s a fun project!

Garden Update–June 30, 2019

I’ve been very busy in the garden lately. I’m especially pleased with this crop of raspberries. These are the June-bearing variety, but I don’t know its specific name since they are starts from the farm where I grew up. I took them to our last house, took starts from those bushes when we knew we were moving, and put them in a pot, which my aunt kindly babied all that summer while I lived in my camper, and then I planted the ones that survived at this house. Last year I got just a few berries, but this year…WOW!

The first batch of green beans are blooming. I will be canning before I know it. Behind them, you can see that the cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, and the rogue cilantro patch are growing like crazy. Last summer, a cilantro bush went to seed and dropped a LOT of seeds. I just let them grow and we’ve been eating as much cilantro as we can in salads, tacos, burritos, etc.

Sometimes you win, sometimes you don’t. Of the 6 cabbage starts we planted, only 2 have survived to form heads. Behind them are the rest of the cauliflower. Of the 2 heads we picked, one was completely useless (buggy and tiny) and the other was about 3 inches across. Hmmm. I cut it into fine pieces and put it into a stir-fry. Those were plants Rob bought and they were left too long on the porch while we waited for the rain to stop in the spring so we could till.

The broccoli we started from seed is faring much better, probably because it was never stressed.

I planted out several Joker crisphead lettuce plants and they are starting to grow nicely. The rest of the plants from that package are growing tightly in a row, but I’ve cut twice from the 2 lettuce rows and they still need to be thinned badly! So, we are in lettuce season for sure.

I saw this amazing dragonfly on the sage bush today. It was cooperative and I got a picture. As you can see, the rhubarb is growing back already!

I am very glad to see how everything is growing, and most days I get outside for at least a few minutes to pull a few weeds, hoe or harvest. Today, I got a whole 5-gallon bucket-full. I know it won’t be long until I am drowning in produce, after all the zucchini is blooming. But until then, I will treasure every little snow pea, green onion, lettuce leaf and berry that I get.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–May 13, 2019

This week was all about gardening. The artichokes have exceeded my expectations! We have been enjoying them and there are many more to come.

Rob spent a few sessions tilling. He has to break up big jobs to accommodate his bad hip. He finished Saturday morning. We bought some plants and also planted the small peppers we grew in the greenhouse. They’ve already grown since we planted them, so who knows! They didn’t get as big as we’d like, but we thought they were worth a shot. His tomatoes came out beautifully, and he saw ones smaller than his for around $3/plant. Since he grew way over 25 plants, he grew a worth of more than $75, minus the cost of seeds.

I worked many mornings, planting beefsteak, Glacier, Ultra Early, Sungold, Black Cherry, Striped German, Black Japanese, Roma and Willamette tomatoes, head and leaf lettuces, snow peas, beets, carrots, Anaheim, Jalape√Īo, green, yellow, banana and lunchbox peppers, spinach, SO many little onions, potatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, 3 small groupings of green beans, yellow beans, pickling and slicing cucumbers, butternut squash, acorn squash, pumpkins, basil, cilantro, dill and watermelon. I may have planted more, but that’s what I can remember. The garden area has one more spot for corn, and a few places to fill in with transplants of head lettuce I’m growing in another spot, plus succession plantings of lettuce, basil and cilantro all summer.

I also worked on my flowerbeds quite a bit. Rob bought me this lobelia to add to a pot that I had overwintered a geranium in. It’s not blooming yet, but there’s a bud:). I planted a lot of flower seeds that had been around for a long time. Some have not come up. Some have.

I finished cleaning out the old strawberry patch, and added a lot of compost to top-dress the plants.

I have some more edging to do in front of the house but the back yard is pretty much finished. Because I’m doing some extra landscaping, it’s taking a while in each area.

We got the sprinklers set up so the garden will be watered when the system does it’s rounds, saving me hours. I was hand-watering until I got the garden all planted.

I did do a few other things this week, but sadly they didn’t include much laundry, cleaning in the house, or cooking beyond what absolutely needed to be done:). Oh, well. I was pretty happy to be outside and the dirt will still be there inside when I get to cleaning! Hope I don’t need a shovel:) ūüôā

My sister took us all out to lunch for Mother’s Day. We had a really good time, and it was nice to not have to cook.

Alissa and I have been working for hours and hours to complete her schooling. We just finished the rest of the bookwork a little while ago. Now, she is happily watching “The Hobbit” while I type this. I have some correcting to do, and scores to add up, then I’ll take it all to the Homeschool Satellite School we use on Friday–she will get a high school diploma, graduate in a cap and gown, etc. once they get the final credits recorded. What a weight off my mind to know we have completed all the requirements! We are both pretty happy today:)

Rob took Patsy and they got 4 garbage cans full of free sawdust to use as mulch on the front of the house where she planted her bulbs. She trimmed the leaves of the spent bulbs and put down the sawdust. It looks great.

Home-Canned Taco/Enchilada Sauce

IMG_7864

The 11 little jars on the right are the enchilada/taco sauce. ¬†I was asked how I made it, and if it was a secret recipe. ¬†The truth is, I am writing it down for my self as much as anyone else, because if time passes, it will be a secret–I won’t be able to remember what I did!

This is my second attempt at enchilada sauce this summer. ¬†The first one was good, but we wanted a little more spice and a smoother texture. ¬† ¬†My pamphlet from the county extension office states that you can change the spices without affecting the safety of the finished tomato product, but nothing else, so that’s what I did.

I took a large bowl of tomatoes and washed and cut them up.  Then, I put a layer of them in a pot on high and crushed them with a potato masher while they cooked.  When that layer was softened, I added more cut-up pieces and kept crushing and cooking until the pot was about 3/4 full.  You have to keep stirring, because this will stick and burn if you are not careful.  Then, I put these cooked tomatoes through my Foley Food Mill to get the seeds and skins out.  I put that puree back into the pot.  At this point, it was nice and smooth, mostly seed-free, but pretty runny.  I thickened it up with a combination of cooking it down and added some tomato paste until it was the consistency of taco sauce such as I would buy at the store.  Our favorite is La Victoria, and we usually get the mild, but sometimes the medium.

I used about 2 cups of paste in the large pot that was 3/4 full, but then it was too thick and so I had to add some water to thin it slightly.  If you are making this, the amount of paste you will need depends on several factors, which include the dryness of your tomatoes, the variety of the tomatoes, and the amount of time you cook the tomatoes down before you add the paste. Use trial and error until you reach the perfect consistency.  Each time you make it, it is likely to take a different amount because the tomatoes are so variable.  Taco sauce should be thicker than tomato juice, but not as thick as pizza/pasta sauce.  We buy our tomato paste for these kind of projects at Cash and Carry in the gallon cans.  I open the can, use what I need and then freeze the rest in baggies to use over time.  It is a real money-saver to purchase it that way instead of little cans for 50c-$1 each.  The last time we bought a can, it was slightly dented, and cost around $3, but it is usually a bit more than that.  Still a great deal.

This is my best guess at the spices I added to the pot: ¬†1/4 cup mild chili powder, 2 Tablespoons dried oregano, 1 Tablespoon dried cilantro, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 2 Tablespoons ground cumin, 1 Tablespoon salt, 2 teaspoons pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon – 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper. ¬†The truth is, I was putting in spices, tasting, adding more spices, tasting, etc. until it tasted right to me. ¬†The chili powder, oregano, etc. added an underlying layer of flavor but there was no zip at all, until I added the cayenne. ¬†It is not very spicy, just enough to give a little kick. ¬†When I make it again, I will start with this mixture, then add more of those same spices and/or salt if I don’t feel like there’s enough.

I put the hot mixture into the jars and added 1 Tablespoon lemon juice to each larger jar (not quite a pint) and 1/2 Tablespoon to the 1/2 pints.  Then, I canned it for 35 minutes in a hot water bath canner, as instructed in my Ball Blue Book for tomato sauce.

This yielded the 11 assorted jars in the right hand side of the picture above. ¬†If I get enough tomatoes, I might make this again this year. ¬†It turned out yummy and we are already opening and eating it:). ¬†At this rate, it won’t take long to use up those 11 jars!

A Little More Canning and What Did We Eat? September 20, 2018

IMG_7864

This week, I was able to get enough tomatoes for both pasta/pizza sauce and taco/enchilada sauce. ¬†I’m super happy with the flavor of both. ¬†I was surprised with more cucumbers when I looked under the bushes that really look as if they are dying. ¬†So, I made more spicy pickles because I also found a couple more jalape√Īos and Serranos on those bushes.

IMG_7865

One night I roasted a pan of sweet potatoes, white potatoes and acorn squash. ¬†They all turned out great. ¬†The Carnival acorn squash plant has been prolific and I just keep taking the biggest ones that look the most mature, and using them. ¬†This is the 3rd one we’ve eaten so far. ¬†There are quite a few left out there. ¬†Some probably won’t mature, but several will.

We have had chicken with plum sauce twice.  Since I made a new batch, and there are enough prunes to do it again if I get around to it, I am glad that we are finding a way to use it in such a tasty fashion.

IMG_7587

We are still eating zucchini, although I’m happy to report it has slowed down to a manageable level. ¬†It is nice to saute some zucchini with onion until just crisp-tender. ¬†This is an old picture, so it doesn’t show the yellow crookneck squash, or the scallopini squash or the round ball squash that came up from the few seeds I planted from a summer squash mixture in early August. ¬†The old plants are about done, and will probably die before long, so it will be nice to still have a fresh veggie when that happens for a few more weeks.

IMG_7862

I had Eritrean food with Harnet one day.  Danait was proud as can be of her bike-riding skills.  The bike and helmet were birthday gifts back in June, and she has improved a lot.  Since the only place she can ride is the parking lot of their apartment complex, there is a little routine they do, so I had to do it, too.  It consists of her riding off quickly, with the grown-up chasing her, all the while looking for stray cars and cats (there might be one, you never know!).  She was telling me they do it 3 times some days.  I was done at one trip around their course:)  It was a good workout.  Lunch was great. I took a salad to add to the food Harnet cooked.  Of course, she sent some home.  This time it was the red lentils she likes to make and some rice with mixed vegetables in it.  The girls here at home have been eating it as taco filling.

I got some pork cutlets on mark-down last week, so we used them this week. ¬†Rob grilled them after marinading them for a while in one of his concoctions. ¬†They were delicious. ¬†We ate lots of salad, piles of tomatoes, some canned and fresh fruit, a few potatoes, and some other side dishes. ¬†It’s going to be harder to plan dinner when the garden dies, but it’s still limping along for now. ¬†I’m glad. It’s an awesome time of year when I have so much fresh produce.

 

 

 

What Did We Eat? June 15, 2018

IMG_4631

We ate the leftovers from last weekend’s party. ¬†For the beginning of the week, we feasted on deviled eggs, veggies, sweet and sour turkey meatballs, pickle rolls, chips, tortilla rolls, dipped strawberries, rice, and sandwiches. ¬†There is still a little cheese left, but most of the rest has been devoured.

My oldest daughter had some baked potatoes left over from a party she had given.  She asked if I wanted them, and of course, I said I did.  I was surprised when she came in with a plastic grocery-store bag full of the largest potatoes imaginable!  They were all baked, and there were just too many for them to use up. It was quite a challenge for us, as well!!

I had baked potato bar one night with broccoli from the freezer, cheese sauce, and cottage cheese.  I tried the Tillamook cheese sauce mix in a package that I purchased last week.  It was $1.99 and I had a digital coupon for $1.50 off.  It was delicious.  There were 2-3 occasions when people ate a portion of a baked potato at a meal.  I fried one for breakfast one morning, and put in a few slices of kielbasa sausage.  With the last 2 potatoes, I made potato salad.  I included some hard-boiled eggs.  As you can see, it was almost devoured before I could even snap a picture!

IMG_7283

Michaela ate many, many peanut butter sandwiches with no jam, honey-nut Cheerios, and about 1/2 gallon of milk in 2 days, if not more. ¬†She likes milk. ¬†And, there’s a new rule that she cannot have soda until after she drinks a full bottle of water. ¬†So, she drank water, and in fact, drink more than the forced amount a couple of times. ¬†That’s great. ¬†We are still on water restrictions, and so I bought a bunch of bottles of water. They say the water is safe for anyone my size, but I don’t want to take chances with my health, Rob’s health or the children’ health. ¬†So, I don’t panic if I use some in cooking or drink a little, but try to use other water for the most part.

IMG_7257

Jake ate Cup-o-noodles, chicken flavor, aka instant lunch. ¬†In fact, I just bought a new case of it last night, because he used them all up from my pantry. ¬†We don’t go through many of those, except when he is here. ¬†Frankly, we don’t care for them as much as he does, but I’m happy to get them for him if he wants them. ¬†He drank a lot of apple juice, and ate as many frozen Otter Pops as he could con out of me or anyone else. ¬†He also drank some water–very rare for him–declaring that he was not under 6 years of age and didn’t have any health problems. ¬†He was being a silly little stinker at the time, smacking his lips and declaring how good the water was because one of the other kids had just told him to not drink it:), but at least he got some water down for once!

Rob and I ate out one night, as we wanted to have a date night, and we got to talk in peace:). We packed picnics the rest of the times we were out and about with a bunch of children, or just had them wait until they got home to eat. (I wasn’t very popular a couple of times, but I’m trying to establish healthier habits at the beginning of the summer that will hopefully last the entire 3 months!) ¬†I want French fries to go back to being a treat and not an expectation. ¬† So, there went some of the cheese slices, lunchmeat, bread, peanut butter, ¬†fruit, various snacks and bars, and drinks, all for a good cause–children’s stomachs:)

Birthday week continues–2 down, 2 to go! ¬†Today Ja’Ana wants pizza for her birthday dinner, so Rob will grab an inexpensive wheat-crusted one somewhere, and I will eat one of the gluten-free ones I made and froze last week. ¬†Tomorrow, Rob is barbecuing for our little friend, Danait’s party, and so I’m making a large potato salad again today. ¬† I will put green onions in it, again. ¬†Good thing they are growing so well in the garden right now! ¬†I will also pick lettuce today for salads and to take for the hamburgers tomorrow.

IMG_7279

I grabbed a few grocery items last night, such as the Instant Lunches, and a bag of potatoes. All this potato salad means I’m really going through potatoes right now. It’s great that they are very reasonable! I only had to pay $1.99 for 10 lbs. That’s a lot of good food for the price. I will look through my fridge today, but don’t anticipate buying very many other groceries for a few days, at least. Having lettuce in the garden really helps, and I was able to get a bag of 7 small avocados for $2.49 last night. ¬†We love them in salads and guacamole. ¬†Patsy and I just ran into Grocery Outlet on our way home from her first high school youth group barbecue (yikes–she’s getting so old!), and I was pleased with what I found. ¬†You just never know what they are going to have.

Today, I need to get hot dog and hamburger buns for the party tomorrow, and a few tomatoes to slice, but have the rest of what I’m bringing. ¬†My sister has been up with Harnet, gathering supplies for this party at least twice, and we have it well organized between the 3 of us. ¬†It’s going to be very fun. ¬†There’s nothing like cute little kids enjoying themselves to brighten a day!