Garden and Canning Update–September 18, 2017–Pickled Beets and the Berry Patch

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Patsy and I spent a long time working in the garden on Saturday morning.  As you can see, things are beginning to finish up, and we are pulling out the spent vines.  The nice cilantro, basil, boc choi, etc. that you see are doing well.  They are the seeds I planted in August for my fall crop.

On Friday, I pulled all the beets from last spring and made pickled beets.  There weren’t very many, but they were huge.

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They were really, really big and very ugly, but I boiled them for an hour and a half, peeled them, and cut them into chunks.

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I cut around the woody core and threw it away, as it was tough.  I got plenty anyway.

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I made a really big mess in the process and spent the rest of the day cleaning up pink beet juice.

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I made up the pickling brine according to the booklet I got from the extension office and canned for 30 minutes in a hot water bath, according to the directions.  Now, I have a nice bunch (around 14) of pint jars of pickled beets.  Yum!

While working in the garden on Saturday, I had Patsy pull and wash all the carrots, so I have about 5-1 gallon bags of those in the camper fridge.  We also dug the potatoes that were left and the few onions as well.  I picked lettuce and broccoli.  There were zucchini and cucumbers, too.  I picked every tomato that was red because it was supposed to rain. They tend to crack in the rain.  I got 1/3 box and will can those up this week.

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I was able to use a few of the volunteer baby green onions this week.  I need to weed around them better (obviously) and they should go all fall and live through the winter.

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The tiny little cabbages I planted have grown well this time, and are starting to head up.  The Swiss chard is prolific, but needs a little TLC.

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Our biggest task was to get these Marion (black) berries tied up.

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We pruned out the old, dead canes and untangled the new vines and tied them up.  Patsy was a big help.  We both ended up with lots and lots of stickers in our hands, despite the gloves.  In the end, we were both pleased with how the berry row looked, though!  This job is not for the faint of heart:)  I’m hoping I finally got the last sticker out of my hand last night!

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All done for this year!

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My sister sent more Italian prunes and grape tomatoes.  I will send the extra tomatoes to school with Rob, as neither she nor I can eat an entire bucket of them.  They are loving them at his school.

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The peas and kale are coming along nicely.  Kale is hardy, so will last.  Most of the garden is winding down, though, and I plan to continue pulling out spent vines, picking small bits of produce that are still ripening, and then Rob will till up the empty areas.  We have a huge compost pile where I’ve been throwing the old vines, canning scraps, etc., and we will spread all that out and till it in if we can.

We did get our first soaking rain last night, and so it will be wet this week, for the first time in a long time.  How nice.  We really needed it.

 

 

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Saving Money and Weekly Update–Fall Is Arriving — September 17, 2017

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My aunt emailed me with the information that Grocery Outlet was selling 5 dozen medium-sized eggs for $2.99.  I hustled right down there and got them.  I know that in other parts of the country eggs have been super low-priced, but 99c/dozen is about the lowest we have seen in this part of the country, so I was delighted for 60c/dozen.  They weren’t even as small as I expected–pretty good size for medium.

It seems that I have had to go to the store way too often this month.  Last month, when I challenged myself to use things up, I guess I did a really good job! Every time I turn around, someone is letting me know that another thing is gone!   A lot of what I’ve needed to get has been non-food items, such as hair products, razors, deodorant, dish and laundry soap, school supplies, etc.  So, I’ve tried to use downloaded coupons, paper coupons, sales, etc. as much as possible.  I’ve also re-stocked the food items I was out of and continued canning and using produce from the garden and what was gifted to me from my sister’s garden.  I remembered to download my Friday Freebie yesterday from Fred Meyers, and also picked up more Tillamook cheese from there–at $4.99/2 lb loaf.  This week,  I have purchased 2 cheddar and 2 pepper jack bricks.  I grabbed 2 cauliflowers from the reduced produce rack, for $1/head.  I had a coupon for $4/off 3 Enjoy Life products.  I found some gf cookies on the reduced rack for $2.07/box.  I bought 3 of them, bringing my total, after coupon, to $2.21 for 3 boxes of gf cookies.  I grabbed several bread items from the reduced rack for 59c/loaf, 99c/bag of bagels, English muffins and hot dog buns for 59c–I got so many that every empty corner of the freezers are now full of bread items!  I found 1/2 gallons of milk for 87c, And so on. I’ve worked pretty hard at getting my pantry in order, and just have a few more things to round up and I will be done for a while again.

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Fall is definitely on its way.  I’ve seen a few trees beginning to change colors around here.  This picture is from last fall, when we took the kids to Bonneville Dam and Multnomah Falls, up the Columbia River Gorge.  Our first soaking rain of the year is predicted for tonight and it is supposed to rain for a few days.  I’m ready.  The smoke was pretty bad yesterday from all the wildfires that still burn in the forests of Oregon. I’m delighted to think that there may be some relief once the rains come, and am also glad many of the historic sites in the gorge were saved from burning.   All week, we scurried around like crazy doing all we could to prepare, and spent many hours yesterday on fall chores.

Every day for the past couple of weeks, I’ve had each girl pull one bucket of weeds from the yard.  I’ve been pretty easy on them in letting them choose any size bucket, and sometimes they choose the littlest bucket you have ever seen, but the yard is starting to look way better!  Rob and I mowed the lawn one evening after work, and we’ve been clipping off branches that are in the way, or need pruning.  We’ve been trying to fill the yard debris bin each week.

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Patsy and I worked on the garden and went to the store.  I am planning a garden update post for later in the week, so I won’t spend much time on that now, but one thing she did was pull and wash all the carrots.  She snapped off the tops and put them in Ziplocks.   They are now in the camper fridge with many other items, like eggs and cheese, and will keep a long time.  It’s not large, but it sure helps since we still only have the 1 fridge.

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Rob and the older girls went for the remaining wood that was up at my sister’s place.  There was some cutting and splitting to do this week, so it took them most of the morning for 1 load, but we all worked to get it stacked once they returned, and that job is done for now.  Once that was done, Rob and Lovana took our old broken refrigerator and a bunch of recyclables to the dump.  It has been bothering him for quite a while, since it was sitting out there by the shop, and he wanted to get it gone while it way dry!   He had to pay $25 to get rid of the fridge, but the rest was free.  How nice to have that stuff all gone–a whole van full.  It’s amazing how many things you find that need cleaning up after so long without rain.  We’ve had a couple of small showers of rain, but no soaking rain all summer.

Are you ready for fall?  I am not finished, but sure feel like I made some progress around here this week.  Rob and I set ourselves a goal to do at least one thing each evening after work towards getting things cleaned up before the rain, and we are happy with our progress. Let it pour!!!

Now, I’m off to make those Deviled Eggs for our Family Sunday Dinner!  (I used an old picture since I have not made them yet!!)  The eggs are boiled and cold, and I’ll be done in a jiffy.  We are celebrating my aunt’s birthday today, and I wanted to make her Deviled Eggs, since she likes them and was so kind as to tip me off about the great sale on eggs:)  I’ll pack the food in a cooler, and take it to church with us, since we will be over at my sister’s house today.  Her kitchen remodel is finally done and they have been able to come in out of the garage and finally cook after a summer of using a hot plate and microwave!  It’s beautiful.  I’m excited for them!

 

 

Saving Money and Weekly Update–September 9, 2017

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We continued getting ready for winter this week.  We took 2 trips up to my sister’s farm, where we had a big pile of wood, and brought it home and stacked it.  We used the van, as we sold the trailer this summer.

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We looked into renting a U-Haul, but decided it would be more tedious, but much less expensive to use the van.  Rob removed all but one bench seat, and put a large tarp down, and it worked just fine.  There is a little more wood up there, and we plan to get it next week.

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I made salsa, and canned it.  I got 14 jars, a mixture between pints and 1/2 pints.

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While up at the farm, my sister gave me prunes, peaches, peppers, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, and corn.  Yum!  I used some of those things, plus what I had from my garden to make the salsa.  I will can the tomatoes in a few days, along with some from my garden.

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We are about to cut the last watermelon.  I also picked raspberries, a few strawberries,  cantaloupe, snow peas, and beans from my garden.  I’ve been freezing the berries as I get them.

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I also pulled the first carrots.

I made some recipes from the current Cooking Light Magazine.  I made Sweet Potato-Red Lentil Curry in the crock pot, and Basil Chicken.  They were both good and used things I had on hand.  I think the Basil Chicken will become a family favorite, for sure. The curry was good, too, but it was more of a soup than anything, the way we did it:)   I also made a simple beef stew in the crock pot another day, and we ate leftovers, corn dogs, tacos, and hot dogs other times.

Rob started back to work this week, and I started my regular schedule of getting my niece and nephew off the bus 3 days per week, and started back into homeschool with the 2 girls, Ja’Ana, my daughter, and Alissa, my niece.  We are using the library more this year for school, so we went there this week, as well.  Patsy also started school.

Rob gets the extra hour of work again this year, and needs to ride the little yellow school bus with a child who needs assistance. That extra bit of time was really helpful last year when the paycheck came each month, so we were glad to hear that he could do that again.   Last year, Rob parked the van in a certain parking lot.   He had permission.   This year he was informed by a very unkind, grumpy woman that if he dared to park there again, she WOULD have him towed, and so on and so forth.   So, the bus dispatcher decided that they would now pick him up AT OUR DOOR!  Isn’t that awesome?  Now he will use no gas at all unless that particular child is sick and he has to drive to work.  It was pretty funny to watch him get on the bus Friday morning:)

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We did the “deal” at Fred Meyers this week several times, and even took my friend Harnet and little Danait there so they could do it, too.  Harnet confessed she did not really understand how it worked, and I confessed it had taken me a while to figure it out, too.  What you did this week was buy items in increments of 5, and then they would be 99c each. They included 4 lb bags of sugar, 1/2 gallons of milk, Life cereal, Goldfish crackers, granola bars, 18 eggs, and some bread. There may have been more choices, but I was interested in those things.  You could do it however many times you wanted, as long as it was in multiples of 5.  I ended up with 4-1/2 doz. eggs, 4 gallons of milk, 32 pounds of sugar, several boxes of cereal and several bags of crackers, 1 loaf of bread and 1 box of granola bars.  I was especially pleased at the sugar for 25c/lb.  I usually feel happy if it’s 40c/lb.  This is even less expensive per pound than buying a large bag at Cash and Carry.   I was getting very low after all the canning I’ve been doing. Harnet got 2 milks, eggs, bread, and sugar.  She was pleased as well, as those were things she needed, and all 5 for under $5.

I had to buy some odd items as well, this week, such as curry paste, a box of tea, etc., but I found it all, and everyone was well fed.  We did not go out to eat, but were flexible with when we ate, and sometimes what we ate.  I’m sure we will settle into a schedule quickly, but this week felt a little choppy.

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The big girls wore her out!  She loves every minute she spends with them.  So sweet:)

How did your week go?

 

 

Canning Crab

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There’s a first time for everything, and I have successfully canned crab for the first time–today!  After our extremely successful crabbing trip this weekend, I knew I had to preserve it somehow.  Even after dropping crab off at several places on our way home, there was a lot left.  I only had 2 full Ziplocks and 1 with a little bit in it, but these crabs were the biggest I’ve ever caught off a dock!  What fun:)

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We used cheap, frozen chicken, fish bones, and some leftover turkey we had brought to eat, but used for bait instead.  After pulling the traps, we measured each male crab and kept any that were big enough.  We threw a handful of rock salt into the pot with the water and added the crabs.  When the water came back to a boil, we cooked them for 20 minutes.

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We cooled them as fast as we could, using cold water then ice.  Rob cleaned them as soon as they were cool enough to handle them.  After that, they were stored in the fridge until we went home. We carried them home in the closed cooler, in Ziplocks.  Then the cracking began.  I used a fork and my hands.  They worked well.

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I followed the directions in the booklet “Canning Seafood” that I got at the Extension Office.  The crab went into 1/2 pint and 1/4 pint jars.  I then added a tiny bit of salt (1/4 inch in the 1/2 pints, a pinch in the littler ones). It also called for 1-1/2 teaspoons white vinegar in each jar.   Then I filled the jars up with very hot water from my Insta-hot.  The lids and rings went on and into the canner they went.

After Rob got home from work, he sat and watched the pressure cooker for 70 minutes at 11 lbs. of pressure.  We always have someone sit and watch the pot, so they can make any adjustments needed to keep the pressure steady and at the correct level.  Now that we are doing all our canning outside, on the attached, covered porch, he was able to barbeque dinner at the same time.  I prepared the food, and he grilled it–basil chicken, rosemary potato squares, and a grill basket of zucchini and mushrooms.  Win-win!

I ended up with 7-1/2 pints and 3–1/4 pints of crab. I have no idea of how I’m going to use them yet, but crab cakes come to mind.  I’m delighted to have such a delicacy canned up, and added to my pantry.

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Saving Money–Weekly Update and Our 35th Anniversary–September 4, 2017

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Where have 35 years gone?  It amazes me how quickly they have gone–full of good times, wonderful times, really horrible times, and day-upon-day of everyday, ordinary times.  It doesn’t surprise me, really, that we ended up back at the Oregon Coast for this anniversary.  We went to the beach for our honeymoon, at least the first half.  Then, we went camping for the second half.  Some things don’t change much after all.

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We still love the ocean.

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We still love outdoor activities.  We spent quite a bit of time this weekend crabbing off the dock at our hotel.  That is one of the reasons we chose that particular place to stay.  You need a keycard to access the dock and you can leave your traps in all night.  The crabbing was really great.  We caught many, many keepers and they were unusually large for crabs caught from a dock.  The limit is 12 per day.  That would be 24 for the 2 of us.  We arrived on Friday and left on Monday.  That was potential for 96 crabs.  We landed a little over 30 and were overwhelmed with the amount of crab we had.  It was just the right amount.  We filled a cooler as it was.

There is a crab cooker at the hotel.  We spent quite a bit of time waiting in line to cook our crabs, cooking them, cleaning them, cooling them, etc.  It was fun visiting with all the other people.  They were from so many different places and we heard story after story from so many, each beginning with the same words–“How did you do?  Any keepers in your trap this time?”–and ending with anything from a childhood antidote of a rattlesnake bite to the grandiose fishing stories from a man who had drank one too many beers.  We shared the dock with people from Russia, Korea, Mexico, and Slavakia (I’m sure that’s not spelled right-sorry) and more, but all Americans now, all united in the quest for crab.

After watching a boy try to fish, and fail to catch anything due to his inexperience in tying on his tackle,  Rob showed the young man how to rig up his pole correctly, gave him some bait,  and the teenage boy caught his first fish–ever!  He then wanted to fish for hours, far into the night.  It was a feel-good moment, for sure.  The next night, he was back, after a trip to Walmart, fully loaded with all the right bait for both himself and his brother, and taught his mother to catch her first fish–ever!

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We were delighted to be able to share crab with family and friends today, and I’ve spent this evening cracking out the ones we kept.  I didn’t think I kept very many.  I was wrong.

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It’s in the fridge.  It’s midnight.  I will deal with it in the morning.  What a treasure!

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We also took a couple of drives.  We saw whales on Friday, and again today.  We never tire of seeing the white spouts, or an occasional tail or back showing darkly against the blue water.  Even when there are no whales, the view is breathtakingly beautiful.

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This bridge caught my eye, too.

We enjoyed the whale watching, driving, crabbing, some fishing, and a special anniversary dinner out.  We walked along the waterfront a little, and bought some candy to bring home to the girls.  Today, we had lunch out again, on our way home.  I loved the entire weekend.  The best part–after all these years, I still love the man I married so long ago, and he still loves me.  That is the biggest miracle of all.

The first part of the week was busy, getting things canned and preserved so I could leave.    We did do some frugal things before we left. The anniversary trip was wonderful, but I didn’t worry much about frugality, other than the habits I kept finding myself returning to….such as cooking in the room most of the time, not doing a lot of shopping, etc.  We did catch hundreds of dollars worth of crab, though–nice bonus.

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I served lots of garden-based meals.  This meal is a hamburger with garden tomatoes and lettuce, garden cucumbers and onion salad, baked french fries from garden potatoes and a sauce I made using herbs from the garden.

I bought school supplies on sale.

I was given some corn, peaches and prunes by my sister when I dropped by to give her some crab.  Some of the corn was already in the cartons for the freezer.  Amazing what grows on her bushes:)  Actually, the family did some for me today while I was gone.  They had a corn-freezing party today.  Pretty nice of them, I think.  I made a peach crisp for Rob to take to work tomorrow–he has his first day.  There is a potluck there.  The kids start Wednesday, but he needs to go tomorrow, too.

I made us one, too.  Yum!

We attended an Eritrean party on Thursday.  The food was authentic, and the party was really fun.  It was to celebrate Danait and the fact that she is getting to be such a big girl, and for Harnet, the mama, to be able to thank some people who have helped her along over the past few years since Danait was born.

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The day was hot, but the fan broke when someone’s balloons got caught up in it.  Hmmm.   Somehow strings mess up a fan.  Rob fixed it.  He had lots of help.

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The cake says something like Congratulations in Tangrian.  The lady that brought it went to a lot of trouble to get this cake, and got the word off the internet and had it put on the cake.   This smart little cookie is getting fluent in speaking both languages, and is now ready to head off to preschool in a few days.   This amazes me when I cannot even remember how to say, much less spell the language they speak, much less speak anything but English.  We feasted on the African foods, along with the rice, veggies, fruits and salads others brought, and then ended up with the coffee made from beans roasted right there, ground, and made into a very strong, potent coffee heavily sugared and laced with milk, served in teeny, tiny cups.  There was a good turn-out for the party, and I know her mama was pleased with how it turned out.

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In the midst of it all, Patsy and Danait had plenty of time for the Itsy-Bitsy Spider to go up and down the water spout, several times.  I would bet that little lady slept well that night–I know I sure did!

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Our gift was a backpack for school.  I think she has very little idea of what preschool is, but is excited because her mama is excited.  She loved the backpack, and I know she will love school once she starts.

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