Category Archives: food preservation

Thriving in My Thrifty Week–October 28, 2018


I was given a very nice assortment of gluten-free items, and some baking supplies.  (Some has been put away already–there was more!). It was a very nice gift and I’m very thankful and am already planning some good things to make from it!  In fact, my oldest daughter was mentioning a wonderful recipe using coconut flour and I told her to send it to me–I had a bunch now:)


I’m officially done with canning season!  I got the last 2 things done this week–more pasta/pizza sauce and the green tomato Salsa verde.  If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know I have a passion for canning and other food preservation.  But, let me tell you, even I am absolutely DONE for a little while, at least.  I am ready to move on to other projects, but am thrilled with what I got.  It really is amazing to me how much produce came from that little garden in the back yard.

We have been thawing items and opening jars right and left, starting to put all this goodness from the summer to good use.  I used the extra Salsa Verde that I did not can to make a green enchilada casserole for lunch today.  I paired that with canned green beans and a salad.


There are a few more soup bones in the freezer I’d like to make broth from, but that can wait until I’ve had a little break from canning.


Free entertainment!  Jake was licking the last of the whipped cream off his plate (I am the auntie, you know, so let him had some when he asked).  He sure enjoyed it.  It was the  end of a can from a LONG time ago, I didn’t even know I owned it, but it must keep, because he found it way in the back of the fridge, and loved having it.  (I tasted it, and it was fine!) He declares he is the best plate-licker in the nation:)

Rob was given some cedar boards to use when he helps Patsy make a bird house.  He spent quite a bit of time yesterday, cleaning in the shop.  It’s an on-going project, stemming from when we moved here with way more things than we could fit into our much-smaller house.  Every time he spends time out there, I can see a big difference.  We are at the place where it won’t be long until he can actually use the shop for his tools!  Hurray! !


I spent an evening and a morning helping my friend move to a different apartment.  Her daughter was greatly amused by Patsy during the evening, which was a big help to us,  and she loved “swimming” while Rob hooked the tv back up to the VCR the next morning.  At one point, I heard her asking, “Uncle Rob, can I sit on you?”  It was so cute.  She just meant she wanted to climb up onto his lap.  At that point, he was perched on a sturdy coffee table, working closely with the cords and wires, and wasn’t able to oblige her, but enjoyed all her chitter chatter while she “helped.”  Thankfully, lots of other friends were coming by there after I left, as we did not get it all done, but we made progress.  I could not help at all beforehand, so was glad I could help afterwards.  I grabbed some taco ingredients to take, and we ate that while we unpacked, thereby cancelling the need to get pizza or anything else during the move.  I had come cookies in the freezer (out of sight, out of mind for us), and took them, and some soda, which she gave to the 2 young men who were driving the truck.

I’ve been choosing small areas to deep clean! Now that it has started to rain, I feel like working inside.  Boy, do I have a lot of messy areas!!  But, each place I clean makes me feel better, and I will get it done little by little.  I’ve even got a little of the garage cleaned up!  At Thanksgiving, I will seat several family members out there at the big, old table we kept, and I would like it to look a little tidy. (It won’t be perfect, I’m realistic)

I shopped mainly for protein and cheese this week, along with some items we finally ran out of.  I haven’t been at the regular grocery store much lately, but it was time, and I’m sure they were happy to see me:). Cheese was so inexpensive–$4.99/2-lb loaf of Bandon cheese, which is the same as Tillamook–so good.  I get several, and some shredded Lucerne cheeses as well.  I stuck to one store, and got what I needed.  I did redeem a couple of dollars from Ibotta.  I got 1 dozen eggs for free, but that’s all the freebies for this week.  I had a choice of a free item, and I chose eggs because we eat a lot of those and can always use them.

How did your week go?





Thriving in My Thrifty Week–October 7, 2018


I was able to find more produce in the garden this week.  It’s looking really scraggly, many things are covered in powdery mildew or look crispy and dead–in short, it’s getting really ugly.  So, I’m delighted that there are still veggies out there.  I also bought a bunch of salad things to augment what I found out there.  Over about a week, I was able to gather enough tomatoes and got 7 quarts canned on Friday.  Now I feel like I have enough.  If I get a few more, it’s a bonus.

I had very few immediate grocery needs this week, and intended to not shop.  Until….sugar was $1.25 for 4 lbs.  That is a good price here, and I got 20 pounds.  I also got 20 lbs of brown sugar for 50c/lb. I got milk and bagels for the niece and nephew, since Michaela was spending Friday night, and Jake was spending both Friday and Saturday nights.  I went ahead and used money from my Bottle Drive account to get the extra 20%, and paid the rest from my grocery budget, leaving me in great shape for the rest of the month.  I had been setting that Bottle Drive money aside for stocking up, so I did.  Rob picked up cheap lunchmeat from Grocery Outlet (87c/package) and we got some other things we could use. (bottle drop doesn’t work there, so of course, paid cash for that.)


I have picked most squash that are out there, but still need to gather the Delicata that are next to the shop.  The dahlias are still lovely.  My sister brought 4 beautiful Butternut squashes for the family to divide, and the others either had some already, or didn’t want them, so I ended up with them all.  2 of them, I cubed and froze, we ate one already, and the other will store for a while.  Last year was the first time I ever froze raw squash cubes, but it worked well for the 2 little packages I froze, so now I have a few more for this year.


I also love how the zinnias are still giving me such a cheerful spot of color out there.  Many were planted from Dollar Store seeds that only cost 25c/package.  The rest were volunteers, and they are mostly purple/raspberry color.  I am letting seeds drop into the garden from several items.   Some of the items I harvested from volunteers this summer included zinnias, lettuce, tomatoes, lemon cucumbers and green onions.  There was also dill, cilantro and parsley that self-seeded.  It will be fun to see what comes up next spring.


I dried some parsley and chives.


It’s amazing how much they shrink when they dry!


Patsy suddenly decided that she might want to do some food preservation.  There’s not too much left to preserve, so I put her to work canning some apples.  I think we can use them in a cobbler/crisp or she can just eat them out of a bowl.


Of course, Jake wasn’t going to be left out of that super-cool really fun apple project!


Since apple slices aren’t something I usually can, I followed the directions in the Ball Blue Book, and we packed them in hot syrup after they cooked for 5 minutes in that syrup.  I actually had her make a lighter syrup than called for, 4:1, and I still think it’s probably too much sugar.  I like to try to follow the recipe the first time, anyway:). Thanks to Auntie for the apples!  I was glad to have something for her to can when she got the urge at this late date!  She got 6 quarts and 1 pint.


She would like to try to do more 4H projects this year, as last year we were not able to accomplish the tasks needed for her to fully participate.  There are requirements for helping at a county level for each member to enter things in the fair, and we did not do them.  We also did not get very much project work done, and the county event that we signed up to help with was cancelled.  It was somewhat of a bust all around.  So, I told her we would try again this year, and if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, but it’s worth a try if she has an interest.  I know we can teach her practical skills without it, but the 4H program gives me more incentive to carve out the time to work with her.  She made a good start, I think.  In my mind, it’s about learning skills more than gaining ribbons, so I’m glad she canned something I hope she will like and use, which will bring her satisfaction from the process.  I feel if a kid wants to do a 4H project, they need to practice skills from that project over a period of time, not just the week before the fair–there are always lots of last minute projects to do then, regardless.

We had our first fires in the wood stove this week, as the weather turned rainy and cool, and it was in the 40’s and 50’s.  It felt good.

Rob and I got horrible colds (thank you cousins!) so laid low all weekend (to the best of our ability with so much commotion going on).  Besides the cousins, Patsy had this computerized baby from one of her classes at school which squeaked and howled like a real one at all hours of the night and day, and she had to “feed” it, “change” it, and so forth and keep a diary of what she did.  They can track her actions on the computer chip in the doll, and her grade will depend on how well she took care of it.  It goes back in the morning, thank goodness.  It had to be done, and I felt she did a good job of it, and now other kids will get their turn.

Jake never got to play so many electronics, hear so many stories, and watch so much tv.  He had a ball.  I  expect I will have some work ahead of me the next time he stays over, convincing him that it was a one-time occurrence!  He was so cute.  One morning, he said, “Now, why don’t I read all of you a story,” and proceeded to do just that.  I took him to the library and we stocked up on movies and books, and I think he enjoyed the ones we got.  I know I enjoyed mine!


Home-Canned Taco/Enchilada Sauce


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


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 jalapeños and Serranos on those bushes.


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.


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.


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.




Pickled Peppers in the Pantry Are Not a Necessity–But I Canned Some Anyway!


Every few years, I can just a few jars of pickled jalapeño peppers.  I have some teeny, tiny jars I use for this purpose.  Today, I went up to my sister’s house and picked her jalapeño peppers, since the pathetic crop I got has mostly been used when I made salsa the other day.  Last time, the directions were simple.  Put peppers in jars.  Cover with vinegar.  Can.  The recipe I found this year was a little more complicated, as in mix vinegar, water and salt, pour over, can for 10 minutes in a hot water bath canner.  It still was mostly vinegar.  When I use them, it doesn’t seem to matter that they’ve been canned in vinegar.  I just fish out the peppers and add them to whatever I want to spice up.

I only use them for a few things, so these 8 jars will easily be enough for the year.  In the past, I have added one small jar to a large pot of chili that needed a little zip.  Another time, I’ve used them to heat up salsa if I was making a small batch.  Another thing I do is to add one small jar to a large pot of beans when I’m making refried beans, especially if I’m out of peppers I have frozen or in a big hurry.  There have been a few other things that escape me that I’ve done with them.

I’m happy and thankful that my sister shared, as this was the year I ran out after not doing it for a year or two.  Some years, the jalapeños are so loaded.  Not this year for either one of us.  It was great to get a few to spice up our winter!


I added both Serranos and Jalepenos to the pickles I made this morning, along with some red pepper flakes.  They ought to be spicy and zippy!  This batch has the most peppers in it than any I have made so far.  Every time I think those cucumbers are done, they give me a few more.

The beans also surprised me by giving me quite a few yellow and green beans.  They were supposed to be done, but I didn’t get the vines pulled, and they re-bloomed, and the rest is history.  I froze them tonight.

Tomorrow, we have several doctor’s appointments.  Before and after those, I have some tomatoes I need to deal with.  My sister sent a bunch home, and I have those I picked a couple of days ago.  I’m still not where I want to be with tomatoes, so I’m delighted to have them.  I don’t think I’ll grow the San Marzano Gigantic-a again, though.  They are late to ripen, and are cracking and molding easily with this little bit of rain we have had. Maybe they will taste so good it will be worth it, but I’m not sure.  I’ll decide next winter:). In the meanwhile, there are those, some Willamettes and some Glaciers still chugging along, and I’m getting a bowlful every few days.  When I add contributions from my aunt and sister, I think I’ll soon be where I want to be.  When you think that there are 52 weeks in a year, and I use tomatoes at least once a week in cooking, often more if you count salsa and other products I make, well, you see what is motivating me to keep scrounging them up!

Thriving in My Thrifty Week–August 19, 2018


I was planning to take a nap this afternoon.  Instead, I canned Improved Elberta peaches.  They were picked only yesterday, but I checked on them after church out of habit, and was amazed that some of them needed to be processed!  I decided to do slices this year.  I still have some jars with halves left over, and slicing these will make people think they are getting something different:) :). I also froze a couple more trays of the Veteran peaches.


I made a peach crisp with the blanched peaches that I did not need to fill my jars.


I made chicken soup and broccoli cheddar soup this week.  We mainly ate soup this week, along with leftovers.  I cooked a chicken, too, and we filled in with hot dogs and sandwiches along with many garden vegetables.

I was very busy with food preservation and also spending time with a family member who was in the hospital.   Rob ended up doing most of the work hours this week, and Michaela’s dad took her to her events this week so us girls would be more available.  We all took turns going down there to spend time, and were delighted when the issue was resolved with a good outcome and the patient went home.   I will say the fact that the hospital was only about 10-15 minutes from my home helped a lot.  They sure treat people well there–one different thing from times past is that meals can be ordered at any time according to when the patient wants it.  The nurses were very attentive, so attentive in fact, that they did things like weigh the patient in the middle of the night, give a bath at 11 pm, and other crazy things!  Yikes.  Good thing they finally did what needed to be done and sent the patient home so they could actually get some rest!  Seriously, we are very thankful for the good care that was received.


We did take Jake and Patsy down to the beach Wednesday afternoon, as had been promised before the other situation arose. I made it as easy on myself as possible as my week was so busy.  We took them to a place where a tiny river went into the sea so it was safe for them to play.   They dug in the sand for hours.   The “boy team” of sand castle builders made an amazing sandcastle.


This was definitely the winner of the boys!


Here is the winner of the girl team–a sand volcano.

The winner of the boys and the winner of the girls both got to go to Dairy Queen.  The fighting was pretty bad until they finally caught on that they BOTH were going to be the winners!  Silly kids.  I’m still laughing.  Rob and I grabbed a fresh shrimp cocktail from a seafood shop near Dairy Queen. It was so good!


Because I was at the hospital during the morning before we went, I didn’t gather anything from home except the sand toys, books to read in the car and Rob grabbed extra Jake clothes.  Upon arriving at the beach town,  Jake and I ran into a little market and grabbed the cheapest loaf of bread they had for the sea gulls after he mentioned how much he was looking forward to feeding them.  He loved the store for whatever reason, and even told the cashier how much he loved the store.  She was surprised, but pleased at his fervent enthusiasm!  It might have been the fact that we bought Bugles and candy along with the bread….hmmmm…


After about 3-1/2 hours of digging, I had a willing volunteer to wash off the sand toys.  We got him changed and went to another rest area, in search of a bathroom with soap in it.  He decided to wash out his cup at the second place in one of those outdoor foot washers, and soaked his pants again as he was standing in front of the faucet.  So, we got him changed yet again. Of course, there was the Dairy Queen visit, as well.  It was getting late, so we just took him home and kept him for the night as Rob needed to take him to the library summer reading party the next morning while I went down to the hospital some more.


He loved the free party–his prize for all the reading we’ve done all summer.  He also received a free book.  Patsy helped Rob corral him.  It was super crowded again, and he had fun for a while before the crowds overwhelmed him.   Then they went home.

Rob and Patsy took off for a weekend away rock hunting, camping and fishing with one of Rob’s best friends.  I stayed home to get a few things done, mostly food preservation.  Now is the time of year to get that done.

My sister gave me peaches, corn, tomatoes and a handful of green beans from her garden and orchard.  I got several veggies from my garden, as well.  I used some apples from our tree to make 7 quarts of applesauce.  I love that I got free apples from my own backyard.  The tree did basically nothing last year, so I did not expect any this year, and it was a pleasant surprise.

I ordered 4 new shirts from Macy’s on super clearance.  They came yesterday and are exactly the same style I’ve had before, so I expect they will fit well.  I got free shipping on the order, due to a promotion they were having the day I ordered.  I simply have not had time to physically shop much lately, either for groceries or clothes or anything else, saving me quite a bit this past month.

In the past 5 weeks, I’ve spent about $150 on groceries.  $60 was spent today when I realized that I had no choice but to go shopping after church if I wanted Rob to feel welcomed home after his trip.  I could have him offered nothing but peaches and tomatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but we’ve stayed married for over 35 years for a reason:). I know better!  This next 4 weeks won’t be much worse, unless I go on a Costco run.  This is possible because the garden is producing so well, and I have a good stockpile.  I will need to restock sooner or later, though, but it’s been nice while I’m so busy to not have to shop.

Well, the weary campers have just walked in the door, so I’m going to hug them and go to bed!



Food Preservation Weekend –August 2018


Rob and Patsy are away for the weekend, so I decided to have a food preservation weekend.  I know everyone has their own idea of fun.  This is mine.  This is the time of year when I want to fill jars and the freezers, and I get a lot of satisfaction from doing that.

I started out last night making enchilada sauce and applesauce.  I have been searching for a way to make home-canned enchilada sauce.  Occasionally, I buy a can.   It’s expensive and I only purchase it when I find a really good deal, but I love the convenience of just popping it open and making dinner in a hurry.  Otherwise, I make it from tomato juice, spices and a little cornstarch when I need it.  Last night, I used a recipe I found on the internet for a spice mix, and they essentially had me make crushed tomatoes and add the spices.  I know the recipe was safe to can, because I checked in my OSU extension canning books and followed the recipe for crushed tomatoes.  I’m excited to see how it tastes. I tasted it in the pot, and liked it, and am sure the flavors developed more during the canning process.  I’m going to open a jar very soon:)

A week or so ago, Rob and I picked all the apples that were growing on the branches of the apple tree overhanging the garden.  The apples were starting to fall, so we picked them, hoping they would be usable.  Rob made me promise that if they were too bad/wormy, I would let them go into the compost heap.  I started working with them last night.  They were wormy, but not too bad.  I carefully cut away the bad parts, and there was a lot of good apple left, so I made applesauce.  So far, I have canned 7 quarts and there are more left to work on.


This morning, I started out going to my sister’s house and picking peaches, corn and tomatoes. Then I came home and picked what was ready in my garden, and got to work.  Instead of having a day where I processed large quantities of one thing, today I did small batches of many things.

I blanched and froze 2 pints of broccoli.  These are side shoots on the same broccoli plants that I planted last spring.  I have frozen very little this summer, so I”m glad to get these 2 packages.

The peaches in this picture are Veterans, a soft, sweet, juice peach.  I have 2 trays in the freezer right now, and a lot left to do over the next couple of days.  They will need to be processed quickly, as they won’t keep well.


I brought home 3 bags of corn, and then picked the odds and ends from the first variety I grew in my garden.  The big, beautiful cobs are from my sister’s garden.  The little scrawny ones are what was left after we ate most of what was in my tiny patch, but there was enough to make them worth picking.


I blanched the cobs in batches and then cooled them in a super-clean sink of cold water.  Then, I used the still-boiling blanching water to pour over the peaches I wanted to freeze so the skins would come off easily.


I was very pleased to get 10 pint cartons for the freezer.


I finished the day by making jalapeño dill pickles, and got a pint and a quart, which I canned for the prescribed 15 minutes.  It is so nice to have dill and peppers in the garden that I can grab quickly when I get a few ripe cucumbers.

I am now collapsed in a heap on the couch, resting.  I am pleased with my weekend’s production and am enthusiastic about doing more in the week ahead.

I picked 2 good-sized boxes and a bucket of Improved Elberta peaches to can when they get ripe in a couple of days.  I also picked a bucket of tomatoes to work on later in the week.  The apples need to be finished and the cucumbers will have more ripe ones in a couple of days. I will finish up freezing the Veterans, as well. This will be a very busy week for me!




Thriving in My Thrifty Week–August 13, 2018


Can you say “mouse hotel?”  This is what the funny smell and awful sound from my air conditioner fan came from.  Thank goodness for our good mechanic friend who fixed it on the same day Rob mentioned the problem.  It is so nice to have my car back, and even nicer that this is not longer in side of it!  My car is fixed, drives great, and God provided the means to get it fixed from all its major, awful problems (I now have a new-to-me motor, new brakes all around, my air conditioner is newly serviced, and of course, no mouse hotel to boot!).


I was able to make these pillowcases for my friend, Harnet’s, birthday. I added some lotion I had in my gift bin I keep in the shop.  She loved them, and I was glad to have actually been able to find the fabric in my stash out in the shop.  That is an organizing project waiting to happen, for sure.


I had fun playing with Danait.  She used toys that Rosalie, my sister, has had for years.  They were all new to Danait!


Even though it was Mama’s birthday, she was glad to eat the cupcakes we brought.  We had a simple taco meal with watermelon and Harnet loved the entire celebration.  We ate outside by my sister’s garden.  During the afternoon, we took turns down at the u-pick peach stand, because they were open for business that day.


It was simple, and pleasant, and meant a lot to Harnet.


I have used so much garden produce that I only needed to spend $30 on groceries for the past 2 weeks.  To do this, I concentrated on using what I had, and garden veggies.  Of course, this is not sustainable over a long period of time, but it sure has been nice to have so much produce to work with in our meals.  I’m just saving the other grocery money for the day that will inevitably come when I need to restock those ice cream buckets, gallon ziplocks, and other containers that I’m emptying out.

I have now used most of the potatoes I have grown. I only had a few short rows.  The big ones were used for mashing, salad, roasting and baking, and the tiny ones I just roasted with salt, pepper and olive oil.

I made an enormous amount of potato salad for Sunday, some for dinner and some for the teen gathering my sister was hosting after their regular teen Bible Study on Sunday night.  She asked my husband to BBQ, and she provided chicken, steak and hamburgers for him to cook.  We spent most of the day over there after church, eating in addition to helping out.  Those kids can pack it away.  She made 2 –9 x 13 fruit crisps and they ate them both.  That was after the family ate the 3rd one for lunch.  Good thing my sister likes to cook! We did bring Jake home in the middle for a couple of hours so they could clean and it would stay that way.


Today, I did something unusual.  Since I have been involved with 4H food preservation project for years, I received an unexpected phone call on Friday.  The county where we used to live was desperate for a judge to judge the 4H Food preservation today.  I have no idea why the real judges could not do it, or if they just absolutely could not find one.  So they asked me if I would do it.  I said I sure would, as long as they understood that it was my first time, and I was not trained in any way except for all the years of experience in teaching 4H and my personal canning.  I had a fun day.  It went very well.  And, they even paid me something for my time, including some money for mileage since I live a distance away now.

I love kids and had a great time explaining to each one why they were getting the ribbon they were getting, and ate so much jam that I’m sure I will be very sweet tomorrow:). There were some unique items kids made, beyond the jam and canned peaches.  One girl made chili starter– meat and seasonings that you were to add beans to when you ate it.  Another girl made chicken noodle soup starter–just add noodles when you cook it for a super fast supper.   There was a home-canned cranberry sauce, some dilled green beans from a young man, and pie fillings.  My personal favorite was a girl who painstakingly hand-cut, with a knife, all the ingredients for relish.  The pieces were insanely even, but I can’t even imagine how long it must have taken!

At the end of the day, I got to choose who would receive champion ribbons and cash prizes.  The crew was well-organized and efficient, and we were done by 5:30.

I saved money by not stopping on the way home, even for a drink, as Rob had texted me that he had cooked me dinner.  Boy was it good!  My lunch was provided, but the sandwiches were pre-made, so I had to skip them (gluten).  I did get some of the potato salad they bought, which was delicious.  It wasn’t a stellar lunch for my diabetic dietary needs–potato salad, chips, fruit, and of course, all that jam I was eating all day, but I gave myself a little extra insulin, tried to limit my portions, and powered through.  Another time, should that occasion arise, I will tuck some protein into my bag and be better prepared.  I simply did not know what to expect when they said they would provide lunch–I’ve always seen cold cuts at those occasions before, and thought that’s what I would be having.

Tomorrow, it’s back to my normal life.  I’m almost afraid to look at the garden, especially the zucchini!  Maybe Jake would like to make zucchini muffins.  We’ll see!


What Did We Eat? August 10, 2018


Last Friday, I did not find time to do my normal weekly shopping.  I was too busy with canning and taking care of kids.  I didn’t seem to be out of very many things, so just kept cooking with what I had, and had Patsy make a list on the whiteboard of things when I ran out of something.  I rolled the weekly grocery money over for another time, as I know not buying groceries is not sustainable, and I will need to re-stock sooner or later.

I ran out of some things I wasn’t expecting, such as baking powder and baking soda.  Thankfully, there was some in the camper, and I just continued cooking up a storm.


I soaked and cooked a large amount of pinto beans.  Most of them, I froze for later.  I made a small batch of chili from the rest.

Patsy was in a cooking mood.  She made gluten-free calzones one day, and tamale pie casserole the next.  Both recipes were very good, and used items we had on hand.  She got the recipes from Pinterest, and enjoyed looking at all the choices before she chose those recipes.  She picked wild blackberries from my sister’s house and made a crisp with them.  She also froze a few more for later.


I needed to cook a bunch of food for the college-age group at church.  They have a retreat this weekend.  The leader asked the ones of us who regularly cook for their Tuesday night dinner/Bible Study/worship time if we could each sign up for a meal, cook the food ahead, and then send it along so that all that had to be done on the retreat was warm food up or put the finishing touches on it.  It needed to be enough for 30 people.  I made 5   cake-sized breakfast casseroles with hash browns on the bottom, eggs plus 1/2 and 1/2 filling, with ham and cheese on top. To go with it, I made 3 loaves of zucchini bread and sent 5 cantaloupes for them to cut that morning.  Then, I made gluten-free zucchini muffins, gf brownies and 3 tiny gf spaghetti pies and sent small quantities for those who needed that option.  While I was at it, I made our family a spaghetti pie, some brownies, and some zucchini muffins.  It was a cooking marathon for sure! (I will be reimbursed for the food I bought for that project, except what I had on hand and donated.  I would have paid them to take the zucchini-ha, ha!  Seriously, I was glad to find a use for more of this bumper crop!)

My excellent helper, Jake, helped me shop for the college-age food.  He carefully checked the 2 dozen eggs I bought for the casseroles/baking.  He found a broken one, and then proceeded to march over and inform a near-by worker about this discovery, stressing how bad it was that they had a broken egg in their cooler, and so on.  The worker was very patient, and agreed that it was bad, and assured him it would be taken care of.  He had fun shopping with me, and later in the day, we discovered that he likes gf yellow zucchini muffins.  That was a pleasant surprise!  He ate them for 2 days straight.  I hope he likes them next week, too.  I’ll make more.  I’m not short on zucchini!!!   (I think I’ve picked at least 60 by now…)


Garden produce played a large part in my menu plans this week.  These cherry tomatoes were picked at my sister’s house.  She has a LOT!  I am getting a few from my bushes, and plenty of regular tomatoes.  I picked and served corn a couple of times.  The earliest variety of corn I planted is almost finished. Boy, was it good, but I only had space for a small square area of each planting.  The green beans are still putting out a handful every few days, but are almost finished.  I ended up freezing a few quarts, and we ate beans a couple of times.  I picked the last of the lettuce that was ready and am waiting for the next succession planting to get big enough to eat.  I have 2 more small plantings growing, and a third that just came up to take me into the fall. IMG_7605

There were enough cucumbers to make a few quarts of dill pickles, to add to the 2 batches of sweet pickles I’ve made so far.  Today, there should be more that need to be picked and processed.  I keep picking the dill heads off as I make pickles, and so far, there have been enough.  The plants keep making more smaller flowers, and so sometimes I have to put 2 small heads in a jar, rather than one big one, and I also add in some leaves if I think the flowers weren’t enough.  It’s working so far, but I may need to plant more dill next year.  Most of these are volunteers anyway, but the plants are getting hit pretty hard.  I’ve made an awful lot of those zucchini dill chips…..:)


The peach tree in our back yard has been providing us with plenty of peaches.  I made more jam and keep freezing more every few days.  We are eating sliced peaches frequently.



We spent yesterday up at my sister’s farm.  The menu was taco bar, watermelon, and birthday cupcakes for our friend, Harnet’s, birthday.  Everyone brought something, and we had a lovely time eating, visiting, and taking turns helping at the u-pick peach stand, as they were open for business!

Yesterday morning I ran out to the store very early, as I was down to about 1 cup of milk.  I ended up spending $30 on whole wheat bread, milk, celery, baking powder, baking soda, grapes, garlic, and a few other things.  I was very pleased that I only needed that many groceries after 2 weeks!  That garden is really paying off:). We will do the same this week as we did last week–just make a list as we run out of things while focusing on eating garden produce. I would not be surprised if I went back to the store in a few days to re-stock a few items, but I’m not sure which day.  I’m just setting the extra money aside and will go to Costco one of these days for a few things I usually get there.  I like to get 5-dozen packages of eggs there, and am getting low.  My sugar supply has also taken quite a hit with all the jam I’ve made, and I’m going to get 25 lbs. either there or at Cash and Carry.

It’s a busy time of year, as I get all of this produce stored away for winter, but I wouldn’t trade it, as I enjoy it so much!  I will, however, not turn down a nap if I can ever carve out the time for one:). We’ll see what today brings.

Zucchini Dill Chips


I made zucchini dill chips today with the 8 more zucchini I picked this morning.  I picked them very small, so that should take care of the problem for a few days:)

I checked out a book at the library Wednesday called “Pickled Pantry” by Andrea Chesman.  The recipe I used was on page 116.


I put about 4-1/2 + cups of zucchini slices in my big measuring cup and salted them according to the directions.  I used 1 Tablespoon salt, since it was about a double batch.  I let it sit about 5 hours.  There was a lot of water in the bottom of the container, and I dried the zucchini off as instructed.


Then, I packed the zucchini and other ingredients into the jars.  (dill seed, garlic, dill head) I used 1/2 pints.  I added red pepper flakes because we like things spicy–probably about 1/8 teaspoon per jar.  I left the 1/2 teaspoon of sugar out.  I’ve had sugar in my dills before and don’t care for it.  I also added mustard seed, as I like that in dills–about 1/8-1/4 teaspoon per jar.  Then, the vinegar and water and the pickle crisp.


I canned them according to the directions, which was 10 minutes.

It clearly states that you can make any dill recipe with zucchini.  Next time, I am going to make up my regular recipe of brine, minus the salt because you sprinkle that on the zucchini at first.  It seems like it would be easier to me.

We opened a jar already, even though it said to wait weeks.  I wanted to make more if they were good, and never make them again if not……They are amazing.  Even on the same day.  There is little crunch, a nice dill flavor, some heat from the red peppers….I’m making more for sure!   I got 5 small jars today.  The recipe is set up for small batches, which worked well for me.

There are lots of other good-looking recipes in the cookbook.  I’m not sure if I will make more or not, but this one was a winner.