A Gift of Onions to Preserve


Today, we were able to add onions to our freezer, and to our bucket where we keep fresh onions.  The easiest way to preserve onions is to dry them and keep them in a cool, dry place, so that’s what we do.  I was down to 3 onions from the 25 lbs Rob picked up a few months ago, so I was delighted when he, again, brought home the….onions!

We were shopping after church for some food we needed for the week ahead, and he went out to put the groceries in the car while I redeemed some Safeway Monopoly coupons.  (Amazingly, we actually won $5!!!). A total stranger approached him in the parking lot and confided that he had bought a huge bag of onions, and had already taken out the ones he wanted.  Some were going soft, he said, but there were lots of good ones.  Did Rob want them?  You bet!  He happily accepted them.  There had to be 15 pounds or more still left in that bag!

Later, once home, he sorted them.  All of the best ones, he put in the bucket we keep onions in.  We store them in the garage, where it is much cooler than the rest of the house.  Even so, at this time of year, they want to sprout and grow, so I have to keep an eye on them.

A few he threw directly into the garden, where he will till them in for compost when it dries out because they were over the hill.

There was a sizable pile left that were starting to “go.”  He peeled them, and trimmed away all the soft/brown/bad spots.  He then chopped all the good parts and pieces into small chunks and we put them in quart-sized ziplock bags.  We did not over-fill the bags so each bag ended up as a flat, thin layer, and we laid all the bags out flat inside of a super large bag.  There are 5 or 6 small bags in the big one.  We did this so that they won’t get lost in the freezer and so that a piece of the desired size can be easily broken off of the frozen chunk for quick meal prep.  Then they were popped into the chest freezer in the shop, and they will freeze flat.

I will use the fresh ones as much as possible, and then freeze more of those if they start going bad quickly.  When I’m in a hurry, or run out of fresh ones, I now have frozen ones to use in a pinch.  What a totally unexpected blessing!  I mean…we don’t even know the man that gave Rob the onions.   I’m amazed at how God is providing for us this month.  We are very thankful!



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


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.


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.


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



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


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.


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.


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.


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


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!


All done for this year!


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.


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.



Canning Crab


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:)


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.



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.


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.



Saving Money, Weekly Update and a Garden Update–Aug. 27, 2017


We did it!!!!   We grew a cantaloupe, and with lots of on-line advice, picked it and ate it all!  You have no idea what an accomplishment that is, unless you live in our part of Oregon, or somewhere with a similar climate. It was not the biggest, or even the best tasting watermelon I’ve ever eaten, but certainly not the smallest or worst, either!  We really enjoyed eating it on the hot evenings this past week–on a LOT of levels:)  There is another one that looks like it may ripen, especially if the weather continues at this hot temperature and 3 more that are very “iffy.”


We got cantaloupe, too.


The raspberries are starting to ripen and I’ve picked about a quart so far over the last few days.  I’m getting a few strawberries each day, as well.  I pop all these little bits into baggies and put them into the freezer, adding to them each day.  When a baggie is full, I transfer it to the shop freezer and start another one.  I have a jumbo, giant zip-top bag and that corrals them so they don’t get lost in the freezer.


We picked 3 boxes of Improved Elberta peaches from my sister’s farm.  I will start canning in the morning.  It’s scary how fast they ripened, but good, because I’m getting ready to move on to other projects.  I still have apples to make into applesauce.  While we were up there, she loaded me up with corn from the garden, which we all raved over at family Sunday dinner today.  We also picked a tray of wild blackberries and they are in the freezer now.


The next batch of lettuce, snow peas, basil and cilantro are growing nicely.  The sticks mark where I planted spinach, boc choi, more lettuce (bibb and mixed) and beets.  The spinach that I planted before did not germinate, except 3 or 4, so I figured it was too hot for it.  I’m still getting broccoli from the bushes on the left, lots of tomatoes, tons of zucchini and cucumbers and beans of all sorts.



The flowers (and weeds) continue to grow and bloom!


We did many things this week besides garden, gather food and preserve food.  Of course, the eclipse was the most awesome.  We watched in the comfort of our back yard, and were amazed, delighted and mostly awed at the sight.


Our day at the beach, Wednesday, inspired awe as well.


The clouds were so beautiful.


But, for Rob and I, not much beats the Oregon Coast.


We enjoyed Jake’s company even more than usual this week.  His house is being painted on the inside, and the kids are being farmed out to the aunties.  I got one, Aunt Janet got 3,…..hmmmmmm.  Not sure I’m being treated fairly, but I’ll let her have more than me just this once!!


Jake was invited to his friend’s birthday party.  Now, this was the most frugal party I’ve ever been too, hands down, and the kids had a ball.  The mom invited friends and family members to a park with a large structure.  She specified no presents, but Jake did take his little friend the large ring she is wearing, since he got it as one of his library prizes and he loves her very much, and a book he enjoys that his mom said he could give her.  It started at 10, and kids trickled in.  At about noon, Jake confided that he was getting very tired.  So, I asked the mom what the time frame was, and she said there was none.  It was very open-ended and we should just leave whenever Jake was done playing.  So, he said his good-bye’s and we left.  The girl was beaming from ear to ear because so many of her friends had come to her birthday party, and I felt the party was a huge success.  The most expensive part of the party was the Happy Meal I got Jake during the hour we were killing between the end of the party and picking up Ja’Ana from an activity she was at, and that was cheap compared to driving all the way home and back.   One of the other kids from the party was there, as well, so Jake played with him a whole bunch, too.  What a great day for him.  Now when he goes back to school, he will have already started to re-connect with his friends.


I made lots of food at home–casserole, veggies of all sorts, and Rob smoked a turkey on the BBQ, plus more.


Food Preservation and a Day Off–August 25, 2017


All day, almost every day, food is being canned and frozen around here.  It’s very exciting to see the cupboard filling up with rows of colorful jars.

The pears are almost all used.  I’ve canned 35 quarts, used many for fruit cocktail and have a batch of pear butter in the crock pot right now.


Jake and Patsy loved helping with grinding the pears for pear butter.  My recipe is very simple.  Grind the pears, add some sugar to taste, and cook down until it is like jam.  I was so tired last night, I just filled the crock pot and let it cook all night, but it needs to be much thicker.  I will probably use the microwave to cook it down some more today.


Rob found a dented gallon of pineapple at Cash and Carry for around $2.50, so I canned it up in small jars to be more usable for pizzas, etc.


I froze yet another tray of peaches from our tree.  They are an odd peach.  Do you notice the green color on the edge of some of the pieces?  Also, when they look really ripe, they are rotten.  So, I’ve been having to work them up when they look a little green to me.  They taste ok, though, and Ja’Ana especially loves peach smoothies and peach crisp, so I’m freezing them, tray after tray.  After they freeze, I put them into baggies.  This way, we can get the frozen pieces out easily to make smoothies.


The beans are still prolific.   I froze another 7 quarts last night.


You can only eat so many in a week!!   I think I will be serving beans yet again at family Sunday dinner:)   I think the green ones are about finished and the yellow ones are winding down.  The purple ones are pole beans and will continue until frost, which is great.  I will welcome beans in reasonable quantities until frost.

I did get a couple of batches of applesauce done, but there are a lot of apples left to process.

On Wednesday, we took the day off and went down to the beach.  We went to Newport, Oregon.  Rob wanted to try surf fishing for perch.  He did not catch anything, but we had a great day.



It was pretty cold and foggy when we got there, compared to the hot temperatures we’ve had in the valley this summer.  It felt great!


It didn’t stop these 2 from digging for hours.


Or from trying to dam up the little river.  Or  from making sand castles with water in the moat.


The sun broke through the clouds and it turned out to be a very pleasant day.  We had a bunch of food in the car, and munched away all day.  On the way home, we grabbed some ice cream and fries from Dairy Queen….This crew sure loves their ice cream and fries!!


In the afternoon, we visited the Mark Hatfield Marine Science Center.  We always enjoy it there, and they had changed quite a few exhibits from the last time we were there, so that was nice.


After that, we went down to the docks and bought an albacore tuna from a fishing boat.  The young man working there cut it up for us and we also kept the carcass.  Rob plans to go crabbing soon, so he cut it up and froze it for bait.  Today, I canned the tuna.  I could have frozen it, then canned it later, but I wanted to get it in the jars right away this time.



I cut it up, put it into the short, round 1/2 pint jars I keep for this purpose, added 1/2 teaspoon salt and a small square of the belly fat, then pressure canned it for 100 minutes.  To translate this further–that means someone gets to sit on a chair for 1 hour and 40 minutes, making sure the pressure canner stays at the correct pressure. We were fighting for the job!  Since Rob was cleaning the shop all day, he was a ready and willing volunteer for this job and finished up the processing time around 6.  Then, it needed to cool until the pressure came down.   I can put 3 layers of these jars in my tall canner, and ended up with 22 small jars and 1 pint.  We ate the additional pint that would not go in.

So far, it’s been a very productive week!

August, 2017, $100 Grocery Challenge and Menu Plan, Part 2


The week went very well for us.  Our garden continues to produce far more food than I can feed to the family.  What a blessing!  I froze the extra bits we could not eat, such as 3 small packages of broccoli, 7 pints of beans, a handful of strawberries, a tray of peaches, etc.  So, I had Rob stop by and get milk.  He got 4 gallons for $10, and that should take us through the end of the month, hopefully.  I also had him get coffee pods because this is a good time to stock up on something like that–when we don’t need the money for the basics.  They were $19.  The other items he bought were a 2-lb brick of cheese for $4.99 and a box of plain tea for $2.  Cheese will keep for a long, long time, and that’s an excellent price for Bandon (which is owned by and tastes like Tillamook.)  So, that’s a grand total of $36, leaving us with $17 to use until the end of the month on food for meals.

I’m still on a food preservation whirlwind, and Rob was able to u-pick about $100 lbs of apples for around 50c/lb., and excellent price around here.  He took Jake and they had a good time as long as Jake could dodge the bees.  He hates them.  It all worked out and they came home with 2 huge boxes of apples.  HUGE!  I’m letting them ripen up and will start making applesauce soon.  I got 21 quarts of pears canned today, and have finished with the fruit cocktail as of last night.  I have more pears to do tomorrow, but they are getting much lower in the boxes.  I enjoy canning, so it’s not a burden and I have the day saved for that purpose.  Thank goodness for that 50 pound bag of sugar Rob got last spring.  It’s still holding out!


The sweet pickles are coming along.  By tomorrow night, they will be ready to can.  Each morning and night, I boil something and pour over the cucumbers.  You are supposed to use tiny, whole cukes, but chunks work fine.

Of course, the eclipse keep us occupied during my canning session today!



My phone camera did not take a good picture of the eclipse, even with the special glasses held up to the camera lens.  What an amazing sight, I must say!  Our backyard was in the prime viewing area, so we stayed home and did jobs, took a peek, worked on canning some more, took a peek, etc.  It was quite creepy, but amazing, when it became cold and dark during the middle of the morning.  Quite a lot more of the shop organization project got worked on as well, today, as well as some menu planning.  IMG_5457

Here’s what we came up with:


Monday:  Lunch: Sandwiches and I had salad.  Dinner:  Pizza-Noodle Casserole, green beans and coleslaw.  I also found some cookies in the freezer, which I pulled out and we are eating.

8-12 ounces noodles, boiled according to package directions (mine were rice rotini, but any would work) My box was a 12 oz box, but a small amount had been used previously.

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

1-15 oz can tomato sauce or 2-8 oz cans

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Pizza toppings:  I used some pepperoni from the depths of the freezer, canned mushrooms and olives, 1/2 of a pepper that was suffering  from sunburn in the garden, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, and a couple of diced tomatoes from the garden, which I added after it was cooked.

Pour the cooked and drained noodles into a flat baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray–mine was around 8″ x 11″.  Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on the noodles and stir to coat them. Pour the tomato sauce on top of the noodle mixture, then sprinkle with the Italian seasoning.  Sprinkle the 1 cup of mozzarella on top.  Then top with pizza toppings of your choice.  Bake at 350 degrees for around 30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and it is warm.  It doesn’t take long because the noodles are already warm.  If you put it in the fridge all day, then bake, it will take about 1 hour.

The beans were from the garden and the cabbage was from my sister’s garden.

Tuesday:  Chicken soup.  I never made it last week.  Instead, I made ham and bean soup when the ham bone fell out of the freezer onto my toes one too many times:)  There is also some beef thawed out that Rob can barbecue.  We can eat the soup for lunch and the beef for dinner, or save the beef for sandwiches or salads for the next few days.  I have potatoes, beans, salad, etc. to go with the beef whenever we eat it.

Wednesday:  Picnic lunch.  We plan to go fishing.  I’m not sure about dinner.  We may buy some if it gets too late.

Thursday:  Sloppy Joes.  I have hamburger and buns in the freezer.  1/2 the package will be for Thursday, 1/2 for burgers on Friday.  We can have salad from the garden, beans, tomatoes, cukes, etc. as wanted.

Friday:  Hamburgers with pickles, tomatoes and lettuce from garden.  Maybe French fries.

Saturday:  Leftovers.  If there aren’t enough, I’ll cook something else from the garden or freezer.

Sunday:  Family Sunday Dinner at our house:  We still have several turkeys lurking in our chest freezer.  They’ve been there for a while, so we plan to pull one out and have Rob smoke it on the barbecue.  He will do this on Saturday, and we will serve it Sunday.  We will serve garden veggies with it, according to what is ripe that day.

Last Sunday, we ended up having the bbq that was planned and Rob also grilled some potato chunks with olive oil and spices (like rosemary).  He did them in foil.  They were from the garden and I purposely used up all the smaller ones from what I dug up a couple of days ago.  I made a rice salad with green onions and parsley from the garden, along with celery, dried cranberries and a dressing with olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and another thing or two that slip my mind at the moment. It was so good.   I sauted  green beans with garlic and coleslaw from the cabbages my sister gave me.  I made a box of brownies from a mix I had been given from my sister, since she can’t bake this summer due to a remodel, and made lemonade and iced tea.  My aunt brought seltzers to share.

It should be easy to finish out the month on budget,  and I should have enough to get 1/2 and 1/2, and a few other things I think we will run out of.  $17 is really quite a lot since I have so much produce to eat.





Preserving Food and Garden Update–Aug. 18, 2017


I’ve been picking produce daily in the garden since I returned home from Mexico.  Besides the peaches, cucumbers, snow peas, yellow, purple and green beans and strawberries you see here, I have also harvested lettuce, tomatoes, raspberries and potatoes.


All of the potatoes in the buckets pictured above were grown from some volunteer potato plants that grew in the compost heap.  I transplanted them into a small row and was amazed by the amount that we dug today–I’m guessing between 15-20 lbs.

I spent some time today pulling up lettuce that had gone to seed, and hoeing out purslane.  I have a ways to go.


This will be nicely weeded basil, snow peas and lettuce by tomorrow night, hopefully.

I did preserve quite a bit of food this week, as well.



I asked for some bean SWISHERS.  That would be people who would swish the beans around in the cold water after I blanched them for 3 minutes so they could cool down before I froze them.  I loved that job when I was little, so wanted to share the joy with Jake.  Soon there were 3 pieces of equipment in the sink, and I asked Jake what in the world he was doing to the beans.  “SQUISHING THEM, AUNTIE” he replied.  I had a good laugh and then explained what I needed and he moved on with the process.  Soon, I found this:


And a little later…this…’


But we finally finished and everyone had fun!


I made a batch of fruit cocktail using the pears my sister gave me, peaches from our tree, pineapple, maraschino cherries and grapes Rob bought (the grapes were only 99c/lb and the others were in bulk from Cash and Carry).



It comes out so pretty that way!  Of course, before I could can in these jars I always use for fruit cocktail, we had to FIND the jars upstairs in the shop attic.  That took a while, but we prevailed.  These jars hold about 3 cups and it is the right amount for us.  Because fruit cocktail is a lot of work to make, we only have it occasionally and I don’t want to waste a bite.  I have enough ingredients for another batch, and hopefully the pears will ripen up enough for me to do that tomorrow.  I got 13 today and want more.


I got 5 jars of tomatoes, as well, and none too soon, since I used the last quart of tomato pieces I can find, yesterday.  I still have pints, but why waste lids by opening 2, if I need a quart?  So, I do both quarts and pints.

I have lots more produce to pick and process, as well as boxes of fruit ripening on my porch.  I love this time of year as the canned jars start filling the cupboard.  I’ll be at it again in the morning.