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Food, Glorious Food

October 29th, 2020 at 08:22 pm

I notice that many of our blogs are food oriented lately. Maybe it is the cooler weather or perhaps we are all foodies at heart. 

I was going through the freezer and noticed I still had some slices of ham there. I pulled them out to defrost and decided to use them for two different meals. One is for tonight -- quiche. It's dark and damp here today and nothing makes me happier than to have a hot meal from the oven when the weather is like this. Thursdays are usually egg night at our house anyway. I went out and pulled some green onions and chopped them as well as some Sage and Oregano. I added bell pepper and some chopped mushrooms and will add cheese to the eggs when I whip them with Half and Half. DH likes this type of quiche and it should be nutritious and filling.

The rest of the ham is being cooked with beans for ... ta da...ham and beans. OK, not original, but something good. I had some chicken broth in the fridge and thought, I better use it. A number of years ago we went to an Amish fundraiser and the Amish lady made ham and beans and besides chopped onion, she chopped celery. We had never had it with celery and I've made it that way ever since. I figure another vegetable won't hurt. I plan to make skillet cornbread the day we have the ham and beans. A cheap, economical meal and using up something from the freezer.

I notice I have quite a selection of soups in the freezer so we will be partaking of those in the next few days as well. It sure will help save on the grocery bill and using up some of the stuff will also help with the packed freezer. 

Are you having trick or treating on Halloween? So far we are allowed to have it as long as we do not hand out candy up close. Our plan is to put a bowl on a box in the driveway and put candy in it and sit back aways so we can greet the kids and see their costumes. Hopefully no one will empty the bowl for just themselves. If they do, they do. 

Well, nice we can again blog. I feel like I missed out on your lives.

I don't know if it is food, but I'm getting ready to fix a cup of tea. Reusing a tea bag of course. Frugal is as frugal does! Smile

More Pantry Follies and Tackling Some Clutter

September 7th, 2020 at 09:11 pm

I'm sorry if all I seem to write about lately is the pantry, but it seems to be what takes up a lot of my thoughts and time.

Our kitchen has a small reach in pantry. I was thrilled when we moved here 22 years ago because my previous kitchen was tiny and no pantry. But like my dad said, you always grow into your space. The pantry only had three shelves and the shelves are held up by wood around the three sides and then the shelf sits on the edge of each. A few years ago I found a shelf at one of the hardware stores that would fit without having to be cut. It's not as deep as the others, but that's OK because it makes it easier to get things off the floor of the pantry.

I'm almost ashamed to admit that the pantry walls and shelves look bedraggled. The contact paper on two of the shelves was not nice. I couldn't get it off. The wood on the three original shelves was really dark. The shelves themselves seemed sturdy so I couldn't see paying to replace them. So, I ventured out into the garage to look for a can of paint I knew we had. A few years ago we painted the bathroom and when we had some work done in there, we needed some touch up paint. The paint store wouldn't let us buy a small amount or even just a pint. Nope, had to buy a whole gallon. We didn't need a gallon and I have been irritated ever since to think about that almost full gallon of paint sitting in the garage. Well, I put it to good use. I had a paint brush and a small roller and plenty of newspaper to catch the drips. It took two coats, but I think it looks far better.

I have been browsing Pinterest and I know there is no way my pantry will ever be Pinterest Pretty, but I did get some ideas on better organization. I hoped I would find some things on our weekly thrift store outing and I did! I bought 4 square soft sided containers, one small metal basket, one wire basket that attaches to a shelf, and one of those spice things that slides out and turns for $13 and tax. One place had everything half price and we spent $11 there and $2 for the wire basket. I had two baskets and a couple of other things that I washed and reused. I'm sort of proud of the pantry. I felt like I did decently for some elbow grease and very little money.

I made more applesauce last week as well as apple juice. I think I have maybe 5 wide mouth quart jars and 3 regular mouth quart jars and 5 half pints left from all the canning. I have a lot of stuff canned. So, my pie safe as well as pantry is about full and what a blessing that is!

I noticed the other day I had stupidly stuck a bunch of papers in a drawer. I made myself go through all the papers. Most of them I could recycle. I had a few that needed to get to the shred pile. I really need to stop doing that kind of stuff and just deal with these papers right away.

Pantry fill up

August 31st, 2020 at 08:00 pm

As some are doing, I've been canning things. DH has had a good tomato crop this year. I canned tomatoes, tomato juice, spaghetti sauce, and even made barbecue sauce. I also made tomato strawberry jam. I've frozen cut up bell peppers and canned green beans. Had to buy the green beans. I've made different jams and jellies. I have been drying herbs too.

My next plan of action is to make and can applesauce. I have some canned because we were running low when DH had a tooth issue and we ate a lot of soft foods. But, I'd like to get far more canned so we have it. Hopefully apples will start to decrease in price. Someone told me that it was silly for me to make applesauce when I can buy it. True, I can. But most of the applesauce available in our grocery stores if one reads the label, many of the apples are grown and processed in China. Consumer Reports had an article a couple of years back about how much arsenic the apples grown in China contain because many of the trees are planted in sewage. No thanks. I like to know what I'm eating. Not sure I'm saving a ton of money, but sometimes you spend to have peace of mind. We did go to a small Amish market and they had a quart of applesauce that contained apples, sugar, and cinnamon and it was $6.99 for a quart. So, I felt that I was paying a little less than that. I also make apple juice for DH. He likes having it with our Sunday brunch and again, I know what's in it.

Kroger had pasta on sale. It was ten for ten. I didn't need ten boxes of pasts, but I did buy three different kinds. I plan to put them in glass jars to help them keep longer.

As I've cooked chicken and turkey breasts this summer, I've saved the broth and canned and frozen it. I did some the same with some beef broth, but I don't have as much of it as I do chicken broth, but it is still nice to have jars of this stuff available.

I hope I'm wrong, but I think we may have another panic shopping as far as groceries. I don't can corn, so I have been buying a can here and there all summer to have some stockpiled.

We just got the dishwasher working. What a pain in the neck that was. Between not getting the one we wanted (clerk didn't realize it was on back order until November) then getting it installed and it not working, and then having to have an electrician come out. Fortunately the electrician was a smart one and he found the simple problem quickly and fixed it. We were talking about appliances and he said he had problems getting appliances and the person who installed our dishwasher said the same thing. The electrician said that even getting parts for breaker boxes for new houses is difficult. We heard last night on the news where a construction guy who graciously built a wheelchair ramp for a handicapped girl said lumber was hard to get as well. I hope these issues are soon resolved, but wonder if they will be anytime soon.

Anyway, it's sort of s secure feeling seeing the pantry filling up.

Mish Mash

August 24th, 2020 at 08:04 pm

This is just a mish mash of thoughts...

This spring when people were hoarding things and panic shopping, one big ticket item that people were desiring was a freezer. I thought, well, if they want freezers, then this summer canning supplies may be in short supply. I made sure I stocked up on lids (I have the jars and rings) so I would have what I needed for this year's canning. So, turn the calendar pages a few months and a friend asked me if I knew where she could get lids and rings (she found jars at a thrift store) because every store in our town was out. We were going to a bulk food store in an Amish community so I looked. They also were sold out of all canning supplies. Wonder what will be next!?! My prediction will be flour, sugar, butter, and other baking things. Unless things change drastically, my church will not be having its Christmas bazaar and a lot of people go to these to get cookies and sweet breads and pies so I think they will bake at home. I plan to pick up an extra bag of flour and sugar this week to have in case the rush starts.

I have slowly been working on my stock pile of things. Yesterday we picked herbs and I washed them and prepared them to let them dry in the sunroom. We also picked bell peppers and I washed and chopped them to freeze them in freezer bags to have to cook with. Other than applesauce my canning is done for the year. I'm waiting for apples to hopefully go on sale. I have picked up an extra can of this and that when we go to the grocery so I don't feel like I'm hoarding, just preparing.

My dishwasher died over a week ago. We went to purchase one and the sales person reassured me they could get the particular model that we picked out. A week goes by and I get a call saying they aren't delivering it because they can't get it. I call and try to talk to the sales person who conveniently isn't working when I call only to find the thing is on back order under November 1st. I was not happy. She said the warehouse had it! The new sales person asked if I would be willing to consider another model. I finally said yes. Hopefully it will be delivered today. I feel the person who did the original sale should have called and told me that instead of making me wait almost a week before finding out. Customer service is a joke most of the time. This is just one reason I hate shopping.

We hit the thrift stores last Friday. One had new boxes of stationery for $1.50. It is name brand stuff. I got a few boxes. I write letters and I like nice stationery, but I refuse to pay $7 and $8 a box. I felt I got a bargain.

Hope everyone has a great week and stay safe and healthy!

Groceries and the Garden

August 16th, 2020 at 09:01 pm

It's August and before we know it, fall will arrive.

At least I hope we have a fall. It seems like the past few years we had summer, a day or two of fall, and then wham, winter! Same thing with spring, winter which lasted like forever, a day or two of spring, then summer.

DH's garden is slowing down. For a few weeks we were getting tomatoes galore. It was amazing! I canned and canned. At first, DH said maybe I should wait, and I said wait for what? We have the tomatoes, we want them this winter, so I need to can. He gave away tomatoes too. Well, it seems that was the big influx and now things are slowing down. As long as we still have some for the table, I'm happy. I'm just glad I canned and made spaghetti sauce.

Today we dug up the first planting of onions. I have used quite a few already so there were not many still in the ground, but we dug those up, and planted the last of the onion sets. I know we won't get any big enough for slicing, but we will have green onions into the fall. Although DH works the soil and has put down top soil, it was still kind of clay like. I think we are going to have to invest in some sand to loosen the soil up. I put egg shells, tea bags, and coffee grounds throughout the year to help replenish some nutrients and DH uses Miracle Gro granular fertilizer. Anyway, that was hot, dirty work to get the soil ready to plant the rest of the onion sets.

I think I have spent more time outside this year than I have since we married. I don't "do" outside due to allergies, but with DH's garden, I felt I needed to help him. He planted more tomatoes this year. I also helped him when he was trimming bushes earlier this summer.

The last few weeks our grocery bills have really gone down. I have worked to make things that we get from the garden. For brunch today we had tomato-basil omelets since we had a bunch of cherry tomatoes and plenty of basil. Last night we had chicken stir fry. I used onions, and bell peppers from the garden and mushrooms I had in the fridge. I normally also have zucchini and celery, but we didn't have either, so I just added more pepper and onion. It was delicious and hubby was happy to eat the fruits of his labor, so to speak.

I thought I did pretty well as far as the chicken. I bought a package with two chicken breasts. We had one chicken breast sliced in half long ways for supper Friday night, Last night was chicken stir fry with rice. So, one package of chicken and two meals. It sure helps with the grocery budget.

I have started picking and cleaning herbs and putting them in the sun room to air dry. Hopefully I will get the bulk of this done before fall arrives instead of rushing to finish like I normally do.

DH's bell peppers are really starting to come on. I normally chop a bunch up and freeze them so I have them for soups and casseroles during the winter.

I thought I'd post what our menus were this past week:

Sunday brunch: scrambled eggs with onions, bell pepper, Avocado, mushrooms, and oregano, sliced tomatoes, fruit salad

Sunday supper: Italian wedding soup (from freezer), applesauce

Monday lunch: Salad with cherry tomatoes

Monday supper: tuna cakes, risotto, sliced tomatoes, fruit salad

Tuesday lunch: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, sliced tomatoes

Tuesday supper: Leftover beef roast from the previous week, mashed potatoes, carrots, sliced tomatoes, fruit salad.

Wednesday: sandwiches with thin sliced chicken and cheese, potato salad, sliced tomatoes, applesauce

Wednesday supper: spaghetti with homemade spaghetti sauce, green beans, cottage cheese, fruit salad

Thursday lunch: we went out!

Thursday supper: scrambled eggs, toast, sliced tomatoes, fruit salad

Friday lunch: Deli meat sandwiches, sliced tomatoes

Friday supper: thinly sliced chicken breast floured and seasoned and browned in olive oil, mashed potatoes, bell pepper, sliced tomatoes, peaches for dessert

Saturday brunch: we went out to a local restaurant

Saturday supper: chicken stir fry with rice, sliced tomatoes, fruit salad.

Food Follies

August 9th, 2020 at 06:40 pm

Our pantry is getting pretty full. No complaints either! DH's tomatoes have really been producing, but have sort of slowed down in the past week. We had a few days of cooler temps and I think the plants took a break. But that was fine. I started canning a few weeks ago when things were going hot and heavy and I think I have more then enough tomatoes and spaghetti sauce made for the winter. What a blessing that is!

Our neighbors shared some of their cucumbers so I'm going to make a few jars of sweet pickles and then give them some. It's nice when there are good neighbors, not just ones that share, but just nice people who realize that there is something about being kind to each other. Last winter I gave them some jars of green beans and spaghetti sauce and asked they return the jars and rings. They did. We've been passing things back and forth ever since -- baked goods, vegetables, and it's really nice.

I have a friend who lives a couple states away and she said she found a salsa recipe that is a little beyond what she considered the norm: it also incorporates cucumbers. I had never heard of that. But, I Googled it, and there are a couple of recipes like that. It's nice to learn something new. I don't make salsa, so I don't think I'll try it, but nevertheless, I learned something.

My state, Illinois, seems to continue to have large numbers of the virus cases, so I don't look for our church to be able to have our church bazaar the first Saturday in December. It breaks my heart. We bake cookies and sell them by the pound as well as other sweet treats. I guess I'll bake a lot of stuff this year and give as gifts.

I was discussing with a friend some of the meals I've made this week and she was teasing me about my using the Crockpot so much. I guess I really do. I used it three times this week. Twice because I would be canning and it was easier to just have supper in the cooker than to have to stop everything and take things off the stove to cook supper. I have read some of the blogs where people really like their Instapots. I haven't succumbed to one yet. But, I can see the draw.

Since we have been eating a lot of fresh foods from the garden, our grocery bills haven't been as high as they were in the past. That's a nice relief. We normally spend over $100 each week and the past three I've spent less than $60.

Tomatoes and Teeth

August 2nd, 2020 at 08:11 pm

No crystal ball needed here...I can see more tomato canning in my future!

Not that I mind. It sort of gives me a little bit of security knowing I am using some of our garden to provide for us this winter. I also use some of our canning as presents at Christmas. Fortunately I have some friends who like home grown, home canned produce. After awhile, what do you honestly give to people who basically buy what they want? Especially when they offer to buy some of your canned goods from you? I would never accept money, so I often wrap up some for Christmas and they are happy and so am I.

DH has given away tomatoes to 6 different families just this week. He wound up planting more than he usually does. Due to our shelter at home early this spring, he prepared his garden a little earlier and some of his plants were nipped by frost although we covered them. He then bought some others to make sure the original ones were to be replaced, except they did OK once he cut away some of the nipped parts. He planted the new ones too and I guess we are in tomato heaven!

July was a very expensive month for us with DH's tooth problems. Two regular dental appointments to figure out which tooth was the problem and what to do, a root canal, a temporary crown, and soon to be permanent crown. I have already told DH he may be crowned, but I am not practicing my curtsey nor am I referring to him as "his royal highness. " OK, a bit of levity there, sorry! I also had my regular check up as did DH so our young dentist should be getting some extra help with her school loans from us!

I worry as I see our Covid cases starting to rise again in Illinois. We wear masks everywhere. My hands are so dry from washing them so much and using hand sanitizer when we are out. I hope the cases will plateau, but then, they are testing more people, so I'm sure there will be more cases as more are tested. Some friends who were sick in January and February with respiratory things now wonder if they had been some of the first to have had the virus. We can pray that things will soon get better.

Homemade, home grown, home canned are not free

July 27th, 2020 at 09:26 pm

I apologize in advance for this rant. I'm tired and hot and frustrated.

I enjoy either crocheting, loom knitting, or doing embroidery. Many of the items I make take time and materials. Materials that are not cheap. I try to make individual gifts for people that I think might like them. I also work on hats and scarves and dish cloths for my church's knitting group that we donate to area nonprofits.

My husband took up vegetable gardening late in life. He has always loved gardening, but never thought he could grow vegetables. I suggested he start with a couple of tomato plants, then he would get onions, then bell peppers, and herbs. We don't grow our own from seeds, so most of the stuff we have to buy as plants or in the case of onion sets. The only thing we do get from year to year is garlic; a friend gave us some starts a few years ago and when we pick it, I save enough back to plant more. As many of you know, a garden is not free food. You buy the seeds or plants, you spend a lot of time working the soil, you fertilize and water and weed. You worry about too much sun, too little sun, too much rain, too little rain, too much wind, hail, and varmints eating your stuff. It's a lot of industry, but for some, it is worth it.

I started canning tomatoes a few years ago because DH got a good crop. I had to buy jars, rings, lids, as well as the canning supplies. As DH has started planting more plants, I had to buy more supplies. Granted, I haven't bought many new jars as far as quarts and pints because I have really stocked up on them, but I do have quite a bit of money invested because I can a lot of things besides tomatoes.

I am absolutely shocked when someone claims that the tomatoes I canned were free. I asked what do you mean, free? He said that they came from your garden. Yeah, the garden DH spent lots of time working on not to mention the water, fertilizer as well as tomato cages and the cost of the plants themselves. I said canning them wasn't free either, and it was hot, messy work. It means bleaching my sink before I start, bleaching it after, and washing and sterilizing jars that I have washed before, but you can't be too careful. Then this person whom I had stupidly given some jelly I made said well, you didn't spend much on the jelly. I said, have you priced what goes into jelly. He had no idea. And I had to beg this person to return my jars because he didn't think they cost that much and felt he could just pitch them!

DH planted lavender and I made some jelly. Not a ton, but I wanted to try the recipe. One gal who has culinary training and is always throwing in my face she's a chef said she'd take a jar off my hands. I wasn't offering her any. I was making conversation that I had tried a new recipe.

Last year I canned so much, I ran out of room for storing, so I emptied shelves and stacked up dishes and stuff to put the stuff away. I can't say we would have had the best and most varied diet, but when the grocery stores had empty shelves, we had plenty of applesauce, green beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken broth, and jellies.

So, I wonder why people think homemade, home grown, or home canned are free?

Happy Friday!

July 10th, 2020 at 09:30 pm

The week is starting to wind down. DH is out in the yard. He's mowing since it is a tad bit cooler and less humid. We had horrible heat and humidity last weekend and most of this week. He spent some time watering his garden before the mowing and we had a few tomatoes to pick! Most were cherry, but homegrown is homegrown, right?

There's something gratifying about going to the garden and getting a few things to use. I pulled up some onions that I'm going to use for a meal. I will be getting some herbs to add the spaghetti sauce tonight. It's my canned sauce, but I think fresh Basil tends to add to it although when I made it, I had cooked it with Basil.

Yesterday the looming group church met for the first time in months. There was a small group, we sat at a table each so it was like more like ten feet apart, we wore masks, used hand sanitizer before we sat down and used it again on the way out. The church hired a lady to come in and sanitizer the tables and chairs for every group that uses the room. But, it was so fun to catch up and visit with people. Many have been working on hats and scarves and they brought them. Our totals are as follows:

Hats: 585
Scarves: 223
Baby hats: 54

I don't think we will make as many hats this year as we did last year, but we aren't in a contest nor are we trying to break records. Another church had brought us a huge amount of dish cloth cotton so two of us have been making dish cloths. We are going to donate the lot to a local food pantry to put in their Christmas baskets. This year I think we will have enough for every basket to get one. I know it's not a big thing, but I would think if I were on the receiving end, it would be nice to get a little surprise like that.

DH has had some tooth problems, so we are trying to have foods that don't aggravate his tooth. Lots of soft stuff. Glad I canned applesauce and tomato sauce last year. I know any money we are saving on food now will be more than taken and then some as he has a root canal and a crown, but that's why we save on other things.

I went to the Chobani site and did the "contact us" and asked for coupons. They are very generous with coupons and encourage me to write in each month. Talk about wanting to keep customer loyalty.

It's been great that our library has opened up. Not entirely, but I can still go and pick out books. I missed reading when the library was closed. I hate to buy books for my personal reading. I tend to read a lot and don't want to buy books that I will only read once. I finished book #58 last night.

We went to some thrift stores. I found a box of nice greeting cards for next to nothing. They were older, but that is fine. Made in the U.S.A. Yay!

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend. DH is almost done with the yard and I have the biggest share of the house cleaned. A good way to start the weekend off!