Stocking the Freezer

I am finally feeling like I am caught up to my summer!  I am starting to get some items in the freezer and canned up in preparation for next school year.

This weekend I pulled the sour dough starter out of the refrigerator and made a batch of loaf bread and a double batch of bagels.   I want to try and get a couple of batches of pizza dough made this week as well.    I have probably 5 loaves already in the freezer and this is one of 5 or so batches of bagels.   I would like to get another 5 batches of bagels in the freezers along with another 5 loaves but time will tell if that is possible. I don’t see that happening this week as we have the County swim meet on Friday and Saturday, everyone has eye appointments on Wednesday, I have 2 doctor appointments and my mom has at least 1 this week. Next week is also busy as our church is hosting VBS with everyone volunteering to work in the evenings.

For dinner on Saturday, I was able to pull out and make the remaining steaks from the cow we purchased two years ago. Steak is a treat and always appreciated. When looking for the steaks, I found 16 pounds of hamburger from our previous cow as well. I let it unthaw for 2 days before canning 8 pounds/ pint jars for future use and made the remaining 8 pounds into taco meat. I used 1 pound to make taco rice bowls for dinner this evening and will have 8 easy and quick meals in the freezer as well. I would typically the taco meat but I am out of pint size jars and instead of purchasing I put in the freezer for now.

That brings my current total up to 20 meals!  This is 1/5 of my goal but this summer it just feels awesome to get things accomplished!

I am also working on not wasting food by repurposing leftovers!   I currently have 2 jars of spaghetti sauce in the refrigerator, I want to wait until I have at least jars to water bath can at a time. My goal for the summer was to get 52 jars canned. I am seriously doubting this but I will do what I can and see what happens!

5 Things Friday

  1. Things have not slowed down the first week of July. I ended up attending 3 additional medical appointments with my mother.  But I have started to catch up and feel like although I don’t have alot of free time, I am making progress on my summer goals and projects.
  2. The floor has been finished and I will have everything back in place by Saturday.  I am still in negotiation with Home Depot, so I am reserving the story and pictures until everything is settled.
  3. I was able to make progress on preparing meals ahead.  I made a chicken spinach lasagna and 2 million Dollar Spaghetti Pies in those are in the freezer.
  4. Garden update- My garden has been struggling. The squash bug won their battle and I ended up pulling up, spraying with bug spray, adding a couple new bags of soil and replanted both the squash and zucchini. We attempted to go organic but that was not successful. We are starting to get some tomatoes but they are not the prettiest. I also feel like I am throwing out just as many as we pick.  I did make my first full batch of spaghetti. My goal is to can 52 quarts of spaghetti sauce so still a long way to go.
  5. The weather has been so hot!  We reached 100 degrees today!

Monday Menu Post

This weekend, we cooked and celebrated Kendall’s birthday!  The month of June was very busy and I don’t feel like I was able to even start with preservation and preparation for next school year. But that is going to change this week!  I am back on track with meal planning and preparation.

Breakfast- Saturday- Bacon, sausage and pancakes,   Sunday-Cracker Barrel.  Monday- Tuesday, Wednesday, – find it (breakfast burritos, muffins, oatmeal, omelets cereal and milk, French toast sticks, sausage, pop-tarts, and eggs). Thursday- my plan is to make Dutch Boy pancakes. Friday- Baked oatmeal with hopefully preparation of at least 12 dry mixes.
Lunch- Saturday-Chicken salad and spinach dip.   Sunday- Left-over pizza  Monday- left-overs Tuesday, -Wednesday, Thursday- Leftovers or wraps
Dinner- Saturday-Pizza from Dominos Sunday-Kendall’s party Monday- Red Robin for Kendall’s birthday.      Tuesday-Pasta Salad (left-over) Wednesday-Baked Spaghetti with one in the freezer   Thursday- 4th of July – probably hamburgers and hot dogs  Friday- Left-over baked ziti.

Gardening Update

As you probably realize I got very little behind last week.  So my plan for this week is to catch up to the point that I am only spending about 15 minutes a day in the garden.  The first thing I wanted to tackle was the blue berries.

I ended up spending over an hour between harvesting and weeding the beds this morning (Monday).  I was rewarded with

I have frozen most of these. But the kids told me they have also really been enjoying eating them fresh off the bushes.

Every Bit Challenge
1. Half a gallon of blueberries frozen.
2  One extra meal in the freezer for next year. I also made two additional meals for this week as well.
3. I was able to make some sautéed zucchini and squash for dinner as well as I added 3 more bags of squash casserole mix to the freezer.

Not a lot but hey EVERY BIT COUNTS!


Sunday Garden Update

I had actually debated even doing an update this week, but my excitement changed my mind. We have blueberries!  And I mean I have frozen at over a pint, and we still have some for fresh eating!

In the ugggh department, we are in a battle with the squash bugs already!  I have killed at least 10 and we have thrown every single egg I could find into the chickens,   The other thing we are doing to coffee water.

I spent some time pruning tomatoes, and we are starting to see some small tomatoes. I am so very hopeful for a huge tomato harvest this year.  The pepper plants are growing and we have eaten the one and only pepper we have. I am hoping for lots more in the coming weeks.  We have green bean plants in three separate locations with several blossoms. The cucumber plants are different. Some are growing, others just appear to have stopped. I am losing hope but will continue to wait. .

Every Bit Counts Challenge
Last week was really busy and I have been struggling just to keep up.  But I was able to add a couple of things.
I cooked and froze 3 bags for squash casseroles.
I made and canned a couple of pints of strawberry syrup.
We have at least 4 gallon bags of frozen strawberries.
1 pint of frozen blueberries.

Thursday Thoughts

One of the big things happening this summer is home repair and renovation. Because I am available during the day to watch and move things, it makes sense for most of this to occur in the summer. We started a line of credit this Spring to help make this easier and more efficient.   So far we have painted the hall bathroom and hallway and installed a new shower rod. We have purchased a new cabinet and faucet with a plan to install this week.  A new toilet will be installed when the floor is replaced.  The floor in the hall, dining room, kitchen and laundry room is scheduled to be replaced on June 18th.  The goal is to repaint the kitchen and dining room prior to the flooring just for convenience sake.  We already have the paint for this but I don’t think it will happen this weekend. We also have received a quote to have our shower room fixed and expanded. This is likely going to occur in June as well. We will be having our old deck replaced as well.   We have scheduled to have the septic tank pumped on June 20th.  The next item on the list is to replace the front door.   I am not sure if there is anything else we will tackle as this is most of our “dream” items.  Except for a “garage” on the front.

I have been focused on slowly starting to build back up our freezers and pantries. I am trying to complete one item a day.  Sunday- frozen bananas (another 3#), Monday- beef broth (15 quarts and 3 pints), Tuesday and Wednesday- survived life.  My goal is to get a gallon or more of strawberries frozen tonight.
We are starting to get some squash from the garden as well. It is always a good side dish but I would also like to get some bags of squash casserole in the freezer or better, yet I will have to see if I can them!
The summer count down is officially 11 days but I have 9 workdays left!

Garden Update

We have reached the point of the summer garden that is both scary and nice. Everything has sprouted and is growing well for the most part.  So, we wait until we started getting fruit.  It is scary because who knows what harvest we will get.  But I am hopeful that we will get a huge harvest.

Overview of the entire garden from the back!

We have two beds of cantaloupes and one bed of watermelon. They are growing but it seems so slow to me.

We have lots of squash they are very small but tasty.

Zucchini is growing and we have one zucchini growing!

Tomatoes are growing with a couple of blossoms but no fruit yet.

This bed needs something. I am going to try fertilizer this week The plants are hanging on just barely.

We do have some wild flowers growing!

Big Batch Cooking- Hamburger

We were able to pick up the whole cow that I had ordered on Friday evening. This was 350 pounds of meat at $8.00 a pound.  It filled our entire chest freezer!  The plan was to spend Saturday, processing as much of this meat as possible.

I am proud and grateful to say that we have accomplished this task, with the following results:
21# of canned shelf stable ground beef. These are in pint jars so approximately 1# per jar.
4 meals of Sloppy Joes canned in addition to our lunch for Saturday as well.
30 Salisbury steaks cooked and vacuum sealed in the freezer.
30 Cheddar Bacon Hamburger patties
38 Regular plain Hamburger patties!

For a total of 123 meal proteins ready for use!

Matt even started the day by cooking a big batch of French toast that we were able to freeze left-overs for future breakfast!

I am exhausted but happy with the results!

Five Things Friday

1. I officially have 3 weeks left of work. However, this is my last 5-day week as I have other things happening that require time away from work during these last three weeks.
2. Every Bit Counts- as school winds down, I am starting to work toward a total restock of our pantries and freezer.  This week, I decided to attempt one item a day.  Tuesday- gallon of Strawberries, Wednesday- 10# of mashed potatoes Thursday- 3 # of bananas frozen for smoothies.
3. We are planning to pick up our cow tomorrow.  It is 350# of meat. I am hoping to get around 100# processed this weekend.  I will keep you posted.
4. May is the most expensive month for us. We have car insurance, pool fees on top of end of the year expenses.  We also added Kendall’s birthday party to this year. I am happy to say. We have survived the month and covered all the expenses.
5. Chicken Drama- Wednesday this week, the door did not open. Lily was going to feed at 2pm and let them out.  We have been monitoring and it has not missed again so who knows what is up.   Then on Thursday evening, a dog that we have not seen before was at the chicken coop and growling at the back corner. “Lucky” the rooster managed to get all the hens in the coop before anything went wrong.  We are also struggling with keeping the coop dry with all the excess rain we have been having.


Sunday Garden Update

Warning 20 pictures to view!

We have been enjoying a couple or 5 snap peas on a daily basis! This are so good and tender that they never last long!

Our squash plants are alive and thriving!  We were able to use these three small but delicious squash as part of our dinner.  I did buy these starts and will plan to seed save for next year!

These are zucchini plants they don’t have blossoms yet, but they are beautiful.

We have approximately 100 green bean plants that are at different stages but are looking great.

Peppers are looking great with small peppers on the one bell pepper plant I purchased!  The pimento plants also have a small start.  Most of our pepper starts have survived and hopefully will get larger soon.

The tomatoes are now way over the beds in just a week. The Cherokee purple and roma tomato have blooms!

This is our fail.  Both the cherry tomato plant and the pepper plant that I put in this bed are basically dead. I purchased another cherry tomato plant on Saturday so I hope it will survive!

The cucumbers are at very different stages but they are growing and green!

We did add mulch to our blueberry bed which is looking very promising especially this one!

Current view of the back garden area!