5 Things Friday- Summer is Coming

  1. I officially have 5 weeks left to finish out the school year!  I will have one holiday and two other days that I will be off during that time.  I can do it. Lily is starting her new summer semester next week.  Kendall has three weeks and a week of exams. Zach has 4 weeks.  Kendall and Zach will both be heading to camp during my last week of work.
  2. I have alot of things I want to get accomplished during the summer including re-stocking our freezer and pantries if needed. I purchased 50# of flour today to get the process started. I am hoping that by spreading out the expense we can maintain and even lower our grocery budget for the year.
  3. We plan to purchase and receive a whole cow in two weeks. This means that I have been spending some time trying to clean out and re-arrange our freezers.  Currently our chest freezer is unplugged. I am working on the freezers in the house as well as continuing to eat food from the freezer in the building. We wil be having steaks for dinner tomorrow just for that reason.
  4. I brought out a whole chicken last week. I cooked it on Thursday and even Lily said it was some of the best she has eaten.  I decided to start our stock up this weekend. I cooked chicken stock in my roaster oven Thursday night. I have been working on pressure canning it this evening. We will end up with 5 quarts and 25 pints of chicken stock!
  5. We will be having the floor measured in the kitchen and dining room this weekend. This has led to us cleaning the canning closet, kitchen pantry and most of the laundry room!   Organized stuff makes me happy!

Saving on Saturday

This weekend we are focusing on saving by using what we have!

One of the projects that I wanted to complete prior to the summer is to empty and clean our large chest freezer that is in the building. This freezer is probably 25-30 years old and was purchased used for $75.  It needs to be de-iced and given a break.  Matt and I have emptied it out except for ice that we need for our upcoming trip. In the process, I needed to do with the two gallon size bags of frozen tomatoes that I have.  I decided to toss them in the crockpot along with a couple of other items and make some more pasta sauce. I typically freeze the sauce but decided to try water bath canning this time.  We ended up with four quarts after dinner so we will try one and see how it taste. I am hoping to be able to can my sauce this year in order to be less dependent on the freezer in the future. It is much easier to store and transport jars than frozen foods.

After taking out my electric canner, I thought I should go ahead and get some beans canned for future use. I ended up running 4 loads of 8 quarts each of beans. This did allow me to use up all the empty pint jars along with all my canning lids that are not on new jars. I had to place an order for more lids.  I also cleaned and organized the canning closet. I am very happy with the contents and have big plans for the summer.

For breakfast this morning, I made French toast using up the last of the sour dough bread that I made this summer along with the remaining heavy whipping cream.   I had about half of the egg mixture left so instead of throwing away, I added hash browns and bacon. It was a hit at lunch with little work and no waste.

For dinner, I made nachos with taco rice that is left-over. The best compliment was from Lily “This is better than I expected.”

I ended up spending a lot of time this afternoon, transplanting tomatoes. More on this tomorrow!

Saving on Saturday

Today has been busy but very productive, at least I feel like it has been productive. The weather outside was gorgeous, not to hot not too cold and no really wind.  We needed and actually did get some garden work done.

Zach pulled some chicken poop out of the coop and placed in several of our square foot beds. I went behind and broke up and stirred in the dirt followed by covering with paper mulch for the winter.  I am hoping to finish this process in the next couple of weeks so that it can compose over the winter. Matt helped level and moved one of our greenstalk (vertical planter) to the front. And then he and Zach move one bed to a new spot.  Kendall and I spent some time in the greenhouse. I am super excited to have several green peppers growing in there currently!

Another big project today was making and canning Matt’s chill. This will be used for lunches mainly!  We have 16 pints to put in the canning closet. I hope to post a link to the youtube video soon!

5 Things Friday

Some good and exciting things going on around here!

  1. The “baby” chickens have started to lay. We do have a rooster. The white chicken which I call “spas” appear to be our best layer. We have been getting consistent eggs every day for a week from her. The eggs are smaller and blue so easy to identify!
  2.  I purchased 50# of tomatoes from my favorite farm stand for $28 this week. I have topped off our supplies of salsa, diced tomatoes, and tomato sauce. I made 16 jars of enchilada sauce.  We currently have a pot of spaghetti sauce going which used half purchased tomatoes and half from our garden!
  3. We will continue to harvest from the garden, today it was 2 large cucumbers, green peppers, tomatoes and green beans and basil. But I will be pulling more dead plants this weekend and also not water for the rest of the season.
  4. In other weather related news!  Our windows are open!  This is so nice and hopefully will result in extra savings on our electric bill next month.
  5. We have planned two trips at least for me to Florida in December!  I love the warm weather!

Saving on Saturday- Just Enough Gardening

I made a big decision this week, not to plant a fall garden or even attempt a second planting of anything. The reason is that I just do not have the time or energy to attempt this year.    I have been super tired every day this week after working. I am doing well just to keep up.

But someone forgot to tell the garden!   We are continuing to get a small harvest 2 or 3 times a week.  Last Sunday, I made a pot of tomato sauce to use in our favorite Mexican rice recipe. I was able to freeze a total of 19 1/2 cup bags to use. This is just 4 short of my total of 24 I wanted for the year. I am almost positive that I will be able to get the remaining four before the end of the garden.  Last night we again harvested a medium size bowl of tomatoes.  I debated on turning these into sauce as well but decided to chop up and freeze as diced tomatoes. I have about 10 cans of diced tomatoes but these are seasoned for Italian food.  Zach pointed out that we needed diced tomatoes to make Spanish rice.  I was able to freeze 4 bags of 2 cups of diced tomatoes.  I would like to get another 8 bags in the freezer but if not we have a start and don’t need to purchase this minute.

I don’t remember if I shared about our pear harvest this year. If not or if you want to get a refresher course, check out the story here!  After canning 21 quarts of diced pears, we placed about 2 dozen in our closet that we use for cold storage and left another 20ish on the counter for fresh eating.   I noticed this week that the pears were starting to turn and needed to be used. We also discovered that some of the pears in the closet needed to be used as well.    We decided to make pear sauce/syrup.  It made 2 pints and 5 pints.  I used some on my pancakes this morning and it was good!

Another item that we are still getting from the garden is cucumbers.  I have canned 3 pints of bread and butter pickles already.   I made an “experimental” batch of refrigerator pickles, and they were a hit.   I was able to get a second jar started today. We also have some cucumbers for fresh eating as well.

Matt and Zach have been outside working on a new deck in front of our small metal building that holds the bikes.  I spent alot of time, trying to make sure we don’t waste food. I have gone through the refrigerator as well.

Today we saved by staying at home and eating at home. Remember every little bit counts!

Monday Musing

  • Technically I have 11 days left until I return to work. However, with our quick Florida trip to see Haley, I have 5 days at home.  I am in get everything done mood!
  • Today, I was able to make and can another 8 pints of salsa. I checked and we may need another 4 pints to make sure we can make it an entire year. But this is an awesome start!
  • I also found a recipe that I can make up and place in the freezer for the days that I just don’t have enough time and or brain width to cook. I will be making 4 bags of these tomorrow.
  • I decided that I needed a day of rest yesterday so that is exactly what I did. No cooking and no canning or baking.
  • We made our first loaf of zucchini bread today and it is AWESOME!   We are starting to get a couple of zucchini at a time from the garden. I have discovered that zucchini is a vegetable that can be planted for a fall harvest.  Our plants have been struggling all year and finally look healthy and alive so I am hopeful that we will continue to get a couple of zucchini each week until the end of October?  Who knows.
  • Cucumbers are another vegetable that I can get a second harvest from. I will be planting another round when we get back from Florida.
  • We had been watering the garden every day since our return from the beach on July 15th until last Sunday, July 30th.  One of our barrels was even empty from rain water. We have had some massive storms that past week and now one rain barrel is full and the other is 80% full.

Day In The Life

Today, I spent the entire day at home. Yay this is one of the things I like most about the summer. Unfortunately, today did not include reading a book or watching television or even enjoying some much-needed downtime.

This morning, I had already planned to make breakfast bowls. Yesterday, I had made gravy biscuits, saving some for today.  I ended up using 16 eggs and I found “bo rounds” which made these bowls even better!  Next up I spent about an hour in the garden, wedding and harvesting.  I sent a 5-gallon bucket to the chickens!

I have harvested 8 pounds of tomatoes in the last 3 days, so I started a huge crockpot of spaghetti sauce. The current plan is to make a couple of “million-dollar spaghetti pies” tomorrow and bag the rest for the freezer.  Matt made potato salad, while I made a squash casserole and a huge pot of chill.   Last night we had purchased a chicken from Costco so the squash casserole and potato salad along with a jar of green beans made an awesome lunch.  The chili used four pounds of ground beef that Matt cooked on the Blackstone along with supper last night.

I pressure canned 8 2oz jars, 4 half pints and one quart of chill for future use. After lunch I tossed the chicken bones and carcass was tossed in the insta pot with water and placed on low using the slow cooker function. So far I have pressure canned 8 pints of chicken stock with the insta pot cooking for another 12 hours.

I did discover that my food processor is broken. We dug out the kitchen aid attachment and shredded the LARGE zucchini for making a loaf of zucchini bread later in the week.

Matt was in charge of cleaning the front and back of the older refrigerator and also used his new shop vac to drain the water from the AC system.  I was in charge of deep cleaning the deep fyer.

Matt made a regular load of bread and I have a loaf of sour dough to finish tonight. Zach decided to deep clean so that also meant I placed 17 nerf guns, a box of legos and a huge hot wheel track on Facebook to sell.

I am tired!


Garden Update/ Tuesday Thoughts

This past weekend ended up being both busy and fun!  We had a swim meet on Saturday which really wiped us out for the rest of the day.
On Sunday, after church we spent some much-needed relaxing time at the pool!
Monday, I ran around the world and back.  I did manage to pick up half a bushel of green beans from the farm stand I LOVE!

All of this meant that I really have not had time to take pictures to post with the update.  But this morning, I headed out to do a little bit of garden work and take pictures but wait of course my phone is dead!

I was SUPER excited to be able to actually harvest several things this morning!  So excited I had Kendall take a picture to share!

Chives, lettuce, a handful of green beans, 2 squash, 2 cucumbers, a zucchini and snap peas!   It is small but at least we are getting things from the garden!

The other garden news is not nearly as exciting or happy!  We found 2 tomato worms on Sunday. Unfortunately, it was after they had stripped at least 2 plants of the leaves and consumed half of my biggest tomato.  We fed them to the chickens as protein!  I have been keeping a watch on the plants to make sure there are no more and so far so good.   Our tomato plants are now taller than me and we are starting to see little tomatoes forming!   I really want a good harvest this year but I am going to be contend with what we are given at least that is what I keep telling myself.

Final thought- One of my big goals this summer is to have a year’s supply of food on hand for the next school year. I want to complete this as doing a little each day as long as possible.   That is actually my reason for purchasing the green beans.  Zach and Kendall have helped with snapping the beans and we have canned 23 pints of green beans. This is one jar every two weeks which is likely what we will use. I am going to use our home grown beans to freeze to make fried beans.

5 Things Friday

  1. This is my first full week of summer break. Unfortunately we have spent more time than usual inside due to the weather.  Kendall said it best today after we spent some time at the pool. “It finally feels like summer.”
  2. I don’t know if I mentioned it recently, but I really LOVE my Electric Pressure Canner.  This is so simple and easy to use. Canning was not something I would have considered even two years ago but this summer, I want to can at least once a week.  I love the convivence of just opening a jar for broth and soups. I can’t wait to can spaghetti sauce and salsa! This week I used it to put away 4 quarts, 7 pints and 9 half pints of chicken broth.
  3. The rain, along with worm casting and blood meal have a HUGE difference in the garden. I can’t wait to post pictures of the changes this week!!
  4. The swim meet that was supposed to occur on Tuesday will be bright and early tomorrow morning.  I am excited to watch all three kids compete. In other swimming news, this afternoon Braxton was able to swim without a float!
  5. In not so great news, I have overspent the grocery budget!

Saving on Saturday

A Saturday at home, yes this is a treat.  We decided to go ahead and get ahead on some projects around here, so it was not a leisurely Saturday.

Matt took the pressure washer to the back deck. We will need to purchase a water sealer to place on it but it does look much better, and it is still structurally sound so we will continue to use what we have.

I am really enjoying my electric pressure canner and have started to get a good stockpile of items.  We still have tomatoes ripening on our cabinet from the garden and I am determined to use what we have and waste as little as possible. I decided to venture out today and make enchilada sauce. I started by dicing and cooking all the tomatoes that were on the cabinet.  Which produced 4 cups of tomato sauce!  This was enough to make a double batch of the recipe that I had.  It turned out perfect, I have a batch of chicken enchiladas in the fridge for a meal this week and canned up 4 half pints so that should be another 4 meals!

I have been researching pressure canning meat. One of the benefits is having it shelf stable in case the power were to go out.  Another benefit for us is that with it being canned it will be in the house instead outside in the cold.  We (Matt and I ) decided to tackle this project.  I defrosted 25 pounds of hamburger meat from the freezer, Matt cooked it on the Blackstone!  I currently have 13 quarts and 2 half pints of ground beef that is shelf stable.  Th e next project will be to make taco meat and can it but first I want to use up what is in the freezer.

A final saving money thought is that we are actually using the food in our freezer and pantry. I can actually see a difference even without the canning which is not using but moving around.  My goal is to keep the grocery budget for both November and December below $400 which is half of the normal.