In the garden

DSCN3568

The Ball canning company has helped me immensely with a way to preserve my herbs. Usually, I just take my rosemary and lavender and freeze them in freezer bags. Saturday I was shopping, and there in the canning aisle, I found a 4-pack of jars with screw on lids (plus shaker insert). Instead of freezing all my herbs, I kept some back and then used these jars to store some fresh in the refrigerator. I found them at Walmart- 4 pk (4 oz. each) for $4.98 in the canning section.

This past weekend I put up 13- 1/2 gallon bags of sliced beets;

I cook the beets until tender, remove their skins, cool in an ice bath and freeze in 1-gallon freezer bags.

DSCN3426

10- 1/2 gallon bags of sliced carrots; I peel the carrots and chop off the ends. I then slice and blanch in boiling water for 3 minutes. I give them an ice bath to stop them from cooking and freeze meal portions in 1-gallon freezer bags.

DSCN3586

My current diet is eating three or four different veggies and two fruits each meal. Occasionally I will really crave a form of protein so I boil two eggs. I am able to eat other foods as long as they are gluten-free. I am doing great on this diet, feeling better than I have in a long time. I am down to pre-married weight-yay! In a way, my being gluten intolerant has been a blessing for me. Silver linings friends, silver linings. A typical day of meals for me goes something like this:

Breakfast– 3/4 c. of Fage plain yogurt, 1 glass of fresh squeezed Oj, and 3 prunes.

Mid -morning snack– handful of raisins, apple slices or celery sticks

Lunch– gluten free bread with gluten free lunch meat topped with tomatoes, lettuce and cuke slices, apple or pear and usually a mozzarella stick or two.

Dinner– sliced cucumbers and tomatoes, boiled egg, tossed salad with beets and zucchini, banana with either strawberries or applesauce for dessert.  I substitute the egg for a baked potato, or couscous or quinoa at times. Sometimes, depending on how hungry I am, I add a good hearty vegetable soup by Wolfgang Puck to go with my dinner meal. As I said I eat gluten free meals-pizza, pasta, soups along with 3-4 servings of fresh veggies a day and 2-3 servings of fresh fruit a day.  As far as beverages go- I drink fresh orange juice, Pom juice, water, lemonade and at least a 1/2 c. of whole milk a day. Now and then throughout the summer, I drink good cold A & W root beer and in the fall/winter homemade hot cocoa.

 

Have a super last week of August, until next time.

Chocolate

hot cocoa

Summer fun is soon coming to an end and I was reminded of one of the things I truly love about fall-homemade hot cocoa. Spring for me is like a promise, a promise of things to come. When summer comes along there is the hopes for this and the hopes for that. All too soon the realization becomes clear that there will be some things in life that will work out and others that just will not. Fall is like this for me. It’s the end of some hopes spawned early in spring and not seen through to fruition the summer long. Everything outside becomes crisp, orange and brown and the time arrives to put things to rest. To prepare for the end of the year, the season called winter. In all endings are beginnings to new and different ways of thinking about things. The seasons remind us that we need to keep moving forward, not back. This year has brought me closure for a couple of things long in need of closing and also the ability to know where to focus my attention and where not to.

This summer has been a good one filled with relaxing vacations, and many many projects that have been thankfully completed. The list was very long when we began, but, we are nearing the end of it and are so relieved.  Having recently acquired photos of family members, that I never knew existed, sent me in all directions trying to find the right frames to do them justice. This project took me most of the summer, but I am satisfied with the frames and I am so proud to hang them on our walls.  Painting projects took another couple of weekends, but alas, those are done too. We went here for an early June weekend getaway, loved it and would recommend it to anyone. We went here for a long weekend getaway and enjoyed the couples spa getaway and golf package.  Our vacation was one week in a cabin at a beach resort in Union Pier, Michigan and we LOVED it there. We are already making plans to go again next summer.

With fall fast approaching harvest time is upon us and putting up vegetables for this coming winter is what’s been going on these last two weekends or more. Actually whenever we have a free moment something is being processed and preserved.  Soon, very soon, school will start again for me and spare time will be little to none until May when I graduate.  Still on our list of things to do is a few more times hitting the golf course, a couple more bike rides and oh yes, drinking that delicious cup of hot cocoa I made before I began this post.  The recipe is here, enjoy!

If I can grow red juicy & delicious tomatoes, why can’t big corporations?

DSCN3358

If I can grow 3 juicy tasty tomatoes on the north face upper level of my home, in a Rubbermaid container with organic potting soil, why can’t big corporations do the same? Until I grew my one pitiful tomato plant this summer, I hadn’t had a good tomato since the last time I harvested which was last summer around this time.

At best my plant got the sun some of the time, and a fair amount of water most days from either rain or condensation from our a/c that we catch in a pail on our deck. With a late summer and a lot of wind to deal with it was surely a surprise to me that it lived at all. I wish I had taken a picture of this sad little plant that tried so hard to produce fruit that its stalks and leaves withered down to nothing, yet, three beautiful tomatoes were produced for its efforts. I nearly cried each day as I watched the wonders of nature at play, right there on my deck in front of me. It should be said that I added absolutely no chemicals or fertilizers, not even miracle gro.

I’d like to say I won’t make attempts this fall or winter to find a good tomato to eat when the urge for a fresh couple of slices hit me. Unfortunately, I never find anything close to as good as the ones I can grow myself.

I long for an opportunity to grow all my own food. I look forward to the day that this will be possible for my husband and me.

My summer preserving and canning

This past couple of weeks has been BUSY for me. To give you a general idea of what I’ve been up to, I’ve been canning, and freezing produce here.  Lots of produce to be exact. In between canning and freezing is housework, going out and buying the produce I’ve been canning and freezing, summer vacation planning, weekend get-a-ways and more to be honest. During breaks from school, and on the weekends, I like to cram as many things into the time as I can. Sometimes this goes well and other times I feel like we rushed things so much, we weren’t able to fully enjoy ourselves. Luckily even though things seem busy, they do not seem rushed.

I’ve canned:

  • 24 of each -32 oz jars of tomatoes, peaches and tomato sauce
  • 6- pint jars of pickles, pickle relish, and salsa
  • 6- pint jars of peach and blueberry preserves
  • 6- 32 oz jars of peach pie filling
  • 8 gallons of green beans
  • 4 gallons of shredded zucchini
  • 4 gallons of cut up zucchini
  • 4 gallons of sliced beets
  • 8-1/2 gallon bags of multi- colored peppers-green, red, orange
  • 5 gallons sliced strawberries

I still have creamed corn to make and also corn on the cob to freeze, and when fall arrives apple pie filling and applesauce and squash. Our freezer that we bought just for just such an endeavor is half full at this time and our shelves are starting to fill up. Feels good. After preserving the peaches a couple of weeks ago, I made my husband and I breakfast for supper.

DSCN3384

Organic egg, spinach and kale omelet with organic white cheddar cheese served with my own grown organic tomatoes, organic grapes, and organic red potatoes. The total cost of meal per person-$3.25, the total time to make- 15 minutes.

After harvest-preserving vegetables

peas-13

Source

Some of the first things harvested in Wisconsin are strawberries and after several types of tender lettuce, green beans.  My husband and I have enjoyed garlic scapes- we grilled those, leaf lettuce-romaine, in so many salads I can’t count them anymore. We’ve been buying tomatoes thus far for eating, but this next weekend I will be canning tomatoes for sauce and chili.  Sweet corn is just starting to be available, and even though I once was a huge sweet corn eater, I now become ill when I eat it. I ‘m not sure what is causing this but often people who suffer from wheat gluten intolerance have reactions with corn. It’s something I have to accept even though I am not happy about it.

Our goal is to fill up our little freezer as we’ve done the last two years. We drive about 20 miles every week to an organic farm and buy a lot of vegetables. Some for eating every day and others for preserving for eating throughout the winter months.  This means not having to buy any vegetables and very few fruits all winter. As of this time, we have a dozen gallon freezer bags of shredded zucchini for zucchini bread and zucchini cakes. I use this recipe for the cakes, by Sandra Lee. We have several bags of cut-up zucchini for stir-fry, I use this recipe for stir fry by Cooks.com. It’s delicious and perfect rewarmed the next day.  I think we’ve got a total of a dozen full gallon bags of strawberries.  I will use these for breakfast smoothies all winter long.  I remove the stems on the berries and lay them on cookie sheets to freeze them then I empty the cookies sheets into gallon freezer bags, lay flat and remove the air and then freeze flat.  When I pull the strawberries out to eat, I wash and drain them.  I used to make a lot of jam but couldn’t eat it fast enough and didn’t really care for all the sugar in the recipes. So instead, I buy Bonne Maman, which is way better than any jam I’ve ever made or tasted.

So what’s left? Well, let me get back to the topic of this post, green beans. Ah yes, we have a lot of green beans.  So tonight, while trying to watch Noah, I froze 7 -1-gallon freezer bags of green beans.  I wrote a Hub page a few years ago on how to freeze green beans, I’ll have to see if I can find it. Otherwise, I use this recipe here from Better Homes and Gardens.

After the green beans and tomatoes, I’ll be freezing beets and brussels sprouts and then finally green, red and yellow peppers. This fall, which is only a few weeks away, I am going to try canning apples for apple pie. I usually just slice up the apples and freeze them but I want to try something different. The reason I freeze all of our vegetables is because it is easy, I’m not fussing with tight lids and we prefer our veggies not only look fresh but taste fresh- steamed not cooked. Freezing really works well for our tastes and preferences.

I hope everyone is having a great weekend. Even though it sounds like I’ve been stuck in the kitchen the whole time, I actually found time for a long hike in the woods, a delicious fish dinner by the lake (with hubby) and a great documentary on food-The Future of Food as well as Noah w/Russell Crowe, need I say more? Didn’t think so. 🙂 Have a great rest of your weekend.