Sunday, July 27, 2014


Carrots, green beans, chicken, broth
                                         Carrots & Onions
These are NOT all Sundays endeavors.  Please.  lol However, the bottom picture is a preview of things to come.  I filled 3 dehydrators with sliced onions and only used about 5 pounds of onions. The Irishman brought me home 30 pounds, because they were 29 cents a pound,  so...

  I do have beans to do again. Have about 2 gallons trimmed and snapped, another bunch coming in today, plus a friend sending more home with the Irishman today. I'll probably have a good 2 canners worth.  I will probably go see about finding a few bushel of tomatoes to can plants are loaded with small green tomatoes, but only 1 lonely Roma is starting to turn a pinkish orange. I'm worried about not getting tomatoes and if I wait too long I may miss out on the season altogether.  If I do buy some and then mine come through, well--you can never have too many canned tomatoes, right ?  Better safe than sorry, I think.

 The AC has decided to go on the fritz again. Damn. Thankfully, it's only supposed to get to the mid 80's today, and then down in the 70's all week.  (Crazy, innit ???)  Certainly am NOT calling the AC guy on a Sunday, are we ??

  I just came in from picking the rest of the beans. Decided that I better get out there before it got any hotter.  I spotted 3 THREE tomatoes that are starting to ripen this morning. WOO HOO!!!!   I picked a good quart of jalapenos, a few crimson cayenne peppers and beans.  Even though it's not so hot out there, the humidity is a killer. Yesterday we were under a heat advisory. The temps hit 96 with a heat index of 107.   Some of the plants love this weather, others not so much.  The Armenian Cucumbers are growing and flowering like crazy suddenly. I spent half an hour yesterday training vines up the trellis. They are loaded with flowers. Everyones gardens around here are way later than usual. It's not just me...although I am still trailing by a good margin. 

  Here's the deal with the Roulette of Gardening.  The ball will fall where it will, and there's nothing you can do about it.  In good years you do all you can to preserve what you know is too much for you and your family, because there will be years like this. Where the gamble is in full tilt. The Butternuts look great this year--last year they were so-so.  The potatoes are looking great...above ground anyway. The Irishman said he saw some pretty good looking Kennebecs when he was strawing, so hopefully that harvest will suffice.  The sweet potatoes may be a wash this year. We planted them in a spot that is maybe not getting enough sun, or is too acidic...or something.  Note in the garden journal: No sweet 'taters in the side garden again. You learn to roll with it, you can and dry and freeze all you can (and look like one of those hoarders on tv lol)  You do whatever you have to do to plan for the coming year (s) and you figure it out. Yesterday I found tomato paste on sale for a really good price, like 29 cents a can. So...I bought a case.  I may buy another one. Because canning tomato paste uses a TON of tomatoes that would be better served by canning diced, whole, sauced, salsa-ed and marinara-ed. lol Especially when I can get it for that cheap.  An old guy up the road grows tomatoes because he likes to grow them but not eat them. Last year he sold me a big box of Romas for 5.00.  It was a goldmine.  I'll keep my eyes open for these things and all will be well. 

  Okay. I need to get started somewhere.  Look out pantry--here I come.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

If things aren't crazy enough....

But my gazillions of tomatoes are still not turning red, so I'm not canning those.  I am canning green beans, and carrots and chicken.  Because if things aren't crazy enough in your kitchen, you should find MORE things to do, right ??  So...I bought a 25 # bag of organic carrots  ( for 21 dollars!!!). Yesterday I canned 15 quarts of carrots and still have about a third of the bag left. I'm going to keep some for the veggie drawer and dehydrate the rest.

  This morning I had enough beans ready for 7 quarts. We trimmed and snapped them on the couch last night  watching a movie. Done.

The local market had 10 pound bags of chicken leg and thigh quarters on sale for 49 cents a pound. SO I popped on up there and bought 40 pounds. I froze 4 meals worth of chicken,  but most of it is in my 2 big stock pots cooking away. I'll pull the meat off the bone, divvy it up between jars and can chicken and broth. Boom !  (Best 20 dollars I've ever spent. )  lol

  There were peaches sitting on the cabinet getting soft, so I whipped up a peach pie using store bought crust, because there is absolutely NO room in my kitchen to roll out a pie crust.   Sigh...the trees are not doing so well this year.  We're getting some to eat, but I don't think there will be any for canning.  Do we buy some, or chalk it up ??  haven't decided yet. I still have a little peach and a LOT of pears in the cupboard. So, we're not without fruit of any kind in there. I think there's a couple of bags in the freezer too.  We took some branches to our local Ag Extension office to see what was up with out apple and pear trees.  Bad news.  It's fire blight.  Not good.  They told us it's epidemic this year.  Great.  Looks like we'll be taking down both those trees.  It can be treated, but the treatment is pretty involved and expensive and I don't see us doing that.   Thank GOD it only affects, apples, pears and rosebushes. Not my peach and cherry trees.


  It's now after midnight. I have been canning and cooking all day, and my back hurts and my legs hurt and I'm cranky. The batch of stuff in the canner right now doesn't come out for another hour.  I'm debating putting one more batch in, but that would mean being awake until about 5 AM and I don't see that happening.  lol   It's just such an ordeal to put all that chicken and broth somewhere cool enough and safe, lol. The crockpot is still bubbling away with chicken broth. I have at least 10 more quarts of chicken and stock to do. And then the jars of chicken broth by itself. It'll be another full day tomorrow. Not complaining.  I am very grateful to have the ability and opportunity to do this stuff, to provide food for us. Healthy safe food. There's been another round of e. coli going around here...people sick with stomach bugs from eating contaminated food.  Makes me feel a little better about never getting to go out to eat. lol pantry saved us this year.  If I ever wondered about the viability or purpose of putting food by for the "just in cases"...I never will again.  

  I am so grateful for so much...the Irishman gets to go back to work on Monday. The injury has healed and all is well.  The accident we had could have been so much worse...and I see little silver linings everywhere.  And it really has been good for us as a couple to have all this time together.  We are starting to slip back into the old ways, because he doesn't need me to drive him anymore and I don't have to take care of him like I did.  And while those things are good, it's a little sad. I guess I just feel like it won't be long before we are going our own way again. But who knows...I think this whole thing has been a real wake up call for us on so many levels.  Our garden is thriving, in spite of getting it in so late and the weather being so crazy.  (Although--I have to find some okra from somewhere.  Mine didn't come up at all, and when it would have been early enough to re-plant it, we were busted up. I have to dehydrate some okra for my pantry, I have used all of it over the winter.  I don't need to pickle any--I still have some of that.)  We won't have much of a fruit harvest this year unless I manage to buy some peaches and apples from one of the local orchards. I do that sometimes...but I'm trying not to spend any more money than I have to. But I still have little bits of this and that, so it isn't dire straits. In my big freezer, I have blackberries, peaches, pumpkin, persimmons, strawberries, pineapples and mangoes. In my pantry, I have applesauce, pears, a jar or two of peaches, apple butter and several jams. Oh, and some pineapple I canned too.  So,  we won't die of scurvy.  lol

  I need to inventory my pantry. I need to get my house cleaned up. I need to organize my office.

  I need to shampoo my carpets.  I need to clean out all my kitchen cupboards.  I need to go to sleep.  lol

  Hope everyone is having a good summer. 


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Summer's here. But it's weird.

...and right now it's good old green beans.  I have a big bag in the drawer of the fridge, and we picked another half bushel (at least) this morning. The plants are loaded with young beans and flowers, and the harvest has begun.  Before I start canning though, I have to vacuum.

 The white dog  
(who'da thought such an adorable baby could grow up to be such a hair machine!!!)  is shedding truckloads of hair all over the house and yards. No matter how much we brush and brush, it never stops.'d think she'd be bald.  It's almost like, one cup of hair goes and 3 more takes it's place. Like zombies. Or something.  Sigh...every single night we go around with the cannister vac and suck up clumps of hair. By morning it's all back. And this will probably go on until the middle of August.

I'm vacuuming and resting alternately here. Picking green beans today almost killed me. The humidity is sky high, even though it's only about 88 degrees, it's suffocating.  SO, I need to get the floors vacuumed and let the dogs back in. They are the biggest babies in the world when it comes to this heat.


  Well--my old neighbor came by for a little visit, so it's now about 2 hours later. lol  We sat and chatted and when the Irishman got home, I sent the 2 of them off to lunch at the Congregational Church.  They begged and pleaded, but I am sooooo into this cleaning thing  (plus I picked green beans and am all nasty and sweaty and stinky)...that I said no, but they could bring me something if they wanted to. lol   I just finished the last of the vacuuming. I have a clean and nice tablecloth on the table. The loveseat cover is washed and in the dryer. The bathroom rugs are all shaken within an inch of their lives and that floor and the closet and the bedroom are all vacuumed too. I might run the mop in the bathroom...and I might not. lol

  It has been a busy week. I feel like all I have done is run around. I really don't want to go anywhere all day. Or tomorrow either.  I am tired. Tomorrow night we have the discussion group at La Vista. Tuesday, I do my volunteer stint at the Central Service Office of AA.  2-6 PM.  sigh...I wanted to quit, but the new volunteer coordinator looked like she might cry. Several people had already pulled out and she had slots she can't fill.  So...I will stick around and do the best I can. lol  I don't like doing these things in the summer when I am so busy canning and gardening. It's too hard. (Let me get a little cheese to go with that whine...)

  The weather has been so bizarre, and now I read that another polar vortex is getting ready to hit the northern states. We have had July temps in the low 80's and mid 70's...we just had 2 days of low 90's, but that starts dropping away again tomorrow.  The garden is doing pretty good so far. We've had a bit of rain, could use a little more, but not a LOT more. The tomatoes are loaded with fruit and blossoms and most of them are better than 5.5 ft high.  The potatoes are lush and flowering like crazy. The okra is a never came up at all, and I couldn't get out there to replant. I used seed I had saved, and that was most likely the problem. I'll have to get it from the Farmer's Markets or my pal Randy if I want to dehydrate some.  I still have quite a few jars of pickled okra, and a bit in the freezer, so...just some to dehydrate will be good. The sweet potatoes and the butternut squash are going crazy.  I am, however, completely out of dehydrated onions--red and white both.  Good job, huh ? I have used it all.  I am going to plant beets in a few weeks. And put in more lettuce as well as chard and kale. 

I will (in a bit) start my annual pantry inventory. I know some things are low (or gone) because I have really done a good job of using  the foods I have  since the accident. Trying not to spend much money at grocery stores hasn't been all that hard. But...things like vegetable oils, baking powder, flours, rices, etc--all the stocks are low.  The inventory gives me a really good view of what I did, what I used, and how much is left.  Helps with my garden totals too--for instance, I am ready to can green beans.  Last year this time, I had been out of beans for 2 months. This year, I still have about 8 quarts left and am ready to can.  Woo Hoo.  The tomatoes (diced, whole, sauced) are another story entirely. I've been out for a while. Those totals will be greatly increased this canning season.

  Okay--doggies are crying to get in. Dusting is calling.  There may be a nap in my foreseeable future too. I got a package of chicken thighs out of the freezer to make something for supper. Thinking a crockpot meal so I don't have to heat the house up any more than necessary.  Chicken thighs at Aldi's this week were .89/lb.  I bought around 25 pounds.  :)  

  Now...where are those people with my lunch ???????


Saturday, July 5, 2014

Another week...Zzzzziiippppp!!...gone.

Independence Day...we went to the neighbors for a bbq and I brought a peach pie. I had to cook it in our bbq grill because it wouldn't fit in my countertop convection oven and the big oven wouldn't light.  I was a little nervous about it...but I know people who cook bread and pizza on their grills, so I though--why not ?  I used an old oven gauge to check the temps and was able to hold it right at 350 degrees. It took a little over an hour for a 9x13 pie. Yum...

 Craziness here. Had a helluva time getting results from m y thyroid ultrasound. Finally did...a 5 mm mass on my right thyroid, likely benign.  Waiting for them now to get an appointment set up in a timely manner with an endocrinologist who will check me out and decide if a biopsy is in order, just to be safe.  I am having some minor swallowing problems (just annoying, and worse at night when I am laying down...) and will just feel much better when all this is finished.  That doctor will also decide if I am hypothyroid and hopefully be able to regulate that business.

 Tuesday we go back to Springfield and find out of the Irishman is healed enough to lose the back brace/cervical collar.  And hopefully find out when he can return to work. Praying for positive results.

 The gardens are looking pretty good. Slowly but surely getting them weeded. The tomatoes are taller than I am.  lol

Things have been uncommonly cool has been in the low 70's for a week and even cooler at night.  In July.  It's crazy...but certainly a wonderful respite from the extreme heat. (Not complaining here !!!)

 I'm baking some bread right now and gonna throw together some spaghetti for supper. have a small package of sweet Italian sausage from the freezer and  some other odds and ends and it will make a grand meal. Just some good old pasta and bread. It will be good.  I cleaned out the fridge earlier today...looked through the pantry...might need to make a grocery run in a week or two, but mostly we have been doing well.  So grateful for my fully stocked pantry. Thus far we have gotten by without having to borrow any money or go into hock or not pay any bills. Himself has not worked for 6 weeks now.  His last money from vacation pay came in 2.5 weeks ago. So far, so good.  Of course this years  property tax bill arrived.  lol  But we are okay. And I will be able to pay the bills and keep on trucking.  Thank goodness.  Scary thing, this financial insecurity...

  My sweet husband is feeling a little better every day. We are still holding onto each other and having faith that all this stuff is going to work out fine.  It's these kind of little life storms that surely test the mettle of a marriage...and when you come out the other side, you know that you have what it takes to be partners for life.  No matter what happens, you can weather the crises, you can survive the fallout, and you can do it together. 

  That is some comforting stuff right there.