Monday, July 29, 2019

Beans, A Hike & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  On Monday, I gathered purslane and basil, and made a triple batch of purslane pistachio pesto.  We enjoyed it with pasta two nights.  I made a double batch of granola.  This time, I had pumpkin and sunflower seeds, and added those too.  After working in town, I stopped at the discount grocery and got organic beans, canned corn (for the chickens), & cans of olives for .50 ea, and organic juice $1 ea.  I got a 6 pack of LED votive candles for $5, and saw a used pack of this brand for $16.50 on ebay.  I dropped off a box of books at the Friends of the Library store.  There were several antique books, including one from 1886.  I hope they'll be able to make some decent money from them.  At Aldi's, I picked up cherries @ $1.89/#, avocados .69 ea., and mangoes .49 ea., and bought a pack of their meatless crumbles to try for $3.49.  Not inexpensive, but we like to have sloppy joes occasionally for a quick meal.  I had hoped to pick up some things at the Farmer's Market; some tomatoes, and maybe corn and peaches, but a deluge sent them all packing before I could get there.

female summer tanager
I was gifted 4# each of pinto beans and brown rice, and 6# of navy beans.  I transferred them all to glass jars.  I shared a bag of garden produce and eggs in kind.  Almost all the remaining sweet potatoes from last year's garden were prepped and put in the dehydrator for pup treats.  I'll cook up the last few for us.  We were blessed to get an inch of rain and cooler temps.  The house was opened up for the first time in weeks.  We should be able to open up each night for several days, before it heats up again.  A can of corn was frozen into cubes for the chickens, for the next heat wave.  I made "zucchini" tots with our first tromboncino squash, which also used our eggs and herbs.  I'll be making them again.  I sliced the last of the gifted tomatoes to enjoy with it, a Cherokee Purple, and heated leftover grilled corn.  So yummy!  A load of laundry was hung on the line.  I used homegrown mint in making a batch of soap.

Homemade salad dressing was made, and garden cucumbers and tomatoes were enjoyed in a salad.  Cabbage and noodles was made with some more of the gifted cabbage, but there's more left.  The gift that keeps on giving :o).  Now that we have lots of cherry tomatoes, I was reminded of a favorite breakfast my Sicilian grandmother and my Mom used to make.  Saute some garlic, throw in chopped tomatoes, then add eggs.  The bread was local sourdough.  All else but the oil and salt were homegrown.  I've started noticing hazelnuts dropping, and have begun gathering them.  I tried a new recipe, for Lemony Cucumber Couscous Salad.  It just so happened I found a bag of Bob's Red Mill tricolor couscous at the discount store for $2  the last visit.  The recipe was excellent, and leftovers were just as good.  It's a Budget Bytes recipe.  Most of Saturday morning was spent picking lima beans.  That night, J & I shelled them while we talked.  We ended up with a gallon of beans.  The shells almost filled a 5 gallon bucket. I decided to cover them with water, for a future dyeing experiment.

Hopi Dye sunflower
Elderberries were harvested, and a second batch of tincture was started.  I recently found out about a local hiking group, created to promote health in the community.  They hike in various areas throughout the Uwharrie National Forest, which I've been wanting to learn more about.  I've known there are various trails, but have never known where the trail heads are, so was happy to learn about this group.  I asked a niece if she'd like to join me on Sunday.  We walked on private land along the Uwharrie River.  There were interesting wild plants, one of which I didn't know, and need to research.  After we returned, I dropped off orders at Fedex, then headed to Big Lots with a $5 off $15 coupon.  I found my favorite egg noodles marked down to 1/2 price (not sure why, as the same noodles with a closer best by date were on the regular shelf full price??).  Also found was organic juice for $1.75, which is $3.99 in the grocery stores.  The last stop was Aldi's, where I picked up 3 things, including organic strawberries for $2.79/#.  The day was a lovely end to a good week.  Wishing everyone a good week ahead!

Monday, July 22, 2019

Plenty of Cucumbers & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, laundry was dried on the line.  Plenty of cucumbers were harvested, and some were shared.  Also, green beans, yellow squash, zucchini, peppers, eggplant, blueberries, cherry tomatoes, basil, parsley and oregano were harvested.  The loofahs have begin climbing up the twine.  I did some weeding around the melons, but the heat drove me back in the house.  Half of the gifted cabbage was made into asian slaw.  Eggs were boiled, and the water used to water plants.  I went through swagbucks for 6% and used a 15% off code for an online order.  A bill was received from a test done 16 months ago, which I thought had already been covered by the healthshare.  Thankfully, when I called them, they said I didn't need to pay it, and they would reprocess it for payment.  Hooray for that.  I took pics of, and listed my new Bright Morning soap in the shop.

One evening, I noticed the bronze fennel had been munched on.  I started looking around, and saw a swallowtail caterpillar nearby.  I planted the fennel for just that reason, and was delighted to see it.  I reused bubble wrap and other packing materials for an ebay order.  I went through swagbucks for 4% off to purchase a bathing suit for our GD at 50% off.  She'll need this in a few weeks, on a zoo day, as the children's section has several water features.  I recently tried the food saver sheets that are paper embedded with a spice blend, and was really disappointed.  Though they got great reviews, they didn't work well for me.  The main reason I wanted to try them was to keep nectarines from going from unripe to moldy within days.  Of the first 6 nectarines I tried, 3 went from hard/unripe to moldy in 3 days, and all did the same within 6 days.  I considered that it might be the nectarines, and wanted to give it a fair trial, so tried a second round.  The first 2 went from unripe to moldy within 2 days, and the 3rd was moldy on day 4.  I really wanted it to be a great natural solution to food waste, but that wasn't my experience.

The elderberries have begun ripening.  I harvested the first quart, and began a batch of tincture with them.  One of J's clients gifted us a bag of produce.  There were tomatoes (yay!), a couple of white peaches, yellow squash, and an eight ball zucchini, which was a new one for us.  I researched recipes, and made Eight Ball Zucchini Parmesan with it, also with a mix of our yellow and zucchini squash.  I took the suggestion to double the spinach, garlic and basil, increased the cheese slightly, used lambs quarter for the spinach, and used provolone instead of parmesan, because that's what was on hand.  We thought it was very good.  Along with that, I prepared chard I harvested that day with our garlic and broth.  I was commiserating with a friend recently that cooking this time of year often seems like damage control... what needs to be used most today? After dinner, I harvested purslane, and the next day, made a triple batch of purslane pistachio pesto.

The tromboncino squash are almost ready to begin harvesting.  Another box of donations was taken to the thrift store, while in town to deliver a soap order.  While there, I picked up oilskin reproofing cream for one of J's coats.  I paid $2 for 2 jars, and it lists for $12.24 ea. on amazon.  At the library, I found out that in addition to e-books, we also have access to audio books and magazines online.  I had another lovely moment on an evening walk.  There are rolling hay fields that meet our property in the back, and this is where I walk to in the evenings.  They had just rolled the hay into large round bales, which always look pretty scattered across the field.  The evening light was hitting a multitude of small flying bugs, which looked rather like sparkles, and many dragonflies darted here and there.  It was lovely, and just one of the many reasons I feel blessed to live here.

Over the past week, the birds have gotten wise to the blueberries.  At first, they were focused on two bushes, and I was still able to pick from two.  Now they're picking all of them clean before I can get to them. Oh well, we've gotten to eat them fresh, and I've frozen 2 quart bags.  On another note, the new bird feeder pole seems to be working.  The squirrels are mostly eating the seeds on the ground, with occasional tries for the hanging feeders, which makes me happy.  I've got plenty of jam from last year, so decided to make mixed berry syrup.  I use these when making berry vinaigrette's.  I pulled bags of mulberries & raspberries, cranberries and elderberries from the freezer, freeing up room there, and adding more syrup jars to the shelf.  I used the mehu-liisa steamer, which makes it really easy to move the already fairly dried remaining fruit to the dehydrator, to use in future bird suet.

Making granola has been on my to do list.  I ground wheat into flour, which is the first step.  J picked our first large tomato.  It had a bad spot in the center, which hastened ripening, but he said it was good despite it.  I picked up birthday cards at Dollar General for $1 each, instead of several times that at the drugstore.  The boots I wear on my morning walks were getting tough to zip up, so I rubbed beeswax on the zippers, which helped.  I made swagbucks goal several days, and sent a message about points I didn't receive after shopping, which I then promptly received.  Like a lot of the country, the heat index has been 100 or more most days, so the a/c has been running 24/7.  There are cooler temps in the forecast next week, which I'm greatly looking forward to.  Though we recently had a half dozen peaches still ripening on the trees, I saw there was only one left on Saturday. I asked J to harvest it (it was high up), and we found that Japanese beetles had already been munching on it.  Man, it's hard to provide much fruit for ourselves here.

The Prudent Homemaker's Spanish Rice was made, to go with bean burritos.  Neighbors stopped by, and were given a bag of cucumbers.  Some of the wheat flour, along with our blueberries and an egg, were used in pancakes on Sunday.  With our tomatoes, eggplant, garlic, oregano, and a few other ingredients, I made a triple batch of my Mom's caponata.  I froze several containers, and kept one for us to enjoy this week.  I shared cucumbers and eggs with my sister and BIL.  On these hot days, I've been adding ice to the chicken waterers, and bringing them frozen corn treats in the afternoon, to help cool them down.  Pups are given grated cucumber, and various other vegetables with their dinner.  While grating the pups cucumber, it occurred to me that the chickens would probably enjoy cold grated cucumber too, and indeed they did.  I guess you can tell from the cucumber theme, it is our biggest garden harvest at the moment.  Laundry was dried on the line.  There was still a gallon bag of eggplant slices I baked and froze last year.  As J was grilling, I filled a baking sheet with them, and added our garlic and oregano.  He covered them with another baking sheet, and cooked them on the grill.  They were quite tasty.  Wishing you a most lovely week!

Monday, July 15, 2019

Mid July & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  With the summer garden gearing up, it seems the days are getting busier.  After working in town, I met a friend to share sweet potato slips and an eggplant. We happened to meet in the parking lot where the Farmer's Market is held, so I took advantage, and got 3 tomatoes.  I wish I'd have thought to check out the corn while there.  I shared cucumbers with a couple of women at work.  At Food Lion, I bought cherries for $1.99/lb., and 10 ears of corn at 5/$1, the best price I've run across.  They also had 4# sugar 2/$4 and get 1 free.  I don't use white sugar for us, but the price is right for hummingbird food.  At Aldi's, I got a seedless watermelon for $2.69, mangoes .49, avocados .95, plus a handful of other things.  I picked up the chick feed we needed at Tractor Supply, and noticed some chicken related items on clearance.  Though not a need, I did buy a water additive that has essential oils in it, and carbon based "coop control" for odors, which as an added benefit is an excellent amendment to add to the compost for healthy soil.  I'm thinking in the future, I may try making the water additive, as I have the ingredients on hand.  I'll research it before I do.

On Wednesday, I was able to cross several things off my to do list.  The chicken coop was cleaned, and the walking path mowed.  Though most of the purslane has been mowed, I was able to harvest enough, along with our basil and garlic, for a double batch of purslane pistachio pesto.  I blanched and froze 6 meals worth of corn, and froze the pesto.  The freezers are very full.  I need to make more of an effort to use things from there, and pulled out a bag of homegrown lima beans and foraged maitake mushrooms.  It's a start.  I vacuumed my car with a shop vac at home.  I listed a number of items on ebay, and have one bid so far.  I received an email informing me of a bag sale at a thrift store.  On the way home from an appointment, I realized I could be there just when it started (it only lasted 2 hrs).  Though I didn't fill the bag, I got 2 shirts and a pair of sneakers for my GD, a pair of shorts for J, and a pair of boots and a vest for myself for $5.

The walk on Saturday morning was especially lovely.  The early morning light sent sunbeams through the trees, which was beautiful. There were also many spider webs, which were lit up in the light. The creek burbled as we walked by.  It all felt a bit magical, and made me grateful for eyes to see, and such a peaceful place to walk.  That evening, I tried a new recipe for squash casserole, which was good, though higher in fat than I'd like to eat on a regular basis (think heavy cream and cheese).  I also made a roasted eggplant dish.  With cucumbers coming in from the garden, asian cucumbers are on regular rotation. I've shared cucumbers with several people, and some eggplant as well.  A neighbor shared a large cabbage with us.  The days have mostly been very hot and humid, so outdoor chores are done early and late as much as possible.  There are always plenty of things to be done indoors, as well as outdoors.

The squirrels figured out a way around the squirrel proof feeder recently.  They would hang on the pole, so as not to trip the weight lever, and grab a seed at a time.  The problem is they did it over and over and over.  So, I enlisted J's help. He created a new pole with longer arms out of rebar for me, which seems to be doing the trick.  While out on errand, we stopped by Big Lots for their 20% off sale.  We got a few food items, but the main thing I wanted to look for were large plant pots.  We found one large ceramic pot among the plastic ones, and purchased it.  We'll repot the avocado or one of the lemons in it.  We had lunch guests on Sunday.  I made a quiche, which used our eggs, garlic, pepper and parsley. She brought homemade peach vanilla ice cream to share, which was a treat. That morning, I gathered a bouquet for the table.  I didn't sleep too well Saturday night, and am too tired to get this post ready as I usually do on Sunday night.  I'll finish it up Monday morning, and send it out then.  I hope the coming week brings you many good things!

Monday, July 8, 2019

The Summer Garden & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  After working in town, I went by the discount grocery.  Some favorite finds were  cans of organic beans for .50 ea., organic juice for $1, a 14# bag of natural lamb dogfood (good until Oct.) for 1/3 normal price, 5# natural peanut butter for $5, and 6 bags of dried wild blueberries @ .50 ea., a savings of  $44.24 if bought on amazon.  At Food Lion, I bought cherries for $1.99/#.  Last weekend, during a date night, we had the most delicious salads with fresh blueberries.  Eggs were boiled twice, for us and the pups.  Blueberries, cucumbers, the first yellow squash, green beans,figs and the first few cherry tomatoes were harvested.  Asian cucumbers were prepared.  It's beginning to feel like summer.

The feather was found on one of my walks.  It looks somewhat like a chuckwill widow's feather, but I'm not positive.  If you're good at ID'ing feathers, please share.  My sister had a family BBQ on the 4th of July.  I brought a 7 layer salad, hummus and vegi's, and a bottle of peach Bellini from Aldi's. There was lots of food, and not much of anything I brought was eaten.  In the future, I'll plan to make 1/2 recipe of the salad, which is still a lot.  A pan of egg shells was crushed, and added to the compost bin.  The first of our green beans, along with the ones given by our friend, were cooked in the wok with balsamic vinegar and sesame seeds.  I really enjoyed watching Yo-Yo Ma & The Silk Road Ensemble, free on Amazon Prime.

We received much needed rain on Friday.  J & I ran strings for the tromboncino squash and loofahs.  For years, I've been making hummingbird food at a 4:1 ratio.  I recently read this, and have since changed to a 3:1 ratio.  J fertilized all the vegetables with Neptune's Harvest, except for the melons and my dye sunflowers, which need weeding badly.  We don't want to feed the weeds as well as the desired plants, so are holding off until they're weeded.   I figured out how to download the new camera pics on my own, which is the same way I used to, before my old camera started acting wonky, so that was easy.  My BIL & SIL came for lunch and a visit.  Not much is coming in from the garden yet, but I made salad with our lettuce and cucumbers, and shared a dozen eggs with them.  Have a great week!

Monday, July 1, 2019

Bugs, a Buggy & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Though the guys specialize in alternative, renewable & sustainable energy in their shop, this is the first horse buggy they've repaired, for one of the local farmers.  Isn't it pretty?  I made pasta salad with our basil,  sauteed mushrooms with our oregano, and chard for a dinner.  After work on Tuesday, I dropped off three boxes of donations, and found shorts and pajamas there for our GD.  The shorts were on special for $1 ea.  I took advantage of some specials at Walgreens, including 3 boxes of freezer bags for .99 ea., normally $2.99.  At Aldi's, they had cantaloupes on sale for $1.29.  I picked a nice large one, and a few other things.

The chicks are growing, and doing well. A couple of mornings last week, while on my walk, I saw wild turkeys.  When I first lived here, I would hear them in the woods near the house, but they've moved farther back into the woods these days.  I'm happy to know they're still around.  Two loads of laundry were dried on the line.  A few months ago, a neighbor brought a 7 layer salad to dinner, which we'd never had, and we loved it. She hasn't shared her recipe as of yet, so I found one I think is similar, and made it.  We enjoyed it, though J less than me.  He'd like it on a rare occasion, while I think it'd be good on a regular rotation during hot summer days.

There are tiny cucumbers and tomatoes.  We're hoping to be eating cucumbers next week.  We'll have to be a bit more patient for the tomatoes.  A friend brought beautiful tromboncinos, a zucchini and green beans to us.  We're grateful to have it all, long before ours will be ready.  She also gave me 4 cases of pint jars, also appreciated.  The squirrels have gotten most of our peaches, yet again.  We have just a few left.  One was at least starting to change color, so J picked that one, which we'll let ripen in the house.  It may be the only one we get.  Here's hoping it's a good one.

This is what we're dealing with, with Japanese beetles.  I'm so glad the chickens will eat them. Guinness got into something stinky, as he's prone to do.  I bathed him in the outdoor shower, and as I was fairly covered with dog hair, took one myself.  A biting fly did harass me for a minute, but the bird song made up for it.  I mistakenly ordered one size up for a supplement Guinness takes for joint issues, and set it on bimonthly auto-ship.  I called customer service to change it to the correct weight size, and was able to return the incorrect one for credit.  The largest tromboncino squash was used in pasta sauce, along with our tomatoes, eggplant and herbs.

Just about every day, we're enjoying a salad.  I planted a mix of lettuces on the shadier side of the chard and basil in the raised beds, and they're doing very well there.  There are little beans, one yellow squash, and quite a few small eggplant.   I suppose it will be several weeks before we're enjoying our first cherry tomatoes.  I was delighted to see that even with the dry, hot weather, some of the loofahs have germinated.

On Friday, I tackled cleaning up the kitchen island.  It always holds my to do list, and usually my phone, but it also collects papers of all sorts, cookbooks, receipts, seeds, etc.  It's where canning jars cool, and await my washing them off.  There are still a few cookbooks and miscellaneous papers, but it's as clear as it ever gets, which feels good.  I played with the new camera in the afternoon, and need to figure out how to put the pics on the computer.  Hopefully, it will be a simple process, and I'll be up and running with it.  All the photos in this post are with the old camera, which thankfully is only losing a few pics at this point.

I began using a mini shampoo bottle from one of my travels.  J worked several more hours on our solar hot water, adding fittings and hooking up several more things.  It sounds very complicated when he explains all the functions.  For example, not only does the hot water need to circulate and warm the water in our hot water tank when it gets to temperature, if it gets too hot, another pump will circulate it through a heat exchanger, then send it to a radiator with a fan to cool down.  Makes my head spin trying to figure out all the details.  I'm sure glad he knows what he's doing.

I cleaned out a portion of the pantry.  This is the area where I keep "working" tinctures and such.  I strained and bottled usnea tincture, reishi tincture, and dandelion in olive oil.  I'm deciding if I'd like to make salve or lotion bars with the dandelion oil.  I'm leaning towards the lotion bars, as I've never made any before, it seems they'd be useful, and if they turn out well, could be used as gifts.  A few drops of peppermint essential oil were put on the sponge I cleaned the pantry with, to deter future mice.  I used a $5 GC when placing an amazon order.  I made falafel using a mix, and made homemade tzatziki sauce and a salad to go along.  The cantaloupe was cut up, and chickens given the rind and seeds.  I froze another can of corn in cubes for chicken treats during these hot days.  We sure can use some rain here.  If you've got some to spare, please head it this way.  Wishing you a good week!