Monday, April 20, 2020

Canning, Mending & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  I hope you are staying healthy and happy.  Last week, a pan of crushed egg shells and a bin full of shredded paper and cardboard was added to the compost bin.  Cool temperatures returned, so I took advantage, and cut up the last of the pumpkins.  Most were cubed and frozen for savory dishes, and one was baked.  With some of the cubed, I made squash and onion galette, and make kale salad and a dish with yard long beans I'd previously canned, so it was a mostly homestead dinner.  Though the galette recipe called for butternut squash, and it was what I used the last time, it was just as tasty with pumpkin.  Seeds were saved from a cheese wheel pumpkin.  A batch of suet was made.  I'm seeing hummingbird(s) pretty much daily, and on Wednesday, the male summer tanager returned to the suet feeder.  Eggs were boiled for the pups.  I'd seen mention of keeping sour cream going, and had almost finished what I had, so I tried it.  I didn't have cream as is recommended, so used half and half, and let it sit at room temperature as directed for a day.  As expected, it doesn't seem as thick.  It smells good, but is not very sour.  I'd had the sour cream starter I used for a number of weeks, so perhaps the culture was not very strong.  I did check to make sure it was cultured.  It was Trader Joe's, and did not have any weird ingredients in it.  Next time, I'll try making some sooner. 

The day after all the pumpkin skins and bits had been added to the broth bags, I canned a batch of broth, clearing four large bags of scraps from the freezer, and adding 12 pints of vegetable broth to the pantry.  All the cooked vegetables were put in the compost bin.  With some of the baked pumpkin, I made Jackie Clay's Minnesota Harvest Bars, which are sweetened only with dates, and was good.  The recipe came from her book, Growing and Canning Your Own Food, which I highly recommend.  In addition to directions on how to preserve many foods, there are a good amount of recipes on how to use your preserved foods.  I use this book often.  While I was baking the pumpkin, I also baked our four largest sweet potatoes, to make good use of the oven.  The next night, we had sweet potatoes, a homegrown spaghetti squash and lambs quarter dish, and leftover kale salad.  Only one of our cucumbers had sprouted, or was eaten, so J replanted more, and replanted tromboncino squash, as none had come up.  The peanuts he ordered came, so he planted them in the main garden.  Hopefully, they'll do better than they did in the pond garden, when the deer ate them.

This is the handmade knife friend's gave me recently. Isn't it lovely?  Checks needed to be deposited for J's business, so I went through the drive through, my big adventure last week.  I made Brandy's Taco soup for lunches.  It is one of my favorite soups, and so quick and easy to make.  Many arugula volunteered near the overwintered plants.  J pulled up the bolted cabbage plants, and gave them to the chickens.  The pollinators have been enjoying the flowers for several weeks, but he needed to till that garden and get it ready to plant.  I printed out a free kitty puppet on cardstock, and will send it with a note to my granddaughter.  With a mix of homegrown and store bought broccoli, I made fried rice, which also used our eggs and onions.  Eggs were gathered, and asparagus harvested most days.  Yogurt was made.  J planted sweet corn, which came from Jackie Clay' s Seed Treasures, which arrived last week.  They're having a busier than usual year, as other seed companies are, but still have seed to sell for many things, the last I heard.  J had a day of working in town on Friday.  I gave him a list, and he was able to purchase everything except organic cream, which I'm not sure that store carries anyway.

I rummaged through the freezer one evening, and found grated zucchini, with which I made zucchini tots.  This also used our egg, garlic, oregano and parsley.  I also found lots of pesto in the freezer, so we had some the next night, with a salad which used the last of our garden lettuce.  I planted all of my wintersown dye plants in the new bed we made for them.  On a cool, rainy morning, I caught up on ironing while watching The 1940's House on youtube, a reenactment of the period.  It's been interesting to see the two women of the house deal with rationing.  The elder had never baked a cake in her life, and the younger had only fed her family with take out and frozen foods.  They initially felt sorry for themselves, but are now coming around, which has made it enjoyable to watch.  I did a bit of stitching on the the tote bag holes, using scraps of fabric I dyed with goldenrod a few years ago.  I've been using up the last of the store bought toothpaste in the mornings, and cut the tube open to finish using it up.  Zinnia seeds were planted, as well as a few pecans I had picked up under a tree this winter.  Not many lettuce or carrots came up, so I planted more of each.  J decided he wanted to try planting celery, which neither of us has grown before.  I think it may take a longer season than we have, but we'll give it a shot. 

A new batch of alfalfa sprouts was made, for salads and sandwiches.  Thanks to a commenter on The Prudent Homemaker who mentioned Fender was offering free guitar lessons right now, both J and I signed up.  J bought a guitar some years ago, but never learned to play it, and it's something I've wanted to learn for years.  Now to make time to do it.  I did the first few lessons, tuning the guitar and picking the strings, so some progress.  The past couple of years, a dove with a stump leg has been hanging around the feeders.  There's no knowing if it was congenital, or due to a run in with a cat or bullet, but it manages quite well getting around without a foot.  Another online concert was enjoyed Saturday night.  More lemon balm was harvested and dried for tea.  I've had two lovely pollinator houses made by a local artist for a couple of years, living in a window of my studio.  I finally asked J to hang them on the side of the shed near the main garden.  Hopefully, they'll bring more pollinators to the garden.  I learned some more information about dyeing with avocados.  One of the ideas was freezing instead of drying the skins and pits, so I will be trying that, though I still have a stash of dried. 

I've been searching for the summer slippers I like for a number years, and have been unable to find them.  I've tried a couple of pairs of similar ones.  Neither has held up as well.  The sole of one on my favorite old pair started crumbling, so I got a piece of leather I bought at the thrift store last year for I believe $1, and made new soles.  I don't know how well they'll hold up, but thought it was worth a try.  If you happen to know of somewhere I can buy similar slippers... velvet with embroidery, I would very much appreciate hearing.  I've seen occasional dragons and peacocks in bright blue and red satin-type material (not my style), but nothing feminine in a soft color of velvet in size 5.  After I hot glued the soles on, I ran over the soles with the iron, to help move the glue around a bit and hopefully get them to stick well.  Last year, I picked up two fairly large handmade wrought iron pieces at a thrift store, and finally figured out they would be great as trellises.  J and I put them in with the peas, as the sticks I originally used were not holding up too well.  That's all the homestead news I can think of.  Take care, friends. 


daisy g said...

Such a busy week! Isn't it amazing all we can fit in when we make the time? All of your dishes sound wonderful and highly nutritious. Zucchini tots, like 'tater tots? Brilliant!

I was so happy to get some seedling trays done last night. The extra hour or two after supper has been very productive, I'm sure you're making the most of it as well.

Have a fantastic week!

Laurie said...

I'd seen zucchini tots mentioned in comments at The Prudent Homemaker, so researched it. When the squash are coming in, you've got to figure out what to do with them all!

Michèle Hastings said...

Do you have a recipe for your zucchini tots? I tried zucchini fritters a few years ago and while they tasted ok, they didn't hold together. I imagine they were too wet.
Your slippers are so pretty, no wonder you want to save them!

Laurie said...

I use this recipe:, but usually double it, and add 1/2 tsp garlic powder plus fresh chopped herbs. My favorite is basil and parsley, but last week, I used oregano and parsley because that's what I had. When I forget to mince the onions fine enough, they don't stick together as well, but do pretty well if I remember that.

I was wondering if you and Jeff might know of a place to get similar slippers, as I've found some in the past in asian stores. Not lately though, so I'll keep looking.

Jenny said...

Your week sounds lovely! I also had seen the zucchini tots mentioned on Brandy's blog and like the recipe you shared. Have you ever made them without cheese? I'm supposed to eat dairy free so will try finding a similar recipe.

Have you tried Etsy for the slippers? Wondering if someone makes them and sells on there.

Laurie said...

Jenny, I did purchase my last pair of slippers on etsy, but their shop is no longer open. I have not tried the zucchini tots without cheese, though I am not supposed to eat cheese either, except for one particular type. If you find another recipe you like, I hope you'll share it.

Beckyathome said...

I used up the last of the acorn squash, I think:). There were a couple lurking under the sink when I looked under there. They were dry and not very tasty anymore, so I cooked them and made "pumpkin" cookies, which were great.

I've been working in. my garden, and the early things are planted. It's been cooler and rainy so I'm unable to work out there for a couple of days. There is LOTS of yard work to do, so once it cheers up, I've got big plans.

We aren't doing "grocery collecting" this week, as we've begun to call it:). It seems once we get a fairly good list going, it takes a while and quite a bit of effort to find the items. Thankfully, my bulk storage is in great shape again, so I'm hoping we will need less and less each week, and once the garden starts producing, that will help a bunch.

Laurie said...

It's been so nice to have a good amount of nice days to do outdoor work, and a few rainy days to do indoor tasks. We missed shopping this week too, and will be fine a while yet. Like you, I'm looking forward to the garden producing some fresh stuff.

Jeannie said...

I went to the "Seed Treasure" website and was tempted to buy more seeds. They have some new varieties I haven't seen before. This year I'm sticking with the tried and true because I want to make sure we have plenty to eat. Buying new seeds is my weakness.

Laurie said...

New seeds sure are tempting, but I understand you wanting to stick to the tried and true. We have challenges with some of the tried and true ones here too. For whatever reason, three varieties of peppers planted weeks ago have yet to germinate in our makeshift greenhouse, including some saved from our garden. Lettuce is doing very poorly, and something keeps chomping the tops of the cucumber plants. We remedied that today by putting canning jars over them. It's always interesting!