Category Archives: Planning

Another Convenience Food-Farm Style

Sweet Pea and Calendula soap ready to be cut into bars

I know I talk about this all the time but here I go again. Some times I don’t feel like making a huge mess or spending lots of time cooking. There are other fun things to do but everyone has to eat right? And everyone like good home cooked meals over some boxed stuff, right?

Last night was one of those I don’t feel like cooking nights. So our fast food was a hot bowl of pea soup, corn bread and for dessert we had peaches. I had exactly 2 pans, 4 spoons, 4 glasses, 4 bowls, 1 knife and a wooden spoon to clean up. I warmed up a jar of pea soup I had frozen last fall, a quick corn bread recipe that took all of 5 minutes to measure out, and I stirred together right in my cast iron frying pan then baked and popped the lid off a jar of peaches I put up. The corn bread recipe could have been even faster if I had the recipe minus the liquids and eggs premeasured in a container with the recipe written on the side.

gardener's soap with cranberry seeds

The secret to these meals is that it all started months ago when I purchased a nice smoked pork shoulder. We had a wonderful family meal with close friends the night I cooked it. I saved the left over meat in small packages and froze for things like quick omelets, mac and cheese and even toasted ham and cheese sandwiches.

Meal two came with the ham bone a few night later, I made into a nice large batch of pea soup. This was a don’t even think about it meal. I put the ham bone in the crock pot and covered it with water, set it on low and forgot about it until the next day. After it was cool I removed the bone and other undesirable pieces, leaving the loose ham bits in the water. To this I dumped in about 4# of dried peas and a few well diced carrots. I turned the crock pot back on low and forgot about it again until later in the day when it was dinner time. Turned out perfect. A quick batch of corn bread and a fresh salad from the garden and dinner was served.

To freeze the leftover soup for another quick meal, I used regular quart canning jars and lids to freeze meal size portions in. These were not new lids, this is okay because I didn’t pressure can the soup I froze it. Make sure to leave plenty of head room as this stuff does expand when it freezes. No pressure canning needed, I simply put the band and lid on and put it in the freezer. I sometimes use other sized jars and their lids in place of the canning jars, it depends on the size I want to freeze.

After dinner last night I stopped into one of my favorite Blogs, to say hello to Rhonda Jean over at Down To Earth and was quite pleased to see she too is talking about pork shoulders and how handy and economical they are. You can read about it from her, here. Her photo of her dinner makes me hungry all over again for another cooked roast.

will be in our Etsy shop soon...Smells like spring to me...

So now on to the corn bread, like I said I was in no mood to spend lots of time cooking so I mixed my corn bread right in the cast iron frying pan and tossed it in the oven to bake. My recipe calls for corn meal, I decided to use up some I ground last fall while preparing for our 7 months of eating from our pantry. The recipe also called for a small amount of white flour, I used ground oats and a bit of bran flour. There is also a small amount of “liquid fat” my recipe calls for so I used flax oil with a splash of sunflower oil. It turned out yummy. * here is another little Karyn is not into cooking tonight tip…the recipe needed a cup of milk. Since I am doing my baking with powdered milk to cut back on the fresh milk ($$ & running to the farm down the road) I didn’t bother mixing the milk first I tossed about 3 TBS of the milk powder right in the flour mix and added a cup of water with the oil and egg.

20 minutes and very little dishes later we were stuffed full of our convenience food…farm style. Now to decide what is for dinner tonight. I think it will be a “farm house buffet”  (leftovers for those of you who are wondering). We have some Shepard’s pie, pea soup, potato salad and fresh spinach that need to be used up. Almost forgot the brownies and chocolate chip cookies…

So whats for dinner at your house tonight?

New Gardener’s Soap

For those of you who have been asking. I finally finished the new batch of Gardener’s Soap just in time for the spring gardening season. I can tell you it gets plenty of use around here all gardening season. I keep a bar of it up at the barn, in the kitchen and down by the water hose.

These pretty pastel white, yellow and mint green bars are packed with 10X orange essential oil and rosemary essential oil. We use orange oil to remove dirt, grime and general sticky messes. Added to these bars is a good amount of ground pumice and cranberry seeds for the extra scrub you will need when cleaning up after digging in the garden. You can get your own bar from our Etsy shop.

While we are on the subject of spring and gardens we have been playing in the tub with these spring frog soaps. Daisy is having a ball with them. They are also listed in our Etsy shop.

I started a bit of spring cleaning around here and got the walls, floor, curtains and shower curtains washed in the big bathroom. I decided to open a package of our Organic Dryer Sachets since I used the dryer this time, I needed to get the room done so I could start spaghetti sauce for dinner tonight. I’m glad I did the room smells so nice…

Also keep your eye out for an upcoming spring cleaning sale I am putting together this week. And don’t forget our free shipping offer, use coupon code BACK HOME for free shipping in the US.

I made some progress on the layout for the kitchen garden. So that makes me feel better. Boy are seeds addicting and the collection around here is growing quite large. I should come up with another way to organize them other than my old broken down shoe box…I’ll try and remember to add that to my list. :)

…and I started a batch of tomatoes cooking for spaghetti sauce for tomorrows dinner. Last summer I just ran out of steam when I was canning sauce so I took the last few tomatoes and froze them whole. Today I plopped a bunch in the crock pot and will let them cook down. Tomorrow night I will run them through the food mill and finish making the sauce by adding a few herbs and putting it to simmer again in the crock pot for dinner on Tuesday night. It’s pretty easy to do and doesn’t take all that much attention from me while cooking.

Hope you weekend went as well as mine did.

Pantry Update..going very well

I spent some time straightening up the pantry recently and taking new inventory counts. In looking at our remaining meal plan days and the quantities left in the pantry I would say we are right on track for most items. 

Since I finalized our list a couple of changes have happened that I didn’t count on and this leaves a few items such as the very lean red meat, chicken and pork on the low side. This is due to a change in the menu because we had to adjust Dick’s diet a bit since the meal plan was finished.It will work out because I just traded a bunch of our ground hamburger for some nice pork roasts. Friends of ours are up to their ears in pork. They put 2 full grown pigs into their freezers this fall, and she was more than happy to make the trade for a bit of red meat.

Tarts made of fresh raspberry soap

We are a bit low on the home canned soups. This is because I it is so easy to open a jar of soup vs cooking an actual meal when I was so tired I couldn’t see or think straight…homemade convenience food is a wonderful thing. I will be making another few batches and will get the pressure canner out again. Of course the ingredients will come from the pantry and I have new lids here that I bought on sale at the end of the canning season last fall. End of the season sales are when I stock up on canning supplies.

Guess who just turned 5!
Guess who just turned 5!

We have another new food plan in the works and it is a joint effort to produce meat for both farms. This is a promising adventure for both of our families. I know others in the past have tried it and have run across problems and the venture ended badly. Yet I also know families who do it year after year with no problems. Our families have worked together, been friends and raised horses together for years so I don’t see any problems for us.

I’m not sure this will save any money in the long run but the purpose here is to have the quantities we need and the quality I want. This will divide the labor a bit and spread out the costs of housing the animals. Around here pigs, chickens and turkeys are seasonally grown so neither of us will need to worry about caring for them over the winter.

We are working out the details:

At the other farm- they will raise for us 1 additional pig. We will be buying the feed and be paying for the processing in the fall for this. Then we will be trading with them most of our bacon and hams for the roasts and chops that better fit our diet.

At our farm-we will be raising turkeys and meat chickens. We don’t have the quantities worked out yet but their family is as large as ours. I know the chicks have to be bought a dozen at a time.

When we were first talking about the turkeys the first though was how on earth are we going to eat 6 full grown turkeys over the winter! (Assuming we will split them evenly.) Then I thought how on earth would I find space in the freezer for 6 large birds. You see I was thinking roast turkey, thanksgiving style…But then it dawned on me, we have a meat grinder! We love ground turkey and it will take much less room in the freezer and can even be canned in jars. Problem solved, ground turkey works just like ground beef in so many recipes and turkey Dick can eat. Another plus is with the intention of grinding the turkey we won’t have to worry about the messy job of plucking feathers, the bird can simply be skinned and the meat ground… Piece of cake….

She got new ice skates!

She got new ice skates!

Other plans are coming along too. This week I will be starting the layout for the garden and ordering our seeds. In a few weeks it will be time to start our seedlings. This is always an exciting time to have a bit of something growing when there are feet of snow covering the garden. Actually just now I can’t even see the fence around the garden because the snow is covering it. My inventory count will come in handy once again when deciding on how much of each crop to plant.

And lastly I started the list for the coming canning season. New this year and I will need to find the recipes for is beef stew, chili and turkey stew. I also know that I will not be canning so many quarts of potatoes, the pints are a better size for our family. The canned potatoes have come in quite handy for tossing into soup and even work like “instant potatoes” for topping one of our favorite dishes, Shepherd’s Pie, so easy. I heat them, mash them then top off our casserole, no peeling or cooking needed, they are already cooked. More “convenience” food!

Tarts and tea


Beautiful pie made from stored apples, yummy!

This past week while I was at work the “Farm Team” joined together and finished off my Fall to-do list! Just in the nick of time it seems. It’s spitting snow again this morning. It feels good to toss that list away and to know we are officially ready for winter. I have been worrying about it for the past couple of weeks knowing I don’t have time to finish it up myself and would those responsible for the task complete it and complete it the right way….Giving trust is something I need to work on it seems.

The stacking of the lumber pile that got torn apart a couple of weeks ago to build the small roof off the end of the carriage shed. This now holds the lawnmowers and gas grill. The goal was to just get the roof up and we will worry about the sides and a door in the spring when it warms up…. Check those 2 off the list.

The storage shelfs for the full canning jars has been sorted through and reorganized. Now everything is much easier to find…Check!

Window washing…The plan here was to wash the screens and both sides of the windows. This I guess will take a bit of practice. If the sun isn’t shining you can see out it…So this one gets 1/2 a check because the screens look great! No worries I washed it again and we had a good time laughing about it. It was a good opportunity to teach this important skill.

This beautiful organic soft neck garlic still sits on the counter waiting to be planted. It should have gone into the ground the first of Nov… The ground is now wet and cold. All I can do now is hope for a warm enough day to plant it without freezing my hands off and hope for the best. Don’t think that will happen so I will find something to do with this garlic before it all sprouts.

The most exciting project to be completed over the weekend is one that comes from an ancient list….way back when we were building the house 10 years ago! That is a closet shelf in Daisy’s room. When it is done there will actually be 2 shelves in here with a short dresser under them. Plenty of room to hold out of season clothes and toys not being used.

Two girls and their toys in one room, was a bit of a challenge at first but they have worked it out and act like best friends and sisters now. They get along for the most part but like sisters can have an outburst or two now and again.

Here son #1 and Dick are work hard, or should I say having a hard time working because their bellies are full of warm apple pie and homemade ice cream after eating their lunch of pot roast with roasted carrots and potatoes. It’s not always an easy life around here, is it?

Of course Miss Daisy had to build herself a place to supervise the project. She even sang them her ABC song while they worked complete with music…7 or 8 times….I had to laugh when I heard the guys pleading, please sing another song Daisy, please.

Lastly I would like to give thanks to the ladies who work so hard every day to provide us with these wonderful eggs. Do you see the size of that egg! The rest of them in the carton weigh in as extra large/jumbo on the egg scale. This one bottomed it out. When I cracked it open for breakfast it had 3 yolks in it.

Daisy decided she should eat that one because she was the one who carried it to the kitchen from the coop. You got it girl, and she ate the entire thing along with 2 pieces of toast with our homemade raspberry jam.

No worries, we washed it off well before cracking it open. This tell-tale smudge tells me cleaning the nesting boxes should be added to the list.:) If the nesting boxes are kept clean with hay, shredded newspaper or sawdust the eggs arrive to the kitchen sparkling clean.

I think I am catching the hang of having so much help. I put away the laundry this week that was nicely folded and stacked in a basket for me and It didn’t bother me that it all wasn’t exactly the way I would have folded it.

I have gotten over the frustration of having my cupboards rearranged and never the same twice. Now I holler…Jess where is the ____? you fill in the blank. She always comes running with a smile on her face. This was hard for me, very hard. The kitchen has always been mine alone and I could work in it with my eyes closed knowing each cup, bowl and spoon was always in the exact same spot. I think this trade-off is well worth the joy I have standing side by side with her while cooking a warm healthy meal for our family.

A pillowcase I just finished while at work.

Thanks Farm Team! I promise when I get home this afternoon I will make that peanut butter fudge you asked for over the weekend.


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