Category Archives: Time Management

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

I see changes

Morning dew

I can feel it in the air, I can see it in the trees and see it in the animals. While it is officially still summer here  we are moving into autumn, but there are still plenty of nice days to come. The morning and evenings are getting colder, (52 when I got up this morning) the grass is heavy with dew. The horses are shedding their dull sun bleached summer coat for their warm, thick and fuzzy winter coat. The days are getting darker earlier, we now have the house lights on around 6:30 each evening and it is dark when we get up. Soon it will be time to set up the new solar lights in the chicken coop.

Other changes I see is a shift of attitude and activity in the community. Yards are being cleaned up and summer gear being put away. I see long sleeves and pants, gone are the tshirts and shorts until mid afternoon. But what I am talking about is the conversations and attitudes while I am out and about on the subject of being more  self-sufficient and about home making. This really just tickles me, it really does.

Now it decides to blossom-The wild pumpkin in the poop pile. But there is one huge pumpkin in there

Attitudes are changing about being homemakers, stay at home parents (I won’t say Mothers here because many I know are Stay at home DADS), home cooking, stock piling, canning and putting family before a paying job. The local feed stores and farm center are full every time I go in there, yet a few short years ago the place was a ghost town except the few regulars.

It’s okay to consider your family and yourself before a paying job. It’s okay to take a paying job that pays less and gives you more personal freedom and time. Time much deserved and much needed to care for yourself and your family. These past few decades of work, work, work, hurry up and work some more to buy more of the stuff being pushed down our throats. 3 cars and a pool in every yard, more kid toys that will ever fit in their rooms or than they ever will play with.  Big malls to shop, shop, shop. Folks are catching onto to the down side with all this working and hustle they are spending more time away from home and that means no time for cooking healthy, spending time with their children teaching them life skills, mending and sewing, knitting or even a day to relax.

Roma starting to ripen, hope the frost holds off.

This is what I see changing for the better. The slowing down, making better decisions (a person’s grocery cart will tell you a lot about them). I see more home cooking “things” around. More canning cook books and supplies, free recipes for the taking, homemaking classes, nutrition classes, and chicken swaps. Even the most unlikely place as eBay anything to do with homemaking is getting stiff competition in bidding and people are paying top dollar for these things. Try to bid and win (at a reasonable price) a pressure canner, stand mixer or even cookbooks.

Farmer’s Markets have started in just about every town around and they are busy! I see new roadside stands in my travels and MANY new gardens in the back yards. I notice the second hand shops I enjoy are full of new faces and actually crowded. I notice the vitamin, vegetable and organic isle at the grocery store are full of people when they never have been. I notice more chickens, rabbits and ducks wandering around the farm yards, new fruit trees growing on the lawns.

Rugosa rose hips starting to ripen in the garden. They are huge this year

These changes don’t happen overnight and I know for our family home making activities come and go. Since I have started working 3 days a week away from home gone is my time for bread making and out has come the slow cooker and I am cooking in bigger batches and making good use of the freezer for our quick meals. I have started using the electric clothes dryer. This is okay, it’s good to pick and choose how to spend your time. Would I rather bake bread or catch up on the laundry? Would I rather spend valuable time with Daisy or knit a pile of face cloths? Would I rather spend time caring for our garden or on the internet?

It’s just priorities and the choices that come from them. Yes healthy bread is important but so are clean clothes. I can buy organic natural bread which is less expensive that sending our mountains of laundry out every week. I am looking for a bread machine, the kind you set and forget about and out comes fresh bread… Yes, I can even use the dryer if that will help in any way.  I can use our crock-pot for yummy meals and not head down the aisle of prepackaged processed food at the store. I can put up large batches of soup and sauces for quick meals and stay away from the store canned stuff. We can put up with stained and worn face clothes a bit longer so Daisy can spend the extra time doing and learning something new outside while the weather is cooperating.

Frisky in the morning

Folks are learning that their homemaking skills are valuable not always in the paid sense but in the rewards knowing the work is done themselves and for themselves. That’s a really nice feeling at the end of the day to know your hard work and energy was spent to better your own life and not the pocket of some corporate executive whom you have never met. I am fortunate that I get paid to do these kinds of things I enjoy in my daily life. I do these things for the family I care for and bring my own projects along with me to work on. I am paid a reasonable rate for the work I do yet there are no paid benefits in the form of paid vacation or health insurance. The benefit is  that I spend 9 hours that day doing something I actually enjoy and it immediately helps them. A nice thing to be happening. This week the highlight was chasing down the few escaped guinea hens and letting them go again in their new pen. Or maybe the time spent talking with the woman I care for while cleaning out her linen closet and restacking everything nice and neat. Or maybe the happiness on her face when we took the hair rollers from her newly washed hair. Maybe it was wrestling with their dog on the floor while the movie Bells of St. Mary was playing in the back ground. No it has to be the hug and sincere thank you and the words have a nice weekend I got as I left for the week. That is hard to beat by any standard. I will take that over a paid vacation any day.

These are the kinds of things that have been missing for a very long time, or never were in many lives and I am so very happy to hear that they once again are making a come back when I hear the stories in conversations I have with my friends, neighbors or even the stranger in line behind be at the post office. Around here standing in line at the post office is not such a bad thing and it only takes a few minutes that are quickly filled with pleasant conversation before it’s your turn.

So have you noticed this too?


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