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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?

Lavender

I ordered this beautiful organic Lavender from a farm in Maine if you can believe it. I love the color and it smells so nice.

I just finished up my second batch of salve with it and I like it very well. I put some up on the Farm Store Blog if anyone is interested.

I have had luck growing two varieties here and would like to add more to the gardens this year. I played around with trying to make Lavender wands this past summer, I think it will take some practice before any one gets some as gifts. The ones I made still smell very nice in my dresser and in the linen closet.

I also have some nice new Irish linen and started some embroidery to make some dryer and drawer sachet for gifts this year. I figured why not since I have the embroidery basket out and I’m working on an embroidered bread bag. I hope to have that finished soon. All I have to do is work on it, I’ve been in bed early these days so not much time to sew.

Hope your day is going well.

Karyn

Jam and Jelly

It has continued to be freezing cold and windy here. This has kept me inside and still in the kitchen. There are plenty of other things I could and should be doing but I’m content to let those things slide a bit.

I decided to make some ice cream and since it  was cold I let mother nature do the freezing for me. We enjoyed it the other night with a bit of peanut butter sauce on top.

Next I had some of those left over apples from the apple sauce I made, so decided to make some apple and rose hip jelly. I used dried rose hips, something new to me. I have cooked with rose hips before but not dried. They had me worried for a bit, until I realized they are like any other dried food. A bit of soaking in water and they are set to use.

I simply boiled down the apples and hips, then let them drain through the old pillowcase I always use for jelly making. I followed the recipe for apple jam in the Certo box. 6 cups of juice, 7.5 cups of sugar and a packet of pectin.

 We enjoyed it for breakfast this morning. This was a project I ment to finish up yesterday but I got distracted with trying to help thaw out the water up at the barn. Its still frozen and we are lugging water. I think when Dick gets a chance we are going to take the pump handle off again and put some rock salt down there and see if that helps.

Yesterday first thing in the morning I took a trip to the store to pick up a few things from the sale flyer and discovered raspberries and red peppers that had to come home with me.

So I made up a batch of raspberry jam. I really wanted this to be seed free but the seeds are to tiny and went right through the mill I used.

Another great reason why I would love to have a Roma food mill. I tried to strain the berries through a metal strainer I have and the mesh was just to tight and I gave up on it. So we have half seedless jam. Even though there looks to still be quite a few seeds in there, it would have been worse.

I sent a jar of it home with friends who stopped for a visit last night and another jar with Dick this morning when he went to pick up hay. For them to enjoy. They live over on the other side of town and I always enjoy visiting with them. I didn’t go today because I am doing some respite care for the weekend.

Apple & Rose hip jelly-love that color!

Earlier in the week Dick and I went to one of his lodge functions. I had been asked to make the program for the event. It was a great project to work on and I am happy with the results. I was asked to do a program for an event coming up over a year from now. That should be another fun one to work on.

I am very happy that it has warmed up quite a bit today and the sun is out. It cheers things up to open the curtains and let the sun shine in. The past week or so it was to cold and the house stayed warmer with them closed. So it’s a nice treat. Even the lady bugs (Asian beetles) have come out from hiding and are sitting in the sun on the outside of the house and climbing up the windows. It’s about 35f in the sun.

So since I am coming down with some sort of a cold I don’t feel all that well today. My throat is scratchy and my head hurts. I think I will pull my rocking chair over to the window and enjoy the sun and do some embroidery.

That reminds me, I put away the knitting for now and have been working on embroidering a design to make into a bread bag. There is a great tutorial here, at the Down To Earth Forum. If you haven’t had a chance yet, you should stop in there, lots of great people and information.

I also have several pillow cases ready to work on that will keep me busy for a few days. I am going to put them up on the Country Store Blog when I finish them.

Hope you are enjoying the weekend.

 

The Making of Plans

green pumpkinWe still have a few weeks left of warm weather but the signs are there. Late summer is here and so is the coming of fall around here. Already some of the trees are showing their bright red fall colors, the grass is wet with dew every morning and the fall wild flowers are starting to bloom and the days are getting shorter.

It’s time to start thinking about the coming of winter around this house…

Over the next few days I will be sharing with you a few thoughts and plans I am making for our family this winter. This year will be a bit different but not a lot from any other year. As fall and winter are about to set in here so come the added expenses of winter such as heat and increased electrical and the cost of food rises.  And too the end to Dick’s summer job until the spring. What is different this year is we don’t have my income to rely on, only what our “winter jobs” will bring. Our savings for winter and our emergency saving are very low this year.

My goal like any other year is to fill the pantry and shop from that over the winter with trips to town only for fresh produce, fruit and things like milk.

This year’s earlier plans were to preserve from our own garden, that isn’t going to happen. So I will stock up on store bought canned and frozen veggies and put up any fresh that come this way from friends and neighbors. So far that isn’t happening this year, their garden’s are as sad as ours.

Our home doesn’t use many cleaning or paper goods but what we do use I will stock up on. Things like, salt, vinegar, castile soap, baking soda and a bit of ammonia and bleach for cleaning. Bathroom paper, wax paper and diapers.

green pumpkin 2Things like herbs and spices. There are a few herbs I have been drying form our garden all summer and those are doing well for us. There won’t be extra for trading this year though.

Grain and hay for the animals. While this isn’t my first choice for grain as I like to purchase it monthly so it’s fresher I will be putting what I need in the cellar to last us until spring. Our hay has been saved for us so I don’t need to worry about that.

Continue to cut back on electric use. This is a tough one for us. Over 1/2 of our monthly bill is all sorts of fees & taxes-they can not be reduced. The actual energy used here is below the average for our area. But to help I will purchase another wooden drying rack as I generally don’t use our dryer and most of the winter hanging clothes outside is a miserable job to say the least. Shoveling mountains of snow to get to the line, freezing hands….inside is easier for me. The use of lanterns and rechargeable solar lighting inside the house.

green applesTrying to cut back on our propane use for heating this winter. Our home is very energy efficient and well weather proofed but there still are a couple of things I would like to do to help. Window coverings and winter drapes, draft stoppers across the bottom of the doors.

Working out and preparing healthy well balanced meals while cutting back on the cost of those meals. This will be a tricky one, but I have a few ideas.

So while I have been quiet lately I have been busy making plans and ready to share them with you.

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