I’ve started to do my grocery shopping on Saturday mornings while Sylvia naps and Matt and Liam hang out. It’s early enough that I can get in and out of the 3 store I frequent in about an hour and I’m not frazzled for the rest of the day. This Saturday, I found pickling cucumbers on sale. They were perfect, local and since I already had the seasoning mixes, ripe for the picking (pardon the pun). 20 pounds and 4 hours later I had an impressive line of 22 pints and 6 quarts of fresh, homemade pickles! I am a huge pickle fan, especially when on a peanut butter sandwich, and am super excited to pull those jars off the shelves in the middle of winter! As a bonus, this weekend was perfect to be spent in the kitchen. Breezy and in the mid-70s, I couldn’t have ordered better days.
Another recent plan is to start researching batch cooking methods. I came home from the library with a stack of books with a number of recipes that I’ll be trying out in the next few weeks. I have a few standbys for frozen meals, but I’m looking forward to expanding my choices.
This week, I’m recycling meals that I didn’t make from my last few menu plans. Matt has a few appointments after work so he won’t be around when Liam and I eat. I’m prepping meats to be grilled and used on salads for our lunches and since the weather is supposed to be mild in the middle of the week, I’m hoping to squeeze in a little extra baking. Thankfully, I don’t have many things to do myself, so I’m looking forward to days spent outside in the sun, playing with the kids!
Murgh Makhani (a special request from Matt and I’m making a double recipe of the sauce to keep in the freezer)
Salmon Cakes with Sweet Potato Fries
Asian BBQ Chicken and Rice (a new freezer recipe… I’ll let you know how it turns out!)
Honey Mustard Pork Chops
Last night, I used the very last pint of my home-canned diced tomatoes. I honestly stood at the counter and wondered if I was really ready to see them go. It was a sad, sad moment, but they tasted as wonderful as they did the day we put them in the jars. I love that about canning. I love that all the fruits, jams, jellies and pickles that I can are there in the dead of winter to cheer me up. As one friend said recently, opening a jar of home canned peaches is like eating CANDY!!!
In this house, we have a canning cellar like before, but this time it’s almost 3 times as large! I had Matt move some shelving into the room around the edges and I’m currently storing my party wear, random holiday items and wrapping paper while I’m waiting to see how much food I manage to store up this summer and fall. I’ve set my canning/freezing goal fairly low so that I know I can make it. I had had high hopes for last year, but with a toddler, morning sickness and moving, not much really got done. This year, I have a toddler still and a little one who needs a lot of attention. I’m figuring that I’ll be canning mostly while the kids sleep or on the weekends while Matt is home. 2 weeks ago, I canned 14 jars of strawberry jam. My Sister-in-Law picked them for me from her garden patch, Matt helped me clean and crush them and I did all the filling and timing for the jar processing. In past years, I wouldn’t have done it like that as I would have seen the whole project through picking to jar cooling, but times have changed and I have adaptations to make. With that being said, here’s my list for food preservation goals!
- 1 dozen pints fruit jam/jelly (this goal is already met, but I plan to do more once the raspberries and blackberries are in season)
- 1/2 pk of peaches
- 2 dozen pints Applesauce (minimum)
- 1 dozen pints Apple Cider Jelly
- 6 pints Hot Pepper Jelly
- 1 dozen pints Carmel Pear Butter
- 2-3 dozen pints diced tomatoes
- 1 dozen pints Salsa
- 1 dozen pints Pizza sauce
- 10-12 pint bags of blanched peppers and onions
- Pumpkin puree
- Squash puree
I’m also planning that once the canning and freezing is done, I’m going to make a trip to the Planktown Market and stock up on bulk pastas,oats, flour, sugar, etc. I don’t foresee wanting to make trips to Shiloh with 2 littles right before Christmas because I ran out of flour. I still need to figure out a storage solution to keep the extra bulk items airtight. Matt and I have also been talking about doing some of the Once a Month Cooking so that as the school year picks up and I have more students and less time in the evenings things still remain as relaxed and fun as they do in the summer!
Summer weekends are for adventuring in our house. Ever the list maker, I made a cute project for our family so we can not only our usual summer activities, but also remind me of all the things I’ve been anxious to get to do as a family now that Liam is old enough to enjoy them. One of the big things we like to do is take little afternoon trips and picnic. With picnicking comes quick and easy meals that sometimes need variety.
Since it’s summer, produce is in it’s glory and now is the time to enjoy a fresh, crisp BLT. BLTs don’t work so well for a packed lunch in my opinion, so I created this pasta salad. It’s hearty enough to be eaten alone, but can very easily compliment a sandwich. You can make this in advance, but I do recommend not adding the lettuce until right before you serve it, just so you have a good crunch!
BLT Pasta Salad
- 1 lb pasta, cooked and drained
- 1 c. Ranch Dressing
- 4 tomatoes, diced
- 8-10 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
- Half a large head of Iceberg Lettuce, diced
- 8 ounces Colby cheese, cut into small cubes
Once the pasta is cooked, it should set long enough to be cool to the touch. Combine the rest of the ingredients, stirring so that they are evenly distributed. Serve cold.