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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Meal plan for October 1st - 7th

Oy vey, it's been an exhausting weekend!  I almost feel like I need to go to work tomorrow just to get a break.  Almost.

I've been a slacker this week and didn't track our grocery expenditures, but I did spend $12 on 3 dozen fresh and local eggs, $3.50 for half a gallon of raw milk, $40 at Costco, and about $20 ish at the grocery store.  Here is what we're having for dinner this week.

Monday:: (soccer practice) Chinese chicken salad wraps, fruit, and a few Pop Chips.  The sauce for the wraps was something I canned from stolen gleamed plums.  The recipe is in Put Em Up.

Tuesday:: Tortilla soup in the crockpot, served with tortilla chips and fruit.

Wednesday:: (soccer practice) Taco bowls, served with tortilla chips and fruit.  Eerily similar to Tuesday, eh?

Thursday:: Breakfast dinner (bacon that I cooked awhile ago and froze, whole wheat waffles I made this morning and froze, and the world's best scrambled eggs).  And fruit.  Of course.

Friday:: It's my birthday, and Jackie and I are going to take dinner to my momma at the gimp hut (skilled rehab facility where she will be temporarily to get her strength back.  MS is a stupid ass disease ya'll.). 

Saturday:: Dinner at my sister-in-law's.

Sunday:: Not sure, but I'm sure my family will converge on the gimp hut and come up with something to share for a meal!

How about you?  What are you guys having?

And yoo hoo.  You. The overly PC person who was just about to comment that I need to be sensitive to using terms like "gimp".  Save your breath/typing energy.  Both of my parents have been gimped up since before my sister and I were born.  Through no fault of their own.  So, as a family, you have two choices - you can cry about it, or you can laugh and make jokes.

It's pretty clear the route my family has taken.  And we don't apologize about laughing through the shitty times.  Because the alternative sucks.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Please pardon the radio silence

My momma is in the hospital, so I'll be a bit out of touch until things improve!

Wednesday night update: Mom is doing about 100% better than yesterday!  Yesterday was sad and scary, but I walked in to her room today to find her sitting up, about to eat (first time since Sunday), and laughing with her friend Karen.  If laughter is truly the best medicine, your prayers and kind thoughts added a wonderful boost to help aid her recovery.  Thank you so much!

Roasted red pepper and tomato soup

When Troy and I first moved to Los Angeles, we discovered the awesomeness of living within biking distance to a Trader Joes.  One of my favorite things to purchase from TJ's was their roasted red pepper and tomato soup.  Delicious!

I set about to recreate it last weekend.  I think I did a pretty decent job, and I'm really looking forward to this come wintertime when I need some warming up.

Before we get started, this is not something I canned.  I couldn't find a trusted recipe for it, and I didn't want to chance it.  I wanted to make it how I wanted to make it, and so this is something you're going to have to freeze. 

Knock Off of Trader Joe's Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup
Wide-mouth quart canning jars
A buttload of tomatoes (doesn't matter what kind)
Olive Oil
2 small heads of garlic
2 red peppers, preferably organic

1) Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

2) Rinse your tomatoes, hull them (see this recipe for a how to), and slice in half.  Place the cut side half up in a lasagna pan.  Add your sliced red peppers and garlic as well.  Sprinkle with salt, and drizzle with olive oil.  Roast for 1 hour.

3) You can do various things at this point.  You can put them in a deep pot and use an immersion blender.  Or, you can put them in a blender (you'll need to make multiple batches to do this), and then run it through a sieve.  Kinda like this.

I use my foodmill that I've had for almost 7 years and love fiercely!  You put the tomatoes in the top:

Juice/sauce comes out here:

And the seeds and peels come out here:

Pour in to your wide-mouth canning jars, and keep at least 1 inch of head space.  The soup will expand in the freezer and you don't want it to overflow, and/or explode.
Studies have proven that food tastes better if you make it while watching Project Runway on Hulu.  It's a fact.
Now, when I go to make this for dinner, I'll thaw it out (obvs), then melt some butter and mix in some flour to make a roux (see directions here).  Add a pinch of sugar, and some salt, and you're all set. Then add the thawed soup.  Serve with grilled cheese sandwiches, or crusty no knead dutch oven bread and butter.

Some night in winter, I'll be able to eat this and be transferred back to Los Angeles with just a bite.  It's Los Angeles, without the cost of living and smog.  And the homeless guy who when I offered him my sandwich on the Santa Monica beach, he asked me if the tuna was dolphin-safe, and was the mayo vegan.

It's a win win.
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Monday, September 24, 2012

Mostly Homemade Mondays week 14

It's Monday - that time of the week for Mostly Homemade Mondays - the link party for people who like cooking healthy food, but sometimes have to rely on the occasional store-bought item. And for crafty people. And gardeners.

Got something cool you posted recently on your blog? Link up so that the rest of us can see the awesomesauce!

The "rules":

1) Please link back to this post so that people reading your blog know they can find more fantastic posts here!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

My Jesus rubbed off!

If you read my meal plan post this morning, you saw that I was tired and worried that I would fall asleep in church this morning.

Yeah, that didn't happen.

Our pastor does a children's sermon before the main sermon, and all the kids go up front for a quick 4 minute lesson.  The pastor usually puts a "surprise" in a box, and part of me is always thinking of Brad Pitt yelling "what's in the box man, what's in the box".  Seven reference anyone? 


Moving on.

Anyhoo, this morning, the pastor showed the kids a new prayer corner we have, and showed them a little bowl of water where they could put the sign of a cross on their forehead.  We're Lutheran and this is kind of new for us.  Don't spring surprises on Norwegians buddy!  He dipped his finger in the water and put the sign of the cross on many of the kids near him, one of them being Jack.

They headed back to the front, and the pastor continued with his kid's message.  Suddenly, Jack yells "excuse me please" (hey, if your kid is going to interrupt everyone in church, at least he is polite!), "I need some more (pointing to the bowl of water), my Jesus rubbed off".

Let's just say that 90% of the people in the congregation wet their pants.  I being one of them.

Meal plan for September 24th - 30th

I'm waiting for my last batch of pears to process in the canner (20 total quarts).  I'm beat, my back is sore, and I'm excited to go to sleep!  I did watch quite a bit of high-quality TV on my Hulu queue though.  Oh, and Sons of Anarchy on Amazon Prime.  Dude, episode 1?!  Who has seen it?  That's some fucked up shit right there!  Tigg's daughter?

Jack gets up at 6 am, so I'd like to go the heck to sleep.  Church is going to be super fun.  I'm picturing myself passing out during the sermon, and waking up snorting "I love Jesus" when the choir starts, all while wiping the drool from my chin.  I'll need to stuff the offering box just a little bit more to make up for it.

Saturday was a bit busy with a trip to the post office (Elaina, your birthday present is on the way...a week late.  Go me.), a trip to a cousin's house to finally meet her new baby (I was sick for 2 weeks) and teach her a little bit about baby wearing.  Then off to my parent's to hang out and help out.  And by help out, I mean completely plug their garbage disposal and sink with macaroni noodles.  Go me. Part II.  Right as I was about to serve Jack some Trader Joe's mac and cheese, I saw that the box had a pull by date of MARCH 2008.  My parents are a bit hoardy.  I threw it in the sink, and plugged everything in the process.

A quick look at Youtube, and I was clearing the "J trap" and flushing the sink out in no time.  I'm not gonna lie...I was pretty impressed with myself.  PS, did you know that Lowes has their own You Tube channel?

After that, we hit up Goodwill (kid's books, an fabulous Spiderman puffy vest for the lad, and 8 canning jars), and then the grocery store for the week.  Here is what my family will be chowing on this week:

Monday:: eating dinner at my in-law's.  It's Jack's first night of soccer, and the practice field is right by their house.

Tuesday:: mac and cheese (this didn't get made last week because um, I forgot to buy the whole wheat organic elbow noodles.  doh), salad, and fruit.

Wednesday:: Sandwich wraps, Pop Chips, and fruit.  Soccer practice night.

Thursday:: Salmon cakes, grilled zukes, and fruit.

Friday:: Popcorn dinner.  Love popcorn for dinner!

Saturday:: It is my mother-in-law's birthday and we're having all of her favorites.  Speaking of which, does anyone have a great recipe for gravy?  Never made it before.

Sunday:: My parent's for family dinner.

I spent $30 at the grocery store, and will be buying $3.50 worth (half gallon) of raw milk tomorrow at our local farm.

The timer went off, and I'm hearing the lids on the jars already on the counter starting to "pop".  That is my cue, night all!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Happy Friday and wishing you a great weekend

I'm not mind reader, but I'm going to guess your weekend is going to be way cooler than mine...

Zuke is slotted for grilling next week, cucumbers will be pickles (chips or spears???), the maters will become soup, and the raspberries were eaten about .16 seconds after this photo was taken.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Raspberries and three year old stand up

We're now in the thick of the fall/second crop of our raspberries, and these ones are so much bigger!  Our raspberry bed that Troy and Jack built is only 6 months old, but we're getting at least 11 raspberries a day.  How do I know we're getting at least 11?  Well, we have this..
And then I get to eat one.

The other day during dinner, Jack and I had this conversation:

Jack: Mommy, Poppy and I fed a chip to a chipmunk at the zoo.
Me: Why didn't you give him a pretzel.
Jack: Because he isn't a pretzelmunk

Badump baa.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Survey says...

...well, I have no idea.  That is why I'm administering a survey!

So, it would appear that I hate myself.  Despite being stupidly busy, I decided to take a 5 credit college class this fall AND sign Jack up for soccer.  Cause you know, I'm an idiot.

What does that mean for this blog?  Hopefully nothing!  Hopefully you won't even know that I'm getting less sleep and am more busy than ever.  But what it does mean is that I need to be more focused and more planned out on what to post here in this space.  I need to streamline baby!

That is where you come in.  Please.  What are topics that you'd like to see me write about?  Just to generate a few nuggets of inspiration, here are some things I'm planning to blog about in the next few weeks:
                   -canning pears (tutorial)
                   -homemade breathmints
                   -homemade kid-approved 3 ingredient fruit snacks
                   -homemade "fast food" like soups in jars, etc.
                   -roasted tomato products for canning (soups, sauces, etc.) (tutorial)

So what do you think?  Excited?  Bored?  "Where are the fart jokes Sarah" you say?  Don't worry friends, they'll be there.

They'll be there.

So, I'd love your input on additional topics that you'd enjoy hearing about as I start my descent in to crazytown.  I've always been crazytown adjacent, but I'm about to be a full-time resident quite soon!

Thanks in advance for your ideas!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Canning diced tomatoes

Here are some truths:
-I hate canning.  It hurts my back, it's exhausting, it's time consuming (it always takes at least 90 minutes longer than I assume), and sweaty.
-My husband is unobservant and has always assumed I love canning because I do it all the time.  Weirdo.  I do laundry and clean the bathrooms all the time too, but I wouldn't call those things hobbies.
-It is almost always the best way to preserve excess food from your garden/you've urban harvested around the neighborhood.
-As far as I can tell, Troy and Jack don't plan to stop eating any time soon.  Canning is also the cheapest way to preserve the garden bounty/gleamed fruit I find. This month I've canned 35 half pints, 19 pints, and 11 quarts of various things, and have spent a total of $10 on produce.  Everything else came from my garden, or my urban harvesting.
-As much as I hate canning, I love the security and convenience of the output.  There are few things that compare to walking down to your basement in January, to grab a jar of "fresh" peaches to eat.
-Canning is like childbirth - it sucks while you're going through it, but the product is worth all the trouble.

One of the first things I started canning many moons ago were diced tomatoes.  These are perfect additions to soups, stews, and other dishes.  Diced tomatoes are also an easy thing for new canners to tackle because you only need two things - tomatoes and an acid.  Well jars, rings, and lids too, but you get the point.

Head's up, I was canning these at 10 pm the other night, so don't expect  magic when you see the photos.  I was tired, the light was awful, and I was busy watching/listening to The Godfather Part II on my laptop.

1) Start by washing your tomatoes.
All from my garden.  I'm kicking myself for not weighing these before canning them.  But they made 6 pints.

2) Remove the stem from the tomatoes.  I use a strawberry huller that I found years ago at a restaurant supply store, but they're also available online.  You can also just use a sharp paring knife.  Set the hulled tomatoes aside.

3) Boil a pot of water, and prep a bowl of cold water with ice added.

4) Place the tomatoes in the water for about 30-60 seconds; until you see the skins slipping off.

5) Remove the tomatoes from the boiling water, and put them in the ice water.  The skin should easily slip off afterwards.

6) Dice the tomatoes, and set aside.

7) Fill your hot and clean jars with 1 tblsp of bottled lemon juice (or 1/4 tsp citric acid) for pints, or 2 tblsp lemon juice (or 1/2 tsp citric acid) for quarts, the tomatoes, and use something (that red thing is from my foodmill) to gently squish them down so that they are in their own juices.  Add more tomatoes until you have filled the jar, leaving 1/2 inches of head space (the space between the top of the food and the top of the jar).

8) Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean rag, and put a clean and sanitized lid on the jar, and tighten a ring over that.

9) Process.  Processing times will vary depending on your canning method.  These take a long time (85 minutes) in a boiling water canner, but only 25 minutes in my pressure canner.  Always use a trusted guide for canning times.  I am not a trusted guide. If you're new to the whole canning world, the library is a great source of canning books.  Just make sure that the book you check out is new.  If purchasing, most canners I know consider this the canning bible.  I've been really enjoying the recipes from this book as well.

After removing the jars from the canner, put on a towel on the counter and let cool completely - about 12-24 hours.  Tomatoes are made up of a ton of water, so you'll see a bunch of "tomato pee" in the jars.  That's fine.  The tomatoes usually sink down in the jar after they've cooled for a whole day.

Check the seal (push down on the lid.  If it it doesn't move, it is sealed.  If it moves, put that jar in the fridge and eat in the next few days), tighten the rings (if you store with rings), and store in a cool and dark place for up to 1 year.

Some dark and rainy afternoon (hey, it gets dark at 4:15 here in the winter) next February, these will be the perfect addition to arroz con pollo for a nice and warm dinner for my family.  With a fire in our fireplace, and warm good food in our bellies, I'll probably say something dumb like "canning isn't that bad".

Oh, how soon we forget.
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Monday, September 17, 2012

Mostly Homemade Mondays week 13

It's Monday - that time of the week for Mostly Homemade Mondays - the link party for people who like cooking healthy food, but sometimes have to rely on the occasional store-bought item. And for crafty people. And gardeners.

Got something cool you posted recently on your blog? Link up so that the rest of us can see the awesomesauce!

The "rules":

1) Please link back to this post so that people reading your blog know they can find more fantastic posts here!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Meal plan for September 17th - 23rd

Good morning!  The sunrise is gorgeous here in Seattle this morning.  The haze from the wildfires in Wenatchee (over the mountains) has turned the sun in to a ball of fire.

We've had a busy and productive weekend, with a playdate, pedicure, beach visit, blackberry picking, grocery shopping, and canning...and that was just Saturday!!!

Here is my new favorite photo of Jack taken yesterday afternoon.

Here is what I harvested yesterday:
Gotta show off the pedicure too!

This yielded 6 pints of diced tomatoes (from the book that came with my pressure canner), 5 pints of kosher dill pickle chips, and 6 pints of pickled beets (from Put Em Up) that stupid me forgot to add in the dill before processing.  I'm smart like that.  I also spent $10 on local green beans, and that yielded 2 pints and 3 quarts of dilly beans.

Jack and I attempted to pick the pears in our neighbor's yard yesterday, but they were hard as a rock.  Thank goodness, because I seriously didn't have the motivation to can them last night.

Here is what will be filling our bellies this week.

Monday:: I'm working super late, so the boys are on their own.

Tuesday::  Trader Joe's chicken nitrate-free hot dogs, grilled zukes from the garden, caprese salad, and fruit.

Wednesday:: Asian chicken wraps which Chinese Plum Sauce (canned that.  Recipe in Put Em Up), pot stickers, and fruit.

Thursday:: Mac and cheese, spinach salad, and fruit.

Friday:: Popcorn, caprese salad, fruit, and cheese.

Saturday:: I'm making pizza, and making a bunch of extras for freezing, veg (whatever the garden feels like serving), and fruit.

Sunday:: Dinner at my parent's.

Here is my grocery breakdown for the week:
$9.85 from a local fruit stand for local green beans
$3.50 for a half gallon of raw milk
$48.90 from Costco (PS, Costco now has organic coconut oil!!!!)
$7.05 from the grocery store (hot dog buns, 2 yogurts (1 for a starter, and 1 for Jack), organic bananas, spinach, and cabbage.
Total: $69.30

Friday, September 14, 2012

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Early fall garden tour

Remember the sad garden tour I did in July?  Well, right afterwards, we had a few days of 90 degree temps, and then consistent nice sunny weather.  Then more 90 degree weather, and then things stayed sunny and warm.  The garden exploded!

I've canned 9 quarts and 2 pints of kosher dill pickles, and 12 half pints of dill relish from the cucumber plants that I previously feared would never produce a single cucumber.  Jokes on me I guess!  They're almost done for the season, but I can probably get 1 more pint of baby dills.  Note to self: 6 plants is a perfect amount for next year.

My three pumpkin plants have exploded, and grew six inches in 48 hours during a heat wave.  They have taken over the blueberry bed.
You'll see a peek-a-boo view of the pumpkins ripening.
I've also grown some plastic ride on toys.  I'm pretty amazing like that.  These are essential items to keeping 3 year olds busy while you garden.

Here is the "main" bed of the garden.  The tomatoes are getting large, and are starting to ripen.  Slowly.

The raspberry bed is putting on it's second crop of fruit, and they are huge compared to the crop earlier in the summer.  Three of the six plants I put in survived, and they're all putting out so many little plants.  I'm so very excited for next year!

Last year I did most of my tomato canning in October after pulling the plants, and I am assuming this year will be the same.
One of my kale "trees" has grown so large that it fell over.

The strawberry bed is putting on the second crop as well.  These ones are a little bit bigger than the early crop.

Remember my invasive plant battle?  Rhubarb vs. morning glory vs. day lilies?  Well, thanks to constant monitoring of the morning glory, rhubarb appears to be victorious!  That rhubarb plant is a fighter.  My sister pulled it out of her garden after the dogs chewed on it.  After she tore it out, she threw it on her compost pile, and I believe at one point a barrel or box was laid OVER it.

And these?

These are my concession prizes from Troy for being gone ALL the damn time.  He built them when Jack and I were visiting my friend Anne.  You may not have known that someone can love 3 wooden boxes so much, but I can and I do.  They make my heart happy!  I've planted the fall garden in there because this part of the yard gets the most "sun" (aka least gray gloom) during the fall/winter.  The fall/winter garden has brussels sprouts, cabbage, beets, carrots, spinach, and lettuce.

You'll see some PVC pipes laying in the front; those are going to be installed in some brackets (yet to be installed), and then covered with plastic to create cold frames/ghetto green houses for when the frost comes.

Jack "helped" me plant the garden by dumping 1 package of carrot seeds and 1 package of lettuce seeds in each corner of the box closest to the driveway.  I started to yell "no", but stopped myself and realized that would only discourage his interest in helping.  So, I now have a collective of tiny plants growing in the corners, and I couldn't be happier.  I know Jack will love watching them "grow" (after mommy sneaks out there and thins them), and perhaps, just maybe, he'll try eating some of them.

A momma can dream, right?
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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Lazy Lady's guide to a 15 minute dessert

Ever want to make a dessert on the weeknight, but don't have much time?  Or energy?  Or motivation?  Who has two thumbs and likes dessert, but is also running on fumes at the end?  This girl.

This dessert is a snap to put together, and makes everyone happy. 

Cinnamon-Sugar dessert quesadillas
2 flour tortillas
1 tsp sugar (I use organic evaporated cane juice from Costco)
1 tsp brown sugar (try making your own)
2 tsp butter
A crap ton of cinnamon

1) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

2) Put foil over a baking sheet.  We use reuse foil all the time, so we always have a plethora of it hanging around.  Or, don't cover the baking sheet and hate yourself later when you're cleaning it.  Up to you.  Place your torts on the foil.

3) Spread the butter over one side of the torts.  Sprinkle 1/2 tsp of the sugar over each of the torts.
4) Sprinkle 1/2 tsp of the brown sugar over each of the torts.

5) Douche (not a typo.  I did not mean douse) the top with cinnamon.

6) Bake for 15 minutes, cool for a few minutes, and then cut in to pizza wedges.  Serve with applesauce if you'd like.

And these?  Two photos that Jack took when I wasn't paying attention to my camera.
A picture of my TV.  Playing Cat in the Hat.

A reflection of himself in a cabinet wearing a Spiderman costume that hasn't come off in the last 3 days.

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