November 30, 2013 - The "Empty the Freezers" Challenge Continues

The first two weeks of the "empty the freezers" challenge went exactly as planned.  I stuck strictly to the menus, though only for Mr. Granny the last week or so.  After I gained two pounds from the first week's meals, I ended up tweaking my meals just a bit and got everything under control again.  Even though I ended up removing quite a bit of meat, fish, poultry, veggies and breads from the freezers, I took advantage of a good sale on lean ground beef and ended up freezing 12 pounds of it.  So the only freezer that looks as though it might be getting a bit emptier is the refrigerator freezer.

This week I have to concentrate on using up my glut of beef wieners, ground beef and chicken breasts.

*(f) = from the freezer

11/29 We ate Thanksgiving leftovers

11/30 Crockpot baked beans
Grilled all beef wieners (f)
Corn muffins

12/1 Grilled chicken breast (f)
Green beans (f)
Baked sweet potato
Tossed salad

12/2 Shepherd's pie (ground beef (f), mixed veg (f), mashed potatoes)
Lettuce wedge w/light 1000 Island dressing

12/3 Grilled Salmon (f)
Creamed peas (f) and potatoes
Carrot/raisin salad
Tartar sauce/lemon juice

12/4 Beef (f) stew (peas (f), carrots, celery, potatoes)
French bread

12/5 Fried chicken breasts (f)
Corn (f)
Boiled potatoes
Chicken gravy

12/6  Spaghetti w. meat - sauce and meat (f)
Green beans (f)
Garlic french bread (f)
Tossed salad

November 26, 2011 - Thanksgiving Preparations

The Menu

Roast Turkey
Cedar Planked Salmon (Bryan)
Smoked Crown Roast of Pork (Scott)
Dressing (Amy)
Mashed Potatoes
Baked Butternut Squash with Butter and Brown Sugar
Green bean Casserole (Alicia)
Lion House Dinner Rolls and Butter
Deviled Eggs (Amy)
Layered Salad (Amy)
Grape Salad (Amy)
Cranberry Sauce
Glazed Fresh Apple Cake
Pumpkin Pies (John)

The turkey is thawing in the refrigerator, rolls have been baked, cranberry sauce is chilling and the squash casserole is precooked and ready for the oven.  It looks like everything is under control.  I have to go to the store in the morning to buy apples for the cake, and I'll get it baked in the afternoon.  That just leaves the turkey to roast, the potatoes to cook and mash, and the gravy to make on Thursday.

Rolls, cranberry sauce and squash cooling on the counter.  There just happened to be enough dough left over for a few cinnamon rolls for Mr. Granny's breakfast and snacks.  I might force myself to eat one too  ;-)

Five-year-old Alicyn has requested root beer, vanilla ice cream and bacon for her Thanksgiving dinner.  Of course, I will see that she gets it!  I have a feeling I'll be able to talk her into a nice warm roll with butter, too.

November 16, 2013 - A Challenge Accepted

Tiny Gardener threw down the challenge today, and I accepted the challenge.  I will, to the best of my ability, try to empty my freezers and pantry of excess foods between now and Christmas.

The freezers are stuffed.

The laundry room freezer.

The garage freezer.

The refrigerator freezer.  Not quite as stuffed as the others.

I got a head start yesterday, when I took two one-gallon bags of cherries that had been frozen since 2012, and turned them into 12 jars of cherry jelly.  Or cherry syrup.  I don't think it jelled very firm.

So, here's the plan.....

I took a quick inventory of what was on hand (mostly what was on top), and came up with dinner menus for the next 12 days.  Hopefully that will take me to Thanksgiving without going to the grocery store.  After that, there will be a few days of eating leftovers, then I'll take another inventory of the freezers.

11/16 Grilled salmon (freezer)
                Green beans (freezer)
                Scalloped potatoes
                Tartar sauce/lemon juice

11/17 Grilled chicken breast (freezer)
                Buttered peas (freezer)
                Baked butternut squash (storage)
                Tossed salad w. tomato

11/18 Pizza: pepperoni, pizza sauce and peppers (freezer)
                Mixed fruit cup

11/19 Roast turkey tenderloin (freezer)
                Mixed veggies (freezer)
                Mashed potatoes and  turkey gravy
               Waldorf salad
                Cranberry sauce
                Rhubarb (freezer) Pie

11/20 Grilled hamburgers (freezer) on              
                Homemade hamburger buns (freezer)
                French fries
                Lettuce and tomato

11/21 Hot turkey sandwiches (leftovers) on
                Homemade bread (freezer)
                Tossed salad

11/22 Chicken fried steaks (freezer)
                Mashed potatoes with country gravy
                Green beans & summer squash (freezer)
Sliced tomatoes

11/23 Chicken Mozzarella (freezer) with
                Marinara sauce (freezer)
                Mixed veggies (freezer)
                Whole grain spaghetti
                Garlic French bread (freezer)
                Tossed salad

11/24 Pork roast (freezer)
                Pork gravy
                Roasted carrots
                Roasted potatoes
                Waldorf salad

11/25 Chinese Pork & Noodles (leftover pork) with
                Hard cooked egg; chives; soy sauce
                Mixed fruit cup

11/26 Bacon (freezer)
                Scrambled eggs
                Hash brown potatoes (freezer)
                Homemade bread, toasted (freezer)
                Cinnamon rolls
                Chilled peaches

11/27 Chili with beans (hamburger freezer)

11/28 Thanksgiving

Anyone else want to join in on the challenge?

November 15, 2013 - Same Old, Same Old

Just a quick note to let everyone know I'm still alive and kicking.  Nothing worth writing about is going on in my life lately, just the same old, same old.  Boredom.  Blah.  It's not even winter yet, and I'm yearning for spring.

Yesterday I was so bored I decided to bake bread.  I've been making all of our bread lately.  Mr. Granny will only eat bread made with white flour, so I was making his and buying whole grain bread for myself, but after I happened upon this simple bread recipe from Hickory Holler Farm, I bought myself that perforated French bread pan and began making the 2 loaves of French and one loaf of pan bread from her recipe each week.  The bread tastes soooo good!  I love using the regular loaf for toast and, of course, the French loaves are great for garlic bread or just for dunking into big bowls of homemade soup.  Anyway, boredom made me decide to bake and fill the freezer.  I used my regular bread recipe, doubled, for one loaf of bread and a pan each of hamburger and hot dog buns.  Then I made two loaves of french bread and one loaf of...well, it's still French bread but in a bread pan, a must-have for my morning toast.

Of course, I cannot resist eating this good bread.  DUH!  I've taken to weighing myself every morning, thanks to the bread.  I've set a "danger" point where I'm still a couple of pounds below my desired top weight, and when I hit it I only have to watch what I eat for a day or two to get back to my lower desired weight.  Since I've begun baking and consuming all that bread, I've hit that "danger" point about once a week!  No gardening to keep me in shape, comfort food weather, white bread.....

I was going to go out and rake the front yard today.  We had a little wind and a bit of rain last week, so the pine tree mess is back.  Not even close to as bad as it was after that last big wind storm, but just rather tatty looking.  Then I see this "Severe Weather" warning on my sidebar.  I clicked on it, and sure enough...........


Sigh.  I might as well wait to clean up the mess, because it will be another big one.

November 5, 2013 - Harvest Monday on Tuesday

I haven't been very good about blogging about my harvests the past couple of weeks, but I have had a few pounds to add to the totals for the year.

 Tomatoes that have ripened inside, have been weighed and added to the total.  Last week there were just enough to make some seasoned tomato sauce for the freezer, and these will soon be ripe enough to go into the pot for another batch of sauce.

I'm almost at the end of the tomato season.  This is all that's left to ripen.

Yesterday I did dig a few small parsnips as I was cleaning the leaves from along the fenceline.  They weren't in very good shape, evidently the root knot nematodes have now moved into that area of the garden.  I got just over 12 ounces from the four parsnips.

I picked a lone sugar snap pea yesterday, and ate it right there on the spot.  It was so good!  I still see quite a few blossoms, but they just aren't forming pods.  We're getting very close to having a hard freeze, so I hope they will at least give me a meal before it hits.  I'm not holding my breath, though.

Other than those peas, two small cabbage plants and the baby spinach, there's nothing left in the garden.  It's almost rocking chair time!

Total for the year (to date) is 1007 pounds.  I'll probably end the year at around 1010 pounds once the remaining tomatoes ripen.

Visit Daphne's Dandelions to see what others have harvested!

November 4, 2013 - Wind Mess Cleanup

 Luckily the weather was sunny, rather warm and relatively calm yesterday, so I could begin cleaning up all the mess from the previous day's windstorm.

I raked it all up and bagged it, then used the leaf blower for the final cleanup.  Unfortunately this will all go to the landfill, as it was too full of large twigs and branches to chop up for the compost pile.  I do so need a chipper-shredder!

 All cleaned up again.....for now.  

 I also got a new piece of 4 mil plastic for the spinach bed, cut and stapled on the end pieces, then used one large piece to cover the back, top and front.  I put in four more hooks for extra bungee straps to hold it down during windstorms, and it's all weighted down on the front edge to allow for easy removal by just rolling it up on that 1x2 board that's stapled to the front.  The spinach got a good sprinkling from the watering can, then was covered up for the night.

The patio and the side yard mess will have to wait for another day.  I was too tired to tackle it.  At least this is mostly leaves, except for a few large limbs from the neighbor's sycamore, so I can pick them up with the mower and dump them in the compost.  

November 3, 2013 - Goal Met and Wind Woes

My 1000 pound harvest goal has been met, before weighing another tray of tomatoes that are still ripening, and a few parsnip yet to be dug.  There's no way I can top last year's 1040 pounds, but 2013 was definitely a success nonetheless.  If my onions and tomatoes had performed a bit better, it could have been my best year ever.

Wind woes, oh my!  I spent a day last week cleaning up the pine mess after one of our all too frequent wind storms.  I raked out the flower beds and the entire front yard, swept the driveway and front porch, and chopped all of the leaves with the leaf sucker vacuum.  Everything looked so nice and tidy.  Then yesterday this happened......

 Leaves, pine boughs, pine needles and pine cones......

Pine mess and neighbor's leaves everywhere!

 The patio is covered with dirt and littered with leaves.

The back yard is quite clean, as the leaves all blew up against the side fence where they will be easily vacuumed up.  The plastic covering the spinach bed took a bit of a beating though.  I had removed it earlier in the day, during a short rain, then bungeed it down to keep the wind from drying it out.  I guess I should have used a few more bungee cords.  I need to buy a new sheet of plastic and do a proper one piece cover this week.

The mess I have to clean up today doesn't compare to what happened elsewhere around the Tri-Cities area, where there were downed trees and power lines, and our newest elementary school, under construction since June, collapsed. 

We have always suffered from high winds in this area, but I really think they have been more frequent this past year than ever before.  I know I've had to do much more cleanup than in the past.  I'm surprised our pine trees aren't naked by now, they've lost so many branches!