Saturday, June 30, 2012

Weekly Shopping and Menu

I am taking part in a grocery budget challenge that starts next month, but I decided to get a jump start on it this past week.  The budget challenge is $25/per person per week.  I am trying to keep to $25 per week and am saving the extra money for a trip to Sam's Club in the next month or so and also have money for a couple of bulk purchases

My purchases were:
two packages of wheat tortillas (marked down) - $2.38
Boston butt (used a $3 coupon for fresh meat) - $8.39
potatoes - $2.50
bananas - $1.34
cherries - $1.73
sour cream - $0.99

My total with taxes was around $17.  I was pleased with this week's total.  The tortillas will become bean burritos and will provide several meals.  I will put the Boston butt in the crockpot at the first of the week for barbecue.  I should get four to five meals from it.

Next, the menu....
After a fairly mild June, the weather has turned hot, hot, hot.  Lunches tend to be lighter meals such as sandwiches, salads, and similar items.  I am going to be eating tonight at a family reunion so my husband will probably eat cereal.  He will have worked all day and is skipping the reunion.  Sunday night meals are usually sandwiches due to simplicity after church. 

Other meals planned for the beginning of July include:
Spaghetti with fresh pasta sauce
Steaks, baked potatoes, and salad
Pork tenderloin, macaroni and cheese, peas

I hope to be back to a normal posting schedule next week.  I am expecting life to settle down now that June is (almost) over.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Rooting African Violets - Part 2

Way back in January I put some African Violet leaves in water and ended up with lots of lovely roots as shown in this post.  I planted them.  I gave one away, one died, and one went into the kitchen window.  I kept watering it without seeing any progress.

Last week I got it down to water and saw a grouping of tiny leaves that had sprouted.  I was thrilled especially after reading all of the "that will never work" articles on the internet.  Sometimes the internet is not a good thing.  I am not sure how well my new little plant will do, but this seems to be a good victory. 

May I also say that this is a bit dangerous.  I am now looking on eBay for different varieties.  Note that I am just looking.  I am definitely going to be purchasing in the future though. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Oven "Fried" Okra

I will be the first to admit that southerns love fried foods.  We fry everything including vegetables.  Fried vegetables may not be good for you, but they are definitely good tasting.  One of my favorites is fried okra. I am making an effort to eat healthier which means little to no frying. 

I came across this recipe for oven fried okra.  The blogger used frozen then thawed okra.  We have okra from the garden so I was using fresh.  Fresh okra does have much liquid so my first attempt left me with powdery covered slices of okra.  My husband said that it was still pretty good so I decided to tweak the recipe and try again.

I preheated the oven to 420 degrees. I sliced the okra and put it in a bowl that had a lid.  I added salt and pepper and gave the bowl a good shake.  Then I added a tablespoon or so of olive oil and shook it again.  Finally I added in a bit of corn meal and gave it a final shake.  (*You may need to add more olive oil or corn meal to get it to cover properly.)  I poured it on a cookie sheet and baked about 20 minutes.

My okra was not covered as thick with corn meal as the original recipe.  It still had a nice corn meal crunch.  I do not think I will ever fry okra again.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Canning Tomatoes

I am still on a canning kick.  This time of year you have to use it while you have it.  These lovely tomatoes came from a nearby "you pick" farm.  Of course I like to use vegetables that I have grown, but locally produced vegetables are a good second choice. 

The first stop was to wash the worst of the dirt/leaves off of the tomatoes.  I also put a large pot of water on the stove and brought it to a boil.  The tomatoes were then dropped into the boiling water until the skins started to split.

 The tomatoes were then dropped in ice water to cool.  The skins will just slide right off.  This is much easier than peeling each tomato.

The tomatoes were quartered and put into large pots.  I cooked them until they were very soft and were breaking up.  You would be surprised at all of the juice they produced. 

I heated the jars in boiling water to sterilize them.  I filled them with the tomatoes and added salt and sugar to each jar.  I use my home canned tomatoes in place of purchased canned tomatoes in soups and chili.  They are delicious over rice too.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Canning - Pickles

The cucumber plants produced very well.  I ended up canning a few pickles this year.  My husband does not care for homemade pickles, but I decided to make some spicy ones (which he does not like either) for myself.  I used my normal dill pickle recipe and added a bit of jalapeno to each of the jars.  I only did five jars since this is a trial.

 Every year I make about two batches of hot dog relish (or sweet pickle relish).  It is a mix of cucumbers, onion, celery, and peppers.  It is great on hot dogs, but I also use it when making cole slaw.  I can easily eat it straight from the jar as well.

I also made a few jars of sweet pickles.  I could not get that picture to upload at all though.  I think pickles are some of the easiest things to can.  This extra bit of work will save me money later in the year.  I also tend to think that home canned foods taste better.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Around the Chicken House

Here are just a few random photos I took in the chicken house earlier in the week.

The two baby rabbits

The boy rabbit who still needs a name.  He seems to be trying to product his pan of food.

The girl rabbit who refuses to gnaw on anything so that her teeth grow too large.

Our duck's nest of eggs.  I found a two foot snake in the nest on Monday.  That is a definite downside to having farm animals.  I am not a fan of snakes at all.

Buff Cochin Hen

The little partridge cochin hen is nothing but a pet.  She runs to the door to be petted and will follow me out of the pen if I am not careful.  When she does, I only need to reach down and pick her up. 

The mille fleurs finished their supper and went straight to bed.
This pair of white ducks belongs to my mom.  She had a pile of baby ducks and needed a pen for these two.  They are staying in our "nursery" pen for a week.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Garden Update - Finally!

I apologize that it took so long to get these pictures posted.  I had a sick husband at the end of last week and over the weekend. 

The pineapple is really growing.  I honestly have no idea when it will be ready to harvest.  It still feels very hard so I am guessing that it is not even close to being ripe yet.

This looks like tall weeds, but it is actually sugar cane.  My dad planted it a couple of months ago.  Later it will put up thick stalks which can be harvested.

The squash plants are still producing.  We have pretty much been able to keep up with it.  This variety is half yellow and half green.  I also have the regular yellow squash.

The zucchini plants are still blooming.   I have put several packets of shredded zucchini in the freezer.  The chickens have also gotten to eat some.

At this point in the season the cucumbers are out of control.  My mom has made dill pickles.  I have made pickle relish, sweet pickles, and spicy dill pickles.  We have eaten cucumbers and given them away.  The chickens have eaten them almost daily for the past week.  Fortunately chickens love cucumbers, and they are good for the chickens as well.

My jalapeno peppers are very spicy this year.  I have put about two dozen poppers in the freezer and used some in my spicy dill pickles.  I have four plants that are loaded.  I will freeze more poppers and also make hot pepper jelly later.

This is the Fish pepper.  I love the variegated leaves.  It only has tiny peppers at this point.  I am anxious to see how they look and to taste them.  They are supposed to be hot as well.

Pumpkin/Gourd seedlings.  My other pumpkin plants are fading fast.  (I have a picture below. )  I have planted two types of pie pumpkins, a regular carving pumpkin, gourds, white pumpkins, and Lunch lady gourds.  I am very excited about the last.  I hope to have piles of lovely pumpkins in a few months.

Tomato plants in a raised bed

Cherry Tomatoes

I have two plum tomato plants and both are loaded with well over 20 tomatoes each.

Catnip - If you look closely you can see the wire cage that protects it from being completely eaten by the cats.

Oregano growing out of control.  I need to trim it up and share with the chickens.

A sideways picture of the cantaloupes.  This is the little fence I put up to protect the plants from the ducks.

Banana pepper

Bell Pepper

Yellow Pear Cherry Tomatoes

Here are the pumpkins that looked so lush just a few weeks ago.  The warmer winter caused the seeds to sprout much too soon.  I might get a couple of gourds but not much else.  The new seedlings should do better.