Saturday, June 18, 2016

All is well...

here in my little Home Sweet Apartment.  The weather has been a bit unsettled with days of sunshine and rain now and then.  There have been pockets of stormy weather, but so far they have fizzled out before getting to my town, or they have veered off and gone around us.  It is kind of sunny - hazy today with the temp hovering around the 90 degree mark.  Tomorrow should be interesting with temps predicted in the 95 to 100 degree range, followed by storms.  Even though I have good air conditioning in my building, I won't be doing anything too strenuous.

I am finished with the dehydrating of vegetables from my last grocery delivery.  Everything turned out just fine, but I wasn't thrilled with the dried grapes.  They were kind of a sticky mess.  Others have had good results with drying grapes, but I don't think I will mess with it again.  While sorting out my closet pantry I found 10 of the large cans of diced tomatoes (not the # 10 cans, but the ones that are bigger than a regular can).  Because storage space is at a premium I drained the tomatoes and dehydrated them.  They dried down to fit in a quart sized freezer bag.  Draining them gave me three quarts of tomato juice.  I am drinking one of them and froze the other two to use in soup.

I was thinking about using the four large drawers in the base of my new bed for fabric and yarn storage.  But while going through my pantry I realized that boxed mixes I have bought on sale were taking up room that could be better used for other things.  And yes, I buy mixes from time to time when the prices are really good.  I have cake and brownie mixes, scalloped potato mixes and (God forgive me) hamburger helper mixes.  There are also flavored rice sides and muffin mixes.  I know all the reasons for avoiding boxed mixes and for cooking from scratch.  And most times I do.  But sometimes, especially when the aging process has thrown me a curve and made it difficult to stand for long periods of time while cooking and baking, a mix that I can just stir together and pop into the oven just makes life a little easier.

So I opened all of the boxed mixes, stapled the sauce mix bag, included with some like the scalloped potatoes, to the main ingredient bag, cut the instructions from each box and stapled that on as well, and packed them into gallon zip lock bags.  I wound up with two of the drawers full, freeing up pantry space and leaving me two more drawers to fill.  I was surprised at how much space those original cardboard boxes took up when stacked in the pantry.

I spent some time making out my grocery order that will be delivered Wednesday.  My store has carrots on sale for 99 cents per 2 lb. bag, so I am ordering 20 lbs. to dehydrate.  They have boneless country style ribs on sale in the family pack size, so I have 4 of those coming, which I think I will can in large pieces using quart jars.  They can be used like a pork roast or maybe with barbecue sauce along with a vegetable and cornbread for a meal for two or three people.  Hamburger is on sale and while it isn't much of a sale, it is still a savings of a dollar a pound over the regular price, so I will can the 18 pounds ordered.  Whole chickens are going for 99 cents a pound so I am getting four.  I have one whole chicken left in the freezer and I think I will toss it into the crock pot tomorrow.  I really won't want to run my oven when it is so hot out.

I have been trying to get caught up with the odds and ends here.  Oldest Son is making noises about a Farmer's Market run soon.  I checked out their website and they have strawberries now.  I need to make some jam and I would like to can some in syrup to use as ice cream topping or for things like strawberry shortcake in the winter months when fresh strawberries are really spendy.

I'm thinking that retirement for me has nothing to do with sandy beaches and drinks with little umbrellas in them.  I guess I would rather spend my time making sure my family is fed.  And considering the insanity of the world around me, that seems to be a pretty good choice.


  1. Your posts a few back inspired me to get the dehydrator off the shelf. So far, I've dehydrated a frozen bag of corn and one of mixed veggies. I read on another blog about dehydrating rhubarb and plan to do that next.

    I, too, have to admit to using both boxed mixes, bags of instant potatoes and single serving containers of rice. i stock up when they go on sale. It's a concession I've made to both being single and to my health limitations on bad days.
    Your strawberries in syrup sound yummy! Cheers, SJ in Vancouver BC

  2. SJ...Oh, I'm glad you are using your dehydrator. Many of the veggies I dry are the frozen ones I buy on sale. Some rehydrate well, like corn, and others, not so much. But I mostly use them in soups or stews, where they simmer all day or are in the crock pot and they turn out just fine. It is just another way to stock up and they don't take up as much space as canned. I have not tried rhubarb. Let me know how that works.

    Your reasons for using boxed mixes and such are the same as mine. I wish I could be one of those people like my mother-in-law who was still mowing her own lawn at age 90. But I'm not. Took me a while to realize that taking some shortcuts wasn't a bad thing. :)

    I have never canned strawberries in syrup, but it sounds so good I want to give it a try. Hope it turns out as good as it sounds.

  3. Now that we have the chest freezer i will buy more meat and veggies to freeze. I have been buying wood over the last couple of months to rebuild our pantry, and a storage cabinet. I'll do that when fall hits.

  4. You have some good sales there! Thanks for letting us know about the grapes, too.

  5. Rob...Having a freezer makes a huge difference, doesn't it. Sounds like you are doing a lot towards food storage. Good on you!

  6. Gorges...Sometimes it takes living more years than I care to think about to get priorities straight. :)

  7. Chickenmom...I have been really lucky lately that many of the things I need to fill in have been on sale. Others have successfully dehydrated grapes, but I just wasn't impressed with them. I can always buy raisins. :)