Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Use 'em Up List

The beginnings of this list will be the food still frozen or canned last year.  As the freezer is emptied and I begin to use the foods that I processed in 2015 I will change the date to reflect the current year's usage

This is not my freezer, just a random picture I snagged. My personal freezer may or may not look like this.  I'm not saying one way or the other.

1 quart  lady peas
1 quart squash
1 half pint  whole small okra (cooked at the last minute on top of the peas)
3 packs brussels sprouts
16 oz. pack broccoli
1 pack frozen corn
1 quart bag frozen green bean casserole
1 bag chopped bell peppers (about 3 cups)
1 pack creamed spinach
1 pack cauliflower

2 pints cubed frozen peaches
1 cup blueberries

1 lb package browned ground beef
7 chicken breasts
1 pack cooked chicken
1 lb smoked turkey
2-1 lb packs uncooked ground beef
1 pork tenderloin
4 chopped sirloin "steaks"
1 1/2 lbs. smoked pulled pork
1 1/2 lb chicken legs
1 frozen breakfast bowl (I have no idea how long it has been in the freezer, but it is gone and I didn't                                           die)
1 quart tomatoes
1 pint plum sauce

Friday, April 22, 2016

2016 Freezem, Canem, Dryem Fermentem List

I am using this blog post as a way of keeping up with the food I am freezing, dehydrating, fermenting or canning for 2016.  Since I just thought of doing this (saw it on someone else's blog and am stealing the idea) and am a little late to the 2016 party, as of today I am just listing what I remember.  After this I will keep a concise list which might help me when it comes to consuming what I have processed.  I will include meats, seasonal produce, pickles  and even some spirited infusions. Anything that has a "do now, enjoy later" plan will be listed.  Comments and suggestions are always welcome, since I sometimes am too narrow with my visions of how to process things.  I am also going to keep a companion list called The Use em Up List.  Right now it is empty because I haven't used anything from this list. I am just hoping having both will help me control inventory a little better without having to eat only from the freezer like we are having to do right now.

I will be updating this each time I add anything to the prepped foods, but will repost it monthly.

This is not a picture of my freezer, just a randomly google searched picture, but along with visions of sugarplums this is one of my fantasy images.


10 pounds white mushrooms
2 pound baby bella mushrooms
6 pounds yellow onions
7 pineapples
2 whole stalks celery

Infusions of a Spirited Nature

3 bottles citrus infused white wine (will be ready for consumption in June)
5 quarts pineapple infused vodka
1 pint blueberry vodka
1/2 pint haberno tequila


Brussels Sprout/Basil pickles

Freezer Meats and Fowl

20 pounds ground beef
10lbs uncooked boneless skinless chicken thighs
3 lbs co oked boneless skinless chicken thighs
6 lb ham, bought after Easter
4 lb. bacon cooked, individually frozen then bulk packed
5 lb frozen boneless chicken breasts

Cooked, Frozen Entrees

2 quart bags picadillo
1 quart bag spaghetti sauce
1 quart bag chili

Frozen Produce
1 pound cherries
6 pints blackberries
4 pints raspberries
2 quarts strawberries
5 heads cauliflower "rice"
2 spaghetti squash, baked and separated
2 vodka infused pineapples (slices. Will use these in adult beverages this summer)

Frozen Breads/Baked Goods

Canned Foods

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A Different Take on Slaw

Our dear "daughter," (not by birth but our daughter in our hearts nonetheless), Mama K is a Pinterest pinner.  I am not so much of a poster as I am a re-pinner, so when she posted this slaw and I snagged it I knew I would make it during the week.  I am linking  the original recipe right here since I made a bastardized version of it and am writing it as I made it.

I probably would have made it by the actual recipe if I had not found a bottle of sesame ginger salad dressing with miso.  When I saw all the key components of the dressing in a bottle with no really bad stuff I heard the angels singing and it was all over.  Instead of measuring and creating an emulsion all I had to do was pour, which beat making it from scratch.  I had no miso and would have needed to buy it anyway and my toasted sesame oil is a little old so I really needed to buy it also.  I figured the cost of the dressing was equal to either of those two items and I am giving myself a win on time and cost of ingredients.

1 full  handful sugar snap peas, blanched, trimmed and strings removed then cut on the diagonal  into thin pea slices.
1/3 head cabbage sliced thinly or grated (it called for Napa cabbage but I didn't have any.  Regular worked fine)
10 radishes cut in matchstick slices
1 bunch scallions, cleaned, trimmed and sliced  greens and the white onion part. Mine was a smallish bunch, maybe 6 onions.
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seed
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup sesame, ginger dressing with miso (? I just poured I didn't measure)

Mix everything in a big bowl. Toss with dressing and enjoy.  It is even better tasting but a tiny bit limp the next day.  Yum!

We had some forgettable entree and this slaw.  The slaw is the only thing either of us remember eating.  From now on if sugar snap peas are on sale this is going to be on the menu. Especially since I have enough dressing for 3, maybe 4 more times.  Fingers crossed! The food ads for the week here come out tomorrow.

Starts the chant"sugar snaps, sugar snaps"

Thanks KK for pinning this.  Love to you, Son1 and Pip.  Y'all are the best and own our hearts!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

No More Sticky Arms!

Over the past year or so I noticed a huge trend in the $.99 special sales on pineapples.  We love pineapple as much as the next guy but I hated dealing with the process of peeling and coring them. One day I was at Walmart and saw this plastic pineapple peeler/corer so I bought it.  It worked fine the first couple of times I used it and then it became a pain in the butt to use. It didn't cut well, it gunked up and required constant cleaning and finally it snapped in half while I was using it. I am not a big proponent of single use products so I resorted to my using a knife again.

When pineapples are a buck each I buy many of them and dehydrate them.  We grab the dried pineapple as a snack, it is easily totable and it tastes really good.  Pineapple + knife x 10 or more = lots of pineapple juice dripping down the arms and onto the countertop and floor.  One day I was looking at kitchen gadgets on Amazon and viola!  There it was, an inexpensive stainless steel solution so I pushed "buy" and a couple of days later I was the proud owner of my new gadget. I rarely mention specific items, nor do I have any affiliation with anyone or any business connected with this, but this morning as I was prepping 7 pineapples I thought I might share a little pineapple love.

            If you love fresh pineapple, or if you process fresh pineapple this is the tool for you.

Whack the top off of the pineapple. Put the pineapple in a container to catch the juice  Insert the cylinder into the core and begin turning while pushing gently.  Continue turning in a clockwise motion until you hit the bottom of the pineapple.  Grasping the handle pull gently (twisting slightly) until the pineapple pops out. (Save any juice and drink it or mix it in a beverage of your choosing)

The pineapple is now spiral sliced and all you have to do is start separating it.  How blooming easy is that?

I generally take a spoon and scrape the inside of the pineapple shell for the remaining bits of pineapple still in it. I don't get but a couple of tablespoons per pineapple but when you are processing several it adds up.  Since it is very mushy, I freeze it in ice cube trays, store them in zippy bags and use it in adult beverages during the summertime.

And if you are nerdy like I am you can root the pineapple tops for a cool plant.  I have just planted one that I rooted.  I have 2 in the process of rooting and I have seven drying for a couple of days before I try to root them.  I don't think they will all root, but if I am lucky I will get 3-4  maybe. I am the black plague of plants so you have to be very hale and hearty to live with me.  Meanwhile I like the idea of rooting a pineapple top in an old pineapple salsa jar.  It will work or it won't, but it will be cute in the process no matter what happens.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Today is Tuesday?

We spent the past weekend at the lake doing something we never do while there. We did NOTHING but eat, read, hang out in front of the TV watching The Masters and then watching movies at night. We didn't cut a blade of grass or do any of the gozillion projects we need to do.  We actually did what we said we were going to do when we bought the place.  We simply chilled out, watched boats go by, watched tv and did I mention we ate? Too much? Including peach cobbler? And brownies?

As it turned out I stayed an additional day to meet the bug man for the monthly bug service. (Sometimes I wonder if he secretly brings bugs.) I mean the place is at the lake, there wouldn't be spiders and wasps and spiders and beetles and more spiders naturally occurring there, right? And this is before the annual spring Mayfly invasion which is going to happen and nothing can be done to prevent.  Long story shortened, I lost my Monday which is generally my organization day where I ponder the upcoming week, pencil in a rough plan and begin my week with some sort of direction. Now it is Tuesday and I am hopelessly stymied.  For some strange reason I don't function as well planning on a day that has an unnatural planning rhythm to it.

For instance, most Mondays I check the freezer and pull out whatever meats I need to thaw for the coming week.  I also inventory the refrigerator and pantry and see what needs to be used immediately and what, if anything, I need for the coming week. Then I add it to my shopping list for Wednesday when the grocery ads start.

Yesterday I inventoried the pantry and the fridge__at the lake. Then today (a day late) I started my routine of gathering things that need to be processed or cooked. Since I play by the wing and a prayer method of cooking and rarely write a plan down I began gathering the ingredients I remembered I had, tore the freezer apart looking for 2 specific thingsI had recently seen, then remembered they were in the freezer__ at the lake.  Craptastic! I had everything chopped and ready for chicken cacciatore except the 2 cups of frozen marinara in a freezer 45 minutes away. (Which is why a written plan would work so much better than relying on my faulty memory.) Punt!

One day I bought a can of pizza sauce by mistake and instead of picking up tomato sauce. (Who even knew Contadina makes pizza sauce?) It has been in the back of the pantry unused, unthought of and probably lonely so I pulled it out and used it instead.  It will either work or it won't, but for now fake cacciatore is cooked and lives in the fridge. Time will tell if it is a keeper or a coaster. (I am hoping this will be forgettable rather than regrettable)

The second pan of chicken  (Did I mention I found 14 boneless chicken thighs I bought Thursday and had  forgotten about?) was a very simple  chicken with a lemon herb olive oil emulsion poured over it, then baked. It has been sent to the freezer for another day/week/month?

And last of all is the concoction I made for dinner tonight.  Earlier today I was looking for something to do with some of the chicken thighs when I saw this.  Did I bother to actually read the recipe or even see what they put in theirs? No, I just looked at the picture, thought "thats a clever idea" and moved on.  Much later when I decided I would like to actually make it, I couldn't find it. So this is most likely not exactly like the original recipe, but it should be close enough. If you want to find it you can begin by googling "interesting things to do with boneless chicken thighs"  Maybe you will be better at finding it than I was.

               Almost Philly Cheese Steaks Chicken

3 boneless skinless chicken thighs, sliced in strips
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion in julienne strips
1 green pepper sliced in strips
1/2 yellow pepper sliced in strips
1 tablespoon water or chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
4 slices of bread toasted (If I had buns or rolls here I would have used them)
2 tablespoons Durkee's spread
2 slices smoked gouda

Saute' the chicken strips in the olive oil until the chicken loses its color. Toss in the onions, cook and stir until they are well wilted.  Add the peppers and cook until they wilt a little.  Add the chicken broth or water, slap the lid on the pan and turn the heat down.  Let the contents steam for a few minutes.  While the chicken mix is steaming toast the bread.  Put one tablespoon of Durkee's on 2 slices.  Top each with 1/2 of the chicken mixture. Put the smoked gouda on each of the remaining slices of bread.  Run them under the broiler for a minute to melt the cheese.
Put it on top of the chicken and enjoy a nice hot supper sandwich.

It was a very tasty way to eat a sandwich, but to be honest TheHub is not thrilled with anything sandwichy for dinner.  I will do it again because it tasted good, but this will not be in our regular rotation. I say that, but it could very well become a lake house staple since eating rules are completely different and more casual there.  I guess we will see as we move into warmer weather and lake weekends are the norm.

I did have a moment of salvation tonight though.  We do not normally have dessert (except at the lake) but I had tried one tonight.  I made Rachel's (from Living Better One Day At A Time ) Chocolate Lasagne.  I did not want as much as the recipe made so I halved the recipe and it still made a very full 9x9 pan.  I think TheHub had 2 servings, large servings! By the time I thought to snag a picture of it, the dish had been ravaged but there were some serious smiles on faces.  Even Shelby, the dog, grabbed a little ground score! Try it.  It is kind of decadent and delicious all at the same time. And easy, did I mention easy?

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Using The Freezer

About this time of the year, every single year I might add, I panic when I realize how little of the frozen foods I used during the winter so I start a flurry of cooking from the freezer. Reckoning day is close at hand, since berries will be available soon and then it is just a steady progression of fresh seasonal fruits and veggies.  I know me well enough to know I will restock the freezer as soon as stuff starts coming in, so I have to have an extraordinary amount of outgo in the next couple of weeks.  Tonights meal allowed me to get rid of a couple of things I had living there, even though I do think it is a little to springlike to be eating this.  Oh well, I got rid of inventory at least!

Corn Souffle w/Ham

1 ish cups of chopped ham (I had 2 hunks of ham frozen and chopped it was close to 1 cup)
2 1/2 cups corn kernels (mine were frozen but drained canned would also work fine)
3 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup milk (I used kefir because I am reactivating my kefir grains and don't want to drink it yet)
2 tablespoons flour (you could also use a couple of tablespoons of cornbread mix instead of flour)
1 small onion chopped
1 small sweet red pepper (I used it more for color than taste)
salt and pepper to taste

Grease a 9x9 baking dish and heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Mix everything in a big bowl and stir well to combine.  Pour into the prepared pan and bake until the center is set.
I served this with a green salad and cherry tomatoes and steamed asparagus.  It is an odd combination but the greens needed to be eaten tonight and Sprouts had beautiful asparagus for 98 cents a pound, so I bought a ton of it.  We are going to be eating a lot of asparagus this week.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Food 911, Again?

Last night I put a couple of pieces of chicken in the crockpot to cook until bedtime. I forgot about it, went to bed and woke this morning to the delicious smell of cooked chicken, very cooked chicken that is. After taking it off the bone I was left with about a cup of baby food consistency chicken. Super flavorful baby food, but chicken mush just the same.  Once again I refused to toss it out, so I started thinking of ways to make it palatable.  (Do you notice a recurring theme here?)

My first thought was to chop some scallions, mince ginger and garlic and do some kind of Thai rescue, but the thought of wrapping and steaming everything was more time consuming than I was willing to give to mushy chicken.  Then I thought about stuffing large pasta shells with the mix, but decided the noodles would be too thick for the balanced Thai flavor profile. Instead I monkeyed with a little bolder more forgiving taste that would overpower the noodles rather than the other way around.

                                                            Buffalo Chicken Shells

2 large chicken breasts, cooked and minced or shredded  (Don't overcook like I did)
6 asparagus spears chopped finely (these were loose in the crisper)
1 medium onion chopped fine
2 large carrots, grated (less than stellar carrots but fine for grating)
2 tablespoons Chulula (or your favorite hot sauce)
1/2 cup monteray jack cheese, shredded
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
12 cooked large pasta shells

In a large bowl mix everything but the pasta shells together.  Stuff the shells and bake in a 9x9 pan in a 350 degree oven until everything is bubbly (about 20 minutes)
Serve hot with a salad and call it a night.  Promise yourself you will never leave anything in the crockpot overnight again.  Know yourself well enough to know if that is the truth or (as in my case) probably an empty promise.

Believe it or not this was pretty darn good and did not even look like a rescue attempt, even though before the first bite TheHub thought I had lost my mind and cooked tuna stuffed shells.  The chulula colored it a bit and it did look like tuna, but it tasted like nice peppery chicken. The vegetables gave it some much needed texture.  When I make this again I will add zucchini and spinach (I had neither today) just to amp up the veggie count.

Sometimes I feel like I need a food ambulance to resurrect food I screw up.  I might do something novel and start planning my meals in advance__or not. But I do seem to be playing Russian roulette with our dinners a lot lately and I am getting tired of it.

Friday, April 1, 2016

April Joy List

Hmmm.  March came and went and I didn't get a lot of my list finished, but I did go to New York  and Son3 came home for Spring Break, so I am cutting myself a little slack.

1.  Volunteer at Independence Place
2.  Volunteer with  homeless ministry
3.  Find and enjoy free live music Nick Finzer and Chris Ziemba
4.  Go to an art show Went to a ballet instead
5.  Use some form of transportation I don't normally use  Rode the train today
6.  Make a Christmas present  Merry Christmas Beloved Sister
7.  Work on learning Spanish -Didnt happen
8.  Use remainder of frozen meats Should finish the rest this coming week
9.  Decorate for St. Pat's and then Easter (They are terribly close together this year so maybe just       Easter)   Simple Easter decorations won
10. Plan something special for Mom's birthday Early dinner at Mom's with Sis, TheHub, Mom Son2, and me.  She really liked it though.
11. Take Mom out weekly at night Most weeks but she didn't want to go one week
12. Explore a small town  nearby.  Visit a local business and eat at a local restaurant/diner there.
13. Read 4 books The Things We Bury, The Kitchen House, The Toaster Oven Mocks Me, Southern Routes:              Secret Recipes from the Best Joints in the South
14. Paint a couple of pictures for the lake place -Totally uninspired
15. Try a new to me vegetable, herb or fruit Forget what it was called but it was a radish type thing from an Asian          market
16. Go to a museum
17. Learn jazz  piano (at least 1 song) Can't play it terribly well but learned Elmer's Tune
18. Make citrus infused wine for summer  And now the wait begins
19. Begin the seasonal wardrobe change Almost finished
20. Refashion at least 1 clothing item.
21. Get rid or 10 items per week
22. Reconnect with someone I have lost touch with.
23. See a play Saw "Million Dollar Quartet", "The King and I" Saw it at the Lincoln Center. Go if at all possible!
24.  Go to the park and watch a random little league baseball game
25. Try an ethnic meal from a region I have never tried before
26. Send someone a handwritten congratulatory note.
27. Take food to someone having a rough patch.
28. Try a totally new and different hair style/color Style not color this time
29. Buy and donate an Easter outfit for a kid
30. Keep a gratitude notebook for March, listing every good thing.
31. Eat something chocolaty and gooey after Lent, then hop back on the paleo wagon. Decided to hop back on          Monday
32. Remember to be kind, even when I don't want to be.
33. Do something for someone randomly, expecting nothing in return

April Joy List

1. Take Mom to Uncle Bob's  Happy Birthday, UB!
2. Have a small dinner party Had grilled swordfish, baked potatoes, salad, rolls and cake for 4
3. Learn another jazz song for piano Lullaby of Birdland (again not great but I can play it and even tried my hand at improv)
4. Take food to someone having a hard time Sorry about the surgery Sally but loved seeing you
5. Go to a small town 2 times this month.  Eat Locally and explore a local business. Ran out of time
6. Since I missed Easter, buy an outfit for someone who has lost everything - Found a family who lost everything in    a fire. Waiting for specific sizes and wants
7. Go watch a little league ball game- Just flat out didn't do this
8. Go to a museum - didn't do it
9. See a play  - Gave our tickets to Flashdance away
10. Go to a matinee movie by myself (eat popcorn)- Nothing I really wanted to see was playing
11. Read at least 4 books  "The Day I Was Crucified" "The Runaway Family" "The Girl on a Train"
12. Try a new to me beverage Sazerac (meh)
13. Continue with the gratitude list I am amazed at what all I have to be thankful about
14. Make 2 prototypes for I.P. Christmas sale will post pics of these later
15.Volunteer at Independence Place This place has a large piece of my heart
16. Seriously do something with a homeless ministry  Cooked for a couple of families in transitional housing.
17. Take flowers to someone
18. Get herbs planted 
19. Watch an Opera (if I can't see one live at least I can watch a video) Dido and Aeneas. Ran out of time but will     do this in May
20. Find some free live music to enjoy  Heard Sweet Kick at Workplay's bar.
21. Make a Christmas present  This one is really cute. I actually want it.
22. Repair 2 squares on quilt top Thought of this every time I made my bed, then didn't think about it again.
23. Polish silver (yes it is a chore but I love the way things look after it is done)
24. Get rid of 10 items per week
25. Paint those 2 pictures for the lake (Find some inspiration somewhere) Did 1 but still uninspired about the other
26. Make cookies for the neighborhood kids
27. Open the pool Rain  got in the way
28. Work on learning Spanish
29. Work on family cookbook
30. Have guests at the lake place Forgot TheHub was going to be busy 2 weeks this month. Maybe in May
31. Be kind, even if I don't want to This month has been one that begged me to kick butt and take names, but I am      forcing myself to be kind (even to those who don't deserve my kindness, but probably need it most. I am                thinking of eliminating this item in May just so I can snap if I want to.)
32. Plant flower seed (Must have zinnias) 
33. Make paper from junk mail- Have to find a working blender at a garage sale first, no luck so far. Not using my        good blender.
34. Paint corner cabinets in dining room (faux leather tops?)
35. Paint decorative edging on basement stairs at lake place.- Only went once and left my paints at home.

Cooking From Scrap

I have been kind of insane about using the food stores I still have in the freezer.  After all we are getting perilously close to restocking time (strawberry season is just around the corner) and that requires freezer space. Lots and lots of freezer space! And the only way I know to get said space is to use up the stuff that is already in there.  So that is exactly what we are I am doing. (Since  "we" eat whatever I cook I guess this really is a solitary operation with collateral cooperation.)

I was at my Wednesday class this week and after it was over we were talking about funny things kids say when one of the women said she had made a cake recently and her grandson wanted to know if she made it from "scrap" or a cake mix.  We laughed about it and I didn't think much about it again until last night, and I realized I truly had made supper from scrap.

Step 1: Realize it is after 6 and you have given not one thought to food prep
Step 2: Head for the freezer to see what is prepared (Hope there is something in the very back you                   have overlooked because you don't remember anything.)
Step 3: Find 4 cooked boneless chicken thighs, 1/4 bag of chopped broccoli, and 6 unbaked frozen                 biscuits
Step 4: Stand in front of the pantry looking for anything inspirational, settle on a can of cream of                     asparagus soup (Only cream of anything soup in the pantry)
Step5: Find 1/2 block of  cheddar cheese (slightly moldy but salvageable)
Step 6: Cut the mold off the cheese, which reduces it by half.
Step 5: Salvage 1 cup of cauliflower 2 ribs of celery and 8 mushrooms from the crisper
Step 6: Grab one onion from the basket
Step 7 : PUNT!

This has no name but really was kind of tasty, or maybe it wasn't but we were hungry and anything would have tasted good.  No really it was pretty tasty.

Almost Pot Pie

Chop the frozen cooked chicken into bite size pieces and put in a bowl.  Add the broccoli, chop the cauliflower, celery and onion and throw it in the bowl also. Slice the mushrooms and toss them into the mix, then stir in the cream of whatever soup mix.  Spread it into a baking pan, top with foil and stick it into a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes.  Take it out of the oven and remove the foil. Give everything a good stir and add a little water if necessary. (I added about 1/4 cup).  Salt and pepper then grate the cheese evenly (sparingly?) over the top.  Add the biscuits, bump the heat up to 400 and bake until the biscuits are done.  Eat and enjoy knowing your freezer is a little lighter and you have used some produce that needed to be used right then.

Vow you will never be caught off guard with no plans for supper again.  Keep that vow at least until the next meal__ then repeat.