right now

right now

Feb 25, 2011

Lots of little things...

This is one of those weeks where everything and nothing is going on!  No large projects, but lots of tying up loose ends on random things that have taken a backseat to daily life.

I spent the better part of 3 days cleaning my kitchen, and I mean really tossing stuff.  I threw away all my old spices and actually washed the spice jars out, who does that (freak!) LOL?  I got rid of quite a few dishes in the process, I like to entertain, but do I really need wine and martini glasses for 20?  I think not. My true friends will happily drink what is given to them in whatever vessel it's served up in - this is my new philosophy!  This is all a concerted effort to fit my kitchen table actually in the kitchen (BTW we have no dining room).  I have sacrificed my tiny eat in area for a freezer, homemade kegerator and stainless prep table instead - this was kind of a necessity since we are gardeners, canners, and homebrewers.  For years now we have had the table/chairs in the living room which looks just fine as the entire thing is open to the kitchen anyways, but in my quest to have a sewing space, I really need to fit that table back in the kitchen.

Ever since taking stock of all the garden veggies in the freezer, I've been more motivated to cook this week.  The kids are not excited about the volume of beans in there, we're eating them every night!

Below is one of my favorite make ahead meals because they freeze so darn well.  I have to credit Mom for this one, I never thought about it until she mentioned it a few years back.  I will make about 3 boxes of stuffed shells - yes, that's alot - then freeze on a cookie sheet for an hour then dump into gallon baggies - presto!  Nice, homecooked meal fast!  Just pull out however many you need, dump some of that lovely canned tomato sauce and some cheese on top and bake for about 20 minutes straight from a frozen state.  Don't forget the beans, LOL!

How can the kids not want these?  Heirloom Yellow Wax are my absolute favorite for flavor and freshness from frozen.  Finn actually peeled them apart and ate out the teeny seeds inside and told me he didn't like the rest... what?????

Yesterday was a lovely mail day - I received this book in the mail all the way from Oregon courtesy of Ruth at Hope, Joy & Faith Farm... thanks, Ruth!  I can't wait to have some quiet time to begin reading it.  If you haven't visited Ruth yet, head over - she is embracing all that goes with learning to live a simpler, homesteading life - learning the ways of animals, managing limited funds while creating a simple and fulfilling life for her family, something many of us are striving for and it's fun learning along with her.  You are also in for a treat if you head over now, since her farm is celebrating it's first lambs, pictures too good to miss :

I also can't let this "duh" moment go - I've been saying that I was so proud of myself for waiting to start my seeds this year - apparently I only thought I started my tomatoes and peppers Jan 19th last year.  Where do I get these dates stuck in my head, LOL?  I save my calendars for the past few years and as I was making notes yesterday I decided to look back.  Last year I did, indeed, start a flat on Jan 19th but it was flowers and herbs.  Look at the following photos from 2009, 2010, 2011 and keep in mind that I didn't plan my seed starting dates... apparently my mind works like an alarm clock every year, it was kind of strange!

 Tomatoes & Peppers  Feb 23, 2009

 Tomatoes & Peppers Feb 22, 2010

 February 22, 2011

So although I didn't "wait" like I thought, I'm still pretty impressed that I have this inner alarm clock!

Speaking of, after just about 48 hours on the heat, I have the first tomatoes up!

 4 Pink Brandywines peeking up

2 Hillbillies so far...

All 10 Amish Paste are up!

Still waiting on the other varieties, but I just love catching them at this stage.  All my tomato varieties were sourced from Baker Creek again this year.  Even though the company is growing quickly, they are obviously still vigilant about their seed viability and freshness. 

Still trying to clear the freezer out for the spring meat order from the local farm, tonight we had steak sandwiches, cream of potato & leek soup (this was courtesy of Rachael Ray, not mine) and our frozen peppers and onions.  

The green beans were absent tonight - but the kids hated the smell of the onions and peppers that replaced them caramelizing in the pan... what is wrong with them?!

Now I'm off to catch up on everyone's blogs, I am so behind.  There is also the annual quilt show at the convention center that I really want to go to tomorrow, but not sure if I will.  I don't know anyone who would enjoy going with me, yet I don't want to go all by myself!  Hubby agreed to go with me, just not sure if I want to pay the admission price - I'll have to decide by morning since tomorrow is the best day to go, more 45 mph winds and cold, good day to be inside!


  1. Please don't let me influence you, okay? I'm just giving my own personal opinion here and we're all different and need to decide what's best for us. I don't like quilt shows. WHAT!!?? (And I profess to be passionate about quilting? What kind of a nut am I?) I see a lot at quilt shows that don't appeal to me in the least. After about 25 quilts, my eyes glaze over. I don't think I've ever gotten a single idea from a quilt show. I never get enough time to quilt so I'd rather spend the time I would going to a quilt show at home QUILTING. Quilting magazines and books are my thing and I love perusing them. Most quilters I know adore going to quilt shows. So maybe you should take in one or two yourself and make your own decision.

    Love seeing all your little seeds popping up. And the pictures of your food! I had cold cereal for dinner (long story) and I am licking the pictures showing your food.

  2. LOL! Karl pulls his beans apart too. What is the problem there!!??
    I am SO jealous of sprouting tomatoes. BUT... I have my first parsley seedling up and a few leeks poking their little heads out of the soil. I was doing the happy dance in the kitchen- much to the chagrin of the children.

  3. Mama Pea, I suspect you might be right, since I LOVE books and the inspiration I get from them - even if I don't have time (like now) to start a new quilt, I can get my books (yes, I have a stack already LOL), a glass of wine, and escape in the possibilities. I was thinking I might go just to see all the different machines out today, but that could backfire too :)

    Judy, congrats on the parsley - those are notoriously finicky to germinate! One nice thing is that they reseed profusely every year and if you put enough in, you won't have to replant them! They are so hardy, ours even grows and gets harvested all winter long. Congrats too on the chicken order - my comment didn't work when I tried!

  4. I am so not reading your blog anymore on this trip---between you and Mama Pea, I'm going insane with hunger seeing your delicious foods,and it's 2 hours until the restaurants open. Hmmmmm-the toothpaste looks interesting....

    And by the way-add me to the weirdo list-I wash my spice jars out as well.

  5. You little tomatoes pushing up through the dirt gives me hope, my dear. This has been a long winter.

    Great idea about the noodles. Never thought of that one! Thanks for the suggestions!!

  6. Elizabeth does the same thing with green beans!! Crazy kids

  7. I'd go with you to the quilt show... :-) Never been to one, but that would be the perfect reason to go, don't you think?
    My girls are just as picky as your boys, except one will eat something and the other won't. It never fails, one always complains about the veggies I try to add to our diet. Doesn't help that hubby isn't a big veggie fan either... What is wrong with all of them??

  8. Sue and Erin - In my tiny kitchen I have to keep my spices/herbs in two little plastic bins in a cupboard. I've been thinking lately the bins need a good cleaning out. Now I have to wash the JARS, too??

    Sue, take it from someone who ate half a tube of toothpaste as a child, don't do it.

    Erin, what do you stuff your shells with before freezing?

  9. Question- How long do you blanch those beans before freezing. Mine do not look like that. I also do not plunge them in ice water after blanching, which may be the problem. Mine come out of the freezer too limp for me and end up in soup instead of the table.

  10. Mama Pea, it changes with whatever I have on hand. This time I used ground beef, ricotta cheese and the little bit of spinach I got from the garden. Later in the season it will be mostly ricotta, spinach & basil, sometimes it's meatless, other times I'll put meat in there or in the sauce. Oh, and garlic, of course! :)

  11. Jane, you aren't alone, I have heard from several people that they won't freeze beans since they turn out mushy. I have never had this problem! I blanch mine for 3 mins max, and I do NOT plunge in an ice bath since I am doing so many that I don't have time or enough ice for that. I do however, immediately put them in a bowl of plain cold tap water, immediately strain that out since the water warms up quick, and put into another cold tap water bowl. Then I spread them out on a floursack towel, spread another on top, blot them dry, and then bag and freeze. Mine always still even have that squeakiness when reheated! Although I will say that it seems to me that most people are used to canned bean texture and seem to overcook their beans, mine are not cooked that long!

    I have had the same good experience with all the beans I have grown and froze this way, I just happen to love the beany flavor of Yellow Wax the best, and they look wonderful mixed with green too!

  12. Also, I only steam them when reheating them, never boil in water!

  13. Jane, I do my beans almost exactly the same way as Erin including drying them with towels. Mine come out of the freezer so "crisp" that if I under cook them, they almost taste raw. The one thing I do differently is that I do cook mine in boiling water rather than steaming them.

  14. I'm glad Annie and Otto aren't in the least bit picky about eating their green beans.

    I want to go to the local home show this weekend, but can't find anyone else who wants to go. I don't like doing stuff like that alone, either.

  15. Gran, that's exactly how I feel - I always like to have someone to talk to about what I see - I'd just be wandering around talking to myself and having people stare at me LOL!

  16. I am thinking that the drying may have something to do with it. I shove mine in the bag still wet so I am sure the ice crystals break the cells down further during freezing, giving me my rubbery bean. Your right, your doing so much during canning time you sometimes cut a corner. Problem solved. This year I towel dry. Thanks Erin & Mama Pea.

  17. I'm very impressed by your internal clock!! If I don't write and plan out my seed sowing, my procrastinating ways just take over :) My youngest son use to always rip apart green beans and just eat the seeds inside but not the rest of it. Kids are so funny!

  18. I too wash and re-use my spice/seasoning containers, since I grow my own herbs and seasonings, I need them to refill....

  19. You might be glad to know that my youngest son, now 19, told me just this week that he can't imagine cooking without onions. He didn't always like them! It is so great that kids' tastes change as they grow.