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right now

Jun 5, 2011

Maintenance Day

Yesterday Mama Pea posted about taking inventory of what canned and frozen goods she had left from past season's harvest, and I thought I'd take advantage of our day of thunderstorms to do the same.

Ugh!  One thing led to another and next thing I was cleaning both the side by side fridge, my little chest freezer, and started throwing things in a crock pot madwoman style.

I only had 2 jars of pickled jalapenos left in the pantry so that wasn't too difficult.  The freezer however was a different matter, it was horrifying.  Like a "B" horror movie, Attack of the Beans!  I still have about 20 bags of Chinese Long Beans, and to think I planted twice that much out in the beds a couple of weeks ago.  FOUR gallon size bags of whole jalapenos, LOL.  It also became very evident the pros of using the Food Saver.  I ran out of Food Saver bags late in the season last year and everything that was in Ziploc bags had lots of frost inside.  I even straw-sucked the air out!  Needless to say I threw out the frostbitten stuff, as the new beans will be coming in soon.


I still had 1 gallon size bag of last-run tomatoes I had frozen whole, so I popped them in the crock pot with a few jars of sauce and the beans I had soaked last night and after adding some other "stuff", cranked out a nice batch of chili for the freezer.  It won't last long though, since any premade stuff gets eaten pretty quickly with hubby having to take his evening dinner to work with him.

If you haven't done this, give it a try with the odds and ends tomatoes you have.  The texture won't resemble tomatoes after freezing, but you end up with an easy way to preserve a few here and there to use as a substitute for stewed tomatoes.  The freezer breaks the skin for you so all you need do is thaw, peel and throw into a chili or sauce to make it chunky.  Don't get me wrong, not a substitute for a real batch of stewed tomatoes, but when you don't have enough to do anything with, just keep adding them to a bag in there.


One thing led to another...


This had been on my to-do list for a few weeks now.  I always dread the yearly defrost since that means I have to cram it all in the fridge-freezer, which is impossible.

I was ruthless in throwing stuff.  Below, now the freezer is clean and ready for this year's harvest.  The only thing from last year are the 5 jars of tomato sauce and salsa on the bottom.  I "sort of" have a plan... the basket on top with hold frozen baked goods and cookies, and the bin on the left will hold pre-made dinners.  I want to can all the tomato sauce instead of freezing, this tiny freezer gets so packed that I can't find a thing otherwise. That's the plan anyways...  


So where did the rest of the stuff go that was in there?  I put the rest of last summer's corn, beans and pepper strips in the main fridge, where they will be smack in my face while prepping dinner, more likely to be used up.  The shelf on top of that is all fruit.  I still have 4 pints of strawberry puree, 3 pints of jam, 1/2 gallon bag of whole blueberries, and 10 pints of pure blackberry juice - blackberry vodka lemonade, anyone?  You may notice I don't have any root vegetables, we can't store them here.  In our part of the country the water table is only about 6 feet down so no root cellars or basements, and the high temps and humidity make storage impossible.  I do have about 6 shallots and 4 garlic bulbs left, so we did well with those over winter.


Last night I treated myself to a few "cute" canning jars.  I wanted to get some little ones for pesto, herbs and the like, and also grabbed some of the small with the wide lids for homemade sugar scrub and foot scrub.  The wide lids make it so much easier to get hands into and the small size makes for a great stocking stuffer or gift.


That of course, led to a whole cleanout and inventory of the canning supplies...


Hubby and the kids got out of my hair for awhile today and when they came back the kids brought me some wheat they picked on the side of the road.  I hope they didn't expect me to make something out of the 8 or 9 stalks LOL.  They did make for a nice accent next to the bread I baked though!
  

Getting rid of pumpkin puree....  I love my new square mini cake pan/muffin thingy.  I'm not sure what it's for technically, but it makes cute loaves/muffins perfect for packing in a lunch.


Will it do any good to vow yet again that this year will be different?  That I WILL keep better track of what I have and not forget about stuff in the freezer?  We won't count the times I ran out to get red sauce since I was positive we had no more... yet as of this evening there are  3 more jars in the freezer.  This year I will can more of it instead of freezing, last year with hubby deployed I honestly didn't think we would need much.  Of course I planted fewer tomatoes in anticipation of that but then disease took many of them, still leaving me with less than I wanted.

In summary:  more sauce, less beans!

I hope to make the kids a batch of strawberry ice cream tomorrow with some of that puree, but then again I might do nothing at all, I just want to sit down and call it a night!


19 comments:

  1. Wow, this post made me tired. You got a ton done. I have yet to inventory my canning shelf, but the freezer did get a clean out and defrosting, but only because someone didn't close the door properly (I mention no names). That's how stuff works around here. No matter, at least it got done.

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  2. I've heard the best way to keep track is to keep a list on the outside of the freezer and when you take something out cross out what you took. If you put something in add it to the list.
    Right now our freezer has buckets of water frozen in the bottom because no one can reach the bottom of the freezer and we never get it full even though it's only about 5ft long. Keeping the buckets of frozen water helps the freezer work more efficiently because they work better when they are full.
    I need to get some more jars because I'm going to can some salsa and tomatoes even if I have to buy the stuff to do it.

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  3. Ok, I am going to do this tomorrow!! Time just flew right out the door this weekend! Great Job! I think this is key in developing an action plan for the new season. I know for certain that I am out of spaghetti sauce and sloppy joe, so I intend to do waaay more of the sauces too. And since you are eyeballing a pressure canner you can go everywhere with what you want to do. However my sauces I HWB most of them, but still...you NEED a pressure canner. (that was for hubby to see) wink wink

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  4. Lorie, that's always how it happens, isn't it? What spurred it today was that I wanted to make a bunch of freezer meals, but knew that I'd have to haul them all out again to defrost next week!
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    Sparkless, ooooh but I'm the List Girl! Yeah, I even blogged all about my Super Duper Freezer Inventory List mounted on my freezer LOL... see how that turned out? I give up!
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    APG, hahaha! Exactly! With me especially, since I have a ceramic top that I can't steam can on, but I CAN use a pressure canner on it since it has a flat bottom :) I feel so damn organized tonight but I just know it will be a mess again when I need it to be clean! It never lasts long, but at least it's motivating :)

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  5. Oh, man, I wish we could trade. I need less sauce and more beans! My dogs eat green beans and baked chicken twice a day. I ran out of beans very early.

    You didn't braid your wheat and hang it? I still have the braided wheat my John made for me when he was a kid, and he's 52 years old now :-O It's hanging on my laundry room window crank, so it gets in quite a few blog photos.

    I have a stinkin' little chest freezer, too.

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  6. Oooh, Ok. I get it!

    Hey C-Man...your wife needs a new cook top!!

    (got your back girlfriend!)

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  7. You are a family of four. We are a family of two. I could never manage with that little rinky-dink of a chest freezer you have! I can see why you want to can more stuff . . . you can't possibly get enough in the freezer!

    I occasionally cave and buy those cute little canning jars but they are the ones I always end up giving away and then I never have them.

    Love your square muffin tin thingie. I've never seen those.

    I just had to laugh at your post. You're like the Energizer Bunny . . . you just go from one thing to another without ever stopping. (Yup, I gotta start drinking more espresso.)

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  8. Where do you find the time? Nice job mom!

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  9. Impressive! We tried the list on the freezer for a while. We even used a dry erase board so it would be easier to update... um... yeah.... you just have to have everyone on board with updating....
    Judy

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  10. Gran, braided wheat! LOL, I'm drawing the line right there, I have no energy or wall space for that :)
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    APG, yes! He'll be reading it tonight at work I'm sure :)
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    Mama Pea, it's definitely the espresso. You aren't kidding about that freezer, yikes it's small. I stopped buying my meat share from the farm here because it won't fit! It was great the first season, but then my garden got BIGGER and I can't wait until I can get a big one. I've even thought of buying a really big one and having hubby make a butcher block table top for it with a big overhang on all sides and use it as a tall dining table with stools, just lifting the whole tabletop with freezer attached to get into it - problem there is there is no space for a dining table LOL.

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  11. Jody, I started when everyone was still asleep, then they woke up and got in the way.... then hubby took the kids out of the house for awhile and I got back to it - I never seem to be able to get motivated for large projects unless I'm alone LOL!
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    Judy, yep we did the dry erase too haha!

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  12. Too funny. I have veggies in my chest freezer that I never even touched from last year. Like 2 gallon sized bags of cubed zucchini. What was I thinking??!!

    The bread looks awesome. And yes, the wheat adds that special touch!

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  13. Oh, I hate the defrosting thing too. It's a good time of year to do it, though, with fresh strawberries around the corner and a sink full of rhubarb in my kitchen. Maybe tomorrow ... Love your photos of frozen stuff! And thanks for the tip on the Food Saver. Gotta look into one of those.

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  14. I love that square tin! How neat!

    I've forbidden myself to go big grocery shopping until we use up some of the stuff in the deep freeze. Hence, the crazy, what in the world am I doing suppers as of late.
    Ribbit

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  15. You really accomplished so much. poor empty freezer is so lonely now. But not for long I bet. I throw chili together like that at the of summer when tomatoes are a plenty. I have to buy from the farmers market or go to a u pick farm. my measly crop wouldn't feed a mouse.

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  16. Thomas, I'll probably be in the same boat again with squash this year!
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    Hi Katrina! I was exhausted last night! BUT, I feel better with that chore crossed off the list :)
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    Jo, I'll try and post some photos of ziploc vs. the Food Saver stuff. The big drawback is that the bags get expensive for people with decent size gardens like us!
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    Ribbit, that's the plan here too, lots of crock pot stuff and pasta mixed with "stuff" LOL
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    Judy (2), more chili will definitely be on the list this fall! If I lived near you no doubt you would have me "ding, dong, ditching" bags of garden produce on the front step - then I would run like hell so you didn't pelt me with zucchini! Nobody wants zucchini by the end of season LOL

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  17. Great post. I use those small jars you are callin' cute for lots of canned goods, for the stuff that won't get inhaled within a week or two of opening.

    Nice freezer clean out! I have some shredded zucchini, frozen whole strawberries, blueberries, and some pizza sauce left. Your chili sounds yummy!!

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  18. P.S. Love the square pans too.

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