« December 2013 | Main | February 2014 »

Thrifting :: Cheese Farm :: Freezer Meals

120 7

Thank you for providing such helpful information regarding sergers on my last post. I have a good direction now, and some saving to do. I'd prefer to wait and buy the right machine that's going to cover all the necessary tasks. If it could be the machine to last a lifetime too, well that would be pretty great.

120 3

120 2

I'd all but given up on winter over the last two weeks but snow is coming back to us tomorrow so that's making me pretty happy. Yesterday Adam and I took a little outing to a local cheese farm (that holds some serious world class credentials), then we visited a couple of thrift stores. It's been too long! We don't exactly look for the same type of treasures; him coming home with a velvet lined mahogany box (to hold his knives...?) and me with a few sparkly pieces of glassware and a funky turquoise pottery crock... but I've always felt quite fortunate to have a husband who digs a good treasure search as much as I do. 

120 1

I'm trying to build a small collection of vintage cordial and shot glasses for mini desserts. Things that would normally be served as standard portions, but mini versions instead - because sampling everything on the dessert table is much more fun. I'm thinking Fresh Berries with Vanilla Nut Cream Sauce, Frozen Raspberries and Dark ChocolateRaw Chocolate TorteBlueberry Glace PieRaw Berry Cheesecake... and the Lemon Un-cheesecake from Whole Food Kitchen. Things like that, miniature style. Not cut and portioned into small glasses for serving purposes, but actually making the desserts right in there. Wouldn't that be amazing? I can't wait to try it out, just need a few more sparkly glasses. 

120 4

I made Emily some freezer meals/snacks this weekend. It's kind of unreal how much food teens can eat. And not just "I'll have an apple" type snacks; they seem to need  hearty and high calorie at every turn. Add to that sports and regular trips to the gym and it's basically a constant caloric infusion. The other night I made what I thought was a very filling and yummy Red Lentil Dahl over Roasted Cauliflower, Emily enjoyed it (not the cauliflower part) but was starving about one hour later. So, with tomato sauce from our garden, and eggs from the backyard stirred into ricotta, I made a bunch of individual baked ziti and put them in the freezer. I guess this is our version of tv dinners. 

120 5

I posted about it on Instagram and Facebook over the weekend and folks asked about reheating so I'll mention it here too. We don't have a microwave which means a little planning ahead is needed, but not much. (We're always thinking ahead regarding food, something that comes with from scratch cooking. You get used to it.) After some time thawing on the counter or in a bowl of warm water, it is baked in the oven at 350 F for 15 minutes or so. She bakes it right in the jar. Instead of baking with the (plastic lined) canning lid, we remove that and just put a small oven safe saucer on top. You might want to put the whole thing on a cookie sheet depending on how stable you feel the jar is on your oven rack. Gosh, as I write this it seems complicated. It's not though, really. Just different steps if you don't have a  microwave. I don't see why this couldn't be reheated in a skillet (once thawed) on the stove-top - just add a splash of water to the skillet and heat over medium. I'd actually prefer to use the Pyrex glass containers that we use for food storage, but at this time I don't have enough to sacrifice such a large bunch to the freezer. 

120 6

Individual baked ziti, ready and waiting in the freezer. It's a good way for Emily to enjoy pasta, something that rarely makes it to the dinner table because two out of three family members don't feel very good after eating it. At 16, Emily has reached the point of food independence which is pretty great to watch (I've always held a great deal of flexibility in this area, more so than people might think given my preferred crunchy ways - but gone are the parenting days of attempting to convince her to "try" a certain vegetable). Anyway, enjoy those carbs Emily! I'm happy to make you healthy, homemade versions of the foods you love! Next up, I'm thinking individual Shepard's Pie. 

*     *     *     *     *

Emily's best friend is coming to spend the day today so I best get going. Hopefully I'll be back before the end of the week... I'd love to get back to the good ol' days of more than once a week blogging. Fingers crossed. 

Thawing Out :: Garden Planning


Our January thaw came this weekend and everybody seemed pretty happy about that. We had a great deal of rain on Saturday which the chickens loved (though I can't help but think what an amazing snowstorm it would have been with colder temps), and today will continue with a 50 degree day. I should open the windows for an hour or so, a welcome mid-January breath of fresh air. 

113 2

A few weeks ago we ran out of coffee and have yet to replace it. So, inadvertently, I've given it up for now. I do this once in a while and my break usually lasts for several months, I always feel better without it. The last few days my mornings have begun with  a cup of earl grey and it is perfect. Maybe this will be my new constant. Now to find the very best earl grey out there... (I'd love to hear your suggestions.)

113 1

I've yet to pull together our seed order and should really try to do that this week. I made a few careful notes at the end of last season as different people shared their "must plant this again" successes from their own gardens. Ben mentioned Piraciaba as his new favorite broccoli type vegetable, prolific and delicious. Amanda described Danvers carrot as her favorite, so we'll give those a try. Carrots were a bust for us last year but I know it was gardener error, not plant or soil. We moved our carrot patch to a new garden on the back half of our property which has wonderful sunlight and soil, but no easy access to water. My guess is we failed to water adequately in the early stage of growth, which is essential. I plan to be better about that this year. Poor carrots, they deserve a good honest go of it. I'll be sure to plant Danvers among a few other varieties. My neighbor grew a beautiful patch of Mexican Sunflowers, I'd love to give that a try too. They grew in a showy abundance of eight foot tall clusters. I think they'd make a great cut flower and would appeal to the butterflies too. 

Midwinter retreat 6

DSC_1035Okay, I have to get back to work and homeschool. Have a great day! 

Back in the Swing of Things

18 4

Yesterday was one of those days that as the hours passed, it seemed as though more things were added to my list, not crossed off. A bit of an uphill battle, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't frustrated and overwhelmed. I even called my husband while he was busy with his own day to unload for a few minutes. After nearly twenty years of marriage, he's good at this. Not looking to fix my 'problems' but merely there to listen, encourage, and make me laugh... which is really the best way to not take it all so seriously and get on with it. Which thankfully, I did (sort of). 

18 3

This morning Adam came in from chores and told me it was -2 degrees out there. As much as I love historic homes, this 1978 colonial holds heat about a hundred times better than our 1922 bungalow... or the 1800s home in Vermont we lived in... or the many victorian apartments through the years. I'm pretty sure some of them just had a few old newspapers stuffed between the walls. While most people wouldn't consider a 1978 home "new" by any stretch, it's probably the newest home I've ever lived in (aside from the log home we rented while Adam was in law school), and I'll tell you, it has it perks. No asbestos, no lead, well-insulated (but not too air tight), copper pipes, current electrical, etc... it's a nice deal, actually. And even though I think hollow-core doors are something that should never have been invented, for the most part a home built in the 70s is safe from the quick and steady decline of (most) building standards and materials that took place in the 80s and 90s. 

All this to say, thank you 1970s house, with your time-capsule kitchen and baths, you're a pretty toasty place to be during what just might be the coldest winter on record. 

18 2

We are back in the homeschool swing of things, Christmas is cleaned up and packed away for the most part (outside decorations will stay through January). Today I hope to unpack my new sewing machine that Adam surprised me with, it appears to be a beauty! My previous machine was never a perfect fit for me. It was clunky and jammed up almost every time I used it, and seemed to get worse as time went on. This made for quite a challenge when sewing was my paid work! I always thought it was just me - someone who is not so good at reading the manual and following directions. I kept meaning to take a class with it and learn from an expert if I was misusing the machine, but I never did (a hands on class fits my learning style, not reading the manual). Instead, I resorted to using Emily's machine, a basic entry level Kenmore. This worked fine for simple projects made of cotton and linen. Skirts, fabric gift bags, things like that. Even a basic zipper pouch was too much for the Kenmore. 

Thankfully, when Adam visited the sewing machine store, explaining the problems I was having with my old Elna, and that I have resorted to using Emily's basic machine, they assured him that the Elna in question did indeed have a history of performing poorly, exactly as I had experienced. It wasn't just a case of operator error! 

So, he made the upgrade. I can't wait to sew with great ambition again, it's been too long. 

18 1

It's good to see our normal routine again - homeschool, work, out of the house lessons and such. Dad will be here later today, he'll pass through heading back up to Northern Maine. He just delivered Mom to my sister's house in Florida for the winter. That was the deal when he thought it would be fun to retire on a lake at the Canadian border. (I can't even imagine how cold it must be up there!)

Stay warm friends, two pairs of socks for everyone!