Category Archives: in the freezer

on making life easier with a few quick frozen meal starters

SONY DSCIt feels like it’s been a while since we had a spare moment to just sit down. I know that isn’t actually the case, but I can be forgiven for feeling that way. Between storage customers dropping by with their boats, trailers and cars, gardens that need cleaning out, horse riding lessons and hockey games and practices, there seems to be someone coming or going at all times around here. Last week alone, the small kid spent three days involved in riding lessons or at shows and we were in three different hockey arenas a total of four times last weekend. Life is a revolving door right now.

One thing that I have done for the past several years, right at this time of year is to clean out the last bits of the garden and use everything that I can to make some meals ahead of time. This past weekend I gleaned some carrots, onions, green peppers, chili peppers and zucchini and set about making some similar meals. I thawed several pounds of ground beef and managed to make ten meals, or at least the start of ten meals that will help get quick dinners on the table for rushed nights (like last night – I was informed halfway through dinner preparation that there was another hockey practice – that makes four days in a row spent at hockey arenas).

Using shredded zucchini, diced onion and peppers, finely shredded carrots and the ground beef and adding a few extra ingredients and varying spices, I’ve made chili, meat sauce for pasta and taco filling. We also cut up the rest of the leftover thanksgiving turkey earlier in the week (we tend to cook a large turkey to keep the leftovers) and packaged them in several meal sized portions to use on pizza, or in pasta or curry.

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Hopefully this will help with keeping our future Olympic athletes fed. Now I just need to figure out how to get them to the Olympics.

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slow living update – August

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Today is the ultimate slow living day. It’s a humid late summer day at the farm. The flies are driving the horses crazy, the cicadas and crickets are competing for air time and even the hummingbird is sitting down to drink at the feeder.

We gave ourselves a bit of a break this month and did whatever we pleased; occasionally that was nothing at all, which is a lot of the reason for the lack of posts here lately. As usual, I will probably find out that we did more than we thought we had by the end of writing this post.

{Nourish}:

I could just say toasted tomato sandwiches and leave it at that. I could eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sometimes I did. I have a mouthful of cankers to show for it.

Our grocery bills remain low while we continue to shop at home in our own garden. We’ve also been able to enjoy some of the neighbour’s corn, with the disappointing exception of the night that he left some on the picnic table and the dog ate it, husks and all, before we made it home from work.

I wrote about our chocolate chip cookie recipe, and the small squeaky kid and I are getting ramped up to start baking for school lunches. The girls like to take baked goods to school and tell people that they made it themselves. They’ve already put in a request for some donut muffins to keep in the freezer for their lunches.

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{Prepare}:

We’ve been working away at our garden, trying to get some of the tomatoes dealt with. As usual, we overplanted, but it always works out in the end. We have plenty for ourselves and enough to share with coworkers, family and friends. We’ve been making roasted vegetable and tomato sauce, marinara sauce, I’ve shredded some zucchini that got too big before we could get to them (I’ll use them in sauces or with ground meat later in the year) and we’ve made some easy refridgerator pickles.

The pickles took two tries – on our first try I misread the amount of garlic to be used and then tripled it for a large batch of pickles, which made something that resembled pickled garlic with a few cucumbers thrown in. We’ll call that a lesson in reading your way all the way through a recipe before you start. When we tried a few pickles after the two day waiting period, we were a little overwhelmed with the garlic. Several go-rounds with the toothbrush and some mouthwash didn’t help. The pickles didn’t go to waste, however – a friend who has a passion for garlic (and consequently doesn’t get bit much by mosquitos) has relieved us of the very large jar.

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{Reduce/Reuse/Repurpose/Repair}:

We’ve kept things in running order around here which means we keep the local repair guys hopping. The old vacuum has been into the shop for repairs and should keep going for another lifetime, the dishwasher is about to receive a home visit from The Repair Guy and the push mower from the island cottage has been sent off to be overhauled. Nothing around here is new, but it all keeps doing the job it was meant to. The Repair Guy told the dad that if he ever tries to get rid of the 30 year old dishwasher, he would like to have first dibs. It was built back when they were meant to work for a lifetime and with occasional repairs, might outlast all of our other appliances.

The one repurposing example that I could think of is the piece of the old public pool that the dad brought home for the kids to use as a hockey practice surface. Our town pool was dismantled recently, and the dad saw a piece of board that would be perfect. It has taken up residence in the barn and is being used regularly. I just need to find a goalie net now.

{Green – cleaners, body products and basic herbal remedies}:

Nothing new here, although the cornstarch that I use as a body powder was commandeered by the tall hormonal kid. She has taken it to the barn to sprinkle on the pool board – to make a more slippery surface for hockey practice.

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{Grow}:

Our garden is still going strong, but it will be winding down very soon. We have rows of tomatoes, have nearly finished off the cucumbers and we are still working on the swiss chard, peppers, zucchini, onions, melons, carrots and potatoes. This weekend we have plans to dig up potatoes and onions, but we’ll see how motivated we get with that. We planted far too much lettuce and watched most of it go to seed before I could carry it all into work to give away, but I am already missing it and think I might be able to sneak one last planting in for some autumn lettuce, if I can find some seed. By far my favourites this year have been the zucchini and the swiss chard. They’ve been making their way into everything we’ve been eating, from pastas to curries and stirfry. I had never grown swiss chard before, but it will be a staple from now on.

We also have trees so heavy with apples that the limbs are breaking. The small squeaky kid and the horses have been the main beneficiaries of the apples so far and I’m sure soon the neighbours will come and take away some for their hunting camps.

{Create}:

I haven’t got any further on the socks that I started to knit, but my intentions are great, as always. Maybe once school starts and we are back in some kind of a routine again. Maybe.

{Discover}:

My brother and sister gave me an e-reader for my birthday and I’ve been using it regularly ever since. I’ve finished three books so far – I’ve recently started re-reading the Russ Van Alstyne/Clare Fergusson mystery series by Julia Spenser-Fleming. I love mysteries and these are perfect for summer reading. We are also still working our way through the Breaking Bad series – we just finished the third season and need to go in search of more to feed the addiction.

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{Enhance – community}:

The dad has been approved for the local Rotary club, which feels a little strange. Aren’t Rotarians old? Apparently there are a few other people that we went to high school with involved, so I guess that puts us up into the older crowd these days.

We’ve had plenty of involvement in the local community this month – we’ve hosted a wedding in the backyard, kept the local repair people working and had a friend install some bathroom safety equipment to help me out with some continuing balance issues. The tall hormonal kid has been trying out babysitting as a part-time summer job and is enjoying the extra pocket money and feeling of maturity and independence it gives her.

We’ve also had some bees added to our place. They’ve actually been here for a couple of months, but I forget about them. The dad’s business partner has a bee keeping business with his family and have moved some supers onto the farm for a while. It’s win, win for us – we’ve got lots of fruit on our trees and they’ll keep us supplied with honey as well. So far there has only been one incidence of a call from a neighbouring farm about a swarm, and it was quickly and easily dealt with. I wish I had photos of the dad with the bees flying all around him.

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{Enjoy}:

I caught up to the dad this month in age (though he is still older) and celebrated Papa’s 75 birthday as well. We had visits with Grandma Upstairs (that’s what our girls always called my grandma – she used to live with us – upstairs), visits from out of town friends that we had not seen in many years, but who brought along two lovely teenage daughters that give me hope for mine in the future, and various and assorted visits with other friends and neighbours. It’s been alternately quiet and busy, with hockey try-outs for the tall kid (as yet undetermined), riding camp for the small squeaky kid, and some summer holidays from work. All in all, it’s been a good summer, but we are all still looking forward to the start of school again next week.

Easy Basil Pesto

007With the recent heat wave, our normally lazy weeknight dinner making ways have ramped up to extraordinarily lazy dinner making ways. Pesto on pasta has been a recent favourite in our house. Even the tall hormonal kid can manage to cook some pasta that we can toss with pesto and call it dinner. Add a salad and some bread and everyone is happy.

The kids have surprised me by their love of this electric green spread/sauce. Normally they absolutely refuse to try something that looks like it might once have been a vegetable (though once they try it, often change their minds). I have no doubt that they would never have tried pesto for me. The secret seems to be to have them try it at their aunt’s house. She has a cool factor that we can’t compete with. Maybe we can return the favour some day. But I have my doubts that the dad and I could ever appear cool. Not even to the niece and nephews.

We were smart this year and planted twice as much basil as last year.  I hope to keep giving the plants a good pruning and make a few more batches for the freezer. We’ve made this a few times already, never exactly the same way twice. It’s easy to change a bit with some additions – we’ve tried adding some sun-dried tomatoes, parsley and spinach. I have some dried chillies that I would like to try in our next batch. It’s a great way to hide a few extras – like spinach – from the kids.

Easy Basil Pesto

Printable Version

  • 8 cups loosely packed basil
  • 4 to 6 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts or walnuts
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper, to taste

Wash and dry basil leaves (I use a salad spinner), add the basil along with the rest of the ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth, scraping down the sides if necessary.

Refrigerate or freeze in airtight containers. This made enough for me to fill 3 small glass jars, leaving a bit of headspace for expansion during freezing.

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