My garden is a wee bit slow on coming to harvest. I mean, the peas were great early on but, as of now, nothing else has really come to fruit. There are plenty of tomatoes on the vines - they're loaded but nothing red, only green. Trust me, I'm fighting the urge to pluck and fry them. The garlic has once again done its disappearing act and the onions are struggling to grow. Guess I'm not to grow onions and garlic. Not going to even try next year. The beets are still growing. My son's mother-in-law has huge beets growing in her garden. Me? They look like baby beets. Oh, I noticed yesterday that the pole beans are finally starting to blossom. Yay!
Of course, I'm in no big rush to get out there and harvest since it has been hotter than Hades around here the last few weeks.
Me? I'd prefer to go to the state park and camp. Yup, enjoy the cool lake breeze waft through the pines, maples, oaks and other trees. (I'm rambling...)
So, anyway, the grocery stores have started to lower prices on produce. I went to the store last week and they had cabbage for 19¢ a pound. At that price, it was time to make Cabbage Balls. I made about 20 of them and they are now residing in the freezer for a yummy winter treat. Of course, I'm not that dumb, we had some that same night - just to make sure they were good. They were!
Peppers (the green ones) which normally go for upwards of 89¢ each, well, they were 5/$1.00. And they were HUGE! That can only mean one thing - Stuffed Green Pepper Casserole. I normally make stuffed green peppers, but found doing a casserole stores easier. So I made up a huge pan full, uh, my wife baked cakes and we still have the 12x18 sheet cake pan. That's what I used. We froze up 6 quarts. And again, we tasted the fruits of the effort. I can't believe I'm saying this - C'mon snow!!
Using the above two ingredients, my wife, the expert at making freezer slaw aka Sweet and Sour Coleslaw, used one head of cabbage and one large green bell pepper. She made up 8 freezer bags of this food of the gods.
Another use for cabbage? Egg rolls. I love egg rolls. So, I made up some egg roll filling and wrapped up a total of 36 egg rolls. I put them into hot oil to parboil them, sort of. Then I placed them on a cookie sheet and into the freezer. Once frozen, they got shuffled into gallon bags. Notice I say bags. My daughter-in-law, granddaughter and great-grandson came over the next day after I made them — to make sure they were of the proper quality. Okay, my great-grandson is only 10 months old so he didn't really test them. My wife, my daughter-in-law, my granddaughter and I did. And they passed the test with flying colors. Delicious, a perfect filling — nice tight roll, not greasy, great chicken/pork/cabbage ratio and flavor.
Also, cauliflower was on sale and we couldn't pass it up. We got 4 heads of cauliflower and my wife broke them up into small florets, parboiled them and onto a cookie sheet to freeze they went. We now have two gallons of cauliflower to use with broccoli and/or carrots for veggies during the winter.
I guess I should mention that we also found chicken breast, sausage, ground pork, and ground beef also on sale at different local groceries. We made the rounds to a total of 5 stores - 2 farm markets for the veggies and 3 grocery stores. Actually, the one farm market was 60 miles away from our house and is what got us started on this adventure.
We were coming home from visiting our sons up north in the Detroit, Michigan area. As we came through Toledo, my wife thought it would behoove us to stop at Monettes, a fresh farm market. We did and found some of the veggies. The rest was history as we stopped at the local farm market day which is held twice a week around the square in Bryan, Ohio. Then it was a stop at our Chief Supermarket and Wal Mart. (I think there is a Wal Mart within 20 mi of anyone in the U.S.) And then off to Montpelier, Ohio, where Miller's was having a huge meat sale.
Sure, we spent more on food this month than usual, but then again, we have more food in our freezer for us to eat. We'll be able to cut back on food costs during the winter.
Is this method practical? Let's see. Sweet and Sour Coleslaw is $3.49/lb at the store. I bought a cabbage head for 83¢ and a green pepper for 20¢ — so basically about $1. I got almost 5 pounds of coleslaw. I would say, offhand, I saved about $15. Yes, there is sugar and vinegar to add in. Let's be conservative on savings and say I saved $10. Uh, that's ten dollars in MY pocket. To make this on a whim at some point down the road at say, 69¢ a pound for cabbage and 89¢ for a green pepper? Sure, it is still cheaper than buying, but the cost has gone up almost $3 just on those two ingredients. Go ahead, call me a tight-ass, but a penny saved, even a nickel or a dime, is money for me.
When my tomatoes start coming in, we will be making diced, stewed and sauce. Also a lot of my wife's famous salsa which I snarfle down during the winter months.
Sweet corn is coming to harvest around here, but it is still the early rush. I'll wait and when the price drops, I'll go get some and we'll freeze up some of that golden delight. Wal Mart had some for 12¢ an ear — that works out to be $1.44/dozen which beats the crap out of $2.75 for a half dozen at the farmer's market right now.
Lest we forget, the orchards are coming to harvest, too. Peaches and apples. Yum! The next couple of months will be busy as we scurry around like chipmunks, burying our treasures in the freezer or canning jars for the coming winter.
Okay, this one will probably flabbergast you. Eggs. Remember my chicks? All 18 of them? Well, they are now full-sized hens and laying eggs. Yes, I'm getting about 12-17 eggs daily. In other words, about 9 dozen eggs a week. They've been small but as the months have progressed, the eggs have gotten larger on a regular basis. My 4 sons have been taking some and enjoying the harvest but even now, they can't keep up with the production. I'm going to have to put up a sign and start selling some. Now for the flabbergaster. You can freeze eggs. One only needs to crack the eggs and put them in ice-trays and freeze. When frozen, pop them out and toss them into a gallon bag. When you need an egg or two, grab out what is needed. We're considering this. Anyone ever done it? I have six dozen eggs in my frig at this very moment. The boys are all coming this weekend (so I've heard) and that will bring down the stock, but…
I guess I should mention we have two freezers. One (chest type) is for meats. The other (upright) is for non-meats, okay, for everything else. Both are getting filled right now. I'm hoping I can find shrimp and crab on sale again. My stock is running low. As to fish, I have some salmon and steelhead stocked. I want more cod, catfish, orange roughy and perch. Now, I've heard through the grapevine that one of our local grocery stores will be having a huge meat sale within the next 30 days. I see meatloaf, chicken tacquitos, lemon-garlic chicken, chicken pot pie, cranberry pork, chili, potato soup, beef barley stew, orange ginger chicken and a plethora of other recipes being made en-mass for the freezer.
I think the hardest part of winter this coming year will be deciding which meal to get out of the freezer to heat up and eat.
Until next I ramble on...