Archive for the 'Food Storage' Category

Basil Fettuccine

Friday, August 28th, 2009

I have a lot of basil lately so I have been experimenting with ways to use it.  This is a recipe I made up by substituting basil for spinach so if you don’t have pounds of basil going to waste,  feel free to use spinach.

3/4 cup chopped fresh basil (or spinach)

2 cloves of fresh garlic (optional)
1 egg

1 tsp oive oil

2 tablespoons water

Process the basil,  garlic, oil and egg in a food processor until finely chopped.   Add 1 and 1/2 cups flour.  Add water by the teaspoon full until the dough forms a ball.  Put the dough in the fridge for an hour and then roll with a pasta roller or rolling pin.  Cut noodles into long thin strips.   Storage tip:  This recipe can be dried for storage but freezing the noodles after you dry them a bit will probably ensure a fresher basil taste.

Saying Ahh

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

So I have really enjoyed looking around blogs and peering in people’s cupboards, fridges, and freezers.   Meadowlark played What’s in Your Fridge?   and before that Anais of Path to Freedom fame posted a fun look into her kitchen’s private places.

I have been meaning to join in the fun but we have been busy winterizing and then we got hit by the first respiratory gunk of the season.

I still thought I would give it a whirl, mostly because I already took the darn pictures,  I just had to find time to get them on the blog.

This first shot is of my fridge.  I think the funniest thing is the gallon jug of aloe vera gel you can see on the top shelf.  Other than that, it is pretty ordinary. On the top shelf is some apple carrot juice from our juicer.  There are veggies,  apples, cheese, butter, eggs,  other dairy products of various varieties. I have a couple bags of cranberries hanging out in there for the relish we will make this week.   You can also see all the bottles of hot sauce I made hanging out in the door.

Next shot is the part of the freezer, which is really just frozen soups and other leftovers, pesto and pasties.We have a really small freezer so not much is going on in there.

This is the pantry where we store preserved foods and canned goods we buy from our United Natural Foods Buying Club. We were really lucky that the previous owner of this house left two big cupboards this size when she moved.

These are the shelves where we store the bulk dried beans, pastas and grains.

This is the shelf above the kitchen sink where I store some culinary herbs and dried vegetables.  Really its probably not the best place to store the stuff.  As far as light goes, they would be better off in the herb closet, but it’s pretty and we run through fairly quickly.  In a true testament to the fact that we have little boys, this is the highest spot we could find for the knife block.

This is the baking cupboard.  You will notice that I have an inordinate amount of those white, plastic containers.  The deal is that one of the local Chinese restaurants delivers food in these containers and I make people keep them for me.  They are quite useful.

So that is a look into our inner workings.  I was thinking about posting pictures of the the supplies closets that hold all of the soapmaking, candle making stuff but I really don’t think it’s that interesting.

Focusing on the Positive

Friday, October 24th, 2008

There that is out of the way for a bit.   Yesterday was just one of those days when I allowed myself to wallow a bit too long in negativity, which invariably leads to a mental meltdown of the sort I posted for the world to read.
A few deep cleansing breaths later, I am ready to move on and focus on what I can do rather than what I can’t.    The  rollercoaster of illness on which my family has been riding for the past two weeks which seems to be slowing down which may also be helping to improve my mood.

I thought a long overdue Independence Days Challenge Update might be cheer me up a bit as well.  This pretty much covers what I have done in the last few weeks. Tomorrow I will post from my giant “to-do” list and you will see why it is easy to get overwhelmed, even when it seems like I am getting a lot done.
1. Planted something - It’s getting a bit late for that sort of thing but I did transplant some catnip and peppermint to an area around our make-shift rainwater barrel.   I have some garlic and some flowering spring bulbs to put in if it would ever stop raining.
2. Harvested something -  I am still getting a few tomatoes and peppers out of the garden as we haven’t yet had a good solid killing frost.  I have four romas which came off my tomato plant I moved into the house which is still managing to hang in there.   I have also picked jalepenos, catnip, sage, kale and lemon balm.   I still have some squash on the vine, carrots and brussel sprouts growing.  We’ll see what happens…
3. Preserved something: I froze four pints of pesto last week, dried sage, catnip, horehound, lemon balm and yarrow.  I bought some tomtoes from the farmer’s market to mix with my own and made tomato sauce (brings the total to about 30 pints and 4 quarts for the year) and chili sauce.  I have two oils infusing to be used to make ointments.
4. Stored something - I have bought in bulk for years but we did get the garage organized a bit better to handle it all.  This months bulk food order focused on fair trade sugar as it was on sale,  25 pounds of  raw, 6 pounds of powdered, 9 pounds of brown,(that should get us through until next summer.  We also got a good deal on 10 pounds of fair trade coffee.  10 lbs of Biokleen laundry powder, 11 pounds of whole wheat spaghetti and 2 pounds of wheat germ (mostly used for granola and smoothies) rounded off the order.

My soap is cured, wrapped and ready to be used, including some made from a new shampoo bar recipe that I found.  Even my fifteen-year-old complemented me on how it turned out.
5. Prepped something - We  built a new raised bed which will be used for a greens bed next year. We filled it with the compost from last year to make room for this years fall leaves and garden refuse.

I have started to sheet mulching the new garden.   We have the bunny manure and organic matter down,  now I just have to throw down some newspapers or cardboard.

I started hacking down comfrey to use as a green mulch layer around some of my perennials but again I need it to stop raining so I can get out there and get some of this done.
We built a larger compost container out of re-used pallets from a local hardware store.  I have more pallets but the space I was thinking of using is too small, so we have to re-think where we are going to put another.
6.Cooked something new - I  made homemade hot sauce for the first time.  I have two bottles put up and ingredients to make three more which won’t get us through the winter but it is a good start.
7. Worked on local food systems: I am still working on the Master Gardener’s classes.   My family and I also attended a Food Not Lawns potluck earlier this month.
8.  Learned a new skill - I learned how to needle felt and I even found a local wool source for some of my roving.  I will keep looking for more of that.

I also made a homemade lotion for the very first time.  It was a pretty simple recipe with aloe vera juice, coconut oil, a bit of beeswax and some essential oils.  It seems to last a lot longer than just using an oil blend as a moisturizer and it is definitely a little less messy.

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

Plant something:

All the planting I got done was moving some plants out of the area where we are putting our grape arbor.   I did manage to get all of the garden stuff fed with some kelp powder.

Harvest Something:

We harvested cucumbers,  tomatoes,  green peppers, beans, comfrey and basil.

Preserve Something:

Let’s see I put away pickles, banana peppers, tomato juice, jalepeno peppers, and some green beans.

I started a new batch of vanilla and dried the old beans a bit before putting them in some sugar.  Vanilla sugar in hot tea is a treat that we love to have around during the cold winter months.  I don’t like sweet tea during the summer though.
While not exactly preserving,  I did start some herbal concoctions brewing including my own variation of Kloss’s liniment,  and several infused oils for making salves for the dry winter months.

Manage Reserves:

I finished organizing the herb closet and reducing my stores.  I am happy to have that done going into the colder months.  We are a pretty healthy lot during the warmer months but I have to dive in there a bit more during the cold and flu season.

We got our monthly organic bulk food order and I managed to get all of the bulk food neatly organized on shelves in the garage so I decided to take inventory.   I have 25 pounds of unbleached flour,  15 pounds of white whole wheat flour,  25 pounds of red lentils (that was actually an oops,  I meant to order green but keyed in the wrong number),  25 pounds of long grain brown rice,  about 20 pounds of chickpeas,  20 pounds of red kidney beans,  5 pounds of black beans,  5 pounds of  white beans,  11 pounds of whole wheat penne, 11 pounds of whole wheat spaghetti,  1 pound of Irish Breakfast tea, and 15 pounds of raw sugar.

Along with the bulk food order,  I stored away the oils that I bought for making soaps and salves.

Cooked something new:

We really have been falling down in this area lately but we are too busy to really experiment much.   Mostly we fall back on recipes we know and have the ingredients around the house to save time.
Prepped:

Right before the camping trip,  I re-stocked my first aid kit and put it all in order.  My Mom was teasing a bit and kept calling it my “field dressing kit”

We have the grape arbor built in our front yard and We waterproofed the arbor,  the chairs that will go underneath it, and re-stained the front porch and mailbox and it’s post.  We will be planting the grapes and transplanting some flowers soon but most of the planting in the front yard will wait until next spring.  We are going to try to incorporate as much edible landscaping as possible.

Much of my effort lately has been directed in getting things organized and in order before we start homeschooling on September 2nd.   While I feel like I never get enough accomplished in a day,  my husband maintains that we are getting a ridiculous amount done.

Local Food Systems

Well we shopped at the local farmer’s market and made a lot of meals right out of our own garden.   I guess my biggest contribution to this lately is that I was accepted into the Master Gardener’s program.  Classes start on September 11th.

Sunday, August 10th, 2008

Time for an Independence Days Update 

Plant something:   Transplanted Catnip and Mint

Harvest Something:

We harvested cucumbers,  tomatoes,  green peppers, beans,  melissa, catnip and horehound.
Preserve Something: 

I have the herbs drying on my rack in the kitchen to be stored for winter use other than not much was done.  I am not really behind though because my tomatoes are just beginning to ripen.  I definitely need to put away some pickles this week.
Manage Reserves: 

We are in the middle of a major re-org around here so a lot was done in this area.  We cleaned the garage and put up shelving that units that we had to make room for more storage and a workbench for my husband.
One whole shelf unit was devoted to equipment to preserve stuff such as my canner, my food mill and pestle, my dehydrator and empty jars.  I have one more shelf unit to put up and that will store some of my bulk food tubs so that they are no longer stacked on the floor in the kitchen.
I went through my cupboards in the garage and got rid of some old preserves to make room for the new.  I also got rid of some old cans of paint and made room for all of our dyeing, soapmaking and candlemaking supplies in a cupboard that can be locked. This made some room in my herb closet for new herbs that are coming in from the garden and from my herb order. I am also bagging up herbs that are older to be sold this week.  I try not to let anything in my herb closet go for longer than a year.  Its not that some things won’t last longer.  I just like for them to be fresh.

I also went through the homeschool stuff.   I threw out old crayons and colored pencils that were worn down to the nubs and replaced them.  I boxed up last year’s work and got our crate ready for this year.  We picked up an used school table at the University Surplus store for $20 and some cheap stacking crates so I am busy trying to organize the study nook downstairs also.

We had paint leftover from when we painted the living room last year so we painted over some marking on the table that was not necessarily age appropriate. We are touching up the desk while we are at it.
More science supplies have been ordered and I cleaned up enough old stuff off the game shelf to make room for them.  Much of this was accomplished by buying one of those organizers that usually holds nuts and bolts in a garage and using it for science experiment stuff.
In general,  we sorted through stuff and made a yard sale pile and a Goodwill pile.  The Goodwill stuff is already sent away and I put an ad in the paper for the yard sale.  I admit to not being able to get rid of baby clothes and cloth diapers yet although I did sort through them and delegate some of the more worn stuff to the rag pile.
Cooked something new:

We were awfully busy this week so I didn’t do a lot of fancy cooking.  I did make a nice herbal tea that was a new blend for relaxing with fresh chamomile, borage, catnip and lemon balm.  I wish I had fresh herbs all year long.  It was divine.
Stored Something:

I stored away some of the things I have ordered in bulk from Frontier including  of vegetable broth powder.  I also have ten pounds of lye stored away with the soap making supplies.

I also stored away enough pencils, colored pencils and other supplies to last for the whole school year.
Prepped:

This is the time of year when I place a giant Frontier order.  I have a wholesale account.  I order the herbs that I am not growing, carrier oils and essential oils so as to begin preparing ointments, tinctures and other medicinals we will need in the winter months.  Most of the order was consumables however I did order  an inexpensive otoscope with extra replacement bulbs,  a couple of packages of sea sponge tampons, and a couple of tea balls.   I considered not ordering the stuff this month but it would be silly not to take advantage of the free shipping.
Our lamp oil is also on sale this month so I ordered four gallons to be housed in the cupboard with a lock.  That reminds me that I need to replace a broken lamp shade.

In all good conscience  I have to admit that I respectfully withdrew myself from the August Buy Nothing challenge.  We got a largish settlement check from the drunk driver’s insurance company and my husband takes his vacation in August so this is the only time we have to get our yard back in order.   We decided not to put a tree back into the front yard so we are spending the money to build a grape arbor where the tree was.  We bought quite a few tools this week so that we could do the repairs ourselves rather than pay other people to do it.  We also bought materials to make cushions for some barstools that we rescued from the curb as well as the materials to refinish a dresser and coffee table that we found.  We live in a college town and the end of July is a phenomenal time for such things.  College students dump “stuff” with reckless abandon when they are moving out.

That is more money than I have spent in ages but it is stuff that will help us out around here.
I learned a new skill this week as well.  Two local knitting shops are doing a fundraiser for the food bank I volunteer at.  They had people knit squares and Saturday morning a bunch of us got together and crocheted them together. I should add that although I can crochet a cable from here to China,  I never knew how to start the next line.  So with a little help from friends, I learned how.  My daughter and I are already planning how make our own blanket.
The crazy thing is that until I sat down and did this,  I didn’t think I was getting much accomplished this week.  I think that I utterly deserve to attend Fiddlemama’s hootenanny this evening.

Monday, August 4th, 2008

Here is my first week of participating in the Independence Day Challenge .  It was a little sketchy due to all of the other things going on but I managed to accomplish a little.
1. Plant something.

I planted an aloe plant indoors.  The poor exiled kitties managed to eat both of my aloe plants before they were shown the door so I needed to get another one going.  Fresh aloe is almost a necessity when someone as clumsy as myself is managing a woodstove and a fireplace all winter long.  I also bought two small sage plants from the Farmer’s Market but I am trying to get them to acclimate themselves to the indoors so they will grow as houseplants during the winter.  Sage tea is wonderful for sore throats and it is so much better when the sage is fresh.
2. Harvest something.

This was not a problem at all as my garden is finally  starting to produce. The problem is more that I need to get out there and get things harvested.  We picked cucumbers, green peppers, basil, chives, mint and a few tomatoes although they are just starting to turn.   I picked some green beans and we are still snacking on the sweet pea pods although I never really had enough to make a meal.
3. Preserve something.

I did mostly medicinal stuff this week,  I have some mullein flowers infusing in oil and some red clover flowers drying.  It is not that I don’t need to do more,  it was just a matter of having too many people in my kitchen this week.  I am trying to do some reading up on dehydrating vegetables for storage.   I need some good links.
4. Prep something.

Other than having the chimney inspected,  I worked mostly on getting lists made and deciding what we need to do during my husband’s vacation time.  We had houseguests all week which made getting many things done fairly difficult.  Now that my brother and all of his stuff is out of my house,  we are able to start working in earnest as soon as my husband actually gets to take his vacation but that is another story.   have started to empty out cupboards and we are going to rearrange most things into some sort of order.  We have a whole lot of shelving to install.   It will be so wonderful when it is all sorted out and organized.
I am still working on the knitting.  I will eventually learn how to knit something other than a scarf or a washcloth.  My daughter and I also started adding a little extra to our morning walks.   I figure being able to walk for five or six miles, comfortably and quickly is a good skill to have.

5. Cook something
.

I cook so much that I really don’t know what I should mention in this spot. We generally don’t buy any prepared foods at all.   Nothing is really leaping out at me as being special this week.  We made everything for our son’s birthday party instead of going out and buying a cake and cheesecake but we always do that.  I will have to make more of an effort in this area.

6. Manage your reserves.

I learned a hard lesson this week in managing my reserves.  I buy food in bulk and I have had fairly decent luck storing it in air-tight containers but as the girls get older and begin cooking on their own, they are not as careful about closing things as my husband and I tend to be.   I lost about ten pounds of organic-long grain brown rice last week which is prompting me to look into storing things differently. If anyone has any ideas, I would appreciate it.

I also am going through my herb closet this week and pulling out older stuff to be sold at a garage sale I am having next week.  I don’t let any of my dried herbs sit for too long. They can lose potency even though I do keep them in glass in a cool, dark closet.
7. Work on local food systems. 

We hit the Farmer’s Market as usual, this week.   I also found an ice cream shop that I didn’t know about which makes all the ice creams and frozen yogurts locally.  I think the biggest step I took this week was in applying to the county extension office to take the Master Gardener’s program.  I have been volunteering at the local food pantry for awhile now and the more I help out there, the more I see how little really comes in in donations.  It worries me that so many people depend on getting there food from there.  I hope that once I take the Master Gardener’s course, I will be able to give demonstrations to people as to how to grow some of their own food, even if it is just in a few pots on a patio.

Cooking Dried Beans

Friday, April 18th, 2008

beans.jpg

I buy food in bulk and store it for a few reasons:

  1. It is a less expensive way to buy organic food.
  2. It saves resources and landfill space. Generally bulk dried goods come in a paper bag which can be tossed in the compost.
  3. The idea of stockpiling food is reassuring to me. I like to think I have food in the house which would feed us for a bit in case of an emergency.

The most convenient way I have found to cook dried beans is to soak them during the day and cook them overnight on low in a slow cooker with fresh water . This does require a bit of planning but planning meals ahead is also a great way to save money. I use 3 1/2 cups of water per cup of beans. It is always better to use too much water rather than too little. You will drain the beans before using them and scorched beans don’t smell good. I don’t add salt to beans when I soak or cook them. I have not found it to be useful and we try to watch sodium content.

Rehydrating chickpeas can be a little tricky. I have found that it works best to soak them in water all day long and then toss them in a crockpot overnight. You can add a bit of turmeric to the water. It gives the chickpeas a nice flavor for hummus.

One cup of dried beans equals 3 cups of cooked beans.

Two cups of dried beans equals one pound of beans and about six cups of cooked beans.