Monday, September 20, 2021

Menu plan for the week of September 20

 I kinda feel like our meal plan must have fallen apart last week, because we've got a couple of repeats this week.  But I don't remember the meal plan falling apart, which is weird.  I probably should remember that.

I also feel like there was something I wanted to tell y'all this week about last week, but I don't remember what it is.  Which is not at all weird, because I often don't remember things I want to tell people.  Or why I walked in to a room.  Or what I was doing 3 seconds earlier.

Also not weird: my family will want to eat food this week.  Here's what's on the menu:



Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Last(?) Garden Update for the season

 Hi friends.  It's time for the monthly-ish garden update.

The other day, I cleared out both the pea bed and the melon bed.  When I harvested melons, I left one watermelon hanging on the fence to see what would happen.  See, the thing is, when you're relying on the ground spot to help you decide when your watermelons are ripe, and the watermelons are not actually on the ground, there is no ground spot.  So it's not possible to judge whether the ground spot is creamy yellow.

So I left the biggest one hanging, and it had a hammock to support it, but I guess the hammock was not supportive enough, because a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that the final watermelon had disconnected from the vine.

With the final melon harvested, I was able to remove the vines from the garden bed, and while I was at it, I cleaned out the weeds that had grown in the pea bed after the peas capitulated to the weather.

I harvested some compost, which, frankly, surprised me--that there was enough finished compost to harvest--and added it to the top of the empty beds.  I covered one of the beds with cardboard to keep the weeds down while the bed isn't being used.  I neglected to cover the other bed because I didn't have enough cardboard, but I suspect that, given enough time, I will accumulate enough cardboard to cover that one, too.

That leaves the flower/tomato jungle bed, and it is still full and alive and blooming.  It is such a joy to look out at that colorful bounty.

The sunflowers are about 10 feet tall, with multiple heads.  I am hoping to be able to harvest these as a treat for the chickens, but I've seen both squirrels and birds snacking on these, so I'm not sure there will be anything left for the girls.

Oh, these marigolds are glorious.  The plants are just full of blooms, which I continue to deadhead to encourage more blooms.

The zinnias are also glorious.  I've been cutting them throughout the summer, so that I've had a bouquet on the table for the last three months or so.  I marked this particular bloom to save its seeds.  I am so glad that I made the decision to grow flowers, rather than food, in 1/3 of my garden space this season.

And the tomato jungle, aka the one cherry tomato plant, continues to produce.  The harvest has slowed from its peak, but there are still plenty of ripening fruits as well as new blooms.  I would top this plant (cut off the growing top to encourage the plant to put its energy into ripening the fruits it already has, versus putting its energy into setting new fruit), if I could figure out where the top is.  When I say it's a jungle, I'm not kidding.

As usual at this time of year, I'm already dreaming of next year's garden.  This garden thing--it's a joy.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Menu plan for the week of September 13, aka the third week of Shelftember

I finally made the one pot kielbasa pasta last week, and the people liked it.  I think.  They at least ate it.  Without complaining.  I left out the cheese because of my cheese-hating kiddo, but melted some on top of mine.  So good!  Definitely worth a try if your people like kielbasa and noodles.

We're getting a little low on random foods around here, so this might be the last week of Shelftember for us, but that's ok.  For me, the point is to make a concerted effort to use up food that I wouldn't otherwise use, and I've definitely succeeded in that.  I might even have a $25 minimal grocery list this week.  We'll see.  

Have you noticed grocery prices increasing lately?  I haven't noticed individual prices being higher (except milk and eggs, which tend to fluctuate a lot anyway), but somehow my total grocery bill keeps creeping up.  It's kinda weird.

Anyway, I've got a full week of mostly shelf cooking coming up this week.  Should be interesting and delicious.  Here's what's on the menu this week:


  • Nesquik brownies--why do we have Nesquik?  That's not important.  What is important is that I've almost thrown it away at least three times in the past couple of years.  If I use it for brownies, it will be gone and I won't have to be tempted to throw it away anymore.
  • Copycat nutragrain bars (using some strawberry jam from my freezer)--whoops.  Didn't get to these last week.
  • Mexican quinoa with grilled chicken?  Depends on what the leftover situation is looking like for Hubby's lunches.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Menu plan for the week of September 6

 Last week, a friend asked, about using up random food in the kitchen, what do you do when you find a recipe to use something up, but it calls for another ingredient that you don't already have?

In retrospect, she was probably asking what I, personally, do, but I answered as if she had been asking about the general, plural, you.  What does one do in that situation?  I told her I don't think folks that practice shelf cooking on a regular basis actually use recipes.  They just throw things together and somehow it tastes good.  Upon reflection, I don't think that's actually what's happening most of the time.  Most of the time, I think, shelf cookers do have a recipe in mind, but if they don't have an ingredient the recipe calls for, they make it work.

Me, personally?  Sometimes I will buy the thing that will help me use up the other thing, which  sometimes leads to me needing to find a way to use up the other thing.  Sometimes I will find a substitute for the other thing or leave it out.  Sometimes I will find another recipe.  And sometimes I just throw things together and hope for the best.

I didn't buy a single thing last week to make these enchiladas/wet burritos/not sure what to call them.  Everything came from my fridge, freezer, or pantry.

I got inspired, so I ramped up my Shelftember/using-up-random-odds-and-ends meals this week.  The only thing I'm going to buy for these meals is ... carrots.  Yup, we somehow have everything else.  Or at least enough of everything else to make it work.  I think this is gonna be fun.  

Here's what's on the menu this week:

  • Hamburgers (or hot dogs), buns, chips/pretzels, grilled broccoli, jello
  • Beef barley casserole, green beans
  • One pot kielbasa pasta (third time was not the charm, but this is getting made this week), green beans
  • Rotel sausage dip (yeah.  This one is going to be interesting.  But seriously, what's not to like about sausage and cream cheese and some other random stuff?  Even if it's not in the "right" proportions?), pork rinds, tortilla chips
  • Pizza casserole, corn
  • Hot dogs or brats, buns, tator tots, carrots
  • Grilled chicken and salad

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