Archive | February 2022

Weekly Prep!

This week is a short week with the Holiday and it is just an off week for us. Trying to prep for that is not always easy and sometimes makes me want to just order pizza! This week we will have to eat at least one meal out, but that is ok.

It is almost March and our apple supply is getting lower. We grow some of the fruit that we eat, but most of it comes from Lewis’ Orchard in Cavestown Maryland. We buy in bulk from them all year, strawberries, peaches, pears, apples and plums. At the end of the apple season, right before Thanksgiving, we purchase 5 bushels of apples. Some of these apples are storage apples and they last longer into the winter, than some of the others. We have a refrigerator dedicated to just apples for about 4 months of the year. The rest of the year, the refrigerator is the overflow of everything I need to process, milk, fruit, veggies, eggs and even cheese. We are so blessed.

As the apples start to go soft, I need to process them faster. I can do it all at once as apple sauce and can it for later, but instead we make it in smaller batches in the Insta-pot. This allows some whole apples to be made into pies as late in the season as possible. Mrs. Lewis will tell you the best pies comes from whatever mixture of apples your have left in the fridge. This week we made a large Insta-pot full of apple sauce and an apple pie. The apple pie will not last long, but the apple sauce will be for lunches all week.

With Wednesday, February 23 being National Banana Bread Day, I needed to make my banana bread ahead of time in honor of the holiday. We will have this for breakfast this week with our eggs. Having breakfast breads made ahead of time, makes mornings much easier for the kids.

I have made chicken salad the last few weeks and my son honestly prefers turkey. We raise 12 turkeys a year so that we can have one turkey a month for lunch meat. When we butcher the turkeys 9 of them are cut into quarters. This makes them easier to cook for just a weekend meal and then leftovers for lunch. Our meal tonight was turkey and the leftovers made two weeks worth of sliced turkey for lunches. I froze one weeks worth, pre-sliced and ready to go. Cooking a turkey also gave me a quart of wonderful bone broth. This will be used for Turkey Pot Pie on Friday and I will use it for my lunches of homemade ramen. Every time we roast meat, we also save the stock. It is so much better than store bought stock and can be used in so many ways. It freezes great in ice cube trays for small batch cooking later.

What went into the instapot to make the turkey.

Our snacks for the week will be homemade Chex mix and popcorn. The popcorn we make in small batches as needed. Half the family prefers salt and butter, the other half prefer kettle. We will make both through out the week to change it up. This is part of our slow effort to replace processed snack foods with ones made at home. It has been a slow process, I love chips, but we are working on it. Chex mix is a great way to clean some of the “stale” nuts and seeds out of the pantry. I had pumpkin seeds that the lid did not get put back on, after roasting them for an hour with the Chex mix, they were perfect.

Enlarged to show texture, lol!

This week is going to be a quick dinner week because we are so busy, with one dinner out. I hope that when you read my weekly prep you are encouraged to prep your own week. Maybe not to the level we do, I am crazy, but whatever works for your family. Learning how to cook at home and plan ahead, saves so much money and keeps me from being hangry. I hope that what I write blesses you and your family in some way. Please feel free to leave me a message or pass it on to someone who could be blessed by it. Have a great week and try to enjoy National Banana Bread Day!

Sunday Update

The farm is a busy place right now, spring seed starting season is upon us. We have seed trays in the dinning room, in bathrooms, and in the kitchen. Pretty much any and all sunny windows have seeds in front of them. We start seeds so early because we do a lot of planting in the high tunnel. We will actually be putting more seeds directly in the ground in the high tunnel soon. Currently, we have carrots, lettuce and chard growing. Depending on weather forecasts we will be starting more lettuce, beets, carrots, peas, kale, radishes, and kohlrabi.

Most of our seeds have germinated really well. Every year I have some I have to plant more than once, but this year the pepper plants would not grow at all. I have a seed problem, as I have explained before, I read seed catalogues for fun. Better than any blockbuster Hollywood hit if you ask me. When I find a seed verity I like, I stick to it. I become very picky. One seed that I will not do without is Intruder Bell Pepper. These green beauties, grow amazing in my garden. Have thick walls with an mouth watering crunch. They are just sweet enough to eat like an apple straight from the plant. I know these seeds are tried and true. This year NONE of them sprouted. After panicking and having to take several deep breaths, I thought about reasons why they were not growing. I know the seed is good. They have light, the right amount of water and humidity. Still nothing. I had to walk away, then like a ton of bricks it hit me…. they were too cold. To solve this problem we put a heat pad underneath the seed tray. Like magic two days later we have germination starting. What a relief.

In addition to the seeds for the garden, I have started another round of sprouts. If you don’t grow anything else, grow sprouts. They are so good for you and give you the crunch in the winter when there is not much fresh. I grow my sprouts on the window ceil behind my kitchen sink. I use a mason jar and a wide mouth sprout lid. You can make one using window screen, cross stitch plastic mesh, or an old shirt. The air needs to be able to get in and out and you have to be able to drain the water off the sprouts. It takes about 5 days start to finish depending on the seed you use. These are alfalfa sprouts on day 3. I will have to fight to not eat them before day 5. I really enjoy them on a chicken salad sandwich, a salad, a turkey sandwich and sometimes just a pinch when I walk by!

The last two weeks have been a perfect time to prune our blueberry plants. They have just started to bud. We have several different verities that produce at different times, so they bud at different times. I have my lasted budding verity still to do, but everyone else has been all trimmed up. The cicadas really did a number on the blueberry plants last year. There was a lot that was dead and needed to be trimmed off. We have one plant that will be cut down to just one stem. You can see the pretty red stems with new buds on them. The brittle gray stems, especially those with visible cicada damage, are trimmed off.

Processing wood never stops. It is a blessing and a curse. We are thankful to be able to heat our house and cook at times with wood, however, a lot of “energy” still goes into firewood. This weekend however, I did not plan on processing wood. Mother Nature and a wind storm had other plans. An Ash tree came down on the fence in our goat yard. The blessing is no one is hurt. The bad thing is the fence took a major hit and the boy and girl goats got together for a Thursday night date. We do have some older nanny goats that we do not want to bred. Well, best laid plans, they may be kidding this year. I will let you know July 13th!

It has been a busy weekend. Still more to do as we prepare for the spring planting. We have fences to repair, chicken tractors to build, garden beds to build, pig fences to repair and rain watering systems to build. The work never ends. We are working to try and take it in stride. Doing what we can in small doses and sharing the work between everyone. I will trying to post again tomorrow with The Weekly Prep.

Lunch prep for the week

Sunday afternoon and evening is my time to prep for the week. We are doing a pantry challenge as a family so we are not going to the store. We are blessed to have a full root cellar and freezers from our years harvest. On Sundays, I turn those ingredients into lunch ready meals. This week I am prepping homemade apple sauce, chicken salad, hard boiled eggs, sausage kale soup and lemon blueberry muffins.

The apples from the orchard are starting to get soft. We are entering apple sauce, pie and cake season. We will be having an apple something for lunch every week till they are gone. Very rarely do I end up canning apple sauce. We normally eat them right up till strawberry season. Then we eat the fruit that is in season till apple season again. I mentioned that we limited our kitchen gadgets, however the instapot makes all this prepping possible. 8-10 apples, peeled and cored in the instapot. Warning stay below the fill line or it will squirt out when you release the pressure. Put in 1/4 cup of water to cover the bottom so it will not scald. I set the to 5 minutes. Most of the time I dont even need to puree, it is ready for jars straight from the instapot.

The chicken also goes into an instapot. I take the whole chickens from the freezer with the oldest date on them. Add chopped onion, chopped carrots and whatever other veggie scraps I have. These help favor the chicken a little, but they really are for the broth. Every week during the winter we have soup for dinner at least one night. This week will be potato soup. I will make extra and freeze it for lunches the week after that!

One of the things I love about our life is everything is connected. There is very little waste. The veggie trimmings and bones become stock. The stock becomes soup. The apple peels become pig feed or apple cider vinegar. Lemon peels become lemon zest for muffins. This connection challenges my creativity and makes me appreciate everything we have been given.

Homemade Queso

Our family is in the middle of another pantry challenge. We are using what we have on hand and not going to the store. The exceptions are medical needs, small parts to repair what we already own and pet food. Like most things this is great when the world is perfect and you have time to plan.

A major disruption of our “perfect” world is my health conditions. I require a high salt diet and there are many days in a week that it is a struggle for me to get out of bed. Most of the time I am able to push through, but there are times that I end up in bed for several days. Today, I am at the end of one of those shut down times and I am trying to get going again. When I have low blood pressure I crave very high salt foods. Today, the high salt food I wanted was nachos. Well I also want to stick to my pantry challenge and I do not have any velveeta on hand.

Those of you who know me, understand the need for velveeta is real! I love queso. However, I have yet to be able to successfully grow velveeta. If you own the magic seeds, meet me in a dark alley where we can come to an arrangement!

Anyway, so today I had to make queso with what I had in hand. Not all of these things are from our farm, but that was not the challenge!


1/4 cup prechopped frozen onions

1/4 cup prechopped frozen bell peppers

1 tbsp prechopped frozen hot peppers

1 tbsp taco seasoning

1/2 bar of cream cheese

1/4 cup of milk

1/2 cup pre cooked frozen ground beef

1 tbsp of homemade canned salsa

1 handful of shredded cheddar

In a small cast iron skillet I added the chopped onions, bell peppers, hot peppers, meat, salsa and taco seasoning. Allowed everything to defrost and warm up. Once warm I added the 1/2 block of cream cheese. It melted together but was a little too thick, so that is where the milk comes in. Just enough to thin it out to make way for the shredded cheddar. Mix together, heat till bubbling. Burn your mouth checking thr flavor.

So I created this wonderful, soul pleasing dip, only to open the bag of corn chips and find out one of my family members put them away with only a few chips left in the bag. I was not going to let this slow me down. I got the corn tortillas and oil. I fried myself some chips. This is a great way to use expired corn tortillas from the pantry. The end result was everything I wanted and needed it to be, no velveeta needed. I look forward to trying this summer when I have homemade goat cream cheese instead of store cream cheese. Enjoy and let me know what you think!