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Thursday, September 23, 2021

My Week, Autumn Begins

We had an extremely wet weekend, prompting me to get some harvesting in. I finished harvesting the tomatoes and pulled out all of the basil. The basil had been in small planters on the deck, which means I could repurpose those planters for a fast growing vegetable in my fall deck garden. I chose radishes for those 2 planters. I planted the seeds thickly, not for the root ends, but for use as greens, both in salads and cooked. I chopped and froze most of the basil, saving some for bruschetta later in the week, and I made a basil stock with the stems to use as a base for basil-tomato soup.

The furnace came on and I just let it. In previous years, I've shut the furnace off until the first of October. Because we've saved so much money in other areas this year (and we still have an earned income), I'm "splurging" on early season extra heat. My husband, who is a very thin man, really appreciated the additional heat.

I cooked a winter squash from our garden for dinner one night. I saved the seeds that I scooped out, setting aside about 40 for planting freezing the remaining seeds for roasting when I have more pumpkin or squash seeds from other meals. Cool weather makes one long for foods like winter squash. After a heavy rain that night, the next morning I pulled up all of the green bean plants and tied them in a bundle to hang upside down for the seeds pods to finish maturing for next year's green bean seeds.

On the last afternoon of summer I decide to tackle the pots of tulip bulbs. Earlier in summer, the squirrels made a mess of my tulip pots, eating many of the bulbs in the process. When I noticed this, I moved the pots of remaining bulbs and soil to a place those cute but pesky critters couldn't get to. Finally, on Tuesday I had the time to replant the remaining bulbs. I just know that if I just set the replanted bulbs back out on the deck, the squirrels would come along in short order for another snack. This time, I covered the 2 pots with red net onion bags which I tied to the pots near their bases with string saved from a large sack of dried beans. I'm waiting to see if the furry bulb fiends will attempt to get into those pots. So far, so good. Do you save things like net produce bags and used string, too?

Mid-week I dug the potatoes. This year's harvest was not as plentiful as I'd hoped -- about 25 pounds. I sorted them and set aside about 5 pounds for seed potatoes for next year. (I'm doubling my potato patch next year, so will need double what I've been setting aside.) That leaves us with about 20 pounds of potatoes, which should last us through November, maybe into December. In addition, I'll be buying a couple of 10-lb bags of russets when I find them at a good price.

I also harvested the last bucket of plums and almost all of the tomatoes. I dried most of the plums this months and now have 4 full quart-size bags of prunes for winter. The tomatoes are mostly still green, and I have them laid out on a large towel to slowly ripen. The ever-bearing raspberries are just now ripening their small fall crop. These are such a delicious treat at this time of year. We've set up a bed to which we'll move some of the rogue ever-bearing raspberries, doubling our fall raspberry harvest in a couple of years.

Special lunch this week

Because we just don't go out to eat any more, I wanted to make a special lunch for my household -- sliced cheddar cheese, crackers, dried cranberries, roasted almonds, two types of our own apples, green fig pickles, and squares of dark chocolate. I also found a bottle of sparkling water in the pantry to go with our repast. I used a large wooden tray on which I placed two large grape leaves to go under the cheese slices and crackers. I thought it looked pretty in a very fall-like way, and all was delicious. What are some of the little ways that you celebrate autumn?

Why do I like doing this and why take the time to make it look nice? Making the effort to do this nicely feeds our sense of luxury without spending any more than our usual lunch budget. As a bonus, we tend to gather and sit a while when I make an effort, as opposed to everyone helping themselves to a pot of soup on the stove and then scattering to their corners of the house.

extra posts

Two extra posts for your weekend reading. 

I hope you all had a wonderful week. What were the highlights of your week? Any savings this week?

Enjoy your weekend!

Cheap & Cheerful Suppers For This Past Week

kale, cheese, bacon, and onion biscuits --
a nice change from plain biscuits and squeezes in a bit of vegetables


homemade pepperoni pizza, 
sautéed turnips and greens, winter squash, plum pie


bean tacos (topped with cheese, diced tomatoes, green onions), Swiss chard, carrot sticks, plum pie

eggs topped with simple marinara, rice, cole slaw, applesauce

chili, kale-cheese-bacon biscuits, rhubarb sauce

chili, bruschetta, rhubarb and apple sauce

hotdog cook-out, homemade buns, garden slaw, fresh plums, sautéed summer squash

pancakes, turkey bacon, sautéed kale and onions, fresh plums

Humble meals
We are still eating a lot from our garden -- tomatoes, turnips, Swiss chard, kale, winter squash, plums, green onions, herbs, apples, green peppers, rhubarb, summer squash and more. As you can imagine, this really stretches our grocery budget this time of year and ensures we eat really well.

Breakfasts included toasty o's cereal, toasted homemade bread, homemade cinnamon rolls, homemade yogurt, fresh plums, frozen blackberries, tomatoes, juice, coffee, and milk.

Lunches were more varied, including graham crackers with peanut butter, a cheese, cracker, apple platter, toasted pizza sandwiches, dinner leftovers, raisins, more plums and tomatoes, bananas, pbj's, popcorn, and a pot of carrot soup.

I'm a very lucky person. All of my family members enjoy simple home-cooking. I call our meals "cheap & cheerful" because these meals are budget stretchers while bringing smiles to my family as we gather around the kitchen table.

What was on your menu this past week? What meals are budget stretchers for your household?
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