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Friday, August 12, 2016

Cheap & Cheerful Suppers with a full garden


Grilled cheese sandwiches and apple wedges


Black bean and chicken soup, topped with
Broken tortilla chips and cheddar cheese
Fresh blackberries


Kale, olive and mushroom frittata smothered in marinara sauce
Brown rice
Apple wedges
French bread and butter
Blackberry pie


Bean burgers
Garden potatoes, pan-fried
Beet greens and Swiss chard sauteed with shallots and garlic in bacon fat
Apple and pear salad
Leftover blackberry pie


Leftover bean burgers
Lazy lasagna
Apple wedges
Cole slaw
Chocolate cake squares


A church dinner and speaker -- we had a chicken and pasta dish, green salad and garlic bread


Black beans and rice skillet dinner
Sauteed garden kale and cabbage
Pickled beet salad
Steamed carrots
Fruit salad

It's been another week of lots of garden produce. I used cabbage, kale, Swiss chard, garlic, shallots, beets, carrots, apples, pears, blackberries, green beans, potatoes, and various herbs from our garden this week. This means I've not done much in the way of grocery shopping, in over a week. I've spent just under $50 on food, for the month of August, so far. The only difficulty is harvesting and cleaning the garden vegetables. They don't come out of the ground all clean and perfect!

I'm also quite busy these days. Some days, dinner isn't all that much. I try to make up for it by cooking lots on the other days.

I hope your week went well, and you're enjoying lots of summer produce. What was on your menu this past week? Do you have any favorite August fruits or vegetables?

(if you're not following the prices comparisons for making hand-crafted soap -- have a great weekend, and just skip the rest!)
More on gift-making, for the soap:

While the goats milk melt and pour soap was best priced at Michael's with a coupon, I've found some honey almond fragrance oil at Hobby Lobby, which is cheaper than either Michael's or Amazon. It's $3.99 for 1 ounce. There's a Hobby Lobby 40% off coupon online, good through tomorrow, Saturday, August 13. Hobby Lobby is in the same complex as Trader Joe's, on my errand route, so no extra stop for me. 40% off, leaves me with a cost of under $2.50 for this fragrance oil.

Otherwise, Michael's is a good deal on the fragrance oil, if using a high value coupon. Michael's almond fragrance oil is $4.99. In comparison, Amazon has Barnhouse fragrance oils, priced at $2.95/bottle, but there's a $2.94 shipping charge, bringing the final price up to $5.89. It's actually a few cents cheaper to go directly through Eternal Essence Oil's website. Eternal Essence Oil's price is the same as Amazon's, but their shipping is only $2.89.

So, Hobby Lobby, with 40% off coupon, best price in my area. Michael's, next best, Amazon's price the highest on this ingredient.

Also, for anyone wanting to make large quantities of melt and pour soap, like 100 bars (I'm thinking wedding favors, sort of quantity), there are a couple of sources for melt and pour goats milk soap at a decent price (better than Amazon's prices in that quantity). has 25-lb blocks that sell for $39 plus about $20 shipping, for my area (shipping charges likely vary according to destination). I have been thinking about large quantities of melt and pour soap, to use as favors, at a future event. For me, @ $60 for the soap base, which would yield 100 bars of soap, my cost per bar would be about 70 cents, once the extra ingredients were factored in. Just an FYI, in case large quantities of melt and pour soap are what you're interested in making.


  1. That's wonderful on all that garden produce! Fresh eating and low cost all in one. We're in the garden stage where it's so hot that just about everything is on the way out. Still getting a few tomatoes and peppers and that's pretty much it for now. I have flats of Fall veggies started indoors to go out when it cools down some, and hope to start more this weekend.

    You've got me thinking about making another batch of soap. I do the cold process lye soap method, and had thought of quitting, but have quite a few supplies to finish using up if I do. So should get a batch started soon.

    1. Hi Cat,
      August and September are our very robust garden months. At least you'll have nice enough weather for all of fall to grow a fair amount of veggies -- something to look forward to.

      If you've got the supplies, still, it makes sense to either use them up or sell them to someone else. At any rate, if you use them, then you have created gifts for no extra cost.

  2. Hobby Lobby always has a 40% off one non-sale item coupon on their website. They also rotate their sale items on a very regular schedule. Their coupon does have a few exclusions, but I've had no trouble using it. As opposed to JoAnn's, which I've found varies their online coupons per sale cycle.

    1. Hi Doc,
      that's good to know. Thanks. I'll be checking their website regularly. You're right, Jo ann's coupons vary considerably with each sale cycle. But that also means that occasionally there's a really good coupon.

  3. Hi Lili

    Was wondering if you could share your black bean and chicken recipe or where I can find it? I have TONS of black beans and love them, so alwaays looking for good recipes. Have a great weekend! Lisa

    1. Hi Lisa,
      The black bean and chicken soup was a Mexi-type soup, with chicken stock, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, tomato paste, a chopped carrot, some celery, canned corn, black beans, cooked chicken, chipotle pepper and salt. It was all "to taste", and thick. I threw it together at the last minute, late in the afternoon and let it simmer for an hour. It was good and filling. I'm sorry I don't have a real recipe for it. I think one of the things that makes a soup like that a hit is the crispy fried tortilla strips/chips on top.

      Have a great weekend, Lisa!

  4. All the fresh garden produce is delicious at this time of year, but I hear ya on how it's extra work (although, at least for now, I don't have to wash muddy and buggy lettuce!). I find that I typically choose simpler meals in the summer--between the busy summer schedule, dealing with garden produce, and the "summertime and the livin' is easy ... " mindset of mine, I just don't care to work too hard in the kitchen. Come autumn, my nesting instinct will kick in, and I'll be cooking more complicated meals.

    1. Hi Kris,
      There's so much else to do in summer, isn't there?! So many opportunities to be outside that the thought of being stuck in the kitchen is not too appealing.

  5. Well, I'm late to the party! I took the day off and it has been a very busy day.

    Hubby and I talked about our AT&T bill skyrocketing so we're canning the TVpart and getting an antennae. We also thought we would try roku. After putting it together I find that the thing is mostly for watching "stuff". I really only like local news and weather and maybe foodtv or HGTV and that's all I really like. I can't even get those on roku. The inside antennae is only ok since it has interference and though it shows I have 15 channels, about half of them say "no signal". I just don't know how to handle this. We need to keep the internet and phone part of AT&T though.

    Then off to my parents where they had a disconnected pipe under the sink and a flood, dad fixed it before I arrived. Then off to fix his internet that stopped last night when he rebooted his computer. I just had to re-select his router. Then off to the garden to get a few things but ended up with a van full of goodies! Then mom came out with food she buys at the store because she had a good coupon but then decides they really can't use it so I get that stuff. Then dad needs a haircut so that's my job and finally home in time for the big flooding rainstorm. I'm tired.

    Meals this week were:
    Sun. leftovers from daughters going away party
    Mon. I can't remember
    Tues. turkey roast and potato wedges, coleslaw
    Wed. I can't remember
    Thurs. inside out eggrolls
    Fri. boiled potatoes, beets, baked chicken


    1. Hi, Alice. What are inside out egg rolls?

    2. It's basically just the filling of eggrolls but I don't roll them up in wrappers, you just eat the filling. On the day I made them I just lightly fried corn tortillas and we ate them like a taco. It was a huge hit!


    3. Corn tortillas. Now that's a twist I wouldn't have considered. Sounds good.

    4. Hi Alice,
      It sounds like your day was a busy one!

      is your indoor antenna an amplified one? (Does it need to be plugged in?) We bought an amplified antenna that has both rabbit ears and directional planes. When everything switched over to digital, we went to Best Buy and bought the cheapest indoor antenna possible. It didn't do much, so we returned it and bought the next step up (again didn't do much, so returned again for next step up). It took 3 tries of increasing cost for the antenna, but we found one that just meets our needs. We get the basic channels, and a couple of extras, but that's it. Our TV is next to the window, so the antenna sits there on the floor, up against the window, and has to be moved when the channel is changed. But it works. If we wanted to improve reception even more, we'd go to an antenna in the attic space above the family room. Have you thought of a roof-top antenna?

      In the end, we found we just don't watch much television. We'll watch dvds from the library, or watch PBS online, and that's enough for us.

      Your meals all sound good!

  6. Just last night, I told my husband as I often do, how much I love our garden (and him too lol), and having fresh picked vegetables for our meals, vs the old way, buying a week's worth of vegetables at a time and rushing to eat it all up before it spoiled. I remember throwing away so much produce when we were younger. That will never happen again!!

    Our dinners were simple. Seems we can stretch a dish for several days. We made basil pizza for freezer stock, and cooked a "gau gee" noodle dish which we ate for days and days. Tonight is pork with luau leaves and coconut milk. We are still eating our gelatin desserts. My new favorite is herbal tea (lemongrass) with honey topped with whipped cream.

    On a craft note, I wasted two days on a project which didn't work out. I was trying to redo the cover of a travel accessory bag, turn it into a craft project holder, but the original material started fraying at the seams, so I had to give up. This teaches me not to rework cheaply manufactured garments and accessories. I should have learned from my last attempt at reworking the uneven stitching on a neckline of a top I bought from Kmart clearance, that one almost ended in disaster too.

    Have a good weekend!!


    1. Hi YHF,
      I love how you're making all sorts of unique gelatin desserts. Simple but delicious! Your dinners sound very delicious. It's really a shame we can't all get together for a potluck!

      I'm sure those two days spent on that last craft/sewing project were helpful in the experience, at least. I try not to think of my time as wasted, when something doesn't turn out as planned, but that something was learned through the experience.

      Will your garden still produce in December and January, there?

    2. Yes, very much so. In fact vegetables thrive in the winter months here, when there is more rain and less drying heat from the sun.

      LOL...thanks...I would love to try some of your dishes too!!


  7. I fear my poor little garden has been suffering from neglect this year, but even so, I'm getting plenty of zucchini, cucumbers and cherry tomatoes. I even have some baby watermelons set on - if I actually get any it will be a first! Sixth time's a charm, right?

    And are you really harvesting apples already? I don't have an apple tree, but my neighbors do and it's still just covered with tiny green apples - they're not even full sized yet!

    Enjoy your bounty!

    1. Hi Cat,
      Our early apple tree normally ripens in mid to late August. This year, we had a warm spring, and it blossomed early, so our apples are ready very early. Our other 3 trees will have apples ready in September.

      The zucchini, cucumbers and tomatoes are nothing to sneeze at! I won't have any of those for another month! Enjoy what you can get from your garden!

  8. I curious about everyone's dishes today. What is lazy lasagna? Is that where you don't cook the noodles ahead of time.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      lazy lasagna is any shape of pasta cooked, drained and layered with pasta sauce, cottage cheese and mozzarella, in a casserole dish, then baked. What makes it easier is not having to cook and straighten lasagna noodles in a baking dish, and make it all look neat. It's much faster, cheaper (lasagna noodles are more expensive per pound for me) and simpler.

  9. I've always wanted to make my own soap, but the warnings about Lye always scared me off. I know the melt and pour soaps are so much easier than that though. Sounds like you are getting your supplies at a very good cost. That's great. :)

    You're doing great on your monthly grocery budget. I'm going to IGA this morning. They have country style ribs on sale for 99¢ a pound, the cheapest they sell them for. We love them made in the crockpot with BBQ sauce. Anyway, I hope you have a great weekend too! Take care. :)

    1. Hi Belinda,
      I understand about the lye-based soap-making. I've been reluctant to buy all of the dedicated utensils for cooking it. But melt and pour is pretty simple.

      Those ribs sound yummy! I hope you were able to buy what you wanted. It sounds like a good sale!


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