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Friday, July 30, 2021

Cheap & Cheerful Meals for the Tail End of July


Hi friends. Happy Friday! And it's the last Friday of the month of July. How did your week go? I hope you found time to enjoy yourself as well as took care of your work. 

What we ate around here this past week:

homemade raisin and spice granola, blueberry muffins, toast, homemade yogurt with raspberries, blueberries or blackberries, chicken gravy on toast, juice, milk, coffee

leftovers, cream of sorrel soup, turnip and vegetable soup, mixed green salads, hummus, crackers, cheese or peanut butter sandwiches, cookies, graham crackers, raisins, blueberries, eggs, sausage, zucchini chips


peppers and olive pizza, dolmades with yogurt sauce, sautéed summer squash, cookies

hummus, fry bread, carrot sticks

barbecued burgers, beet greens, tossed garden salad, cookies

eggs with chives, turnip greens, roasted root vegetables, rice and gravy, rhubarb crisp

chicken in thyme gravy, rosemary mashed potatoes, beet greens, leftover rhubarb crisp

Wednesday (my daughter prepared this)
beef with broccoli, chicken and vegetables, rice, egg rolls

Thursday (my other daughter prepared this meal)
scratch macaroni and cheese, turnip greens, summer squash, stewed prunes

This past week, I finally got around to thawing the chest freezer. Sometime in September 2020 I froze several jugs of milk in the chest freezer. One of the jugs split a seam and leaked 3/4 of a gallon of milk all over the bottom of the freezer, cementing anything sitting on the bottom of the freezer in place. I wanted to just get that cleaned up, but with a full freezer that's not terribly easy. I waited until that point in summer where we'd gone through most of our frozen foods from last summer's garden and foraging, but it was still early enough in this year's harvest so I wouldn't have as much food to stuff into other freezers. That moment came this week. It was a nuisance, but much more do-able that I'd thought it would be. So now I have this pristine freezer all organized and room to spare. How long do you figure this will last -- 3 weeks, a month? It doesn't seem to take too much rummaging to mess up the organization. But at least I now know exactly what we have in there. And yes, there were some surprises.

Last Friday, I was out of pepperoni for our weekly pizza. So I scrounged in the freezer and found some frozen pepper strips and opened a can of olives, yielding a pepper and olive pizza for the family. This week, I have pepperoni again for our favorite pizza topping. Plus, I'll be baking a blackberry pie later this morning. While cleaning out the deep freezer, I came across several bags of frozen blackberries from last year's foraging. Blackberry season is just about to begin for this year, so I need to do some quick baking, and jam and syrup making. So, tonight -- blackberry pie. I also came across a bag of dried prunes. And you guessed it, we're coming close to ripe plum season again. Stewed prunes were added to the menu this past week and will be on coming menus as well. I also came across several bags of blueberries. I made some blueberry jam and baked some blueberry muffins. Cleaning the freezer is a bit like a treasure hunt. I found so many odds and ends that will add to our upcoming meals.

When I wasn't cleaning out the freezer, I was in the garden or organizing our pantry. It's always about food for me these days.

How was your week? What was on your menu?


  1. We had a deep freezer scare last week. The alarm was beeping so I opened it and found that the temp had risen. As I review in my mind the events prior to opening it, I seem to remember a grill cover very close to the freeze and all the questions began. Was it in the way of the seal preventing a proper seal, did it cover the freezer vent, was the food piled high that the lid never closed, is the freezer on its last legs? I have no idea so we called for service only to find out that it takes 10 days. Then we began out own monitoring. Watching for the temp to decrease and by leaving the lid shut, it came down to proper temp so I'm guessing something was preventing a proper seal. It seems to work fine now. But now we watch very closely for signs of failure. My MIL has an old nearly empty freezer we could use if necessary but buying a new one is rather difficult because no one has freezers these days.

    For meals: smoked pork with mushroom gravy, lots of green beans, lots of squash, mashed potatoes with cabbage mixed together. Fried chicken and salad, spaghetti, chicken parmesan, tater tot casserole, homemade blueberry muffins, a chocolate zucchini cake for son's birthday, lomo saltado.

    The goal is to start working through the freezer contents in case of an emergency with the freezer. Also it's time to lower the pantry items since it is so full.

    1. Hi Alice,
      I'm glad that your freezer is "fixed" for now. Let's hope it stays that way.
      Yummy sounding meals, as always, Alice. especially the mushroom gravy on smoked pork.

      Happy birthday to your son!

  2. Always a good plan to get the freezer cleaned out! Sounds like you found lots of goodies to add to your meals.

    We have a manual defrost chest freezer which does pretty well, and a so-called upright frost-free that gets big deposits of ice. We thaw each of them at least yearly, sometimes twice, once the contents diminish enough that we fit things in the other freezers, as you mentioned. Summer isn't ideal here, with the heat, but about 3 weeks ago, I went out in the garage one morning to find the door of the upright one wide open. Ugh. My son had gotten ice cream out the night before and must not have gotten it fully shut. Many items were thawed or mostly so. My husband took the day off work and, together we busily cooked everything we could, canning some, and refreezing some items fully cooked (a pork roast, for instance). I made and canned cherry pie filling from a 5 lb bag of tart cherries, and use several other items up best we could. Anyway, the silver lining is that now we've thawed and cleaned out both freezers and know what's in there.

    1. Good save on all of that food, Cat! That's great that your husband could take the day off to help cook it all up. And you're right -- you're now done defrosting the freezers for the season.

  3. And to add to the freezer stories, we had a chest freezer that was running but not cooling. We didn't go in there all the time, so everything had rotted before we figured it out. The smell is what clued us in. What a mess. That freezer went to recycling. Not only did it not work, but the smell was too bad to ever put food in there again.

    1. Ugh! That sounds awful, Live and Learn. I'm so sorry that happened. That's a good warning for us all to keep an eye on our older freezers.

  4. I worked on my freezer this week and last week, doing half at a time. Now I gotta defrost it. We are splitting half a beef with our son and dil and I want it defrosted first.

    Meals happened. Let’s see if I can remember. Last nite I made a really good chicken cordon bleu casserole. Wednesday was pork chops. Tuesday I snacked because my husband had a business dinner. Monday was elk steak, Sunday ham, and Saturday I just did some jalapeño cheddar sausage in the air fryer. Tonite I have no idea what we are having. I need to figure that out right now!

    1. Hi Diane,
      I hope the defrosting goes well. I'm glad for you that you could split a beef with your son and DIL. I'm sure you'll all enjoy that beef.

      Your meals sound delicious. I'll have to remember the chicken cordon bleu casserole for when we bake a ham next.


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