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Thursday, September 30, 2021

Cheap & Cheerful Meals for the Last Week of September


pepperoni pizza, stuffed grape leaves, fruit compote (banana, apple, plums, preserved figs), oatmeal- butterscotch chip cookies

burgers, garden corn, plums, cole slaw, carrot sticks, blackberry cheesecake ice cream

lentil vegetable soup, biscuits, chocolates (from last Christmas!)

chicken tamales, seasoned rice, refried beans and cheese, sautéed kale and onions, plums in spiced fig syrup, cookies

tamale pie (using leftover chicken and beans from Monday), sautéed pumpkin blossoms/garlic/onions, cabbage and kale slaw, fresh plums

scrambled eggs with green onions, sausage links, sautéed mixed cole crop greens (kale, cauliflower leaves, Brussel sprout leaves), roasted purple potatoes, stewed prunes


spaghetti with meat sauce, sautéed mixed cole crop greens (kale, cauliflower leaves, Brussel sprout leaves), fresh plums

breakfasts -- waffles, biscuits, carrot-spice rolls, toast, cream of wheat, instant oatmeal, yogurt, frozen blackberries, fresh plums, tomatoes, eggs, peanut butter, toasty o's cereal

lunches -- tomato-basil soup, grape leaf and beef soup, pumpkin soup, leftovers, apples, tomatoes, plums, lentils, refried beans, seasoned rice, peanut butter, garden potatoes

snacks -- any of the above, plus roasted almonds, peanuts, graham crackers, popcorn, cheese crackers, raisins, pop corn

I am still trying to use as much produce from our garden, orchard and berry patch in our meals. With a waning garden, this means I scavenge for vegetables more than in the high season, for example, the leaves from Brussel sprouts (picked judiciously leaving most on the plants while sprouts develop), leaves on cauliflower (same as Brussel sprouts), grape leaves as a leafy green, pumpkin and squash blossoms now that no more fruit would have enough time to fully develop, and corn husks for making tamales. As a berry bonus, the fall crop of ever-bearing raspberries provides a handful of raspberries every day. Not much, but makes a good snack for the lucky person happening to be in the garden first in the day. Despite using all I can find in the garden, I will be putting in another order for groceries this week, and it will include more fresh produce than pick-ups made in summer.

All of the bread products and desserts are scratch, as are the various soups from the week. And we did have a lot of soup this past week, as the rainy, cool weather came on strong. We had lentil-vegetable soup, grape leaf and beef soup, tomato-basil soup, and pumpkin curry soup.  Our rainy week sure did give me more time and motivation to cook and bake.

What was on your menu this past week? Any stand-outs that you can't wait to eat again?


  1. I have only had grape leaves a few times in a Greek restaurant and don't know much about cooking with them. However, they seem very versatile. Do the leaves of different varieties of grapes taste differently?

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      I don't know on the different tastes due to variety. I wonder about that too. The biggest thing is using tender small to medium size leaves. The larger and older the leaf, the tougher the veins are.

      You know, I've been amazed at how much we've been able to use these. Our grape vines are low to the ground right now, in the shade of a larger tree. We're planning on building a support that would take the vines out of shade and expect to get grapes again. At that point, we'll be able to use the leaves, fruit, and vines. (I've used the vines to make small grape wreaths before.)

      Enjoy your weekend! I hope you have something fun planned.

  2. What a wonderful bounty! And the meals are better than any restaurant could provide. I'm not caught in the lure of going out to eat anymore. It's a hassle and not my kind of food. I have loved the "seed to table" that we mostly do around here. I have so loved homemade food and though there is more "hands on" to getting it prepped that is my decompression from my work day. There are more dishes to wash but I love that. The evening routine covers cleaning up after meals for a nice and tidy kitchen before any evening activity (which is close to none!). Even though dad grows grapes, I've never had a grape leaf. He's very protective of his grape vines so I'll have to ask but I think it's too late for this season. Are all grapes leaf varieties edible? Your meals look so good!

    1. Hi Alice,
      I am of the same mindset with restaurant food. There are very few restaurants that my stomach can handle as I get older. I seem to prefer more fresh ingredients, plain or simple, and less butter, oil, and sauces. And I really don't like most fast food burgers any more. So cooking at home is the best for me these days. Now, my family may disagree with me on all of that. My daughters and husband would opt for a restaurant meal if given the chance. Fortunately for me (and my stomach), I'm in charge of the meals around here.

      I'm glad to hear that you find the time spent preparing and cleaning up after meals a good way to wind down. So often what I hear is what a hassle it is to make meals after a day at work. I know not everyone enjoys cooking as much or has energy at the end of a day, but I've always loved at least some aspects of cooking and baking. (The clean-up not so much. But I try to clean as I cook, so there's not so much to do after dinner.)

      I'm not sure about if all grape leaves are edible, but I've never read that any are not edible.

      Have a wonderful weekend, Alice. I hope your weather is pleasant and you have fun stuff planned.

  3. Lili, I eagerly await your posts to see in what new ways you have creatively used your food. You never disappoint and I am always amazed at your ingenuity! Here on the coast of NC we are still eating tomato sandwiches from the garden. They continue to ripen and we probably have over a dozen or more on the vines. Though smaller this time of year, they are still delicious. Our peppers, bell and jalapenos, are still producing. I'm sharing them and the tomatoes with family and also freezing and canning some. My seeds were mainly a bust this year. Our first frost date isn't until mid December, so I may still try to plant a bit of lettuce and/or spinach this weekend. I've had both of them survive our winters that have been mild lately. It's been a few years, but I've picked both through the winter before and into spring. Our blueberries did well and some of the are in the freezer for oatmeal when it gets a bit cooler. As our bush matures, it provides more and more berries. Because of the success with them, I'm planning to plant some of the offshoots in another part of the yard. I would love to have a grape vine due to its versatility for eating, as you have shown us; plus I'd like to make some grape vine wreaths from branches. Scuppernong grapes are indigenous here. They are part of the muscadine family and there is a 400 yr old vine (a big landmark) here on our island. It's called the Mother Vine and is thought to be the oldest cultivated vine in the US. I am hoping (fingers crossed) I can get a cutting from it as the owner is a neighbor. I'd like it for the variety, but for the historical significance as well. We're still having temps in the 80s and high 70s so no soup yet. Like Alice, I find cooking relaxing at the end of the work day as well. I've got an overfilled freezer and pantry so I've got plenty of food to prepare! Have a good weekend everyone!

    1. Hi Lynn,
      I sort of guessed this was you, as you mentioned NC.
      Thank you for your nice words. You really brightened my day!

      I have never heard of the Scuppernong. I looked it up and it has quite a bit of history for your area. That would be quite a thing to get a cutting and root it for your yard.

      Your weather sounds wonderful! And so much to still harvest from your garden! Tomato sandwiches are always a late summer favorite of mine, with lots of mayo. Enjoy yours!

      I'm glad to hear that your blueberry bush has done well and you have some shoots that you could transplant. That's something I should try, as I've noticed a few shoots coming up from a couple of our bushes. Thanks for suggesting that!

      Wishing you a beautiful early autumn weekend, Lynn. Enjoy!

    2. Lili, yes, the scuppernong is part of the rich history here in northeast NC. It goes hand in glove with the story of the Lost Colony, the first colony of English settlers from the same era 400 yrs ago that disappeared. (The Wright Brothers did NOT disappear and had their first flight here in Kitty Hawk as well, so LOTS of history here in the last stopping off point before Europe!) The scuppernongs have a leathery skin and a seed, so quite different from typical varieties. You bite into them and spit out the husk and the seed :)They are quite sweet and have led to vineyards in NC (cultivated from the Mother Vine) that produce a sweet wine (personally too sweet for my tastes). I grew up eating them so have a lot of nostalgia associated with them and the jelly made from them.

      Interesting story...some utility workers inadvertently sprayed the Mother Vine with a weed killer as they were doing maintenance on a nearby power line a few years ago. Oh my gosh...the race was on to save the Mother Vine. Everyone was SO afraid it would kill the entire vine, which is about a fourth of an acre. (btw, it is on Mother Vineyard Rd, so as I said, BIG important landmark). The company was out of Virginia, so experts were consulted in both NC and VA as to what to do next. Between a combination of quick pruning and treatments, it was saved and the power company was quite relieved, along with the rest of us!
      Lynn from NC Outer Banks

      PS I'm glad my comments are showing up again. I had entered 3 awhile back over time and they never showed up. I'm glad I tried again.

  4. Oops, left off my name from comment. Lynn from Outer Banks of NC

  5. Your meals sound wonderful - I, too, look forward to your weekly posts! I have been in a slump when it comes to making meals - so thanks for invigorating me! Have a good weekend !

    1. Thank you so much for saying that, Ruthie! You know, I get so many great ideas from all of you, too. I hope your cooking slump comes to a quick end!

  6. I miss eating stuffed grape leaves! So tasty.

    I've been under the weather this week, and my daughter has been in driver's ed, so it's been sort of a weird week, meal-wise. I made mac and cheese one night, we had leftover carnitas another night, goulash, and sausage/lentil/barley soup with bread sticks last night. And tonight we are having sporgasbord (aka leftovers)! We've mostly been eating green beans from our garden as sides, which are still going strong, as well as pears that my husband found at an orchard. Our mealtimes are all over the map due to our varied schedule--I'm looking forward to more consistency now that my daughter is done with her class.

    1. Oh Kris, I'm so sorry you've been feeling sick this week. I hope you can take it easy over the weekend and recuperate. Even though you were sick, your meals still sound good to me.

      Ack! Driver's Ed! The co-pilot's seat with a learning driver is about the scariest place to be. Good luck to you and your daughter!

      I love your mention of smorgasbord. My mom and dad were half Scandinavian, each. So, when we had leftovers, it was called smorgasbord. I even remember eating at a couple of smorgasbord restaurants when I was very little. I have no idea where we would have traveled to to find those places, though.

      I hope you have a wonderful weekend, Kris, and get plenty of rest!


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