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Thursday, September 16, 2021

My Week, Kitchen and Garden

This past week centered around and kitchen and garden. 

We did indeed finish picking blackberries. (Remember that pillow-sized bag of frozen blackberries?) I have since moved on to the plum tree. The plums ripen over a couple of weeks, so I harvest and process over this whole period. This past week I made prunes, plum jam, plum pie, as well as served a lot of fresh plums in compotes, yogurt, and out of hand. I also make chutney every fall, using plums, apples, raisins, and onions. I'm out of onions for the time being. So the chutney-making will have to wait until I can get another grocery order placed. (Gee, I miss those days when I could just run out and pick up 1 thing when I needed it.) Our fruit bowl currently has fresh tomatoes, plums, and a couple of bananas. Once I finish harvesting the plums, I'll move on to digging potatoes. I hope those did well!

This is the perfect time of year to be using our electric dehydrator. Our cool September house benefits from the heated air spewed into the kitchen by the food dehydrator. In addition to drying plums I've also been drying herbs this week. It looks like this will be the last oregano and sage harvest for the year. I cut both plants back as far as I dare go. I now have about 3 cups each of loose-packed dried oregano leaves and sage leaves. Our oregano harvest was not as good as previous years. I'll be working on that part of the herb garden next spring, weeding and mixing in some compost in hopes of getting the output higher again.

This has been about the most frustrating gardening year in terms of dealing with critters. The other day I noticed something had been on the deck and in the raised trough planters. Whatever "it" was, it didn't do a great deal of damage. Then Thursday morning I caught a squirrel in one planter digging up the turnip plants. I replanted those turnips, and I hope they'll take hold again. Then I put a stick fence all the way around the trough. Afterward, I checked the kale trough and found several severed leaves and some half eaten stems. I assume it was the little squirrel doing the damage. I salvaged what I could to use in a couple of meals then built another little fence around that trough. The weather turned chilly earlier than usual and I think this squirrel is looking for food as well as burying spots for his winter stash. I do wonder if the squirrel knows something I don't know about this coming fall and winter.

With the cooler weather I've also been harvesting tomatoes. I've picked all of the orange to red ones and am moving on to the green tomatoes. In my area, tomatoes typically die from blight and not frost. Blight usually develops after a cool rain long before we get a frost. So I pick them as soon as the weather cools like it has this last week. I let some stay on the vine a little longer, so they can grow just a bit more. But I also hedge my bets and pick some now to ripen indoors, even if they're on the small side. In another week or so, I'll use the tiniest green tomatoes in pickle relish for this next year (another reason I need some onions).

I also made the last of the tomato salsa for the year, using up most of the garden cilantro. So, for the year, I made 28 pints of salsa. My family can really plough through it quickly. I'll keep my fingers crossed that this supply lasts a while.

My potted lettuce has been growing so slowly. I don't know if this is the low-light conditions from this time of year or from the cooler nights. Anyway, I moved 2 pots of Romaine into the house and under lights. I hope I can revive them and get more salads for the family.

I came across another World War 2 British series on youtube this week and managed to binge the whole series in a couple of evenings. It's titled Wartime Kitchen and Garden. There are 8 episodes, each about 23 minutes. The series was produced in 1993, predating the series Wartime Farm by nearly 20 years. Wartime Kitchen and Farm is perhaps not as polished as Wartime Farm, but it contains a lot of interesting and sometimes helpful information. Two of the "stars" are people who lived through WW2 and personally understood how challenging the war made cooking and gardening. The real benefit I find from watching these series is a sense of camaraderie with other folks who have needed to be resourceful, make-do, and resist wasting food. Here's the link to episode 1, Wartime Kitchen and Garden. Enjoy!

I placed a Walmart order to be shipped to my house this past week, stocking up on canned tomatoes, tomato paste, instant mashed potatoes, imitation bacon bits (we like them on baked potatoes and in green vegetables), and a giant tub of black licorice for October. Everybody likes a treat now and then. I also picked up an order with more meat, milk, and a couple of pantry items that I can't get shipped.

Cheap & Cheerful Suppers

Meals this last week continued to be humble but tasty. We prepared everything at home, using a lot of garden produce and making as much from scratch as possible, including scratch flour tortillas, scratch biscuits, scratch bread, scratch yogurt, and scratch desserts. My job is all about providing food for my hungry family while staying on a budget.

pepperoni pizza, sautéed kale, tomato-cucumber salad, rhubarb-blackberry crisp

lentil tacos, rice, tomato wedges, carrot sticks, leftover crisp

peanut noodles, sautéed cabbage, tomatoes, plums

beef and bean burritos (in homemade flour tortillas), fresh tomatoes, sautéed kale, canned corn, plum pie

Tuesday (repeat of Monday)
more beef and bean burritos, fresh tomatoes, carrot sticks and dip, leftover plum pie

pancake and sausage roll-ups, Swiss chard and scrambled eggs, tomato-cucumber salad, sautéed cinnamon apples, scratch brownies

chicken and dumplings (using 1 chicken breast, sage stock, garden kale, carrots, and scratch biscuit dough), fresh plums

Breakfasts included homemade yogurt, last of the fresh blackberries, chopped fresh plums, toast, oatmeal, eggs, juice, coffee, milk.

Lunches and snacks used the leftover refried beans and rice, a pot of Italian garden vegetable and lentil soup, scratch biscuits, bread, cheese, peanut butter, fresh plums, fresh tomatoes, carrots, cabbage, brownies, and popcorn.

Extra Post

Just one extra post this week -- using the stems from homegrown, dried herbs after removing the leaves. Read about that here.

I hope you all had a wonderful week. What were your highlights? Have you watched either Wartime Kitchen and Garden or Wartime Farm? How have shows like those benefitted you?


  1. I love Wartime farm and kitchen. Nothing was wasted and people though they probably complained didn't just think of themselves. Another on was called Takes from the green valley. Another great show. Coal house and wartime coal house were both good also.

    1. Hi Cheryl,
      Thank you for those show recommendations. I will be checking them out over the next few days. There are so many inspiring shows available.

      Have a wonderful weekend, Cheryl!

  2. I have picked all my tomatoes too. It’s getting down to 20 at nite so even in my greenhouse that’s just too cold.

    I didn’t do much cooking this week. Dh wasn’t home for dinner most of the week. Recently we’ve had chicken and noodles, homemade pizza, pork chops, and homemade vegetable beef soup. Tonite we are having chili dogs, plus I have a big pan of baked beans cooking in the oven. Wednesday nite my oldest dd and I went out for pizza and salad bar. We went right at 5 when she got off work to avoid the dinner crowd-figure it’s safer that way.
    I went to Walmart this morning and my store has lots of Mexican items on clearance. A lot was gone already, but I was able to get several things for 25-65 cents, so we will be having Mexican food in the coming weeks lol. Who can pass up 25 cent cans of refried beans after all?

    1. Hi Diane,
      Yum! Your meals sound delicious! Chili cheese dogs are on my menu for October. I can scarcely wait for those. I think seeking out less busy times when eating out or shopping is a good idea, on a lot of fronts. But especially good for minimizing risk of exposure to viruses. I hope you and your daughter enjoyed the pizza and salad bar.

      Oh, those are great deals on Mexican food items! Enjoy it all.

  3. I accidentally deleted what I wrote. I was probably long winded and needed to condense it, anyway. Thanks for all the suggestions for YouTube videos. It's good to hear how others have made do in challenging times.

    This reminds me of a story my dad had about being in WWII. He was part of the clean up crew in Germany at the end of the war. He and another army buddy befriended a local German family and discovered that they didn't have much food, so the men hunted and shot a deer for venison for the family. I always thought that was a powerful story.

    1. What a wonderful story, Kris, about your dad. Another example that the world is full of caring, good people. I think sometimes it's easy to forget that when we hear about a few who aren't.

    2. Hi Kris,
      I agree with Live and Learn's thoughts on your dad and his fellow soldier in Germany. It really demonstrates how it isn't the citizens of another country that may be our enemies, but the government and their policies. I'm so glad your father could help that family get some food.

      I can't wait to check out more videos this weekend.

  4. The rabbits and the deer have been eating more produce this year than the squirrels. However, we have fences around two of our three beds that have helped with the rabbits. It's not quite time to pick all of the tomatoes yet here, but the ones that are ripening are pretty rough looking. However, they are usable all the same. The turnips I planted are up, but not the radishes. I hope to get some time next week to work more on the fall garden.

    Maybe it's a case of the grass being greener, but much of British TV seems more interesting than our offerings here. Both of those shows sound interesting to me and someday I will remember to watch them.

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      I hope you can find time to work in your garden this next week. My husband and I really need to follow your lead and build some more permanent fencing around our garden beds.

      I hope you do get a chance to watch Wartime Farm or Wartime kitchen and Garden. I enjoyed both series very much. So very interesting!

  5. I will also check out the series you recommended. Stories like those are so inspiring to me. AND I get some knitting done!
    Thanks for the tips you share each week. I am constantly amazed by your resourcefulness and it propels me to do better.

    1. Hi Ruthie,
      Thank you for your kind words!
      I love to watch a show while taking care of some other task, like knitting or mending. I hope you have a chance to check these shows. I found them very interesting and informative.


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