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Thursday, June 1, 2023

Cheap & Cheerful Suppers for the End of May (and the Beginning of BBQ Season)

Dinner and a movie night. We watched Juno, dvd borrowed from the local library.
gyros--homemade pita bread, frozen gyro meat, canned tomatoes (drained and sliced), olives, chopped fresh cucumber, olive oil/lemon juice/herb dressing
stuffed grape leaves (just rice and seasonings this time)
spiced fig-applesauce

Funny or not funny story. I was cleaning out the garage fridge on Friday and found lots of very, very old foods in there. For the most part, these were things my daughters bought and stashed there. Among them were 2 red apples that were very, very, very wrinkly. One daughter thought maybe she bought these early last summer. I had this idea to peel and cook the apples and add them to the fig-applesauce. After cutting away obvious bad spots, I chopped them and cooked them in a little water, very pleased with myself for rescuing the apples. They smelled like turnips the whole time they were simmering. After they were soft enough to mash, I added a little lemon juice and sugar, and they tasted just like sweetened turnips. Yuk. I threw them out and made the fig-applesauce with the jarred applesauce we had also lingering in the garage fridge. But the bottled applesauce was still good, thankfully.

Saturday I was busy cleaning and starting a new outdoor furniture refurb project, working in the garage. I picked up a table at a garage sale for $5. I'll be working on it the next couple of weekends. I also enlisted some family help to put up some string lights over the patio. I repurposed our tiny bulb Christmas string lights. The lights are "warm" LED. We strung them from one tree just off the deck, to the wisteria-covered arch, then back to a second tree just off the deck.
My husband cooked dinner Saturday. His "specialty" is refried beans and deep-fried, homemade tortillas. I don't eat the tortillas (I rarely eat fried foods), but instead I usually have a side of rice with my beans. 

refried beans
fried homemade tortillas or rice
home-canned salsa from last summer
Cole slaw
carrot sticks

More cleaning and prepping for company on Memorial Day. I set up the chairs with the new pillows on the patio. I had made 2 additional pillows, for a total of 6 bright and cheerful outdoor pillows. I still have enough fabric for either 2 more pillows or a tablecloth to go over the $5 garage sale table or seat covers on the 2 chairs (also need refurbishment) I bought at a thrift store to go with the $5 table. Dinner would be a simple one. After dinner I rolled out the pie crust for tomorrow's pie, stashing it in the fridge until the morning.

pasta with TVP marinara sauce (I had my marinara sauce plain, no TVP for the time being)
stir fried cabbage, carrots, green onions (the frozen packages I bought for 49 cents a package)

Memorial Day BBQ
One of the first things I did when I woke up was go outside to cut fresh rhubarb. I baked a rhubarb custard pie with crumb topping for our Memorial Day dessert. For the main, I grilled a marinated pork loin and used the new grill station to set my tongs, a plate, and a meat thermometer while the pork loin cooked. The lemonade was made with bottled lemon juice, sugar and water. The rest of the meal was easy for the sole reason of retaining my sanity while preparing for guests. The extra foods were store-bought or home-canned previously (salsa).

grilled pork loin
raw veggies and dip
tortilla chips and salsa
rhubarb pie

One of my daughters cooked tonight. She'd never made a pot roast before, so I gave her some instructions then let her cook. It tasted delicious. The spiced apples were the last of the frozen chopped apples from last year's harvest sautéed in a little butter, sugar and spice added, and syrup thickened with cornstarch and water.

pot roast with mushroom gravy
brown rice
frozen peas
spiced apples

My other daughter cooked tonight. She needed a super quick and easy dinner to make as she and I were busy most of the late afternoon cutting her hair. It took 2 hours, but I think it looks okay enough. 

I had thawed a chunk of Easter ham and I knew we needed to use up the blackberry syrup, so brinner sounded like a good idea.

fried ham
pancakes with blackberry syrup
green salad

Our daughters are out doing their own thing, so I just had my husband and myself to cook for. I think my husband was pretty happy to get a whole frozen pizza to himself!

frozen pizza and cookies for one
miso soup and half a banana for the other
plus tossed salad and rhubarb sauce for both

As I finish typing this up, I'm sipping a hot cup of peppermint tea (good for the tummy). I took my first harvest of peppermint for the season today and dehydrated it. It's not a lot, so I hope I'll get another harvest in mid-summer, followed by one last harvest in late summer. I had a goofy thought this afternoon. I thought, "maybe I should buy another peppermint plant." Anyone who has ever had peppermint or any mint growing in their yard knows that peppermint reproduces itself pretty well without any help from the gardener. So, after I clean up my last remaining large pot (the rest of the large pots have carrots in them), I'll take a division off of this one pot of peppermint and grow a second pot. In a year or two, the new pot will be as full as this first pot, doubling my peppermint harvest.

Summer is off to an easy start, meal-wise, at my house. What was on your menu this past week? Did you do anything special for Memorial Day?

Have a wonderful weekend!


  1. Look at how well your grilling station is working! I can't imagine trying to grill the pork loin with out it. Too funny about the turnips. Glad you figured it out before you added the figs.

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      Yes, we were all grateful that I didn't add the horrible applesauce to the good stuff. I hated wasting some food, but sometimes that can't be helped.

  2. My son is dating someone with 3 kids and we had them and my daughter and son in law for dinner. The kids loved the bubbles and we had a nice dinner of hamburgers, hot dogs, pasta salad, and frozen corn. Oreo fluff for dessert, my son in laws favorite.

    1. Hi Cheryl,
      That sounds like a fun evening with good food and entertainment for the little ones. I think bubbles are always a pleaser with kids. I had to look up Oreo fluff. It looks creamy and tasty. Yum!

  3. Your grilling station and your patio decor look wonderful. What an inviting space.

    Thanks for sharing the story about the mysterious frozen food. I suspect we've all been there, in one fashion or another. That might make a funny post sometime, with reader contributions.

    I worked Monday, so hubby grilled brats. I think we had baked beans and potato salad to go with it, but I don't remember for sure. My husband wasn't home Tuesday evening so my daughter and I used a gift card for Subway. Wednesday I tried a new recipe and I'm thrilled with how it turned out--chicken with artichokes and sun dried tomatoes--it used up some food items that I had on hand, and was delicious. Last night I made apricot chicken over rice. Tonight we are having leftover grilled ribs from last Sunday. I'm sure we'll find a side to go with it. We have lots of lettuce from our garden, and asparagus from the farm market.

    I made rhubarb muffins from our rhubarb--I'm always jealous of the amount of rhubarb you grow, Lili! I read somewhere that it grows really well in your region.

    1. Hi Kris,o
      That chicken with artichokes and sun-dried tomato dish sounds like just my thing. I love artichoke hearts and anything tomato.

      Your comment made me think that I should make a batch of rhubarb muffins soon. We've been mostly having rhubarb sauce and rhubarb pie this year. I need to change it up to keep my family interested. Thanks for the reminder about making muffins. That's interesting about rhubarb growing well here. Perhaps it's because our summers are relatively mild and springs very rainy.

  4. Since we attended a family gathering for our oldest granddaughter's high school graduation on Sunday night, I didn't plan on another gathering for Memorial day. My hubs needed to get sprinklers working and I had yard work to do as well. Nothing big planned for dinner - a few chicken wings that were close to freezer burn and leftover fruits and veggies. About 4:00, my youngest daughter asked if her and her husband and 18 mo could come over eat and play games - so we quickly had a change of plans! They had crockpot chicken going and brought that over. It was a spontaneous, fun night. We didn't get all the sprinklers fixed, but sometimes you just have to let things go. My hubs and myself are way too practical and task driven. We have really had to work on that and roll with the punches.
    Last night I was really pleased with a recipe that I found online. It was for taquitos, but the filling could be used in so many ways. I put it on top of a bed of lettuce today. To browned ground beef, onions and carrots, you add canned tomatoes and pumpkin puree and seasonings. The pumpkin was undetected by my hubs (he probably wouldn't have eaten it) but it thickened the sauce.
    Have a good weekend all!

    1. Hi Ruthie,
      Your impromptu dinner and game night with your daughter and her family sounds really fun. And no stress ahead of time trying to get everything just right for their visit.
      Congratulations to your granddaughter on her graduation!

      Yum, I like the sound of the taquito filling, using some pumpkin puree for thickening. What a great and different way to use pumpkin!

  5. We spent the day at my son's house helping to remove a volunteer tree that was growing into the fence. We did a ton of weeding an my husband mowed his lawn (yes, he did it for our son because we love him!). We had hamburgers on the grill with sweet potato fries and then headed home.

    1. Hi Alice,
      Your day sounds like a good time, as well as helpful for your son. I'm glad that he lives close enough that you and your husband can go over and help him out from time to time with some of these many-hands-needed chores. And the meal afterward sounds delicious!

  6. We've been eating a lot of homemade "freezer fast food" lately (leftovers from cooking big, frozen in portions for easy meals later.) I think on Memorial Day it was chicken enchiladas and mojado burritos (the guys were hungry and couldn't decide which they wanted, so had one of each.) I made a triple batch of split pea soup yesterday, because ham shanks were on-sale, it was not too hot, there's a heatwave coming, and that's a freezer "staple" around here.

    Kudos for cutting your daughter's hair. That's something we stopped paying for a long time ago (mostly for convenience), and never think of it as a frugal thing; but I know we've saved a LOT of money in the past 30 years! (And we still look relatively presentable! LOL)

    You'll be surprised to hear, Lili, that I actually finally killed my peppermint plant, which had nearly overtaken the Earthbox it had been in for years, and came back every spring, no matter how cold it got. Not sure if the -29F finally finished it off, or age or what; but there was no sign of it this spring. I'm going to have to pick up another.

    What I DID have a bumper crop of, however, was garlic chives. My goodness! it looked like lawn in there! It must have been because I didn't cut the flowers last year (busy doing other things.) There had been some strawberries in that Earthbox, too; and I wanted to put them in the permanent strawberry bed this year. I chickened out, though, because I figured the whole thing would end up carpeted in garlic chives. So I put those four in an old strawberry pot that hubby found super-cheap at a garage sale, so I can cull any additional chives that made the trip. Then I gave a bunch of the bigger volunteers to two gardening friends for Mother's Day.

    Have a great day, Everyone. Sara

    1. Hi Sara,
      I had one peppermint plant in a pot die many years ago. It may have been age, or it may have been it was in a pot and not the ground. Maybe yours died from the super cold temps you had this winter. That's a good warning to pull my pot closer to the house when cold weather approaches. Although, we don't get the degree of cold weather you do.

      Your Memorial Day Mexican foods sound tasty. I hadn't heard of mojado burritos before so had to look those up. They look really yummy! Thanks for introducing a new dish to me!


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