The garden offered up about thirty large cucumbers, and the neighbors offered up a sack of plums. Time to put some food in jars!

No, I did not have the energy for this, but I did it anyway and I'm glad I did. The kids were kind enough to help with grating cucumbers (with a bit of bribing).

Final yields:
8 half-pints plum jam
7 quarts dill pickles
8.5 pints dill relish


Red Chief grows a giant zucchini

A month or so ago, Red Chief decided he wanted to grow a giant zucchini for the fair. He battled squash bugs and time, but incredibly, the big thing hung on until it was time to submit entries. I've never seen such a nasty zucchini before; it's starting to turn orange. He says it weighs 8 1/2 pounds by the bathroom scale.


Pita breakfast

This week I had too much fun baking for the fair and we ended up with an excess of bread. For breakfast the next day, I stuffed some homemade pita pockets with scrambled eggs, salsa, and cheese, and it made a nice change from our usual cereal, oatmeal, and pancakes.


Kitchen firsts: Storebought pie crust

Last week I wanted to make a pie, but didn't have the energy to make a crust from scratch (and clean up the kitchen afterward, ugh). So I bought my first-ever pre-made pie crust and some frozen mixed berries, and made the easiest pie ever.

It made a good breakfast.


Recently tried recipes

Hash brown breakfast casserole. Pretty good, and very popular with the family. I would probably say, though, that it doesn't serve 12–15, though, especially as a main dish. My family of four ate most of it for dinner.

Butternut squash pasta. This was quite good (especially with extra pesto on top), but the best part is that it used up so much pumpkin from my freezer!

Zucchini lasagna rolls. Red Chief ate about half a pan of these. I used cottage cheese instead of ricotta because we like it better.

Sour cream chicken enchiladas. Yum. The sauce was a little thin and there wasn't quite enough chicken to go around, but I may make this again with some tweaking.

Swiss chard soup. Ugly but tasty! One of my new favorites, and super frugal if you're growing your own chard. I suspect other greens would work here as well. I made ours in the slow cooker.

Strawberry smoothie. We liked this. I used frozen strawberries, so skipped the ice (also reduced sugar to 1T). I had to add milk so my poor blender could handle it, but all in all, I'll probably use this recipe again.


Wonderful weekend

This past weekend was very special to us and also extremely busy. Red Chief was baptized into our church. We are so proud of him and the decision he has made.

We were thrilled to have family come celebrate: Red Chief had 17 out-of-town family members come to see his baptism.

That leads to the busy part.

Feeding and housing 17 extra people is no small task! But by much preparation, several borrowed crock pots, and lots of help from visitors, it all got done. And now we're enjoying the quiet after the chaos.


Three ways to fix a slow kitchen drain

When my bathroom drain gets smelly or slow, I usually give it a good scrubbing and it's good to go again. But when my kitchen drain has issues, scrubbing it out isn't an option because of the garbage disposal. So here are three things I do if my kitchen drain is misbehaving.

  1. Send a tray or two of ice cubes down the disposal. This should loosen up any crud that's sticking around.
  2. Send some baking soda and vinegar down the drain. Put a funnel down the drain and send down 1/2 cup baking soda followed by 1 cup vinegar. Immediately stopper the drain (both sides, if you have a double-sided sink) and leave five minutes.
  3. Pour a kettle of boiling water down the drain. 

My drain was slow last week. I did these three things (in this order), and it's been working perfectly ever since.

What do you do when your drains are slow?


Almost-instant oatmeal for one

Image courtesy of magazineart.org

We've been eating a lot of cereal this summer, but it hasn't been keeping me full very long. Instant oatmeal is too sweet for me, and old-fashioned rolled oats are cheaper.

I've started cooking regular oatmeal in the microwave when everyone else has cereal. This oatmeal comes out beautifully, only takes a minute or two longer than instant oatmeal, and tastes much better.


Almost-instant oatmeal for one

1/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (I'm sure quick oats would work too)
2/3 cup water
pinch of salt
brown sugar and milk to taste

Combine oats, water, and salt in a bowl (I don't even bother stirring). Cook in microwave until water is absorbed (this takes me about three minutes, but my microwave is pretty slow).

The oatmeal will be thick. Stir in brown sugar and add milk until you like the texture.


Cat gets bird

One morning, I heard a bit of a commotion downstairs early. This isn't unusual: my kids wake up before me nearly every morning lately, especially Red Chief, who enjoys setting his alarm.

This commotion was a bit different, though, and soon Red Chief came up to tell me that he had accidentally let the cat in the house with a dead bird.

That woke me up pretty fast.

The story is that she wanted in, and he could see that she had a bird. He didn't mean to let her in; he was just trying to take pictures of her through the window, but he couldn't see her properly, so he opened the door to go out, and in she came.

In any case, all I have to say is that I'm glad the bird was really 100% dead. Sometimes they aren't.

Photo courtesy of Red Chief, of course.