A few weeks ago I went out to the garage freezer to get something, and it was not freezing anymore. I caught it just in time: it was still cold, and the food was fine. A safety outlet had tripped.

Because some of the food thawed partially (a lot of vegetables, mostly), I want to use it up soon. I need to anyway: I've been meaning to defrost and clean out the freezer this spring, to make room for what might come out of the garden this season. I'll see how much I can use up from the freezer above the refrigerator too, while I'm at it.

So I've been planning my menus around the many bags of frozen vegetables and the few other things that are in the freezers. It feels so good to be using it up! I hardly knew what I had in there anyway.

The only thing I'm having a hard time with is the pumpkin. I froze several bags of pumpkin purée last fall and I don't think I can use all eight up in a few weeks. We love pumpkin soup, but we can only take so much!

Here's our freezer menu for the next two weeks. I've mentioned the ingredients from the freezer.

Pumpkin soup, tomato and green bean salad, sandwiches (pumpkin, green beans)
Stuffed pepper soup (zucchini, ground beef)
Tomato-avocado pasta salad, strawberry smoothie (strawberries)
Easter ham, funeral potatoes, rolls, frozen veggies (ham, veggies)
Ham and bean soup (using leftover ham)
Broccoli soup (onions, chicken broth, broccoli)
Beef and broccoli (broccoli, ground beef, brown rice)
Cabbage and sausage over rice (cabbage, sausage)
Chicken adobo soup (cabbage, zucchini, chicken broth)
Stroganoff (ground beef)
Cabbage roll casserole (cabbage, ground beef)
Seven-layer dip (black beans)
Pizza made with pumpkin pizza dough (pumpkin)

And any time I need a side dish, I'm pulling out a bag of frozen vegetables.

I'm pretty sure I'll have to plan my menu around the freezer at least two more times before I use most of it up. But perhaps by then we'll be getting our first garden peas, lettuce, and radishes!



This is my new favorite thing to eat! I used the salad concept from this recipe combined with a dressing adaptation from here, and wow! If this sounds at all good to you, you should go write it on your menu for next week. I know you'll like it too!

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Bacon-avocado-tomato pasta salad
Serves 4

8 oz. pasta
4–6 tomatoes, diced
4 green onions, sliced
2 avocados, diced
4–6 slices bacon, cooked and chopped

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon good-quality grainy mustard
3/4 teaspoon salt
several grinds of pepper

Cook pasta and bacon. Prepare veggies. Shake together dressing ingredients in a jar. Toss everything together. Serve warm (my preference) or cool. Try not to eat three helpings.

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Ever since I saw this on Pinterest, I've been wanting to try it, even though I knew it would be a risk, as the blogger hadn't actually tried it, and the link with instructions was broken.

I was also suspicious because the original photo was of the unbaked cookies, not the finished product. I don't want to blame the blogger, though; she was very clear that she hadn't tried it yet.


I stamped the cookies with the bottom of a vase that had a pretty pattern. It showed up well before baking, but mostly faded after baking.

The new pepparkakor recipe I tried it with was a keeper though!



The garden is for all of us, but is especially beloved by Red Chief. Here he is looking at the carrots.


All the types of seeds I planted came up, even the ones that were eight years old. Radishes, kale, swiss chard, kohlrabi, broccoli, lettuce, beets, cilantro, parsley. I planted the seeds early, but I heard that they would wait to sprout until it was time, and they did.


The peas are doing especially well.


The rhubarb and yarrow we planted last year are happy despite not having been watered yet this spring. It looks like I'm going to have to move one of them!


The mint is coming back too.

I'm so glad we built the garden boxes last year, and I'm grateful to have a garden that's so easy to take care of. I love walking around the boxes to see what has come up, and pulling out a weed here or thinning a row there.



Well, after much thinking about colors, we finally picked something and got started painting the outside of the house. I absolutely love how it turned out! One detail you can't see from the picture is the bright red front door.

The family has mixed feelings about the color change. I hated the old color and love the new one, so I'm quite happy. My husband doesn't care much one way or the other. Red Chief likes the new color. Tiger Lily keeps telling me she wants the old color back . . . but she does love the red door.

Perhaps I'm a bore for picking out grey (on the outside and also a very light shade inside, too), but I find it soothing to look at and more traditional-looking than the former colors.


 




Yesterday I wasn't feeling great, but I needed to get things done, so this is kind of how my day went:


  • Tidy up the living room
  • Read a chapter of my book
  • Fold a load of laundry
  • Read a chapter of my book
  • Vacuum
  • Answer some emails
  • Fold another load of laundry
  • Read a chapter of my book
  • Clear the kitchen counter
  • Read a chapter of my book

This worked well and I got a surprising amount done by the end of the day (reading and otherwise). Tiger Lily was a big help, doing housework with me and amusing herself for long stretches of time. I will miss her when she starts school next year!


Image credit: Marco.Finke. Edited by Merops.

When I was growing up, I only had avocados once or twice: they weren't in my family's regular diet.

But since I've been married, I've had them myriad times, mainly because my husband loves them (and now I do too!). He served a two-year mission for our church in Chile, and there avocados are like zucchini, but worse, because there are more of them and they spoil faster. People were always trying to unload the avocados their trees dropped on the roof and ground.

So here's what I've learned about avocados. Let's do this as a Q&A, shall we?

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Everything you should know about avocados

Q. How do you spell avocado
A. Avocado, not avacado. Please.

Q. How do you pluralize avocado?
A. Avocados. No need for an extra e.

Q. Are avocados a fruit or a vegetable?
A. Fruit.

Q. When are avocados in season?
A. California avocados are in season from February through September, but imported avocados from other countries such as Mexico allow us to have avocados year-round. (source)

Q. How do I choose an avocado at the store?
A. When are you going to use it? If you're going to use it today, look for an avocado that just barely gives when you press on it. If it's too mushy, don't buy it! If you're going to use your avocado in a few days, look for something a little firmer. It will ripen as you leave it out on your counter. Steer clear of rock-hard avocados unless you're not wanting to use it for a week or more.

Q. Should I keep my avocado on the counter or in the fridge?
A. Contrary to popular belief, either one is fine. Avocados left on the counter will ripen faster. If you store them in the fridge, ripening will slow down considerably, giving you several extra days in which to use them. Storing your avocados in the fridge can increase the likelihood of brown or black spots forming inside (see below), but I usually don't have a huge problem with it.

Q. Can I freeze avocados?
A. I haven't tried it, but others have done it successfully.

Q. How do I remove the pit from an avocado?
A. Remove the stem from the top. Cut in a line the tall way around the outside of the avocado, all the way to the pit, and pull it in half (this will be harder if your avocado isn't ripe). Now either scoop the pit out with a spoon (safer), or ease it out with your knife blade (less safe, but what I usually do).

Q. How do I slice an avocado?
A. Take your pitted avocado and scoop the flesh out with a spoon, trying to keep each half intact. Place pit-side down and slice. Some like to slice it still in the skin, but I find that's a good way to cut myself.

Q. How do I mash up an avocado?
A. Scoop the flesh out with a spoon into a bowl. Add a little lemon or lime juice and salt if you like, and mash it with a fork.

Q. Help! My avocado isn't soft enough to mash, but I need to anyway.
A. A food processor works for me. You may need to add extra liquid (lemon juice, water, olive oil, etc.) to get it going.

Q. How do I keep an avocado from going brown?
A. Acid. Mash or toss it with lemon or lime juice; with some of the dressing for the salad you're making, if it's a vinaigrette; or with anything edible and acidic that goes with your recipe.

Q. Help! My avocado has brown or black streaks going through it.
A. Oh dear, you've either let your avocado get too ripe or you've left it in the fridge for too long. I don't like the taste or smell of the spots, but they're not harmful. Cut the spots out if there's enough remaining salvageable flesh, and move forward with your recipe. (source)

Q. What should I make with my avocado?
A. Mash it up with salt and lemon or lime and dip your chips in it. (This is our lazy man's version of guacamole.)
A. Mash it up with salt and lemon and spread it on bread.
A. Put it on your hot dog, Chilean style.
A. Taco/nacho topping.
A. Put it on a salad.
A. Make my family's favorite salad.
A. Put it on a sandwich.
A. Put it on a grilled cheese sandwich.
A. Make this chickpea and avocado sandwich.

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This post brought to you by a fierce avocado craving. Do you have any avocado tips, facts, or recipes to share? Please do!




Last night after General Conference was over and the kids were in bed, I had so much running through my mind that I wanted something to do with my hands, so I could think.

So I started a batch of these waffles for breakfast the next morning, tidied up the kitchen, set the table for breakfast, and even made a pasta salad for Red Chief's lunch for the next day.

I've gotten in the habit of setting out the ingredients for breakfast, but I'd never gone this far before. And when I woke up late this morning, I was glad I had done a little extra work the night before.




I roasted a turkey for Christmas, and afterward I put the carcass, skin, and all the extras into my biggest slow cooker and covered with water. As usual, I let it cook for 12–24 hours, then strained and froze it. The carcass still looked as if it was good for another go, so I did it again . . . and then again. And guess what? The third batch of broth was still much better than storebought. I probably could have done another batch, but by that time I was getting thoroughly sick of the smell of turkey in my house.

I did the same thing again this week with a chicken carcass. Three batches, and the third batch still came out beautiful and yellow. By that time the bones were easily broken by hand.

This has worked so well that I'll always make multiple batches of chicken stock when I have a carcass now.

Another thing I've started doing recently is including the skin in my stock. It does mean there's more fat to remove at the end, but it makes the broth much fuller-tasting (and more gelatinous when it's refrigerated).

New to making chicken broth? I've written a how-to here.


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