August Food Preservation Goals

In a recent video from one of my favorite Youtube channels, Three Rivers Homestead, Jessica is reorganizing her pantry and working on cycling out her inventory. There’s just something so beautiful about a well stocked pantry of home preserved food. A pantry, shelf or cabinet becomes a beautiful show piece and part of the home decor. I could binge watch any of these type videos for hours!

Jessica is also participating in the #everybitcountschallenge on her Instagram page. The goal is to preserve/can something each and every day of August. Wow! With her busy family and farm, that certainly is going to be a challenge. But I’m sure she’ll rise to it. 🙂

It got me to thinking about my own pantry and setting some goals for myself. I know my limitations with time and budget, so to try and get something preserved each day is just setting myself up for failure. I currently don’t have my own garden, so I’m relying on the grocery store, local farmers market and excess from friends gardens for my fresh veggies. But, because “every bit counts”, I can make some realistic goals for myself and add quite a bit of food storage over the next month.

Here’s what I’m planning.

Fruit Cocktail

My inspiration for this comes from the fact that cherries are in season! They look so delicious, but I couldn’t think of anything to do with them outside of a cherry pie, which neither of us would eat. I opened a jar of my home canned pineapple a few days ago and then it occurred to me that I could make fruit cocktail! A quick trip down the Youtube rabbit hole, and I found this recipe. Cherries, pineapple, grapes and pears canned in the natural juices, just like I do my pineapple. I’ll omit the peaches since we don’t care for those. For around $10, I’ll have 9 pints of delicious fruit cocktail made from fruits chosen at the ripeness we like them preserved with no extra sugar or preservatives!

Kidney Beans

While this is not one of the beans we eat as a side dish or entree, I do use them in my chili recipe. I’ll go ahead and can these in quart jars, since I usually use two cans. Sams Club has 4 pounds dry kidney beans for around $6, so I should be able to get 5-6 quarts on the shelf.

Carrots

Perfect as a side dish or adding to recipes. I can buy organic carrots in bulk and get around 9 pints for roughly $6.00.

Potatoes

This is a vegetable that I’ve been on the fence about for a number of years. I’ve heard how terrible the texture of home canned potatoes is, how mushy they get, etc. and so that never appealed to me at all. But, the idea of being able to just grab a jar, heat them up and have mashed potatoes in less than 5 minutes does. I think the key is to choose waxy types -like yukon gold, or yellow or red potatoes – instead of baking types, like russets. Mashed potatoes is the way we eat potatoes most of the time anyway and waxy potatoes are typically what I buy simply because that’s our favorite type of potato. So I’m just gonna go for it and see what happens! The guesstimation is around 13 pounds for 9 pints. That should cost me around $7.00.

Chicken and Ground Beef

(No, not together of course!) While I would love to get a couple canner loads of each done in August, it’s really going to depend on the sale cycles. There was a really good deal on organic chicken a few weeks ago, so I’m hoping that will be coming back around soon. It is usually easier to find a good deal on quality ground beef rather than chicken in my area. Even on sale, it’s going to take me about $50 to get enough of each to fill 16 pints. But since each pint holds a pound, that will be a really good value in the long run. It will decrease our dependency on using the freezer and it will retain it’s quality longer than it would in the freezer.

Dehydrating

I have several things that I can dehydrate! They’re inexpensive and won’t take much hands on time. As follows: garlic, onions, green beans, corn, mushrooms, peppers, peas and kale. Shelf stable and ready to add to so many recipes!

In Closing

Well, there’s my basic list. I feel this is completely attainable and I will be so proud of it once I’ve completed it. I’m sure I’ll be motivated and inspired to add more to the list as I get going!

I hope you’re inspired to start a pantry or add to yours over the next few months as well. There are so many delicious fruits and veggies to choose from this time of year and I can’t wait to enjoy them into the months to come. The time and effort spent adding to our food storage pantry will all be worth it down the road with the time saved and the convenience of having a well stocked inventory.

Please be sure to check out the youtube links above and if interested, follow Three Rivers Homestead on Instagram and join the #everybitcountschallenge.

~ Blessings ~

Homestead Chili Recipe

Many folks may think of chili as a dish to be enjoyed during the colder months of the year, but we eat it year round. Yes, even during the dog days of summer. It is the perfect accompaniment to a fresh summer salad and a glass of iced tea. Summer is the perfect time for making a big batch for canning or freezing since tomatoes and peppers are at their prime freshness. Like soups, spaghetti sauce and stews, chili is versatile and can be made with pantry staples that are already on hand.

I got the original recipe from the very first cookbook I purchased for myself shortly after we were married. I made it “by the book” for a number of years. As I became more confident in my cooking skills, I went rogue with the seasonings and amounts and learned just what and how much suit our tastes.

Chili is one of those dishes that never turns out the same twice, but it’s always delicious. It’s extremely forgiving and adaptable to most palettes or dietary restrictions (for example, cooked peppers cause digestive problems for my husband, so I omit them now).

The actual recipe calls for chopped chuck and hot Italian sausage. I typically just used ground beef and regular breakfast sausage. Over the years however, I’ve lightened the recipe by using a combination of ground turkey and lean ground pork or beef. You can make it using only turkey, but based on my experience, it is much better to combine with the pork or beef. The flavor is richer, but you’re still cutting down on a lot of the fat.

Making a big batch of chili was extremely economical when we were feeding two growing boys. It’s filling, packed full of protein, and tastes even better the second day. If you’re a canner, using home canned dried beans and vegetables will make this even more economical. While it is a one pot meal, there are several things that pair perfectly with chili based on the season. Rice, cornbread, rustic crusty bread, salad, or just a vegetable and fruit tray will provide a filling, frugal way to feed a crowd. I find that it freezes well, so I’m able to batch cook it to have a quick meal ready in no time.

This is my base recipe, but I taste it as I go and adjust the seasonings accordingly. Feel free to experiment with your own spices and quantities to suit your family’s tastes. If you like more, add more; if you like less, add less. If you don’t like something at all, leave it out and add flavor using something else. Also, the amounts of the beans and meats are “about” that amount. I’ve added more or less just based on what I had available.

  • 2 T Oil (I use EVOO)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 diced bell pepper (can be omitted)
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 pound ground turkey (or beef)
  • 1 pound ground sausage, your preferred choice (or ground pork)
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) stewed tomatoes
  • 1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
  • 1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
  • 1 jalapeno, diced fine (jarred is ok too; can also be omitted)
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 2 cans (16 0z) beans (kidney beans, red beans, pinto beans or a combination, undrained)
  • My combination of spices: chili powder, cumin (about 1 tablespoon of each), salt, pepper, turmeric, garlic and onion powder all to taste
  1. In a 3 quart pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook until onion is translucent and bell pepper is tender. Add meats and cook until browned. Add garlic and let cook for about 30-45 seconds.
  2. Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, jalapeno, brown sugar, and seasonings. Stir well and allow it to heat for a moment. Taste and begin adjusting seasonings to your taste. (Be sure to let it heat for a moment after each addition before tasting to avoid over seasoning.)
  3. Once it is seasoned how you want, cook on low for 45 minutes stirring occasionally. Enjoy!

This makes approximately 10 generous servings.

I hope this becomes one of your favorite family recipes!

~Blessings!~

Resources For Buying Seasonal Produce

Summer produces some of the best fruits and veggies! The variety is abundant and when you buy seasonal, it’s less expensive.

Now is the perfect time to stock up for canning, preserving, dehydrating and freezing so you can enjoy the bounty of summer all year long. Check out this seasonal produce guide for the perfect time to purchase your favorites!

Summer is also a great time to check out your local farmers market, co-op or local farm. Make it a family fun day at a local farm that allows you to pick your own produce. They often times have attractions or games to make the day more eventful!

Another way to obtain fresh produce locally is by joining a CSA. Local Harvest is a great resource to locate a CSA, farm or farmers market in your area. Now, you may not have any of these in your area locally or that would be within reasonable driving distance, but some farms actually do ship items. Definitely worth checking it out!

I hope you find these resources valuable and that you are enjoying the summer!

~Blessings!~

Love, Acceptance and Sage Wisdon

I am not a clothes horse. Never have been, and never will be.

Spending hours at a store trying on clothes is frustrating and not enjoyable at all to me. Spending the time looking through rack after rack, trying to find what I think is my size, taking two different sizes into the dressing room “just in case”, only to find that the style or cut of the piece was not made for my body. Always going back to “square one.” Ugh! Drives me bananas!

I’ve not had too much luck shopping online either. Garments just don’t fit like I thought they would. Or buying a shirt – same size, same brand – can fit or feel completely different.

It’s taken me a few years to be comfortable in my own skin and love my body. To accept that I don’t look like the women in the magazines, clothes won’t possibly fit me like they fit the store mannequin, and just because I like the way something looks, it doesn’t mean it’s suited to me to wear. But, that doesn’t mean there’s anything – at all! – wrong with ME. It just means, I’m not choosing styles that are right for my body type or that I would feel comfortable in. But once I found my “style”, it was very liberating!

Through a lot of trial and error, I now know exactly what I’m looking for when shopping. I noticed that I gravitate toward a certain cut and style of blouses. Levis are my best bet for jeans. Pants and skirts need to fit just a bit above the waist to be most flattering. I like patterned, printed or textured tops paired with neutral bottoms. Polyesters, cottons, linens or blends of these fabrics are essential. My wardrobe, while not extensive, is versatile and comfortable.

I buy a majority of my clothes from thrift stores. I love the hunt for good bargain and since there are so many different styles to choose from, I find it easier to find pieces that I’ll actually wear and that can be mixed and matched for maximum potential.

In my area, as I’m sure most areas, fitting rooms are closed due to the pandemic. But I really don’t mind that they’re closed. Not only for safety concerns, but because this fits perfectly with my clothes shopping style. I’d much rather run through fast as I can and take things home to take my time trying them on. I’ve needed just a few pieces since we’re in between seasons, so this is especially helpful since I’m in the process of creating sort of a capsule wardrobe for myself. I have the pieces here so I can look and see just how many outfits I can create rather than second guessing if they will go with something I already have when I’m at the store. That factors into the decision of keep or return – does it fit and how many outfits can I put together. I’m making purposeful, practical decisions about how to get the most out of my wardrobe for minimal money using minimal pieces. The Goodwills in my area are actually accepting returns and issuing refunds in the form of a store gift card. Which again, suits me perfectly because I shop for a lot of things at Goodwill and other thrift stores. And the pieces that don’t work for me, I can always donate to my local shelter or clothes closet.

By looking at any basic necessary material possession with gratitude, I have a deeper respect for the blessing of owning it. By taking stock of what I actually NEED instead of having more for the sake of having more, I’m again, more purposeful and practical in my decision making. I’ve found how to do so much more with so much less.

You know that old saying “a smile is the best accessory a girl can wear”? While it’s a nice sentiment, I also feel a smile can hide a whole lotta pain and insecurity. Until you truly love and accept yourself, in all your fearfully and wonderfully made self, complete with stretch marks, pimples, dimples, sags, bags, scars, crookedness, cracks and spots, clothes are nothing more than a curtain you’re hiding behind.

Stop hiding! Wear what you LOVE. Wear what makes you feel like YOU. And then you can accessorize with that beautiful smile.

~ Blessings ~

Canning Okra

Okra is one of my favorite things to grow in the garden. It’s not difficult to germinate, grows quickly and produces like crazy. Not to mention the flower of the buds are absolutely gorgeous. The bees love them!

Quite honestly, over the years, I have ended up giving most of it away to friends and family. For as much as I love to grow it, there’s only so much of it we can eat. And when your freezer space is limited, well, you have to choose your battles.

Now…

When I first came across this tutorial from one of my favorite Youtube channels, I had my reservations.

I watched the next video with a turned up nose. One of the draw backs of okra is its tendency to become excessively slimy when not cooked properly. So, I was a bit surprised when at the end of the video, it seemed to have turned out crunchy and light.

I decided to make a small batch and give it a try.

You’ll start by washing and chopping your okra into 3/4″ – 1″ pieces. Then you make a simple brine on the stovetop, fill your jars with the okra and brine and put on the lid and ring. Easy peasy. Then, you just wait for the PING!

The texture held up beautifully when cooked. It was not mushy or slimy. And I just love how it looks in the jars. So pretty!

Even if you don’t have a garden, this is a great way to add more veggies to your storage pantry. You could purchase fresh okra from the farmers market or a pick-your-own farm. As with most foods, the fresher it is, the better it will preserve.

I love the simplicity of the process. Especially during the hottest days of summer when the garden is producing at full tilt and there’s always something that needs to be processed, preserved and put by. Even though it’s a complete labor of love, it can still be exhausting. But with this easy method, I’m excited to grow even more beautiful okra plants and add to the bounty of my pantry!

~Blessings ~