Menu Plan Monday

Inspired by Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I decided that I would try to preserve some of our favorite seasonal veggies to enjoy next winter. The whole canning process terrifies me, but I discovered that for those who have the freezer space, freezing vegetables is fairly painless. Well, compared to canning anyway.

So.  Armed with instructions from my friend Kellyn, I spent yesterday afternoon peeling, seeding, and bagging up fresh tomatoes to use for sauces and stews come winter. I have a few pounds of green beans I’m going to try to do today. Next year we hope to have a vegetable garden, and I expect to be “putting up” a lot of produce for winter, so I thought I should get my feet wet this year, while I don’t have the extra responsibilities of gardening to go along with it.

I spent the rest of the weekend indoors, reading and working and trying to avoid the oppressive heat and humidity that’s been smothering the East coast. Actually, that’s not entirely accurate. I attended two very fun events this weekend, so I wasn’t a total hermit.

Fortunately a storm blew through yesterday and cooled it down a bit. Today is supposed to be gorgeous, and it looks like most of the week will be less hot and humid. So with that in mind, here’s my menu plan for this week. (Lots of grilling and fresh veggies. Yahoo!)

MONDAY: Ina-Burgers on the grill, sliced tomatoes w/ olive oil and salt, fresh green beans lightly steamed

TUESDAY: Onion Quiche, rainbow chard (for me!), peas in cream (for the kids; they love ’em)

WEDNESDAY: Tuscan Lemon Chicken, corn on the cob, fresh green veggie (whatever looks good at the farm stand)

THURSDAY: Tomato, Basil, and Mozzarella Salad (I really, REALLY want to make my own mozzarella. There are directions in AVM, but I’m a bit intimated by the prospect, even though she swears it’s easy-peasy.) And probably some corn on the cob.  We can always have some of that leftover chicken if the salad doesn’t fill us up.

FRIDAY: Friday Night Pizza with caramelized onions, fresh tomatoes, and mozzarella slices (and a traditional cheese pizza for the kiddos).  I might try grilling the crust, per Kathleen Flinn’s book that I read over the weekend. I can’t find the recipe online.  🙁

SATURDAY:  Leftovers

Drooling yet?  I am!

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22 Responses

  1. When I was growing up, my mom did a lot of canning. It is a lot of work, but if you have a local friend who can be there to give you tips, hopefully you won’t find it as intimidating. And yes, freezing is easier and you can do smaller batches. Good luck!!

  2. I’m working on it, too. So far this year I have put up 2 gallons of sliced peaches, a gallon of peach salsa, 3 quarts of banana pepper rings, and only lost 3 pints (still annoyed me) due to error on my part.
    I am also experimenting with pickling food this year. My friend Heidi gave me a ton of banana peppers, so I pickled them out of desperation. I had no idea what else to do with them.

    Last year I slow roasted some tomatoes and froze them, they are FABULOUS. If it’s ok to be gauche and self-promote here’s the link: https://www.home-ec101.com/slow-roasted-tomatoes-saving-summers-bounty/ (if it’s not ok, just delete it 😉 )

  3. I’ve been canning, both water bath and pressure, for at least ten years, probably lots more. Water bath canning isn’t too difficult, though I sometimes wonder if people are more intimidated by making the product, like jam or jelly, than actually canning the product. Pressure canning isn’t hard. I usually freeze my plum tomatoes which releases the water when I defrost them, then I cook/heat them on the stove, and then pop them in the pressure canner for ten minutes.

    Another great way to preserve veggies is by dehydrating. When our cherry and grape tomato plants were producing huge quantities, I dehydrated them and we’ll use them in pasta salads in the winter. I’ve also dehydrated mushrooms, herbs, bananas, peaches, and apples. This week I’m going to try making zucchini chips with the boatload of zucchini that I just picked.

    Rodale has a great book on preserving the harvest (I forget the title) that has information on preparing food for freezing. I usually steam my veggies because it uses less water, and often is faster than blanching.

  4. I am trying my hand at freezing most of my CSA crop this year too. Most of it gets eaten though (which is good…right?)
    On another note – we make those Ina Burgers… to die for!!


  5. Heavenly Homemakers did a photo tutorial on making mozzarella. I’m not saying I would do it any time soon, but you might try it! I love fresh mozzarella.

    I just bought 12 lbs. of rare-breed, free-range pork that I’m eager to dig into! Do you all do pork at all?

    1. Sometimes I buy pork tenderloin at Trader Joes. I’m sure it’s not from free roaming pigs, but I hope it’s less full of antibiotics and hormones than most. The couple times I bought pastured pork, it was so fatty that it turned me off. I know that it’s b/c the stuff in the stores is genetically engineered, and I know how bad that is, but when I get a hankering, it’s the lean stuff that I’m hankering after. 🙂

      Where did you get your pork?? Let me know how it is.

  6. Growing up, my parents had a one-acre garden! I helped when I was little, but not so much when I could have actually learned a thing or two!! If my Mom wasn’t shooing us away, I was turning my nose up and staying away from the incredibly hot kitchen. Oh how I wish I wasn’t such a sassy pre-teen/teenager and learned to plant, care for, can and freeze veggies!!!!! Last summer, she had knee surgery, this summer I’m extremely pregnant, but NEXT summer I’m having her bring her goodies and teach me everything!!!! I may just freeze some of those roasted tomatoes this week, though!!! Thanks for the link! I love Ina Burgers. If you can find focaccia rolls they make the burgers even more heavenly!

  7. You have to let me know how it all went! I did a ton of green beans yesterday, probably enough to last til spring…if my kids don’t find them first. lol

  8. I put up 18 bags of peas last weekend. My uncle had a huge garden this year and I got them from him. I wanted corn, but the drought here took it all. Next year I’m going to do tomatoes. My mom assures me that it is super easy.

    I’ve seen make your own cheese kits on Etsy. That might be easier and I bet you could get the kids involved.

  9. Canning is easy. I was a little intimidated too but got over it quickly. Check my site, I’ve done several posts recently on canning, both water bath and pressure.

    I also made mozzerella for the first time a few weeks back. It was easy enough, but I think it takes a few times to really get the technique down. I’ll be trying again soon. My first batch was edible and good, but not very pretty!

  10. I’m so darn lucky to have grown up helping my mom with canning every summer. Jams, jellies, syrups, green beans, brown beans, pickles, sauces, applesauce (my favorite, NOTHING like store bought). The process isn’t so daunting to me, except for using a pressure canner. That gets a little scary. I stick to things that just need a water bath in a stock pot. Time consuming, but super straight forward. I hope to be canning some applesauce soon using yellow transparent apples (they make amazing applesauce).

    And living in an apartment with next to no freezer, canning comes in handy. 🙂

  11. You are making my mouth water! I want to come join your dinners every day! I’ve been sick this week, and all that sounds good to me is fresh fruit and veggies. Yummy!

  12. I love grilling pizza. I divided the dough into individual size pizza’s and grill it that way. I brush olive oil on one side of the dough and put it on the grill oiled side down, and when the top gets bubbly, I check the dough, and grill until brown. It does need “baby sitted” or they burn, and I grill them on low heat with the lid open. Then I bring them inside and add the toppings (to the grilled side), and return to the grill for a few minutes to heat them through and brown the other side. The pizza is so yummy!

  13. I love your new ‘look.’

    I did some water-bath canning this year of tomatoes and salsa and it was easier than I thought. It did take some time – the husband and I spent a couple of Friday nights canning (yes, apparently we are thirtysomething going on sixty). I am a little intimidated by pressure-canning and all my food science classes have me leery of C. bot in low-acid home canned foods. I think freezing them is a better way to go anyway, because it keeps more of the texture and nutrients.

    I’ve also used my new dehydrator with tomatoes, figs and eggplant from our farmshare and it works great.

  14. This is roughly where I am on the canning front as well. So far everything I have done has gone into the freezer including jams, fruits, and veggies. But now I’m out of room in the freezer! I have everything i need for the canning – supplies, tools, tons of jars – I guess I still just lack the courage:)

  15. Jo-Lynne,

    First – LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your blog. So glad to see all your great info and ideas on whole foods, family, etc. – especially from a sweet mommy who loves the Lord! Your site is just the resource I’ve been looking for.

    On the tomatoes – you probably know this, but you can also choose to freeze your tomatoes whole without the peeling and de-seeding steps. I flash-freeze them on a cookie sheet and then pop them into zip-lock bags. There’s no need to blanch beforehand. When you’re ready to use them, the skins fall off easily by running them under warm water. As far as de-seeding, I’ll admit to sheer laziness and the fact that I don’t mind the seeds in most of my recipes that call for tomatoes.

    Also, can’t wait to hear how your gardening goes next spring – we’re planning our first one ever for next year with our kids here in central NJ. I’m just glad I have my local CSA as a back up plan!

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