Thursday, June 30, 2022

Zucchini-licous

 Yes indeed, it is zucchini time again.  Zucchini has to be the most versatile veggie on the planet!!!  I know many people who say, I don't like them.  WHAT?  Have you even tried them?  They take on the flavor on whatever you are cooking it with - so if it has no taste - you aren't mixing it up enough!!!!

When my hubs was alive, he called me the Bubba Gump of zucchini!!!  LOL.  I can fix a zucchini just about any way one can think.  I love them, and when they are producing, I eat them many times a week in some form or another.

Here we go!
You can add grated zucchini to waffles or pancakes for extra vitamins
Add grated to meatloaf or burgers
It is wonderful in spaghetti sauce.
They are great sliced and grilled

Make them into pickles and relish
Add to sweet breads and muffins
I have sliced and added to jalapeno juice in the frig and after a couple weeks they taste like jalapenos
Turn them into faux pineapple - YEP
It is actually pretty darn tasty.  CLICK on picture to enlarge to read

Dehydrate - I have made chips from them - which are a healthy snack.
Dehydrate grated zucchini for baking - 1/2 C dried zucchini = 2 C fresh.  Place dry zucchini in 1 cup of warm water for about a half hour and you are ready to go.  Good to add to soups and stews as well.
You can also dehydrate and then grind (puree/blend) into a flour.  Replace some of the flour you use in baking with zucchini flour.  Healthy and makes your flour go a bit further!

I love, love, love fried zucchini.  Like fried green tomatoes.  It is probably a summer favorite.  Right up there with BLT's!

Zoodles are yummy with spaghetti sauce or alfredo sauce.  Cut slices the length of zucchini and use in place of lasagna noodles. (I use a mandolin for that).

Another favorite are zucchini boats
You can load them with anything.  Fix like you would stuffed peppers or use pizza fixings on tops.  I make a version with cream cheese, jalapenos and cheddar cheese - that taste like poppers.  There is no limit to how you can fix these.  Bake or grill.

Cut up like you would cucumbers - and make a zucchini, tomato and onion salad topped with your favorite vinaigrette or Italian dressing.   You can add any kind of veggies you want with them.  Such a refreshing salad.

An easy appetizer or just a great lunch or side is pizza bites.  Super easy and can even be done on the grill.  Healthier too!
I have made mashed zucchini (squash) a few times as well.  Cook zucchini in chunks (peeled) and /or yellow squash in a little both until very tender.  Then mash and add a bit of parmesan  cheese.  Oh my goodness, that is tasty.

I make a zucchini skillet dinner that my mom made a lot when I was younger.  I do a couple versions.  Both are very similar, one uses fresh sliced tomatoes on top and the other just has tomatoes mixed in.
I made it this week with my first zucchini!
This made 2 good meals for me - that is a small cast iron pan.  2 sausage patties, fried and broken up.  1 small zucchini sliced.  1/2 pint of my homemade tomato sauce and a dab of salsa left in a jar.  I added 1/2 cup of uncooked rice, and a little onion.  Let it all simmer until rice is done and top with cheese.
This was G's absolute favorite way to have zucchini.
 
Love a cream of soup.  This is great in the fall using some of the zucchini you have frozen from the summer.  CLICK on pic to enlarge.

These are my favorite zucchini fritters.  CLICK on pic to enlarge

I know - I could go on and on.  Such a lovely gift God gave in this veggie.  It can 'become' just about anything at all!  
I have even made a 'mock' apple pie - using zucchini instead of apple - and none of the men in the family that ate it had a clue.  They all asked for seconds!!!

So there is today's installment of Cheryl's Ways with Zucchini 101!!!!!!
If you have any questions or wonders - feel free to ask.
Do you have any super favorite meals or items you make with summer squash?

I find it totally amazing how much good food and versatility you can get from 1 zucchini seed that is planted.  Isn't God wonderful?




Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Good Morning Sunshine!

 Hello all you lovely ladies (and guys if here)!  Nothing much to report this morning.  It is a beautiful morning - cool and sunny.  The heat is coming back and so will the humidity.  BUT at this moment it is beautiful!!  I hope your day is starting out lovely.

I have been out and fed the babies.  Windows are open and a nice breeze is coming through.  The squirrels are hilarious this morning - chasing each other like crazy.  Garden is growing, several small zucchini out there!!!!  Okra is starting to get blooms. There are hundreds of blooms on the cukes - but not a single cuke!  Everything else is pollinating, so I don't understand.
Oh well, I will get what I get, and I will love it!

I just want to say today - we all need to send out ripples of hope and joy to the world!  Positive vibes cause more positive!
That is so much better than waves of despair and stress.  Negativity begets more negativity.
Be the positive you want to see.


Take time today to stop for a moment and just SEE and LISTEN!! Look around at your house, your yard, your neighborhood.  Look at all you have and where you are.  There are so many beautiful things that surround us.  Sometimes we forget about just the simplest and most common things.

From the sound of the birds to the blue skies.  
Food for your table to family and friends.
Watching a bee flitting around pollinating to pretty little flowers.
The sound of laughter to watching wildlife.
The smell of fresh air to technology that makes parts of life easier.
A few garden plants to the living in relative peace.
ALL OF IT!

Life is good.  Say hello to a stranger.  Give a helping hand.  Be kind to others - you may be the ONLY sunshine they see today.  It could change their lives!  Never underestimate what a difference a small act can have.
Spread the positive!!!!


Have a fantastic day and be blessed in every way!

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Thoughts, Tips and Tricks

 Happy Tuesday!  It sure is a perfect morning here.  In the 60's and sunny, nice breeze - YAY!  It won't last long, as it gets warmer again tomorrow.  Hey, I am grateful for those perfect days, even though they are far between during the summer!

Today is just a bit of this and that!

Keep honey at room temperature, not in the frig.  IF it crystallizes (normal) place the container is warm (not scalding) water until the crystals dissolve.  Never use boiling water - as you will kill all the wonderful goodies in the honey.  Honey is one food item that really never goes bad.  It has been found in ancient tombs and is still viable.

Fruit - it is always something we should have on hand.  Fresh is not always available - so think about canned in natural juices or frozen.  Try and keep some types of dried fruits on hand as well.  There are so many used for it.  Add to salads for color and flavor.  Add to cereals or to muffins and breads.  Good for just plain old snack eating!


COMMON NON-TOXIC CLEANERS
Baking soda - works great as scrubs.   Helps dissolve dirt and grime, softens water, cleans drains, helps remove odors.  Shoot, you can even use to brush your teeth.
Liquid Soap - Can clean almost anything.  I love my blue Dawn!  Great for removing stains and grease
Vinegar or lemon juice - works to remove water deposits on glassware - cleans windows.  Helps remove tarnish and rust stains.  Great for a fabric softener.  Lemon juice can be used for help with whitening or to remove stains.
Club soda - Is good for cleaning glass surfaces.  Helps chrome shine.  A great stain remover on clothes on rugs and furniture
Peroxide - makes a great whitening agent (I use instead of bleach).  Is great to have on hand for minor abrasions, cuts, or bites.  I also mix with water and use as a mouth rinse for cold sores or a sore throat (never swallow).

BE MINDFUL
Fix leaks at faucets - it is costing you money and wasting water
Turn off lights when not needed
Buy products with minimal or no packaging that must be thrown away
Use those re-usable grocery bags - no waste or trash
Buy local and from local vendors/famers when possible
Use and buy natural, non-toxic products whenever possible

MEASUREMENTS
14 crackers = about 1/2 cup finely crushed
Spaghetti - 8 oz. uncooked = about 4 cups cooked
Rice, quick cooking 1 cup uncooked = 2 cups cooked
Rice, long grained - 1 cup = about 3 cups cooked
Macaroni - 1 cup (3 1/2 oz.) uncooked = about 2 1/2 cups cooked
Cottage cheese, 1 lb. = about 2 cups
Shredded cheese - 4 oz. = 1 cup
Cream cheese - 8 oz. = 16 Tablespoons
Cream, whipping - 1 cup = 2 cups, whipped

Don't disregard old publications and cookbooks.  They have many, many great ideas and tips.  Many times you can get a bag of these at thrift stores or yard sales for pennies.  The ones in picture, were my moms, from the 50's and 60's.  There are a lot of older ideas that work wonderfully - so many people have forgotten a lot of the older ways - they can be the best.  They may be older - but the become new again, when you start using and sharing the tips within!!!!!
***************************

Goals are dreams and wishes that could come true!   Never stop having and setting goals - no matter what you age.

IF you want to be an effective manager of your life and finances - know where you are headed.  Know how you intend to get there.  And have a goal of when you might get there. 
We need to have plans when it comes to finances.  So many people just fly through life and have no goals - it always amazes me that they CAN survive.  Be mindful of you spending, your bills and your savings.  Plan ahead and hopefully, your future will be bright.  You should be able to get by in an emergency (emergency funds) and you should be able to live a little more comfortably.
ALWAYS be a good steward of what you have - money and things.

PLEASE remember - if you see your investments and gains are going down due to the stock market - DO NOT PANIC!  You DO lose when you withdraw funds.  If you make haste and start withdrawing funds (remember the great bank crash) - yes, you lose money.  If at all possible - leave things alone and wait for the market to rebound.  I have 'lost' and gained dozens and dozens of times.  Just DON'T panic!

The world today is somewhat chaotic.  Don't jump onboard with all the craziness.  Stay calm and keep going forward.  Slow and steady!!!!!   Sure, you can plan for the worst - but always hope for the best.  Keep saving and filling your pantries - for those days that may be harder than today.  Watch you purchases and try to get the best deals you can.  Save for emergencies and for the future.
Keep your hearts and minds kind and grateful.  Be spiritual in the best way you can - each person sees spiritual awareness differently.

Keep learning and growing.
LOVE one another!

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Weekly Wrap-Up 6/26

 Happy Sunday all.  My goodness, here we are at the end of another month!  How does that happen so quickly???  LOL
In a few short days the year will be officially half-way over!

We had a few days of a little cooler weather - cooler than mid 90's! I got to have the AC off for a good while for 2 or 3 days.  This next week is to be a little cooler as well and not so humid.  We did get a few showers overnight (not much to speak of), but at this point we will take it.  First showers in about 2 weeks.   Gee - we had so much rain earlier in the year and now none.

The grass is going dormant - so no mowing needed for now.  My allergies are raging!  Sneezing and itchy eyes are daily.
All my flowers are starting to bloom again.  Not only all the lilies, but I have phlox, coreopsis and echinacea all starting to bloom as well.
It has been pretty quiet around here this week.  I have not had a lot of oomph this week for some reason.  Did some stuff - but took a few naps as well!

My week:
  • As you can see I picked bouquets - 2X
  • Been using water from rain barrels and have had to use the soaker as well
  • I picked my first zucchini!!!!  My first real harvest WOOHOO
                                                         Laying on a legal-size envelope!
  • I have been having trouble with the cable box in bedroom - figured I was going to have to replace.  It has been slow and disruptive for a while and the other night it froze.  In desperation I cut off the electrical to it - and rebooted the entire thing.  Works perfectly now.
  • Got to have windows open some
  • I raked!!!!!  Yeppers.  It is that time of the year that the leaves start to fall from the tulip polar.  UGH - such a pain in the middle of summer.
  • Been going through more stuff around the house and trying to de-clutter.  I came across a very small hand-held video recorder that I bought years ago.  Forgot all about it.  Been working with it - and I think I have figured it out.  MAYBE a video for blog now and then!!  (think kitties or birds, squirrels)
  • Just cleaning in general
  • I started cutting pieces for a baby boy blankie for a new one on the way
  • Using what I have and using all leftovers in new ways
  • I did make a run to Kroger.  Got milk 1.27/half gal. (2), 2 lb. strawberries for 2.49, a (yummy) cantaloupe for 2.99, got stock of trash bags and sweetener to last for about a year and of course more cat food
Meals this past week:
Chili/cheese dip over pasta
Dirty rice/summer sausage and lima beans
Burritos (using leftover dirty rice)
Charcuterie board of goodies
Meatloaf burgers (used leftover dirty rice in them)
Fish and fries
Cheeseburger rice skillet
SNACKS - fruit

                                         My version of charcuterie - served with crackers & dip
Jalapeno summer sausage, cheese slices, radish, peppers, tomatoes, olives and pickles all with crackers

How was your week?  Did you get much accomplished?  OR were you out of oomph like me!!?
How are your gardens growing?  Any deals?
I hope you are all well and healthy.  

Prayers that you have a fantastic and accomplished week ahead.  Stay cool!  
Blessings from my humble little home to you and yours!


Lord, we graciously ask that You help us through our storms and trials in life.  We place our trust and faith that You are with us every moment of every day, and that no matter what we face You will be with us. Amen

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.....
Ecclesiastes 3:1

Thursday, June 23, 2022

We CAN All be More Self-Sufficient

 Yes, we can!  I know - I hear all the same excuses all the time.  I live in the city.  I live in an apartment.  I don't have a yard.  I can't garden.  Those things may all be true - but it doesn't mean that you can't be more self-sufficient.  You don't need to have a cow or a goat.  You don't have to have a farm.  You don't even have to can.  It can be a lot of little things that gives you some freedoms from relying on the system.


LEARN THINGS
Learn how to cook from scratch and using natural ingredients
Learn to sew (some) - at least enough to mend or hand sew
Lew to make your own mixes for things - instead of buying packaged
Learn to do general home maintenance
Learn how to look after your vehicle - check oil and fluids, air pressure, etc.

Plant something!!!!  You don't have to have a big garden.  Learn to plant things in pots - lettuce, a tomato or pepper plant, herbs, etc.

Preserve something!  You don't have to can if you have no desire.  You can dehydrate things or you can freeze items.  Put as many fresh items as possible back for later in the year.

STOCK
Stock those pantries and those freezers.  This is very important, especially today.  Prices continue to rise and shortages continue to happen.  Get what you can as cheaply as you can - and be stocked for the future or harder times.  You must take care of yourself and your family!!!!

Conserve as much as possible.  Use less water, less electricity, less power of all sorts.  It saves you money and it saves the environment.

RE-USE, RECYCLE
Re-use and recycle everything you possibly can.  Old worn clothes can become rags or use in quilts.
Decent clothes can be remade into new clothes
Old towels - cut into wash cloths or use as rags
AN old comforter can be used as the 'batting' for a handmade quilt.  It can also be used for warmth.  No matter how it looks - it may help keep you warm at some point!!!!!  (I never get rid of bedding)
Leftovers - make something new or use for lunches
Old pallets - use the wood for planters or other craft projects.
See where I am going?  You can find ways to re-use or recycle all kinds of things.  It keeps things out of the landfill and it saves a lot of money.



EMERGENCY FUND
Please try and have an emergency fund!!!!  Just because!   You never know.  I not only advise have an emergency fund at the bank - but I advise having CASH on hand at home.  You may need cash in an emergency situation.  ALWAYS keep some cash on hand.  Hide it in a place no one would look (don't forget where!) and just be prepared.

Learn to barter and to forage.  I know people who say they can't do that either because of where they live.  You CAN!  Maybe you can bake something for someone for something you need.  You can mow for someone for an oil change.  Share a lawnmower or yard equipment.
Know your 'weeds'.  Many are very edible.  Look for fruit or nut trees on empty lots.  You can even trash pick (shop).  Many people throw away perfectly good items - you may just need that item!

There are just so many things you can do to be self-efficient.  Each thing counts.  The more you can do for yourself, the better off you will be.

Here is an easy recipe to try - no need to have beer.  You can use soda pop or carbonated water.  It doesn't get much easier than that - and you have no need to make a special store run for bread.  Make it and enjoy it.

Let's get ourselves in a good spot.  The less we need to depend on others the better off we will be.  Someday it may be necessary!  Start preparing now and learning.
We got this!!!!

Have a great day!

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Savings at the Grocery Store

 We all still need the stores to get many things we use.  Inflation has caused increased prices on a lot of things, and we need to be mindful of what we spend and how we use items.  Just a few ideas of ways to save a little here and there.  I know many are reminders - maybe a new idea or two.


*Don't be in a hurry when shopping - look around and find the deals
*Don't go shopping when hungry!!!!!  Very important
*Be willing to try store brands and other different brands.  Many store brands are made in the same factories as brand names!
*Make a LIST - take it with you!!!!!!
* Pick-up the refrigerated items and frozen LAST when shopping.  
* Take a cooler or insulated bag for your cold items.  The colder you can keep them until you get home, the better.  No need to let things get warm
*Watch the register as items are being rang up.  IF you can't do that - check your receipt before leaving the store.  Make sure your coupons and discounts were recorded and you weren't over charged.
*Remember most canned good veggies and fruits are processed at their peak and immediately packed.  You can get no or low salt if desired.  Most veggies are just veggie and water.  Canned goods have a great shelf life
*Also remember most frozen veggies and fruits are flash frozen right after harvest and are pretty darn fresh.  IF you can't get fresh - this is a great substitute.
* When you find a great sale - stock up with as much as possible.  Many sales happen every 6 - 9 weeks.  Get AT LEAST enough to last for that period of time
*Remember to check ethnic markets.  You can get so many items much cheaper at them
*Keep lots of seasonings on hand - you can season up and make tasty even the blandest of food
*Buy cheaper cuts of meat (a challenge today) and use in a slow cooker with seasonings - even the cheapest cuts can be made tasty and tender
*Check the clearance aisle - Many items can be had for much less than the main aisles - same stuff.  Check day old breads/bakery, mark-down meats, produce, and always be on the lookout for "Manager's Special" signs on cheaper prices
*Choose carefully - if buying convenience foods!  THINK - is it worth much higher dollars spent to buy it.  Cut your own, chop your own, buy whole - do it YOURSELF and save!
*Plan at least one meatless meal a week
*Bigger isn't always better!  Check UNIT PRICES - just buying the biggest package doesn't guarantee you get the best price.
*Learn to make your own snacks - that is just empty calories that you are spending money on
*Buying in BULK - isn't just for big families today.  Buy things you use a lot in bulk and repackage at home.  Store or freeze and you save dollars in the future.  Maybe even check with family or friends and split.
*Know how to substitute ingredients in case you can't find what you want - have a little fun with it!
*SHOP YOUR PANTRY and FREEZER FIRST!!!!!!! ALWAYS
*ALWAYS PLAN YOUR TRIPS - gas is expensive.  Make your trip worthwhile.  Do as many errands as possible in one trip!


YES, inflation has hit.  YES, things are more expensive.  But we are still eating and still going and still hanging in there.  We may have to re-think some things, and do some things differently - but that is OK.  Different isn't necessarily bad.  It can be a learning experience - and it is more fun when you look at it that way.
We are beyond blessed.  NEVER forget that.

Do you have any special tricks or tips that you would like to share?  
We all need to do what we can to be good stewards of our funds and our food.

SHOP WITH PURPOSE!

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Green Things and "Grow"ceries

 Happy Summer!!!!  It is official in the northern hemisphere.  Coming in hot here today.  Still feels pretty decent out so far this AM, but it will be getting hot later on.

So today I am wondering, when was the last time you thanked a green plant?  LOL
Plants are so much more than just plants.  They give us shade, they give us beauty, they give us food, and they give nature shelter.
We all know they help put oxygen back into the atmosphere.  They turn carbon dioxide into oxygen.
They help control erosion.
They help control temperature.  Walk in the woods and it is cooler.  Shade your home and it is cooler.
They help build topsoil.  As they die and rot, they turn back into earth - which in turn makes it better for plants.
They make people happier when looking at them.  Yes, looking at plants and vegetation tends to lift our moods.
There are so many things we just don't give plants credit for.  They do so much good for the earth.
So they next time you walk outside and look around at all the pretty plants - say "thank you".

"Grow"ceries - is what I am now calling garden!!!!!!  Oh, things are sure popping up and out.  I love it.  How wonderful is it to be able to walk out in your yard or to your deck and pick fresh, nutritious and lovely "grow"ceries!!!!!!!  It is fantastic.
There is nothing you can buy at a grocery store that can compare.  Yes, we can buy fresh and nutritious from farm markets and roadside stands - but it still won't be as fresh as your backyard!!!

The grapes are hanging thick!  The entire arbor looks like this.  Hopefully this dry weather will not hurt them.  I will be doing a couple of water soakings here soon.
Opal (purple) basil.  I have already started cutting and drying this.  It comes back every year and spreads.  Super flavorful.
Cherry tomatoes are setting!  I have all the plants blossoming and getting little fruit. 
I looked this morning and there is a zucchini about 3" long!!!!!  Tons of blooms.  The cucumbers are growing and blooming like crazy.
Rhubarb is doing great.  Raspberries - meh, they never do very good.  They always look like they will - then I get disappointed.
I have thyme growing.  There is purslane - yes, I do use it.  Many think it is a weed, and I guess it is.  But it is great when added to salads.  Kind of a peppery taste.
I have mint, lemon balm and chives - oh my!
Pepper plants have peppers and the okra is growing leaps and bounds.
Yep, lots of "grow"ceries in the near future.

Even the pretty flowers are useful.  This is what I call mallow - and it is perennial and spreads.  I have tons coming up (many call it a weed).  I love the pretty little flowers.  It can be used in many ways.  There are medicinal uses and it can just be eaten.  Nothing about it is poison.
The flowers and young leaves can be added to salads.  You can also cook the leaves and you get the same "thickening" with it that you get with okra - so it would be a nice thickening agent for soups or stews.
Pretty and tasty.  That is pretty neat!

Nature can sure be a wonderful thing.  I tell you, if I got SUPER hungry - I have tons of pigeons in the area as well.  No plans on that - and I would have to be real hungry - but there is always something out there to feed us.  I could never harm a squirrel - I know many love it - but they are more like pets to me.  But squab would be  plentiful!!!!!!!!  LOL
I know many of the critters being relocated in the yards would be a food source to many.  People have been known to eat about anything that can provide protein.
I guess we just never know what we would do, if very, very hungry.

For now, I will be happy with the garden and herbs.  I can't wait to be able to go out an pick and come in and eat the labors of love and all that freshness.  I am hoping to plant a fall crop of lettuce - it is just too hot right now.
How do your "grow"ceries grow????
Love hearing about what everyone is growing and harvesting.