Saturday, August 5, 2017

Food

There's been a lot of information lately on how much food we Americans waste.
I just saw a sign in the grocery store that said that 40% of the food we buy is wasted.
That's a lot of waste.
The sign said: use it, store it, share it, just don't waste it.
I've been thinking about it a lot for some reason.  I've never liked wasting food: throwing away leftovers that nobody ate, throwing away produce that went bad in my refrigerator.

I'm trying to do my part to not waste food and I've stepped up my efforts in the last few years so I thought I'd share a few of the things that I do.

Freezing
I know that not everyone has the freezer space to freeze a bunch of extra stuff but most of these ideas don't take a lot of extra space.  And as long as you remember what you are storing, it's easy to regularly use these saved items.

tomato paste-it seems like most of my recipes call for about 2 Tablespoons of tomato paste and then the rest of that little can is just wasted.  So I put the rest of the can into an ice cube tray and freeze them.  After they are frozen, I transfer the little cubes (1 Tb per cube) into a smaller baggie. Those little cubes are easy to throw into the next recipe.


Chicken broth etc.-I often have recipes that use some, but not all, of the broth in one of those cartons. I usually put it in the refrigerator for a bit in case I need it in another recipe but after a day or two I transfer the broth into some silicone cupcake holders that I have.  I freeze these and once they are frozen, I transfer the 1/2 cup amounts into a gallon size baggie.  These keep for a long time and are easy to throw into any recipe.  This same thing can be done for tomato sauce, buttermilk, regular milk and pretty much any liquid that you use in recipes.  I love it for buttermilk, which never gets used up in a recipe but is oh-so-handy to have in the house.

Produce-I have even taken to freezing produce if it's starting to go bad.  Many different kinds of produce can be used in soups or stews after freezing. Carrots, potatoes, turnips, spinach, onions and more.
I also freeze the seemingly useless parts of my produce: the peels of the carrots, the ends and outside of the onions etc. and I put them all together in a baggie for use in making my own broth.  I keep bones from roasts or steaks and the carcasses of chickens or turkey and freeze them as well and then I combine the bones and the produce and make broth.  Obviously I only use one type of bone in the broth...so I either make chicken broth or beef broth, I don't combine them.  The broth can then be canned for further use (must have a pressure canner).
If produce is starting to look a bit rough, make a recipe into which you can throw it! Stew, soup and meatloaf are a few great places to hide a variety of produce.

Zucchini is a problem, not gonna lie.  Anyone who has ever grown a zucchini plant knows that they are prolific.  There's a joke that goes something like this: Always lock your car when you go to church in Utah or you might find that someone has put a zucchini in your car while you weren't looking.  They are just everywhere.  And, honestly, I don't care for zucchini.  Frank loves fried zucchini and he will make it on occasion.  I like zucchini bread but don't make it that often plus it feels like I'm taking something healthy and making it unhealthy!  I do put zucchini in soups and stews.  Anyway, over the years I have dealt with it mostly by shredding it and freezing it so that I can use it to make bread in the winter months.  Having said that, I now have a plant producing one to two zucchini a day and I still have a bunch from last year in my freezer since I only made bread a couple of times.  I have also made zucchini bread or muffins in big batches and frozen the extra which works well...you just have to remember it's there so it doesn't get freezer burn before you eat it.  Zucchini bread is one area where the "share it" portion of not wasting comes into play.  Most people are happy to receive a loaf of zucchini bread but not necessarily a fresh zucchini.



Canning
Anyone who follows my blog knows that I can every year.
I actually really like canning, even though I don't enjoy cooking in general.
There's just something about canning food for use later that makes me feel so... I don't know...self sufficient!

I buy way too many peaches every year because I love love love fresh peaches.  I can some of them and freeze some of them for my enjoyment later.  Home canned peaches are way better than canned peaches from the store.  And frozen peaches are a tasty treat anytime of the year!

I also can lots of tomato products each year because of Frank's garden.  I've made a variety of different types of foods. Diced tomatoes, stewed tomatoes, spaghetti sauce (very yummy), tomato basil soup,  as well as my attempt at sloppy joe sauce. We like Manwich around here for our sloppy joes and I admit that my home made version isn't quite the same, so we usually combine one of mine with one store bought and it tastes really good.

So those are some of my ideas for lowering the food waste in my household!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Out of Control

Frank's garden is out of control, but in a good way!
Cutting down those trees really did cause the garden to grow quickly and noticeably.

Check it out:




Perhaps it is hard to tell but everything is HUGE.
The Zucchini, corn, tomatoes, beans and peas are all taller than me by a lot.


Here's a view from behind showing the tomato plants and peas with Roma tomatoes and beans in the background.


A bunch of tomatoes are on the plants and quite a few will be ready to pick tomorrow
(really they were ready today but I wasn't up for it)


The corn is amazing.
Huge ears and soo delicious!


^^Look at that beautiful corn!^^


The zucchini plant continues to give us 1-3 PER DAY.
Holy smokes that is too much zucchini.
Zucchini plants always get big but this one is just enormous.


Here are my beautiful strawberry plants working hard and spreading out.
Frank planted new plants that are ever-bearing and give bigger berries.
The plants have to do a lot of growing before they will produce enough to be impressive but Frank currently picks 1-2 berries per day and saves them for me.


They are really sweet and quite big.

It's amazing to see what Frank does in the garden!  He really has a green thumb.
I had better find some good zucchini recipes soon.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Just a little whining

I keep wanting to post about how I survived my first week of work but then I realize that the week IS NOT OVER.
I wanted to do it yesterday...Tuesday.  yeah.
I thought about it again today.  Surely the week is almost over, isn't it?
Uh, that would be a big no.

It's not that work has been hard.
It hasn't.
As a matter of fact the people all seem very nice and the training has been fun and easy so far.
(I'm quite sure the actual work will be less easy at least in the beginning once we start doing that...very soon)

It's just that I haven't spent this many hours outside of my house in a very long time.

I leave by 7:30 most days.
Today happened to be a monthly meeting that starts at 7:00 so I had to leave the house by 6:30 and I had terrible insomnia last night so that was awesome.
I get home around 5:30.

Today Frank asked if I was ready for a big bunch of tomatoes to come out of the garden, because they are ripe.
Was I ready to can?  Make tomato sauce?
Not gonna lie, that sounds exhausting.
But delicious.

And I have to figure out a way to get these men-folk to clean up the kitchen for Pete's sake!
Why is the counter covered in dishes all the time?

So many women work full time and have to deal with kids and the house etc.
Kudos to you gals because I. am. tired. so you must be exhausted!
As a matter of fact I work with a gal who is a single mom of 3.
Oy.

Ok, that's all I've got in the whining department for today.


Monday, July 31, 2017

Something to be thankful for: July 2017

July 1- Our first ever Stadium of Fire show.  It was a great show and a fun time.  Amazing fireworks.
July 2- My niece Hannah visited for the weekend with her fiancĂ© Stephen.  It was so fun to have them!
July 3- Frank and I did an amazing amount of yard work today.  It was HOT and exhausting but the yard looks great and we got a lot done.  I'm thankful that we are able to do things like this.  We are healthy and have the ability to work.
July 4- Well, obviously, I'm thankful to live in this free country!  I'm thankful for the patriotism instilled in me by my life as an Air Force brat.
July 5- I'm thankful for our new raspberry bushes and for the fact that Frank will be the one to plant them.
July 6-Today I'm thankful for Cynthia, my hairstylist.  I am once again gray-free, if only temporarily.
July 7-I had another nice day working in the temple. I really enjoy my service there.
July 8-I went to garage sales this morning which is always fun!  I found a table that I don't need but bought anyway.  How can I pass up $10? We also got the freeze dryer up and running again (it's been too hot!) so that's a good thing though it means more time in the kitchen for me.
July 9-I enjoy a relaxing Sunday.
July 10- I've started walking with a few neighborhood girls.  And though I am not exactly changing my ways and losing tons of weight yet, I do enjoy the walks and I'm sure it's good for me!
July 11-We had book club at my house!  I've been resisting being the one to host because my house often has projects going on and is torn apart...I also feel pressure to make a cute/delicious/industrious refreshment.  But I honestly didn't stress about it and it went just fine.
I also enjoyed the book: The Storied Life of AJ Fikry.
July 12-I had to drive to North Salt Lake today and I did so safely.  Lots of traffic but I took the opportunity to enjoy some podcasts as well as some good music.  I actually enjoyed it!
July 13- Wow, I've had a super lazy day.  I woke up at 4 a.m. so I've been tired and not feeling super great and I definitely took advantage.  I did go to lunch with Mom and Dad though so that was fun! My hope is that I can continue to be lazy for the rest of the day, then it will be a perfect day. :-D
July 14- Nothing like some good old family time to make me happy!  We had the "pasta pig out" tonight in preparation for the Larson Cup Triathlon.  All of my mom's living siblings were there and they each told stories about Grandpa Larson.  I felt such a love for my amazing family tonight.
July 15- Larson Cup!  I didn't participate this year, it's been a rough year for me physically, but I went and cheered and loved every minute!
July 16- Frank gave a really great talk about fasting for his High Council assignment.  Carter and I went to hear it and it was great!
July 17- I had my first job interview since I started looking for full time work. I feel like it's hard to show that I can do these jobs (and I know I would do great at ANY of them).  The interview went well but the job sounded awful.  I hope I get other options! ha!  Anyway, I'm thankful the first interview is over and went well!
July 18- Drove safely to Rexburg to be with Frank's sister's family.
July 19- I got to go through the temple with Hannah this morning. Her parents, sister Emily and her fiancĂ© Stephen were all there.  I love being with family and I love being with family in the temple. I got a phone call as I drove home and got a job offer.  So I am starting my new, full-time job in a week or so. Yay and also yikes!
July 20- Today was a relaxing day just puttering around the house getting ready for house guests.  I enjoy a day of just normal housework these days...vacuuming, dusting, changing sheets. My parents brought lunch to me.  What a nice day.
July 21- The family is here and wedding prep is underway!  I'm having fun with Frank's sister and her family here. Helped make my first ever bridal bouquet.
July 22-We got to attend the wedding of Hannah and Stephen today and it was lovely!  Nothing like family together in the temple to make you feel happy.
July 23- fresh raspberry crisp. Yeah baby.
July 24- It's pioneer day here in Utah, a state holiday.  And having not lived here for long I will admit that Frank and I just aren't that into it.  Plus we just aren't really parade people which is one way that this holiday is celebrated (along with fireworks which we are also only so-so about).  But I am grateful for the pioneers, including the pioneers in my own family, who braved many hardships to come to Utah and gain their safety and freedom from oppression.
July 25-I got to visit one of my friends from Seagull today and meet her adorable baby. It was such a nice addition to my day today.
July 26- My last day working at Seagull.  I have enjoyed it there (despite the foot pain it caused) and the people I met while there.
July 27- Had a super fun day in Salt Lake with Mom and Dad. I'm grateful for this time with them!
July 28- Today was my last day volunteering in the temple.  I sure love those people there.
July 29- Woke up with severe vertigo.  I am so grateful for the good medical care I can receive.
July 30- I was able to visit my parents today and Frank and Carter gave my Dad a blessing.  I'm so grateful to live nearby.
July 31- I survived the first day at my new job.  It seems like I will like the coworkers that I met today!





Thursday, July 27, 2017

She's cracking me up!

My Dad does a good job taking care of my mom.
They they go walking every morning, they eat right and they go on outings for entertainment just about everyday. They stay busy.
One thing my Dad is always doing is reading and trying to learn better ways to stay healthy...for both of them.
And so, my Dad will quite often change their diets based on whatever he has read recently.
Honestly, my parents have always eaten pretty well.  They love steamed veggies for dinner, they eat steel cut oats with fruit for breakfast, you get what I'm saying, right?

One of the problems is that my mom might not remember that he has changed something or why he has done it.  And so he does a lot of explaining as to why she can't eat one thing or another.  But he does all of the cooking and most of the ordering when they are out so it's pretty easy overall to keep her on track with whatever diet he wants her to try.  And she is generally on board.

His latest read is about how to avoid and/or cure Alzheimers and dementia.  This is always a goal of his given his circumstances with my mom.  Anyway, this book says, among other things, to cut out all sugar for a period of time (I think it's 3 months) including fruit.  They are only on day 3 of this new change so they are still in the phase of wanting sugar and having to use willpower to resist.  Supposedly this will change but I have never made it long enough in the "no sugar" situation in my own life to know if it's true.

Now, my mom has dementia and she is a very different person now than she once was.  I often miss my old mom...the one with the amazing intellect and the great sense of humor.  But every now and then we get a little glimpse of her and it is wonderful.

Today at my house before we left for lunch Dad was explaining their new diet and mom just pipes in:
"We can't eat fruit, we can't eat bread, we can't eat sugar.  If you find us dead, you will know why!"
Oh man, that made me laugh.

Then we went to lunch and the waitress set down a basket of rolls.  My mom automatically reached for it (because, rolls!) and my Dad says, "No, remember we can't have those".
My mom had the best reaction with a shocked face and then she laid her head on the table in despair.  Oh man, I understand that reaction. And it was really very much a moment where I saw my old mom again.  As I laughed over her reaction I said,"I wish I had gotten a picture of her reaction just then!" so I pulled out my camera, just in case.

Here is the conversation between Mom and Dad after that:

Mom: Can I have just a half?
Dad: No
Mom: How about just a bite?
Dad: No, we can't have any remember?  It will just make us want sugar more.
Mom: I don't think one bite will hurt.
Dad: It will.  Remember this will help our memory!
Mom: This will help my memory? My memory is good.
Dad: Really? What day is it?
Mom: The day after yesterday! (reaching for a roll)

All of this was said in good humor and both Dad, Mom and I were laughing quite a lot.  Finally Mom said, "So all I get is ice water? Oh well."

Listening with disbelief as Dad explains the reason for not eating sugar

Trying to sneak a roll while they talk

Admitting defeat

She eventually stuck her tongue out at Dad, which she does on occasion and it's awesome.
Luckily her salmon salad arrived in short order.  It is her favorite and she loved every bite and seemed to forget all about those darn rolls.  (We did have the waitress take them away)

I enjoy spending time with Mom and Dad and I especially enjoy it when we get to laugh and have a good time like we did today.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A family weekend

My niece (on Frank's side) was married this week.
Yay Hannah!!



And so, in preparation for the event, we had Frank's sister and her whole family staying here with us for several days.
It was awesome!

Frisbee golf-for the guys
movies
eating out a lot
playing games
wedding planning
wedding shopping
making bouquets and boutonnieres
talking and laughing

I love family time.

The wedding was lovely, of course. And my niece was a beautiful bride!
It's fun to see young love.
They have no idea what they are getting into. Ha!


The newlyweds are going on the same honeymoon cruise that Frank and I went on.  So, we gave them some of our wisdom and advice.  For example: bring dramamine.  That's about all I had for them but if it can save them from the honeymoon experience I had, it's worth it. 



I got to spend time with Emily, my other niece and the bride's sister.  She graduated from college this week as well, so it was a big week for that family.  We went out for Brazilian food as a celebration of her achievement.  I really enjoyed spending time with her so much.  She's funny and smart and witty.  We got out of frisbee golf by doing the flowers which we were both happy to do.  It was a hot day!

The bouquet was the handiwork of Emily (bride's sister),  Diana (bride's mom) and myself.

There had to be at least one snafu of course and here it is: The morning of the wedding everyone is rushing around getting ready.  The bride and mom of the bride have already left.  We are making sure everyone is dressed and looking nice and that we have the flowers etc ready to go. We have about 10 minutes before it's time to leave.  I look around and say "Where's Emily?" and her Dad looks surprised and concerned.  I go to her room and open the door...she sits up suddenly from a dead sleep, hair all askew and says "oh crap".  hahahaha (Not that funny at the time for her I'm sure).  Her alarm didn't go off.  So, we sent the boys off and I stayed while Emily got ready.  She was ready within 15 minutes, amazingly, and we were on time to the wedding.


Also, I wore high heels for the first time in years, which is totally worth celebrating and/or taking pictures.


Congratulations to Hannah and Steven!


While the family was here it was loud and messy and there were always dishes on the counter and shoes on the floor.  People were sleeping in every room, including the living room. 


It was awesome. 
They have gone home now and my house is back to being a quiet place.
I sure miss having all the activity of a family around.


We loved this family weekend and we are so glad we got to be a part of it!


*photo creds (for all of the good photos) to Hannah's photographer Joce Johnson Photography the other photos are mine*


Monday, July 24, 2017

Freedom week plans

This is my last week of freedom before I head off to what feels like jail work.

Here are the plans for the week:

meal prepping- I'm going to make some freezer meals and buy ingredients for easy meals in the instant pot as well.  I know that I will walk in the door to "what's for dinner?" which will make me want to commit murder if we don't have a plan.  The long term plan is to put other family members in charge of certain days so I don't feel like it all falls on me but I'm going to bring that in at a later date after the family is used to me being gone. No sense getting everyone all riled up.  As it is now, I sometimes just revolt and say "It's someone else's turn to do dinner!" and someone will either make something or we eat out. But I don't want to be revolting every night so I'm trying to plan ahead.  Carter already does Sunday dinner but I might have to move him to a weeknight after seeing how I feel at the end of the day.

celebrating- I'm having lunch with a friend from my old job one day.  I'm also doing a big last hurrah with my parents for our normal Thursday lunch. We are going to Salt Lake for lunch in the beautiful Joseph Smith Memorial Building followed by site seeing/movies. Dad likes to occasionally take Mom to Salt Lake and they walk around temple square and see the movies that are playing in the visitor's center.  They haven't done it in awhile so we are going to make a day of it.  We are switching to a Thursday night get together once I start work...I will just drive straight to their house from work on Thursdays and we will have dinner or I will hang out with mom while Dad gets a break. I still want to be helpful and be a part of their lives on a regular basis even with this change. It is the main reason I moved here after all.
I might also take some goodies in to work at Seagull since it will be my last day.  We'll see if I manage that.

frantically finishing projects- I currently have two projects in the works: my curtains/curtain rod for the family room and the rehab on the little table I got at the garage sale.  Both have stalled a bit since we had house guests but I have to get back on track.  I really don't want this job to stop my projects...I get a lot of happiness from doing these little things so I have to find ways to keep it going even with less time at home each week.

I'm sure I will also do some vegging in front of the tv, staying up too late and reading on the couch during the day...just to get in some last minute laziness before I have to become productive.
I'm off to a good start since it's nearly 11 a.m. and I have yet to get dressed. Woo Hoo Freedom Week has begun!