Sunday Funday: Collins Style

18 Sep

As I’m writing this post, it’s a lovely Sunday afternoon at the Collins household. Nic and I are out on the porch; I’m blogging away, Nic is doing some reading for school, and Lyla is down for a nap. It’s going to be a busy fall for us. Nic is going back to school for Education Administration and he is involved in just about a million things where he teaches. Because we are so busy (and have a baby now, technically a toddler!), we don’t get much time or full days anymore to spend in the kitchen. Today we accomplished making four recipes, two of which included preserving food from our garden. Love it. I guess I loved it so much and was running around like a crazy person trying to get things done, that I forgot to take pictures. Sorry ‘bout that.

I started out the day with pumpkin pancakes for us. This was Lyla’s first experience with eating pancakes and I was, of course, super excited about them because the recipe included pumpkin. It might be 80 degrees outside today, but September=Fall=Pumpkin love. The recipe was delightful and it made a large enough batch for us to have a few and freeze the rest. Breakfast for the week! Click here for the recipe.

Next on our list was canning spaghetti sauce, made with the tomatoes and peppers from our garden. We have made this sauce for the last three years. Easy peasy, just a lot of chopping involved. This year, though, our hearts were set on canning. After a lot of time on the computer researching the process, buying water bath canning supplies, figuring out we couldn’t water bath can on our glass top stove, and researching the importance of adding enough acid to our product…we had a (hopefully) successful canning day! I’d love to give you the instructions on this process, but I’m going to leave that to the experts. I’m still new at this and I don’t want botulism for you, or for me. The last time I had canned was in high school. Long time ago. I had won the Family Living Award for crying out loud! I can could sew and can cook! I should be able to can a freaking jar of sauce!

NEXT! Basil pesto. Lyla was down for her second nap by this time, so time was of the essence. When you have babies in the house and if you are anything like me, you buzz around like a busy bee during nap time. Then I can cozy up with Lyla when she is awake and enjoy that the rest of my stuff is done (well, sometimes). I followed Joanna’s pesto recipe that she posted earlier this summer. I noticed that our basil was starting to head out and I didn’t want all of those beautiful leaves of flavor to go to waste. So I busted out the food processor and got to work. I created several servings of pesto that I popped in the freezer for winter weeknights when I don’t want to spend anymore time on dinner than the time it takes to boil some noodles. I can just smell the time I’m saving already…

The other recipe I made today, which was easy and perfect for the season: Slow Cooker  Harvest Stew. By Paula Deen? What? I know what you’re thinking. Lots of butter. I am a huge fan of butter, but this recipe surprisingly had none at all. This stew is absolutely loaded with fall veggies (and a granny smith apple!), chicken broth, and apple cider. We didn’t even eat any of it today, just dished it into containers to have lunches ready for the rest of the week. Meals ready for the week? Be still my heart. One note about this recipe: either I didn’t chop my veggies up small enough, or the cooking time is way off on this one. I cooked this on low for 8 hours before the potatoes were soft and delicious. This recipe is also perfect for little mouths. The size of the chopped celery, sweet potatoes, squash, onion, Yukon Gold potatoes, and granny smith apples were perfect for Lyla to pick up and eat (I just strained the liquid from her portion). She gobbled it up!

Nic and I were just reflecting on the wonderfulness of food preservation, especially of the food that comes from your own backyard. Whether you are canning, freezing, or dehydrating, there is nothing cooler than being able to do a little grocery shopping in your own basement or pantry. The money you can save is something to marvel at and being able to run to the grocery store just to stock up on a few items, but have the makings of a nutritious and well rounded meal with the rest of the items you preserved, well the thought of that makes me very happy. Don’t have a backyard garden? No problem. Look for produce at the farmers’ market towards the end of it’s season. Chances are it will cost less and those super ripe tomatoes are the perfect candidate for spaghetti or pizza sauce.

Anything you love preserving at home? Should I plan hospital visits for when we eat our canned spaghetti sauce?

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