~ from my home to yours, living the Working Pantry lifestyle ~

Monday, February 26, 2024

A Journal of My Days 2024: 2/26

The theme for this year is “Laser focused, hunkered down and spending as little money as possible.” 

Let’s see how we did this week …

(picture:  One of our roosters was cutting loose in a hearty cock-a-doodle-do!!!)

In the Vegetable Garden:  We got our potatoes (Red Pontiac) planted!!!  I also planted some peas (Little Marvel), leeks, beets and staked my claim on a row in the row garden for flowers.  A row of flowers in the vegetable garden will help bring in pollinators, supply us with cut flowers and just simply add beauty to the garden area.

In the Kitchen:   I made more sourdough crackers, hoagie style buns and regular hamburger buns out of my old-fashioned sourdough starter.  I seasoned the crackers with sage and garlic this time and hubby said he really liked the taste of them.  Next week I'll have to make a bigger batch!  We had meatball subs over the weekend with the hoagie style buns.  I individually
wrapped and froze the hamburger buns for future use.  (Pictured are the buns that I froze.)

Hubby mentioned to me that a partial jug of milk we had in the refrigerator was beginning to taste old.  I was not about to let that milk go to ruin, so I pulled some frozen bananas out of the freezer and baked up a couple of loaves of banana bread followed by a large squash casserole.  With both of these I used up the milk in question and got ahead with some weekend cooking as well.

I have to admit that intentionally staying out of the grocery store has sparked a streak of creativity in me, I'm eager to see what I can make with what I have on hand!

In the Pantry:  I harvested young, fresh spring parsley on Monday of this week and after chopping and giving it a good wash, I laid it out on a pan by the wood stove and let the heat from it dry it naturally.  Once it was dried, I crumbled it with my hands and jarred it.  This is the second herb I’ve been able to start harvesting and preserving this year.

Also, this week I decided to start focusing on what was in the freezer part of our pantry that needed to be used and or rotated out making room for this year's harvest.  The first thing I spotted was unsweetened frozen crushed strawberries from last year.  Strawberry season will be upon on in just a few weeks (they're already blooming ... the saying around here is, 30 days from bloom to strawberry) so I need to get what's left of last year's berries used and rotated out.  I started with using some of the berries in the kefir smoothie I have daily.  Over the next several weeks and until this year's berries are ready for harvesting, I'll be pouring over 'strawberry' recipes to find more ways to use them up.  I'm thinking a strawberry bundt cake individually sliced and wrapped in the freezer would be really good to have on hand when gardening season gets in full swing for those times when we want a sweet treat but don't have time to stop and cook one.

That's another thing I want to do is to get ahead with some freezer meals or components of meals for the busy gardening, harvesting and preserving season that's in the not-too-distant future for us!

Health/Fitness:  I'm looking forward to the first day of March when I'll do an overall assessment of where I'm at in my fitness and health journey.  As you know if you've been following along for any length of time, this month I transitioned from counting calories to full on intermittent fasting.  I had to go slow with the transition as I've been counting calories for almost 4 years.  I lost close to 70 pounds counting calories, so I didn't take changing what was working for me lightly.   My monthly overall assessment of where I'm at in my health and fitness journey will tell me what tweaking needs to be done, if any and if I'm on the right track.  Any fitness and or health journey is a lifelong one that has lots of twists and turns.  My change from counting calories to intermittent fasting is one of those turns for me.

Bargain and/or Loss Leader Shopping:  No shopping again this week!  We're on a roll!

From my Sewing Nook:   I took a fall Sunday night at church and have been on light restrictions this week, which meant I had time to sew!  I worked on stitching up some cloth jar covers and got a bit more done on the Log Cabind Christmas quilt my sister and I have been working on long distance via technology for several weeks.  (Our well saga put me behind, my sister has finished all her blocks and is putting her top together.  I'll get caught up though, I made some nice progress this week!   LOL, slow and steady seems to be my mantra so far this year!)

What I’m Reading:  I started two new books this week.  One a friend let me borrow, The Englisch Daughter by Cindy Woodsmall and one from the reading app Libby titled Homegrown Herbs by Tammi Hartung.    Homegrown Herbs has such good information in it that I'll probably be adding it to our library sometime in the future.

Bible Study:  I completed and posted lesson 19 in our ladies Bible study on Esther.  It can be found HERE.

Continuing Education and Skills:  my skill focus this month has been all things sourdough (the old-fashioned method and potato flake method) and I've learned a lot!  I'm really starting to feel comfortable with both methods which was the goal.

In the Herb Garden:  last week I shared that I had gotten my herbs seeds out and was making a plan for what to plant.  In that planning, I asked myself the following questions: (1) what health issues do I want to address with herbs, (2) what spice mixes do I want to make, and (3) what culinary herbs do I need for cooking purposes?  After having answered all three of these questions, here is a partial list of herbs I've decided I'll be planting this year … as of right now:

calendula (the heat from previous years finally wiped out my calendula so I'm starting over again with this herb.)

self-heal (this is a new one for me)

hops (this is another new one for me)

(I already have several herbs growing, so won’t list those.  This list is of the ones I'm in the process of starting seeds for or will be direct sowing as soon as it’s time.)

In the Flower Garden:  I started gathering all my flower seeds together to see what I have to work with.  I'm also looking through books and rose catalogs for inspiration and ideas for planting.  This book by Mary Alice Yoder is just lovely for that purpose.  I purchased it at a Mennonite store a while back and it's my go to for flower planting inspiration. 

We’re going to start ending each week with a frugal quote to hopefully help us in our ‘hunkering down, laser-focused’ frugal journey, here’s this week’s … make it a goal/challenge to see how little money you can spend and still meet your needs.

That’s it for this week, what has your week looked like?

until next time,

mrs. patsi @ A Working Pantry

She looketh well to the ways of her household … Proverbs 31:27 

Sharing 44 years' experience of frugal, prudent living and pantry building 

 Instagram link!

My second blog:  From This Heart of Mine, where I share my love for God and His Word through my personal Bibe study.  Physical preparedness is important, but not near as important as spiritual preparedness.  Ladies, join me over at From This Heart of Mine and study God's Word with me.

You can view my privacy policy HERE.

Thank you for using my Amazon affiliate link when placing your Amazon orders. I earn a small percentage that doesn't increase what you pay, and it helps me keep my pantry well-stocked! 

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links.  This means that if you click on the link and place an order, etc I earn a small fee at no increased cost to you. Thank you for your support through these means.

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Use it Up Food Challenge: 2/25/24

 What is a 'Use It Up Food' challenge?

 It's about food waste or more specifically not wasting food ...

 It's about repurposing our leftovers into another dish,

 It's about using every part of fruits and vegetables,

 It's about using up the really small amounts of food ...

It's about using up food scraps, peels and stems ...

It's about being mindful of every bit of food that comes in and through our kitchens and finding a use for it ... all of it!

That's our purpose for this series, so, how did we do this week?

I had some leftover steak in the refrigerator that I needed to use.  It wasn't enough for steak for two, so I turned it into a stir-fry dish ...


I started out with a large skillet and a little oil.  (I used cooking oil, but you can use bacon grease, garlic oil, any kind of fat that you think will go with the stir fry.)

I sliced up some onion and chopped up some carrots I had on hand and sauté them in the skillet over medium heat.



Then I added a cabbage from our garden that I chopped up and continuing sautéing right along with the onions and carrots.


Next, came the sliced up steak, fat and all.  I didn't add any seasoning to the skillet other than salt and pepper for the vegetables because the steak was already seasoned just right for our taste.


Since the steak was already cooked, all it had to do was sauté along with the vegetables until everything was done and the steak heated through and through.

Oh my goodness, it was lip smacking good!  Stir fry is typically served over rice, but this was eaten as you see it!  Yum!  Yum!

I was able to take what wasn't enough for one meal and turn it into 2 meals using leftovers and what I had on hand!

Score!!!

What leftover, bits and bobs, etc of food did you use up this week?

until next time,

mrs. patsi @ A Working Pantry

She looketh well to the ways of her household … Proverbs 31:27 

Sharing 44 years' experience of frugal, prudent living and pantry building 

 Instagram link!

My second blog:  From This Heart of Mine, where I share my love for God and His Word through my personal Bibe study.  Physical preparedness is important, but not near as important as spiritual preparedness.  Ladies, join me over at From This Heart of Mine and study God's Word with me.

You can view my privacy policy HERE.

Thank you for using my Amazon affiliate link when placing your Amazon orders. I earn a small percentage that doesn't increase what you pay, and it helps me keep my pantry well-stocked! 

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links.  This means that if you click on the link and place an order, etc I earn a small fee at no increased cost to you. Thank you for your support through these means.

Friday, February 23, 2024

Hunkering Down in 2024: Week #8

This week has been a normal week in regard to our budgeting and spending.  After last week, that was welcomed!

There is just a bit less than one week left in this month and the anticipation of meeting this month's financial goal is building in both my hubby and me.

We speak of it often, which is a good way to keep it in the forefront of our minds. 

We want to meet this month's goal really badly and have been putting in some extra diligence to make it happen.

~Smile~ we're already talking about next month's financial goal as Lord willing and nothing happens between now and the end of the month, our financial goal for this month will be met ... the anticipation is building in the both of us!

So, what did hunkering down look like for us this past week ...

We continued to do all the normal things we've put into place for this month:

Hubby took his lunch to work every day ... (it was necessary for him to eat out once this week)

I cooked our meals from scratch ...

We continue to watch and being aware of our power usage ...

I continue to look for homemade replacements of store-bought items we use.  The next item on my list of things to start making at home is yogurt.  I used to make our yogurt on a regular basis, but over the years just let it slip and as a result we started purchasing it again.  Sometimes purchasing items of convenience can start us down a road of excessive spending, not always, but sometimes.  It's up to us to determine what is a convenience in our lives and what is necessary for the season we're in.  It will look different for everyone.  In this season of 'hunkering down' for us, some of our 'convenience' items can be replaced with good ole old fashioned skills and planning.   I plan to bring this skill back into our lives this week and mark this item off the grocery store shopping list.

It's been a week of staying the course and working our plan.  No big break through accomplishments, just the daily implementing of the slow steps of our plan in action.

Sometimes success comes as a result of staying the course, not necessarily doing anything different, but the continuation of doing the same thing over and over, every day, day in and day out.  That's where the real challenge comes in, isn't it?

That was our week, slow and steady, we continued moving toward our goal one 'turtle step' at a time.

How did you do, I can't wait to read your comments!

until next time,

mrs. patsi @ A Working Pantry

She looketh well to the ways of her household … Proverbs 31:27 

Sharing 44 years' experience of frugal, prudent living and pantry building 

My second blog:  From This Heart of Mine, where I share my love for God and His Word through my personal Bibe study.  Physical preparedness is important, but not near as important as spiritual preparedness.  Ladies, join me over at From This Heart of Mine and study God's Word with me.

You can view my privacy policy HERE.

Thank you for using my Amazon affiliate link when placing your Amazon orders. I earn a small percentage that doesn't increase what you pay, and it helps me keep my pantry well-stocked! 

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links.  This means that if you click on the link and place an order, etc I earn a small fee at no increased cost to you. Thank you for your support through these means.

Monday, February 19, 2024

A Journal of My Days 2024: 2/19

The theme for this year is “Laser focused, hunkered down and spending as little money as possible.” 

Let’s see how we did this week …

(picture:  rhubarb)

In the Garden:  I worked on getting seed potatoes ready to plant so that we could plant them when the weather cooperates.

I also shelled out dried fall peas from last fall’s harvest.   I got those shelled out and bagged up ready for planting in the later part of June.

I finished shelling out the dried okra from last year’s crop as well.

Our early spring garden is shaping up and so far, we have planted:

Fingerling potatoes

Carrots

Multiplying onions 

Spring greens

Radishes

By the end of the month, I hope to have potatoes, cabbage and broccoli planted as well.  Then it will be on to planting the spring garden.  I break down our planting time frames as follows:

Early spring garden (February) … highs in the 40’s - 60’s

Spring garden (March) … highs in the 70’s & lower 80’s

Early summer garden (April, May and June) … highs in the upper 80’s and lower 90’s

Summer garden (July and August) … highs in the upper 90’s plus (we’re pretty much in garden survival mode during this season because of the heat and humidity!)

Fall garden (September and October) … highs in the 60 – 90 degree range.

Winter garden (November, December, January) … highs in the 30’s to 50’s range (Gardening consist of things that winter over like collards, carrots and garlic along with things that are grown in the greenhouse.)

I plan to plant 3 different gardens this year:

vegetable ... for eating fresh and restocking the pantry

herb (culinary and medicinal) ... for cooking, making spices mixes and herbal remedies

flower ... for beauty

In the Kitchen:   I made a pecan pie for valentine’s day.  We mutually decided that we would not spend money on gifts for each other this year, so I made one of our favorite pies instead. 

I made a big pot of spaghetti sauce, enough for a couple of meals this week and some to freeze for a future meal. 

I also made pizza flavored hot pockets and sourdough crackers as well.

In the Pantry:  
My preserving day this week was on Monday, and I preserved sweet potatoes.  Last fall we were given permission to glean a local farmers sweet potato field after they were finished harvesting.  We’ve had them in storage and have been eating on them throughout the winter, but I noticed that the squirrels had found our storage spot.  In fact, I caught them in the act, they were eating our sweet potatoes and not being shy about it either!  I knew if I wanted enough sweet potatoes to last us until gleaning time again, I had to act.  So, I went through them, culled out the ones the squirrels had been chomping down on, and started the process of preserving the rest.  I simply scrubbed the potatoes, cut away any questionable places, cut the bigger ones in half and placed them in the oven to bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  When time was up, I took them out of the oven and let them cool.  When they were completely cooled, I bagged them up and put them in the freezer.  No sir, Mr. Squirrel, you may not have my sweet potatoes!

Health/Fitness:  One of my most helpful tools in my fitness journey is a food diary.  I write down everything that I eat during the day.  Even now when I’m weaning myself off of counting calories and changing over to intermittent fasting, I still log what I eat, not the calories per say, but the amounts.  I still need that accountability.  My food journal contains more than what I eat though, it contains my stats, quotes to keep me encouraged, fitness goals, stickers and or doodling for making it look pretty and anything else that helps me keep on keeping on in my fitness journey.  It really is a most valuable tool for me. 

Bargain and/or Loss Leader Shopping:  Nope, none, nothing!  We are intentionally staying out of the grocery store as much as possible.  At this point, it's going to have to be a really, really good sale to lure us into the store.

From my Sewing Nook:   I meant too, I really meant too … but I didn’t sew a thing!

What I’m Reading:  I finished reading The Preacher’s Daughter by Patricia Johns and Lydia’s Charm by Wanda Brunstetter that a friend had loaned me.  I haven't decided what I'll read next.

Bible Study:  I completed and posted lesson 18 in our ladies Bible study on Esther.  It can be found HERE.

I continue to work on writing the book of Genesis. I'm up to chapter 9 now.

Continuing Education and Skills:  My husband’s mother used to make the best potato flake sourdough bread. I ran across her recipe this week and decided that I wanted to see if I could duplicate her delicious bread.  I’m still in the ‘feeding’ stage, so no bread made yet, but it won't be long.  

This will give me two different sourdough bread starters, the original old fashioned one and this potato flake one.  I want to learn what can and cannot be done with each.  I found this website that had some good ideas for the potato flake sourdough starter.  I never, ever want to stop learning!

(picture:  sourdough starter for old fashioned sourdough bread.)

Herbs:  I pulled out my herb seeds and am planning what I want to plant.  I'm also making note of when each can be planted along with any other pertinent information related to planting and growing them.

That’s it for this week, what has your week looked like?

until next time,

mrs. patsi @ A Working Pantry

She looketh well to the ways of her household … Proverbs 31:27 

Sharing 44 years' experience of frugal, prudent living and pantry building 

My second blog:  From This Heart of Mine, where I share my love for God and His Word through my personal Bibe study.  Physical preparedness is important, but not near as important as spiritual preparedness.  Ladies, join me over at From This Heart of Mine and study God's Word with me.

You can view my privacy policy HERE.

Thank you for using my Amazon affiliate link when placing your Amazon orders. I earn a small percentage that doesn't increase what you pay, and it helps me keep my pantry well-stocked! 

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links.  This means that if you click on the link and place an order, etc I earn a small fee at no increased cost to you. Thank you for your support through these means.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Use it Up Food Challenge: 2/18/24

   What is a 'Use It Up Food' challenge?

 It's about food waste or more specifically not wasting food ...

 It's about repurposing our leftovers into another dish,

 It's about using every part of fruits and vegetables,

 It's about using up the really small amounts of food ...

It's about using up food scraps, peels and stems ...

It's about being mindful of every bit of food that comes in and through our kitchens and finding a use for it ... all of it!

That's our purpose for this series, so, how did we do this week?

Do you remember the leftover pizza sauce I had after making homemade pizzas from this post?  I told you that I had a plan to use it and would share it later.

This week I used it and this is how ...


I made homemade pizza flavored hot pockets! Here's basically how I made them ...

I opened up a pint jar of home canned ground beef and drained the liquid out.

I mixed the drained ground beef and the leftover pizza sauce together and let it simmer while I prepared the dough.

For the dough, I took a portion of the sourdough bread dough I had made up earlier, rolled it out to between 1/8th and 1/4 inch and then cut it into the size shapes I wanted.  You can do circles, but I chose to do long rectangles about 3 inches wide and about 6 inches long.

I then laid half of a piece of pepper jack cheese on the lower half of my cut-out rectangles and then added about 2 tablespoons or more of the ground beef/pizza sauce mixture on top of the cheese.  Next, I placed 2 or 3 pickled banana pepper rings on the mixture.

I folded the top half of the rectangle over the bottom half and sealed the edges, first with my fingers then with a fork.

I melted some butter and brushed the tops of each hot pocket and then sprinkled some pizza topping seasonings on top of each.

Into the oven they went at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.  

They are quite yummy and it all started with a small jar of leftover pizza sauce!

The original recipe for these hot pockets came from Here, I tweaked the recipe a bit to suit our tastes and way of cooking.

But that's not all, look at what other 'discard' I turned into something yummy to eat ...


These are homemade crackers made from the 'discard' of my sourdough starter.  If you are familiar with making sourdough bread you will know that there is always 'discarded starter' to either 'get rid of' or use it in making something else.  In keeping with my 'use it up' mindset, I chose to make something with it.  These crackers are the result.  Here's how I made them ...

3/4 cup of sourdough starter discard 
3 tablespoons of butter 
1/4 teaspoon of salt
herbs or seasoning of choice

Melt butter and stir in seasonings or herbs, sauté if necessary

Mix sourdough starter, salt and butter mixture together, stirring until well mixed.
Spread evenly on a parchment paper lined flat baking pan and bake for 10 minutes in a 350-degree oven.

Remove pan from oven and make slices through the partially cooked dough for the size of crackers you want. Just make the slices, don't try to separate the dough into shapes.  Return pan to oven and cook an additional 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool.  When completely cooled, place crackers in a jar for keeping until you're ready to eat them.  

Be warned ... I bet you can't eat just one!!

The original recipe for these crackers came from Here, I tweaked the recipe a bit to suit our tastes and way of cooking.

That's how I did this week, what leftovers or discarded foods did you use up?

until next time,

 mrs. patsi @ A Working Pantry

 She looketh well to the ways of her household … Proverbs 31:27 

 Sharing 44 years' experience of frugal, prudent living and pantry building 

My second blog:  From This Heart of Mine, where I share my love for God and His Word through my personal Bibe study.  Physical preparedness is important, but not near as important as spiritual preparedness.  Ladies, join me over at From This Heart of Mine and study God's Word with me.

 You can view my privacy policy HERE.

Thank you for using my Amazon affiliate link when placing your Amazon orders. I earn a small percentage that doesn't increase what you pay, and it helps me keep my pantry well-stocked! 

 Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links.  This means that if you click on the link and place an order, etc I earn a small fee at no increased cost to you. Thank you for your support through these means.