My Gardening and Preserving Goals for 2016

In past years when it comes to my gardening and preserving goals I tend to just wing it. Whatever canning recipe sounds good I’ll try. Whatever new plant or seed looks colorful and fun I’ll grow it. Unfortunately this leaves me by the end of the growing season with canned goods I will never use and produce that’s not very practical for our needs.pretty cabbages

This year I want to have a plan in place to eliminate the guess work. In a journal I have written a carefully researched list of herbs that I want grow for their medicinal and culinary purposes. I have also thoughtfully picked out the veggies/fruits I will need for the preserving recipes I want to try and I have listed the goods I want to get preserved

This is a VERY high achieving list. I am realistic in saying I probably will not do all of this this year but it is a goal of mine and now I will have a place to look for inspiration when I need motivation.

Okey Doke! Here we go!

I spent a while researching these herbs, plants and flowers and what they are used for. Many make good companion plants to certain veggies in the garden so I will most likely add those plants to the garden beds to enrich the soil and to aid its companion buddy.

  1. Yarrow (can be invasive so it will have it’s own bed)
  2. Anise Hyssop
  3. Garlic
  4. Chives (Companion for Carrots) (I grow now)
  5. Aloe Vera
  6. Lemon Verbena
  7. Dill
  8. Chervil
  9. Horseradish Companion for Potatoes)
  10. Artemisia
  11. Tarragon (Companion for Eggplant and Peppers)
  12. Borage
  13. Calendula
  14. Caraway (Companion for Peas)
  15. Bachelor Button
  16. Chamomile  (Companion for Cabbages and Onions)
  17. Cilantro
  18. Lemongrass
  19. Dianthus Clove Pink
  20. Purple Cone Flower (Echinacea)
  21. Fennel
  22. Sweet Woodruff
  23. Lavender (I grow now)
  24. Lemon Balm (I grow now)
  25. Mint (I grow now)
  26. Catnip (grows wild around here)
  27. Basil (annual that I start from seed)
  28. Oregano
  29. Parsley (I grow now)
  30. Anise
  31. Purslane (Grows wild here and considered a weed)
  32. Rosemary
  33. Sage (I grow now)
  34. Dandelion (Also a common weed)
  35. Thyme
  36. Nasturtium
  37. Valerian
  38. Violet (Grows wild here)
  39. Pansy
  40. Eucalyptus

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For our vegetable garden I selected plants  based on what I needed for my canning recipes and what I would use fresh.

  1. Asparagus (will not produce until year 3)
  2. Strawberries (will produce better the second year)
  3. Rhubarb (will plant this year and harvest will begin next year)
  4. Corn
  5. Popcorn
  6. Sweet Peppers
  7. Banana Peppers
  8. Eggplant
  9. Onions (My #1 priority every year for storage)
  10. Snap Bean Bush – Purple, yellow and green
  11. Snap Bean Pole
  12. Dry Beans
  13. Peas
  14. Spinach
  15. Lettuce
  16. Cabbage
  17. Swiss Chard
  18. Beets
  19. Radish
  20. Carrots
  21. Cucumbers
  22. Pumpkins
  23. Gourds
  24. Winter Squash
  25. Zucchini
  26. Yellow Squash
  27. Cantaloupes
  28. Water Melon
  29. Sunflowers
  30. Tomatoes
  31. Celery
  32. Broccoli
  33. Potatoes
  34. Jalapenos
  35. Yellow Tomatoes
  36. Paste Tomatoeswpid-20151014_132108.jpg

And finally the preserving list. It’s even longer than the other two. I know, I know. It’s a lofty goal but it’s something I will try my best at accomplishing. And if I get it all done we won’t have to go to the grocery store until Spring. (Just kidding).

  1. Strawberry Jam
  2. Grape Jelly
  3. Black Raspberry Jam
  4. Red Raspberry Jam
  5. Blackberry Jam
  6. Cherry Jam
  7. Peach Jam
  8. Pear Jelly
  9. Apple Jelly
  10. Honeyed Yellow Tomato Butter
  11. Canned Cherries in Syrup
  12. Canned Cherry Pie Filling Sweet
  13. Canned Cherry Pie Filling Sour
  14. Basil Banana Pepper Jelly
  15. Apples in Syrup
  16. Grape Juice
  17. Pear Juice
  18. Tart Cherry Juice
  19. Pickled Beets
  20. Canned Beets
  21. Vegetable Stock
  22. Vegetable Soup
  23. Tomato Sauce
  24. Blackberry, Red Raspberry, Peach, Cherry Cordials
  25. Chili Sauce (Two different kinds)
  26. Bread and Butter Pickles
  27. Frozen Corn
  28. Frozen Peppers
  29. Frozen Beet Greens/Chard
  30. Make my own pectin out of green apples
  31. Sweet Pickle Relish
  32. Dill Pickle Relish
  33. Red Root Relish
  34. Ketchup
  35. Red Hot Sauce
  36. BBQ Sauce
  37. Lemon Sage Wine Mustard
  38. Dilly Deans
  39. Pickled Roasted Red Peppers
  40. Pickled Hot Peppers
  41. Spiced Red Cabbage
  42. Sweet Crisp Pickles
  43. Crushed Tomatoes
  44. Whole Tomatoes Packed in Water
  45. Canned Green Beans
  46. Frozen Peas
  47. Frozen Winter Squash and some stored whole
  48. Chili
  49. Pear Juice
  50. Tart Cherry Juice

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I will also be drying the herbs and many fruits and veggies in our 2 dehydrators.

What I haven’t mentioned is that we have 3 apple, 2 sweet cherry, 1 sour cherry, 2 pear, 2 peach and 1 apricot (1 died) and a hazelnut (1 of these died also). Plus blackberry, red raspberry, black raspberry, and blueberry bushes.

fruit1

So these are the goals. Am I missing anything? Am I nuts? We will find out! -MM

 

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What’s for Dinner Update

I am going to take a break from What’s For Dinner until Spring. I love my Winter comfort food but there are just some dinner ideas better left for when there are fresh, home grow veggies and a grill.

Thank you for your enthusiasm for this series. I hope I have given you some great ideas for dinner. I will be back with more. I promise!

– MM

What’s For Dinner Week #5

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for our household. I have been sick for most of it with a nasty cold/virus that made me miss 3 days of work, my mom was supposed to have surgery last week on her shoulder and after waiting for hours at her scheduled time of surgery they ended up not being able to do it due to a complication and now poor Doug is sick with the yuck. So I apologize for the late posting again. Here are week #5’s meal ideas.

Sausage, Peppers and Onions

Whether slow cooked in the Crockpot all day or grilled on the grill pan, this is a hearty and relatively inexpensive meal. Add some steak fries and yum!!

Tuna Noodle Casserole

I use a whole bag of wide egg noodles, 2 cans of white tuna packed in water, drained, 1 can of cream of mushroom and one can of cream of celery soup with milk added to both cans and a small bag of frozen peas. After you cook the noodles add in all of the rest of the ingredients stirring gently together then pour into a casserole dish. Top with crushed Ritz crackers or crushed potato chips. Salt and pepper to taste and add fresh parsley if you like too. Bake at 350 degrees until hot and bubbly about 30 minutes.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

In lieu of most people either using their own family recipe or preferring the jarred kind I will let you use whatever recipe you like for this. Meatballs are good homemade or from a freezer bag. Hey it’s a meatball how can you go wrong either way right?

Chicken Stir Fry

Remember those little, tiny corn on the cob that Tom Hanks chewed on in the movie “Big’? This dish always reminds me of that because I can’t resist using a can of baby corn in this recipe.

For the Sauce: Combine 1 cup water, ¼ cup soy sauce, 2 Tbsp cornstarch, 1 tsp instant bouillon granules, ¼ tsp ground ginger. Stir to dissolve everything and set aside.

Chunk or thin slice boneless skinless chicken breast. Salt and pepper to taste. Preheat a few Tbsp of cooking oil in a wok or stainless steel frying pan. Add chicken and stir fry until cooked through about 10-15 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

To the hot pan add veggies such as broccoli, julienned carrots, mushrooms, onion and/or garlic. Stir fry until the crunch is just gone. Remove from heat.

Next, add the sauce to the center of the pan. Stir and cook until thickened and bubbly.

To the sauce add more veggies like the corn, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, frozen snow peas and bean sprouts. None of these take long to cook that’s why they are added at the end. Cook for a couple of minutes in the sauce to warm everything up and defrost the peas.

Add in all of the rest of the veggies and the meat to warm up and finish cooking. Cook another few minutes in the sauce then serve over rice.

Deluxe Turkey BLT Clubs

An easy meal! Get your favorite deli turkey, cooked bacon, tomatoes and your fanciest lettuce plus mayo of course and start stacking it all on your favorite toasted bread. Three slices of bread make it a club! Put a frilly toothpick through it, add some sweet potato fries and you have dinner. Enjoy!

Crockpot Chili Sauce Chicken with Mashed Potatoes

This has got to be the easiest recipe ever! If you can your own homemade chili sauce like I do just pop open the jar and dump it over cut up pieces of chicken in the Crockpot and that’s it! Turn it on low and let it cook until the meat just falls off the bone. If you don’t have your own chili sauce you can buy a variety of kinds at your local grocery store. Whip up some mashed potatoes and a veggie and you are all set. Easy peasy!!

Leftover Night

Take the night off from cooking and enjoy those leftovers!

 

I would love more ideas for dinners. What are you making for dinner? Please post in the comments. -MM

 

All of these recipe amounts are based approximately on 4 people and might have to be adjusted if you have teenagers with a healthier appetite.