It’s been raw and rainy over the last 24 hours. I braved the rain last night to head to the garden, where tomatoes are still ripening, albeit not for much longer. We haven’t had a freeze yet, but the average temperatures have been dropping week over week, so by next weekend I’ll need to clean out the garden completely. I’ve been holding out because the tomatillos are still producing, and I am getting Sungold and San Marzano tomatoes consistently. The Mexican Torch Sunflowers are still in bloom as well, defying every reasonable expectation for summer flowers.
Nonetheless, after another batch or two of sauce, it will be time to close up shop for the winter, pulling vines, raking, and rearranging the bricks.
I’d like to finish the garden fence as well, assuming we can before it gets too cold. Over the next few weeks, we’ll wrap our baby fruit trees in fleece jackets for the winter, clean up the yard, and start battening down the hatches for cold weather.
We still haven’t been apple picking, so we’ll squeeze that in on Sunday, but a few local, fresh apples have worked their way into our last few weeks of the CSA, as have winter squash, so tonight we’ll be working our way through a batch of Apple and Brie soup with Pumpkin Granola, along with a salad, fresh bread, and a roasted chicken for the kids
We’ve been lucky over the last several days to enjoy deliciously warm fires in the wood stove. After we bank the fire for the night with one final log, we close the door to the living room, and in the morning the room is still cozy warm. We invested in some new log racks this year, and we can now store all our wood on the porch and in the house, which makes fires so much easier.
We’ve taken another step towards local food here – starting next month we’ll see monthly deliveries from Walden Local Meat , key to our efforts to reduce our food miles, control meat intake a little bit better, and stop eating quite so much residual plastic. While the $207 each month for 10 or 11 pounds of meat, another couple pounds of local fish and ground beef and bacon added in is a large chunk of our grocery budget, I expect it will be offset by us not having to think about running to the store for ingredients. I’ve ordered our Christmas Turkey as well, ensuring our holiday dinner is taken care of with a click of my mouse.
Which gets me to the really important point. While I love to make new recipes, and I keep lots of ingredients on hand so that we can eat a variety of food, most of the meals here are based on what we might have on hand. I have a lot of Salsa Verde and chicken, so Enchiladas Verdes are going to be on the menu every couple of weeks. I turned a roaster chicken into Chicken Soup with Rice last night, adding popovers for a quick and easy side. I buy flour in 25-lb quantities so that we always have baking ingredients around, and of course we always have plenty of eggs now.
I know I have about two weeks of lettuce and tomatoes for salads before they are replaced by roasted vegetables baking in the oven once or twice a week, or cold-weather greens like spinach.
So what does a menu plan here look like? Well, it’s flexible – we might get busy and a labor-intensive meal gets pushed for something similar. What have we had a lot of lately, and do we need a break from repetition? What needs to be used up? We have a few bananas past their prime, so banana bread or muffins. We also have a pileup of root veggies, so a roasting pan full on Sunday night is probably just the thing.
What kind of time do we have? If there’s lots of commitments, we might make something simple, like Rosemary Ranch Chicken, or if there’s lots of time I might make something more intricate.
Also key are kid requests – no matter what’s in season, we periodically spend the time chopping and prepping for Taco Night, complete with homemade guacamole, because, well – it’s always a hit. The key here is not to over-plan, but to constantly assess who’s eating, what’s around, and whether everyone has a good appetite.
Here’s our meal plan for this weekend:
Friday Night: Chicken Soup with Rice, Popovers, Salad
Saturday: Eggs and Bacon for Breakfast, lunch out or whatever’s available, dinner Apple Brie Soup with Pumpkin Granola, Salad, Bread, Chicken
Sunday: I’ll get up and bake – banana muffins to go with scrambled eggs or something similar. Lunch will be leftovers, and dinner will be roasted veggies and some kind of grilled meat, maybe turkey burgers, which are always a hit.
Simple Roasted Veggies:
Cut up a variety of root veggies – mushrooms, onions, beets, carrots, leeks, sweet potatoes, turnips – whatever you have.
Drizzle with olive oil, salt and balsamic vinegar
Bake at 375 for approximately 4 hours, occasionally turning. Remove foil after 2 hours
Veggies will caramelize with the oil and balsamic vinegar. Make enough for leftovers.
Monday: This is a holiday here, and the kids head to their Dad’s after breakfast. Dad just bought a new house, so the kids are excited to go set up their rooms. We’ll probably make pancakes or waffles for breakfast, have leftovers again for lunch, and dinner will be something Eli and I enjoy, like Grilled Scallops with Salsa Verde and Salad, along with leftover roast veggies.