Think Spring, Plan Your Pantry

If you’re anything like me, by the time February draws to a close you are so ready for spring!  But most of the time it still seems so far away.  The ground is likely covered with snow.  Everything is wet and sloppy.  The sun likes to hide.

You’re still eating lots of winter comfort foods and living off your freezer stock from last year.

peaches

As March approaches I’m anxious for fresh foods.  While they aren’t quite available yet, it’s time to start thinking about them.

Now is the perfect time to plan how you want to stock your pantry and freezer during the spring, summer and fall.  Doing so can save you money and keep your family well fed.

Maybe you already have a good inventory of what you preserved last year.  That is a great start.  Even if you don’t you can still start planning for the coming produce season now.

Here are general guidelines of when some produce is available in the area and some ideas of ways to preserve it.  Make a list of the ones you want, find recipes, put the plans in your calendar so you know when you’ll have to do it and stock up on all of your supplies.

When spring does finally decide to show up you’ll be ready to stock your pantry for a full year of healthy food.

Produce Season:

  • Early – mid June: strawberry, rhubarb, asparagus
  • Mid – late June: strawberry, rhubarb, asparagus, sugar snap peas, zucchini, summer squash, cherry, cucumber, raspberry
  • Early – mid July: strawberry, asparagus, zucchini, summer squash, cherry, cucumber, raspberry, blueberry, apricot, peach, cherry, nectarine
  • Mid – late July: zucchini, summer squash, cucumber, raspberry, blueberry, peach, nectarine, corn, plum, melon
  • Early – mid August: zucchini, summer squash, cucumber, raspberry, peach, nectarine, plum, corn, melon
  • Mid – late August: zucchini, summer squash, raspberry, peach, nectarine, plum, corn, melon, apples, pears,  cauliflower, broccoli, squash, brussels sprouts, peppers, tomatoes, beets, potatoes, carrots, cabbage
  • Early – mid September: corn, melon, apples, pears, plums, peaches, cauliflower, broccoli, squash, brussels sprouts, nectarine, peppers, tomatoes, beets, potatoes, carrots, cabbage
  • Mid – late September: corn, melon, apples, pears, plums, peaches, cauliflower, broccoli, squash, brussels sprouts, nectarine, peppers, tomatoes, beets, potatoes, carrots, cabbage
  • Early – mid October: apples, pears, cauliflower, broccoli, squash, brussels sprouts, peppers, beets, potatoes, carrots, cabbage

Preserving Ideas:

  • Berries: jam, jelly, pancake/ice cream topping, frozen, pie, fruit leather, dried, relish/salsa, baked goods
  • Stone fruits: jam, jelly, frozen, canned, pie, dried, fruit butter
  • Zucchini/summer squash: salsa, tomato sauce, frozen, sweet bread
  • Apples/pears: canned, pies, sauce, butter
  • Tomatoes/peppers/onions: pasta sauce, chili sauce, salsa
  • Squash: bake and freeze
  • Corn/broccoli/cauliflower/peppers: frozen

apple butter

Recipe:

Apple Butter

makes 4 1/2 – 5 1/2 pts.

  • 4 1/2 qts. apples, peeled, cored and sliced (16-17 LARGE apples)
  • 1 qt. water
  • 1 qt. apple cider
  • 3 cups cane sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves
Cook apples with water until soft (5-10 min.).  Press through sieve or food mill on the finest setting.  Add the cider and sugar.  Bring to a boil.  Cook on low until thick (about 3 hours).  Add spices.  Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath.
Mary Voogt is a follower of Christ, a wife, and a mother of two. After 6 years as an electrical engineer she now stays home full time. She is passionate about real food and enjoys spending lots of time in the kitchen cooking and baking from scratch. She blogs at Homemade Dutch Apple Pie on a variety of topics including digestive issues, OCD, anxiety, infertility, natural parenting and healthy food.

Cleaning the Bathroom in Seconds per Day

Week 2 - Bathroom Cleaning Looms Over MeBlocking out a solid hour from my schedule to wipe, scrub, sweep, and dust my bathroom just ain’t happening these days.  And, let’s face it, even when I do have the time, it’s not one of my favorite hobbies.

One night, after washing my face, I stood there with my wet washcloth and had an epiphany.  I reached out and wiped down the counter.  No more dust or stray hair!  Then I wiped out the sink.  No more colorful kiddie toothpaste blobs!  It all took about 15 seconds (I mean, I did have to move the Kleenex box and all), and I tossed the washcloth in the laundry basket and went to bed.

The next night I tackled the mirror.  Windex would have you believe that they are the only way to achieve a streakless shine, but I protest!  A wet washcloth, followed by a dry hand towel worked just fine for me.  Not that I would have minded a few streaks; that still would have been more attractive than the handprints that dominated previously.

The following  night I already had a plan in motion: the floor perimeter.  Most dust/hair/debris doesn’t stay in the middle of the floor, but gets blown to the outside.  After washing my face, I got down on my knees and swiped along the trim.  Granted, we have a small bathroom, but it only took seconds!

And like that, I had cleaned everything in the bathroom in less than a minute of combined work time, save the toilet and shower.

Thankfully, we have a water softener, so I don’t have to clean either one of those more often than every six months.  But I imagine wiping down the shower once a week with your washcloth would help with soap scum and build-up issues.

My favorite part of my new cleaning routine is the lack of CHEMICALS.

Water + washcloth.  Nah, my favorite part is probably how quickly it gets done.  But my second favorite?  The lack of CHEMICALS.

Do you have a Bathroom Cleaning Routine?  A schedule?  A favorite all-natural cleaner?  (I’m all ears for anyone with a natural rust-remover.  Not that we ever need one.  We never let the water softener run out of salt…)

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Photo Credit

*this post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday