Setting Food By

Today was Bountiful Basket day again and I still had half a case of tomatoes left.   A case of tomatoes is a lot for a family of two.   This morning found my husband and I preparing tomatoes for the freezer before we headed in to town to get our next batch of produce.  All of this reminded me of my mom who was the preservation queen.   What this means is she could figure out a way to put anything by for use to feed our family in the winter.      We were like the Salvation Army of food; nothing was ever turned away or wasted.  She made grape juice one year when some one gave her a couple of bushels of concord grapes.   My family had a recipe for canned carp, that tasted very much like salmon.  Carp were the fish, that the local fishermen did not want and our family could get them for the price of gas to the commercial fisherman’s dock.   The year our freezer failed, my mom was pulling things out and reprocessing them in fruit jars to prevent a loss.   We had a preference for our veggies frozen but that year they were all canned.

I used to can, dehydrate, and freeze quite a bit. I had learned from the best.     I had gotten away from it since moving to Montana ten years ago.   Produce here stinks to put it mildly.   I must admit I was a little intimidated by the alterations that you need to make for the decreased of pressure at this altitude.  I  got rid of my old pressure canner. It was ages old from a rummage sale when I got it and I could not get weight adjustments that I would need for here.   It seemed like the right thing to do.

I do have a “Food Saver”, though I call it a “Seal-a-Meal” (that dates me).   We bought it to use when we butchered our chickens. Today we learned how to use it to save our tomatoes.       I made two batches of a crock-pot  marinara sauce, fire roasted salsa, and prepared cooked tomatoes.   All of these I put by using my vacuum pack system. I must say when I am done, it doesn’t have the same impact of looking at all those pints of tomatoes all lined up in crystal clear Ball jars.  I can say that it was much quicker.    It also allowed me to put up small batches as needed  without hauling all my canning stuff out and then processing for the extended length of time required.     I am not sure that I save much if any money, as these Food Saver bags are not inexpensive or really reusable like fruit jars. I do know that we are going enjoy knowing our chili and spaghetti  meals are made with tomatoes that are not full of salt, and extra’s that we don’t want or need.

This co-op system may have me rethinking about pulling out my dehydrater and if I need to replace my canner.   Stay tuned.



One Week Down – Update on Use of My Bountiful Basket

As promised here is an update on how we are doing with our first “Bountiful Basket.”

  • Chard – half gone.  We had it saute with sweet onions, garlic and finished with a splash of white wine.
  • cauliflower – Cleaned,  but yet to be served
  • green onions – half gone, served as part of a veggie tray
  • carrots (full sized) – on tonight’s dinner menu oven roasted, with a butter, honey and balsamic vinegar glaze
  • iceberg lettuce – half gone, two salads, on sandwiches  and a Mexican meal.
  • Chicory – been in salads, still have plenty left
  • broccolini  – on tonight’s menu as well
  • ginger gold apples – not yet
  • white nectarines – all gone, ate for breakfast.   These were probably the most disappointing in our basket.  They got soft on the outside and stayed hard in the middle.
  • peaches – breakfast food, only 2 left.  Fantastic taste.
  • watermelon – 2/3 gone.  Took it to office pot luck.


 case of tomatoes  – 1/2 gone, made fire-roasted salsa, served in salads, and made an Italian grilled veggies one night and a gallon of crock-pot marina sauce.

pepper pack (green and red bells, onions, garlic, dried ancho, and smoked jalapeno (chipolte).   salsa, grilled veggies, veggie tray, salads, only 1/2 of one red and green left, onions, garlic gone, one chipolte left and two anchos left.

I think we are doing pretty good for just the two of us. Both of us agree that this has forced our hand to eat better.  Our meals are more complete.  The idea we are able to eat organic, that is pretty special to us.  We are doing better on the fruit than we thought we would.  I will menu plan the rest of next week and blanch and freeze up what I think  may go to waste.  Am I going to do it again?   You betcha!

New Produce Source

Organic Basket shared by Rachel S @ Bountiful Baskets

I am excited as a friend of mine introduced me to a new produce source.  Bountiful Baskets Co-op.   It is sort of funny because on my last road trip I was asking a co-worker about co-ops.  Suddenly another friend hooks me up with one for food.

This is a buying co-op.  Where members commit and prepay for a  produce basket.  A limited amount of other produce and bread products are also available.   The co-op then purchases in bulk  and has a truck the make the route to distribute the goods.   Local co-op volunteers arrive early, meet the truck and divide up the produce sent for members.  One of the things you do when you join is purchase a basket for the co-op.   This is used to help the volunteers with their task of dividing up produce.   Members show up at a designated time, and pick up their produce.

This week was my first week to participate. I ordered the organic basket.  The photo is what I got.  I am so excited, and looking forward to  fresh produce.   Already my husband and I are talking about how this will give us the impetus to try new veggies.  We also talked about how good we are with eating vegetables, maybe not enough variety, but we do eat lots of them.   We are terrible about eating fruit and with 50% of the basket being fruit it will be a challenge for us to get it all eaten in two weeks.   We have been kicking around ideas on how we might prepare our fruits.

Here is what we got in our organic basket:

  • Chard – which we already eat, and we are planning trying it a couple new ways and with the lamb we are having.
  • cauliflower
  • green onions
  • carrots (full sized)
  • iceberg lettuce (I haven’t had that in ages)
  • Chicory (new one for me)
  • broccolini ( I have had broccoli but never this, internet here I come)
  • ginger gold apples
  • white nectarines
  • peaches
  • watermelon

I also bought a case of tomatoes and a pepper pack (green and red bells, onions, garlic, dried ancho, and smoked jalapenos (chipolte).   I am thinking fresh salsa, and maybe some gazpacho.

I will try to blog about my adventures with this process as I volunteer, get additional baskets, learn to use new veggies and eat more fruit.