Garden Update, 7/5/20

Our cucurbit patch is exploding. We have watermelons hanging from the fence and vines escaping. We have cucumbers galore. Some are vining up the fence and trellis, others are just on the ground clashing with the watermelons.

We had some casualties in our pepper patch due to a hungry bunny. But we still have lots of peppers growing. And the lone watermelon plant in a corner of the patch is searching out wider spaces.

My miniature roses are still blooming and making me so happy. The sweet and lemon basil are trying to bolt, but I’m holding them off for a while yet.

Harvests & Preserves, 7/3/20

Harvests YTD

  • Spinach 5.5 lb
  • Radish 1.2 lb
  • Onion 2.9 lb
  • Green beans 4.5 lb
  • Tomato 13.6 lb
  • Cucumber 9.7 lb

Preserves YTD

  • Chicken broth 17 pts
  • Clementines 2 pts + 11 half-pts
  • Pineapple 7 pts
  • Onion, frozen 1 pt
  • Green beans 5 qts
  • Sweet basil pesto 12 oz
  • Lemon basil pesto 8 oz
  • Dill pickles, fridge 1 gal, shelf 2 qts
  • Tomato sauce, fridge 2 pts

Simple Vegetable Soup

This was inspired by a Filipino dish called “utan bisaya,” a very simple vegetable soup. What follows is my Americanized take on this dish.

I served this soup with a big pot of calico beans (a combination of beans and meat in a barbecue-style sauce) and a pan of cornbread. It was a surprisingly fantastic combination.

Simple Vegetable Soup

Simple Vegetable Soup


  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, cut in half-inch cubes
  • 2 carrots, peeled, chopped
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded, diced
  • 1 head bok choy, chopped
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp lemon basil, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Add the squash and carrots to the broth and bring to a simmer. Cook about 5 minutes.
  2. When squash and carrots are about halfway cooked, add all of the peppers. Cook another 5 minutes.
  3. Add the bok choy and cook 3-4 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat. Stir in onions and basil. Adjust seasoning. Serve.


  • The butternut squash can be substituted with an acorn squash.
  • The colors and flavor of red, orange, and yellow bell peppers are better here than green. Or, use about 6 mini sweet peppers instead.
  • The jalapeño peppers can be omitted or replaced with 1 cayenne pepper.
  • The bok choy can be replaced with napa cabbage. Ordinary green cabbage is OK, but not as tender, so add it sooner.
  • Lemon basil is not sold everywhere (but is easy to grow!). Replace with sweet basil and a teaspoon of lemon zest, if necessary.

Harvests & Preserves, 06/12/20

So far this year, we’ve harvested…

  • 5.5 lb spinach
  • 1.2 lb radishes
  • 1.48 lb onions
  • 4.48 lb green beans
  • 1.28 lb cabbage
  • kale

Also, this year, I’ve put up…

  • 17 pints chicken broth
  • 7.5 pints clementines
  • 7 pints pineapple chunks
  • 1 pint diced onion (freezer)
  • 5 quarts green beans

Meal Plan, 6/11/20

Our plates are looking a little different these days due to higher meat prices and a lack of sale cycles. To keep our budget in check, I’ve focused on adding to my repertoire of vegetarian recipes, trying out other proteins in place of beef, and making our pork and chicken favorites more often.

I’ve written about my method of meal planning already. I plan basically the same way. I shop for 2+ weeks at a time. I plan 10-12 meals and stretch to the next shop with leftovers, pantry staples, and sandwiches. I keep the list in my bullet journal for the week. I’ve recently been writing the menu out day by day on a display in the kitchen. It’s not really my style to be so structured that way, but I’m trying to reduce the “what are we eating?” queries. (Though, it’s mostly a practice in habit-formation now as 3 of the 4 chirping mouths belong to illiterate people!)

Chicken fajitas, charro beans

This will use a family portion of charro beans from the freezer and the end of a package of corn tortillas.

Chicken piccata, pasta, broccoli

I’m trying this recipe for chicken piccata.


I have trouble buying proportionate amounts of mozzarella and pepperoni for pizza. I use up cheese and still have pepperoni, so I buy more cheese and run out of pepperoni, so I buy more pepperoni and run out of cheese… this time, I think I’ve got just enough cheese and pepperoni for one meal of pizza. Maybe.

Egg roll bowls with ground pork, cabbage, carrot, onion, and rice

I roughly use this recipe for egg rolls, except I don’t make the rolls. Also, I leave out the OJ in the sesame sauce. (Sometimes I replace the sauce with a mix of hoisin sauce and vinegar.)

Broccoli cheese soup, salad, rolls/bread

I use this copycat Panera Bread soup recipe — its delicious. The salad will happen if we get to this meal soon enough in the week; otherwise, well, it won’t. There will be slow cooker dinner rolls or a bread machine loaf to accompany the soup.

Black bean burgers, homemade french fries

I’ve wanted to try a black bean burger for years. What better time than when ground beef is over $5 per pound! I was recommended this recipe, so its going to be my first attempt.

Smoked pork, coleslaw, potato salad, beans (maybe)

Chicken meatballs, spaghetti, veggie

Veggie taco soup, quesadillas

I had an idea to substitute a squash for the beef in my usual taco soup recipe. We need to have this soon, as I found flour tortillas in the bakery clearance basket at the store, and I’m not sure how long I’ve got on those!