Friday, May 30, 2008

3 Moms, 3 Kitchens, 30 Days Down, 1 To Go

Today I did something I've wanted to do for a LONG time but have just never had the courage to attempt: making pie crust from scratch. Honestly, it was very easy and I'm baffled as to why I've put it off for so long. However, it didn't taste as good as I would have liked so I'm going to have to play around with the recipe a bit. If anyone has a tried and true pie crust recipe they'd like to share, I'd love to hear about it!

Breakfast this morning was leftover pancakes and the last of the month's yogurt. Lunch was another repeat of bologna sandwiches, oranges, and I also made some buttered noodles with Parmesan cheese. For dinner we had chicken pot pie with my homemade crust, and a batch of chicken and gravy with veggies from the freezer.
The kids had cherry jell-o for dessert. As a matter of principle, I'm not very fond of giving them jell-o because of all the artificial ingredients and dyes. However, I am not opposed to it on occasion. And obviously they love it, although probably more for the color it turns their tongues than the taste.

I was asked by Jennifer how we handle fresh produce throughout the month with only one large grocery trip per month. The easiest answer to this is that it depends on what season of the year it is. Although that's also the honest answer, I don't want it to sound like a cop out. So, let me explain a little further.
We always purchase a lot of fresh produce at the beginning of the month. This month, for example, we bought:
  • 1 1/2 lbs. strawberries
  • 3 lbs. bananas
  • 1 large bunch celery
  • 3 large green peppers
  • 3 zucchini
  • 3 heads of garlic
  • 3 lb. bag onions
  • 8 lb. bag potatoes
  • 1 lb. mushrooms
  • 2 bags of lettuce

This was augmented throughout the month with:

  • 10 lbs. potatoes
  • 3 lbs. bananas
  • honeydew from a neighbor
  • 7 oranges

The fruit is always eaten quickly. I typically spend a day or two preparing the vegetables in different dishes for the freezer. This month, I used most of the vegetables for 8 cups of veggie-tomato sauce, 4 cups of a side dish saute, and 2 lasagnas. (You can read more about that here.) We also had salads with 4 of our dinners.

We also take advantage of frozen fruits and vegetables, which run a very close second nutrient wise to fresh vegetables, and sometimes they are even more nutrient-packed then "fresh" produce that has been sitting on trucks and shelves for weeks. I don't think I could shop this way were it not for the frozen vegetables I have come to rely on. We also go through a gallon of all-natural applesauce every month. In the off-seasons we do use canned fruit on a fairly regular basis. Commercially-canned food is far from our first choice, but that is what we do for now. I figure I would rather the kids have fruit every single day than to just go without so that we could avoid canned food. For the next 3-4 months, I will be making some drastic changes to our menu plan and fresh fruits and vegetables will become a much more integral part of our daily diets.

We have looked in to joining a CSA, but there just isn't one close enough to make it worthwhile, especially with gas prices where they are. Ideally, I would love to can and freeze our own produce to last us until next summer. As we can not have a garden where we currently live (although that situation will change as soon as we are able to sell our house), that leaves us with few other options. We are planning berry-picking trips several times this summer, and apple-picking trips in the fall. We would love to find a farmer's market so that we can support local farmers, but they are not very common in our area. There is a wonderful store a few minutes from our house that sells a lot of locally grown produce, and throughout the summer that store is like our second home.

As Joy alluded to yesterday, we 3 Moms have been quite busy the past few weeks with an exciting new project, so I apologize for being an absent commenter lately. Don't forgot to stop by Joy and Toni's blogs to see how they are finishing out this month of 3 Moms, 3 Kitchens, 31 Days.


Jennifer 9:21 AM  

Thanks for answering! I knew you ate them, as I could see in the recipes that there was plenty of fruits and veggies, I was just wanting more specifics on how you handled. Thanks!

Alisa 5:22 PM  

The yummiest pie crust we've ever made, we found on pioneer womans site. We've always made our own, since hubby used to work in bakeries, so should I say, he's always made them?
As always, thanks for all the great info.

Anonymous,  2:16 PM  

I made some pie crust in May after my Mom told me of one that can take some "handling" without getting tough. The vinegar in the recipe doesn't affect the taste - I made a chicken pot pie and a mountain berry pie, and they both tasted fine.

Never Fail Pie Crust
3 c. flour
1 1/4 c. shortening (I use butter flavor)
1 tsp. salt
1 egg, well beaten
5 T. cold water
1 T. cider vinegar

Cut together first 3 ingredients. Combine last 3 ingredients in separate bowl and pour over above mixture. Mix together. Makes two double pie crusts - rolled thin. May be re-handled and re-rolled without getting hard or tough. May be kept in fridge as long as 2 weeks (wrapped tightly in plastic wrap).

Hope this works for you!

On another note, I have been following with much interest the 3 Moms 3 Kitchens entries. I have started doing some of the things you do and it has been a great help. I do have one question, and haven't seen this addressed in any entries. I have tried making ahead and freezing - enchiladas, for example. But when I reheat them in the oven, the tortillas are mushy. How do you maintain the original texture of dishes such as these? Also, I noticed you freeze things such as french toast, pancakes...when taking them out of the freezer, how do you warm them up? Sorry so long, but this is a big unknown to me!


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