Oh what a happy mom am I when the boys rooms are clean, the fridge is shining with no 'science experiments' going on it, the appliances are shining and the windows let in all the bright sunshine because the little paddy prints have been washed off... at least for fifteen minutes... so look fast! After all I do have a just turned two year old that loves to stand on the kitchen chairs (... and the table...) and look at the out of doors... cry when everyone else is going 'bye-bye', and stand and wave at the dumpster guy pulling in the lane... yes windows are nice, but they don't stay clean at our house for very long. The boys say why bother... I tell them can you imagine if we didn't- think layers boys! Well, the kitchen is the gathering place in most homes and it is at ours as well... It is where little boys get to lick the beaters and get a spoonful of homemade chocolate pudding... where soap bubble beards are made and wet towel 'thwacks' happen... yes the kitchen is the heart of the home... after all it's where we nourish those we love... I will go into some more details of how I keep the kitchen and pantry tidy and organized. Today I thought it would be fun to throw in a couple canning recipes for some of the good stuff that you are getting in your CSA shares and across our market table... an possibly out of your very own gardens!
Today we'll focus on the Kitchen and Pantry... read on next time for root cellar and canning room tips! In 'Sink Reflection's', by Marla Cilley I've learned much on keeping notes on what needs to be done through the use of my Control Journal. She also discusses much on the concept of starting and maintaining 'Routine's'. I have read that if you do anything consistently for thirty days, it will become a habit or a routine~ that works with both good & bad stuff, so be careful! I can testify that this is true... as I mentioned in the previous blog post, 'Walk Through' has become second nature in my life and that of my children's. We have incorporated this aspect into our daily lives and now it is a 'normal' thing and no one looks at me with that, 'What are you talking about?' look! It really is wonderful! When we write down the daily routines that we want to live by, we can visually look at these lists and see what needs to be done. It's kinda like typing... for those of you who know how. I don't think about where the key I need is, because as soon as I do, a mistake will inevitably happen... I cannot even tell you right off the top of my head what letter belongs under which finger... I have to actually stop and think about how to spell a word and then I can see it in my mind... you typers know what I am saying... it's also like walking... you don't think each step, you'd probably trip, you just know how to walk. Well that's how our daily routines can and will become a part of our lives... if we are consistent with them that is! So today lets look at creating routines!
Creating and Maintaining Routines... Here are a few tips from me & Marla!
*Think about yourself first... when you get up in the morning, brush your teeth, take a quick shower and be sure to put on some lovely organic face cream to make you feel fresh, have a cup of tea or coffee and do a morning devotion to start your day out right! If mom's happy, everyone is happy!
*P.M.S.~ This is not going to be what you think... read on! When you start your routine list, start small so you aren't overwhelmed and don't get a sense of failure if you don't get all the jobs done! I call this the positive way to look at P.M.S.- Prioritize, Minimize and Simplify your life! What I would recommend is writing a list of all the accomplishments you want to do, then P.M.S. your list! From this list create your routine~ Marla recommends a morning, daily and evening routine. Have a routine for each part of the day and for each day of the week. I love day planners, A.K.A. Control Journals!
*Baby steps is another one of Marla's buzz words... she highly recommends starting small in your routine lists... I think my P.M.S. system works great along with her concept of baby steps.
Here is a sample of my Morning routine as it is written in my Control Journal...
"She riseth while it is yet night and giveth meat to her household..." Proverbs 31:15a
5:50am~ Rise & Shine with smile & praise in my heart! Start coffee if Neil hasn't already.
Swish toilet & sink; get a load of laundry together to throw in.
Brush my teeth; get a quick shower; put lotions on; get dressed.
Have some quiet time with the Lord and a warm cup of coffee...
Check my email's; read daily devotions; send any responses that need done; do blogs.
6:45am~ start waking the rest of the clan up... get breakfast going.
Throw load of laundry in.
7:30am~ everyone at table for breakfast
8:00am~ Assign everyone their tasks for the day; children start morning chores
clearing off table; wash breakfast dishes; switch laundry loads.
9:00am~ Think about my day; make list's for jobs to be done; check my day planner
Check menu~ take anything that has to thaw out of the freezer; make sure we have all ingredients for the menu.
Everyone is on their way...
I also have routines for each day of the week written down in it so the children can see what needs to be done. I use to keep the journal open on the counter during the day so everyone could see it freely, although over the years I have drifted from this simply because they really have become habits.
More on Room by Room Organization...
... so moving on here are tips from my home to yours!
*Here is my Kitchen routine as I have it in my journal. This is to be done on a weekly basis unless otherwise noted.
~Wash down: *Counter Back splash, fronts of cupboards, spot wash walls. Wash down counters & stove after every use
*put clean foil on stove burner plates; clean out fridge
*wash floors- Saturday; spot clean through the week
*sweep floor after each meal daily
*dust all around ceiling lines and through room
*wash floor carpets
~Monthly~ take down curtains and wash; pull fridge & stove out and clean; wash down ceiling fan; wash walls
~Seasonally~ Spring and Fall: wash walls and ceiling; empty out cupboards and wash; take all knick knacks off top of cupboards and wash; dust top of cupboards and wash; touch up any spots with paint.
Helpful Organizational tips for the kitchen...
*I keep all my spices and herbs in half pint, pint and quart size mason jars. I don't like to use plastic with anything more than I have too!
*In the fridge, I always keep the older products up front so they are used first. I do use Tupperware Fridge Smart containers in my fridge. They stack neatly and they really do keep things fresher longer. I use them for my lunch meat, cheeses and even leftovers. They are not just for fruit & veggies.
*I also prefer to use cling wrap over foil to cover things in the fridge~ it is easier to see what's in the bowl.
*I keep all my baking supplies: measuring items, spices, herbs, flour, baking pans & sheets on the same side of the kitchen in neighboring cupboards so I don't have to run all over the kitchen for items.
*Use plastic totes to keep loose items like cookie cutters and other items that you don't use every day in and then they stack neatly in the cupboard as well.
*I use baskets in my utensil drawers~ I like the way it looks better than the regular plastic utensil dividers. I am all about cute~ especially if I can use baskets!
*If you do a lot of baking like we do, keep your 25# and 50# bags of sugar, oatmeal and flours in plastic totes with air tight lids. This will keep it fresh and keep the bugs out!
I am very fortunate to have a nice size pantry right off my kitchen along with a closet in my kitchen to keep my big totes of flour, sugar & oatmeal in. I love my pantry and I get lots of compliments on how orderly and how cute it is! Here is what I do to keep it organized...
*I have two floor shelves and two wall shelves in my pantry.
~On the one shelf I have four medium sized plastic totes that hold pasta, rice, crackers, small bags of flour and other grains. I have two larger totes that hold chips, cereals and other larger bagged items. I made cute tag's with stickers that spelled out the words of what is in each tote and then I laminated them. I then hot glue gunned them onto each tote. I also have two wooden peck baskets on the top shelf that; one hold potatoes & onions while the other holds coffee & tea. On another shelf I have two baskets which hold linen place mats & napkins & extra table clothes and also a stack of other extra baskets for serving. Each of these basket has a tag like the totes but they are tied on with a piece of raffia!
~The other floor shelf is much sturdier and holds all my canned goods~ that is my jars of goodness I preserve. I keep a few of the basics on this shelf so we don't always have to be running to the canning room in the basement for stuff. I also keep my larger mason jars of dry mixes, baking soda & powder, thickening agents, cocoa, along with baking supplies like Chocolate chips, walnuts and coconut on this shelf. I used sticker labels on each jar to write what the contents are. I have three baskets on one of the shelves that hold bread, fruit and veggies that don't need refrigeration in. On the top shelf I have three 'fish bowl' style jars that hold cookies, sugar and treats in.
~One of the wall mounted shelves has three large 'laundry' size rectangular baskets; these hold extra plastic containers, party ware and miscellaneous canning equipment~ apple peeler corer, green bean frencher and such.
The other shelf has another three baskets that hold packages of jello and pectin, canning supplies and anything else that I need to put in them.
... I love my pantry and the extra storage that it offers me. If you have a small closet in or near your kitchen you can easily transform it into a pantry simply by adding some shelves and a little creative ingenuity!
Yummy Market Fresh Recipes...
2 pounds fresh, tender green or yellow wax beans~ make it interesting, use both
4 whole cloves fresh garlic, peeled
4 heads fresh dill or 2 tsp. dill weed
2 tsp. mustard seed
2 1/2 cups white vinegar
2 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup sea salt
*wide mouth canning jars work best for this.
1. Wash beans in cold water; drain on towel; trim off the stem and tail ends, otherwise leave beans whole.
2. In clean jars put one clove garlic, 1 dill head or 1/2 tsp. dill weed and 1/2 tsp. mustard seed; pack the beans in lengthwise into wide mouth jars- they should look like they are standing up. Trim any that are too long; Add one dash cayenne pepper to each jar.
3. Combine water in vinegar and salt in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Pour this over the beans, filling to within 1/2 inch of the top. Seal immediately.
4. Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.
*Wait at least two to three weeks before serving so the flavors have time to blend!
This relish is not only beautiful but no one will ever realize it isn't cucumbers... no matter what they say!
5 cups shredded zucchini
5 cups shredded yellow summer squash
2 cups red onion, diced
2 cups yellow onion, diced
4 Tbsp. sea salt
2 cups sugar (may add up to 1 cup more if you like it sweeter)
1 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. mustard seed
1 each: red, green and orange sweet bell peppers, diced
1. In a large bowl, add both squashes and onions; blend well; add salt. Refrigerate overnight.
2. Drain. Run water through the ingredients several times; drain again.
3. Put ingredients into a large kettle; add vinegar, sugar, turmeric, pepper, dry mustard and mustard seed.
4. Add chopped peppers and add to squash mixture; stir gently until well mixed.
5. Bring mixture to a boil and cook for 3 minutes. Ladle into pint jars leaving 1/2 inch head space; be sure to wipe rims of jars to ensure sealing.
6. Process in boiling water bath for 15 minutes.
Posted by Neil & Jean
@ 10:22 AM EDT