What’s cooking today

Today was one of those days where one random thing led to another and another. It began with the kids picking the last apples off the apple tree before they started school.  The bushel or so of apples in boxes on the counter got me thinking about making space in the pantry for applesauce we’d be making in the afternoon.

My pantry is getting full of canned goods, so after listening to various kids read (biology, Little Women, and Anne of Green Gables) I got into the pantry and moved less-used appliances out to the garage and put some pots and pans on top of the fridge where they live when the pantry is at its overloaded stage.

While cleaning and wiping down shelves, I discovered some green Ethiopian coffee beans that I’d forgotten about it. I set one of the teenagers out next the the barbecue to read a book and roast the beans.  Yum!  Talk about a heavenly smell.  When it came time for lunch, the barbecue was still going (the mega-big batch of coffee beans was taking awhile to cook) so I decided to scoot over the skillet and grill some burgers.  Along with it we had some leftover rice and Amish cole slaw.  We’re swimming in cabbage this time of year– I’ve gotta use more!  (I’m thinking of freezing it in shreds to use in stir-fries during the winter.  Maybe tomorrow.)

After lunch, the kids were pretty much done with school, so it was on to applesauce (recipe here). Wish I could say we were enthusiastic– and we are thankful for the abundance– but September is the end of the yearly canning marathon, so we are pretty much all longing for first frost. (Well, I’m still hoping for more ripe tomatoes, since our tomatoes are slow this year and we need more, but other than that– we’re WAY done canning.)

My 14yo daughter washed and sorted apples– good ones in the box in the fridge, wormy or bruised ones onto the counter so that the other kids could peel, trim off bad spots, and quarter. Then into a big pot they went, with some water, sugar and cinnamon.  About now the smells in the room were getting good.  The coffee beans were still sitting on cookie sheets to cool, and the smell of apples, sugar and cinnamon made an interesting spicy mix of aromas.

While the applesauce simmered, a brief wander on Pinterest netted me this lovely-looking Paleasagna— a perfect use for even more garden veggies.  I used sliced eggplant, pureed tomato, cubed green pepper and shredded zucchini, made more hearty with some cubed chicken breasts that I simmered with onion and garlic in tomato sauce.  That’s currently baking in the oven.


The kids — after helping me for three hours straight, poor things– have now wandered off, some to their bedrooms to read, some drawing pictures, and some to facebook.  It’s quiet here in the living room as dinner cooks.  We ended up getting 13 quarts of applesauce, which (you know if you’ve made applesauce before) is a good day’s work.  Applesauce makes a huge mess and never seems to net as many jars as you expect. The kids were all troopers, and tonight will definitely be a chill-out evening. Maybe some Biggest Loser– we’re on season 9 on Netflicks, and are enjoying it.

That’s about as exciting as it gets around here. Oh, except today I got my travel itinerary for the DotMom conference in Birmingham next weekend– should be fun.  Be sure to tell me if you’re going and maybe we could meet up.

How about you?  What did you do today? What are you looking forward to during the next few weeks?


  1. Sounds like a good days work to me! Your kids are learning so much on days like that, even if without checking off every schoolwork box.

    We can’t really grow apples here. Besides the climate being tricky (some people pull it off with the right spray regimine) our neighbors have cedars infected with fire blight, which has killed the apple tree we planted a few years ago. Rather than fight for apples, we’ve decided to grow pears and peaches, because they do grow well here and we can find fire blight resistant cultivars. I can’t wait until our little orchard is full of fruit!

    My tomatoes didn’t do well this year, either. We got some nice ones, and plenty for eating fresh, but not enough to can.

    • Peach trees are our nemesis. We’ve killed off two already, and the one we still have is barely hanging on. I think that’s really cool you’re able to grow them!

  2. I do love reading about what you are up to in the kitchen! Out of curiousity, have you ever counted up all the canned food in your pantry at the end of harvest season? I often wander what % of your family’s diet ultimately comes from your gardens. Biggest Loser is a great show for kids- it is an elegant argument for hard work and the efficacy of personal resposibility in a culture that is increasingly inclined to blame our genes/environment/temptations for the decisions we make. And the “before” diets must be eye opening to your kids, who are used to healthy home-cooked meals full of seasonal fruit and vegetables!

  3. How did the palesagna turn out? Had you made something like that before? I’ve never heard of it, but it looks great.

    We love lasagna over here, so maybe I will give it a try as a nice alternative. 🙂

  4. Oh Mary, I keep leaving the apples waiting while I work on the plums, peaches and grapes. We’ve been picking, sorting, freezing, canning since Saturday. Our neighborhood is bursting with fruit, and faster than we can all pick it, cider is brewing on the ground.

    And as far as cooking, 2 weeks ago I filled our freezers with casseroles and bagged many crockpot meal ingredients because life here is busy every evening.

    Maybe I’ll get those apples processed on Saturday.