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Scattered Sunday

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I have been avoiding actual work this week and decided to plan my content calendar for 2021. Fun fact: did you know that posts you read on the blog were actually decided on last November? 

There are still a few holes to fill for next year, so I would love to hear what you’d love to see more of from me in 2021.

I asked this question on Instagram and had so many people say “more preserving and freezing recipes”. I had to laugh because Katie likes to constantly ask me “seriously, how much crap is there left for you to can or freeze”? Girl, hold my ginger beer. There’s a lot.

Each post you see on the blog (other than these Sunday ones) is the product of 20-30 hours of work. I recipe test each recipe multiple times (this Instant Pot Tortellini was made SEVEN times before I felt comfortable declaring it “the best”), take photos, write, etc.

Oh, and as a reminder, ALL of my Instant Pot and air fryer recipes also have alternative cooking methods in them so that they’re available to anyone. That means I test those recipes in multiple ways!

And because of the time required for each post, and the lack of dedicated work time since schools have been closed, I have to be super deliberate about what I post.

New content needs to fit into the themes that my readers have shown me they want: preserving, one-pot dinners, meals that can easily be adaptable to be vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, etc (I constantly get comments on how cooking is easier when I suggest substitutions), fast dinners, easy side dishes, and kitchen hacks.

I have learned over the years that my readers do not want: desserts (sob! I love desserts but you don’t want them from ME), anything that takes longer than 45 minutes, or requires a fancy grocery store to source ingredients. <—I feel you on that. I’m an hour away from a Whole Foods.

2 boys in blue coats in the woods

Bennett is starting to look like Steve Carrell on the 40 Year Old Virgin movie poster in every photo.

Have you made your plan to vote? Election day is just a week away. If your state offers in-person and early voting, that is the best and safest option for most people.

I’ve seen info from epidemiologists that the risk factor for in-person voting is the same as going to the grocery store. But many traditional poll workers are older and rightly should rightly take the day off this year. If you’re young and healthy, have you volunteered to be a poll worker? 

As a lifetime “vote by mail” voter, I have almost 20 years of mail-in voting experience. Washington State has offered ONLY mail-in voting for decades.

I have seen news reports of people standing in line for 2-4 hours to vote. What kind of beetle headed nonsense is that? Holy crap on a cracker that is ridiculous! People have to work, and shouldn’t need childcare to go vote. Hopefully, when all is said and done with this virus, these antiquated voting processes will be reexamined.

I admit to being a “turn it in by 8 pm on election day” voter in the past (check your state to see what the rules are). We’re lucky to have 500+ ballot drop boxes in the state.

But this year, we submitted our ballots the day after we received them. And as Beth and Sarah suggested, I voted with an exclamation point! I checked 36 hours later and found that my ballot had been accepted and approved. Most states have a similar way to check ballot status so make sure you track yours.

My only complaint with mail-in voting in our state is that we don’t get a sweet “I voted” sticker. I’ve been seeing people proudly wear their stickers on Instagram and am envious your absentee ballots come with such sweet swag. I didn’t realize that different states had different stickers. It’s so cool! Let’s step it up Washington.

With all my mail-in elections experience, I wanted to prepare you for the idea that we may not have answers on election night. That is not because mail-in voting or the election is rigged. It is simply the nature of how it works when your vote can be counted up to a week after election night. This is especially true for overseas and military ballots, both of which my state has a lot of.

Don’t believe me? Check out the 2004 Washington governor’s race for a bit of historical geeking out. At the time, it was the closest governor’s race in US history and we didn’t have answers FOR WEEKS. And for the record, Washington had a Republican Secretary of State at the time (we still do).

So, if you/we don’t have answers the night of the 3rd, take a deep breath and realize that sometimes this is just how it plays out. Message a friend from Washington, Oregon, or Colorado if you start freaking out. We’re used to this and we’ll talk you off the conspiracy ledge. And then we’ll take you for a hike and make you go apple picking because that is how we roll.

a small christmas tree

All rules go out the window in 2020. Bennett now has a Christmas tree in his room.

As much as we have worked to limit screentime during the shutdown, there are still days when I need to stick a device in front of my kids to prevent me from choking them out. And since I refuse to listen to them watching morons playing video games or unwrapping toys on Youtube, we mandate headphones.

I’m not sure if you’ve ever seen what a four-year-old can do to a pair of headphones, but it’s not pretty. He has snapped every pair we have owned in the last year. He even busted a kid-proof set that I found at a local store. We finally found these headphones online and they’re wonderful!

They’re comfortable for the kids, which honestly is the least important thing I care about. Sorry boys. I just need them to last.

But the best part? Wait for it. Wait for it…the cord is wrapped in cloth so the tangled plastic cords are a thing of the past! It’s so nice to just be able to slip the inevitable knots out. We highly recommend them.

a boy and man throwing a log in the water

I finally canned all the apples that I got for free from my brother-in-law’s parents. It made 22 quarts of unsweetened applesauce. I was shocked that I got so much from those two boxes of apples!

But I did have to add water to the sauce to thin it out to make it safe to can. It was the thickest applesauce I’ve ever made and thought it too dense for water bath canning.

Sadly, I lost at least eight pounds of apples to decay. It’s my fault for taking over three weeks to can all 40-50 pounds. It’s amazingly disappointing that these 1970’s suburban homes didn’t come with a proper root cellar. 🙂

an apple with a thought bubble

That being said, canning is officially DONE for the season. In a week’s time, I will be without my kitchen for (I’m guessing) two(ish) months. I will have access to my dad’s kitchen but don’t want to monopolize the space for hours at a time.

Not only that, but I officially used all my quart jars. Every single quart jar in my house is either filled with home-canned items, is in my freezer, or is in my pantry for dry-goods storage. And with the scarcity of canning lids these days, I’m not wasting lids to can bigger items in pint jars.

a text conversation

I thought this was going to be the week that I didn’t need to make a single trip to IKEA. Oh, the naivete. Due to the global supply chain, it has been (first world) HARD to get all the components of our cabinets. It has meant many trips to get just a few small items.

The system for kitchen ordering is antiquated. You have to get to the kitchen department, wait in line for someone to help you. They then place the order for what is in stock, you pay for it, and then wait until someone downstairs puts it together. But it is all based on first-come-first-served.

I now know every single shortcut and pass-through in IKEA. It’s so funny to see the looks on people’s faces who were ahead of me in line to get in the store when they round the corner in the kitchen department and see I have already been helped. I can smoke anyone getting to that department first!

The benefit of going early is that my order is usually ready within 30 minutes. And the benefit of being self-employed is that I have the luxury of going to a giant store on a weekday. Self-employment is nice because YOU get to decide which 14 hours a day you work. 🙂

a boy blowing a dandelion

Someone help me name Bennett’s upcoming fashion blog.

In the Garden This Week

If you put down a bet of “Sarah isn’t really going to finish laying down bark on her dad’s garden”, you’d be a rich person right now! But in my defense, it’s not my fault.

My dad is selling his motorhome and that giant beast has been in the driveway for a week now. It’s been sold but we’re waiting on the new owner to come get it. That motor-monstrosity was blocking where I needed to dump the bark, so there! Not my fault. See?

I pulled all the squash, cucumber, and tomato plants this week. The chickens had a lovely three-day feast of all the plants. And then they pooped out my breakfast, so it’s really it’s a closed-loop system up in here.

I have been picking salad every few days, and I’m kinda annoyed with cleaning it. Fresh salad is so good, but making sure I get all the dirt and crap out is a lot of work. I have tried picking a week’s worth at once, but even with our giant salad spinner (it’s like this one, but I got it at a garage sale and traded a dozen eggs for it), I need to do it at least twice a week.

Coming up tasks: finally planting garlic, trimming all the raspberry canes (sticks/vines) and giving them to the chickens, and finalizing a hoop house system for the lettuce bed. I have an idea on how to build it for free, but I need some pieces of trim from our old kitchen to make it happen. 

a woman standing in a kitchen pointing to a low oven vent

Housekeeping

Instacart is back with their incredible free delivery offer. Stores are already getting busier with holiday shopping (ack, seriously? So soon!), and having someone else do the shopping for you is such a time-saver.

All new Instacart users can get free delivery on their first order over $35. What will you do with the time you’ll save? You can sign up for your free delivery here.

What I’m Listening To This Week

My podcast listening definitely isn’t for everyone, but if you like true crime or small business shows, I’m your girl. 😊 A long-time reader recommended Shallow Graves to me a few weeks ago, and I binged the whole season in just two days.

What I’m Reading This Week

I finally finished The Color of Law. I’ve never read a book that has made me so angry and has made me want to throw things so hard against a wall.

It was an important and powerful book and I’m glad I read it. I learned an incredible amount of historical information that impacts how we live TODAY. But I’m also so thankful to be done with it.

To switch things up, I started The Alice Network, a book recommended by a friend and multiple readers. It takes place during my favorite book-related timeline, the period between WWI and WWII. It was a page-turner and I finished it Friday night and started The Glass Hotel. (You can see all the books I’ve read in 2020 here)

Reader Spotlight of the Week

Long-time reader Jean left this five-star review on our Lotion Bar Recipe {Pin this recipe} which has 48 5-star reviews on it!:

I have been meaning to make these ever since you posted the “recipe”, but just got to it a couple of days ago. These are AMAZING! My dry, itchy skin feels so much better! I used a greased muffin tin as a mold and it worked well. I have already given away two of the bars as a gift. Thanks for sharing this Sarah.

a lotion bar in the shape of honeycomb on a grey cloth with wax and other lotion bars on a white board

On Sustainable Cooks This Week

I published only two posts this week instead of my normal three. Life happened, plus the photos I took for an updated recipe were a freaking trainwreck inside of a dumpster fire. 

Instant Pot Basmati Rice – Make perfect Instant Pot Basmati Rice for a fast side dish that the whole family will love! Made in a flash in a pressure cooker, this delicious rice is great for meal prep and is pairs well with so many dishes. No pressure cooker? You’ll also find stovetop instructions in the recipe. {Pin this recipe}

a bowl of basmati rice topped with parsley

How to Freeze Pumpkin – Learn all the tips and tricks for freezing pumpkin to extend the harvest. Learning how to freeze pumpkin in cubes or puree is a great way to preserve this wonderful ingredient without needing to know any special kitchen skills. {Pin this tutorial}

a bag of cubed frozen pumpkin with mini pumpkins

The Five Most Popular Posts This Week

  1. Crockpot Apple Butter – I have 12 half-pints of this in our garage and winter is going to be delicious.  {Pin this recipe}
  2. How to Can Pears – my kiddo’s all-time favorite. {Pin this tutorial}
  3. Instant Pot Garlic Parmesan Rice – Hey, hey you. This recipe freezes well. You’re welcome.  {Pin this recipe}
  4. Crispy Air Fryer Potatoes – a fantastic meal prep dish that you can cook in the air fryer or traditional oven.  {Pin this recipe}.
  5. How to Can Applesauce – we have 22 quarts of this all snuggled up in our garage food storage. {Pin this tutorial}

Meal Plan

Monday:: Instant Pot Lentil Soup, salad, and bread. I have 2 cups of dried lentils in a bag in my garage that didn’t fit in the half-gallon canning jar I poured the rest into. I’m not the least bit embarrassed to admit I’m making this soup just so I don’t have to look at that bag anymore. Type A meal planning!

Tuesday:: Testing a friend’s recipe that I want to bring to the blog in December. We’ll pair it with salad and possibly some pasta.

Wednesday:: Instant Pot Mac and Cheese, Air Fryer Tofu, and salad from the garden. I have half of a can of evaporated milk from a recipe I tested last week (it was terrible, thanks for asking) and I can use it up in this recipe. We also have trunk or treat at church that night and this is a fast meal that the kids can prefunk before candy.

Thursday:: Takeout to support a local small business.

Friday:: Popcorn, leftovers, and movie night.

Saturday:: We are going to do a wee bit of trick or treating in the neighborhood and will have our traditional pre-Halloween dinner of homemade pizza and salad.

Sunday:: Definitely takeout to support a local small business. It will be so nice to not have to cook after the kitchen demo.

 

What are you having this week?

 

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35 comments on “Scattered Sunday”

  1. I appreciate all the hours you put into recipe development so I can have delicious things to eat.  I love dessert, I’m newly gluten free so that’s been fun.  I like your scattered Sunday’s where you show us what your eating for the week, it really helps me think differently about meal planning.  

  2. Dude that vent is going to take you out one day if you ever lean down too quickly. As the resident hobbit in my husband’s family I have the opposite problem, the in laws bought me a stool just to reach the cups in the cabinet on the bottom shelf. The next shortest person in the family is my mother in law who is 5’10”, hubby being the tallest at 6’6”. 

    I enjoy all the recipes that are gluten or dairy free. Mom is gluten free, sister is dairy allergic. I always look forward to having to host any family dinners. <~~ Hard to convey sarcasm in text but I feel like you get it. 🙂

    • Girl, I bash my face on it weekly! Thankfully it will be gone as of Sunday. Gone by the end of a sledgehammer that I will be swinging with abandon and glee. 🙂

      Haha, I hope your mom and sister also contribute to said family dinners!

  3. Color of Law is such a well-written book but oh my goodness, so hard to sit with. I bought a bunch of antiracism books when my library was closed and just gave them away on Buy Nothing, and the lady who took the pile offered to make it a book club of sorts. She took down the names of all the people who requested the books and is passing them around so everyone gets a chance to read whichever ones they want. Color of Law was the most requested.

    • I think “so hard to sit with” is EXACTLY what I was trying to convey but just didn’t have the words.

      I LOVE that you have inadvertently started your own little community book club. Here is to hoping the ripples of awareness will go far beyond your town.

  4. I’m in favor of desserts! And even though you’re the one who talked (blogged?) me into buying an Instant Pot, and now an air fryer, I’m definitely not ever going to can anything. But I admire you for doing so! 🙂

    • Oh! And I voted! My county in Colorado gives us stickers (on the instruction sheet)! I’m usually a last minute voter, but I dropped it off a little over a week ago, and already got texts/emails telling me that my ballot has been received and accepted. WOOOO!

    • Troy would say the appropriate term is “nagged” for talking you into buying an air fryer and instant pot. 🙂

      • Hahaha! I just made your air fryer fries for dinner, so feel free to nag away! So freaking good. (Off to review them now…)