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Scattered Sundays and Meal Plan

It seems like my internal “care about the garden” finally switch went from “meh” to “yeaaaaaaah” this week. I got almost everything for summer planted. Late. Again. But it’s planted and that is what matters the most.

Our homemade strawberry towers are going freaking bonkers and I’m starting to see some blush on a few of the berries. The wild peacocks in our neighborhood were helping themselves the other day, so I’m going to need to add some netting. Or an electric fence.

I feel like the strawberries are on track with where they have been in previous years, but the berries are huge and look so clean. Before when our strawbs were on the ground they were always getting a little grody and the size of the berry was usually odd or misshapen. Please note: odd and misshapen strawberries are still delicious.

When your front yard is your garden, and your garden is your front yard, you want to make it look a nice as possible. Our largest planting area is made from pavers and has always been a source of frustration for me.

When we first moved in there was just one layer of pavers and they were laid all janky-like. I eventually evened out some of the paver stones and added a second layer. It has been on my to-do list (but not my budget) to add another layer for years.

Bennett and I finally got around to this week.

Bennett adds so much value in the garden, let me tell you. Yeesh. It takes about 28 times as long to accomplish anything with a toddler tagging along. But I know it’s important to get him involved and blah, blah, blah.

I asked him to bring me my little blue hand shovel the other day and it was like that scene in Guardians of the Galaxy II when they are trying to get Baby Groot to bring them something. At one point he brought me the ice pack from our milkman porch box.

Regardless, I’m loving how this space looks finally and am looking forward to seeing it filled out and pumping out produce this summer. Do you think there is a produce gym called “Pumping Out Produce”?

Troy also put together some cattle panel tomato cages this week. They are made from the same material as our trellises. We’re trying out two of them this year and may build more next year if they work well. I have a love-hate with traditional tomato cages and our garden storage space is quite small. The cages Troy built this week will at least be easy to store during the offseason.

How is your garden growing this year? Are you planting anything new or exciting? Do you want to come weed mine?

Jack ran for Vice President this week at school. He didn’t make it to round two (appears to be mostly fourth graders who moved on), but he seems really ok with it. He said he was glad he ran and isn’t too bummed. They made posters, he had to write a campaign speech and gave it in front of the whole school. All good learning experiences!

We officially wrapped up our first Whole30 at 11:59 pm on Wednesday. I plan to do a separate “how did it go” post this week, but overall it was a fun experiment and I’m glad we did it. I’m hoping to have other readers who participated weigh in on my post later this week. I’m so excited to hear about your experiences!

Preschool field trip this week. Clearly, he hated being on a farm.

Something (work related) super exciting happened this week. I can’t tell you what it is yet (I’m a giant tease) but let’s just say I called Troy screaming in my car.

I have decided that I don’t understand the appeal of Looney Tunes. I was never into them as a kid, and I am further perplexed by adults being so enamored by them that they wear Looney Tunes clothing and get tattoos.

I recently saw an adult wearing what I’m sure was an expensive leather Looney Tunes letterman jacket. Clearly, I am missing something. Can anyone fill me in?

I don’t have the original source for this, but it’s not mine!

A preview of what is coming up in the next couple of weeks: summer drinks, simple homemade jam recipes (that’s my jam. Sorry. Not sorry for that pun), side dishes that keep you cool and take less than 15 minutes, and a delicious and healthy weeknight dinner.

As I finalize my editorial calendar for the next few months I would love to hear what sort of posts you’re interested in reading about!

Here is what I have observed about you, my dear readers. This is based on post traffic, comments, Facebook and Instagram activity, and the rate posts get saved to Pinterest.

Tell me your secrets my friends because at times you have me stumped!

On Sustainable Cooks This Week

How to Make Chicken Stock – Three Ways – The flavor and health benefits of homemade chicken stock can’t be beat! Once you learn how to make Homemade Chicken Stock, you’ll be hooked for life. This easy to follow tutorial teaches you three different ways to make delicious, nourishing and affordable chicken stock at home.

homemade chicken stock in jars on a white tray with rosemary and lemon

Make Ahead Smoky Pea Salad With Greek Yogurt – A delicious make-ahead veggie side dish that uses frozen peas, this Smoky Pea Salad couldn’t be any easier! Packed full of veggies and flavor, this salad is also Whole30 compliant, dairy-free, Paleo, and gluten-free. Make it ahead of a BBQ or party and watch your guests gobble it up.a blue bowl with smoky pea salad, almonds, and a spoon on a white board

The Five Most Popular Posts This Week

  1. Real Food Healthy Sweet Tea
  2. The Cleaning Schedule of a Working Mom
  3. How to Make Chicken Stock – Three Ways
  4. Make Ahead Smoky Pea Salad With Greek Yogurt
  5. DIY Insulated Blackout Curtains

Meal Plan

Monday:: Crispy Oven-Fried Gnocchi and Veggies, and salad.

Tuesday:: Asparagus Ravioli with Roasted Garlicky Cream Sauce, and a giant salad. This ravioli is back in stock with Smith Brother’s Farms and is a seasonal item so we’re taking advantage.

Wednesday:: New recipe I’m working on!

Thursday:: Perfect Roasted chicken, roasted asparagus, and Air Fryer French Fries.

Friday:: Popcorn, leftovers, and movie night

Saturday:: T-Roy’s birthday! In-laws are keeping our brats overnight and we’re going to dinner and to see Deadpool 2 (II?).

Sunday:: Family dinner

What We Bought This Week

Costco: $133.18 (the milk was for our church. They provide a free meal to low-income families at least once a month and we like to donate when there is a need for supplies).

Have you ever tried Spindrift? I’ve seen it around and it is expensive! Costco had 30 cans for $11.49 so I got some to try. It’s pretty good.  Jack and I prefer the raspberry lemon to the other flavors.

Fred Meyer: $43.19

Farmer’s Market: $18 (picture doesn’t show the two giant apples that were eaten at the market)

What are you having this week?

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41 comments on “Scattered Sundays and Meal Plan”

  1. I was supposed to have two new raised beds in the garden brining the total to three. Our soil is crap but needs to be rototiller before adding raised beds so of coarse hubby put it off only for the rototiller not to start. So I’m doing a container garden with the one bed I have. I’m cheap so the containers are empty cat litter buckets. So my cat crap garden thankfully is in the back yard so no one else has to see it.

    • How tall are your raised beds? Is the rototilling to make the ground even for the beds to go on top of? I ask because I’m wondering if you could skip that step and make lasagna beds this year? It’s very little work and everything will be ready to go next spring. I have this old post about lasagna bed gardening: https://www.sustainablecooks.com/getting-my-birthday-present-five-months/

      I think “Cat Crap Gardening” may be the new trending topic on Pinterest soon.

      • Only as tall as a cinder block. The soil is a lot of clay and drains horrible, rotototilling seems to help. I’ve been able to plant some herb in the cinder blocks that have done well too.

      • Ugh, clay soil is such a jerk! If you get your hands on some more cinderblocks and could raise it up, I highly recommend lasagna beds. I love the idea of herbs in the cinder blocks!

  2. I think you will like the tomato set up. We started doing them that way several years ago and it was a game changer. We also added an irrigation system to the panels by running the tubing near the bottom with drip spots at each plant. Water source is a five gallon bucket filled with water on each row. 

    • That is great to hear Dina! How closely did you plant them? I think my panels are maybe three feet wide and I did two plants per panel. I’m wondering if I should have shoved a third in there. But I always forget how big they get by September!

      I did finally get a drip hose for that section of the garden and will put it in when I get the last four tomatoes planted later this week. If you think about it, could you please email me a photo of your irrigation system? It sounds so interesting and I would love to see it.

  3. I really like the side dishes recipes, since that is where I tend to go to the same few things. (I’m the world’s most boring vegetable maker). I feel like I have so many dessert recipes (and can only make them every so often because I will eat ALL the dessert), so those aren’t as popular.

    For the calendar, I’m hoping you do a summer snacks for kids (because holy cow do they eat a lot in the summer!!) and a “back to school” post with items that will survive the school year.

    • Very interesting perspectives on those recipes KBG; thank you for sharing! If you’re a boring veggie maker, can I ask how you usually make them?

      I do have a snack round up post here if you’re interested!

      • I usually just steam the veggies. My 7 year old doesn’t like a lot of seasoning. And then my husband just adds seasoning at the table. If I’m feeling really crazy, I steam them (separate out my son’s veggies) and then saute the rest in a pan for my hubbie. Or occasionally, I bake the sturdier veggies in the oven with olive oil, salt and pepper.

      • When you bake them in the oven what temp are you using? I discovered I loved tons of new veggies once I started roasting them at high heat.

  4. whatever your secret excitement is – made me smile for you and your family!
    Can’t wait to hear more bout it!!

    I’d love to see more instant pot recipes but I know everybody doesn’t have one. 

    I personally love any of your keeping it real posts – showing your human not totally super human. (Although I DO question it sometimes, lol)

    AND how is your dad? Still traveling?

    Any fun summer plans?

    See how most I am?!?

    • Thanks Jan, I’m so excited to share it!

      Instant Pot can be tricky because I also like to include ways to cook the recipe on the stove or in a slow cooker. That leads to me cooking each thing three times…and then the IP recipes get almost zero comments and social shares. It’s strange because readers request them a lot and then they kind of fall flat. Maybe I’m doing the wrong ones?

      Dad is doing great. Just got back from a month of fishing and plans to head out again for a long weekend soon. I know there is a trip to California in August for a classic car show.

  5. It’s not just Looney Tunes for me.  As a kid I didn’t watch any cartoons as I preferred super cool shows like This Old House and the Frugal Gourmet.  Pretty sure I was the only 7 year old who preferred Bob Vila over the Smurfs, but it’s all good!  

    • Oh we would have been good friends Nikki. We could have chatted about Bob Vila and my love of Jack McCoy, the ADA on Law and Order. I have no idea why my parents allowed me to watch that stuff! Maybe I was just the only one awake in the mornings during summer?

  6. I enjoy many of the posts that you called out. I like the garden posts because I like to daydream that I could actually have a garden. My black thumb says otherwise. I killed an aloe plant. It’s that bad.

    I think desserts are such an occasional treat that it’s easier to just buy them. Of course I’m not even buying them because of keto. I know they’re so much better homemade but then you have half a cake to eat or the rest of the pan of brownies. I’ll toss store bought stuff before homemade. Not a bad problem to have but not great for you.

    I’m excited to see what you’ll be doing for sides. I’m always stumped on how to make asparagus/ broccoli/ zucchini/ green beans differently.

    • Have you ever tried a peace lily? They look dead when they need to be watered and then pop right back to life. No fertilizing, or anything. Just stick them somewhere out of the sun but where they still get light and give them a drink when they appear to have bitten the dust. Could do wonders for your self-esteem.

      That’s such an interesting take on the whole dessert thing. Something I definitely would have never thought of. Maybe because I can send all the stuff we don’t eat to work with Troy? Firemen are scavengers and will eat anything.

      How do you cook those veg you mentioned? Other than roasted in a cast iron for the broc for the hubs?

      • I haven’t heard of that. I’ll give peace (lily) a try. I’ve gotten better about giving our sweets away but I have food control issues. I made almond butter zucchini blondies to give to a friend for checking our AC. He got half the pan but I still had the other half and I used regular chocolate chips to get them out of my house. I ate a half of a 16th of the pan then gave the rest to my in laws for taking my son to vocational bible school. I still was picking at the crumbs knowing that I shouldn’t have them. I mostly roast broccoli and asparagus, nothing fancy. This week I’m putting broccoli in a keto chicken alfredo casserole with spinach and serve it with stir fry instead of rice. Green beans usually get a saute on the stove top. Zucchini rarely makes an appearance other than the blondies mentioned above.

      • Ah that makes sense about why you’re not keeping a lot of sweets in the house. How were the zucchini blondies? I’ve never even considered zukes in a blondie. But to be clear I don’t know if I have actually ever had a blondie.

      • And as a safety manager and a mom of a kid who loves the floss dance, I’m totally down with the sign.

      • They are dangerous. It’s a recipe from Kristin Cavallari (no idea who she is). She showed it on The Chew (which I love and am so bummed they canceled). I’ve never had a blondie before either but it was easy enough to make keto, deliciously rich, and zucchini bonus. Like I said before, I like weird food. http://abc.go.com/shows/the-chew/recipes/zucchini-almond-butter-bondies-kristin-cavallari

      • Thanks for sharing!

        I think she was on one of those MTV reality shows.

  7. I don’t know what I want to see you post about, just keep being yourself (I know least helpful advice ever!) but I do love your garden posts because I’m obsessed with mine! Mine is doing great with the exception of the cucumbers, but I’ve sown some more so all is not lost.

    Sounds like you are in for exciting times!

    • Very value-added of you Nic. Ha!

      Did you direct sow those cukes or are you growing them inside at first?

      • I do try, I’m sowing them indoors first, the slugs are a menance right now and have already had a feast on the cucamelons, which are probably going to be my big failure this season! We had such a cold spring everything is a bit behind!

      • What you need to do is acquire some free peacocks Nic. They love the slugs!

        :off to google what a cucuamelon is:

  8. Yay for exciting news and abundant strawberries!

    I’m looking forward to reading how your whole30 went.

    I barely managed to get a main meal and sides cooked, so never mind desserts. Although I should pass them on to Emma, she may try them out.

    No meals planned, just packing and moving. It will be lots of frozen easy foods for this week.

  9. I finally have a garden this year!  We live in the country where the deer eat just about everything straight to the ground so I have never been able to grow anything edible.  But last winter we had a FENCE put in! 

    My daughters are in Gardening Club at school where they grow vegetables in raised beds, so my husband built them a bed in our yard.  We are currently eating spinach, basil, and parsley and waiting for tomatoes, peppers, and broccoli.  Since this bed has been such a success I think he’ll build us another so we can add more plants!

    The basil in particular is growing at a crazy rate, so I think one of our dinners this week will involve tomato basil soup.   I’m planning to make your gnocchi and sausage sheet pan recipe too if my grocery store finally has my favorite kind of chicken sausage back in stock!

    • Fence sounds like a game-changer for you friend! Tomatoes are the hardest thing to wait for (maybe tied with the first ripe strawberry of the season).

      Basil is so delicious and really easy to “put up”. You can dry it for use all year and make and freeze homemade pesto too! Here is my recipe if you’re feeling inspired: https://www.sustainablecooks.com/homemade-pesto/

  10. Please don’t stop the garden posts, I love them! I’ve recently started container gardening at our rental house and love all the inspiration 🙂

    • No plans to stop them at all. The garden dictates how I cook so it is very much a symbiotic relationship!

      What are you growing this year? What kinds of containers are you using?

  11. Hmm . . . I think for me personally, the dessert posts on your site often don’t pull me in because 1) they sometimes skew toward being overly complicated (like the mint chocolate chip ice cream that calls for steeping fresh mint leaves, for example–homemade ice cream is already a ton of work so it’s rarely made at my house and adding in other steps like washing mint and then steeping it and straining comes across as overly fussy), or 2) the dessert recipes seem to me to be “overly healthy”, such as 100% whole wheat flour items or vegan/dairy free desserts.  If I’m going to take the time to make a dessert, I’m okay with it having typical, full-fat ingredients so it tastes like a decadent treat.  Just my two cents, though!

    • Thanks for the feedback Dori! Making ice cream is such a pain in the ass and I’m so used to all the extra steps in all recipes I’ve ever made. I guess I expect ice cream to be cumbersome for the most part.

  12. I don’t garden so I’m mainly here for the food and the honest opinions 🙂 I really want to hear your overnight oats recipe that you said tasted like cookie dough, you said it was coming but I did a search a couple of days ago and couldn’t find it.

    I tend to look for dinner recipes that are quick and easy so desserts don’t really fall into that. I admit to skipping over the instant pot stuff because I don’t have one and my slow cooker doesn’t have a saute function so I only use it for things that don’t need prepping. I have zero space in my kitchen so anything that requires special gadgets get a skip from me (air fryer, ice cream maker even kilner/canning jars). I’m also unimaginative so I like whole meals rather than sides recipes.

    I do occasionally fall foul of ingredients not being available/named differently in the UK (this is another reason for not going for dessert recipes). I only just realised that the sausage in the gnocchi recipe isn’t raw sausage like I’ve been using (still tastes good).

    • Yes, the oats recipe will be coming soon. We couldn’t have oats on the whole30 and I wasn’t going to make the recipe just for photos and then toss it.

      If you like the name/idea of the instant pot/air fryer/slow cooker recipes take a closer look because I always include conventional ways to make them even without the appliance. I never saute food before I put it in the slow cooker so no worries about not having that function on yours.

      Another UK reader likes to tease me about the different names for things in our different countries. She likes to say “separated by a common language”.

  13. Ha! I don’t really cook. I don’t garden. I started reading your blog years ago because you are so funny. Cussing Christian! Like me:)
    I love reading your confession posts the most. Also, any stories you have about trying to live life with patience, kindness, etc, but also letting us know it is extremely hard sometimes. Keeping it real. I know there are people out there that think if you walk with the Lord you should be ( or think you are ) practically perfect in every way. You show what it means to be a Christian. Love above all else. But certainly not perfect. We are always growing. Thank you for that.

    • Cussing Christians unite! I figure if we’re meant to be perfect then we would have been made that way. Trying to hide flaws or make it seem like our shit doesn’t stink just exacerbates that issue.

  14. Just started reading your blog. It’s great reading about all the goings on in your house, kitchen, and garden. I plant a garden every year. Tried growing angle loofa once for eating, pretty good but the vines try to take over the world. The new thing we’re trying this year is ground cherries.

    • Phuong, I have never heard of angle loofa before so I googled it. I know those as bath/shower scrubbers but I didn’t realize you could also eat them. How absolutely interesting!

  15.  Can you expand on how Troy built the tomato cages?  I need help!   My tomatoes are growing too big/ quickly that they are starting to fall over.  The traditional cages are just not cutting it.  What did Troy use along the sides?  Pvc pipe?