Friday, July 11, 2014

Frugal Finds, CSA Week 6

Adam asked Allison Edwards to become his wife
on July 4th, out at our waterfall.
We are DELIGHTED that God has revealed His will for
their lives. REJOICE with us!

Greetings From Colvin Family Farm!

We're 1/3 of the way through our CSA season this
Franklin Farmer's Market
week, and we're amazed at how time is flying by! I pray that you and your family are enjoying the challenge of your weekly share of vegetables. The folks that I hear from that try our recipes are delighted with old favorites, such as pizza, that take on a seasonal twist with the addition of vegetables. I'm so happy for them.

           We pack all of the shares and market tubs of
Destany Brock helps
weigh and bunch swiss
chard outside my kitchen.
vegetables from our front porch. My kitchen at times becomes a bit muddy from feet going in...and feet going out...sinks of lettuce mix...and a huge 5 gallon salad spinner drying things off. I know one day when the packing shed is done I will miss all this activity close at hand. It's a daily challenge/blessing from Tuesday through Friday. 

After the trucks or vans have pulled out for the markets, and the house becomes strangely silent  I take my scavenger hunt through the porch...I have a bus tub on my hip and find all kinds of frugal finds. This week I found
Some of my frugal
this week.
about 5 pounds of potatoes that had cuts or green spots, 6 stems of Swiss Chard, overripe or blemished tomatoes, a medium sized tub of zucchini and one of yellow squash, a lonely baby white eggplant, a bunch of kale that had been forgotten, and a few too-wet onions. What a haul! I was excited at the           possibilities. 

I've been seeing pictures of one pot pasta dishes that intrigued me...with my lack of energy, and busy days I thought this would be a neat idea to fiddle with. So, I rounded up several of my frugal finds and set about to create a meal with minimal fuss and bother!

This incredibly easy creamy vegetable pasta meal only takes about 20 minutes to prepare. Even better there is only one pot to clean up!

 One-Pot Vegetable Pasta

1 pound spaghetti
I love raw garlic;
it's soo easy to
use. Simply slice...
1/8 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 pound mushrooms, sliced in chunks
1 medium onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 small Eggplant, 1/3"slices 
4 1/2 + Cups Water (I added a cup of water to keep the pasta under water.)
1 Cup New Carrots, sliced thinly
1 Cup yellow summer squash, diced
1 Cup green zucchini , diced 

2/3 Cup Radish Seed Pods, whole
2-4 Basil Leaves, fresh (optional)
1/2 C. Grated Parmesan
1/4 C. Half & Half or Milk
Sea Salt & Coarsely Ground Pepper, to taste
Optional: Italian Sausage/Breakfast Sausage browned
1 pound mushrooms, sliced in chunks
1 medium onion, diced
Then remove the raw
garlic from the
"membrane" that
separates the cloves.
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 small Eggplant, 1/3"slices 
4 1/2 + Cups Water (I added a cup of water to keep the pasta under water.)
1 Cup New Carrots, sliced thinly
1 Cup yellow summer squash, diced
1 Cup green zucchini , diced 

2/3 Cup Radish Seed Pods, whole
2-4 Basil Leaves, fresh (optional)
1/2 C. Grated Parmesan
1/4 C. Half & Half or Milk
Sea Salt & Coarsely Ground Pepper, to taste
Optional: Italian Sausage/Breakfast Sausage browned

In a stock pot or dutch oven saute mushrooms, garlic, onion, and eggplant in olive oil until the onion is translucent. (If you are browning meat for the dish, now is the time to do it in with the onions and garlic.)Remove the larger slices of egg plant from the pot. Set them aside to cool. Add water and carrots and cook on medium high heat, 3 minutes. During this time dice the 

cooled egg plant. Next add the rest of the vegetables, salt & pepper, and spaghetti then 
bring to a boil. (You may need to add some water to just barely cover the pasta/vegetable mixture, I did.) Bring to a boil, STIR, then reduce heat. Simmer for 8-10 minutes until your spaghetti is done. Lastly, stir in your

choice of cheese and milk. I used Parmesan and raw milk that had a thick coating of cream at the top. Serve immediately. 

Recipe P.S.
Since I wrote the recipe as I was making it for the
first time I thought I'd add a P.S. The meal got a 4 rating (on a scale of 1-5). That's great as I rarely get a 5 unless from the children under 12. They reserve that rating for a WOW!! One addition they asked for
was MEAT...they aren't much for vegetarian dishes after a long day in the field with sandwiches for lunch. 

I was taken by the idea that the water would all be absorbed by the pasta creating a creamy texture
when the cheese and milk were added...and IT WORKED! You have to be careful and stir during the last few minutes of cooking to prevent sticking. 

This recipe would be a great meal for those days when you want a nice, quick meal. Even the preparation of the vegetables could be done early in the day or night before to hasten the process down to about 12 minutes! I plan on experimenting with this concept keeping the proportions of water to pasta the same. I'd love to hear your time I'm trying a pizza pasta with diced tomatoes, onions, peppers, garlic, pepperoni, and Italian spices! 

With the amount of zucchini that comes in at times I sometimes feel overwhelmed. I can shredded zucchini for the winter, make lasagna noodles out of it, use it in baking sweets, make pizza with it, grill it, roast it, stir fry with it, and even make a mock apple pie with it! Since I found a wash pan FULL of it I'm going to be using these frugal recipes this week. 

 To watch a video of me preparing this recipe YEARS ago, click HERE. But don't forget to come back! :)

Zucchini Pizza

8-Ball (round green) or 1-Ball Zucchini (round yellow), cut into 1/4" slices crosswise
Extra Virgin Olive Oil/Olive Oil Spray
Pasta sauce or pizza sauce
(small diced tomatoes will work also with Italian spices sprinkled on them)
Mozzarella Cheese or Feta Cheese

Your choice of pizza toppings:

Onions, diced finely
Olives, chopped
Hot Italian Sausage, browned and crumbled
Bacon, chopped fine (my favorite!)
Sauteed greens, THINLY sliced
Bell Pepper, diced FINELY

Place slices of zucchini on baking tray. Brush or spray with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. Bake at 400 degrees until fork tender. Remove from the oven and put  a small amount of tomatoes or sauce on the slices. Next put chosen pizza toppings, ending with cheese.
 Return to the oven until the cheese is bubbly. Serve with a big salad or fresh fruit. ENJOY!

Among my frugal finds this week were several tomatoes that couldn't take the trip to the city. They were cracked, really ripe, or had blemishes. I gathered these up and canned them. I'm restricted on my activity, so I took time on two days to finish this small least it got done. I was sure glad I learned a quickie method last year that saves a LOT of time, effort, and MESS! Here's what I did.

A Quickie Method to Canning Tomatoes
First I placed them in a sink of water to wash off the dust. Our tomatoes haven't been sprayed with chemicals, but they are dirty. 

Next I lifted them one at a time to my cutting board
to core them. After cutting them into at least fourths I put them into my food processor. Last year I used a blender. It worked fine, but it was harder to regulate how chunky the tomatoes ended up. I like how the processor lets me leave control the texture of the final product. NO, you DON'T HAVE TO REMOVE THE SKINS FIRST! You get the added health benefits of the fibrous skin as well as it being a time saver!  

At this point I poured mine into gallon pitchers and placed them in the frig. This could be done if you have a limited amount of tomatoes coming in on your plants at a time. Be careful not to let it sit too long and spoil. 

Two days latter I poured the tomatoes into a large pot and cooked them until they were heated through well. 

 Next I ladled the hot tomatoes into sterile jars. To raise the acidity of hybrid tomatoes (not needed for heirlooms) add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice to each quart. If desired, add 1 teaspoon of sea salt or canning salt to each quart. Wiped the rims with a clean rag to remove any salt or juice. I process mine for 25 minutes in a boiling water bath canner. Remove them from the boiling water and place them on a towel on your counter. 

After a few hours, test each jar by touching the lid of each jar. It should not pop back and forth. It should be slightly depressed to be sealed. I let them sit on my counter for a day before I removed the bands and put into the pantry. 

Years ago we made the choice as a family to switch from sugary drinks like cool aide, tea, and even fruit juices to water. We've always had well water, so we called it Adam's Ale. :) Now that we have adults living in the home besides us parents we occasionally make ice tea to quench a deep thirst...but 95% of the time we drink water. This summer I came across a frugal find that enhanced
This dispenser fits right in my
refrigerator with the container
of lemons on top. Keep the
cap loose to help the water
to come out freely.
our water drinking...a refrigerator dispenser for $2. I keep a thin container on top with sliced lemons to make the water extra special (and good for us too!). I'd like to encourage everyone to rethink what you and your family drinks. The refined sugars are causing a myriad of health problems in our children, causing obesity, type 2 Diabetes, and behavioural problems such as ADD. Try drinking water...YOUR WATER. Invest into a filter which is far cheaper in the long run than buying and hauling around bottled water. I can guarantee you'll see changes in your children's disposition...and changes in your waistline! How much do you spend on drinks each week?

Since my accident I've redefined frugality in my mind. I used to think it was simply a savings of money. I spent extra time making granola, sewing our dresses, and growing our my own flower transplants...and MUCH MORE. Now that I'm limited, I also think in terms of time and strength savings. 

One of the time and effort savers for me is a skill

I've been learning since last summer. A friend 
taught me the basic method to making  
artisan bread . Since then I've purchased  Health Bread in 5 Minutes a Day and am enjoying the convenience of the method. I don't use this recipe or method for our everyday bread, but make French Baguettes, Pizza dough, and Jalapeno Cheddar loaves to please my family with little time and effort. I'd
like to pass this on to's an EASY method! I failed at the right chewy, crusty consistency to artisan bread for years. Now I'm delighted with this truly frugal means of providing healthy artisan bread for our family. The link above will take you to the Artisan Breads in 5 Minutes a Day site. 

I've made mock apple pies before with Ritz crackers,
but they never became a family favorite. This frugal recipe is made with overgrown zucchini that are peeled and cooked with lemon juice then sweetened and spiced to "perfection". It will fool "all but the most discerning palates". It works best with older, over gown squash as the young fresh squash will have a trace of bitterness that advertises the pie's vegetable origin. If you'd like some overgrown squash included in your share, JUST ASK!

Zapple Pie

Pastry for a 9" double crust
6 C. peeled, quartered, cored, and thinly sliced zucchini or summer squash
1/2 C. fresh lemon juice
3/4 C. firmly packed light or dark brown sugar (I use cane juice crystals with molasses mixed into it.)
1 1/2 t. ground Cinnamon
1/4 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. freshly ground nutmeg
2 T. instant tapioca
1 T. granulated sugar ( I use raw cane juice crystals)

1. Prepare the pie dough according to your recipe directions and refrigerate.

2. Combine the zucchini and lemon juice in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the zucchini is tender, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally for even cooking. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg and simmer for 5 minutes longer.

3. Remove the zucchini from the heat. Stir in the tapioca and let set 15 minutes.

4.Preheat the oven to 425* with a rack on the lower third of the oven.

5. Spoon the zucchini mixture into the dough lined pie dish. Roll out the top crust on a well floured work surface. Flour your rolling pin and sprinkle flour onto your pastry. Roll your dough onto your rolling pin. Carefully unroll onto the top of your pie.  Trim the edge 1/2 inch larger than the pie plate and tuck the over hang under the edge of the bottom crust. Crimp the edges with a fork or make a fluted pattern with your fingers. Make several decorative slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape. I like to use an apple cookie cutter to make the slits on top and add a little leaf or two to the stem slit.

6. Bake the pie in the lower third of the oven for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350* and continue to bake for 30 minutes. Sprinkle the top of the pie with the granulated sugar and continue to bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer, until the crust is golden and the juices are bubbly.

7. Cool the pie on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

I gleaned this recipe years ago from a great book for seasonal eaters called, Serving Up the Harvest, Celebrating the Goodness of Fresh Vegetables by Andrea Chesman.

When I think of a vegetable that best represents frugality I think of zucchini. I feel like I've given too many recipes using it here this week, but you can refer back to these recipes during the weeks ahead when they appear in your share. 
Our melons are growing!
I want to include one more...a favorite of many customers at the Cumberland Sustainable Farmer's Market in Crossville last year. I like to think of it as a healthy snack as I grind my wheat, grate fresh zucchini, and use only a "touch" of chocolate. If you are looking for a frugal sweet, and zucchini is piling up in your frig, try this:

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

3 Eggs
1 C. Honey
1/2 C. Oil
1 t. Vanilla
3 T. Butter
6 T. Cocoa powder
2 C. Grated zucchini
2 C. Whole Grain Flour (not bread flour)
1 t. Salt
1 1/2 t. Cinnamon
2/3 C. Chocolate Chips

In mixing bowl combine eggs, sugar, oil, vanilla. In saucepan or microwave, melt butter and add cocoa powder. Set aside to cool. Grate zucchini. Mix zucchini, with cocoa powder/butter mixture and when cooled combine with egg mixture. Add flour, soda, salt, cinnamon. Mix only enough to blend. Dampen chocolate chips slightly in a small bowl. Coat with a few pinches of flour to keep them from sinking to the bottom of your bread. Fold into batter. Pour into 2 greased 8" pans. (I use bread pans or muffin pans.) Bake at 350 degrees until cake tester inserted comes out clean, depending on pan size.

I've tried to teach my children about being frugal also...we take it as a challenge! My boys are GREAT at bartering at the end of markets with other vendors. This
week they came home with bags of mushrooms, seconds of peaches, a bar of orange ginger soap, a jar of salsa, and a bunch of lavender to add to my collection in an antique bowl and pitcher on my dry sink. I consider these frugal finds also. 

When my young men were young we would go to my family home on the rocky coast of Maine. They enjoy memories of sleeping by an open window and
hearing the waves ebb and flow all night long. During the day they spent HOURS playing on the rocky beach discovering all the wonders of the coast that God created for their discovery. 

As a LARGE, single income family we found all sorts of frugal entertainment, and souvenirs while on vacation. One of the boy's favorite souvenirs were rocks...yes, to me they all began to look the same. BUT on closer inspection as I listened to the tales of where they found each "gem" I learned a few lessons.

In the morning after chores were completed, and the tide abated the children would swarm down the rock steps to the beach. They'd inspect each tidal pool in their "limits" collecting specimens from each one and placing them in their pails. Each new tide brought new treasures!

When their tired legs brought them back up the same stairs we'd have them dump their hoard of seashore finds onto the porch for inspection; for only the very best would be displayed
on the nature shelf in the living room. 

I remember one morning in particular when we went out to clean off the porch we found a rock that had a beautiful crystal like oval encircling its grey smoothness. The odd thing was that the night before it had been just like 50 other rocks in the pile. Now it stood out as a "keeper".  We learned that you couldn't really tell the true nature of each stone until it was then that rings appeared...the colors took on their true nature...and the excitement of the day before had died away.

How had these rocks...unlike the other jagged rocks in their "Tennessee Collection" grown so smooth, so polished, so...mysterious? They had been tossed by time in the continuous movement of the waves as the tides predictably washed up against the rocky ledge in front of our home.

Polish comes through troubles. I like to think of the waves in my life as lessons that God uses to knock off my rough edges...smoothen out my imperfections... and reveal the beauty He created in my spirit when He took control of my life. He alone knows how He wants to use me. Though my flesh may cry out, "Stop!" my spirit yields to the waves that will make me a vessel of beauty in His sight.

 Oh waves that tumble, oh hurts that pierce
 This shrinking heart of mine!
 What are ye but the Master's tools
 Forming a work Divine.

Abundant Blessings,
The Farmer's Wife

After their hike to the waterfall
the new couple and Allison's parents returned
to the crowd to announce their engagement.

Levi (8) made our banner
this year...THANK YOU

We had over 40 people and precious
friends to help us celebrate our nations heritage.
Here the Bennett family watch the fireworks begin.

Grandma Colvin (88) even held a sparkler!

Our oldest son Matthew (30) came from N.C. for the
holiday. He is a master at setting off beautiful
firework shows on our farm.

Hope (our 4th child) and Jeannie Brock
(our packing buddy) enjoy family and
friends on the 4th. Hope and Bryan catered the meal.
Samuel (almost 3) and
Josiah (almost 1)
enjoy the festivities.
Shelby Bennett and
Caleb enjoy a feast on the
4th of July

We're thankful for a good tomato harvest!


Our piglets are sure growing! Please pray for their
Mommas...they've run off into the woods and probably joined
a herd of wild bores. 

Lettuce is being harvested again! Yeah!
Our chickens are enjoying fresh pasture.

Thank you Lord for the showers You send!

Another gift from a child...
this 1-ball zucchini was
brought straight from the
field this week...zucchini
is on everyone's minds!

Faith Anne (13)
sewed this kitty cat
purse and mouse for
a customer.

This unfriendly visitor was found among the burlap bags that we use
to mulch isles!

Noah and crew chased down
this baby bunny and caught it!
Those long legs of his are fast!