Thursday, February 12, 2015

Taking Stock




It's that time of year around here...taking stock of what is left from last summer's harvest. This week I have sorted through the freezer, and the pantry shelves, figuring out what is left and how much. We are in good shape with jam, beets, green beans and pickles still on the pantry shelves, and raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, peaches, roasted tomatoes, green beans, zucchini and kale in the freezer. It is slowly dwindling, but we are so happy to have reached the mid winter point with food in the freezer and on the pantry shelves from our summer garden, and the local you pick berry farms. I hope with our early spring planting, we might actually be enjoying food from last summer's garden as we start to enjoy food from this year's garden. That, my friends, has been the goal all along...to reach the point where we are feeding ourselves year round from our garden. Now, we can't survive on what we grow, at least not yet, but knowing with each meal we eat there is a little homegrown or locally grown food on our plate is a pretty big deal around here.

And so, I take stock of what we ate a lot of, and what we enjoyed the most, and as I start to dig through the seed catalogs, picking seeds and deciding what to grow, I keep this in mind. After years and years of gardening, we finally have a really good handle on what we enjoy the most from the garden, and while I love to experiment, this year we are moving more towards growing what we know grows well, and what we know we will eat, and saving the big experiments for another time. There will still be one or two things tested out, maybe a new vegetable or a new canning recipe, but for the most part we are sticking with what we know and love. It makes sense for where we are, and leaves the door open for experiments in other areas of our homestead....more berry bushes, more chicks, ducklings, and a full jump into beekeeping, learning as much as I can from a neighbouring beekeeper.

It felt good this week, to take stock of our freezer and pantry, to realize we might actually make it to spring and still be eating food from our garden. It has been a long road, little steps taken every year to reach this point, and it has been totally worth it.

*****

A big thank you for the lovely comments, and emails on my last post. I honestly had no idea it would touch people the way it did. Thank you. xo

68 comments:

  1. I don't know why, but I love getting a glimpse at peoples pantries - especially when there are lots of beautiful home canned goodies in there. :-) We still have quite a bit of jam and jelly left over from last year, as well as salsa, beets, squash, tomato sauce and blueberries. I love being able to use those in the colder month and look forward to a good gardening season this year. It's almost time to start seeds indoors in our area!

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    1. I do too Anke, it is always nice to see, and brings a certain joy to me :) Yay for food on your shelves too, enjoy!

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  2. I am amazed!! We have given gardening our best for a couple years. I first year we had beginner luck and it was such a beautiful bounty, but since then we have only had fails. We are regrouping and have new plans this year and like you- I won't be getting to adventurous. I'd love some of your favorite canning recipes- if you ever felt like sharing!

    www.hollandsreverie.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks Chelsea. Hope this year goes better for you on the garden front.

      Canning...my favourite book is Food in Jars. It is based on small batch canning so you don't need a lot to do a few jars. I find I work better doing a little bit at a time rather than spending the entire day in the kitchen, so her book works really well for me. Any other questions let me know, happy to share what I know.

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  3. I love that photo and I imagine you sitting there thinking and plotting out the spring garden even though it's still winter and quite chilly outside. love that notebook/journal!!

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    1. That is the best part, planning while the snow is falling. Thank you, I saw these journals the other week and knew they would be perfect for my garden plans.

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  4. Wow. Those are the tidiest pantry shelves I've ever seen! We have very sadly nearly used up all of our homemade jam (there are a couple of half-cup jars of apple butter left)....nowhere close to making it through winter. I'm thinking of making some marmalade to get us to spring (obviously, the oranges wouldn't be locally-grown, but at least it would be seasonal!).

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    1. Ha! I am a type A...big time :) But also this shelve is open in our kitchen, so it kinda serve as a piece of art, that I like to keep tidy.

      That is too bad, but I am sure it was good while it lasted. Enjoy the marmalade.

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  5. mmm.... thoughts of summer and planting and growing... love this. your pantry is really beautiful. i love seeing the little bits you share of your beautiful home. i love your choices in color and design... all so beautiful. you are doing so well with your garden planning, bravo! my next door neighbor and mother in law is an avid gardener with a huge berry patch... she is always expanding each year (and always growing much more than is needed for the two of them).... so we tend to share to harvest with them and are trying to share in the work as well. gardening is so good for the soul. a quote that i love
    "nothing cures a case of the blues like a shovel and a job to do." :) and it's so true!

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    1. Good thoughts, that are filling me with warmth on these very cold winter days. Thank you, our home is special to us, and we love the feeling we have created in this space.

      That is lovely to work in her garden and share in the harvests...wouldn't it be lovely if we could do more of that.

      I love that quote, and agree, it is very true!

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  6. Looking forward to seeing your garden this year Kim , the seed catalogs make me a little giddy this time of year. Good for you for working so hard and providing for your family.

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    1. I am a little giddy right along with you my friend. I love flipping through them, reading, choosing seeds, and dreaming about what it will all bring. Such a lovely time of year for dreaming.

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  7. I loved reading this as we have gone through a similar inventory and thought process a few weeks back. We too decided to lower our "experiments" in favor of more dependable stock. And like you, it,s been an amazing journey, emptying our pantry one jar at a time, knowing that with each jar, we are feeding ourselves through hard word and determination.You are a huge inspiration to us... keep sharing in your journey please, it keeps us motivated and hopeful. xo

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    1. Awe, thank you my friend. Happy to inspire. xo

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  8. I need to do a little stock taking myself Kim. Now that we are a family of three my cooking has changed and it has shown in how many canned goods I still have on the shelf. While I share food with everyone who walks in my door, there is no way I now need to can 200 quarts of green beans each season.

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    1. Haha, yes Tracey, time to slow down on the canning. It is a balance isn't it, discovering just how much you need, without doing too much. This year for some reason we have a ton of pickles left, but last year we ran out. I don't think I can ever can too many green beans, Reece eats them a jar at a time...he loves them.

      Enjoy taking stock of your pantry my friend.

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  9. So glad all that hard work is paying off, you do have an incredible garden but I know how much work it entails - good and satisfying work - especially as you are still enjoying it's bounty in mid winter.
    Beekeeping sound like quite an adventure.
    I need to get to work on my planning soon, would love to include a few bee's and ducks too!

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    1. Yes, good and satisfying work, and that satisfaction continues right through the winter, which is amazing.

      It will be an adventure. I took a course three summers ago, and just never got my own bees. Now I feel like I need a little mentoring, so hoping it all works out and then next summer we will get out own hives.

      Can't wait to see what you get up to this year.

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  10. Congratulations and a huge testament to your spirit and hard work! We still have enjoy jam to keep us going too into the spring and I am already planning some other projects surrounded by packets and catalogues of seeds. So excited to read about your bee-keeping adventures!

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    1. Thank you Alexa. I will definitely share in my beekeeping adventures. When I did a workshop three summers ago I was in such a beautiful place hanging with the bees for the day. I am so looking forward to spending time with them again this summer.

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  11. I don't put up the way that I would like, but these pictures and your words make me want to get better at that. I can not wait to see what the coming year's harvest will bring you.

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    1. It has been a work in progress Heather, each year, putting by more and more food. It feels good, and I highly recommend it.

      Looking forward to sharing this year's garden just as soon as this snow melts and I can my hands in the dirt.

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  12. How wonderful to have a well stocked pantry from your own produce, I cannot make that claim at all. I have had a glance at seed catalogues but I need to spend some time working out what we need for this year. I like the idea of thinking about we like to eat and what will grow, perhaps I should be more mindful of this :)

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    1. It is really wonderful, and feels pretty darn good. It is something that I have thought long and hard over this winter. We are very lucky to have great access to wonderful organic farmers in our area, and I got to thinking if they can grow something that I seem to have trouble with, why waste the little growing space I have here growing and failing, when I can rely on them, and grow more of the food that grows well here. It makes sense. It means letting go a little, but I find as I get older (and wiser) that doesn't bother me as much :)

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  13. Oh how wonderful to see all those jars lined up - I can only dream of having a pantry like that, and not just because we're lacking in space to store! But we've got onions and garlic showing in the veg beds and I've got plans for carrots when the weather gets warmer - baby steps!!

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    1. Baby steps, yes, that is where we all start. Garlic and onions peeking out already...how wonderful! Enjoy.

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  14. oh I LOVE the Baker Creek seed packages and their catalog- such beautiful pictures and illustrations! have fun! we have plenty of jams and salsa and chutney and frozen berries left, but have polished off the dilly beans and pickles. this year, more dilly beans and pickles!

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    1. Me too! Looking at the catalog is an experience that I truly love. I haven't bought much from them in the past, but that may change this year. Still deciding.

      Yes, we only have two jars of dilly green beans, Reece eats them a jar at a time. Definitely more next year :)

      Hope you are well. xo

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  15. Your stock looks good. We used to have a grapevine in our backyard when I was growing up and I have fond memories of picking those grapes and making jam with my family. Can't remember if I mentioned that to you already...sorry if I have! :)

    I've tried gardening for almost three years now and end up killing everything. I love seeing how others do with their gardens. Since I have no plans to attempt a garden this year, I plan to hit up more farmers markets.

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    1. I love hearing about childhood memories about the garden, and putting food by. Such a comfort those memories are.

      Hey, I always say if you can't grow it, hit the market. Farmers know what they are doing, and can grow things I can't. I am so happy to have wonderful markets close by.

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  16. No matter how much I think about it, the seed order always sneaks up on me! But I sent ours in this week, so not too far behind. It's always such an exciting time. I often have to remind myself how I am going to feel in August or I will get myself in too deep ;)

    Having worked on a farm for two years, it's taken me a lot of work to revise my expectations to what we can actually do in our lives now. We stick more and more to favorites as well, especially having attempted and failed at starting our own seeds. (Aside from what is direct seeded of course) It's completely doable, but he haven't had the time, energy or space yet. As you say, bit by bit we find our way. We still have a lot in the freezer, plus jam and beets. But how it will be so lovely to be eating fresh from the garden again!

    Your pantry is pretty much my dream, so beautiful and organized. I can't mange it these days, but when I am old and missing the kids that have gone off to live their own lives, I'll be looking at a perfectly organized pantry and reminiscing about the days that there was so much going on I couldn't keep up with it. Wish I could have both though, don't we all!

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    1. It kinda sneaks up on me too, especially with the cold and snow we have had this year and last. Yes been there with the overwhelm in August, big dreams in mid winter often lead to that :)

      We are always revising expectations, letting go and accepting what we can and cannot do. I didn't know you worked on a farm for two years...you keep surprising me my friend :)

      Thank you, it is something I wanted for a long time, and Justin finally built it for me two, maybe three summers ago. I love it, and it always makes me smile, especially in September when all the jars are full :)

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  17. Yay! Finally seeds in your world too! :) Love those shelves full of jars. I need to get on it with the food storage before the growing season really starts. :)

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    1. Yes, finally! So happy to be looking at catalogs, there won't be any planting for a while, but I am dreaming :)

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  18. I love your pantry and I would like the same !! ;) You seem so organized ! I hope I can do that in my new home (the garden is big and I already plan to plant a lot of vegetables !), that's one of my goal for the next years...

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    1. Thank you. Organized, yes, it comes with my type A personality :) Can't wait to see your new home and garden, so exciting!

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  19. Sounds great still having your own grown food ! This post is very inspiring! I am actually one of those tidy people who like to keep my herbs in alphabetical order:)

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    1. It is pretty awesome! Thank you Karin-Ida. I think you and I would get along just fine.

      PS Received your lovely note and photo in the mail the other day. So nice to see your beautiful family.

      Enjoy your weekend.

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  20. yes yes yes... i am going to grow some grub this year (thanks for the inspiration !!!)
    p.s. if you saw my (unorganized) pantry you would be shocked

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    1. No problem my friend. Ha, that's okay, the world needs both organized and unorganized people :)

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  21. Beekeeping! yay! That's something I really want to do someday, you know, when we live on a lot of land (my husband is not a fan of bees in his personal space). Add that to the list of living off of the land as you are doing so well. Maybe not entirely yet but so much more than we are with our wee yard mostly full of shade and our little garden. Wish I could hop on over and visit!

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    1. I know! I am just a tad excited about it. Did a workshop three summers ago, but kinda want to get some experience before getting my own hives, so this will be perfect, I hope.

      I wish you could too!

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    1. You are too kind, but thank you. xo

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  23. That is fantastic, being able to feed yourself, That is something we are looking forward to as soon as we find the right place and beekeeping it's something we talk about a lot as well as we think it's a fascinating world :)

    Happy weekend!

    Lluisa xoxo

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    1. It does feel pretty good, and I am pleased we will make it through to spring with food to spare, that feels really good.

      Lots of exciting things in your future, hope you find the right place soon.

      Thank you, happy weekend to you too!
      xo

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  24. Your pantry is so lovely, it is quite inspiring. What a feat to be feeding yourselves off of your own garden, that is so great. Are you done with Winter then? :)

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    1. Thanks Carlin. No, far from done with winter, all of this is from last summer's garden. Although I am itching to get my hands in the dirt, but that is still a while off.

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  25. I meant mentally :), I'm sure you are still surrounded by lovely snow - i wish you could send some our way. Have a great weekend.

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    1. I see :) Not totally done with it, yet, but that will come. Little man and I head south in 12 days, and I am very much looking forward to the reprieve, but I know there will still be a little winter left when we get back.

      I do wish I could send you some snow, we do have a lot, and more is falling right now. It seems the month of February will be our snow month :)

      You too!

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  26. Wow, that amazing to have so much left. We grow loads in winter but I've yet to get properly sorted on storing, canning and freezing over winter. I love your pantry shelves. You should look at them and feel very proud

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    1. It does feel pretty god Aimee. This is the first time we have reach mid winter with this much food still in the freezer and pantry. I do :)

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  27. hello kim,
    your pantry shelves looks wonderful,you are very organized.
    great blog!!
    hugs regina

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  28. Love the photos of the jars on your shelves! Being buried under all this snow it's a nice reminder of things to come! :) xo

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    1. Thanks Shel, and yes, a wonderful reminder of things to come. I bet you guys are itching to get your hands dirty too :)

      xo

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  29. That's great that you've been able to put up so much this year! I should probably do the same (to pace myself better with the things we are low on). Every year is so different, too, because some things do very well while others don't. It's great to be able to enjoy partly (or all) homegrown meals every day! :)

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    1. It was a good year, that's for sure. I think that is what I love about gardening is that each year is a little different, it helps keep a little surprise in the adventure.

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  30. I'm sure it's a comfort to have put in enough time on your land and in your space to be really getting to know it well and to be able to sustain yourselves off of your own food in as much of a way as you can. Your shelves are so lovely and a comfort to look at. We haven't done much preserving of our own foods just yet, but look forward to learning more and more as the years pass...and looking to you for inspiration. :) Not much longer and those seeds will be scattered amongst the soil, bringing another abundant summer of food along with them. Such an exciting thing to dream on.

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    1. It definitely is Sara. Thank you, I love looking at those shelves, even if they are mostly empty jars right now :)

      Awe, thanks my friend, always here if you have questions as you travel down the path of putting food by. It is a lot of work, but oh so worth it.

      Scattered seeds, yes! I have been dreaming about this weekend, and can't wait!

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  31. Your shelf makes me smile. It looks similar to my dehydrated shelf. Please keep us posted on your gardens. Planning is always my hardest part. I would much rather be out there up to my elbows in mud. This year we are thinking of a whole bed of basil (3' x 6'). We went through our pesto way to fast. Shine on!

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    1. It makes me smile too :) Oh you know I will. And if planning is the hard part for you, stay tuned, I am doing a little interview series with a blog friend that will start mid March. She wants to get back into gardening so she will interview me throughout the spring and summer on different things, and the show the progress in her gardens as she gives it all a go. Should be fun!

      Happy gardening to you! xo

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  32. I know your pantry maybe looks more impressive in the Autumn when freshly filled, but I think I like the look of it even more with all that evidence of much enjoyed food having been consumed! Enjoy your planning.

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    1. Yes, that is true too. Honestly, either way is fine with me. When it is full there is the anticipation of eating what is on the shelves, and when it is empty there is the anticipation of the wonderful work ahead that will fill them up...both are good in my books.

      Thank you, I will...another seed catalog arrived today :)

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  33. I'm impressed. We have a couple of jars of jam...that's it.
    I like that you are perusing seed catalogs too. I found an old one, circa 2002, the other day and I was looking through it at my cubicle. My coworkers thought I was nuts...mostly b/c the backdrop was the window looking out onto piles of snow and -20 weather. Us crazy gardeners. :)

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    1. Thanks! It hasn't always been like this, each year it keeps growing, and each year we make it a little further. It feels good.

      Ha, yes we are crazy, but we have to dream right?

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