Pioneer Woman at Heart

One Flourishing, Frugal and Fun Family!

One family learning to live off the land, cut back on expenses, and to live a simpler and a more self-sufficient lifestyle.

Adopted Motto

"Eat it up,
Wear it out,
Make it do,
Or go without."
~A Pioneer Sampler, by Barbara Greenwood~

Thursday, August 31, 2023


 Woke up to a brisk 48°F outside.  There appears to be a frost on the windows of the truck, and top of the trash can, so I'm hoping it has not affected my herbs or garden.  

It's not going to last (we are heating up again to the 90's), but I will admit, I slept in, as the cooler weather was a welcome.  However, I have more tomatoes and bell peppers to take care of, and running very behind now.

Anything "sauce" tomato days are long days here.  There is the chopping, dicing, then heating until a puree, then removing peels and seeds, then reduction, then canning.  Canning in the water bath is typically 35 minutes or longer, depending on what I'm canning.  My husband was shocked at how many ingredients (and the time to do it) go into tomato soup.

I'm brewing some coffee to get this day started, but hope to be back with an update.  Thank you all for your potluck ideas.  I do appreciate it.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Healthy Potluck Ideas??

I'm still being held captive by the paste tomatoes, but have a hot minute to ask a question.  I started the tomatoes late today too.

 My husband and I eat healthy (low carb/zero sugar), so it's hard to eat at a potluck.  I could always make deviled eggs, but so many people bring those too.

What is your go-to dish for making sure you have something you can eat, and one that others will enjoy as well (low carb/zero or low sugar)?

Not a crock pot dish, as the event I'm thinking of, invites a lot of people, and lack space for electrical outlets.

Not a dessert either.  Ha!  I'm making this difficult for myself.  Fresh fruit is an option, but I'm thinking a cold veggie salad of some sort.

Maybe a dip with sliced bell peppers for dipping?  Salsa and quinoa tortilla chips?

I'm stumped.  Eat before we go, and just take whatever?

I'm looking at cold carrot salads in between stirring, chopping, and reducing tomatoes.  I found one with Dijon dressing and another with a sesame oil/soy dressing.  Has anyone made a cold carrot salad that is good?

I think I still have a recipe for a broccoli salad.  I will have to check.

I gotta get back to the stove, check the washing machine, and the dehydrator.  

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Tomato Days! ~ Littles are Laying ~ Zucchini Pizza Bites and other Tidbits

 Welcome to Crazy Lady's Kitchen, where the days start with tomatoes, and end with sauce anything!

My Weston sauce maker waste funnel broke!  Of all the wrong times to happen.  The funnel is a think plastic one, with plastic tabs to attach it.  It broke before, and they were out of stock for over a year.  I saved my old one, and hold it on, but now the price to replace it is a whopping $21.79 with shipping.  

I'm looking into getting a different food strainer/sauce maker.  What is the brand you all use (for those who have one)?  If I have to replace the funnel every year, I might as well look into a better overall sauce maker.  I use it to make applesauce too.  

We brought in another 80 pounds of paste tomatoes.  I canned pizza sauce, and taco sauce.  I've been crazy busy, with long days in the kitchen.  Top that off with doing all the dishes, and trying to keep up with normal housework, including laundry!  Yikes.  Let alone the mowing.

I apologize if you emailed me.  I have not had a second to read them, and it's either that or I plum forget with the crazy kitchen-ness!!

I managed to get one bell pepper into our dinner, but I have all of these to either freeze or eat.  I'm hoping for some stuffed bell peppers soon.

Breakfast has been simple.  I baked these eggs and ham cups in parchment this time, and they came out of the pan much, much easier.

The "littles" are laying now.  I am happy that most of them are laying them in the roosts too.

I made zucchini pizza bites with home canned pizza sauce.  I used instructions for baking at 375°F, but will try other ways such as higher temp and/or using broil method.  Zucchini is slowing way down for us now.

We finally found a cucumber salad we love, that uses Greek yogurt vs. mayo.  I'll be back to share that soon.  I just have to get this mountain of paste tomatoes off the tables and out of my living room first.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Tomato Sauce Done!


It's been very hot here, but canning must go on.  Tomatoes are picked and ready for a full day of canning.  I have to run our dehumidifier in the kitchen.

We woke up to thunderstorms, so hence more humidity in the air, and today they say the heat index could be up to 110°F.  I have had the radio on the last few days, and today they are talking about closing some schools due to the heat.  Some schools here do not have air conditioning.

Say a prayer our power stays on for a full day of canning.  I am seeing that several towns on the out skirts of us, are without power this morning.

The zucchini and yellow squash are still rolling in, but yesterday the plants looked as if they were about done for the season.  I guess I will know next week after this rain dries out.  We are to get strong storms tonight, so if the rain stops, and I get a break with sauce reduction, I will need to check on tomatoes again.

A couple of the zucchini plants are producing zucchini with bumps on them.  I did some research, and it states that the plant has a virus and the zucchini will not fully produce, so those plants will be yanked as soon as I have a time to do that.  Unless I am wrong, and someone can tell me otherwise.

One thing I know for sure, is that when canning season (or rather tomato season) is over, I will be looking at food processors.  I need a new one.  I almost had a kitchen disaster yesterday.  The lid was not locked on.  My last one had a dough blade and so many options.  I don't know what I was thinking, but my current one has only 3 buttons - on, off and pause.  I have no idea why I would buy one without other options.

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Freezing Shredded Zucchini and Tidbits

This is an old blog draft I had before all things in life went BAM!   Funeral is over, but we are all hurting.  Again, thank you for your prayers and good thoughts.

It is taking all I have to get up and go this morning.  I am slammed with tomatoes, and I should have been up at 4:30am today.  I am so far behind, but I am up, as my husband had to work today as well.  Oh, I am slammed with green bell peppers as well.  I'm still dealing zucchini, and did not have a chance to check on the plants, as we had a day of visitation, and a full day with funeral services.  I thought I just heard the radio mention thunderstorms today, so after I get tomatoes prepped, I may run out and do a very quick look-see.

I have to get my morning work out in first, then there is the unloading of the dishwasher, and then moving produce around to make room for a full day of canning.  It's very hot here as well, so that is a double whammy in my kitchen this week.

A beautiful morning sunrise we had a few weeks ago.  Just another sign that summer is coming to an end, as that moves directions.

I learned something new from one of my favorite chefs (Mary Ann Esposito) - when freezing shredded zucchini, place it in waxed paper, twist the ends, and then put it in a plastic freezer bag to freeze.  It will be so much easier to get out of the bag when you thaw it.   I wanted to use freezer paper, but could not find mine, and I was out of pint bags.  I had just been to the store, so I was not going back.  We live in the boonies.

Speaking of TV, my husband worked late one day, so I watched the movie on Netflix, "Poisoned."  There wasn't much in the movie that I didn't know, but when they were asked one thing they would never buy from the grocery store, it was bagged greens/lettuces.  It was suggested to buy the head of lettuce and wash it yourself.  Hence, that wake up call, we will be making sure we have a raised bed for all of our spring greens next year.

I have a cheap spiralizer, so I made yellow squash casserole with it (another new recipe).

I made Julia Child's Shredded Sautéed Zucchini with garlic.  We really liked it too.

Monday, August 21, 2023

Everything at Once

 The days have been long here lately, and thank you for all of your kind words.  Our very loved, 20 year-old grand niece, left behind two beautiful baby boys.  One is 18 months old and the the other is 6 months old.  Our niece and nephew (grandparents) will be raising them.  Funeral arrangements hit hard, as we've gone through the motions way too many times.  It's been so difficult getting through the days.  

In the midst of all the mental distress, the garden is throwing a lot a me.  First picking of tomatoes came to 67 pounds.  I'll be very busy.   Not sure what will get canned yet, as my brain is overloaded as it is.

I canned way too much tomato soup last year, so I will cut back on that this year.  I am trying to pass the last dozen jars around to the kids, so they are not wasted, as I prepare canned tomato items this season.

Green bell peppers are still rolling in and I had a dozen to freeze, and some to eat.

The zucchini and yellow squash are still producing, and I just have not had a break to yank the plants.  I have given a lot of it away.

The hot peppers do not look good.  They are still smaller than last year.  I have yet to decide if I'll be canning hot pepper relish or hot pepper jelly.  We use the relish a lot, but not so much on the jelly.

My husband took off work for the funeral and helping the family, and of course for mental de-stress, but the funeral is now not until this week to accommodate family.  We used a few days get this work done.

We have shortened the  "Hilton Hen House" walls, and are getting ready to build trusses for the roof, then work on the walls, windows, door etc.  It's slowly progressing.  We have the floor covered with a tarp, as the rain has been here off and on.  Work weekends are hard to come by right now.

Go hug someone today.  Tell someone you love them.  Call someone.  Take someone out for coffee or invite someone over for a meal.  Life is not promised, but death is.  You never know what tomorrow will bring.

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Heaven gained. . .

 Heaven gained another angel last night.  Our grand niece.  She was so young, and way too early to go in life.  She has two beautiful baby boys.  I will be back soon.

Way too many deaths in the family.  

Monday, August 14, 2023

New Coop ~ Tidbits


Short post today.  We started building the new coop over the weekend.  However, he bought the wrong size wood, so it's bigger than it should be.  We got two wall frames up, and he changed his mind and will be cutting the walls down for a shorter coop.  This man.  I am happy we are starting to build it, but I thought he had this all planned out too. 

 I didn't get any other pictures, as it was very hot out and we were extremely tired.  We reached out for help, and once again, no help.   Just the shopping, loading and unloading wears us out.  Roofing is heavy too, and so far that job sounds like it will be just him and I, and I am not looking forward to that. I already have bruises, burst blood vessels, and he's sporting bandaids. Biofreeze has been our best friend.

 I'll try and get my camera out there for photos later this week, if we getting any progress done on it. Like I said, we will be going a bit backwards on it for now, before we can go forward.  Today, rain is in the forecast.

Ladders, carrying stuff up and down.....this is not going to be fun.  As of last night, I think we agreed the trusses will be built vs. bought.  They are expensive. 

I had one short break one day on the porch last week.  The butterflies love my tall phlox.  It's back to steaming hot again.  I was way too tired to check on my garden yesterday, and my tomatoes are probably getting ready for some canning.

I'm happy to say, the flower beds (other than the rose bed from h-e-double hockey sticks bed) are all completely weeded.  I managed to get most of the herb garden weeded too.

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Tomatoes ~ Clothesline Day ~ Hot Peppers

 One of my extreme clean projects (craft binders) landed on the kitchen table, and it made me realize, I need the table for tomatoes.  Yikes.  

Tomatoes, although we are getting black rot on some, are rolling in, so I have set up a small camping table for the extras, as they are not all turning red at the same time this year. 

The sound of locusts outside, reminded me to wash our bathrobes while I still had good clothesline weather.  Plus, they were on the bathroom door, and I need that door taken down to paint anyway.  Eventually. I didn't get a photo, but that clothesline was full.  I washed all the towels, clothing and anything else to beat the rain.

Speaking of laundry, my washing machine is now acting up.  I am getting codes, and it will stop completely.  We got it running again, but it is 14 years old.  It may be the next appliance to be replaced.  

So, what would eat jalapenos?  I have one plant almost eaten completely down.  Never, ever, have a seen this activity.  I went back out and did a good look-see to check for tomato worms too.  It could have been done by the last horn worm I removed.  I didn't see any other activity out there.

It's not a great year for my hot peppers.  Plants are smaller, peppers are smaller, and I had several rotten hot banana peppers on a few plants.  My cayenne didn't make it. No habanero this year either.  Just a weird year for them I guess.  My husband said someone took jalapenos to work, from their garden, and they too, were not hot.

We got a bit of rain last night, but not enough in my opinion.  It will be another hot day today.

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Garden ~ Yellow Squash Tots


Roses and lavender plants have been trimmed, and the garden continues to provide.  Our hot pepper plants are not as big as last year, and peppers are smaller.  Not sure why, as the rest of the garden did well, or is doing well.

I tried a new yellow squash recipe - Yellow squash Tots.  I used the colander method vs. cheesecloth to remove water.  I also found the recipe online.  It tasted good, but nothing spectacular.  I do love that they are all baked at once, vs. fried in a skillet like squash patties (which takes forever).  The greek yogurt dip is good, but you could use sour cream or eat them by themselves.  These reheat nice in an air fryer too.  I think, if I make them again, I will add a jalapeno or some red pepper flakes.  It just needs more flavor, but easy to make.

We made it to the hardware store for two more boards for the new coop.  Well, when we got home, someone realized we bought the wrong size, ha ha!  Whoops.

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Saying Goodbye to Goat Supplies and Other Tidbits

 In the process of swapping out the old and new refrigerator, I found a tote with more goat supplies I was keeping.  We have already given away the milk pail.

I guess I was hanging on to all of this, just in case things got very bad in this world, and we needed to invest in dairy goats again.  We decided to let it go.   The "zebra" goat coats were sewn from old pajamas from the kids.  I made them myself actually.  The other was made from old sweatpants.  I guess you could say this is my only purge this week.  

We are still enjoying fresh cucumber salad, cucumber salsa, and I tried a new yellow squash casserole (which lacked flavor).

The green/wax bean plants were yanked.  We enjoyed some of the freshly picked ones.  It's too late to fall plant them.  We had a good harvest this year.  We got 37# this year.  I gave some to the kids, we ate some, and froze some.

After several weeks, we finally got 90% of the flower beds weeded.  I still need to weed the herb garden as well.

I don't know why I started going back to the library.  I had books due back (crochet, cookbooks) before I even had a chance to look at them.

It rained, but not a really good soak.  I took advantage of the day and became the zucchini Houdini.  I have more squash to deal with yet.  

Breakfast was Chili and Cheddar Egg dish, and some local blueberry sausages.

I boiled some eggs for snacking or light lunches.

I used some zucchini for chicken teriyaki, and some yellow squash, so I made homemade teriyaki sauce for that.  My husband was bugging me for zucchini bread, so I baked 2 loaves, and one went to work with him, and I made BBQ beans with the last of the freshly picked beans.  We have leftovers for days here.  

The sun is out today, and back to the 80's.  Yesterday, it was an oddly low 70's day.

Sunday, August 6, 2023

Garden Pickings ~ New Fridge ~ Rain Moves In


Saturday's pickings.  I did not look at the green beans.  I will today if there is a break in the rain.  The beans are about done for the season.  The yellow squash went bananas overnight, so there will (or should be) a squash casserole on the menu.

We borrowed a trailer to go pick up a "like new" refrigerator, and when we got there, we realized we needed help.  It had to be taken down stairs (on a trailer), that came out and went sideways.  We took the trailer home, and then the boys said they needed the trailer, so no trailer, no help.

Frustrated, we then rented a trailer from TSC ($14.00 for a half day), so that was not too bad.  However, all of my husband's family were busy with a cookout, and everyone else we could think of was busy.  

We literally moved that fridge by ourselves.  It was a lot of work, but it is not a giant full size one either.  Anyway, we got that loaded and unloaded, old one moved out, by ourselves.  We were exhausted by the evening last night.  However, mowing had to be done, with the rain moving in too.

I cleaned the old fridge out using the water hose (that was a hoot) in the driveway, and put it out by the road for free scrap.  It would have been so much easier at our age, to buy new, have it delivered, and old one removed for us.  However, the price of a new one is outrageous.  Newer ones don't last as long as the older ones either.  We think our older one was older than 17 plus years, as we got it used.  Anyway, that issue as been all resolved.

We believe we would benefit with owning a trailer.  It is on the wish list now, but we'll continue to check local sales first.

Oh, I have to share this.  On Friday, I was out picking green beans, and had just finished.  I went to stand up, and a deer flew out of the woods, running directly at where I was in the garden.  Never in all the years living here, has that happened.  I, of course, screamed in shock, and it took off in another direction.  

The sky here is dark, and stormy, so I am betting we'll get more rain.  We literally have no back up plan for today.  I guess we were hoping it would not last all day, and get some work done outside.  Our plan for today, was to weed the front flower bed, and start on the new coop.  If it rains all day long, that is not going to happen.

I don't lack garden work inside today.  I have some green beans to trim and clean, some zucchini to freeze or cook, and of course the yellow squash.  I have some red tomatoes, so I will make more of the Greek cucumber salsa as well.

Friday, August 4, 2023

Chit Chat

 As usual, it's been chaotic, busy and full of surprises here lately.

Green peppers are looking good.  I just may get some stuffed ones in the freezer this year.  If I do get stuffed ones frozen, it will be a different recipe, and one without rice or cauliflower rice).  

Speaking of freezer, our "garage" fridge/freezer stopped working a few days ago.  I spent a good amount of my day cleaning it out.  

Zucchini gave me a break for a day.  We are typically getting something daily.  My husband has taking extras to work, and I took some to the library staff.  I gave up on anyone coming to our homestead to pick it up for free.  No one ever picks it up.

Blackberries are starting to turn color for picking.  No red raspberries for some reason this year.

Green/wax yellow beans are still producing, but look like they are about to let up.

I found myself a cleaning caddy.  Although I have not had a chance to get my cleaning stuff put in it, it was only $4.58!  I got a 15% discount, because I was with a daughter who had a store membership.  Big Lots of all places.  It is large enough to hold a box of borax, cleaning gloves and all the items I use here.

I finally found a pattern for a "hippie" beanie.  The one on the right.  I have had very little time to go to the library, but thankfully this book had one for fall projects (if tomatoes don't carry out too late this year).

Projects in limbo, and he keeps starting new ones:
-build raised beds, have half of the supplies
-install a window and AC, have half of the supplies
-build new coop, have half of the supplies
-home gym, still need gym flooring and new equipment
-dog fence (off the list until next year now)

Oh there are more in limbo than I can mention, ha ha!  Life happens.  Garden goodies happen.  Work happens.  

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Zucchini Tortillas ~ Breakfast just got healthier


Yes, you can make foldable tortillas from zucchini!  It took me 3 times to get one right, although a bit toasty.  I followed a recipe I found online.  By the way, not all online recipes are accurate. The one above, although crisp around the side, still folded for a breakfast tortilla.

Here is what recipe I followed:

Zucchini Tortillas (Gluten-Free, Baked), by Alexandracooks

I used the exact ingredients.  You really do want your shredded zucchini very dry for these.

To make these 6-7 inches, I could only fit two on the parchment paper.  Recipe instructions state to use parchment paper.  Do NOT use parchment paper.  These stick to parchment and I was lucky to get this one off the paper to try.  By the way very delicious, and a great way to make a breakfast tortilla healthier.

Bake time on these?  12-15 minutes at 450°F.  You can see the parchment paper turned brown.  Anyway, the first two trays stuck (recipe says it makes 5).  Oh, and with my experimenting, I think I will try at 13 minutes with my oven.  The one that I made in the first photo was 15 minutes, the others were 12 and 13 minutes.

I then realized I own a silicone baking mat, and have never used it.  These tortillas come right off of a silicone baking mat!  Yay!  Now that I figured that out, I have another mat on order.  You can freeze these, according to the recipe.  I think I would layer something between them before freezing, like waxed paper maybe.

So there you have it.  My crazy brain finding more ways to eat zucchini before the season ends.  I used this recipe, to avoid white flour.  I think there is one with rice flour online, but these were good.  Due to crazy cooler weather here, my plants have shot up another foot.  I cannot believe how big they are this year.