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March 2015

March has been so insanely busy that I can’t imagine what this summer is going to look like.

This month we put in an order at Azure Standard.  It was mostly grains and beans but we did get a great deal on fair trade organic cocoa powder and beef gelatin.  Putting in an order means doing a fair amount of price comparison so that we are sure we are getting the best price.  I did learn that the Azure Standard brand grains are actually grown on the Azure Standard farm.  I didn’t know they had a farm so how cool is that.  All those beans and grains grown in Oregon – not exactly local but still not so far when you look at the carbon footprint.  The foods didn’t travel to their warehouse so it’s all about getting it to our house.  Makes me want to purchase more of that particular brand when I shop there.

Because we had a ton of beans, we learned how to pressure can.  I shared that experience with you already but I have to say that I am so glad I learned.  I was ready for the next step this year and now I can confidently move forward.  We did lose 1 quart of beans to a failed seal.  Well, we threw them in the freezer and plan on boiling the crap out of them before eating so we don’t actually lose anything.  Some people may not feel comfortable trying to save those beans but we just don’t like throwing out food.

Speaking of throwing out foods (or not), our little dehydrator has been working so hard this month.  We’re learning its quirks.  Because it doesn’t allow us to adjust the heat, we did lose a batch of orange pulp because it burnt.  Never thought a dehydrator would burn foods.  We do have some issues with sticking and what not but we’re learning.  We’re not putting anything delicate on overnight so it can be watched carefully.  When the weather gets warmer, I may consider turning the parts into an air dryer.  Don’t think it will be that hard and I have some screens I can add to the process.  We’ll see.

We ordered from Bountiful Baskets twice this month.  In our area, Bountiful Baskets are only available every other week.  I know my husband is probably grateful that we only did the two.  Our first order got us some tomatoes, grapefruit and molasses.  We split the fruit boxes.  We didn’t do much with the tomatoes except eat them with salmon and cream cheese – that was so good.  But we did juice the grapefruits and can the juice.  We are saving the zest and pith for all the citrus.  When we just eat a fruit, we save the whole peel.  I am working on things to do with the zest.  We did try some pith in a smoothie.  Aside from a slightly chewy texture, it didn’t do anything weird to the smoothie.  The flavor wasn’t bitter at all.

Our second order got us a box of lemons, half box pineapples and half box Anaheim chilies.  We learned how to roast the chilies so they are sitting in the freezer waiting for inspiration.  They are tasty.  We ate them on toast as we were roasting them.  The pineapples were turned into crushed pineapple and canned.  The lemons (which I will share instructions soon) became jelly and lemonade concentrate.  The concentrate doesn’t need a tutorial (I think).  It was just 1 cup lemon juice to about 1/3 cup sugar (we had about 12 cups of juice and put in just under 5 cups of sugar).  Then we canned it in quart jars (waterbath 20 minutes).

We canned and dried so much that our pantry needs some serious reconfiguring.  So that will be April’s project.

Outside of our pantry – I have been invited to do a demo on book paper crafts at a demo day at a local artsy place (for those local – Dahmen Barn April 11th 11-4) and to teach a class at our local library on making flowers out of recycled parts.

We had a visit from our son, who is now 18.  He’s so cute.  He announced that since he was 18, he could finally date.  A week later, he calls to tell us he has a girlfriend (he had been waiting to ask her out).  I’m so proud of him.  He chose to wait until he was old enough.  He’s a wise young man sometimes.

Last thing for March, I took a Mental Health First Aid class.  It’s milling around in my brain so I know it will be a blog post in the future.  You should see the list of blog post ideas I have.  Inspiration is practically my middle name.  I’m glad April will slow down on the canning front so I can focus on other things.  Oh, April is also CampNano.  I’m looking forward to getting back to some serious writing.  No more cheating with all those freewrites.

Hope this spring is inspiring you too.

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