Remember the $20/$20 Challenge? It’s been awhile since we’ve had a submission, but together, year to date, we’ve been able to raise $1,060 for food banks. You know what that means? It means you guys are awesome! Here’s a little glimpse in Amy’s pantry. She has a neighbor you’ll learn about that I’m sure we’d all love to have living beside us. Here’s her story:
Gardening season is well behind us now even for the mild climate of the Willamette Valley in Oregon. Though our mild fall had tomatoes lasting far longer then I can ever remember. The low temperatures were in the twenties last week and made me wish for some fresh tomatoes.
My family (of 3) lives on 5 acres out in the country, just east of Salem, OR, surrounded by beautiful farm land. My dad and most of the other farmers in the area raise sweet corn, green beans, and grass seed. We have a menagerie of animals on our 5 acre ‘farm’ which include chickens (fresh eggs daily and enough to sell a few dozen), highland beef cattle (grass raised and very spoiled so my husband points out), and goats (my daughters pets).
I always try to plant a garden, nothing too extravagant. This last year we cleaned up an small unused corner of a field that was just too hard to farm with large equipment and planted a nice garden. We had tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers, cucumbers, and a lone watermelon plant. The watermelon was a first for us, it loved our unusually warm summer and gave us 9 huge watermelons!
We are also blessed with an amazing retired neighbor that spends his days toiling in his 5 acre ‘garden/orchard’ which he shares with all his neighbors. It’s not uncommon to get a call to say, “help yourself to all of the ripe peaches (apples, cherries, etc.).” I often end up with 100lbs. of peaches on my kitchen table that need processed ASAP.
Working a regular 40+ hour full time job means some very late nights at the canning pot, but I love it. There’s something fulfilling being able to feed your family in the middle of winter from items you have put up yourself. I usually put up around 500 jars a year of various things. Lots of fruit, jams, pickles, sauces, and game meat. My family loves to hunt and we have been very fortunate to get a few deer and elk the last few years, so much that we usually just sell our beef instead of keeping it for ourselves. I must say pressure canned meat looks funky in a jar, but it is a fast dinner and tastes amazing.
We also have 2 freezers we use. I keep it down to just one for most of the year, but when summer/fall hits I usually have to turn on the second one. I freeze a lot of berries for smoothies or until I have time to make jam. Tomatoes also get thrown into gallon Ziploc bags in the freezer until I have enough for a large batch and spend a day making sauce and soup (I actually still have 120lbs. of them in the freezer that are on my to do list for winter break). Corn gets frozen in small meal sized bags to make it easy to grab and go. We also process all of our own game meat which takes up the bulk of the space and we share with family throughout the year.
Cooking dinner to me is usually a “oh no, what am I going to make” as I’m driving home from work, so I love having lots of pantry items to chose from to help. Earlier this year my pantry was beautiful with it’s jars lined up for easy viewing, but this summer we had a presentation at work about the ‘big’ earthquake that will hit the west coast and it made me completely rethink how I store my jars. For the time being I am using boxes stored on the pantry shelves to keep them from jiggling off the shelves as easy. (Yes, I love the Fage yogurt boxes for storing jars… my husband teases me for using them to store empty jars in these boxes under the bed. I will grab them when we’re shopping at Costco. I finally have enough of them that everything in the pantry is now in boxes.) The presentation was really a wake up call for me. I’m hoping to come up with a better system and have my husband retro fit our pantry to help protect all of the jars.
Are you getting your pantries camera ready? You can participate in the $20/$20 Challenge by simply sending in pictures of your pantry. Find out more about the $20/$20 Challenge: Show Your Pantry – Fill a Pantry!