The little birds...

If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.

Banner by Free Pretty Things for You.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Pantries and Preparedness. Free food continued...

Last week I was talking about building up your pantry with free food. If we are open to using what comes our way we can hugely increase our pantry!

Do you remember Rosanne and how she found so many apples in a car park? She sent me this picture of the results for her pantry and her two Grand Children who helped her achive this by helping her all day in the kitchen. This is Kyle and Trinity with the apples...

Rosanne said how hard these two worked! I thought this was just wonderful. Thank you for letting me share this Rosanne and well done to you Kyle and Trinity! Look at that quantity of apples! There is so much you can do with them. What a good addition to your pantry. Many people passed those apples by.

For the last weeks Teri has been busy. She said to me she had no time to write as she was up to her eyeballs in free produce. My reply was that we have to get busy on it when it comes in! There is time for other stuff later and the priortity is using the produce while it is fresh and good. And thats what she was doing!
Teri does everything she can to build up her pantry. She said to me that she hoped she was prudent with the food that came to them through God's grace. I really love that and yes she was! Free produce really helped her this summer. I will let her tell you...

From Teri.

This summer, we have been blessed with an abundance of free and
nearly free food! We plant a garden each year and do pretty well.
This year, even though we struggled to get it growing (weather kept
things interesting), we prayed that our little garden would provide
us and our family with lots of fresh veggies. Seeds were replanted
several times but our prayers were answered! We have been eating
fresh; and processing yellow summer squash, beets, green beans,
onions, cucumbers and Swiss chard. We usually grow several
kinds of herbs from seeds but this year they didn’t grow. The sage
we have from year to year is doing well and our peppermint and
spearmint also have done very well.

One of the things to remember about receiving a small or large
amount of food is it needs to be processed quickly. So knowing
different ways to preserve food helps. When someone asks me if I
would like ______, I always say yes. Even if I don’t know just what
to do with it or how I can deal with a large quantity at one time, I
gratefully accept it. Then, start working!  First, we always try to
share with our family and neighbors. Then, I look over my recipes
to decide how to process the food and then get started!
This year, and for many, many years, I was never sure how all my
jars would be filled. But every year, God provides! And, this year,
we received boxes and boxes of green beans, tomatoes, peaches and
corn all at once! Oh my! Yet, at the end of each day, I always say a
prayer of thanks! After sharing, this is what I did with our free
food. I hope it gives you some ideas.

1. Tomatoes- I decided to quarter and can lots of them. I also
made tomato sauce. I decided to can all of them plain (just
adding the lemon juice and a bit of salt and sugar). This way,
I can use them for many different dishes and add seasonings
and herbs when I open a bottle. (We use our tomatoes/sauce
to make spaghetti sauce, macaroni and tomatoes, soups,
stews, chili, etc.) I also dehydrated lots of sliced tomatoes and
dried the tomato peelings from the sauce, to grind into
powder. (tomatoes can also be frozen, but I didn’t do that this
time). Our grape tomatoes are also being dried. And I still need
to make salsa!

2. Green beans- cleaning and cutting beans takes some time but
is so worth it! We froze lots, dehydrated some, canned 22
pints and made dilly beans.
3. Cauliflower- This was from our garden. I pickled most and we
ate some fresh.
4. Corn- We blanched and froze our corn this year. Other years,
I’ve canned and dehydrated it. We shared most of it with
5. Yellow summer squash- This is from our garden, also. We
have enjoyed a great deal fresh, shared with family, made
yellow/zucchini relish and dehydrated a bunch. We will
continue this until it freezes.

6. Zucchini- Our seeds didn’t come up this year, so when my
friend asked if we would like a few from her garden, I said
YES!! Lol (And, yes, they were huge but I didn’t mind)! I
peeled and grated 12-2 cup bags for the freezer and blanched
chunks for the freezer. I used 3 medium sized ones to stuff
with ground beef mix and then used some in my relish. This
was a wonderful blessing!

7. Peaches- Even though I still had some peaches still canned, I
didn’t want to say no. We had used all our jam and pie filling,
so I made lots of both of those. I still put up 21 quarts of
peach slices after making pie filling and jam! I also canned 7
quarts of peach nectar. Plus, a lot were eaten fresh!! 
8. Beets- These are from our garden. We picked close to 50 lbs.
Again, we ate some fresh but canned most of the lot. I still
have a few jars of pickled beets from last year, so I just
decided to do plain this year. I did put 1 container of
sweet/sour beets in the freezer. I still have a few in the garden
(we planted seeds several times about 2 weeks apart) but most
likely they will be eaten fresh.
9. Cucumbers- These are being enjoyed fresh. Our temps.
dipped last night and the vines got nipped. So, hopefully it
will warm up a little and we can enjoy a few more. (I won’t eat
the cucumbers from the store, ever)!!
10. Carrots- They are still growing but we have pulled a few
and they are yummy!
11. Plums- My friend shared her plums. I was all out of
plum sauce, so this was a real blessing! I cleaned and cooked
two huge pots of plums to make the sauce with. I also canned
14 quarts of juice from the simmering plums! This was a
bonus and it’s delicious. (I don’t have a juicer, so I just let the
juice run through my hand food mill into a separate pan and
then push the fruit through the mill into another bowl). These
plums were extra ripe and made a deep purple juice and some
very tasty sauce! Again, I left the sauce plain and will season
it when we use it. That way, we can eat it like a fruit, season
it for chicken or pork, or I can put some in the slow cooker
with apples and make butter.

12. Acorn squash- This was a volunteer plant from the
compost pile which I am very happy about! We will gather
them all and put them in our cold storage room to use all
We also received several boxes of cantaloupe and some
watermelons! Whenever someone gives you free food, please find a
way to use/preserve/share it! Annabel has told us lots of different
ways to receive food. She wrote how she has asked neighbors with
fruit falling to the ground, her grandmother asked strangers and
ended up with fruit/flowers and friends! Letting others know you
would love to have any “extras”. U-pick and farmers markets are
also ways to increase your pantries, though a bit more expensive.
Local fruit stands can be a way to get fresh fruit and veggies; and
growing a garden (big or small) is one more way. Our garden is a
few grow boxes placed in the front/side yard instead of lawn.
Planting veggies/herbs in-between flowers or in pots is another way
to have some fresh food. I pray for guidance, I let family and friends
know I will take any extras and I pray for my garden to grow and
give us fresh food! Ask and you shall receive! God blesses us and
I’m so grateful for each thing that comes my way!
This year, my husband helped clean and cut beans, and cooked all
our meals. It sure helps to have the extra set of hands, so if you
have a family member or friend helping, it goes much faster. Also,
if you have children old enough, let them help! Our kids still talk
about the tons of peas THEY shelled several years in a row! LOL
This is just one more way we can fill our pantries! As some of us
are going into spring/summer, others are headed into
autumn/winter! It’s so important to get our pantries full! One of
the most important things about having food storage is having the
foods your family eats! Store what you eat and eat what you store
is such sound advice! Rotation is key to keeping a stocked pantry.
You will have less waste and be able to fill your pantry with yummy
and, sometimes, free food!
Have a lovely week! Teri

Thank you so much Teri. What a lot of work and how beautiful to have all those full jars and such abundance!

Next I want to mention Cath is writing a series How to build your Stockpile. I am thrilled about this and will be following.
Brandy from The Prudent Homemaker has had some very interesting things to say in recent posts about her panty and preparedness. I am following along there also.

My Aunt held a garden party and the idea was to come along with produce, plants and cuttings to exchange. I was unable to attend due to my dash to the farm. I had planned to take bunches of Bay Leaves, Parsley and succulents as these are things I have to swap. At the right time of year this could be a friends, neighbours or church group way to swap your excess and share produce. What a good idea! It could be extended to include pantry items too. I just think what a way to have an afternoon cup of tea  and share. This is my Aunt with some of the plants and cuttings and then some of the produce.

What a good idea and another way to build up our pantries through free produce!

If you have pictures of what you have been cooking, canning etc please show me! Isn't it just beautiful to see! There is encouragement just in looking at them!

Have a wonderful week. Be prudent and diligent! xxx


  1. What a great post Annabel! I brought back some free strawberry runners from my visit with my mom this week and will be working to get those in the ground as soon as possible.

    1. Dear Patsi, Welcome back! Strawberries will be a great and I think it would be a good time to be planting them.
      I have been putting in vegies and herbs this week.
      With love,

  2. Thanks for another inspiring post, Annabel. And Teri, I am awed by your processing adventures! Apart from my banana jam and orange curd and candied peel last week, things are quiet here as far as excess produce goes. I guess the next glut will be things like stone fruit and mangoes in our part of the world! I'm looking forward to that. I'm in the middle of redoing my pantry, so when it's done, I'll be happy to share it. Much Love, Mimi xxx

    1. Dear Mimi,
      I am combining replies here... I am glad you noticed the mugs in that photo...I love them! They are always on display.
      I have a recipe for banana chutney that is the nicest thing with cold mets etc. I havent made it in ages though. Our turn will come soon for free fruit...ours is December to Feb/March then its on for young and old!
      Mangos would be fabulous. But we just need to make the most of what comes our way. I guess peaches are my personal favourite of what we get.
      I would LOVE to see pics of your pantry. And kitchen for that matter! If I could share them that would be even better. I love seeing pantries and what people do. It is so inspiring!
      With love and thanks,

  3. I loved this post. It is so neat to read about how people are putting up the produce, where they are finding it and the exchange of produce and cuttings. What a great idea!

    1. Dear Debbie, Thank you! Yes it is wonderful to see. There are means and ways! Our time here for a lot of free produce is December to end of Feb. So I am saving jars!
      With love,

  4. Annabel,
    Wow Teri has been busy let's give her a big hug! I am not passing up free produce even though I have gardens. Mine is producing slowly, but come fall I will have about 80 heads of cabbage to tend to. BUT my Uncle called and asked if I wanted to come and pick from his and his garden is about 2 acres so I'm on it! And if you have animals free food can benefit them also, his dried corn I will pick and put up for my chickens, and pumpkins I will take the raw seeds and grind them up and freeze them to put in my animal food as a natural dewormer. I will let you know what all I get! I am having a very diligent week so far.

    1. Dear Vicky, Eighty heads of cabbage! That should give you lots and some to barter with and all sorts. How good that your Uncle shares with you. I agree too that what we cant use can be animal food. I had not thought of grinding pumpkin seeds, that is a great idea.
      I will look forward to seeing your harvest!
      Hope you are having a great week. With love,

  5. What a nice post! I haven't been gifted any produce recently, but I have a couple of basil seedlings that came up on their own and I want to plant in containers so I can use them. I also have a couple of palm tree seedlings that must have been started by birds since we have no palm trees in our yard. One of the palm trees is about three feet tall now and quite pretty. I saw one in the nursery selling fo $40! I moved it to a pot of its own after it started in my pot of iris. The others are quite small. I plan to either move them to pots of their own or put them in temporary pots to give away. I have multiplier onions that I grow and have shared with others that started with some I was given at a seed swap. I also enjoy saving seeds and growing new plants with my free seeds. Aloe vera grows very well here and I enjoy sharing starts of it. I am looking forward to starting a fall garden soon. Thank you for an enjoyable post! I love seeing what others are doing to build their pantries! Elaine

    1. Dear Elaine,
      I love seeing the creative ways others build their pantries too. It motivates me!
      Quite often seedlings that come up themselves seem to do very well for me. They seem stronger. Also over the years I have dug up or even found houseplants people have thrown away and nursed them to health. Then as you say you see one for sale in the shops for some staggering amount!
      I think little pots of Aloe Vera with a label would be really nice gifts. Maybe the label could list some of the uses. That is a very good plant to have in the garden. I love gifts like that.
      You are making the most of what you have and you never know what is around the corner... our season for free fruit is between December and the end of February, mainly. Meantime I am saving jars and getting ready!
      With love,

  6. I love the way you've weaved these stories together. My garden is still developing so we are not yet at the excess bounty for preserves stage. When I have a small glut I make up small batches. Today I made a jar of passionfruit curd which I am looking forward to spooning on some icecream and garden strawberries. I have just started getting the odd volunteer plant poking its head up. I get quite excited by these. Our ground is sand so I have been busily building soil. There are no worms in sand. My neighbours got a bit of a giggle when they heard me calling out that I had worms! Having worms means I am doing the right thing by my garden. In the next couple of years I too will have a bountiful harvest to preserve and stock my pantry.

    1. Dear Jane,
      Thank you! Lots of small batches add up very well. I manage better if I do small batches myself.
      In the SE where the farm is the soil is also sandy. Over the years Mum has built up the soil in her garden but still it is basically sandy. So I also understand being excited about worms! It is amazing though how much we can end up producing and things adapt too. Water is everything of course too. Dad brings up soil from the cattle yards, which really is mainly ground down manure, and this goes on the vegie patches. This is good stuff! Things go mad in it. Liquid manure is gross but a really good thing as it seems to go in and be absorbed. It will all be worth it, you will soon be producing all sorts of things! With love,

  7. Replies
    1. Thank you! A lot of possibilities, I hope some work for you! xx

  8. Annabel, we are blessed here by having rich red soil to grow our plants in plus hubby has put hundreds of ute loads of manure on our 1/2 acre so it isn't hard to grow veggies and fruit here. I am currently doing research on how to use the many herbs we have growing here as they are so beneficial to our health. Quite often we pass by such plants and don't even realise how full of goodness they are.

    1. Dear Nanna Chel,
      What could be more Australian than a ute load of manure! Thats how things are at the farm, every things by the ute load and the manure comes from the cattle yards. It will grow anything!
      I agree we pass things by... I am planning on making stinging nettle tea as a garden liquid fertilizer and also comfrey for the same purpose. But there must be so many possibilities we waste! But we are learning!
      With love,

  9. What wonderful ways to use produce! I, unfortunately do not know anyone who keeps a garden :( I am taking your other post to heart though, Annabel, and keep a look out when I am in the store for produce people who are picking out old produce :)

    I love your Aunt's garden party idea! Ingenious!

    1. Dear Jenn,
      Even inside a windowsill a few pots of herbs can be really good. Here everyone has a garden so it is hard for me to imagine and there are a lot of fruit trees in them too. We are pretty lucky that way. But still you never know what you might find, just keep your eyes out. People even buy stuff then don use it, stores throw away produce they deem not fresh enough and a lot of waste. I hope some free food comes your way! With love,

  10. I also like this post and how you put together the works of several homemakers. It really encourages me to see other homemakers and how they make the best of their time and work.

    Love your blog, Annabel :)

  11. Dear Teri and Annabel,

    What a great post!! It is inspiring to read of all the work you have been doing, Teri, to fill up the pantry. What a blessing to have a full larder and what a blessing to have food that others can't use gifted to you.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Love to you both,

    1. Dear Glenda,
      Thank you! It makes me happy to see such industriousness and people being wise like this. I just love it.
      It has made me look forward to our season of plenty which is December to Feb.and I cant wait now!
      With much love,

    2. Glenda, Thank you! Love, Teri

  12. I love seeing everyone's canning pictures! I don't have a huge garden so my canning is done in small batches, but the jars still look awfully pretty all lined up in a row on my kitchen counter.

  13. I just love seeing all those canning jars filled up! I only have a few so far, and will be overjoyed to have dozens of them available for filling up with wonderful produce! I've saved heaps of jars (recycled commercial ones) and hope these will stand up to some "beginning" canning while I gradually stock up on the sturdy Ball glass ones.

    I'm looking forward to seeing rows of wonderful home canned produce on my pantry shelves! Thanks ladies for all the inspiration found here by sharing your wonderful pantries that "I too CAN do it!" (pardon the pun!) ;-)

    1. Dear Kaye, I think you just thought up a good title for a post. I CAN can or something like that!
      There are a lot of older people with boxes of good old canning jars in the shed. Not used in years. We have to find a way to get them out of their sheds and into your kitchen! Put the word around, tell the op shop ladies exactly what you are looking for, put an ad in the church newsletter if yo have one and on the local buy sell swap fb page etc. There is some time before summer fruits.... I think do all this and you will have good canning jars... you may have to buy new lids but thats a fraction of the overall cost. I am excited thinking about it! Rows of canned fruits!
      Hope you are having a good week! With love,

  14. Dear Annabel, Thank you for sharing my story and also Rosanne's and your Aunts' stories! It's very encouraging and I'm always learning!

    Thank you to everyone who commented! I love reading how everyone finds ways to add to their pantries! Vicky, you should make sauerkraut with some of that cabbage!! :)

    Today, I cooked up some garden tomatoes and will be making jam/ketchup from those!

    Have a great week everyone! Love, Teri

    1. Teri,
      Oh I am going to. I never liked kraut until I started making my own. Now I love it. I also make kraut peppers that are in a sweet brine. I think you have been very prudent and diligent with all of your produce and I am sending you a big hug!

    2. Vicky, Thank you so much!! :) Have a great weekend! Teri

  15. Hello Annabel,

    This is a lovely post, and Terri's words about accepting and showing thanks for windfalls and free food by processing and using it is very timely for me. I've just written a blog post on the same thing!

    I was blessed today with 2kg tomatoes, 5kg bananas (Wayne's eyes lit up, they're his favourite fruit), chips, rice crackers, cream, tea bags, pretzels, ceasar salad dressing, some spice mixes and tinned plums (perfect for cobbler/clafouti and muffins). I've already started some of the bananas in the dehydrator to make banana chips to use for snacking, in trail mix for camping and in my granola/muesli mix. The tomatoes will become chutney. I've put the chips and pretzels away for Christmas treats and I feel so blessed to have a friend who cares and is generous enough to share her blessings with us.

    Have a lovely weekend, the weather is looking beautiful, just like your pots, a lovely start to spring.

  16. I love to can but no garden!

    Thanks for a great post- saw you on A Tray of Bliss


  17. Hi Annabel...thanks for sharing this inspiring post at Five Star Frugal this week. I see you've already had some visitors...I'm so glad! Love, Mimi xxx


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