Thursday, October 14, 2010

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Bottles, bags, boxes, and cans

One of the things I have enjoyed doing this Summer was putting up. "Putting up?!" you say, wondering if today will be the day that frazzledmomma has well and truly lost her mind. Putting up, in my neck of the woods, (perhaps in your neck of the woods, as well) simply means processing foods which are in season to be used at a later time. Because we have had an organic garden for the each of the last two years, I have learned some of the art of freezing and bottling foods. Now, I know you're all probably thinking "What could this possibly have to do with SPD, autism, or the gfcf diet?!? Did frazzledmomma fall and smack her head on the pavement?"  Well, I'll tell you! In the words of Miss Frizzle, "Seat belts, everyone!" This blog will be a bit on the long side today.

Because Logan's version of the gfcf diet is so much more restrictive than just gluten and casein free, he doesn't get a lot of variety, except in fruits and vegetables. I have made it my quest to provide as much variety in these areas as possible. This year, we had bumper crops of green beans and broccoli which I blanched and froze. I have also been ordering a case or two of fresh produce in season once a month from our local small grocery, as well. Our growing season is so short here, that there are some things that our garden just could not pull off. Believe it or not, I actually killed the zucchini! I didn't think that was possible! 

So, this week I ordered a case of zucchini and a case of tomatillos. The "zuke" has been cooked and drained and is waiting in the fridge to be pureed tomorrow. I use this puree in the most fantastic zuke bread you will ever eat. The tomatillos are for homemade Salsa Verde (which would be done by now if my cilantro had not decided to rot overnight. I'll be back at the grocery tomorrow for more, and then will spend the day blending, chopping, cooking, and bottling the stuff.). But, oh! How yummy will it be to have Salsa Verde made from produce at it's peak, in the middle of the winter! Even better is the fact that I can process these foods without all the additives, preservatives, artificial colors, flavors and soy/corn fillers that the store bought versions have.

Last month, I made apricot jam and bottled 12 quarts of fresh peaches for the first time, EVER. I was rather pleased with myself about it, too! I had been given approximately 30 pounds of apricots that were so ripe, they were ready to "turn" any second. Honestly, the most luscious apricot jam, EVER. I wound up with 14 quarts of jam. I also froze fresh blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries last month because I got them for $9.00 a case. I can use these berries for a multitude of things since I froze them on a cookie sheet before bagging them in gallon freezer bags so they could be used one berry at a time, if I wanted to!

When things are on sale for a phenomenal price, and it falls in line with the diet you have put into place, it is smart to stock up, and even buy more than you need, so you have it later instead of paying a premium price or going without. This makes restrictive diets more palatable.  For example, I ordered a case of organic braeburn apples a few weeks ago and turned them all into 3 gallons of frozen gfcfsfcf apple pie filling. Logan loves loves LOVES the filling on oatmeal, pancakes, and toast.

In October, pumpkins are cheap, as we all know. Once the monsters are through hacking and slicing and trying to burn down the house with seven jack o' lanterns, the pumpkins will be cooked, peeled, pureed, and frozen for use in pies, cakes, cookies, pumpkin butter, etc.  I don't allow the pumpkin massacre to happen before Halloween afternoon, so that the pumpkins are still in fairly decent shape the morning after "the haunting".

We also had a case lot sale this month at our local grocery. I picked up the loot today.  I ordered 16 cases of goods, which included a case of canola oil,  2 cases of tomato sauce, a case of canned mushrooms,  2 cases of frozen orange juice concentrate with calcium, a case each of frozen mixed veggies, frozen peas, spaghettios, and macaroni and cheese, ( I know, I know.... not gfcf friendly, but it's all #4 will eat at the moment),  4 cases of bottled water, and and a case of salt for less than $200 total. I know that the number of people in the Monster House is far larger than the average American family with 2.3 children, but the cases I ordered will last us 2-3 months for those items, at an extremely reduced cost. Keep in mind.. ONLY purchase things in bulk that you use anyway! Produce purchases in bulk should be things you LIKE! Do not buy them just because they are cheap!!!

In November, fun things like cranberries and sweet potatoes will be readily available~ as well as affordable, and what fun THAT will be! My twinnie monsterlettes love sweet potato fries, mashed yams, sweet potatoes mashed and whipped with Earth Balance soy free spread and honey, the list goes on. I plan to buy a boatload of sweet potatoes and bottle or freeze them for use throughout the year. I might also get a case of cranberries to freeze for use in muffins and other baked goods. I'm not all that keen on cranberry sauce, so an entire case of cranberries is iffy at best. Maybe "craisins"? Hmmmm...

I have found that the cost of eating gfcfsfcf greatly diminishes when I purchase things in this way, and the variety of available foods for Logan at any given time is greatly increased. The one resource that I would strongly recommend if you are entertaining the idea of processing foods is the Ball Blue Book, which is so user friendly, my monsters read and explained instructions to me whilst I was leaning over a huge kettle of steaming hot water looking at the glass jars submerged inside. The official Ball website can be found by clicking here . Tips for safely preserving foods at home, information on freezing, dehydrating, and bottling just about anything you can imagine, as well as recipes can be found in both the book and the website. And guess what! The recipes are, for the most part, gfcf! So go... learn.... buy in bulk when possible... and enjoy strawberries in December! And, as always, let us know how it goes! I sense a great many entries for MHMHMs from these food preservation experiences! ;)

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