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Happy New Year! I admit it’s good to see 2015 in the rear view mirror, and I look forward to 2016.

This year my theme for  my New Year’s Day post is a positive one. To focus on all the good things from my trip through 2015. Those “keepers”.

Let’s start with my garden and my food preservation. I have a short list of keepers here. I came to the conclusion that I needed to focus. Grow just what I use, and not be swayed into new foods that end up living forever in the freezer.

Keepers are preservable foods like zucchini fritters, caramelized onions, oven roasted tomatoes and simple syrups made from fruit. I find myself heading to the freezer to use up these goodies. Over and over until they are gone. For my future garden there will be tomatoes, onions, and zucchini to keep my supplies at a level that will sustain me through the following winter.

At Larriland next summer, the strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and cherries will be used to make the syrups. I am even thinking of pureeing and freezing peach ice cubes, instead of slices or halves.

They are the perfect size to drop into a container of plain yogurt, or to make an awesome sangria on these “warm” winter days. Or the best ice cubes out there.

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Ice cube trays have become my best preservation tool. I find that I use things that were preserved in small batches. No more large jars, except for tomato sauce. Everything else worked better for us if it was in individually portioned sizes. Including pesto, and compound butters.

Moving on. What worked and didn’t work for us when it came to healthy eating. I settled on a combination of Lancaster Farm Fresh CSA, Friends and Farms and Larriland to supply us with the bulk of our perishable foods.

For 47 weeks, I get a Community Supported Agriculture basket, which I have expanded to include bread, meat, fruit and cheese.

From Friends and Farms, I settled on a protein and dairy bag. Meat and seafood, eggs and occasional cheese. This works for us. It has changed my cooking and how we eat.

As long as these three sources are available to us, they will continue to be our source of food. We no longer shop in the frozen food aisle of any store.

If I can, I will put away my own “frozen” dinners. At least I know what is in them. I make large amounts of lasagna, meat loaves, meatballs, soups, stews, whenever I get a good quantity of beef and pork, or ground chicken or turkey.

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Having a meat option in our bags and baskets has changed my cooking dramatically. I use smaller quantities of meat in my recipes. I use more exotic vegetable combinations and have new favorites, like parsnips.

The biggest change I saw in the past year. How much I got used to having a dozen eggs every week. I made egg salad. Potato salad with eggs. Frittatas. Souffles. Crustless quiche. A meal with eggs in it replaced meals with meat.

Cod and catfish. Thanks to Friends and Farms, these two have become regulars in my dinner choices. Both are good choices from a sustainability standpoint.

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Simple meals. My new mantra based on wanting to showcase great food that doesn’t require fussiness or hard to find ingredients. That catfish was baked, after sprinkling it with bread crumbs, paprika, salt and pepper, and thyme. Served with an easy to make salad, and boiled fingerlings.

Other than food, what else happened in 2015 that I consider a “keeper”. I have to say it was my switch from paper to iPad. NPR on line. NYTimes on line. iBooks for my new reading purchases. Bon Appetit on line.

I have pretty much transitioned to reading all about it on a tablet. Maybe more so, because I can make the print bigger and easier on the eyes.

Last but certainly not least are the friends my husband and I have made, and are including more and more into our lives. We certainly have embraced retirement and expanded our circle of friends. Like those lyrics from an old Girl Scout song. “Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver. The other is gold.”

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Here’s to a happy, healthy 2016!




About AnnieRie

Retired, I am following my dream of living in quiet west Howard County, a rural oasis, not far from the urban chaos, but just far enough. I love to cook, bake, garden, and travel. I volunteer at Howard County Conservancy. I lead nature hikes, manage programs and show children all the wonders of nature, and the agricultural connection to their food.

3 responses »

  1. Love your ‘keepers’! And live that Girl Scout song!


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