Well, one major thing checked off my to-do list: we've mostly finalized the wedding menu with the caterer. Whew! I feel lighter and freer already. On to the next big task....
I have to admit that, for the summer, our food budget has been sort of blown away. Not entirely, but we've definitely been spending more than I hoped to. The only reason is because of the amount of fruit we've bought. It's so hard to say no to fruit when it's in season and actually worth buying, which is not the case around here for most of the year. So I know we'll make up the difference in budget over the winter when we're no longer gorging ourselves on delicious fruit. I've been looking for fruit that is from Washington or Oregon mostly, and organic since our favorites tend to be soft fruits like cherries and strawberries. And of course local blueberries and cranberries from the farmer's market are a current staple in our household, a lot of them getting frozen for winter. I have another date to go blueberry picking with the ladies on Sunday! I'm hoping to pretty much double the amount of blueberries I currently have stocked away for the cold months.
It's not just local fruits that I've been saving, though. Since cherries came into season I've bought about 20 pounds of them. Most of them we've eaten right way. (And I do mean right away--munching on them as we drive home from the store; it frustrates me that I haven't been allowed to bike for the last two weeks, so we've had to drive.) But I think they're starting to go out of season again, because the ones I bought last week started to go bad very quickly. So last night I took the time to cut them open, pull out the pit, and then fill a cookie sheet with them so that they can be frozen. As much as we love cherries, we won't be able to eat all of them before they go bad. So now they're frozen and we can have cherries all winter. I could also can them, but that takes even more time. Time is what I don't seem to have enough of right now! That can be a project for next year, because there are situations in which using canned rather than frozen fruit works much better. Although, the cherries we haven't just straight eaten have gone into my breakfast smoothies, which I've been loving, and frozen fruit works pretty well for that. (It jams up the blender if it's still frozen, so I put it in the blender and then let it sit in the fridge overnight to thaw. That seems to work the best.)
I think I'm also going to freeze some carrots. It's a process that involves blanching them in boiling water before you freeze them, otherwise they freeze and thaw oddly. You still wouldn't want to eat them as they come out of the freezer, but cook them in things like soups and you'd never know that they were frozen. So worth it. It's amazing to me the difference between a farmer's market carrot and one from the grocery store. They're just...so much brighter and better tasting. Even the Alaska Grown carrots at the store don't quite match up to the ones from the market because they've been bagged and stored for who knows how long.
We're starting to gear up now for Shane's pre-wedding moose hunt. The regulations are quite strict this year so they might not get anything. But if they do I'll be quite proud, and we'll gladly eat the meat. I read this article yesterday about Colorado moose, with some great pictures (that still don't really do justice to their size) and a few facts about moose. One thing it doesn't say: you're more likely to be attacked by a moose than a bear in Alaska. Most people think of them as slow-moving, peaceful creatures because they're herbivores. But they're loners, so they can be incredibly territorial. And since they do have to deal with things like wolves and bears, they've developed a rather vicious way of defending themselves. So while I think that they're incredible animals, and I don't mind eating them, I very much respect them and their space. As does everyone with a minimal amount of common sense, I give them a wide berth when I see them. You never think about it, but a charging moose would probably be scarier than a charging bear.