Aug 012009

Kitchen Fun With Carol

OhioStateFair_032aSummer Produce

Hello everyone! I hope everyone is having a wonderful summer. My summer has been fun so far but I have to admit that I am looking forward to the crisp, cool autumn days ahead.

It has been exciting here over the last month. This year I decided to enter a recipe contest. As you know, I create recipes all the time that I share with all of the wonderful 30 Day Gourmet cooks but I have never entered an official recipe contest before now. I am a member of the Ohio Farm Bureau (not that I live on a farm but I garden, can, and I greatly appreciate the local farmers). The Ohio Farm Bureau partnered with Bob Evans to sponsor a recipe contest. The recipe had to use one Bob Evans product and at least one locally grown product. I submitted a recipe for Tuscan White Bean Soup. To my surprise I was selected as a finalist in the contest! I got to go to the Ohio State Fair to find out who had won the contest. I did not win but it is an honor to be first runner-up in my category. Here’s a picture of my recipe:

Tuscan White Bean Soup

Tuscan White Bean Soup

The garden is starting to produce lots of vegetables and I have been freezing and canning. I tried a freezer pizza sauce recipe this year that is good. I have also canned some using my regular pizza sauce recipe. I found blueberries at the local market for $1 a pound so I froze 12 pounds in 1 cup portions for muffins and pancakes. My zucchini patch exploded all at once so I grated some, made some Zucchini Carrot Muffins, and I am testing freezing sliced zucchini for stir fry recipes and soups.

FreezingProduce   FreezingMuffins

Last month a reader sent me a great email about saving money using seasonal produce.

We are really trying to cut back financially and still eat healthily…not just boxes of hamburger helper and taco box kits, etc.. =)

We are going to the Farmer’s Market to get fresh fruits and veggies. It’s cheaper and healthier to buy these directly from the farmer when they are “in season.” However, I am quickly running out of ideas on how to use these items and healthy recipes I can use to freeze these for later use when they are no longer “in season” and will cost more to buy.

I would love to see a section on your website for “in season” cooking. Where the recipes are separated out according to the “seasons” so that myself and others can cook and freeze meals according to what fruits and veggies are in season now, at a cheaper price. So in October I can click on recipes for meals that can be made with October’s in season fruits and veggies or like are in season now in July–blueberries and zucchini, for example. I think lots of people would enjoy it and it would save people lots of money on their food bills.

Thanks for the chance to make this request!


This is a great idea! I did some research on the subject. The USDA’s web site has a general list of produce by season. Click here to view the seasonal lists. Produce availability varies by region so the exact produce that is available in your area may be be different from this this but it is a good place to start. For the state of Ohio, the Ohio Farm Bureau produces a list of what is available. Click here to view this list. Each state has its own web site with this information. An interesting site I found is This web site has harvest calendars for a majority of the states as well as farms where you can pick your own fruits and vegetables.

Based on the USDA’s Summer Produce list, here are some 30 Day Gourmet recipes to make this summer using fresh in season produce.

Apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums

Bananas, kiwi

Beets, radishes, bell peppers, okra, peas

Blueberries, blackberries, cherries, grapes, raspberries, strawberries, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, watermelon

Corn, Cucumbers, eggplant, garlic

Green beans, lima beans, mushrooms

Summer squash, zucchini, tomatoes

Freezer Cook of the Month Contest Winner

Our Freezer Cook of the Month is Julie from Noblesville, IN. Julie tells us about how she adapted the 30 Day Gourmet method to her particular situation.

Let’s hear Julie’s story:

Right now I am 38 1/2 weeks pregnant, and am not physically up to a big cooking day. So, instead, I have been doubling one recipe a week for the last couple of months, in order to have a week or two of meals available after the birth of our 5th child. I have soups, bean dishes, Master Meat Mix, onion burgers, and two kinds of chili waiting for us when I return from the hospital. I am sure that our friends will help us out with meals, but it is good to know that I have meals in the freezer for when those “friend” meals run out. I planned really hearty meals to help energize me and build up my milk supply for my brand new little daughter.

My son’s birthday is 5 days before my due date, so as an added plan-ahead measure, I made him an ice cream cake for his birthday. It is in the freezer, waiting to be thawed a bit on his birthday just in case I happen to have his little sister and have to be away on his big day!! What would I do without my freezer??? This way Grandma and Grandpa can celebrate his birthday with him, and the cake is ready to go!


It is great to hear how you can adapt freezer cooking to fit your life style! So, how do you make 30 Day Gourmet work for you? How do you use it to help you deal with a challenge in your life? How do you use it to help others? Do you have a funny cooking story or a recipe to share? You can post your recipes on the 30 Day Gourmet Facebook® fan page or click here to send me an email.

Bonus Recipes

AmbrosiaSaladAmbrosia Salad

I like to have fruit salads in the freezer during the summer months for a quick, cool dessert. I like the toasted coconut on this recipe. It makes it look very pretty. A defrosting tip for this recipe – don’t defrost it in the microwave. The marshmallows melt and it ruins the look of the dessert. (It still tastes great!)



PizzaSauceFreezer Pizza Sauce

I always like having homemade pizza sauce on hand. You can definitely save money by making your own pizza instead of buying it from your local pizza shop. If you don’t have a garden you can always buy tomatoes at you local farmer’s market at a very good price. In our area they usually start picking in August. Our local farmer’s market sells them by the bushel so if my garden does not produce all that I need, I just buy a bushel or two to fill in.


Closing Comments from Carol

I hope you enjoy the recipes and the rest of your summer. Enjoy all the great summertime fresh produce before the cool fall weather settles in around your neighborhood. I am looking for your favorite back to school recipes. You can post your recipes on the 30 Day Gourmet Facebook® fan page or click here to send me an email.

Or do you have any other topics that you would like me to cover? Click here to send me an email. I enjoy hearing from you!

Have fun in your kitchen!



Carol Santee

Carol is the co-author of the Big Book of Freezer Cooking and the author of 30 Day Gourmet’s Slow Cooker Freezer Favorites, Freezer Lunches To Go and Healthy Freezer Cooking eBooks. She is a computer information specialist and works for a computer software company.

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