I spent last night in a whirlwind in the kitchen. I decided it was time to use up all the bounty in some way. My husband picked broccoli in the morning because the rabbits have discovered the leaves of the plant and love to munch on them. We had a bag of spinach picked two days earlier waiting for me to do something with them. And the zucchini threatened to overflow the crisper. As I worked on preserving and creating dinner, Robert worked in the garden. As I called him into eat, I heard him enter the house.
Yes, I’d cleared out the frig of the current produce, but I heard that sound and knew I wasn’t finished. I heard the rustle of a plastic bag as he let the air out of a bag of green beans and then another bag of peas. I haven’t gone into the frig to see what else is there, but rest assured we’ll have another dinner of fresh vegetables tonight. I’m not complaining. As I worked last night in the kitchen, dirtying dishes and floor, I felt a calmness and peace come over me. I describe it as grace and the feeling of symmetry and participation in nature’s abundant cycle as shredded zucchini flew out of the food processor and into my hair. But enough of my sentimental journey! Here’s the work I accomplished last night.
Zucchini – I decided I didn’t have enough to do at least 8 1/2 pints of relish. The recipe I use makes 4 1/2 pints, but I double it. I don’t can food unless I can do a full canner of something; otherwise, I’m wasting a lot of energy and water for very little return. So I made two loaves of zucchini bread. Why do all the recipes call for so much oil and sugar? I usually up the amount of zucchini – it’s a very moist vegetable – and add a little bit of skim milk and cut the oil amount by half. I always use less sugar in everything I make and last night I cut back even more by adding raisins to the bread. I froze one loaf, and we’ll munch on the other for the next week. I had a slice for breakfast, and Robert took a slice for his lunch.Yummy, but I still had about six cups of shredded zucchini leftover so I decided to freeze it in two-cup servings, which is the amount I use to make two loaves of bread. I bought a new preserving book yesterday. The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest gave me instructions for steam blanching the zucchini. I placed two cups of shredded zucchini in my steamer basket that was in a pot with an inch of boiling water. I steamed for 2-3 minutes and then placed in ice water for another two minutes. I strained in the colander and placed in freezer bags. It was a very quick process and probably the best for retaining vitamins, minerals, texture and color when thawed.Spinach – Then I ventured into dinner recreating a recipe I used to make twenty years ago. This is always risky because I’m using my memory to figure it out. But of course I also have a little knowledge about cooking. I decided to make Greek pizza with the spinach. As I put it together I realized all the vegetables in the pizza came from the garden. That’s not been the case so far this summer, so we are making progress. Steamed broccoli provided a side dish.
I used phyllo dough sheets for the crust. What hung over the edge of the pizza pan, I folded up over the pizza after all ingredients were in place. I followed the instructions for the dough on the package. I steamed the spinach, and Robert squeezed out as much liquid as possible with a spoon. I sauteed several small onions, four garlic cloves (our first harvest of the season) and basil (picked from the pot I keep on the balcony near the kitchen).The sauteed items went on top of the dough. Then I placed the spinach on top of that. I crumbled about 1/4 lb. of feta cheese on top of spinach and then covered whole thing in approximately 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese. I baked at 350 for 15-20 minutes. It took longer than I thought because I usually bake pizza at a higher temp for a longer time, but with phyllo dough you have to keep temperature a little lower.
My memory served me well, if Robert’s comment at dinner is any indication.
“You can make this pizza for every meal if you want.”