#Garden Abundance

IMG_0716It’s a good thing we took a break this week because, by Friday, the refrigerator and countertops overflowed with zucchini, tomatoes, cabbage, onions, peppers, and carrots! Time to get to work.

Normally, I try to spread it out over a few days, but I decided since I’m between writing projects that I’d take one day and devote to the preserving the produce.

I started with a new recipe. Zucchini Blueberry Bread. The local market called me this week to tell me local blueberries were in, and they’d saved two gallons for me. After freezing two large gallon bags for use in smoothies, I still had a full container and zucchini in the crisper. After researching online for recipes combining the two, I finally found one that I could modify for our tastes and preferences. So here it is! I’ll be adding it to the next edition of From Seed to Table, but until then here it is.IMG_0765

Zucchini Blueberry Bread

3 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup oil

1 cup maple syrup

3 cups, zucchini (unpeeled and grated in food processor)

2 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp almond extract

3 cups flour (I used 2 cups unbleached white, 1 cup whole wheat – personal preference)

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1/8 tsp cloves

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp allspice

4 cups fresh blueberries

Directions:

  1. Add oil, syrup, vanilla, almond extract, and zucchini to beaten eggs.
  2. Sift dry ingredients and add to batter.
  3. Fold in blueberries.
  4. Pour into 2 greased loaf pans.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour to one hour, fifteen minutes until toothpick comes out cleanly.
  6. Cool on rack. Bread freezes very nicely.

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We had it for breakfast this morning, and it’s very moist and delicious. I modify recipes to reduce the oil usually suggested. Then I add more zucchini because if I’m making zucchini bread, chances are I have enough to spare.

IMG_0770My husband picked the first cabbage yesterday along with a few lovely carrots. Nothing else to do but make some cole slaw. I used the recipe for freezing slaw originally from Ball Blue Book Guide to Preservingmodified for my book, From Seed to Table. When I first saw this recipe, I was skeptical, but in our family, it has a proven track record!

Here’s the recipe from From Seed to Table:

Cole slaw to freeze

This is a wonderful way to preserve all that fresh cabbage. Once thawed, add mayonnaise to taste. The flavors are even better in this slaw when thawed than when fresh, even if the cabbage wasn’t as crisp.

1 large head of cabbage, shredded

3 large carrots, grated

1 large onion, chopped

1 tsp salt

1 ½ cup sugar

1 tsp dried mustard

1 cup white vinegar

½ cup water

Combine all vegetables in a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Let mixture stand for one hour. Bring the rest of the ingredients to a boil and boil for three minutes. Cool. Ladle over vegetables and stir together. Place mixture in freezer bags or containers and place in freezer. We like our slaw with a little bit of mayonnaise so I add about a tablespoon to each two-serving bag when it’s unthawed. If you like an all-vinegar slaw, you don’t have to do anything except thaw the slaw when you’re ready to eat it.

We saved back some for dinner last night, and it was tart and biting, which we like. The freezer will mellow some of that.

Finally, we put together our pasta sauce, using the method and recipe from our book, which brings me to one final thing!

Normally, From Seed to Table  is $3.99 to download on Kindle, but through July 25, you can grab it for only $0.99. The book also comes in paperback. Check it out!

 

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What’s growing in your garden? What’s going on at your local farmers’ market?

 

 

 

 

CUKES & ZUCS – GARDEN MADNESS HAS BEGUN

 

garden06-23-2016

June 23, 2016

Suddenly, I’ve been thrown into overdrive in the kitchen attempting to preserve the produce starting to accumulate. The past two days found me dealing with the cucumber and zucchini madness happening right outside my door.

 

Yesterday, I decided I had enough cucumbers to do seven quarts of kosher dill pickles.

kosherdills

Kosher Dills

Wrong. I had enough to do almost twice that many, but my canner only holds seven. So today I used the rest to make my bread and butter pickle chips.

 

So far, the zucchini is under control, but still three good sized ones made four loaves of zucchini bread, which will be great for when we have visitors later this summer. Nothing beats coffee, fresh fruit and zucchini bread for an easy summer breakfast.

 

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Zucchini Bread

 

 

cukeskeepcoming

The Leftovers

 

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Bread & Butter

 

 

The tomatoes are starting to produce–mostly small varieties–but my husband tried a new variety this year, Black Brandywine. It’s gorgeous. Only two have been brought to the windowsill. We plan to eat them plain with salt to savor the taste, which hopefully will be as wonderful as their deep burgundy color.

blackbrandywine

Black Brandywine

 

From Seed to Table by P.C. Zick

Walnut Date Zucchini Bread

4 eggs

3 cups flour

¾ cup maple syrup

2 cups buttermilk (use regular milk and add 1 tsp vinegar)

¾ cup chopped walnuts

¾ cup chopped dates or raisins

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp nutmeg

¼ tsp cloves

3 cups shredded zucchini, drained

1 tsp vanilla

2 tsp baking soda

¾ tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

Mix together all ingredients until blended. Place in two greased loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until brown on top and toothpick inserted comes out clean.

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Bread & Sauce

photoSunday afternoon fun. I raided the freezer and found a bag of shredded zucchini and a bag of fresh-frozen tomatoes.

Baking bread and cooking sauce smells soon permeated the airwaves of our house.

Eating it wasn’t so bad either. photo (2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recipes from From Seed to Table:

Walnut Date Zucchini Bread

4 eggs

3 cups flour

½ cup maple syrup

2 cups buttermilk (use regular milk and add 1 tsp vinegar)

¾ cup chopped walnuts

¾ cup chopped dates

¼ cup melted butter

3 cups shredded zucchini, drained

1 tsp vanilla

2 tsp baking soda

¾ tsp baking powder

cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice to your taste

1 tsp salt

Mix together all ingredients until blended. Place in two greased loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until brown on top and toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Pasta Sauce from Frozen Tomatoes

10 frozen whole tomatoes

2 cloves garlic

1 chopped onion

several chopped peppers – I use both sweet and hot peppers

fresh or dried herbs in any combination and to taste: basil, oregano, thyme, fennel, tarragon

salt and pepper

Remove tomatoes from freezer and put in refrigerator for 4-5 hours. Rinse under hot water for a few second until skins peel off easily. Let skinned tomatoes sit for an hour or until core can be cut out easily.

In the meantime, sauté onions, garlic, peppers (or anything else you’d like to add such as mushrooms, carrots, or olives) and herbs.

Chop tomatoes, even if they’re still partially frozen, throw pieces into pan with sautéed mix.

Bring to boil then put on low for several hours, stirring occasionally. When sauce is reduced enough, it’s time to use sauce in your favorite Italian dish.

photo (1)

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Enjoying the Bounty

Broccoli

By P.C. Zick @PCZick

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.zucchini breadYummy, 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.steam blanched zucchiniSpinach – 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) onionsand 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.”