#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.

IMG_0768

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.

 

zucchinibread

Zucchini Bread

 

 

cukeskeepcoming

The Leftovers

 

bread&butter.jpg

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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#Gardening and #Raspberries

We’re getting a steady influx of vegetables these days, but nothing much to preserve yet. There are a few tomatoes ripening on the kitchen windowsill.firsttomatoes Last night I grilled zucchini and green peppers. Cucumbers are trickling in, but not enough to turn into pickles and relish. Usually this waiting period occurs in late June, but here in western Pennsylvania, we’re about three later with everything.

raspberriesI did manage to pick more than a quart of raspberries this past week and made my very first batch of jam. Two cups of raspberries made two 1/2 pints of jam. I bought six quarts of blueberries from a local farmer this past week and froze four of the quarts. One quart I used to make three 1/2 pints of jam. Raspberries and blueberries generally follow the same recipe so I made the jam all at the same time.blueberries

I searched the Internet for recipes with low or no sugar added. My husband and I prefer the tartness of fruit without the added sweeteners. I finally settled on Ball’s recipe using their pectin calculator.

I used Ball’s RealFruit Low or No-Sugar Needed Pectin. Basically for two cups of berries, the recipe calls for 1/3 cup unsweetened fruit juice or water. I used apple juice. 1 1/2 TBSP pectin, and 3 tsp bottled lemon juice. Two cups of berries equals two 1/2 pints.

First I carefully washed and picked through the berries. Then I put them in a shallow, rectangular dish and mashed them with my bean masher.RaspberryMash I could have mixed the raspberries and blueberries into one jam, but since this was our first raspberry crop, we wanted those in their own jam.

From there, I put them into a large container and added the other ingredients. I also added 1/4 tsp butter to each pot to alleviate foaming. All the while, the 1/2 pint jars were boiling in the canner, and the lids and bands were simmering in a pot.

blueberryboilI brought each pot of berries to a boil and let them boil hard for one minute. The mixture must be stirred constantly to avoid sticking. Then I removed them from the heat and ladled into hot, sterilized jars. Processing time is ten minutes for altitudes under 1,000 feet. Since we’re at 1,100, I always add five minutes to the processing time when I’m canning.

I had a bit too much of the blueberry mixture, so I put that in a glass container and stuck in the refrigerator, where it will last approximately three weeks. The blueberry jam tastes wonderful and it set up perfectly. I look forward to opening one of the jars of raspberries very soon.jars

What’s growing in your garden these days?

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Click on cover for Amazon page

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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Garden Overflow Madness

DSC02594By Patricia Zick @PCZick

The rest period is over for gardening here in western Pennsylvania. First, we had a very long winter. Then we went to hot and humid for a week. Now for at least two weeks, the weather pattern is stuck over us with showers nearly every day. It feels as if I’m back in a Florida summer with the high temperatures and humidity and afternoon showers. The garden loves it.

Last night I grilled zucchini and onions. My husband steamed broccoli and cauliflower. Also he shelled and cooked the last of the peas – I’ve already frozen more than twenty bags. We also had a few green beans.

 

But the freezer still overflows with produce. Later today I plan to freeze broccoli and cauliflower. Then I’m going to make my “soup starter” mess with zucchini and onions. I bag it up in two-three cup servings. Then when I want to make a soup or sauce, I pull out the freezer bag and have an instant starter.

We pulled onions this week, too. My husband tried to pull some potatoes but discovered they are far too small to pick right now. The cucumbers are coming in slowly, but we’re enjoying eating those we have. I slice them lengthwise and sprinkle with salt and pepper – it’s heaven. Lots of work, but lots of rewards, too.DSC02596

Here’s the recipe for Soup Starter in From Seed to Table.

Zucchini Mess or Soup Starter

Chop up zucchini, onions, garlic, peppers, yellow squash (whatever you have!). When tomatoes come in you can add chopped tomatoes, too. Add herbs of your choice, fresh and/or dried. I tend toward the Italian variety. For this batch I used fresh basil, dried oregano, thyme, tarragon and a good Italian dried herb mix. Salt and pepper to taste. Saute until just tender, but not overcooked. Cool and bag in two-cup portions (or whatever amount you’ll use in one recipe). During the winter months, when I want to start an easy soup in the crock pot, I pull out a bag and I have the “starter” ready to go and just add the other ingredients to make any type of soup you can imagine. I’ve also used it in chicken and seafood recipes. Bon appetit!

Available on Kindle $2.99

Available on Kindle $2.99

Garden Loves June

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

We shelled peas on Saturday night. Then I blanched them for two minutes before putting away in nine freezer bags. I love those peas on a cold winter night. We’re not halfway through the pea season. Last year, our peas didn’t produce very well. My husband believes he put mushroom manure to close to the seedlings and they were overwhelmed with fertilizer. He didn’t do it this year, and we have a fantastic crop.DSC02585Tonight we picked our very first zucchini. We have to watch those plants because when they hide, we end up with bats. I’m going to grill these small beautiful wonders.

The spinach is done for the year. I managed to freeze twenty-one bags. I’m going to steam the last of the leaves tonight and make Greek pizza. The recipe is included in From Seed to Table, but here it is just for you.

Greek Pizza

Ingredients

Phyllo dough – use half of a box

2 cups of cooked spinach

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 cup fresh basil leaves

¼ pound feta cheese, crumbled

1 cup cottage cheese

1 ½ cups of mozzarella cheese, grated

2 TBSP butter, melted

Spray oil (olive or canola)

Saute the onion, garlic and basil in olive oil. Prepare the phyllo dough, following the instructions on the box. Layer half the sheets of dough on a cookie sheet, spraying each layer with oil. Layer the ingredients: saute mix, spinach, feta and cottage cheeses (mixed together), and top with mozzarella cheese. Layer the remaining sheets of dough on top, spraying each layer. Brush the top sheets with melted butter.

Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, depending on your oven. The dough should be a golden color.???????????????????????????????I hope your garden is producing. If you’re not gardening, I hope you’re able to enjoy some of summer’s bounty from your region. I bought five or six quarts of local strawberries and froze three gallon-sized freezer bags full. I’ve eaten my fair share. I can’t wait for blueberries. We do have raspberries but they seem to be slow to ripen. We bought some very think Remay to cover the tops so birds can’t eat those luscious beauties before us.

I look forward to hearing what’s happening in your local food department.

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In the Raw: The Present Moment Cafe

The Present Moment CafeSt. Augustine, FL

The Present Moment Cafe
St. Augustine, FL

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

I wasn’t sure what to expect when my daughter Anna told me she would be a “cook” at an all-raw restaurant.

With fourteen years as a cook in a variety of restaurants, Anna knows her way around a kitchen. When she began working at The Present Moment Cafe in St. Augustine, Florida, she received a jolt.

“It was as if I’d never been a cook before,” she said. “I had to learn a whole new way to prepare food.”

Since nothing is cooked, there are no ovens, no stove tops, no deep fryers, and no microwaves. I assumed this meant the restaurant only served salads with lots of sprouts and raw nuts. I learned a few things when I visited The Present Moment Cafe a few months ago, and I was pleasantly surprised.

Anna ordered for us. We started with a Caesar salad with a dressing made from celery, dates, and other raw seasonings. Then we enjoyed hummus made from ground cashews.

HummusPhoto by Golden Pixels

Hummus
Photo by Golden Pixels

Both were delicious. Anna ordered the lunch variety platter for us. We chose burritos, sushi, and pesto pasta. Unbelievable would be how to describe each of these raw, vegetarian, vegan delights. In fact, even with three of us eating from the platter, we had difficulty eating all the selections.

SushiPhoto by Heather Blanton

Sushi
Photo by Heather Blanton

The Present Moment Cafe published a book this past year with beautiful photos of their offerings and recipes. Handmade in the Present Moment is available on Create Space. Owner Yvette Schindler also provides the story of how the cafe made its way into the present moment.

When she opened the restaurant in 2006, only a few existed in northeast Florida, but now there are a sprinkling of raw restaurants sprinkled throughout Florida. To find out if there’s a raw restaurant near you, visit the Directory of Raw Food establishments. They list restaurants in all fifty states and around the world.

The philosophy behind the movement is based on the belief that when food is raised above a temperature of 118 degrees Fahrenheit, it causes chemical changes that create acidic toxins. Visit www.rawfoodlife.com for more information and many links to resource and reference materials.

Am I going to change my diet to only eating raw foods? Not in the present moment, but I don’t rule out the benefits of incorporating the philosophy inherent in the practice to some extent in my diet.

I’m always in awe of the pioneers, and Yvette Schindler and her crew of supporters and staffers certainly qualify in that category. I’m happy my daughter works in a place where thoughtful consideration is taken with each dish. The restaurant itself is a testament to the peaceful attitude of staff and customers.???????????????????????????????

And as always, I support any effort to live a lighter life on this earth we inherited.

Do you have any experience with eating or preparing raw foods?

Zucchini Madness

By Patricia Zick @P.C. Zick

It starts innocently enough. The beautiful blossom and then a medium-sized zucchini perfect for quartering and putting on the grill with other vegetables appears one day in the garden. A few more are on the vine the next day. Then one day (like yesterday), I go to the garden and zucchini bats have appeared.That’s precisely the reason I self-published my first book thirty years ago, which seems impossible, but true. I was living in Ann Arbor at the time and had a small rooftop garden. I was growing zucchini, tomatoes, and peppers in large containers. Before I knew it, my small efficiency apartment was overcome with the green bats. Everywhere I went that summer, folks were saying they didn’t know what to do with their zucchini. So I wrote recipes, and my ex-husband (Larry Behnke) drew illustrations for the Zucchini Cookbook. I sold out the 200 I printed by the end of the summer (for $1 each!). I still use that cookbook today. With the advent of e-books, it may be time to resurrect and revise and publish.Today, I offer two suggestions for using surplus zucchini. The first is a modified and revised version of a recipe from my thirty-year-old cookbook.

Zucchini Cheddar Herb Bread

1 onion, chopped

1 TBSP olive oil

2 ½ cups unbleached white flour

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1 TBSP parsley

½ dried basil or 1 cup of fresh leaves

½ tsp. dried thyme

½ cup milk

3 eggs

2 cups zucchini, grated

2 cups, sharp cheddar cheese, grated

 

Sauté onion in olive oil until tender. Mix onions, dry ingredients and herbs. Add milk and eggs and mix vigorously until well blended. Fold in zucchini and cheese. Spread in greased and floured round pan and bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit oven for approximately 35 minutes. Cool slightly and remove from pan. [Note: I made my batch using small bread pans – this recipe made six small loaves. We ate one and froze the rest.]And finally, I offer a life-saver of a recipe that comes from my husband, Robert.

Zucchini Mess or Soup Starter – Chop up zucchini, onions, garlic, peppers, yellow squash (whatever you have!). When tomatoes come in you can add chopped tomatoes, too). Add herbs of your choice, fresh and/or dried. I tend toward the Italian variety. For this batch I used fresh basil, dried oregano, thyme, tarragon and a good Italian dried herb mix. Salt and pepper to taste. Saute until just tender, but not overcooked. Cool and bag in two-cup portions (or whatever amount you’ll use in one recipe). During the winter months, when I want to start an easy soup in the crock pot, I pull out a bag and I have the “starter” ready to go and just add the other ingredients to make any type of soup you can imagine. I’ve also used it in chicken and seafood recipes. Bon appetit!

Bread & Butter and Cheap Vinegar

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

I’ve been canning off and on for the past thirty years, and it seems each time I put something up, I learn something new. The other night I canned seven jars of bread and butter pickles using a recipe in Ball’s Blue Book guide to preserving (page 49). They didn’t specify whether to use white or cider vinegar so I started perusing the beginning pages (for “beginners” I thought). I read that white vinegar needed to be five percent acidity and not diluted with water. Interesting, but I didn’t think relevant. I checked my Heinz cider vinegar’s label – five percent. Then I grabbed the gallon of cheap white vinegar I bought last week. I think I saved a dollar on the big container – why would I try to save on the cheapest yet most useful commodity in the kitchen? I have no idea except I probably thought there was no difference. This label said “four percent acidity, diluted with water.”

Sometimes it doesn’t pay to save a buck. It was my choice which vinegar I used. Cider vinegar can color white vegetables in the canning process, but a lower acidity in the vinegar can run the risk of not preserving as well. So I decided to use a combo of both vinegars in this recipe. I also added some of our dried cayenne peppers from last year to the mix so there’s a little heat with the sweetness of the bread and butter mix.

Also, I was worried that I might not have quite enough cucumbers to make the seven-pint recipe so I added a medium-sized zucchini to the 18-20 cucumbers. The picture below shows the approximate size of the cucumbers (they’re sitting next to a pint jar).I sliced the cucumbers along with five medium onions. I added two whole cloves of garlic and five dried cayenne peppers. I mixed this with 1/2 cup of canning salt and covered the whole thing with ice cubes for three hours. I drained, rinsed, drained and then prepared the liquid.

2 cups sugar

2 Tbsp. mustard seed

2 tsp. turmeric

2 tsp. celery seed

1 tsp. ginger

1 tsp. peppercorns

3 cups vinegar (I used half white and half cider)

Bring liquid to boil and add vegetables and bring to a boil again. Pack in hot sterilized jars and process for 10 minutes.

 

Last year all my pickles were a little soft. So I added lime (bought at the store with canning supplies) – 1/8 tsp. to each pint jar before adding pickles and liquid. Also I read that soft pickles can be caused from under processing. I lived in Florida at sea level for 30 years so I never thought the higher altitude of western Pennsylvania would make much difference. We’re at about 1,100 feet here so all the canning books say to add 2-5 minutes to processing time. I’ve been adding five minutes (Ball’s recommendation) which I did for this recipe.

I had a little bit of the mixture leftover so I put it in the frig and sampled the pickles this morning.

The result? Perfection! Crisp and flavorful bread and butter chips, with a hint of heat. Next – dill pickles!

Zucchini Relish

By P.C. Zick @PCZick

Anyone who gardens even a little bit knows the truth about zucchini. Once it starts putting off those beautiful blossoms, you need to be ready to do something with the bounty. We grill it, saute it with onions, shred it for bread, and thanks to a recipe I found two years ago in the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving, I make relish with it.

We use the relish for more than putting in potato and tuna salads. It makes a wonderful marinade for seafood. The day after I put up the jars of relish this year, I put it on top of a tuna steak in aluminum foil and put on the grill for 20 minutes. Perfection. Here’s my recipe adapted from Ball. If you’re not familiar with canning, here’s a good source to begin on the Ball Canning site.

 

This recipe makes approximately 6 pint jars.

Zucchini Relish ala Zick

6 large zucchini (I mix it up with yellow squash if I have it)

3 medium onions

1 red pepper

1 green pepper

1 yellow pepper

4 cloves of garlic

3 crushed cayennes

4 TBSP salt

2 cups of cider vinegar

2 cups sugar

4 tsp celery salt

2 tsp mustard seed

Chop all the vegetables – I do it in my food processor. Place in a large bowl and sprinkle salt on top. Cover with water and let sit for two hours.

Bring the rest of the ingredients to a boil at the end. Drain, rinse, drain vegetables and add to the boiling liquid. Simmer 10 minutes. Place in hot, sterilized canning jars.

Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes (I live at 1,000 ft. altitude so I always add another five minutes to processing time.)