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    The Post about Zucchini

    Friday, August 27th, 2010

    The alternate title of this post is, “The Post Where I Learn that Zucchini is Spelled with an H”…

    I love the idea of gardens full of produce.  That beautiful cornucopia of squash, tomatoes, beans, and all things fresh and good.  Don’t forget those delightfully green and refreshing cucumbers!  I love gardens.

    I don’t have a garden but I am hoping that 2011 will be the year of my first garden.  We will see…

    While I love the idea of gardens, I am not always sure what to do with the produce that my wonderfully generous neighbors pass onto me.  So I decided that this summer will be the year that I learn how to feed zucchini to my family.

    I don’t find zucchini by itself all that exciting.  I think it is stunning to look at.  I love the bright, vivid green and yellows motled together on a smooth shiny surface.  I just love it.  However, eating it has always left me a bit disheartened.  I don’t find the flavor as exciting as I wish I did.

    So to remedy my bias toward zucchini I have decided to learn some recipes that will utilize its true yumminess.  Here are a few that I have found:

    Lemon-Zucchini Cookies (See my comments below before attempting these delicious cookies)

    Stuffed Zucchini with Potatoes and Peas

    Zucchini Oven Chips

    Zucchini Gratin

    Double Chocolate Zucchini Brownies

    Zucchini Bread

    I have made two of these recipes (the lemon-zucchini cookies and the zucchini bread).  Both turned out super yummy.

    Now before you make either of those, I have a confession.  I hate following recipes.  I am what you might call an “organic cook”.  Not organic in the sense that I only purchase organically grown items, but organic in the artistic sense of the word.  I like to use recipes as guides.  I rarely, if ever, follow a recipe exactly as it directs.  I add a little bit of this and a little less of that depending on how the fancy strikes me.  My results are not always consistent but usually they turn out great.  Some people might call that a flaw, but I just call it Cooking Character.  I have Cooking Character in spades.

    The bread recipe above turned out delish!  The only change I really made to it was that instead of egg substitute I used actual eggs.  I think I used about three eggs, maybe four.  I also used my whole zucchini which came to more like 3 1/2 cups instead of the 2 1/2 the recipe calls for.  I do really like the amount of spice in this recipe.  It turned out quite flavorful.  Kind of heavy, but I don’t mind heavy.

    The cookie recipe was all wrong, in my opinion.  It turned out amazingly delicious but I just wanted to warn you that I am recommending a recipe that I completely changed.  Hear me out first before you skip that one by.

    I started out making it as Martha Stewart recommended but I thought it was too runny and not really sweet enough.  As is, I think it would make a nice tea type cookie.  That’s not really what I was craving so I added about 1/2 C brown sugar and added more flour, maybe about 3/4 C.  Then I decided to add a few eggs because I have a huge carton of fresh, delicious eggs sitting on my counter.  Why not?  I also added some baking soda so that they would rise a bit.  Oh also, in the interest of full disclosure, I added some applesauce as well.  Ok, ok, ok, I also doubled the recipe, did half butter and half applesauce, and in the additional flour that I added about 1/2 C was whole wheat flour.

    OK, so basically I made an entirely new recipe but I think if you try the recipe Martha Stewart suggests, you will like it.  That’s all I am trying to get across here.  It also makes a great jumping off point if you want to experiment and try it your own way.  I have eaten way too many.  I’m feeling a little ill.  Like WAY too many, not just a few too many…

    The next recipe I am going to try is similar to the zucchini gratin recipe above.  My mom was telling me about it over the phone.  You basically make a quiche type dish with eggs, zucchini, bread crumbs, cheese, etc and bake it until it is solid in the center.  I might make that tomorrow night.  I think it will be super yummy!

    Finally, the old stand by recipe in our house for using up zucchini and other summer squashes is a stir fry.  How can you go wrong with that?  It’s always fresh tasting and (dare I say this word one more time?) delicious!

    Do you have any favorite zucchini recipes?  Please share them in the comments.

    Viva!

    Saturday, January 2nd, 2010

    The balcony garden has returned! After the mass death of our annuals, (and a tearful discussion about the life cycle of plants), we cleared out all the plant corpses and hit the plant store.

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    The tomato managed to survive, as did the Kalanchoe, which is thriving. We added Nagoya Rose,  Lithodora, Panda Plant, and Purple Scallops.  The last two are also types of Kalanchoe, which hopefully bodes well for their survival rate.

    Z chose all of the plants, and has the responsibility of watering and singing to them.  (It’s her own honed technique, I’m not gonna mess with it.)

    My favorites are the Panda plant:

    100_6449the leaves are fuzzy! And the brown spots look like panda eyes! (Z chose it because the leaves? petals? protrusions? look blue in person.)

    and the Nagoya Rose:

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    It’s a kind of kale, and is really gorgeous.

    It’s wonderful having living things in the view out the window again.  I love having a very visual reminder of small and simple daily growth and progression. The girls have already spent significantly more time playing out there, despite the cold.

    Long live the balcony garden!

    Regrowth

    Sunday, September 27th, 2009

    3 years ago my mother-in-law (who I adore) had a potted plant delivered to me on Mother’s Day. It was a lovely gesture, and a lovely plant. I had no idea what kind of plant it was (still don’t), but it sprouted pretty pink flowers.

    I figured it would be dead within weeks.

    I don’t have a very good history of keeping plants alive, you see. My instinct seems to always be wrong, and I overwater or underwater or give too much sun or too little. So I figured this little guy had no chance.

    I was wrong.

    Despite long periods of no watering, cold weather, inconsistent sun, being knocked over, this little plant held on. Sometimes it looked pretty sad, but it held on nonetheless.

    Back in May when we began our balcony garden, I started giving it more consistent care. This is what it looked like then.

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    Still in the pot it was delivered in, it was living, but not thriving so much.  A month or so later I thought that maybe if I transferred it to a larger pot, it might do better. Breaking just about every rule about repotting plants, I moved it to its new home.

    It didn’t grow.

    For months it didn’t grow, and I was afraid I’d seriously damaged it, messing with its roots as I had.

    But then…..

    This picture was taken tonight.

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    Bigger, happier! Not just living, thriving!

    And if you take a closer look at the right side of the pot:

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    Two little shoots! I don’t know how this happened, maybe someone with more plant knowledge than I do can shed light? (I know you’re out there.)

    But not just two little shoots….

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    MUSHROOMS??? How did a veritable fairy garden start growing in this pot? (Sorry for the blurriness of the picture, the lighting was not being friendly, and I know about as much about photography as I do about plants.)

    There’s an obvious metaphor here for my life- but how do you experience regrowth?

    Everyday miracle

    Monday, August 31st, 2009

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