Monday, July 13, 2009

Zucchini recipe contest

The zucchini are coming in, and they are piling up! I still have shredded zucchini in the freezer from last year, so I'm sponsoring a contest. Leave me your unusual zucchini recipe in a comment!

By unusual I mean -

- No zucchini bread
- No chocolate cake
- No ratatouille recipe or anything with canned/jarred spaghetti sauce
- No faux apple pie
- No chicken/cream soup casserole with or without stuffing
- No deep-fried anything

I already have a lot of recipes like those.

What I'd like are hors d'ouvres, soups, salads, something for the freezer that doesn't result in an unappetizing green icicle. Your recipe should be YOUR original recipe, and you must give me permission to publish it, acknowledging you as the author.

First prize is a vintage hand-embroidered table runner and creamer/sugar bowl set with goldtone (or maybe gold?) trim. Second prize is a vintage apron.

Deadline is July 20th at 5:00 pm. Good luck!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Limited mobility

I had knee surgery on Thursday. There was no question of gardening on Thursday or yesterday, because I was in quite a bit of pain, but today I was feeling well enough to venture out to the garden with my walker to pick a few of the zucchini - Rain was forecast for today and I didn't want them swelling up to football size. I took a small basket with me, and handling the walker and the basket was a little much. Trying to lift the walker over the large zucchini leaves must have been quite a sight - I was glad no one was watching me. I had to yell for my husband to come and get the basket of zucchini when it was full, but then on the way out I couldn't resist pulling a few of the perfectly-ready beets. With my hands full of beets, and a couple of green beans I found, I took a mis-step and knocked the walker over, out of reach. I had nothing to hold on to except the flimsy deer fence, so once again, I had to yell for my husband to come and get me. He told me several times how foolish I was to risk my knee for a few zucchinis. I had to admit, though that being in the sunshine and in my garden was very restorative, I am very glad I did it even though I may pay later today or tonight with additional pain. Even after being rescued twice, I still couldn't resist picking a couple of heads of lettuce on the way out. There are a lot of weeds (that stupid! hairy galinsoga and redroot pigweed) but they didn't tempt me at all.

I rinsed off the walker with the hose before coming inside. Once inside, I washed the remaining dirt off the beets, then cut the tops off, leaving about 1 inch of stems on the roots. I used a vegetable brush to scrub them really well, then put the roots in a pot of water on the stove, which I brought to a boil, then turned down to medium for about 20 minutes. Likewise, I cleaned the ends off the green beans and also put them on to steam/boil. I sauteed one yellow and one green zucchini with onions and a little garlic and a small amount of fresh basil and fresh oregano (which I had thoughtfully picked before I went for surgery and placed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator). When the beets were finished, I poured off the hot water and submerged them in cool water. At that point I sliced off the tip of the root, the remaining stem portion, and then just gently rubbed the skin off. I sliced them, and popped them into the microwave for 60 seconds to heat the outside back up.

Voila! perfect vegetable accompaniment to leftover lasagna from yesterday.

Unfortunately after dinner as I reached for my walker, I slid my wheeled chair over to it, and leaned forward too far -the chair popped out from under me, and I landed on the floor. I don't think I damaged anything too badly, but it was good that DH was home to pick me up, otherwise I would still be sitting there crying.

The forecasted rains came while we were eating dinner, and now the sun is peeking through. The garden really needed the rain as it had not rained for over a week.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Zucchini's in!

I've been harvesting zucchini - a few tiny ones before we left for the farm (didn't want to come back to footballs if it rained) and a few six-inchers yesterday. The yellow zucchini is also starting to come in.

The "Delicata" squash seeds I got from a fellow Master Gardener turned out to be VINING squash instead of bush squash - so I ended up building another trellis. Please note that the size of mature squash plants is the reason you don't plant them close together!

I've been picking a few wax beans and green beans each day for about a week from those little seedlings I showed you a month or so ago. The other beans are blossoming, and should be able to pick in a few days.

I have tiny green tomatoes on most of my tomato plants. There are several volunteers, I think from the red currant tomatoes from last year. I've ripped several of these out but let a few of them stay. I am very pleased to report that the little tomato seedlings that I thought would be failures seem to have caught up to the garden-center transplants and I hope to harvest from them also. I should have devoted another row to those seedlings - I had 72 plants of various varieties and I only planted one or two of each. I give credit to the scoop of compost I put in each hole with the transplant.

The peppers have blossomed and a few have tiny little peppers on them.

I continue to trellis the cucumbers, they require daily attention to make sure the vines don't flop over and fall into the cole crops. Speaking of cole, the Chinese cabbage are not all that great of a crop - they bolted almost immediately I planted them. Had the last kohlrabi a few days ago, and cooked kale last night as a side dish (steamed, then sauteed with bacon and onion and canned garbanzo beans). The broccoli and cauliflower haven't produced anything yet, and the Japanese beetles are moving in in the last few days - first they attacked the zinnias, then moved on to the coles.

I protected the corn from marauding raccoons and deer this year with my fence, but the wind blew the stalks over a week ago. I went out and piled up soil around the base of the plant to prop them up, and that seems to have been somewhat successful. As the corn keeps growing it stretches up so most of the stalks are a little curved right now, but I think it will be OK.

It hasn't rained for a week, so this morning I had DH put the sprinkler on for a few hours. I would have done it last night but remembered the warning that watering at night can lead to more fungus disease. I did cultivate some last night through the aisles with my Mantis tiller, and also hand-pulled several feet of row this morning. The hairy galinsoga and redroot pigweed are particularly troublesome.

It is time to plant cabbage, and maybe some more broccoli and cauliflower. I've been looking for seeds locally but it seems that the Burpee man has already come and taken most of them away from the big-box retail stores. I could still order from Territorial or Stokes.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Black Raspberry Season

The air here outside of Kent City is full of cottonwood fluff - it looks like it is snowing. I took my Gator out through the orchard today and found that the black raspberries are just starting to get ripe - maybe one of the cluster is turning black, the rest are still red. Too bad we are leaving Sunday, I will wait until Sunday morning to pick to maximize the harvest.

I pulled weeds in the four LONG rows of green beans, mostly lamb's quarters, but a few redroot pigweed (amaranth) and some plants I have not identified that are seeding now. They seem similar to a plant identified at Unger Farm as a native prairie plant -we have loads of them! The beans are blooming and should have beans by the next time I am here.

The deer's tongue lettuce I planted last time I was here in the shade of the 100-year old maple tree is doing spectacularly! The frizzy-headed drunken woman lettuce is not as good, I don't think it stands up to heat quite so well.

I found volunteer seven-top turnips in the field and cooked them for lunch. DH doesn't like them, but he took a small sample for politeness' sake.

I also cooked the baby zucchini I picked before leaving home. I sauteed them in a tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of butter with carmelized chopped onion in the cast-iron fry pan on the grill, served with Bucyrus bratwurst. Ummm. DH had seconds, a new first for zucchini.

Two of the four tomatoes I planted are surviving, deer footprints tell a sorry tale. The four jalapeno peppers are still there and have tiny peppers on them. I also found some of the cilantro. Salsa is on the way!

DH pulled the lamb's quarters out of the pumpkins - last year the pumpkins were our cash crop. So even though he says he is not going to do "stoop labor" I think he felt sorry for me on seeing all the weeds. It is worth pulling weeds to know I do not spray my plants with broadleaf herbicides.

I noticed very little insect damage. The Indian corn looks healthy, the popcorn maybe not so good. I will try and side-dress it with some fertilizer later.

We took a ride through the orchard and found that the Yellow Transparents are not ready yet. A week, maybe two?

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