Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Zucchini Pickles



I'm still looking for ways to use our abundant zucchini harvest. Someone suggested pickles.

Our family does not eat a lot of pickles. Only one of my children will touch a pickle so I don't usually plant cucumbers. But I do enjoy pickle relish on hamburgers. I thought I'd give zucchini pickles a try.



After looking up several recipes online, I tried one (with some variations). They were so simple to make and my one pickle-loving child kept diving back into the jar for another taste. I think this recipe will go into the keeper file.



Want to try some?

And if you don't have zucchinis...you know where to come.


Zucchini Pickles
Makes 8 pints


4 lb zucchini
2 onions
4 heaping tablespoons salt
4 cups ice cubes
3 cups apple cider vinegar
3 cups white vinegar
4 cups sugar (or a sweetener substitute such as stevia)
2 tsp whole mustard seed
2 tsp whole peppercorns
1/2 tsp ground tumeric

Slice zucchini 1/8 inch thick. (You may use a knife but a mandolin makes quick work. My mother-in-law gave me this mandolin recently that I'm having fun with.) Slice onions thinly. Mix zucchini and onion in large bowl. Toss with salt and ice cubes. Refrigerate for 3 hours.

Drain zucchini and onion. Rinse with cold water and drain again. Divide zucchini and onion into eight pint jars.

In pan, bring all other ingredients to boil. Pour the liquid into the jars over the zucchini and onion. Allow 1/2 inch head space. Place lids and rings onto jars and process in hot water bath for 10 minutes.

Then grill some burgers and layer in the pickle!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

August Garden

It is amazing what six weeks can do in a garden. In July, our garden was barely beginning. Now we are well into the harvest.



I feel so rich when I look at these photos. No, our garden is far from perfect. There are weeds and insects and blight. But we have been so blessed this year with lovely rains and pleasant summer weather. It has been such a joy to work in the garden when everything is so lush and green. Even the flowers seem to have more vibrant colors this year. I feel so blessed.

Check out the photos here to see our garden six weeks ago and compare them to our mid-August garden.


In our lower garden the strawberry patch was succumbing to weeds and blight. So we tilled it all under and planted some late corn in its place. Beside the corn is some new brocolli and cabbage plants (amongst the weeds), green beans, and some huge zucchini plants.

 

In the other garden, broccoli still hides under cover - and amazingly is still producing side shoots. I have never had spring broccoli last until August! I'm guessing the rain and cooler summer is keeping it productive. I pulled all the garlic, onions, and spring crops in this area and plan to plant some more fall veggies soon.

 

To the left is the carrots. I haven't pulled any yet but the tops look lovely despite a ground hog who has enjoyed an occasional snack.  We don't seem to be having quite as many critter problems this year. Could it be that they have enough vegetation in the pasture because of the wet weather to avoid the garden? The peppers are doing well but the eggplant is being devoured by flea beetles. The beetles are bothering none of the other plants. Any suggestions? And my tomatoes are slowly succumbing to blight. No surprise with all this damp weather. Hopefully the tomatoes will still ripen.

 

Ed was right about me crowding the garden. Remind me never to plant pumpkins in our garden. It is just not big enough for the sprawling plant. Every day I stamp down any tendrils that are trying to climb up the tomato cages. It is choking out the watermelon and wandering over the potatoes which have died down and are ready to dig. Hope the monster gives a nice amount of pumpkin to pay for its bother. This is the brown-neck pumpkin that I love to use in pies. Are there any pumpkins that have better manners?

 

This photo is taken from the far end of the garden. The strawberry patch has been mowed down and mulched but still needs some attention for all the weeds. The sweet corn has never looked better. I should have taken this photo with some of the children so you could see its height. And each stalk has two nice ears. A critter, probably a raccoon, helped himself to some of it the other night. I hope he doesn't return for second helpings.



The red raspberries have never looked better.This row is two years old and I'm hoping for buckets full. So far there is only a berry or two but it is loaded with blossoms and immature berries.



How does your garden grow?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Cheesy Zucchini Bites

Anyone want zucchini? We are eating zucchini daily but I cannot keep up. I pick at least a half a dozen every single day.

Today I cleaned out the fridge and gave a dishpan full of zukes to the children to make boats. I hate to waste food but unless a disaster strikes, I'll have another dishpan full by the end of the week. We have had abundant rain and no bug problems at all this year.

Some of our favorite ways to enjoy zucchini squash is Calico Squash and Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread. Remember the ugly pumpkin cookies last fall? My sister said she substituted the pumpkin for zucchini. I tried it and found a new favorite.



But the latest favorite zucchini recipe is these cheesy zucchini bites. So easy to make. And the first pan of these were eaten in minutes.

Give them a try - and if you need zucchini - you know where to come.

 

Cheesy Zucchini Bites

1/4 cup chopped onion
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups shredded zucchini
2 eggs, slightly beaten

In bowl  mix onion, cheese, bread crumbs, and seasonings. Squeeze as much liquid from zucchini as possible. Toss in bowl with onion/cheese mixture. Toss eggs with remaining ingredients. Spoon onto baking sheet, pressing into flattened balls. Bake at 400 degrees for about 12-15 minutes or until slightly browned. Serve immediately.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Crusty Sourdough Rolls

Summer brings more sandwiches on our menu. I buy a lot more of my bread in the summer. Between my reluctance to heat up the kitchen and just the time savings, it often seems easier to throw a bag of rolls in the cart.

But if I have the time, my husband sure enjoys my own homemade rolls.

I've been searching for a good crusty roll - one that will stand up to a pile of toppings without smashing into a wad. The perfect roll, in my opinion, is slightly chewy, with a nice browned crust and firm interior. And of course, as sourdough fanatics, we think the flavor of sourdough is the perfect compliment to a great burger or pork barbeque. This roll has been my go-to recipe this summer.

  
Crusty Sourdough Rolls
Makes 2 dozen rolls

5 cups whole wheat flour (or white if you prefer)
2 T vital gluten (optional)
4 T honey
4 tsp salt
4 T oil
2 cups active sourdough starter
4 eggs
1 1/2 cup water
Sesame or poppy seeds for garnish

Mix all ingredients together. Allow to rest for 20 minutes. Add more flour if too sticky but avoid too much flour as it will make a dryer bread. Knead for five minutes. Allow to rise for about four hours or until doubled in size. Divide dough into 24 pieces. Form into rolls and place on greased baking sheet. Cover and allow the rolls to rise several hours until double. Brush rolls with beaten egg and sprinkle sesame seeds or poppy seeds for garnish. Slit tops of rolls immediately before baking. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Don't under-bake. A nicely browned crust boosts the flavor.




Thursday, July 24, 2014

Popcorn

Popping in with random glimpses of our summer activities.

As usual, summer is busy. With our abundant rainfall we could be kept busy every day just pulling weeds.

But I'm thankful for a husband who has decided that sometimes we need to ignore work.

Fourth of July found us biking a short portion of the Alleghany Passage. We started at Frostburg, MD...



...and peddled to the top of the mountain at the Eastern Continental Divide.



The down-hill trip back to our van through a couple old railroad tunnels was the best part of the trip.



Ed pulled the "princess carriage" while the five year old piggy-backed on my bike with a tag-along bike.



And like many five-year-olds, she never ran out of questions or commentary on the entire fourteen-mile ride.

I have done very little bike riding in the last fifteen years. By evening I ached so badly I could barely walk. But the day ended with our van breaking down. And this was no small, simple repair. Thankfully, we were only twenty miles from home and were able to get off the interstate safely. My parents rescued us with their van so we could get home.

Other July activities...



Fishing.

 

...Where we enjoy the beauty but catch no fish.



Catching crayfish in the creek (and bringing them home to eat!)

This past weekend we attended the Berean Mennonite Bible Conference for the first time.



The campground included these cute little cabins under tall shade trees.



Thankfully it was an abnormally cool weekend for July in PA so we were able to enjoy a few days without AC.



The overflow crowd listened to the services outside. The messages and fellowship (including meeting some of you Home Joys readers!) were just the encouragement that we needed.



And always these blue eyes and smile are my joy bringer.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Lemon Cream Berry Pie

I LOVE fruit pies - and right now this lemon cream berry pie is my favorite. The combination of lemon and fruit is perfect. I have only made it with strawberries and blueberries but I think it would also be good with fresh peaches or cherries.


Lemon Cream Berry Pie

9 inch pre-baked pie crust
1 cup lemon curd (use your favorite recipe or the recipe below)
2/3 cup heavy cream
4 tsp sugar
2 pints fresh berries

Beat cream to stiff peaks with sugar. Fold cream into lemon curd. Spread into baked crust. Arrange berries on top. Refrigerate until serving.

Lemon Curd:
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 T butter

Combine eggs, sugar, and juice in a heavy saucepan. Whisk until smooth. Over low heat, warm mixture while stirring. Add butter. Whisk until thickened. Do not allow to boil. Cool.

What seasonal recipe are you enjoying?

Friday, July 11, 2014

July Garden

I took some photos of our garden recently. We have been getting such wonderful rain showers and everything is growing so well that if I don't share them soon, the garden will look nothing like these photos!

I love to see other's gardens and view their successes and failures. Mine is far from perfect, but maybe you will enjoy seeing it anyway! And I find that from a photo you can't see half the weeds!


We have two garden patches. This is the original garden. It is becoming too shady to grow things well here so I'm only using about half of the garden. To the left is a weedy patch of strawberries. Apparently these strawberries got some sort of blight. The leaves had spots and then turned brown and fell off. We hardly got any strawberries out of this patch. Since I know that blight is difficult to fight, I plan to get rid of this patch and plant something else here. In the middle is green beans (which I planted very late - I know lots of my neighbors are picking beans). To the right is zucchini.

 

This is our second garden, the larger of the two. The first row is garlic, almost ready to pick. Beyond the garlic is broccoli hiding under row cover from the cabbage worm. To the left is some lettuce that has bolted. After pulling the garlic I will replace it with some fall garden crops.

 

Next to the broccoli is red beets,sugar peas, and onions. The onions that are flowering are sweet onions. Do you know why they are flowering?

 

Next is carrots, peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes.



Ed always says I crowd the garden, and here is an example. When the plants were small it looked like I would have room for some vine plants such as pumpkin and watermelon next to the tomatoes. As they grow, I see I was wrong. But maybe I can train the vines to grow over the potatoes as the potato plants die back.

We had planted some little shriveled up potatoes with foot-long sprouts that were left over from last year's crop. I know that experts say to buy new stock each year, but these were languishing in the basement and I decided to see if they would grow. I think that every potato grew and we have some of the nicest potatoes ever. (I would be scared to try in another year though in case our potatoes do get infected with disease.)

 

I'm reaching under the plants to find nice potatoes like these!

 

Sweet corn follows the potatoes.

 

At the end of this garden is another weedy patch of strawberries. This is the patch that gave us our harvest this year. We plan to revamp this bed and mulch it for next year.



On top of the hill by our garden is a row of red raspberries. Eagerly waiting for their harvest!

How is your garden growing?

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails