...Growing, Building, Cooking, Preserving, Crafting...

2006 began our urban homestead when I broke ground on a garden, which now includes perennial fruits, flowers, & many vegetable varieties. We dream of solar panels, keeping bees and hens. Until then we'll continue growing and preserving our own fruits and vegetables, building what we can for our home, cooking from scratch, and crafting most days.



Said I wasn't going to grow zukes this year...
It's the time of year when you should lock your doors, mailboxes, and cars if you don't already otherwise, as Barbara Kingsolver planted the idea in my head in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, you might find some prolific cucurbitae anonymously abandoned.  I started pulling baby zucchini last week and giving them away to friends and neighbors.  Just last weekend I harvested another 3 1/2 lbs. more.  I promised some friends that I'd post some zucchini recipes so they could all keep up with their own harvest.  Although these summer favorites can be bountiful, I don't see any reason they should ever go to waste.  One of the simplest ways to use/preserve them is to shred and freeze.  I have a favorite zucchini bread recipe that I love to bake in the winter so at this time of summer, our kitchen is often like the last scene from Fargo--as my husband likes to joke--when it's implied that Steve Buscemi's character has been sent through the wood chipper.  I'm jamming green, yellow, and two-tone summer squashes through the shoot of my food processor at a steady clip and coming up with a nice by-product. I freeze the amount of shredded zukes that the bread recipe calls for, remove the air bubbles from the freezer bag, label and store as much as I can.  We've also been making a favorite from last season, stuffed zucchini/summer squash (gluten-free crackers, bread, or even ground nuts can be subbed for the breadcrumbs.)  Another recipe was created last night as I was trying all afternoon to get a ton of work and prep. done for some classes this and next week.  The dinner hour hit me suddenly and I didn't feel like spending a lot of time in the kitchen, especially not in front of a hot stove.

Tiger Stripe Zucchini

Green Gazpacho
Serves 4

Adapted from a recipe originally printed in the Outpost Exchange magazine.  I used our pickled green peppers, but fresh green peppers--when available--would also work.  It felt great to use a lot of ingredients from our garden right now.

Chilled Soup for a warm summer evening
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and quartered lengthwise
1 large zucchini, ends trimmed and quartered lengthwise (not necessary to peel)
1/2 c. pickled green peppers (or 1 large green bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped)
6 leaves romaine lettuce, coarsely chopped
2 scallions, coarsely chopped
1/3 c. fresh cilantro leaves
Small piece dried hot pepper, or to taste
2 T. fresh lime juice
1 t. ground cumin
3 c. buttermilk or plain kefir, plus some water or vegetable broth as needed
1 t. coarse salt

Combine all ingredients and puree in batches in a blender.  Season to taste.  I garnished it with plain whole milk yogurt, a couple avocado slices, and a dab of basil pesto.

Other suggestions for using zucchini:

  • Thinly shave/slice raw onto a salad
  • Thinly slice and toss with mint leaves, a basic vinaigrette, and either feta or goat cheese for a simple salad
  • Use in a smoothie or juice with other green veggies
  • Turn them into a pickle relish
  • Stir-fry
  • Pizza topping
  • Use a spiral cutter to make zucchini "pasta" and toss with homemade tomato sauce or pesto
  • Serve raw zucchini sticks on a crudite platter.
  • GET CREATIVE and let me know what you invent!
I mentioned juicing the zucchini.  I think I've talked about my green juicing habits lately.  They continue 4-5 times per week and I'm in green juicing heaven right now with so much available from the garden.  It's been an excellent way to use lots of bits and pieces (parsley and cilantro stems) and slightly bolted veggies (spinach, lettuce) so they don't go to waste.  Feeling great and loving what all of these raw green foods have done for my complexion.  I scored a brand new, still in the shrink wrap copy of Cherie Calbom's Juicing for Health book for 50-cents at a recent rummage sale.  It has gobs of great recipes and info about the properties of every juiced vegetable--even some wild juicables.  I've really been geeking out on it and am also happy that my summer rummaging has paid off in these kinds of ways.  

At another recent rummage I found a wall shelf for Vera's room.  It was an item for which I'd been searching awhile.  I wanted her to have a place to hang her pajamas and a sweatshirt or two instead of just tossing them on the floor (we're trying to teach a bit more independence and responsibility right now.)  The over-the-door hanger currently in place is much too high for her to reach by herself.  She loves this new kid-friendly space and so do I.  We've not allowed toys or kid stuff to take over our house, but we have very purposefully created lots of little space just for her--the reading nook, her toy cabinet in the living room, a small table with chairs and the kitchen in her bedroom, and a special art corner in the basement.  It feels very natural and we all seem happy to co-habitate this way.

V's new shelf with hooks
This week is the third annual Power Down Week in Milwaukee.  We've participated in the past and this year isn't too much different though I must say I haven't taken the time to officially set any personal or household goals for observing this important event.  This summer is actually sort of one whole "power down" period, especially since we instituted our austerity plan post-kitchen remodel.  We've been staying a lot closer to home, not eating out as much while relishing all the locally grown foods in our yard and neighborhood, continuing to use as little energy as possible, biking whenever possible, and other conservative measures. I'm not trying to say that I there aren't ways that I can't improve on powering down around the homestead because we DO still have many big strides to make, but I'd like to think that we've chosen to power down for life.  I AM however trying to cook at least a couple of meals in the sun oven this week.  That remains to be seen, but the intention is strong.  

Ben and I did have a lovely powered down Saturday night.  Nearly everything in the house was off and we sat outside listening to some music on Public Radio, and caught up on stories from the week, totally unplugged other than the radio and some twinkle lights.  It was a pleasant, peaceful, bug-free evening and great to reconnect.  We had a chance to reflect on all the changes we've made around our place since we moved in a little over six years ago.  Although we sometimes feel like we've hired out a lot of the projects we wished we'd had time for--the bathroom(s) and kitchen mostly--it was especially nice for Ben to realize that he's done a lot more creative building projects than he gives himself credit for.  He's always wishing he had time for something in the vein of woodworking, but the truth is that he's been extremely handy and willing to take on plumbing, roofing, caulking, woodwork touching up, furniture refinishing, shelf building, raised bed building, and lots of other important projects even though some have seemed small.  I've never had to hire a handyman, and when we look at it that way, we have saved a lot by doing it ourselves.  One day life may allow us time to try bigger projects, maybe even together, but for now we must be content with what we've managed to design and build ourselves.

A fairly powered-down evening with my husband

No comments:

Post a Comment