cooking · gardens

Zucchini Season…. No time for Ding Dong Ditch that Zucchini!!

This is a post I am updating for today. I had a bunch of cukes and zucchini’s to process and these are some things I did with all that bounty!

First, I and my son, cut up the cukes and put them into a jar with some celery seed and dill seed. My dill I planted didn’t come up at all- seeds were too old I guess. I didn’t have any dill so I used seed from my spice cabinet. I hope they will taste alright. These are fridge type pickles so I can change things a little and its only one 2 quart jar so it will be fine.

Next, another son and I cut up the zucchini into chunks. Some I put into vacuum sealed bags, sealed them up and put them into the freezer. Those will be good roasted over the winter. I sliced some up and put them into the dehydrator with some season salt. They will dry and be a good snack.

Then, I shredded a bunch. I put most of it into the dehydrator where it will dry into a sheet. I will pull that off and put it into jars. This I can use in recipes like breads, cakes, pancakes, spaghetti, soups. It’s good in egg dishes too.

Some of the shreds I used in my Zucchini Chocolate cake.

Here is the recipe:

Zucchini Chocolate Cake

1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. oil
1 3/4c. sugar
2c. zucchini, shredded
1/2c. sour milk
2 eggs, beaten
1tsp. vanilla
1tsp.  baking soda
1/2tsp. baking powder
2 1/2c. flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1tsp. salt
4tbsp. cocoa
6 oz. chocolate chips
chopped nuts- optional

Cream butter, add oil and sugar.  Add remaining ingredients, except chips and nuts.  Beat well.  Pour into greased bundt pan or 9×13 baking pan.  Top with nuts and chocolate chips.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 min. (bundt pan takes a bit longer)

I don’t remember where I got the recipe, I have had it for a long time.  So if you are the one who gave it to me, thanks so much!  Its a favorite summer time treat. Unfortunately, both times I have made it this summer, its been dry and crumbly. I’m not sure why. And of course, this time I made frosting and it didn’t turn out either.

That’s what happens when I start to think I am Ree Drummond and can just add a stick of butter to something and it will be perfect.

Oh well. It’s still chocolate yummyness. .

This time, I made a recipe I found on Facebook. It’s been going around and around lately so I thought I would give it a try. It’s the “Lemon Zucchini Bread” recipe. Here is a link to a recipe from “Tastes Better From Scratch” on Pinterest.

Here is the recipe I use for regular zucchini bread from The Market Basket Cookbook:

Zucchini Bread

1 1/2 c. flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
1tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 c. zucchini or summer squash, shredded
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract

  1.  Preheat oven 350 degrees
  2. Mix flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda thoroughly.
  3. Combine eggs, sugar oil and vanilla, in separate bowl.  Beat well, then stir in squash.
  4. Add dry ingredients, mix just until mixture is moistened.
  5. Pour into well greased loaf pan.  Bake 40 min or until toothpick put in center or loaf comes out clean. Makes one loaf.

(Yes, I use cookbooks. I know- so old fashioned!! I picked that cookbook up somewhere, likely a rummage sale, years ago and use it all the time in the summer. It has great “go to” easy recipes for all sorts of fresh produce.)

Other uses for zucchini and summer squash, include egg dishes and pizza.  If I have a good crop, I will shred it and put it into the freezer in measured out amounts for recipes, in ziploc bags or vacuum seal bags.  I will also slice it and dehydrate some.  Then I will store it in vacuum sealed bags or quart jars and add an oxygen pack to it which will suck all the oxygen out of the bag or jar.  That makes the jar or bag airtight and therefore last for a very long time!  Oxygen packs you can get from Amazon.

Let me know your favorite zucchini, summer squash recipes- I would love to hear from you!  Also, let me know if you are have tried my recipes and how you like them.




I’m Back with a Garden Update

It’s been way too long. Much has been going on and much continues to go on, but I am taking some time to write here anyways.

Hubby and I were able to get away last month for a week in Riviera Maya, Mexico. We have NEVER done anything like that before and it was quite a treat!! I will write about that sometime in another post.
It was much needed and enjoyed.

But, I wanted to write a bit about what has been growing here. And that has been quite a bit!!

I am about a week away from taking our last batch of meat chickens to the butcher. I started with 60 and am ending with 55. That is amazing!! I am kind of excited about that. They are looking great and enjoying the fresh grass of the pasture.

Almost all the flower gardens are in full bloom. So beautiful to look at. I even have a crop of sunflowers this year, despite the fact that I didn’t get time to plant any new this year. Sorry, I have yet to take a picture of those.

The marigolds are so pretty and filled up an entire garden themselves. Gonna have to thin those out next year but for now, they looked so pretty that I really didn’t care. Next year, though I want to see some of the other garden plants.

But what I really wanted to update you on is the hay bale gardens I tried this year. I am pleasantly surprised to be honest. I had a few setbacks because some things just would not grow- likely the bales had something in them that kept that from happening. These were old bales so who knows what was on them. I should have been more careful about picking bales out. Or, I just didn’t water them enough or the chickens ate off the plants as soon as they sprouted. I did have a section that I actually put up netting around to keep them out.

Some I ended up just tearing apart and throwing into the garden to keep weeds down from the other plants. They will break down over time and form some nice compost for next year.

The rest of the bales, though?? WOW!!

The zucchini and yellow crookneck squash are growing so well!! I have HUGE plants and a nice crop of fruits. I have lots of squash in a jar that I dried in the dehydrator and some bags in the freezer.

I have pulled all of my purple fingerling potatoes today. I have a nice bowl full. They will make some yummy suppers. All of those bales, I broke down now because they were falling apart now anyways, and threw in the dirt from the potato bags that didn’t grow. It’s all in a nice pile and I planted some green onions in one and Kohlrabi in another. They will do nicely in those spots and we have a good 3 months of growing to do yet.

I have cucumbers, yard long beans, Chinese cabbages, chard, tomatoes and cantaloupe in the other bales and they are amazing!! I am shocked!!! I have never gotten cantaloupe to grow well and I have beautiful vines growing in my hay bales. I even have several fruits growing and should have some delicious, home grown cantaloupes for the first time ever!!

The tomatoes that are in the hay bales are greener than the ones that I planted in pots in the garden as well as twice the size. Though I am getting a few cherry tomatoes from the garden plants and haven’t gotten any tomatoes from the bale plants. They are a larger tomato and will take a little while to grow yet.

I have some carrots in some of the bales as well but I didn’t look closely at them today. I was just going to leave them sit yet for a while.

The down side to those bales? They take A LOT of water. I had to learn the hard way that they really are thirsty and need to have more water than a conventional garden. That was one of my early problems- learning to water the bales.

Interestingly enough, we had gotten about a half inch of rain yesterday, but the fingerling potato bales I pulled apart were not very wet today.

From what I have read, you should have been able to get 2 years out of the bales. Likely, only straw bales. I had hay bales and will just finish out this year with them. I am not worried though. They will be a great base for next years gardens.

I will learn to leave enough space around them to mow with a push mower. I intended to this year but didn’t quite make it. The grass is pretty tall around them now- which isn’t the worse thing in the world.

I had heard that the hay bales would have lots of weeds, but mine really didn’t. Whatever weeds did grow in them, I just pulled out.

Would I do them again?? Yes. Absolutely. They formed a nice easy raised bed garden. A little low yet for a person with limited mobility, but yet, no need for kneeling.

I have seen some ideas using kiddie pools that I kind of want to try next, just for fun. I might try that next. We will see what next year brings, I guess.

Here is the bean plants I put in that will be dried beans for the winter. Some fun kinds I got from a Master Gardener class last spring. 3 different kinds got into the ground this year- of course I can’t recall the names right now….. Can’t wait to use them!!