Saturday, July 31, 2010

Here comes the tomatoes!

Every morning I water the garden and scan the tomato plants. We've got a bonanza of flowers, and the fruit is coming in slowly.

This morning I was thrilled to spot a flash of red deep inside one of the plants (specifically on our heirloom Surpice). Now I don't put my hand inside of any of the plants -- it's too risky. I might come in contact with a spider, or (god forbid) a slug.

Luckily Paul has no qualms about it, and soon we discovered that we're the proud parents of not one, not two, but three tomatoes!

Can't wait for the rest of them to arrive!.

Monday, July 26, 2010

What to do with zucchini?

"TWO?!" That was my mom's response when I told her I had planted zucchini in our garden. "You planted TWO PLANTS?! You're gonna have a lot of zucchini."

Sure, how many zucchinis can one plant produce? Well three were ready now, there are about eight of various size, and five or six more flowers. I was too afraid to check the other plant.

I let the first zucchinis grow a little large since I was planning on baking with them. The biggest of the three was about 9" around and 12" long. Oh, it was a beaut! It produced over four cups of grated zucchini which was enough for four mini loaves of zucchini/blueberry bread, and two batches of zucchini muffins (one chocolate-chocolate chip, and one chocolate chip). I made two batches of zucchini bread from the smallest of the three, and I'm looking for some more recipes to try with the last one.

There's a lot of oil and sugar used when baking with zucchini so I decided to experiment with using no sugar applesauce in lieu of vegetable oil, flax meal to substitute for eggs, and Splenda in place of the sugar. Right away let me say forget about using Splenda. It's fine for my morning cup of coffee, but does not work with baking. The applesauce was a great substitute for the breads, but made the cupcakes very sticky and dense. Oh, and the flax meal substitute didn't work so well either. Oh, well! Nothing ventured, nothing gained!

I'm listing the two zucchini bread recipes. The cupcake recipes I tried were...well they were interesting. The first zucchini bread is a family favorite, and it was given to us by my mom's friend, Minnie Braaten.

Minnie's Zucchini Bread

2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
3 eggs
1-1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups shredded zucchini
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cloves
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the over to 325F.

In medium bowl sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. In a large bowl add eggs, oil, sugar, and vanilla and beat well. Fold in zucchini. Add flour mixture in batches, and beat until just combined. Stir in walnuts. Pour into greased loaf pans, and cook 70 minutes if using full size loaf pan, or 50 minutes if using mini loaf pans, or until knife inserted into center of loaf comes out clean. Cool on racks for 20 minutes before removing from pan. Cool completely before slicing.

Blueberry Zucchini Bread (courtesy of Laura via

3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-1/4 cups white sugar
2 cups shredded zucchini
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 pint fresh blueberries

Preheat over to 350F degrees. Lightly grease four mini loaf pans.

In a large bowl beat together the eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar. Fold in the zucchini. Beat in the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Gently fold in the blueberries. Transfer to the prepared mini loaf pans. Bake 50 minutes in the preheated over, or until a knife inserved in the center of a loaf comes out clean. Cool 20 minutes in pans, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sometimes it just hits you...

We're sitting on the back deck trying my latest cooking experiment, and I look at my husband to say something, and it just hits me like a ton of bricks how much I love this guy!

I love his profile.

I love his receding hairline.

I love the crinkles around his eyes when he laughs.

I love his gentle, soothing voice.

I love the way he sighs when he hugs me after a long day at work, and I can feel him relax in my arms. I love that he is a kind, patient, and good man. All this I know, and I am grateful for each day, but sometimes it just hits me like a ton of bricks. Just saying.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

If at first you don't succeed...

Ok, so you can't win them all. I was watching Food Network, and Tyler's Ultimate came on featuring a "natural red velvet cake". It was really a cake made with beets. Now the beets in our garden are ready to be pulled, and I was stressing a bit trying to think what I could make with all of them so I was really interested in trying the cake.

Tonight is my book club, and as luck would have it I was in charge of dessert (don't you love the timing?) so this afternoon I pulled out some beets and got to work. I saved the greens and stems for dinner tonight (the boys are having a stew with sausage, greens, lentils and carrots over some cracked wheat). Everything went together well, and then it was time to cook. The recipe says 25 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean, but after 40 minutes I called it quits and pulled the cakes to cool. The cakes taste okay (maybe a tad too sweet), but the texture seems a bit gooey. Maybe next time I try a little less brown sugar, and a little more flour. It will have to wait though because I just saw a recipe for chocolate zucchini cupcakes -- yum...

Such a pretty color

Just waiting for a bit of whipped cream