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Archive for September, 2013

I finally have a plan!

Our house is on a sloped lot. It worked out nicely for the garage…

Garage built into hill, back of house even with ground on that side.

Garage built into hill, back of house even with ground on that side.

But for the garden it is a bit of a problem. We went with terraces, for the most part, but there are still slopes to deal with. The first couple of years, I used them to grow my squash, but with all the weeds blowing in from the abandoned lots next to us, it was just impossible to maintain them for this use.

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One year’s growth of weeds!!!!

But now I have a plan.

Of course I could have planted them with some sort of perennial, even grass, but I really wanted them to be productive, not decorative. And when it occurred to me that the most successful and easiest plants to grow are herbs, I realized that what I should do is plant an herb garden on the slopes.

One part will be a sort of rock/herb garden using left over pavers from a neighbor’s project (very grateful thanks to JD!), one part a perennial herb garden, and another part left “wild.” I’ve been busily collecting seeds from my favorite wild flowers to sow in the wild part, call it wild but managed!

Heat loving herbs. The stone tiles will block weeds and absorb heat.

Heat loving herbs. The stone tiles will block weeds and absorb heat.

 

Perennial herbs. I've worked about half way down the slope, with hyssop, chives, lemon balm and purple cone flower.

Perennial herbs. I’ve worked about half way down the slope, with hyssop, chives, lemon balm and purple cone flower.

 

Set of stairs my husband made. He will use cloth liner underneath to keep the weeds down and secure both cloth and steps to the soil.

Set of stairs my husband made. He will use cloth liner underneath to keep the weeds down and secure both cloth and steps to the soil.

I’m pleased so far and hopeful that I can get most of it planted by this fall to hold back the onslaught of weeds in the spring. And in 5-10 years, it should be mostly weed-free!

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Squash Madness

Between my local CSA and our garden I am getting about 10 squashes – zucchini, yellow summer squash, patty pan, spaghetti squash – a week coming into my kitchen! What to do with it all?!

Squash soup, stuffed squash, baked squash, fried squash, squash fritters, squash bread, squash spread, squash relish, squash in salads, in stir fries, in pasta sauce, in omelets…every day, for weeks now…My family is very tolerant and my freezer is full! And I will probably get 10 more squash next week!

Here’s how I cook squash

Squash Soup

one medium onion or leek

one large potato

6 cups vegetable stock

marjoram and salt to taste

lots of squash

Sautee one onion or leek in some butter and oil. Add squash chunks, marjoram and salt.

[I make this with zucchini or patty pan or a combination. Patty pan squash makes a nice thick soup when pureed so I leave out the potato.]

Add stock and simmer until the squash is soft. Puree.

Squash Fritters

(adapted from “The Victory Garden Cookbook” by Marian Morash)

2 eggs

2 C grated zucchini or yellow squash

1/4 c flour

1 T melted butter

salt and pepper to taste

3/4 t dried mint

2 T finely crumbled feta cheese

Beat eggs and combine with remaining ingredients/Spoon 3-4T of mixture per fritter into hot oil and fry on both sides until browned and crisp.

Makes 6-8 fritters.

Zucchini Bread

(adapted from “The Victory Garden Cookbook” by Marian Morash)

3 c flour (combination of white, whole wheat and spelt)

1 t baking soda

1 t baking powder

1 t salt

2 t cinnamon

1/2 t nutmeg or ground cloves, or both

3 eggs

1 – 1 2/3 c sugar (I use 1 cup, half brown)

3/4 c vegetable oil

1 t vanilla or 1 packet vanilla sugar

2 c grated zucchini

raisins and nuts, optional (I use dried cranberries or chocolate chips)

Beat eggs, sugars and oil. Add spices and vanilla. Mix well. Add in dry ingredients. The batter is very stiff. Add grated zucchini and any other add-ins you wish. Bake 50-60 minutes at 350F in greased and floured loaf pans, or 25 minutes in muffin tins. Makes 2 loaves or 2 dozen muffins.

Zuchini Spread 

thanks to Allison for pointing me to this recipe from “the kitchn”

Sauteed Zucchini and Onions

1 or two onions thinly sliced into rings

a medium zucchini thinly sliced into rounds

butter and oil

salt and pepper

cheese to melt on top

Sautee onion and zucchini until onion is translucent and zucchini is softened. You don’t want mush, but you don’t want crispy either. Season with salt and pepper. Melt cheese on top.

Here’s how I preserve squash

Freezing: Squash don’t freeze well, but you can freeze the bread, the spread and the soup. I also tried freezing one cup portions of shredded zucchini for use in making zucchini bread later in the year.

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Zucchini Relish

(from “Food in Jars” by Marisa McClellan)

6 cups copped green bell peppers (about 8 whole peppers)

6 cups grated zucchini

2 1/2 cups grated onions

4 cups apple cider vinegar, divided

2 cups sugar

salt to taste

2 T mustard seeds

1 t celery seed

1/2 t red pepper flakes

Combine vegies in pot. Stir in 2 c vinegar and simmer about 30 minutes until veggies have cooked sown. Drain and return veggies to pot. Add remaining 2 cups vinegar and the rest of the sugar nd spices. Simmer 5 minutes. Pour into hot jars and process 10 minutes. Let sit in the pot 5 minutes before removing to prevent bubbling over from a swift change in temperature. Makes 5x 500 mL jars.

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