Let's Get Dirty

A gardening blog for adults who still love to play in the dirt.

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Page 105 of 117


Got squash?

By Penny Stine
Monday, September 27, 2010

What can you do when you discover a giant summer squash lurking underneath the leaves? Some people choose to throw them out or use them for target practice. Why do that when you can disguise them as chocolate cake or pizza, two of the essential food groups?
Or when you can combine them with tomatillos, jalapenos, onions, garlic, roasted chiles and corn and create a fiery mixed vegetable combo guaranteed to warm your tootsies in January?
Like other gardeners out there, my summer squash is growing to gigantic proportions this fall. Is it because we’re no longer excited about the garden and we don’t spend as much time out there trying to see what’s available? Are we too busy trying to cram in as much fun as possible into these last few weekends before the temperatures drop?
Before you let the kids practice their baseball swing or their swordplay with a zucchini, here’s a couple more ideas:
 

Zucchini or Pattypan pizza crust:
3 cups shredded summer squash
1 tsp salt
3 eggs
½ - 1 cup flour
½ C shredded parmesan or romano cheese

Shred the squash (I use a food processor, it’s quicker and you can easily do the skins, too.) Toss the squash in a colander & sprinkle with salt. Put a bowl underneath to catch the water – there should be quite a bit – and let it sit for 15 minutes. While the squash is draining, pre-heat the oven to 450. When you’re ready to make dough, give the squash one more squeeze to drain & add eggs, flour and shredded cheese. Mix it with a spoon or your hands; it will be a fairly wet dough.
Spray a pizza pan or cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray and then dust with flour. This makes enough dough for one really big pizza or two small to medium pizzas. Pat the dough into the pan and try to spread it as thin as possible. Yes, it will be sticky and gooey. Do your best to spread it all the way to the edge of the pan.
Bake in a hot oven for 8 – 10 minutes. Now comes the tricky part… Flip the pizza dough over to brown the other side. You can try it with a spatula, but I’ve discovered the easiest way is to put a large cutting board (or other large, flat, sturdy surface) on top and then turn it over, dislodge the crust to get the whole thing on the cutting board, then slide it back onto the pan.
Bake the other side for 8 – 10 minutes. When it’s done, top it with pizza sauce and anything else you like on your pizza. Bake it at 350 for another 20 – 30. I made one the other day (but didn’t have a camera to take a photo) with a tomato-based sauce, along with mozzarella, cheddar, hamburger, onions and roasted green chiles. Delish.

Another option for giant squash…


Chocolate zucchini (or pattypan) bread

(makes 2 loaves)
2 C shredded summer squash

2C sugar
¼ C dark cocoa powder (you can use the regular cocoa powder, I just prefer the dark)
3 C flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 C vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla
1 C chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Mix sugar and eggs. Gradually add oil and vanilla, then shredded squash. Sift dry ingredients together and then add to the squash mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into 2 greased & floured bread pans. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.
I discovered that this recipe can easily be doubled or tripled, depending on the size of the monster squash. Bake it, let it cool completely and then wrap it in foil or put it in a Ziploc freezer bag and freeze it to enjoy in the winter. Or next week when you want something sweet. This bread is great because it tastes like chocolate cake, yet counts as a vegetable.

(Sorry, I don’t have pics for the pizza or the chocolate bread. Trust me, they look fab and taste even better.)

So… I made pattypan pizza. I’ve got two loaves of chocolate zucchini bread in the freezer and two more giant zucchini to turn into bread later this week. I still had monster pattypan and lots more tomatillos. So I combined the following and decided to can it, since I’ve been canning everything that sits on my counter longer than three days.

Late season veggie combo

Olive oil
1 giant onion, chopped
4 – 6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 large pattypan squash
1 giant bowlful of tomatillos (sorry, I didn’t count or measure, I just took a pic to show that some of the purple tomatillos are actually purple)

Look! Some of the purple tomatillos are actually purple!

4 – 6 jalapenos, chopped
4 – 10 green chiles, seeded, roasted and chopped
8 ears fresh corn (I added it just because I had it)

1 bunch chopped cilantro

salt, cumin powder

 


Pour some olive oil in the bottom of a large pot. Add the onions and garlic & sauté until carmelized. Add the remaining ingredients. It’s OK if you chop as you go – by adding the tomatillos first and letting them cook, it gives you time to chop everything else.
Because this isn’t an approved recipe and so clearly has lots of non-acidic ingredients, I got out my pressure cooker. Processed with 15 pounds of pressure for 55 minutes.
It’s a bit on the spicy side. I anticipate serving it over rice or turning it into a base for soup and then adding cooked chicken or pork, more broth or cream and whatever else I have in the fridge and think sounds tasty.

I bought the corn at Rettig Farms on East Orchard Mesa. It was white corn, which didn't look as pretty in the jars combined with the white pattypan squash and the various green things (tomatillos, jalapenos and cilantro) that all faded to a dull Army green. But it's fairly tasty and would warm the cockles of my heart on a cold January evening, if only I knew what cockles were.  Seriously, I hope eating it in the depths of winter will remind me of warmer days and growing things. 

2 comments

Summer’s bounty

By Carol Clark
Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My vegetable garden is finally producing like I dreamed it would when I planted it last spring. Just in time for autumn - which starts THURSDAY!

Strawberries are coming back on -



The chives have beautiful blooms -



The pumpkins are blooming but not turning to fruit :(



Fall lettuce is coming on -



Here is yesterday's harvest. Summer squash - can't be stopped!

Tomatoes - enough for eating AND fresh salsa. Green beans producing nicely, jalapenos, cucumber and tarragon. If we could keep this up all year, we could be self sufficient.
 

My heart is broken for the summer loss to come, but I am waiting in expectation for cool autumn days and changing colors.



"This is the best day the world has ever seen. Tomorrow will be better."
R.A. Campbell


 

4 comments

The Flowers of Home

By Geri Anderson
Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Flowers of Home

I recently had opportunity to care for my mother's flower gardens.  Certainly it has given me a fresh appreciation of the hours of effort involved.  But I have also enjoyed their beauty--which varies by the time of day, the degrees of  light or shadow.

And, oh what pleasant memories accompany me when I walk my mother’s flower gardens. There’s the rose and flower garden with Mt. Lincoln in the background.

There are flowerbeds with spring flowers—like iris and spirea. There are mock orange bushes whose fragrance is heavenly when in bloom.

There is a talent in creating an outdoor space of beauty—and this yard has had my mother’s loving and talented touch for several decades, since before I was five.  (Certainly some time ago!--but I have no complaints--I became a grandmother Sunday---apparently another very fine joy of life!)

The rock gardens -- I remember my mother working in these in the early morning hours of lazy summer days.

One of my favorites--I love the masterful arrangement of colors, textures, flowers--altogether pleasant!

Simple asters.  Doesn't time in a flower garden calm our spirits and turn our thoughts pleasantly upward?

2 comments

September ought to be roasted chile month

By Penny Stine
Sunday, September 19, 2010

September is great for many reasons, and since moving here 10 years ago, I’ve learned another one: roasted chiles.
I don’t grow enough chile in my garden to roast my own, so I usually go to Okagawa Farms, although a bunch of other farms and markets roast them, too. I buy a bushel, ($25 this year for Sonora, College or Big Jim) which they are happy to roast and then put in a large plastic bag. Yeah, I know... the photo makes them look slightly icky. They smell delicious, though. Too bad this isn't a scratch 'n sniff blog.

This year, my husband agreed to help, so I picked up the chiles and brought them home and let them steam in the bag. We went for an all-day motorcycle ride while they steamed and cooled. It took us a couple of hours after the sun went down to peel the chiles and put them in bags. I think we usually do about four or five per bag. I didn't count, but we had quite a few bags to put in the freezer to use over the winter. 


I know that I’m not the only one who’s discovered the joy of locally grown and roasted chiles. One of my favorite ways to use them is in chicken enchiladas. My friend, Jan, dresses up a plain take & bake cheese pizza with chopped roasted chiles, making it so much more than plain cheese pizza.


What’s your favorite way to use roasted chiles?
 

2 comments

Wooly Winter?

By Carol Clark
Friday, September 17, 2010

So what's it going to be? A mild Western Colorado winter or a harsh frozen season? Legend says you have to go no further than the Woolly Bear Caterpillar. The Woolly Bear is the caterpillar form of the Isabella Moth and you can know fall has arrived when you see one.



Superstition says when the caterpillar's middle rust ring is narrow the winter will be severe. When its middle rust stripe is wider the winter will be more mild. A friend of mine has already seen one in the valley. They like to eat dandelions and maple leaves so this might be good places to find them.

I remember playing with these fuzzy friends when I was a lonely child on a Loma farm. So far from neighbors, crawly creatures were sometimes my only friend to play with. I put them in canning jars with holes in the lids and fed them grass, but you need patience if you are going to see him turn into a moth. Even after feeding him fresh grass daily and providing him with a stick to crawl on, he eventually got tired and hibernated at the bottom of the jar. (I always thought he was dead...and maybe he was!). Then you need to put him outside in a spot protected from the weather, like a covered porch. In the spring you need to add fresh grass again daily. The caterpillar will eventually wake up and spin a cocoon then you only have a week or two to wait and out will come a beautiful butterfly! (Technically a moth.)

This is a very long commitment for a child and maybe even for most adults. I prefer to let them roam free and find a place to sleep for the winter under a rock or some leaves.

Let us know what it says about winter if you see one.

SEPTEMBER
A road like brown ribbon,
A sky that is blue,
A forest of green
With the sky peeping through.
Asters, deep purple,
A grasshoppers call,
Today it is summer,
Tomorrow is fall.

Edwina Fallis

1 comments
Page 105 of 117




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