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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Zucchini Overload

It happens every year. From not one to overload in a day: zucchini overload. I take it as a personal challenge to face the zucchini each year composing as few fruits as possible. It is a fun hunt, looking for fruits among the vines - the same green, they often disappear until they are bat sized an tough, so it takes some careful looking to get at the small tender ones we love. My skin reacts to the little pricklies, so I carefully move the big leaves and look at the plant base. One escaped Jonathan's picking earlier in the week - it was wrapped to form a perfect "J" - tucked in so perfectly it was hard to get out!

Last night it was zucchini quiche for dinner. I don't make this vegetarian classic much - but it is always terrific. Many years ago, my friends Beth and Dan asked me to contribute zucchini quiche for their wedding celebration. I made a bunch - and developed an aversion to the smell for many years! But after decades, I can appreciate it again. Tonight was zucchini again - this time the strangest pizza I've ever made. No, not zucchini on top - it was a zucchini and cheese crust (with a few eggs and a tiny bit of biscuit mix) with ground beef and tomato sauce on top. Remarkably good.

On the sideboard are jars of zucchini relish - looking pretty and hopefully tasting great. I bought some at the farmers market last year, and it was pretty, tart, and adaptable - a great accompaniment  to any meat. I followed the recipe in "Putting Foods By", and captured it in small, wide mouth half pint jars. I hope it will make nice gifts.

And there is always baking. A chocolate zucchini cake is cooling in the kitchen - with a teenage boy in the house, it is unlikely much will make it into the freezer! I will probably bring zucchini bread to a meeting later this week - hopefully no one is on a carb free diet; it should count as a vegetable!

It won't last forever - as soon as the last of the big stuffed boats are gone, the vines will wilt and the bounty will be over for the next year. Time to find even more uses...

 Copyright 2010,

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Hydrangeas In Trouble!

The unrelenting 100-degree-plus heat is really taking a toll on my gardens. We've been focused on the vegetable garden, but needed to pay more attention to the borders. It is the poor hydrangeas that have suffered the most. I think I have completely lost the little Blue Lacecap that I planted this spring. It didn't get firmly established before the heat and shriveled before e noticed. Poor thing. Same with the brand new variegated leaved shrub that was going to brighten a dark corner and hide an ugly wire support. But even the very well established shrubs are wilting and may not make it through. Even Molly. I thought Molly was the happiest plant in our yard. She survived at our former front walk, where she had little water or sun or space. hse finally grew so big that I had to move her - and then she seemed very happy in the new spot. Until the heat. Stay cool, Molly - fall will come eventually!

Copyright 2010,

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Wilted Garden

The Veggie Garden is wilting. So are all the borders - and we are losing some shrubs. Even the local hydrangeas are gasping in this 90 degree plus weather - hit 100 a couple of days so far and may again this week. With no rain. I did some hand watering this morning, but the water was hot from mere moments in the sun. Even the shade offers little relief. I can't imagine how August will be!
Copyright 2010,

Garlic and Shallot Harvest

My new garlic drying screen

At long last, I harvested the rest of my garlic and all of my french red shallots. I planted both soft and hard neck garlic last fall - and promptly forgot which bed got which type! I always regret not labeling, but often it is late when I finish planting and I decide I will make a label later.... and then don't. It became clear which was which this June as the hard neck garlic shot up scapes, which are not found on soft neck garlic varieties. My soft neck were ready for harvest 2 weeks ago, so I pulled them up and stored them in a wire basket to dry, since we hadn't yet made the drying screen.

The shallots were ready for harvest this week, and they look great. The hardnecks weren't quite there, but I pulled them anyway (hence too much green in the photo) because I wanted to do it all at once, and was hoping to use some of the bed space for a final sowing of beans. 

Jonathan made me this terrific box with screen to hang in  the shed to help dry out and harden the garlic and onions after harvest. It gets good circulation, although I worry about the excessive Maryland humidity. I am hoping to hang the herbs for drying next to them - we are reorganizing the shed to give me room (anyone want to take bets on how long before it is strictly a potting shed?). 

Meanwhile, I used the garlic scapes in a wonderful finger food at a political fundraiser last weekend. I made little Parmesan rounds - very tasty cracker - and topped them with garlic scape pesto, goat cheese from Firefly Farms, and then because I thought they looked dull, a petal from a red monarda flower (Jacob's Kline). They were great! I also made little meringue cookies, which I "glued" together at the bottoms with whipped cream in which were added crushed raspberries from the garden (I used red, yellow, and black but all red would have been the most attractive), and a marinated chicken cubes wrapped with a sage leaf from the garden and prosciutto and grilled, served with a red pepper garlic aoli made with the first soft neck I harvested. 

I will save some heads for planting again this fall - I can keep this up for years!

Copyright 2010,