Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Recipes From The Garden

When I was a girl, our family had a particular method to cooking each type of food. Everything we ate was always cooked the same way. I was 19 years old and living in another state before I realized one could do more with a chicken than fry it or make chicken and dumplings out of it.

Unknown to my children, I do have a creative side. I'm just not artistically gifted in the the typical areas of art, music or design. My creativity is expressed through more practical means, such as cooking. A gourmet chef, I am not. But, when my older sons were teenagers ALL their friends LOVED coming to our home for breakfast, lunch or supper. A few would routinely inquire, "Is your mom cooking?", whenever they were invited to our home.

Today, I'd like to share a few recipes for the zucchini, green beans and cucumber we harvested from our garden yesterday. If you decide to try these recipes, I hope you and your family enjoy them as much as we do.

Zucchini

We prefer to harvest our zucchini when it's small, about 6 inches. Although zucchini will grow very large, very rapidly, large zucchini's seem a little bland to my palette.



Steamed Zucchini

4 small zucchini, sliced 1/2 inch thick
2tbs. butter
1/2 tsp. salt

Steam zucchini over boiling water until tender, being careful not to over cook it. (Over cooked zucchini will be soggy and fall apart easily. ) While steaming zucchini, melt butter and salt in microwave or over low heat. Pour butter mixture into a serving dish, add zucchini and toss to coat. Makes 4-6 servings.

Sauteed Zucchini

4 small zucchini, sliced on the diagonal 1/2 inch thick
1/2 medium onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. sugar
olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

In a large skillet (I use cast iron - it really does improve the flavor of foods), saute olive oil, onions and sugar over medium heat until onions begin to turn translucent. Add zucchini, garlic, salt and pepper. Continue to saute until zucchini is tender. 4-6 servings.

Boiled Zucchini
(this is the way my family prepared it when I was a girl)

4 small zucchini, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 small onion, sliced
2 pats butter
salt & pepper to taste
water

Combine all ingredients in a medium pot. Add water until covered by 1 inch. Bring to a boil and cook until onions are translucent. 4-6 servings

Fried Zucchini
(a good recipe for large zucchini's)

2 large zucchini, sliced 1/2 inch thick
4 eggs, well beaten
flour
cornbread mix (see below)
salt & pepper to taste
bacon ranch dressing
oil for frying

In a medium bowl beat eggs. Add a little bit of salt and pepper. Place flour in a gallon sized zip lock bag, add a little bit of salt & pepper. Place cornbread mix in another gallon zip lock bag, again, add a little bit of salt & pepper. Dip the zucchini in the egg, place in the flour, shake to coat well. Return to the egg, place zucchini in the cornbread mix, shake well to coat. Fry in hot oil until golden, 3-4 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Serve with bacon ranch dressing.

Cornbread Mix (makes about 5 batches)
4 1/4 c. flour
4 c. cornmeal
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. baking powder
1-2 tsp. salt
1 c. shortening
Combine dry ingredients. Cut in shortening. Store in airtight container in cool dry place.
To Mix Up Cornbread:
2 1/3 c. mix
1 egg, well beaten
1 c. milk
Combine all until moist. (batter should be lumpy) Pour into greased 8in. baking pan. Bake at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until golden and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Zucchini Bread

2 2/3 c. sugar
2/3 c. shortening
3 c. shredded zucchini
2/3 c. water
4 eggs
3 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2/3 c. coarsely chopped nuts
2/3 c. raisins

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 loaf pans. Mix sugar and shortening together. Stir in zucchini, water and eggs. Mix in flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, vanilla and baking powder; stir in nuts and raisins. Pour into pans and bake 50-60 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely before slicing.

Raw Zucchini

The healthiest way to consume zucchini is to eat it raw. We like it sliced thin and added to salads. The children also like it cut into sticks and served with ranch dressing. And, of course, I often add it to soups and stews, but then it's not raw is it?

Green Beans
Harvest green beans when they are slender, no thicker than your little finger. If you let them grow too large, even the stringless varieties will be stringy.
Steamed Green Beans

1 1/2 lb. green beans, left whole with the stem end removed
2 tbs. butter
1/2 tsp. salt

Steam green beans over boiling water until crisp tender. Meanwhile, melt butter and salt in the microwave or over low heat. Add green beans to butter mixture and toss to coat.
variation: Add sliced almonds and pimentos to green beans when steaming. 4 servings

Southern Green Beans
(this is the method we cooked when I was a girl)

2 lb. green beans, snapped
1 onion, diced
3 slices thick bacon, diced
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. white vinegar
salt & pepper to taste
water

Place green beans, onion, bacon, sugar, salt and pepper in a medium pot. Add water until covered by 1 inch; add vinegar. Boil over medium high heat until onion is translucent. When serving add a little cooking liquid to serving bowl. This will keep the green beans moist and ensure that southern flavor. 4-6 servings

Roasted Green Beans

1 1/2 lb. green beans, left whole with stem end removed
1 tbs. olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

In a medium bowl, combine olive oil, salt and pepper. Add green beans, toss to coat. Spread green beans onto a greased baking sheet. Roast in 350 degree oven 10-15 minutes, until tender. 4 servings

Sauteed Green Beans

1 1/2 lb. green beans, left long with stem ends removed
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper to taste
olive oil

In a medium skillet heat olive oil over medium heat. Add green beans. Saute until crisp tender, add garlic, salt and pepper. Saute for 1 additional minute. 4-6 servings

Salad Green Beans
(healthiest method and good when you only have a small amount)

hand full of green beans, snapped
boiling water
ice water

Place green beans in boiling water for 1-2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to ice water to stop cooking process. Add to salad.

We also add green beans to soups, stews, etc. There is also the "famous" green bean casserole that I think every family in America prepares at Thanksgiving and Christmas; I trust everyone already has a favorite recipe for that.

Cucumbers

I always plant pickling cucumbers. I prefer the stronger flavor and I like their versatility. It is best to harvest pickling cucumbers when they are about 4 inches. As with zucchini, I think they loose some of their flavor if left to grow too large.

Bread & Butter Pickles
(As a kid, I didn't know cucumbers could be prepared any other way)

4 lb. cucumbers, sliced 1/4 inch
2 lb. onion, thinly sliced
1/3 c. canning salt
2 c. sugar
2 tbsp. mustard seed
2 tsp. turmeric
2 tsp. celery seed
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. peppercorn
3 c. vinegar
ice cubes

Combine cucumber and onion slices in a large bowl, layering with salt; cover with ice cubes. Let stand 1 1/2 hours. Drain; rinse; drain again. Combine remaining ingredients in a large sauce pot; bring to a boil. Add drained cucumbers and onions and return to a boil. Pack hot pickles and liquid into hot prepared canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Remove air bubbles. Adjust two-piece caps. Process in a boiling water caner 10 minutes. about 7 pints

Cucumber Salad

3 c. thinly sliced cucumbers
1 small red bell pepper, julienned
1/2 c. purple onion, thinly sliced
1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dill

Combine all ingredients, mixing well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. 4-6 servings

Cucumber & Tomato Salad

3 cucumbers, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 c. purple onion, thinly sliced
2 large tomatoes, sliced and then halve the slices
1 c. mozzarella cheese, cubed
1/4 c. Italian salad dressing

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. 6 servings.

Cucumber Sandwiches

2 cucumbers
2 green onions
1/4 c. red bell pepper
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 tsp. dill
salt & pepper to taste
8 slices whole wheat bread, toasted
lettuce
tomato

Chop the cucumbers, green onions and bell pepper in the food processor until finely chopped, being careful not to puree. Transfer to a mixing bowl, add cream cheese, dill, salt and pepper.
Spread mixture onto whole wheat bread. Cover with lettuce and tomato. Top remaining bread slices. 4 servings

6 comments:

  1. Yummy, I can not wait till my garden is ready to harvest. Your recipes sound so good and I can not wait to try them!!!

    Jamie

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  2. Definitely going to save your zuch. recipes. We are steadily picking more and more of it each day.

    ~Blessings

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  3. Thank you ladies.

    I am so happy and thankful our zucchini and squash are making this year, I've had trouble the last couple years and didn't harvest any.

    Mrs.M, the zucchini also freezes well. Just blanch it in boiling water for 1-2 minutes, plunge it into ice water to stop the cooking process, drain it in a colendar, put it in quart sized zip lock bags, label and freeze.

    I hope you ladies have an abundant harvest.

    Mrs.B

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  4. Oh! Mrs.G,

    It is so nice to see you around. I mailed a letter off to you just yesterday! I hope y'alls garden is coming along well.
    Mrs.B

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  5. That is just funny, when we lived in Denver all we ate for a few weeks was Zucchini, about all the ways you explained here, lol brought back some memories too, thanks for sharing, I got more out of this post than most.. Hugs

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for taking time to read my blog and leave a comment. I try my best to respond to each one. God Bless You, Mrs.B