Lordy, lordy, we’ve made it to 40 . . .

Just a quickie update today.

Squash 40 was another delicious beef garden skillet, this time with grass fed ground beef, onions, peppers, tomatoes, sweet corn, squash, garlic, brown rice, chicken broth, and parsley.  Except for the onion and rice, everything was fresh and local.

Squash 41 and 42?  Another double batch of squash pancakes, topped with local grass-fed raw butter and local maple syrup.  I’m in heaven every morning we eat this.  And the kids enjoy it too.  Not as much as blueberry pancakes, of course, but any morning where they are happily eating veggies for breakfast is good in my book.

A pic of my growing space at the beginning of July.  My squash pants are a lot bigger now!

A pic of my growing space at the beginning of July. My squash pants are a lot bigger now!

3 dozen summer squash and counting

I’ve been thinking about local food a lot this week.  My garden is at its most fruitful, with new zucchini and cherry tomatoes daily, and plenty of chard, parsley, and basil to supply us.  Plus, I’m participating in a local food discussion course entitled Hungry for Change which has me thinking about the impact of my food choices.  Each week of the course, I’m supposed to choose an action to take inspired by the readings and discussion.  For this week, I challenged myself to eat local fruits and vegetables at every meal.  Although it might have sounded daunting to me even a year ago, I’ve gotten so passionate about my local options and my little garden that it even surprised me how easy it has been.  But it is the month of blueberries, peaches, new potatoes, corn, tomatoes, and zucchini, so how could it be hard to eat all this good food?

This week also marks our eating or preserving of our 39th summer squash!  Pretty impressive since we ate squash number 1 on July 1.  I did give 3 squash away this week to a friend, but it was more in the spirit of sharing what we have and not because we were overwhelmed.  In return for our 3 squash, I got a pint of homemade plum jam, so I definitely got the better half of the bargain.

So how have we been tackling our recent squash?

Our 32nd and 33rd summer squash were sliced and sautéed and along with some roasted cherry tomatoes, basil, and goat cheese, topped an amazing pizza.  Although the children may have picked off some or all of the vegetables, no one really complained, It was that good!

Our 34th and 35th and 36th squash became more squash pancakes . . . using the same recipe described in my earlier post.

Our 37th and 38th squash was shredded and sautéed in lard and topped with soy sauce.  Along with a smoothie, it was a very filling lunch for me and the mister.

And the 39th squash?  Squash brownies via Simply in Season.

Now, I only have a couple of squash in my fridge . . . and at least 2 more that will need to be picked tomorrow.  But the important thing is that I’m keeping up and really enjoying all of this “free” food from our backyard.  And my food budget?  Well with 3 days left to the month, I still have $50 in our food budget which just means more money that can go to stocking up on produce to preserve for winter time.  Thank you, zucchini and yellow squash!

Squash and eggs, squash and pesto, squash casserole and cake

After picking all of the squash before a 4-day road trip, only to find 3 more huge squash on our return, I can tell that is squash season.  I’ve been busy eating squash at almost every meal to keep up with our garden’s abundance.  Here’s what has been on our menu:

  • Squash #21 of the summer was shredded along with an onion, sautéed in oil, then mixed with a few tablespoons of fresh made vegan pesto (2 cups basil, 1/2 cup walnuts, 2 cloves garlic, 4 tbsp olive oil, salt).
  • Squash #22 was also shredded to become not one, but two frittatas.  One had pesto and the other had some cherry tomatoes and garlic.
  • Squashes 23, 24, & 25 were juillenned and mixed with a red wine vinaigrette for a raw squash salad that made a very tasty lunch.
  • Squashes 26, 27, 28, & 29 were cut into coins and formed into a sour cream and squash casserole topped with cracker crumbs and baked.
  • Squash 30 was shredded, cooked in some lard, and seasoned with pepper and soy sauce.
  • As we speak, our 31st squash of the summer is being shredded to be cooked into a chocolate budnt cake, recipe via Serving Up the Harvest.

Soon, I may have to admit that I cannot keep up with as many squash the universe throws our way.  I have plans to give a few away, but for now I’m still hanging tough.  My biggest challenge to date is that my 3-year-old gags every time he eats squash and had been skipping a few meals due to hunger strikes. At least I can count on him to help eat the budnt cake.

Summer squash #s 4-20, yes we’re at 20 already!

Well the summer squash has sure taken off around here, and I’ve been lagging on my dutiful reporting.

2 zucchini, number 4 and 5 of the summer went into a delicious beef-basil-coconut milk stir-fry (recipe below) over cauliflower rice (see here for a how to from Everyday Maven).

Matt’s Beef Basil Coconut Milk Stir-fry

Sauce:

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 tin of anchovies, finely chopped (or less to taste)
  • ½-1 tsp salt, depending on taste
  • Juice and zest from 1 lime

Stir fry:

  • Lard or other stir-fry oil
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 3 cloves garlic (or equivalent garlic scapes), chopped
  • 1-2 chilies, chopped (optional, or red pepper flakes)
  • 1 lb. or more fresh seasonal veggies (snap peas, greens, carrots, zucchini/squash, bell peppers, etc.)
  • 1 c. basil, loosely packed

Directions:

  1. Mix all the sauce ingredients together and set aside, and prep the veggies: garlic and chilies (if using) in one bowl, the rest of the veggies in another.
  2. Heat the wok on high heat, and then add the oil. Add the beef and brown, then remove the cooked beef and set aside, leaving the oil in the wok.
  3. Stir-fry the garlic and chilies until fragrant (no more than 1 min).
  4. Add the rest of the veggies and stir-fry until just starting to get tender and basil wilts (no more than 5 min)
  5.  Add the beef and the sauce and stir to incorporate and heat everything. Eat and enjoy!

The rest of the summer squash’s were eaten or preserved as followed:

  • squash numbers 6-10 were used to make 9 pints of summer squash relish from a recipe in Put ’em Up!
  • numbers 11 & 12 became two loaves of zucchini bread, one which was shared with friends a recent Tie Dye Brunch Hangout we hosted and another which was frozen to be used on an upcoming road trip
  • numbers 15-20 were turned into a huge batch of “zapplesauce” (basically zucchini flavored like apples) half of which was baked into “zapplesauce muffins” which were eaten, frozen, or given to a family with a new baby, and half of which was frozen as  zapplesauce to be made into muffins at some future wintertime date.  Zapplesauce muffins recipe is courtesy of the cookbook Serving Up the Harvest.

And I just picked two more zucchini today!

Summer squash #3 – Beef garden skillet

After a week of visiting 2 farmers markets and harvesting some stuff from our tiny home garden, I had a fridge full of odds and ends that were coming to the end of their life, plus lots of other goodness to see us through the week.  So to clear out my third squash of the summer, I decided to use another favorite dish that can be made of whatever I’ve got bouncing around at that point of the summer, or fall, or winter!

I’m calling this one beef garden skillet and it follows the following loose format:

  • Brown 1 lb grass-fed beef with some kind of onion and some kind of garlic (this time I used some leftover red onion and some garlic scapes)
  • Add tomatoes plus any vegetables and fresh herbs (this time I used my last whole frozen tomato from last year, a zucchini, beet greens from one beet, a couple of kale leaves, some fresh basil)
  • Add rice or quinoa, plus water or bone broth (this time I cooked 1 cup rice and 1 cup of quinoa in a separate pot because Matt isn’t eating grains for the next few days, but usually, I cook it all together in the skillet)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Simmer until vegetables and/or rice are cooked.  Because I used kale, I added the juice of a lemon just to balance out the flavors.  This is one of those random dishes that it definitely better than the sum of its parts.  I could eat this every week of the summer and it would never be exactly the same. I am guilty of over-cooking the vegetables, mainly because my one-year-old only has a few front teeth and little kids like soft vegetables, so you might want to add veg later if you like yours a bit crisper.

To me, grass-fed beef makes all the difference and gives it a much richer flavor.  If something has been holding you back from sourcing your own grass-fed beef, start asking around because it probably costs less than you think, and tastes better than you imagine.

2nd zucchini harvested.  Delicious in my beef skillet.

2nd zucchini harvested. Delicious in my beef skillet.

 

Summer squash #2

Recent harvest from our garden.

Recent harvest from our garden.

For squash #2 of the summer, I chose another kid-friendly dish, although not as friendly as the dish chosen for squash #1.  I took the yellow squash pictured above, grated it, squeezed a bit of the water out of it, and then mixed it with 8 eggs, 3/4 tsp salt, 2 garlic cloves, and a bit of basil to make a frittata.  Matt is on a grain-free, dairy-free 10-day diet of sorts, so I wanted to make this o.k. for him, otherwise, I’d add some cheese and milk.  Leftover rice or pasta, cooked sliced potatoes, or any other cooked vegetable would also work.  Bake at 350 for 25-35 minutes, until knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

In the summer, I love frittatas, pizzas, and stir-frys, because they’ll work with any veggies you have hanging around, including zucchinis and summer squash.  So far, I only have 2 squash plants producing and I’ve already harvested 3 large squashes.  I’m excited to see what will happen when the rest start cranking them out.

Zucchini #1 of ?

And suddenly, it is July.  How did we get here so fast?  My smallish garden is beginning to yield a good amount of food for our family and fittingly, we harvested our very first zucchini of the season which we ate for dinner on July 1.

Zucchini is notorious for being such a prolific producer that farmers big and small must give zucchini away to willing or unwilling friends and neighbors.  I’ve been quoted as saying that my family can eat as much zucchini as the universe throws our way, so I thought it might be fun for me to document exactly how many summer squash, zucchini or otherwise, our family can eat this summer and how we do it.  Maybe it will help someone somewhere deal with their own zucchini backlog.

For our very first zucchini, I wanted something to get the kids excited.  My 3-year-old and 1-year-old worked together to pick the zucchini and carry it into the house, so the excitement was already high.  I didn’t want to kill it with something that seemed a little too vegetable-heavy for their childish tastes.  So to ease them into our hopefully bumper crop of zucchini, I started with a pancake recipe that was like breakfast pancakes, not savory pancakes.  Seasoned with cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla, and topped with some raw, grass-fed butter and local maple syrup, these pancakes were in high demand.  Next time, we’ll need to make a double batch.  Best thing is that these were so popular, the 3-year-old is excited to eat zucchini again and I know that he would love these for breakfast.  Sneaking zucchini in for breakfast . . . that’s what I call keeping up with your zucchini!

The recipe I followed is Zucchini Bread Pancakes from Smitten Kitchen, although I used a box grater because I hate to dirty my processor for one easy-to-grate zucchini.

Any favorite zucchini recipes you want to throw our way?