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.

 

One man’s trash is…..My treasure.

I truly live by this mantra. There are so many areas around our home that I used repurposed or upcycled materials. I don’t only do it for the awesome monetary benefits but also because when your done, it can look rad and your saving a little space in the landfill. Here are a few things I’ve upcycled:

 

There are more cabinets not pictured.

There are more cabinets not pictured.

1. When remodeling our home years back I put an addition on the original 2 bedroom house. This created a 3rd bedroom and new bathroom upstairs and a new kitchen and half-bath downstairs. At the time of the remodel I was single and on a major budget because I was paying for this house, an apartment and renovation costs at the same time. Ouch. Anyway, the “new” kitchen I installed was actually one that a friend removed from his house. Maple cabinets in good condition all for $250 and I didn’t even use them all. Include the counter top and kitchen sink and I had a kitchen for under $1k. Unheard of. Oh, one other thing, the wall paint is Benjamin Moore and was free. How do you ask? Well, I went to the paint store and asked if they had any mis-mixed paints and sure enough they did and still do. Your saving them disposal fees by taking them off their hands so lots of times they are happy to give it to you.

tcl_stairway_01

2. The interior of the house was covered in paneling, over paneling, over plaster. Sheesh. I did my best to remove as many layers as possible but when it came to the stairway I was just sick and tired of plaster dust. This area was left go for some time but finally I came upon some materials that would work great and offer some visual appeal to the house. Cedar clapboard siding is what I landed on for the walls, which is intended to be use on the exterior. Why not use it inside? Anyway, I paid nothing for the siding. The only cost I had in finishing the stairway was fasteners for the installation and paint.

tcl_activity_center

3. When it came time for my oldest son to move into a “big boy” bedroom and out of the nursery we needed to spice things up a bit. Of course, we wanted to do this on little or no money and we achieved our goal. What you see in the picture is an activity area in Porter’s bedroom. A place for him to stand and color, play with toys or climb up on (which seems to be the most fun). The countertop is made from a salvaged piece of Georgie Pacific Rim Joist which is used in the construction of a sub-floor in new home construction. It was sanded and stained using some stain found in my Dad’s woodshop. The magnet boards on the wall are made from 3 – 100 amp electrical panels that were found in a warehouse and repainted with a can of spray paint which was given to me. Another pocket pleasing $0 total for this project.

Are you upcycling? Are you repurposing materials around your house? You should be. If you think you can’t do it, try this, stop looking at things only for what they were intended or made for. Start looking at materials and objects as universal problem solvers and you too will begin to find new uses for everyday objects and materials.