Saturday, August 22, 2009

sweet corn harvest - a mixed bag

Sometimes you think everyone knows what you know, y'know?
When I said something to a friend about hand pollinating my sweet corn, she was surprised.
I explained that, unless you had a block of sweet corn (not just one or two long rows),
the corn kernels might not all get pollinated, and you would have a spotty ear of corn.
Definitely NOT good eating.You can see there are some pollination issues with the top ear of corn,
but the bottom ear definitely missed some pollination.
Each kernel of corn has a silk attached to it, and needs to be pollinated,
or it won't develop.
The pollen comes from the tassels at the top of the corn stalk.
According to the University of Florida's extension article about hand-pollinating garden vegetable crops:
"Two methods of pollen transfer may be used with corn.
Cut an entire tassel, and use it as a wand, shaking pollen grains (dust) onto the silks. Alternatively, strip the tassel and deposit the pollen from the anthers directly onto the silks. Either way, the pollen is transferred.
Be thorough when dusting the pollen onto the silks,
so chances for a bountiful harvest are increased."

I usually collect pollen by running my hand up the tassels, then sprinkle it on the silks protruding from the corn that is developing.

Here is some of the sweet corn that did get fully pollinated.
And it was delicious, too!

A few other sweet corn growing tips:

Corn needs lots of nitrogen, so don't skimp on fertilizing. Don’t plant your seeds too close together, and hand pollinate.
Corn plants tend to have shallow roots, so putting some soil at the base for support can help .
Use the stalks afterwards for fall/Halloween decorations!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day for August 2009

Mid month already, and time for that record keeping bonanza,
Garden Blogger's Bloom Day!
I didn't post in August 2008, but my 2007 post shows virtually
the same flowers blooming then as now.
Thanks as always to Carol of May Dreams Gardens
for hosting Bloom Day.
Be sure to check out the contributions from all over at her blog today.
As part of cataloging what is in every bed in the yard, I photgraphed the roses in the rose bed, and this one is my fave. Don't know the name, just never get tired of that delicious honey-tangerine color.

As usual, I've been too kind to the volunteers in the veggie garden, and have too many hollyhocks and sunflowers. This deep pink/almost burgundy hollyhock is another fave for me.

Balloon flowers are struggling along, the only thing blooming in the spring bed.

This is a 'weed' tree in Utah, the Tamarisk. I was advised to get rid of it before it took over,
but I had already lived with it for several years, and it behaves itself nicely where it is planted. Tamarisk trees take over river banks here, and so are not well thought of. I do enjoy the fluffy foliage and flowers.

Asters are blooming, and

the burgundy scabiosa, which I planted near the asters. Still trying to decide if the colors are complementary or clashing.


Irish eyes

Red valerian,

a few daylilies,

the mock orange is just starting to bloom, we chopped it way back in the spring.

The speedwell is still straggling along.

My first year for cannas, and I love the peachy rich color!

Disco belles are chugging along -

and finally, a lovely pink larkspur.
I'll plant more of these, they are easy to grow, and elegant.
Happy Bloom Day!

Friday, August 07, 2009

A zucchini cake that is NOT chocolate

This is the last of my Zucchini Week recipes.
My daughter recommended this recipe from the inimitable Pioneer Woman's blog.
I was going to make it, so I could share a picture and some firsthand testimonials, but I am tired, so all you get today is a recipe.
However, it looks delish! Let me know if you try it out before I do.
(lame! I know! but I gotta run, Women's Weekend is this weekend)
1 cup All-purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (can Use All White Flour If You Don't Have This)
1-¼ cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 Cup Sweetened Flaked Coconut
2 teaspoons Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Salt
2 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
Freshly Grated Nutmeg, To Taste (1/4 To 1/2 Tsp?), Optional
1 Pinch Ginger (about 1/16 Tsp Or So), Optional
3 Tablespoons Canola Oil
2 whole Large Eggs
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
2 Cups Grated (unpeeled) Zucchini (*see Note)
1 (20 Oz.) Can Crushed Pineapple In Juice, Drained (reserve In Case You Need It For The Cake Batter Or The Frosting)

2 Tablespoons Butter, Softened
8 Ounces Low-fat Cream Cheese, Softened (can Use Full-fat Cream Cheese)
2 Cups Powdered Sugar, Approx.
2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
Splash Of Milk Or Pineapple Juice, If Necessary
Chopped Walnuts Or Pecans (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°.
To prepare cake, lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, coconut, baking soda, salt, and spices in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk.
Combine oil, eggs, and vanilla; stir well. Stir egg mixture, grated zucchini, and pineapple into flour mixture. Batter will be stiff and dry but keep folding it and it will all come together. If it still seems too dry, just add a little splash of the pineapple juice.
Spoon batter into a 13 x 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for about 33-35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs and cake is pulling away from sides of pan. Cool completely on a wire rack.
To prepare frosting, combine butter and cream cheese in a large bowl. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Beat in powdered sugar and vanilla just until smooth. Add a splash of milk or pineapple juice if necessary. Spread frosting over top of cake. You can garnish with chopped pecans or walnuts, if desired.
NOTES : If your zucchini are huge, scrape the seeds out of the center before you shred it so it’s not too watery. Also, I spread it all out on layers of paper towel to drain it and dry it off a bit. Then I measure out 2 cups. Not sure if this is critical though. Nuts can also be added to the cake batter if desired. This recipe makes a very generous amount of frosting.
And this recipe can be turned into a Carrot Cake just by substituting shredded carrots for the zucchini.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

'Mooommm... why are my hash browns green?'

So, as 'Zucchini Week' continues, it occurred to me that as a rather bland-flavored veggie,
I could add it to potatoes and make hash browns.
I grated the zucchini and stirred it together with my grated potatoes, and, voila!
How did it taste? My assistant here at ZRI (Zucchini Research Institute), says it tasted 'kinda gross.' I found it to be merely tolerable, myself.
However, I am excited about the possibility of St. Patrick's day hash browns,
which would be a lovely visual accompaniment to the traditional green orange juice.

I've spent some time looking around in the blogosphere for zucchini recipes and ideas, and this has to be the funniest idea I've come across-

I have an unusual use for excess zucchini and it requires no preparation, no cooking, and there is never a leftover.
I live on a narrow country road that should be quiet,
but since a recent influx of newcomers who have turned corn fields into acres of grass with ill-conceived houses plunked in the center,
my quiet road has become a race track. Oversize zucchini make ideal speed bumps!
Simply place a few in the road.
Cars roar over the
hill crest, encounter the unexpected greenery in the roadway and instantly hit the brakes.
True, they are only good for a few hits, but as fast as zucchini grow, this isn’t a problem, is it?

Now, don't try this at home!
But thanks for the chuckles, Karen, who commented on the Urban Garden Casual blog.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Zucchini is better than Eggplant, y'know

This recipe is a variation of the Moosewood Cookbook's Ratatouille recipe.
I know, I know, eggplant is THE ingredient in Ratatouille,
but I don't care for it, and decided a long time ago that when I make Ratatouille,
I would throw tradition to the winds and just leave it out.
Gourmet I'm not, and we are not even going to talk about that cute Ratatouille movie.
I love this flavorful stew with some grated parmesan cheese and brown rice:
Ratatouille sans Eggplant

1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium bell peppers, chopped
2 small or medium zucchini, cubed
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2-4 tomatoes, crushed
1 t each basil and marjoram
1 t oregano
Dash of ground rosemary
½ c. tomato juice
(2 T. tomato paste)
2 t. salt, approx
black pepper to taste
¼ c olive oil
freshly –chopped parsley

grated cheese / rice/ black olives

Heat olive oil in large pot. Crush the garlic; add garlic and onion to pot. Sauté just until onion begins to turn transparent. Stir in tomato juice and herbs, then cover and simmer on low for about 10-15 minutes. Add zucchini and peppers, cover and simmer about 5 minutes, then add salt and pepper, tomatoes (and tomato paste if you think it will be too thin), and stir together. Cook briefly until all vegetables are tender, but not limp!
Just before serving, mix in fresh parsley.

Serve over a bed of rice, or in a bowl with French bread.
Top with grated cheese and chopped black olives.
Let me credit Robin Wedewer, who wrote this article last year for the Los Angeles Examiner.
My fave is you may have too much zucchini if "you have a zucchini bread for breakfast, a zucchini omelet for lunch, zucchini casserole for dinner and chocolate zucchini cake for dessert."
In today's Relish, a food insert in my local newspaper, there was another article and recipes about zucchini. One thing did crack me up, though - the recommendation that a family of four should plant ' four to six plants for a family of four.'
Yea, that's the kind of advice that ends up with people plotting to stuff giant
green vegetables in people's cars , and on their doorsteps!
Don't forget, Saturday is National Leave a Zucchini on your Neighbor's Porch day, so bag up those zucchinis, print out a recipe or two,
and figure out which neighbor you are going to 'Zucchini Ditch'

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Zucchini days continue

They keep coming, and now they've brought a cousin along !

My DH likes the yellow summer squashes much better than the traditional green zucchini, but I don't notice much difference, myself.
There is an old joke comparing zucchini to the manna the Israelites relied on, but came to despise for its blandness. I've googled, but can't find who originated that particular joke.
Zucchini certainly could've been manna, really. It multiplies rapidly, is bland in taste, and people do get tired of it.
I found one reference, along with a joke about locking your car doors in the church parking lot, at Feminist Mormon Housewives.
There is a tasty looking recipe in comments called 'Parmy Zuke Strips' that definitely looks worth making.
At any rate, here is today's recipe - a long time fave of mine. When I first got this 'recipe', I made it so many times that my DH said, 'please, no more!' I don't hear that from him much, really.
Summer Zucchini and Tomatoes with Cheese
(this one is not written down, but I think most everyone has made this at some time or another)
zucchini, sliced in abt 1/8-1/4" circles
tomatoes, sliced
garlic, diced
salt and pepper to taste
bread crumbs
mozzarella cheese, grated or parmesan cheese
In a skillet, saute zucchini in butter, briefly.
Add tomatoes and onions; let them cook a bit to cook off some of the tomato juice.
Add garlic and cook to soften garlic.
Sprinkle crushed oregano and thyme over the top, add salt and pepper.
Put bread crumbs on top, then
sprinkle cheese over the top. Cover briefly to let cheese melt, then serve.
Let me know in comments if you know the origin of that zucchini/manna joke, and I'm always looking for a few good zucchini recipes!

Monday, August 03, 2009

Zucchini mania continues....join with others to spread the joy (and zucchini) is a place I've just found,
and there are a few folks over there who are banding together to promote zucchini.
who want to educate everyone about the happiness that can result from
sharing zucchini with others.
Their objective:
Teach people there is no such thing as too much zucchini !
Today's recipe is just a homey casserole.
Impossible Zucchini Pie

Remember those old ‘Bisquick’ impossible pies that you just stirred together?

– well, this is another one.

2 c. grated zucchini (or you could grate other summer squash, in, too, for more color)
¼ c. chopped onion
a few slices of tomatoes, if you like

1 c. shredded cheddar cheese (or swiss would be nice, too)
1 ½ c. milk
¾ c. Bisquick
3 large eggs
1 t. salt
1/3 t. pepper
1-2 T. whole wheat flour (just to make it seem more nutritious)
½ c chopped ham, if desired

Heat oven to 400°. Lightly grease deep dish pie plate, or an 8x8 square pan works, too.
Place tomato slices on the bottom of your pan, if you are using them.
Combine milk, Bisquick, eggs, salt, pepper and flour in a blender for about a minute, or until smooth. Pour into bowl, and add zucchini, onion and cheese and ham.
Pour mixture into baking dish. Bake 25 to 40 minutes or until golden brown and knife comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Serves 6

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Zucchini week continues... Angel hair pasta w/ pesto, zucchini and chicken

Hey, back for more?
Glutton for (zucchini) punishment?
Or maybe just looking for a zucchini - loving glutton???

I can't help you with that, but here is another delish zucchini recipe:
Angel hair w/ pesto, zucchini and chicken
Chicken breast in bite size pieces
Julienned zucchini
Garlic, chopped
Angel hair pasta
Fresh basil, lightly chopped
Pkg pesto mix
Parmesan cheese if desired
Mix the pesto mix with a little oil and water.
Marinate chicken in some of the pesto mixture.
Drain pesto marinade from chicken, (discard marinade)
then cook chicken in small amount of oil until lightly browned.
Remove from skillet, then add more oil and cook garlic and zucchini briefly.
Meanwhile, cook angel hair pasta (hey, they have whole wheat angel hair pasta! Who knew?)
Add remaining pesto mixture to skillet,
along with cooked chicken and fresh basil.
Drain cooked pasta, and serve chicken/ zucchini over angel hair.

Voila! pretty tasty, I'll say!

Oh, and Rachael Ray has a very similar recipe -Zucchini Fettucine.

Remember to let me know in comments if you have a zucchini recipe to share!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

ZUCCHINI - week begins and Garden Blogger's Muse Day

Just a heads up, National Leave a Zucchini on your Neighbor's Porch day is coming!
Mark next Saturday, August 8th, and be sure to celebrate,
especially if you, like me, are being inundated by your zucchini plants.
Just to 'sweeten the pot' so to speak .. or maybe just so your neighbors won't hate you,
I'll be posting a new , tasty zucchini-using recipe every day.
You could make a copy and tie it to the zucchini-bats you so generously share with your neighbors. :)
As it is also August 1st, I even found a poem that rhapsodizes about the unique properties of zucchini:

It was an an itsy-bitsy,

teeny-weenysilver striped green zucchini.

While we slumbered, what went wrong?

Overnight it's two feet long!

from, which has quite a few poems about zucchini.

I am hoping that you will be inspired to share your own zucchini recipes. Let me know in the comments!!!!

Here's my first recipe, and it is a winner - everybody has a recipe for chocolate/zucchini cake-brownies, etc. I've tried a lot of them over the years, and this one is THE best.

Self – Frosting Chocolate Zucchini Cake

½ c. margarine
½ c. oil
1 ¾ c sugar (1 ½)
2 eggs
2 c finely grated zucchini
1 t soda
2 ½ c flour
1 t vanilla
1/2 c sour cream or buttermilk
4-6 T cocoa
½ t cinnamon (optional)
1 t salt
1 t b powder

Mix oil, margarine and sugar. Add eggs.
Sift the dry ingredients together, including the cocoa. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the milk to sugar mixture.
Add the remaining ingredients except zucchini blend well.
Stir in the zucchini by hand and pour the batter into a greased 9x13 pan

Mix the following and crumble on top of the cake:

¾ c chocolate chips
¾ c chopped nuts
¾ c brown sugar

Bake @ 350º for 35-45 minutes or until done. Serves 12

(Omit cinnamon to bring out better chocolate taste)

This is a great recipe, folks! Help me out this week, and let me know about your tastiest zucchini recipes.

A new recipe tomorrow. Yum, yum, yum.