Tag Archives: zucchini

A Fun Garden to Table Kitchen Gadget-A Countertop Spiralizer

zucchini spiralizer

I’m almost embarrassed to admit I bought a Paderno World Cuisine Spiralizer Pro last winter and then promptly let it sit in its box until this week.  As much as I thought it looked so cool to use, it just sat there taunting me because it also looked so complicated.  I couldn’t have been more wrong!!

I was finally prompted to get it out of the box when I began to be overwhelmed by a very large zucchini harvest and was getting tired of zucchini au gratin.  (Can’t spiralize the “baseball bats“, so those will be shredded for zucchini bread).

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I was truly surprised as to how easy this was to use.

Paderno World Cuisine Spiralizer Pro

Just take out the very neatly and conveniently stored parts, pick your blade (I used the “fine shredder” blade) and prepare the zucchini.

Preparation is pretty simple.  Peel if you’d like, but it’s not necessary, and cut off the ends to make 2 flat surfaces.

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Push onto the pronged wheel and line up on the circular coring blade.  Then start turning with the hand crank.

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Out comes beautifully spiraled zucchini “noodles”!

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Start to finish was less than 5 minutes.  What have I been waiting for?

zucchini spiralizer

This was so fun I decided to add spiralized beets to the sauté.  With beets, you want to use gloves to keep from staining your hands.  Just cut off the ends, peel and it’s ready. Be sure to clean your spiralizer immediately to keep from staining it.

spiralizer

beet spiralizer

Because the beets are so hard, I think I need a little more practice to get perfect spirals.  But even these less than perfect, spiralized beets were just fine.

There’s lots of spiralizer recipes on the web and I also recommend Inspiralized, The Spiralizer Cookbook, and The Spiralizer Cookbook 2.0 if you like “real” cookbooks like I do.

Tonight’s sauté was simple, yet tasty and low-sodium for those looking to lower your sodium intake. I heated olive oil over medium high heat, added the beets to just barely soften them.  About 3-5 minutes stirring frequently.  Add the zucchini for about 3-5 minutes more.  Finish with balsamic vinegar.  I used Lucero’s Winter Spice Balsamic Vinegar, but there’s lot of flavored EVOO and balsamic vinegar combos to try.

spiralized zucchini beet saute

I also have a bounty of cucumbers this year so we also had a yummy cucumber salad.

cucumber spiralizer

Have you ever spiralized your vegetables?  What’s your favorite?

 

Final Harvest

It’s getting to be that time of year when the vegetable garden is waning.  I’ve pulled some things already (beans, roma tomatoes, sunflowers, summer squash, cucumbers), but others are still producing.  We’ve been lucky to not have had a hard freeze yet.  So even though I thought I had picked my last harvest last week before a potential overnight frost, I still have a few things still growing.

Here’s some photos of what’s still growing, and my final (??) harvest.

Sweet Red Peppers

Sweet red pepper

Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard

Kale

Kale

Early Girl Tomatoes

Early Girl

Green Peppers

Stephi Gardens

Zucchini

Stephi Gardens

Sweet 100’s Tomatoes

Sweet 100's

Some very tiny carrots

carrot

This weekend’s harvest-what a treat to still be having garden fresh vegetables in late October.

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Stephi Gardens

I forgot I planted beets, and when I was pulling out the “swiss chard”, out came these beets instead.  What a funny surprise.  I really need to mark my plants better!

Are you still getting vegetables from your garden?

Powdery Mildew Attack

With the damp spring and summer we had, some powdery mildew was almost inevitable.  Question was, where was it going to hit?  The vegetables like squash, cucumbers, zucchini, or tomatoes, or the flowers like zinnias, sunflowers, or phlox?  Almost every plant is susceptible to this common set of fungi.   On most plants, it looks like a thin layer of dust, on others like tomatoes , it can cause yellow splotches on leaves.  No matter what it looks like, if bad enough of an infection it can kill the plant.

The best way to deal with powdery mildew is by prevention.  Use mildew resistant varieties, don’t overcrowd plants, and be sure there is enough air circulation.  If your plants do get infected, remove the infected plant parts, thin out the plants to improve air circulation, don’t water plants from above and try treating with a chemical fungicide or an organic method like neem oil,  or what I tried, a milk and baking soda solution.

This year it was my summer squash and zucchini  that became infected with powdery mildew.  I may have overcrowded my plants a little bit, well maybe more than a little bit, so I was almost inviting the mildew into my garden.  By the time I started to deal with the issue, I had a full blown powdery mildew infection.

summer squash

 

summer squash

Since the powdery mildew was in my vegetable garden, I especially didn’t want to use a non-organic way to treat it. First I got rid of as many of the badly infected leaves.  As I did this, I found that the leaves were truly covered in a thick layer of dust that flew everywhere as soon as I handled the leaves.  Yuck.

Once that was done, I needed to spray with some kind of fungicide.  Other than chemical means,  there doesn’t seem to be a lot of evidence that anything else really works well.   After a lot of research, I settled on spraying with a milk and baking soda solution.

Powdery Mildew treatment

I used:

2 cups water
1 cup milk (I used 2% but anything would be fine; it’s the milk protein, not milk fat that is the active ingredient)
3 Tbsp baking soda
squirt of Dawn dish detergent

Stir and put in some kind of spray bottle.
Spray on all infected and uninfected leaves every 10-14 days.

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After 2 weeks, many of the leaves were looking much better.

squash

 

squash

Unfortunately, the plants that were severely damaged ended up dying.  But, the ones I was able to rescue seemed healthy and have continued to put out squash and zucchini.

Next year, I need to be sure to get on top of this earlier.  Isn’t that true for many garden  issues?  I had success with the milk and baking soda solution on the less infected plants and will use it again next year if the powdery mildew comes back.   Many of the plants that failed were severely affected by the time I even started trying to do anything.   Again, early intervention is the key!

Did you have any powdery mildew issues this year?  How do you treat it?

After Vacation

Stephi Gardens

After a wonderful beach vacation and some college tours, we’re finally back home. As expected, the weather has been crazy while we were gone. The temperatures were just about average, but rainfall was almost double the normal amount. Included in this total was a single storm that dumped almost 2 inches of rain in under 2 hours and knocked out our power for almost 15 hours. Nothing like being on vacation and getting the call that the basement is flooded. Thank goodness for friends who went above and beyond to help.

So how did the garden fare? Quite well actually. With the fairly constant rain and average temperatures (and in some cases even a bit below average), I came home to a bit of a jungle. The last few years, by July we’ve been struggling with hot/dry conditions and the plants begin struggling. Not this year! I think I’ve had the sprinklers on once and that was just to test the system. Here’s some after vacation shots…

Many of the flowers are in full bloom and flourishing with the moderate temperatures and plenty of rain.  Although, I did miss most of the asiatic lily’s blooms.  They are mostly finished for the season.

zinnia

Notice how beautiful the creeping thyme looks (Problems with Creeping Thyme).  Still waiting for the hummingbirds to find my flowers and feeder.

Stephi Gardens

The Purple Rooster Bee Balm is still blooming and attracting bees.   But now the accompanying Jackmanii Clematis and Pardon Me daylilies are also blooming.

Stephi Gardens

 

Stephi Gardens

 

daylilies and Russian sage

With all the rain , this garden is doing well despite the change from full shade to full sun.

annabelle hydrangea

The sunflowers have become gigantic!  Before we left they were probably only about 4 ft tall (see Before Vacation), now they are easily 7 ft-8 ft and attracting lots of bees.

sunflowers

The vegetable gardens are flourishing, but need some attention to prune back some of the wildness.

Stephi Gardens

 

Stephi Gardens

I have a nice bunch of bush beans to harvest.

bush beans

The lettuce is still hanging in there. My idea to plant them in the partly shady corner of the garden has paid off.

lettuce

First time for cabbage and they’re looking great.

cabbage

Cucumbers were slow to get going, but I’ll have plenty soon enough.

cucumber

Zucchini and summer squash are plentiful.  Hoping to get some small tender ones harvested before they turn into baseball bats (see Giant Zucchini).  Somehow I’ve lost the garden markers labelling the squash varieties, so it’s a bit of a mystery what all the different squashes are.

zucchini

So, overall, I’d say everything fared pretty well this year (definitely better than the basement).   Looking forward to the continued blooms and vegetable harvests!

Me and my giant sunflowers!

sunflowers

May Vegetable Garden

I’ve been so busy in the garden, I haven’t had much time to write about it.  Hopefully I can catch up in the next few days.  Everything is in that wonderful, lush spring phase.  Well, almost everything, but more on that another day.

garden vegetables

My raised vegetable beds are looking great.  I got my first harvest yesterday and we enjoyed a fresh vegetable side dish and a few small treats.   Most of the early seeds I planted in the side raised bed didn’t come up, but the spinach and a few stragglers survived the harsh spring.

garden spinach

garden spinach

In that bed, while the few early things are finishing up, I’ve planted tomatoes, onion starts, sugar snap peas, lots of squash, zucchini and cucumbers.  All the “messy” garden characters are nicely hidden on the side of the house with plenty of space to grow. All seem to be getting started nicely.

Raised bed garden

The new beds are also flourishing with vegetables, herbs and even some flowers.

Raised bed garden

The “left” garden has swiss chard, kale, spinach, lettuce, bush beans, cabbage, green peppers, sunflowers and nasturtiums in it.  I expect it’ll get a little more shade as the summer goes on, so maybe the cool weather plants will have a bit of an extended life.

Raised bed garden

The “right” garden is chock full of more lettuce, radishes, cabbage, green peppers, bush beans, basil, sunflowers and zinnias.  In front are marigolds, potted herbs and snapdragons to give the beds some color.   I like my herbs in pots to keep them tidy and in place.  On the side of the house I have more herbs, including mint.  Mint should always be in some type of corralled container to prevent it from taking over.

Raised bed garden

 

Leafy greens

So far, no complaints on the appearance of the gardens.  I’m really trying hard to not let it get unruly.  Hopefully the flowers add a burst of color.  To further help that, in the background of the gardens I’ve added cosmos and daylilys.  This project may turn out to be even nicer than we expected.

garden strawberry

Even the strawberry pot is looking great. Nothing like fresh from the vine fruit to remind you of what fruit is supposed to taste like.

The Garden in Fall: The Good

It’s the beginning of October and the days are getting shorter, the nights growing colder. These are the last gasps for the garden before it settles into the winter hibernation. In some ways, fall gardens can be very pretty. I’m always surprised at the plants that continue to bloom well in to fall, some even looking their best. And of course, there are the things that take all summer to finally show their colors. Here’s some of the plants and areas of my garden that make me smile.

Marigolds

One of my favorite flowers is the marigold. I love the smell (although I might be the only one) and the colors. They always seems to just come alive in the fall and it has always had a place of prominence in my garden. I’m also reminded of a trip to Taos, NM, where I saw the prettiest marigold chains.  One year when an early frost was going to wipe out the flowers prematurely, I made one myself that hung beautifully in the kitchen.

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(There were also  lots of bundles of hot peppers that just looked pretty hanging there)

 

There’s lots of color in the garden...

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And interest…

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And vegetables are still coming, as long as we don’t have a frost!

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Whoops-Giant Zucchini

I go on vacation for a week, then got busy and forgot to check the status of the vegetable garden.  Not a good idea this time of the year.  I have HUGE zucchinis and summer squash.  They are the size of kiddie baseball bats and each weigh about 4 lbs.  This is not good!

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When squash get this big, they get tough and develop very big seeds. I’ve tried to cook them before and they just don’t work well for summer recipes. Especially the summer squash. Letting them get this big also saps the plant from any desire to make new squash since it’s real purpose is to produce seeds. And those big ones are just full of them, making the plant content to just continue make them even bigger.

So what to do?????

After some exploring on the web, I decided all was not lost. Looks like my best bets are zucchini bread and freezing for soups and winter dishes. So, my kitchen has been a flurry of baking and cutting trying to use these monsters up. I’ve never made zucchini bread, so again explored the web and came up with what I hoped was two delicious sounding recipes from Fine Cooking and Real Simple. First, I made Chocolate-Nut Zucchini bread from Fine Cooking with a couple of changes. First, I decided that 3/4 lbs of zucchini was about 3 cups shredded, I used whole chocolate chips instead of the bittersweet chocolate and vanilla yogurt instead of plain because that’s what I had on hand, and I then I just simply forgot to put the nuts in.

Because of the very big seeds and pithy center, I cut the zucchini in half and scooped out the center with a spoon before I grated it.  The skin didn’t seem too tough, so I left that on. If you can’t scratch it with your fingernail, it was suggested that it should be peeled then.

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This recipe got thumbs up from the family, so I will be making another loaf (or 2) for freezing.

Next, I made Zucchini Spice Bread from Real Simple.   I like the method of getting some of the water wrung out of the grated zucchini from the previous days’ recipe so I did that again here.  Briefly, put the grated zucchini into a colander, sprinkle with 1-2 Tbsp sugar to draw out some of the liquid, let sit for 15-20 minutes.  Then hand squeeze the water out before putting into the bread batter.  The only change I made to this recipe was that I added 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts.

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Again, thumbs up!  Two good recipes.  If you have another you like, I have plenty more zucchini to make into bread.

Lastly, I cut up another zucchini for freezing.

  • I again scooped out the pithy, seedy center, then it cut into about 1 inch chunks.
  • I then blanched them in boiling water for about 3-4 minutes, followed by plunging them into an ice bath to stop the cooking process.  I just want to blanche the chunks, not cook.
  • Then drained in a colander for a few minutes and packed them in 2 cup portions in freezer bags.

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Ready for use this winter in some kind of soup or stews. Does anyone have any favorites?  Hopefully now I will be able to pick some nice tender ones to use in my favorite summer side dish and salad recipes.

By the way, I did toss the one giant summer squash.  It was just not salvageable.  That’s where a composter would come in handy.

Zucchini and Squash Mid-summer

My zucchini and squash plants are growing like gangbusters!  I was a little worried when I transplanted them as seedlings,  because they had grown into tangled messes in the growing pots.  I was as gentle as I could be, but a couple almost broke in half because the stems were so fragile.  I ended up planting all of them, despite what they looked like, just hoping they’d grow.   The ones that seemed barely connected by threads of stems, I laid carefully in the dirt and covered up the damaged spots.  Luckily, the weather cooperated and the little plants were actually able to become established.  Never toss a plant that you think is too far gone to plant, nature has a way of making these things survive

I have them in the garden growing in front of, and on the Cucumber trellises that I got from Gardeners Supply Company.   These were great purchases for me since I could lean them against the house and expand my garden space.  Squash and zucchini plants aren’t really climbers, but they will prop themselves up a little bit and save some space by spreading up, rather than just out.

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I  have already harvested 1 summer squash and see at least 2 little zucchinis growing.  Lots of flowers still blooming meaning lots more vegetables to come. Something I’ve learned is that it’s important when reaching around in the plant to be gentle, the new little squashes can be knocked off easily and some of the plants dislodged entirely.  Also, don’t wait too long to harvest the summer squashes especially, they can get very seedy and tough.  Best to pick early and they will be far more tender.

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