Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Zucchini - Overgrown Ones to Be Exact

“Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie.”

Seriously.  How can you go out to pick zucchini one day and not 8 days later you have 8, foot long zucchini starving the life right out of your plants?  I know, 8 days is the problem here not the zucchini.  But can I just say seriously again???

So what do you do with them?  It happens to every gardener.  They are very good at hiding.  The first thing to remember is they can be used.  You will have to cut them in half and scoop out the seeds first.  The chickens will love these!  Then grate them in a food processor.  Let them drain a good 10 minutes in a drainer, pack them in freezer bags by 2 cups.  Lay them flat and press out all the air and stick them in your freezer.  You can use this to make zucchini bread and I won't bore you with another zucchini bread recipe but I will share a zucchini cornbread recipe.
Sweet Zucchini Cornbread
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cup cornmeal
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 t salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cup buttermilk
3 eggs
4 tbsp molasses
6 tbsp butter, melted
2 cups shredded zucchini, with extra moisture squeezed out
Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly grease a big cast iron skillet.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt and brown sugar.
In a medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, egg, egg white, molasses and melted butter until smooth.
Pour buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture. Stir until just combined, add the zucchini and stir to evenly distribute. Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a tester comes out clean and the bread springs back when lightly pressed.
Allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove the bread to a wire rack.
Makes 9 pieces.

Savory Zucchini Cornbread
1 1/2 cups zucchini, coarsely chopped
1 cup milk
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 eggs
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 1/4 cups cornmeal
1 cup whole wheat flour or 1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon dried dill
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, shredded

1 Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Well grease a 10-inch cast-iron skillet, and place it into the oven while it preheats. (can use a 9x9 Pyrex pan but cast iron works better).

2 Place the zucchini, milk, onion, eggs, and melted butter into a blender, and blend until thoroughly mixed and the zucchini and onion have been chopped into very small pieces.

3 Mix together the cornmeal, flour, dill, baking powder, salt, pepper and cheddar cheese in a large bowl. Pour the zucchini mixture into the cornmeal mixture, stirring to combine.

4 Carefully pour the batter into the hot greased skillet, smooth it out with a spoon, and bake until the cornbread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30 - 40 minutes.

*Notice the smaller perfect sized zucchini compared to the one that is 2 feet long! 

Estrogen Dominance


Strictly speaking, it's possible that we are all -- men, women and children -- suffering a little from estrogen dominance, because there is so much of it in our environment. You would have to virtually live in a bubble to escape the excess estrogens we're exposed to through pesticides, plastics, industrial waste products, car exhaust, meat, soaps and much of the carpeting, furniture and paneling that we live with indoors every day. You may have on-and-off sinus problems, headaches, dry eyes, asthma or cold hands and feet for example, and not know to attribute them to your exposure to xenohormones. Over time the exposure will cause more chronic problems such as arthritis and premenopause symptoms, and may be a direct or indirect cause of cancer.

This is part of an article regarding the effects of estrogen dominance in our bodies. What has this got to do with homemade soap? Well after some research and going through premenopause myself I have read that lavender and tea tree oil both mimic estrogen. So while I will still make lavender and tea tree soaps just know even good things can be over done. Don't just take my word for it, educate yourself.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Freezer Cooking

What comes to mind when you think freezer cooking?

Well if you were a child of the 70's you may think, "not another casserole!" Casseroles then fell out of fashion in the 1980's and 1990's. They are making a come back for many reasons. Mom's are out working more, homeschooling is becoming more mainstream, an increase in health awareness and I think a return to homesteading are all reasons why.

Several friends and I thought it would be a good idea to start small. Meaning not doing Once a Month Cooking in one day but to prepare 8 meals each in a day. We all just happen to be homeschooling moms who go to the same co-op so we know co-op days are full. Add in music lessons and the library and you could have drive through every co-op day. Instead we plan to cook every Monday until school starts so we will be able to pop a meal in the oven fresh from the freezer.

Yes I mean fresh. Only top ingredients here. I didn't want just a freezer meal void of all nutrition. I wanted healthy food. So I made a list of possible recipes and went from there. The first week we made stuffed cabbage and meat loaf. We used the recipe from The Maker's Diet that is full of whole ingredients. Stuffed cabbage was full of pastured beef and brown rice. We use whole food, organic ingredients.

Today we made Shepherd's Pie with pastured beef, organic carrots, mushrooms, onions, garlic, peas, organic potatoes, rice milk and good old butter. We also made meatballs full of organic spinach, Parmesan cheese, pastured eggs, pastured beef and pork and freshly made bread crumbs. We started at 9:00a.m. and were all cleaned up by 3:00. We ended up making 38 meals! Had 15 kids running around and grilled hot dogs.

Next week? Apple Betty's because who doesn't love dessert on a cool Autumn night? Breakfast and lunch burritos for those days we are running out the door or to pack in dad's lunch box.

I encourage you to get some friends together and start to plan your freezer cooking days. When you do please let me know how it goes and don't forget to share a recipe or two.

Raising Mighty Arrows

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Another Use For Cucumbers

With 90 degree days upon us we always need to stay hydrated.  A tall glass of homemade lemonade is always quenching as is iced tea.  Hot days and gardens also bring cucumbers.  When planting that garden who can resist planting all those cucumber seeds that come in the seed packets?  You have dreamed about this garden all winter and when you get those seeds in your hands and the dirt is before you.  You just plant until your little heart is content.  Then...the cucumbers invade like an episode from the Twilight Zone.

Here is a simple yet enjoyable way to use a few extra cucumbers.  Fill up a quart canning jar with fresh water and add a few slices of cucumber and a couple leaves of basil.  You can sip on it all day long and the longer it sits the stronger it tastes.

You can also do this with fruit.  Raspberries and a lemon, blueberries and strawberries, peach and mint. 

What combinations sound good to you?

Raising Mighty Arrows