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WRAL SmartShopper

Thursday thoughts: The harvest has begun!

Posted July 1, 2010

Today we are talking veggies including a garden update and recipes using all that delicious produce we are growing. If you aren’t growing a garden, there are plenty of fabulous deals at the farmer’s market, roadside veggie stands and even at the grocery stores.

Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes: As you can see from the pictures, the tomato plants are taller than their cages and have tons of green ‘maters on them. Even the tomato plant in a container on the back porch has grown taller than the large tomato cage my husband built. It is filled with green romas that should begin to ripen in the next week. We have started picking the first Better Boy tomatoes but the real harvest is coming in about 2 weeks when the plants should be filled with ripe produce including yellow tomatoes, romas and sweet cherry tomatoes. I always plant more tomato plants than any kind of veggie because I love them so much!

The giant zucchini: The zucchini plants are really cranking out some veggies now. I didn’t pick a couple of them soon enough and they grew to the size of Grandfather Mountain! Those are going to be used in the zucchini bread I am making, hopefully today. I need to do a marathon zucchini bread baking session and freeze a bunch of loaves. Below is the recipe I use for a wonderful basic zucchini bread. We love to top it with some cream cheese for breakfast (or lunch, or dinner!).

Spinach and cukes: My container plant spinach is still offering those vitamin filled leaves and the cucumber plants are growing every day. Thankfully I have a friend who has given me some of her cucumber bounty until mine are ready to eat. Think she would like a giant zucchini?!

Gourd invasion: Last year, my youngest daughter decided she wanted to plant gourds to make into bird houses. Little did I know that gourds take over everything in their path and that one gourd plant can produce 10 million gourds. We still have a wagon full of gourds from last year! This year we decided not to plant any gourds, but guess what? The gourds had another idea. We now have a volunteer gourd plant that we are diligently redirecting away from the other plants. In another 6 weeks or so I will be offering free gourds to everyone! That may be the Friday Freebies giveaway for August!

Not going there: This year we steered clear of growing fruit. We haven’t had a very fruitful harvest in years past with watermelon and cantaloupe so we chose to focus on veggies this year. We have also grown okra, eggplant and hot peppers very successfully in the past, but since my husband is the only one who likes those veggies, we decided to focus on produce we all enjoyed this year.

Please share your favorite recipes using the veggies of the season. If you are growing a garden, how is it doing?

Recipes

 

Zucchini Nut Bread Recipe
(from Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook that my mom gave me while I was in college!)

Ingredients

1 ½ cups all purpose flour (I use ½ white flour and ½ whole wheat flour)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup sugar (I use ¾ cup sugar)
1 cup finely shredded unpeeled zucchini
1 egg
¼ cup cooking oil
¼ teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel (which I always leave out)
½ cup chopped walnuts (which my daughter does not like so I often leave out the nuts and it tastes just as good)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, stir together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and baking powder. Set aside.

In another mixing bowl, beat together sugar, shredded zucchini and egg. Add oil and lemon peel and mix well.

Stir flour mixture into zucchini mixture. Gently fold in chopped nuts. Turn batter into a greased 8 x4x2 inch loaf pan. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 55 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool thoroughly on a rack. Wrap and store loaf overnight before slicing (which we never do because we like it warm out of the oven!). Makes 1 loaf.


Here is an additional zucchini bread recipe from Allrecipes.com that I am going to try this summer. If you read the comments from others, you will see there is also a recipe for a crumb topping. Many folks also substitute ½ the oil for applesauce, which I will do in the allrecipes.com recipe because it calls for much more oil than the recipe above.
Ciick HERE for the zucchini bread recipe on allrecipes.com.


 

Squash Casserole

Ingredients

2 lbs yellow squash chopped or sliced (whichever you prefer)
1 onion, chopped
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup seasoned croutons, crushed
Garlic powder and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Saute squash, onion and mushrooms in skillet until tender, but not mushy. Place veggies in a 2 qt casserole. In medium bowl, combine egg, cheese and soup. Mix together and then pour into the casserole dish with the squash. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle crushed croutons on top of casserole. Bake an additional 20 more minutes.

This is a variation of a recipe from allrecipes.com.

 

Sensational Foil-Pack Veggies recipe found on the Kraft Foods website.  Click HERE for the foil-pack veggies recipe.

4 Comments

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  • Faye Prosser - Smart Shopper Jul 2, 2010

    Aren't they the BEST sandwiches evert, K??!! There is nothing like that first homegrown tomato and cuke sandwich of the year for me.

    Congrats on the giant tomato plants and enjoy those Better Boys!

  • KLW Jul 1, 2010

    My 'maters have outgrown their cages AND stakes, Faye. I've had to go to 6-foot stakes. Not bad for a first time gardener, huh? We've had bacon and tomato sandwiches a few nights with the first few ripe ones, but my Better Boy plant has 21 baby green tomatoes on it. I can't wait till THOSE all hit.

  • Faye Prosser - Smart Shopper Jul 1, 2010

    Thanks for sharing, jcook. I so agree about the rain. Enjoy those cucumbers! What recipes are you making with them?

  • barbiedoll1967 Jul 1, 2010

    I actually live in Roxboro and I have gotten at least 300 cucumbers since they started coming in about two weeks ago. I planted tomatoes but so far only have green ones on the vines. I also planted potatoes which are about ready for harvest. The corn is coming along nicely. If we could get some much needed rain, the garden would come alive I'm sure. We haven't received any rain in weeks. I'm watering every day but it's not enough. My garden needs Mother Nature's touch.