Posts Tagged ‘zucchini

30
Aug
10

Zucchini Zombies

“Lock your door” advises my little old lady and gardener extraordinaire next-door-neighbor.  “Don’t answer the door during zucchini harvest.”  Why not?  Are there Zucchini Zombies that I am unaware of?  Will they be shuffling down the middle of the street, lugging baskets full of the dreaded green phallic vegetable?  Will they be scratching and thudding  their grubby dead hands on our doors and windows trying to force us to eat our vegetables? 

Well, all I’m sayin’ is, if you hear something mucking about on your front porch, you best answer the door.  Yours truly, Vampire Gran, could be standing there with a tray of these: 

 

I have admitted in the past to zucchini being one of my least favorite vegetables and now I am literally eating my words.  Or at best, I am eating the zucchini from our garden.  Oh, I am fixing it in healthy ways for meals, but I just can’t help adding sugar and chocolate to it and baking it into something delectable, like these Chocolate Zucchini Walnut cupcakes. 

Dude, look at these things!  They are so moist and oh, so bitable! 

Lick the frosting. Lick it, I say!

Go to this post, Vampire Gran’s Perfect Chocolate Cake and get the recipe for the cupcake base, then add 2 cups of shredded zucchini and 1 cup of chopped walnuts.  Line your muffin pan with cupcake papers, scoop in the batter about 3/4 full and bake at 350 degrees for 23 minutes.  Toothpick inserted into the center of cake should come out clean when done.  Cool on rack.   They are the perfect foil for cream cheese frosting.  

Now, here’s another “grate” way to use zucchini.  Today I made some savory muffins to enjoy with our Sunday brunch on the deck.  Look at this plate and tell me it doesn’t make you just a little bit hungry. 

Now, that’s a healthy brunch

I whipped up a tofu scramble using fresh tomatoes, peppers and leeks from our garden.  The yellow stuff is polenta with butter and pure maple syrup drizzled over the top, a bit of sweet cantaloupe and a zucchini basil muffin. 

Very similar to a popover, but more sturdy

  

ZUCCHINI BASIL MUFFIN 

2 cups all purpose flour 

3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 

1 teaspoon salt 

2 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped 

2 eggs, slightly beaten 

1 cup buttermilk 

3 oz butter, melted 

2 medium zucchini, shredded 

1/4 cup chopped walnuts 

Sift flour, baking soda and salt into large mixing bowl.  Add basil and mix.  Make a well in the center of the bowl.  Combine eggs, buttermilk, melted butter and zucchini in another bowl.  Pour zucchini mixture into the well and mix just until all of the dry is incorporated with the wet ingredients.  Batter will be lumpy. 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Either grease a 12 cup muffin pan well, or use paper liner.  Evenly divide your batter among the twelve cups.  Top with chopped walnuts.   Bake for 18-20 minutes, until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool for about 5 minutes before enjoying. 

Well, I better be shuffling off now.  I’ve got a basket I need to haul down the street.  Oh, what do vegetarian zombies eat?  GRAAAAAINS!

My GranSon - cute, ain't he?

25
Aug
10

Sometimes life just gets in the way

It’s good to be loved.  It’s good to know that people not only read the words I write in this blog, but actually enjoy and learn from them.  Feeling blessed is only the beginning of the gratitude I have for all of you who come to Vampire Gran’s Kitchen.  Thank you all for your kind comments, especially the funny ones!   

 I’ve been getting a lot of “What’s ups?” from many of you.  Some via email and comments here, and some walking down  aisle  1 at work.  Thank you, Cat, for scolding me ever so nicely!   

So, what is up?  Well, summer time for one thing.  I made a conscious decision to enjoy the hot weather this year.  Anyone who knows me well, knows I am not a big fan of hot weather.  That’s why I moved to Portland, after all, for the most-of-the-year cooler weather.  But this year I have been determined to like the summer heat.  Fortunately, we have only had maybe three days this year that reached 100 degrees.  Thank you, Universe, for your support.  This has been a glorious summer, weatherwise.   

We’ve been spending a lot of time outdoors.  Running the streets of downtown Portland, leisurely walks along the Willamette, enjoying street fairs and just hanging out in our park like back yard.  And, I have been working in the garden – a lot.   

It's gotten crazy big since the last time I posted about it

In fact, I think the last time I wrote about the garden I was harvesting beets.  Those are long gone.  I also harvested shelling peas, lettuce and broccoli.   

Here are some of the lovely peas from the garden

I have a whole new crop rotation happening now.  I planted five hot pepper plants, jalapeno, hot cherry, Serrano, Thai and something our neighbor gave us.   

Hot Cherry pepper - it will turn red when it is ready

Thai chili - will also turn ready when it is good n' hot

Pepper from the neighbor - he says it's mild, not sure what kind it is

I work in a nice grocery store where we are well taken care of.  One of the perks we receive is free food and plants!  I spent some time checking out the back lot every day in search of homeless plants that needed some TLC.  I rescued a scraggly tomatillo plant and it blossomed into this:   

Now, what am I gonna do with all of these tomatillos?

All of my tomato plants were freebies, too.  Three from my neighbor and three from work.   

I can always use tomatoes

There's a nice big 'un

Every garden has to have one - the obligatory zucchini plant

The final garden picture is the butternut squash plant.  I am in awe of how one tiny plant can take over the entire garden, if I let it.  The garden expert neighbor told me I could cut it back and it would still live and produce.  Thank god, cause I thought it was gonna attach itself to everything, including me if I didn’t move fast enough!   

Hard to believe that is one plant

Ok, I lied.  Here are two more shots because these squash are so photogenic.   

Look how pretty that guy is. And there are those grabby tendrils, just poising itself to latch onto anything in its path

Another thing we have been having fun with is dinner and a movie al fresco.  We set up the computer on the patio, haul our dinner out and presto – instant good time.  

Yeah, I look like crap. It's hot, what do you expect?

What’s the pink stuff on our plate?  Beautiful candy stripe beets.  So good.  

Steamed golden and candy stripe beets tossed with orange muscat vinegar, kosher salt and cracked pepper served on a bed of steamed beet greens

So many more things have been going on this summer, but I think this post has gone on long enough.  I will be participating in the Blog Challenge on Foodbuzz so there will definitely be more to share with you as that progresses.  The work on my self published cook book  continues and looks like I am  about a quarter of the way done with that.  So much to look forward to.  So enjoying this journey called life.

24
May
10

The healthy eating will continue

It happens everyday

I can’t believe it’s May.  It’s difficult to believe that May is almost over.  Portland weather is always entertaining.  One minute the sun is shining, then it turns dark as dusk and the sky opens up and torrential rain is upon us.  Then it turns to icy hail. All at once, it comes to a screeching halt and there is that ol’ sun again.  I love Portland. 

Our garden continues to thrive because of, and in spite of, this weather pattern.  And it saves us an awful lot on our water bill.  I have high hopes that our garden will not only save us money by growing in our yard and not having to make constant trips to the market, but will keep us eating happy and healthy meals. 

We’ve been going strong on this healthy eating path.  We started making healthier choices in December, while Katie was recovering from a surgery.  She threatened to start making her own meals because she needed vegetables.  Well, any of you that read this and know me, know that I wasn’t havin’ any of it.  The kitchen is “ours” but I’m pretty territorial when it comes to food and the production of it.  Plus, I couldn’t have her getting slim and healthy and leaving me struggling along, huffing and puffing and being chubby in her skinny shadow.  No effin’ way! 

So I jumped right on that healthy merry-go-round and I have no intention of falling off.  We are slimming down naturally, without effort, and it feels and tastes so delicious.  I’ve lost 8 pounds since January!  No Weight Watchers, no meetings, no starving.  Common sense and a culinary knack are what I have going for me.  And it’s working. 

So, enough of my rambling.  I want to show you something easy and tasty.  Oh, and it’s healthy, too.  Here’s a picture of a typical dinner at Chez Tolbert: 

It may look like a lot of food, but it is so low in fat and calories

Green salad (lettuce from our garden), wheat berries with cannellini beans and Field Roast Smoked Applewood Veggie Sausage, and Zucchini Ribbon “Pasta” topped with Savory Mushroom Sauce.  Yum. 

I always dug in my heels when it came to eating zucchini.  I never liked it.  At least rarely did I like it.  It’s a texture thing.  People always  over cook it, in my humble opinion.  I discovered it’s not bad when you use thin strips of it as a pasta alternative. 

so simple, so quick

The first time I tried this method, I used my electric slicer.  It’s like the ones the deli’s use, only a lot smaller.  But for the sake of the blog, I decided to use a vegetable peeler this time.  It worked great!  I figured not everyone has a home slicer, but a vegetable peeler, even non cooks have those. 

Really, anyone can make this

See how simple that is? 

Looks kinda like pappardelle, yeah?

I used 2 zucchini for this meal.  Rule of thumb: use 1 zucchini per person. 

So, that’s it.  No cooking.  Set the zucchini ribbons aside and make the sauce. 

Let the sauce making begin!

Thinly slice 1 leek, mince 1 shallot and 2 cloves of garlic.  Add a small amount of olive oil to a hot  pan and gently saute until softened. 

Mmmm...smells so good

Next, add some sliced mushrooms.  I used creminis, because we like ’em. 

Looking good

You can use whatever mushrooms you prefer.  A combination is always good. 

Once again, I wish computer screens had scratch and sniff!

Continue sauteing until the mushrooms soften.  Add seasonings to taste:  salt, pepper, dried oregano and dried basil. 

Oh, mamma, these are smelling so good right now

Once the mushrooms have softened and browned a bit, move everything to the sides of the pan, making a circular opening in the center of the pan.  Add a bit more olive oil, about 1/2 tablespoon and then sprinkle in some flour, a couple of tablespoons. 

Does anyone else see a cartoon bear face in there?

Cook the flour for a minute or two, till it starts to brown slightly. 

Stir and brown flour

  I like to add some hot sauce at this point.  It’s optional. 

Squirt in some hot sauce of choice - this is Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce

Now I add some vegetable stock.  You can use home-made or store-bought stock.  I make it every week, so I always have it on hand. 

Add some stock and you have sauce

Add stock about 1/2 cup at a time.  I like to use a ladle for this step. Just add and cook until the sauce reaches the desired consistency. 

This looks, smells and tastes just right

Place zucchini ribbons in a large serving bowl or platter.  Top with hot sauce.  Finely chop some fresh Italian Parsley and sprinkle on top, for a pretty presentation. 

Dinner is served

Then toss gently to combine.  The heat of the sauce with cause the “noodles” to soften, but not get mushy.  It’s fast and easy and best of all, tastes great. 

Damn, that's a healthy looking dinner!




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