Saturday, August 17, 2013

Zucchini Madness, what to do with 30 beautiful squash?

On Thursday my 9 year old asked me what ironic meant. I tried my best to explain.

On Thursday my 15-year-old's "outside job" was to tend the garden, inspect it, throw out rotten zucchini, thin the carrots, pick me a cabbage and any zucchini that were ready. She brought in about 6 medium to large specimens. I was surprised because the week before my 11-year-old son told me there were no more zucchini to be found. You can tell I don't get out to do many garden inspections.

On Friday my girlfriend who helps at a local farm brought me the market leftovers (I was hoping for broccoli, this is how I have filled my freezer the last two years) but, to my suprise, she brought around 20 medium to large zucchini!

My 9-year-old asked me if that was ironic. I agreed, indeed, that was pretty ironic.

I will NEVER complain, however, about free food! I will adore it, love it, share it and have nightmares dreams about it.

Blogging has helped me get my booty organized in the past, so it's hopefully going to rescue me today. I will blog about how I plan to preserve and cook my abundance and hopefully in the future I can refer back for my own benefit. I always know where the computer is located but I can't always find "that" recipe that I need or can't even remember that I made and loved... I'll be posting things that I am doing and also adding in my friend's ideas they are giving me on facebook today.

My beautiful model with our stack. In this picture the 3 largest have been sliced or grated.

1st thing to do:

Slice it up and dehydrate some.

This is my first year using my dehydrator. I have dehydrated turnips before in my oven, but heaven knows why because we never did like those darn things and I don't know why I thought I'd use the dried up little bits of them in the future. My sister has inspired me with her mad dehydrating skilz this year and I'm ready to try it out!

2 sliced up, 28 to go...

Ready for the dehydrator. It's very warm today so I'll let them soak up the sun for a while first.
Day later update: Here's a very large zucchini shriveled down to a pint jar ready for minestrone soup this winter.

 2nd thing to do:

Skillet Fried Zucchini (fast and easy!)
Cut slices of zucchini thinly. 
Heat generous amount of oil, butter or margarine in a large non stick pan.
Put a teaspoon of minced garlic in the pan, heat it up.
Lay in zucchini slices so they are all in contact with oil.
Liberally salt and pepper zucchini.
After the bottom is nicely seared, flip all slices, cook on the other side only one to two minutes more and serve immediately.
We had rice on the side for dinner. I made about 5 or 6 pans of these and we ALL gobbled them up, they aren't even zucchini lovers but they loved it this way.  

We used some of the massive slices for this recipe from before...28 still to go...

3rd thing to do:

Give some to friends. Most people aren't overwhelmed by three zucchini, but be sure they want them before you give it to them. If they don't have a garden they will typically be thrilled. I left a bag with my goddaughter and karaoke partner last night, I am giving my cousin three today and have three saved for my mom. There should also be a food pantry near you, so remember them as well.  

I have now allotted 12 for other people, that leaves me with 16 to go!

4th thing to do:

Shred some up to make grandma's zucchini bread recipe, this has always been my absolute must with any zucchini. I make this every year even if I have to buy zucchini to do it. The recipe is EXTREMELY moist and is more like a really really good sweet muffin. We all love this.

Zucchini Bread by Grandma Beryl Johnson taken from Algoma Christian School, Kent, MI cookbook, no date printed. Looks like a late 70s early 80s production. (vegan adaptation by me)
3 eggs     (or 3/4 c apple sauce or banana mash)
1 c oil     (or 3/4 c oil and 1/4 c water)
2 c sugar  (or 1 1/2 c)
3 c flour  (I typically do half whole wheat flour)
2 c grated zucchini
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp soda
(1 tsp salt, not sure why salt wasn't in grandma's recipe, but it needs it)
3 tsp cinnamon
3 tsp vanilla
1 c chopped nuts (not for us, but you do as you please)

Beat eggs, add oil slowly while beating. Fold in zucchini, vanilla, then sugar. Fold in dry ingredients. Bake in 2 loaf pans (greased and floured). Bake at 350 for 1 hr.

We shredded up our largest and most deformed zucchini and it yielded 8 cups shredded. Looks like I'll be quadrupling this batch today...if only I had sugar. This bread freezes very nicely. I bake in smaller loaf pans than it suggests, then cool it, then wrap in saran wrap then put in bags with labels. It's a great breakfast bread and it gets gobbled up at coffee hour on Sunday. Don't "save it" like I have done in the past, try to eat it with in about 3 months or the taste changes from the long freezer time.

1 large zuc grated, 15 to go...

5th thing to do:

Ask friends, here's what some of them suggested, they all sound wonderful!

Zucchini Lasagna: Cut in lengthwise slices and replace the noodles with zucchini.Yum!
Slice sourdough bread top with: sliced tomatoes, grated zucchini, basil, season, cheese then broil. Double yum!
Grate into anything: lasagna, spaghetti, hamburgers, meatloaf, white sauce or red sauce. Great tip.
Zucchini relish: I would make this, however, I made about 3 dozen pints 3 years ago, and we're good to go! (it is very good)
Deep fried zucchini: yes please!
Zucchini and potato patties (I'm thinking fried, fritter like, yum!)
Grate it and freeze it. If I do this I put 2 cups shredded into each bag. I don't love that the water separates out from the zucchini, but in bread you don't notice. 
Slice it, blanch it, freeze it. My cousin does this and has a great casserole recipe she cooks it in. I bet this helps the water stay inside the squash, I have not tried this myself.

Another cousin sent me this recipe, looks delicious and so easy...also uses dill, my favorite herb, and I grow it in the garden every year:

Herbed Zucchini Soup 
3 C reduced-sodium chicken broth (or homemade! Yes please!)
1 1/2 lbs. zucchini (about 3 med.), cut into 1-inch pieces
1 T chopped fresh dill (or tarragon) or 1 tsp. dried
3/4 C shredded cheddar cheese (3 oz.)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
Place broth, zucchini and dill (or tarragon) in medium saucepan; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the zucchini is tender. Puree in a blender (or use a stick blender, I love mine for this) until smooth. Return the soup to the pan and heat over medium high, slowly stirring in cheese until it is incorporated. Remove from heat and season with s/p. Serve hot or chilled.

Ideas don't count...15 to go...

6th thing to do:

Eat lunch.

Zucchini Boats aka Zucchini Pizza!

I got the idea for this "zucchini pizza or zucchini boats" from Grad Gastronomy.
For mine I cut a nice straight zucchini in half, scooped out some seeds.
Slathered the top and bottom with olive oil.
Sprinkled with salt.
Filled the void in one of them with cheddar cheese (no mozz cheese in the house).
Then we picked out our meats: one chose pepperoni, another one chose goat hot dogs and I chose salami, hubby chose no meat.
Topped with tomato slices.
Top with salt, pepper, garlic powder and basil.
Now it's in the oven @ 350 for 20 minutes, then I'll add more cheese and broil it. Can't wait....

Finished product. So good! I tried the pepperoni and goat dog sections and they were great too!
One large zuc in my belly, 14 to go...

7th thing to do:

Get ideas from Alaska from Scratch. She even posted her own favorite list for National Zucchini Day.

This is a great food blog and I especially love it because she uses so many foods we can grow, harvest, forage and hunt here in Alaska. She also takes the most adorable pictures, is a pastors wife and a SAHM who has done a fabulous job with her new foodie blogger profession! Here's a short list of the recipes I still want to try. 
Baked Zucchini Fries 
Chocolate Zucchini Cake
Blueberry Zucchini Muffins
Grilled Zucchini Lasagna
Zucchini Cakes

Pictures she took of her zucchini treats, yum!
Still 14 to go...

8th thing to do:

Rub down with olive oil for counter storage. 

I have a great book called Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning. I can't find it at the moment...grr. However, I do remember it saying that if you rub a nice zucchini with olive oil and leave it out on the counter (to keep an eye on it) it will actually keep for a long time this way. I have done this with two and will see how it goes. I'll also pick two and not rub them (I'll pick nice, blemish free ones) and compare them. I'll probably forget to update this blog, so please ask me after a few weeks how this went. I will do my best not to let these go to waste, but I also really want to see for myself if this method works. If so, it may be the answer to the overwhelming feeling 30 zucchini can give.

*One week later update on the banister squash: I found the book, it did say to do this, it also said to rub again when you see mold appear. Today my daughter discovered extensive mold on the bottom of the oiled one in front. I discovered more mold on the second olive oil rubbed one. The olive oil ones also sort of morphed a bit and their color went to a deep green while the two in back stayed virtually the same spotty green. The ones in back (with no oil) also did not mold, but I chickened out today and put them into the fridge as the 3 in the fridge that were allotted for my mom are still just fine. 
I decided to put my zucchini on the banister as I walk past this daily and will be able to see it easily from different sides. The "control" is in the back and not touching each other (not oiled) the oiled zuccs are in the front also not touching.

4 more down 10 to go...

9th thing to do:

Pickle / Ferment some Zucchini into pickles.

I'm a noob to fermenting/pickling so I referred a lot to these sites today to talk me through this:
Learning and Yearning
Cultures of Health
Marks Daily Apple

I decided to go with dill pickles since those are my favorite vinegar pickle. Here's the recipe I came up with after reading these blogs 3x each...

Fermented Zucchini Dill Pickles

Prepare brine:
2 quarts filtered water (non chlorinated)
5 T sea salt

Prepare jars, I'm using 4 quart jars. Into each jar place:

1 heaping tsp minced garlic
1 tsp black pepper corns
3 sprigs dill weed
2 tannin containing leaves (in 2 jars I'll use strawberry and in the other 2 I'll use raspberry, this is what I have on my property, I don't have oak or grape or any of the others I read about)

Ingredients ready to go. Strawberry leaves on yellow plate, raspberry leaves on blue plate. Dill from the farmers market, but I have more growing in my garden. Ended up using another zucchini. I fit one zucchini per quart jar.
Tightly pack jars with spears or rounds of zucchini. I did spears except for in my flip-top jar I did rounds. I also added rounds to the top of each jar for the "weight".
Ready to add the salt brine. On top of each pile of pickles I added another sprig of dill and another set of leaves, then the final "weight" zucchini for the top.

Chose to try two different fermenting "lid" methods. I have a bunch of jars, so I decided to try jar weights on two of them and regular lids on the other two. I didn't tighten them down so they can bubble and ooze out into the pan below. I'll check them in three days, skim any scum and re-add brine to re-fill them.

*Note 5 days later: I ended up closing my flip top lid all the way tight only 2 days after I posted this. I realized they way they are made is to allow air to exit the seal while canning them and not allow air back in. Those pickles looked the best. The two of the top round pickles holding down the zuccs in the other jars looked the worst (a bit moldy) when the brine had overflowed then gone back down. I threw away the moldy top rounds and ate a pickle from under the brine (very good) and added more brine to all 4 jars and put them into my cool garage that stays around 45 or 50 degrees Fahrenheit. From what I have read they will slowly continue to ferment. I'll check them again in a week and add more brine if needed.
5 days later, two of the top rounds were kinda moldy. Definitely check them and add more brine at the 3 day mark. If the brine isn't covering them they will mold.

Used up four on the pickles, 6 to go...

10th thing to do:

Go to church.

Yes, it's time for me to go to church and I think I'm done for the day. I'll throw the remaining 6 into the fridge and I'll try to make lasagna this week with them. I'll may also try this zucchini spread, it looks very good. Until next year when zucchini's slam you in the face.

Stuck the last 6 into the fridge...we're done for today!

*After church tonight my neighbor wanted to trade for some canned salmon. OK! Now we're down to 3! I'll have to choose wisely over the next few days how I use them.

*Week later update: Used 2 for the zucchini lasagna but I skipped the grilling part...not a great idea as zucchini add a LOT of water to your pan and it was soupy lasagna, however, it was very very good! Also made a batch of the zucchini chocolate cake. Will add the rest of the moldy zucc that I rescued from the banister to the Fabulous Borcht I'll be making for company tomorrow.  

Ok, seriously. This is never ending. I have to update this now a week and a half later 8/29/2013.

Sunday my family came over and I made the aforementioned Borscht (it was amazing, it really lives up to it's name). I added a zucchini to it, a new twist, but it was quite good and fit right in. There were NO leftovers *boo hoo*. After our company left I ventured into the garden. I discovered some very large zucchini and commanded my children bring me: my mud boots (I was still in church clothing), a large knife, plastic grocery bags and my jacket. There was work to be done! I worked 'till dark (about 10pm these days) and heard there could be a frost coming so we covered 3 of the plants that had the most babies with a tarp to keep the frost off. There were about 25-35 lbs of zucchini in the tub and some blossoms. We also harvested the rest of the spinach, a lot of broccoli, and 2 grocery bags of mustard greens.

Zucchini the next day.
Monday 8/26/13

We made another double batch of zucchini lasagna. I again added a ton of greens to the sausage, so delicious!

Tuesday 8/27/13

My girlfriend gave me a "recipe" for squash casserole. It was more like she printed a recipe then marked all over it the way she likes to make it...I muddled my way through it and...I had four I'M NOT TELLING helpings and still didn't really want to stop eating. (can you say glutton?)

Amazing Squash Casserole

1 sticks butter
1 c sour cream
1 can cream of mushroom soup (I'm sure any kind would do)
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped (or grated)
1 quart chopped squash (I'm totally guessing here. I chopped about 6 cups worth I think.)
1 lb shredded chicken (this is totally optional, I wanted chicken in mine)
1 TB ranch dressing mix (or one packet)
1 cup cheddar cheese (if desired, I forgot to add it, you could do this instead of chicken)
salt n pepper
1 package Ritz crackers

Heat dutch oven, melt butter. Add onion and carrot, cook 5 minutes. Add squash, salt and pepper. Mix in ranch dressing mix, sour cream, cream of whatever, chicken if desired, cheese if desired, mix it all together.

Smash up the Ritz and sprinkle over the top. I added squash blossoms cut in half to the top as well since I didn't feel like stuffing them. It made it pretty. Bake @ 375 for 30 minutes. I DOUBLED this recipe for our family of 8. There was about 1 cup left over.

The notes on the recipe I based this off of said you can divide this and freeze for later. Great idea! I think I'll make a quad batch on Monday!

Wednesday 8/28/13

Beer battered zucchini...YUM! I was not happy with the recipe I used (I think I used the wrong flour), so I won't post it. But you add enough salt to that stuff and it's awesome! We used up one large one that way. You could try this one, it's very simple, and easy. You can't (usually) go wrong with a beer batter (ok, so don't use corn flour, stick to all purpose and you should be good). You can add dill or paprika to that mix as well and give it more flavor. Also sprinkle with salt when they come out of the oil!!!

Thursday 8/29/13

Double batch of zucchini bread! About half one of the big ones grated made up 4 cups.

Spaghetti for dinner. Yum! It was really good spaghetti too. That took the other half of that squash.


Ok, so I was researching what I would make tomorrow and came across this blog Closet Cooking and her 25 Zucchini Recipes. I think we're soul mates... She makes a lot of Greek and a lot of Mexican dishes! She made roasted zucchini salsa...I have always wanted to do that!!! I will be reading for a few hours now...I gotta go.

This was tonight when I thought I'd better double check and found these four bad boys and a little pip squeak in my pocket (along with some peas and broccoli). I also sold a goat baby today, yippie!

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