Monday, August 29, 2011

Garbanzo Bean Tomato Salad

67: garbanzo bean tomato salad by besomom
67: garbanzo bean tomato salad, a photo by besomom on Flickr.

One of my favorite ways to use the tomatoes that are so abundant in my garden this time of year.

Recipe here

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

August 1 Yard: Overgrown

The herb garden (which includes some sweet and delicious orange cherry tomatoes!):(Unfortunately our rain barrel, in the very upper right corner of the photo, has sprung a leak and caused a puddle in our basement which has plagued us all summer.)

Flowers by the deck:
Bee balm along the back fence:
Ripening apple in the backyard:
(The squirrels eat these before they ripen, leaving us with none. The apple tree in our front yard is not bothered by critters, so those we get to eat. Unfortunately, that tree only produces fruit every other year for some reason, and this is its off year. Sigh.)

My neighbor's Rose of Sharon, with my cosmos in front of it:
The Russian Sage along the driveway:
Tidy front yard:

Back yard:
That play structure may be going to a new home this fall.

So that is my overgrown, weedy August 1st yard. Photos were taken on August 1; I just forgot to do the post until today!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hey, It Won!

Turns out, Sleeping Bear Dunes won the Good Morning America Contest for the Most Beautiful Place in America! I guess the secret is out now.

Here is a link to the story, and a short video (which shows many of my favorite places, such as The Pine Cone, Cherry Republic, and Good Harbor Grill, not to mention the beaches and the lake).

It really is some place special, and I feel very lucky I get to spend time there every year.

A Few More Zucchini Recipes

Here are a few more favorite zucchini recipes. I love zucchini for its versatility. It's good in a main dish or a dessert! Some of the recipes below are from long-time online friends, but I can't remember exactly who now, so if it's yours, thank you! I love it!

Zucchini Pasta (on Allrecipes. I double the entire recipe and use 3 cups of chicken)

Herbed Zucchini Soup (delicious warm, but I didn't like it cold)

Zucchini Quiche

3.5 cups diced zucchini
1 chopped onion
8 oz cheddar cheese, grated (divided)
1/2 cup canola oil
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup Bisquick baking mix (I use Trader Joe's multigrain baking and pancake mix)
salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste

Mix all ingredients together, reserving some of the cheese for the top. Lightly grease a 9x13 pan. Spread mixture evenly over pan and top with remaining cheese. Bake in preheated 350 F oven for 35-40 minutes. (It seems like there is not enough batter to spread in the pan, but it expands to fill the pan as it bakes, so have no fear.)

Another Zucchini Quiche (from an online source which I can no longer identify)

4 c. sliced zucchini
1 onion, diced
2 T olive oil or butter
2 eggs
2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp each of garlic powder, dried basil, oregano, salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar
1 tsp mustard

Saute zucchini and onion in oil (or butter) until tender; drain. Whisk the eggs, parsley, salt, garlic powder, basil, oregano, and pepper together. Whisk in the mustard. Layer zucchini and cheese in a pie pan. Pour eggs over the top. Bake uncovered at 400 F for 35-40 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Zucchini Cake

1-1/4 cups flour
1 c sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup shredded zucchini
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips.

Heat oven to 375 F. Grease an 8x8 pan. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together. Mix in oil, eggs, and vanilla. Stir in zucchini just until blended. Spread into pan. Bake 25-30 minutes. Remove to wire rack. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and let sit 5 minutes to soften, then spread the chocolate to cover the cake. Cool in pan on rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing. You may want to refrigerate to firm up the chocolate. (The original recipe says you can mix all the ingredients right in the pan without dirtying a mixing bowl, but you need a non-stick pan for that, and I don't have a non-stick pan, so this is how I do it.)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Summertime Cooking

We've been getting a CSA share this summer and splitting it with my sister-in-law and her family. I haven't decided that we'll do it again next year. I find it stressful getting a huge box full of fresh produce and then needing to figure out what to do with it. I am realizing that I usually plan meals ahead, but with the CSA stuff, you have to work with what you get, and now every Saturday morning I find myself staring at things like chard, kale, leeks, potatoes, cucumbers, beets, and fava beans, and feeling slightly hysterical! It's a lot of work, all that washing, grating, and slicing, not to mention searching online for recipes to prepare things in a way that makes it palatable to picky eaters. (My husband insists he is not picky, but oh, he is. He thinks he's not picky because he is very fond of certain vegetables and will eat those vegetables in great quantities, but there are really so many he won't eat, and our CSA has been very loaded with the stuff he dislikes.)

That said, despite the stress and work, I do admit it's been tasty to eat things so fresh and in season!

We've been getting a lot of cucumbers in our share (a no-eat veg for my hubby). My mom makes a delicious cucumber salad, but she makes it up on the spot without a recipe, so I've been left to develop my own version, and based on watching my mom make hers, here is what I've come up with:

Cucumber Salad

1 cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
Jane's Krazy Mixed Up Salt
2 T red wine vinegar
1 T olive oil
1 tsp sugar (I tried to make it without sugar, but I think it's better with sugar)

Place the sliced cucumber in a bowl and sprinkle lightly with the Jane's Krazy Mixed Up Salt. Whisk together the red wine vinegar, the olive oil, the sugar, and 1/2 tsp of Krazy Mixed Up Salt. Pour the dressing over the cucumbers. (You won't use all of the dressing, so save the leftovers for future use. It doesn't need to be refrigerated!) Put the cucumber salad in the fridge for at least an hour. The longer it sits, the better it tastes.

If this is too salty for your preference, don't salt the cucumbers before you dress them.

I also made a cabbage/beet salad, because I needed to do something with the CSA cabbage and beets (both no-eat foods for the hubby). I found the recipe below after a lengthy session with Google, but I didn't bookmark it, nor did I print it (I just scribbled it down), and now I cannot find it again! If anyone recognizes it and knows the original source, please let me know so credit can be given where it is due. This is the kind of salad that tastes better with age, so make it a day ahead if you can.

2 raw beets, peeled and shredded (use your food processor for shredding, otherwise you will have a huge stained mess on your hands)
1/2 head of cabbage, shredded (I used one small head of cabbage)
3 carrots, peeled and grated
1 c raisins
1 apple, diced
1/4 c lemon juice
1/4 c oil (I used canola)
1/4 c water

Combine the beets, cabbage, carrots, raisins, and apple in a bowl. Whisk together the lemon juice, oil, and water, and pour over the vegetables. Toss to coat.

We also got potatoes and leeks this week, so my husband suggested Potato Leek soup. (Hey, something he'd eat!) I found this recipe and made it on Sunday. It was a very decent basic soup. The only change I made was to use only 1 tsp of salt instead of 1 T, and it was just fine. I had one quart of potatoes from the CSA (I believe they were Yukon Gold), and the leeks I had were pretty small, so I did use three of them; three large leeks would have been way too much. I used my immersion blender right in the crockpot, rather than pouring the soup into a blender. I served the soup with cheddar cheese sprinkled on top. It seems like this recipe would be a good hearty base for a creamy soup if you wanted to add meat or other vegetables to it after blending.

And, finally, what to do with all that zucchini? I grow my own zucchini, so my sister-in-law has been keeping all of the CSA zucchini, but I still have plenty from my own garden. Here are links to some zucchini recipes I've posted before:

And here is a new one I tried for Banana Zucchini Bread. I omitted the pecans, and instead of 1 cup of oil, I used 2/3 cup applesauce and 1/3 cup oil. I stirred one cup of chocolate chips into one of the loaves, and that was pretty good, though a little intense. I think I'd add 1/2 cup of chocolate chips per loaf next time.

My kitchen is such a mess. I wish there were a way to use it and keep it spotless at the same time.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

It's not summer without this trip

Ahh, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Leelanau County, Michigan. Recently the Dunes were a finalist in Good Morning America's Most Beautiful Place in America contest (see the video here. Sleeping Bear Dunes is featured in the second half of the 5-minute segment, and it looks just as beautiful as it truly is!).

We love it for so many reasons.
We have some things that we must do there every year, and other things are on an every-other-year-or-so rotation. We decide what to do when we are there, depending on the weather, and our mood.

This year we visited Northport and the Grand Traverse Lighthouse.

I love lighthouses, and all the furnishings in them.
Here is a photo of a photo of a shipwreck not far off shore from where we were:
View of Lake Michigan from the top of the Grand Traverse Lighthouse:
I love signposts! I keep wanting to make one for our yard! I like to think about what destinations my signpost would feature. The Dunes for sure.
The shore at Grand Traverse Lighthouse is rocky, so it's not really a beach-goer's paradise, but we like to walk the shoreline anyway.
This anchor is on display at the Northport harbor. It was discovered on the lake bed about 30 years ago, and is believed to be from a mid-1800s era ship.
Sunset over Sleeping Bear Bay:
We did our must-do hike up the Empire Bluff for this beautiful view of Lake Michigan, Sleeping Bear Dunes, and South Bar Lake:
Then we headed down to the beach and put our kayak in South Bar lake, and I took this photo of the bluff from the lake:
Most of the beaches in the area are remote and not developed at all. The beach in Empire is the most accessible, and therefore the busiest, and every year it seems we see something unusual there.

This year's oddity:
An amphibious vehicle! I felt like I was seeing Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in action!

Those guys had everyone's attention, that's for sure!

Another day we hiked to Pyramid Point. The weather was moody. We watched the rain sweep across the Manitou Islands, and the clouds and wind made the lake change color every minute. I was sad to see my favorite tree has fallen over:
(previous photos of this same tree here and here)

The kids found charred wood on the beach and left some fun rocks behind for other people to find:
I love it there so much, it's almost an ache.

Now that we are home again, I dream of it every night.

edited to add: more photos of this vacation in this flickr set