Posted in Room and Board

Minnesotans Grasp the Last of the Season

I love to watch the sun come up over houses across the way.  The neighbors’ trees stand high above their rooftops, and the sun lights them up like fire at this time of year.  How fast the summers fly these days.  Here in Minnesota, we grasp the end of the season like life itself is slipping through our fingers.

As I write, I see there is frost on the shingles.  It will be a good day to bring in the remaining tomatoes that might have ripened in the garden.  I made some notes for next year, entitled Garden 2016.  It says things like

No onions
More carrots
Lots of kale
Plant tomatoes in the side yard
Spread out herbs
Expand concrete block garden
Only two or three zucchini plants

Winter is as long as summer is short.  I tend to forget what it was I wanted to do unless I write it down.  Especially where zucchini is concerned.  Zucchini is one of those things that gives a gardener a boost of confidence.  If you’ve ever been offered an armload of zucchini, you know how prolific they are.  I don’t know how many seeds are in a packet, but there are several dozen too many for the average family.  Yet, planting two or three seeds from a handful of many seems somehow wasteful when it’s so easy to just pop a few more in the dirt.  And that’s where the zucchini takeover begins.

UntitledThe summer also brought me some really great luck with jalapeño peppers.  They started ripening at the same time as the zucchini.  One morning I began to harvest, stomach growling and mouth watering.  I thought to myself, “There has got to be something I can make for breakfast with zucchini and jalapeño peppers.”  And so I headed where all great cooks go . . . to Pinterest. I plugged “jalapeño” and “zucchini” into the search bar.  Lo and behold, my screen filled with tasty options.

The most delicious-sounding recipe was some type of zucchini-jalapeño pancake.  Unfortunately, I didn’t pin it, and I can’t seem to find it again to share with you here.  As I read the list of ingredients, I checked my mental pantry.  “Got that . . . yup . . . ooh, I have that . . .”  I knew I’d like it because all the ingredients were my favorites.  Then I read the directions.  It called for squeezing the hell out of the shredded zucchini no less than three times, separated by 15-minute intervals.  And I was hungry NOW!

Not being one to let the culinary arts get the best of me, I started to imagine something simpler.  Instead of grating the zucchini and squeezing the water out, I would noodle them with my Veggetti™ (which my kids maintain is a vulgar-sounding gadget), and sauté the water out.  Using all the same ingredients, minus the almond flour, I made the MOST delicious frittata.  It was such a mainstay of my summer breakfasts, that I want to share it with you here.

Ingredients:

 1 T olive oil
1 medium zucchini, noodled or shredded
1 finely diced jalapeño pepper
1 slice cooked bacon, diced
2 eggs 1 T cream (or milk)
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/4 c shredded parmesan

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat oil in a medium oven-safe skillet over medium heat until a drop of water skitters on the surface.  Meanwhile, whisk eggs with cream, salt and pepper.  Add zucchini noodles and jalapeño.  Sauté until vegetables are beginning to brown and the water has cooked away.

Pour egg mixture over vegetables.  Sprinkle diced bacon over the top and place in hot oven.

When the eggs are nearly set, sprinkle parmesan over the top.  Return to oven until eggs set. Best enjoyed al fresco!

Experiment with your own herbs, vegetables, and cheese.  I made several variations of this frittata, and I couldn’t tell you which was my favorite.  Whatever is in the garden and fridge is fair game!

Peace . . .

Posted in Family, Great Outdoors

Dearly Departed

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It was heartbreaking.    I walked out to the garden, water in hand as usual.  I looked at each plant; checked on the leaves, the stems, the soil.  Checking for new blossoms, my heart lifted at the tiny little promises of fruit.  Each plant received water and was cleared of unwanted intruders – weeds, slugs, Japanese beetles.  And that was when I saw it.

The zucchini plant was withered and laying on the hot soil, its leaves greenish grey, its fruit wrinkled and limp.  There were other zucchini vines with other blossoms, but so far this was the only one producing fruit.  There had been two little baby zucchinis, one almost an inch, the other over two.  I watched over them daily, bearing witness to the love of their plant mother feeding them from the earth and the sun.  Now she lay dead on that same nurturing soil.

There was no C.S.I. work to be done.  It was not a suicide but an accidental homicide, cut and dried (no pun intended).  The zucchinis grow in a dangerous plot of land on the back side of our lot, directly in the Frisbee flight pattern.  The Frisbees have a limited area of safe flight.  It is a fifteen-foot area of grass.  With a good toss, Sabbath (Sabbie as we call her) can jump easily 4 feet into the air, snapping the disc from its flight.  More commonly, the cheap discs we buy from the local pet store fly left or right, landing over the fence in the neighbor’s yard, just inside our yard in last year’s Christmas tree, in the fire pit, on the garage roof or yes . . . in the zucchini.

At first glance, dismay overcame me.  Then anger.  Then sadness.  I picked up the  once thriving plant and laid it sorrowfully on the picnic table.  I reasoned the large plant had cost me almost nothing in the price of seed, or time.  Still, a feeling of hopelessness reduced me to a sigh.

Then I pictured the energetic Sabbie, in the pursuit of her prey, tail waving wildly in the air.  I pictured the one I knew had thrown the Frisbee, cringing in horror as the dog tore through the plant with passion.

And I smiled.  There is so much more brought to my life by the wet nose of a dog, or the warm hug of a loved one than by rearing a zucchini from a seed.  Surely there will be more zucchini if they can save their lives from the plight of the Frisbee.  There will never be another Sabbath who follows me at every step and looks upside-down back at me from where I sit tapping on my keyboard.