8-22-05 Back to School

In This Issue:

  1. Back to School
  2. Featured Product – new printing quality
  3. Abundance
  4. Abundance -Part 2

1. Back to School

I was at my dentist’s office yesterday and heard him say that the end of August always depresses him. All through grade school, high school, college and medical school, he would get depressed at the thought of having to go back to school, and even now that he doesn’t have to, he still feels it. Admittedly, I feel it too when standing in the midst of my waning summer garden. While my vegetable garden has been a complete success this summer, my flower garden has lost a battle of wits with the gopher population. Casualties: 2 chive clusters, 1 rose bush, 2 yarrow plants and a few other perennials whose names I can’t recall.

I refuse, however, to let this get me down. Just like the excitement of stocking up on new pee-chee folders and sharpened pencils, I look forward to a trip to the nursery to pick out a few shiny new perennials to fill in the gaps those pesky bulb-eaters provided me.

Summer is far from over, and there is still time to squeeze more life out of the long, warm days that remain. I still have more zucchini than I can manage, so this newsletter will include my recipe for Chocolate Zucchini Bread (it’s really cake – that’s how good it is), and some other great tricks for using up your summer harvest. So keep your flip-flops and shorts handy, we’re not done with summer just yet!

2. Featured Product – new printing quality

And now a moment of shameless self-promotion: Cafe Press is beta-testing a new printing technology that eliminates the iron-on feeling of their designs.  If all goes well, they will be switching all their products to this type of printing soon, but right now this new printing is available on the Jr. Baby Doll Gardenerd T-shirt – and thus is our featured product of the month.  Ladies, get ready to show off your curves, because this shirt’s got it all!  I modeled my Baby Doll shirt at a party this weekend and it got rave reviews.  Here’s your coupon:

3. Abundance

As we all know, success comes with its own challenges.  Each year, successful gardeners find creative ways to share their abundant harvest with friends, family and well, anyone who will take a 6 pound zucchini. Here are some helpful ways to manage your extra produce:

Canning – It seems like a lost art in our modern world of 1 minute meals.  I think back to the days of my youth when mom and I would spend a day in sleek, assembly-line fashion canning tomatoes in the kitchen according to the instructions on a stained index card written in my grandfather’s hand – clearly dictated from my grandmother as she stood over the stove, no doubt.

I found that with this technique, canning tomatoes a few pints at a time only took two hours.  All you really need are the proper jars, bands and lids, and a pot big enough to boil them.  Here are my grandmother’s instructions for canning tomatoes:

  • Place washed tomatoes in a large pan; pour boiling water over the tomatoes.  Take the tomatoes out of the water within a minute and remove the skins.  (scoring them beforehand makes it even easier).
  • Cut tomatoes in half or quarters and squeeze out most of the seeds.
  • Place tomatoes in a colander as you peel the rest.
  • Pack tomatoes in jars – as tightly as possible with a little juice on top (this occurs naturally).  Squeeze the tomatoes into the jar.  Get the air bubbles out with a plastic knife or chopstick.
  • Boil water in a small saucepan.
  • Turn off heat and place lids in the hot water for about 3 minutes.  Place hot lid on the jar, making sure the surface is clean.  Screw on the cap.
  • Place a cloth on the bottom of a large stockpot and put the filled jars in the pot.  Fill with water to cover the caps, bring to a boil and boil covered, SLOWLY for 30 minutes only.
  • Take cover off and let jars sit for about 10 minutes longer in the water, then take them out.  Done! Go have an ice cream!

Freezing – Peppers are great, but if you can’t keep up with production, simply wash them, dry them well and throw them into a freezer bag.  There were some websites that suggest cutting and seeding them, but I’ve found that freezing them whole is the easiest and fastest solution.

Dehydrating and drying are also options, but I have a bad memory of an 8th grade class dehydrator experiment that went terribly wrong, so I won’t go into detail about it here.

Here is a great website that has instructions for preserving all kinds of fruits and vegetables.  Plus, it’s a great resource for “pick your own” farms all over the country.  So if you didn’t have an abundance of your own, find a farm and enjoy someone else’s.

Link: http://www.pickyourown.org/allaboutcanning.htm

Here’s the best thing I can think to do with surplus zucchini (you’ll thank me later).

4. Abundance – Part 2

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

¾ cup canola oil

3 eggs (or egg replacer)

2 cups sugar

2 tsp. Vanilla extract

½ cup milk (soymilk works too)

2 ½ cups all purpose flour (spelt & wheat flours work too)

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I recommend Ghiradelli’s)

1 tsp. Ground cinnamon

1 tsp. Salt

1½ tsps. Baking soda

2½ tsps. Baking powder

2 cups grated zucchini

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly oil two 9 x 5 loaf pans or 6 mini-loaf pans.

Sift together flour, cocoa, cinnamon, salt, baking soda and baking powder in a small bowl.

In a large bowl beat oil, eggs, sugar together, then add vanilla extract and milk.

Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir to combine.

Stir in zucchini.

Pour into loaf pans. Bake large loaves 55-60 minutes and mini-loaves 25-30 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.  Don’t over bake – gooey is better.

Let pans cool for 20 minutes; use a knife to separate the edges of the cake from the pan.  Turn bread out on a wire rack and try to resist eating it all right then and there.

This and other recipes can be found in a great book called Simply Natural: All-time Favorite Recipes from the Kitchens of North America’s Best Natural Foods Restaurants.  The link to buy it is below.

Link: Simply Natural

Stay tuned for more news and handy tips from the Gardenerd! Enjoy the rest of summer.

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