Sunday, July 10, 2011

Identifying Vines in the Garden and Using Zucchini

Cucumber
My grandfather taught me to plant straight rows of seeds and mark the end of each row with a stick. Tacked to that stick should be the seed envelope for identifying the row.

Twenty years later, I'm still not planting straight rows and it is a bit of a surprise what each vine will produce. You see, I save all my seeds from this year's produce to grow next years produce.

I wish I could say that I label the dried seeds in an organized fashion, but I do not. I jumble my dried seeds together.

Pumpkin
While I do plant the seeds in rows, they rarely stay confined. Vines like pumpkins, cucumbers, and zucchini sprawl all over the garden bed. This year I took photos of the leaves of each vine. Learning to identify the leaves, certainly cuts down on the mystery! 

Here are some pumpkin leaves above and on the right. They've just started to bloom at the beginning of July, so I hope they will have some pumpkins ready for me in October.
zucchini

Zucchini is my favorite type of squash. It is hearty and thrives when my other vines have taken all the summer heat they can handle. It grows taller than a cucumber and doesn't sprawl around the garden quite so much. On the left are the zucchini leaves as it grows. They are bigger and greener than cucumber leaves.

Friends often ask what I do with zucchini. My favorite way to eat it is fried with potatoes. Below is a photo of last nights dinner. I fry it in real butter (never margarine). I also add other vegetables such as corn, onions and tomatoes.  Here is the full recipe I typed out for a friend:

Fried Zucchini (and other vegetables)

  • Melt 1/2 a stick of real butter in the bottom of a pan. 
  • Take it off the heat while I slice the vegetables. (I use a food processor to do the slicing.) 
  • Slice 4 medium pototoes, 2 medium zucchini and half an onion. 
  • Cover it and let it cook on medium low heat until the potatoes are tender. 
  • Uncover and add the quartered tomatoes. 
  • Cook it another 5 minutes uncovered. (If you add the tomatoes to soon they cook down into nothing.) 
  • I also throw in seasoning at this point. Dried sage, sea salt and garlic powder are 3 of my favorites.
 
frozen zucchini slices
I can easily save enough zucchini each summer to have fried zucchini and potatoes all year long. I just slice it in the food processor and put it in the bags. That's it! You do not have to add anything and it doesn't turn brown. It is slightly soggier than fresh zucchini after being thawed, but I am frying it, so I simply leave the lid off the frying pan a little longer to cook the sogginess out of the zucchini.

You can also shred zucchini before freezing it. This comes in quite handy for making zucchini bread.
 
I also use zucchini to can sweet pickle relish. I use the relish all year long in tuna, pasta, potato and bean salad. I never have to buy sweet relish. The relish I make from zucchini tastes just like cucumber relish. Delicious!

Here is the recipe for Canning Zucchini Relish. It uses organic bell pepper, organic zucchini, apple cider vinegar, and brown sugar. No high-fructose corn syrup. (Gross!)

A friend also shared a tasty recipe for:
Zucchini Milano
2 T. Oleo
1/4 c. green pepper
4 c. Zucchini (1/4 slices)
1 c. Shredded cheddar
1/4 C. chopped onion
1/2 tsp. oregano
8 oz. tomato sauce
Salt, pepper & a little sugar to taste

  • Saute onion & pepper in butter until tender
  • Add squash, cover & cook about 15 minutes on low
  • Add tomato sauce and spices
  • Fold in cheese
  • Stir

gourd
But, enough about zucchini. I have one more vine that I haven't shown you from this year's garden. It's on the right and it is a gourd vine. The leaves have milky white veins running through them.  

I believe I bought these seeds this year in order to make things (bird's nests, canteens, etc) from the dried gourds. 

Have you ever made anything from a gourd?

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