Hippies in the Kitchen (with recipes) and Two Liebsters!

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The haul from yesterday afternoon.

The haul from yesterday afternoon.

“August. The month when the joy of, ‘Look! The first red tomato,’ turns into ‘What the heck and I supposed to do with all these effing tomatoes?”

I read that on Facebook yesterday and laughed about it all day. I tried so hard this morning to find it again so I could give credit where credit is due but I couldn’t seem to turn it up (maybe that’s a sign I have too much stuff on my newsfeed?  Nah… that can’t be it.).

This is our first year with a “real” garden (as opposed to 2 tomato plants in pots on the front porch) and what a year it has been! With the incredible heat and just a smidge of rain almost every day in the month of June followed by a dry, sunny, coolish July we have experienced wild abundance. Our tomato plants were 5 feet tall before the weight of the fruit covering every inch of the vine collapsed the trellises and cages! Our sunflowers are 12 feet tall and bigger than dinner plates. The cucumber vines practically smothered the neighborhood.

sunflowers

We share our garden with our neighbors, so we only had to do half the work and put up half the harvest but, still, for newbies like us, half was plenty! Thankfully it has come in waves so I’ve been able to keep up.

It has given me more joy than I ever thought it could to fill my pantry with rows of jars full of food I planted and grew and harvested and processed. It is super satisfying to some cave-man part of my brain to know that I now possess the skills to keep my family alive without a grocery store. We haven’t grown or canned enough to last all winter but now I know I can. I love that!

If you’re drowning in produce and trying to figure out what you should do with “all these effing tomatoes,” here are the recipes and links that I have used and loved:

Zucchini

Chocolate Zucchini Bread (click here for the recipe) instantly became a new family favorite.

I never have Greek yogurt in my house so the first time i made this I used sour cream instead and it worked beautifully. The next time I didn’t have sour cream either so I used 6 oz of whole milk – 1 TBSP of milk + 1 TBSP of white vinegar and it was even better. It is so moist and chocolaty and it was warm and…. aw geez. Now I’m hungry.

I never have Greek yogurt in my house so the first time i made this I used sour cream instead and it worked beautifully. The next time I didn’t have sour cream either so I used 6 oz of whole milk – 1 TBSP of milk + 1 TBSP of white vinegar and it was even better. It is so moist and chocolaty and it was warm and…. aw geez. Now I’m hungry.

Zucchini muffins are perfect for breakfast. I used the recipe from 100 Days of Real Food.  They have just enough cinnamon to feel warm and wonderful in your belly and they freeze beautifully.

Zucchini chips are super easy to make! Just slice your zucchini into very thin circles. Lay them in a single layer on a cookie sheet, spray with olive oil, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and a little bit of bread crumbs. Flip them over. Repeat. Cook on 250 degrees until they’re crisp (I never timed it but it takes a while – about an hour or so). They are full of flavor and crunchy, though I found they didn’t keep very well.

One of my long-time favorite zucchini recipes is to take about equal amounts of bite-size zucchini, yellow squash, bell peppers and mushrooms. Add a handful of chopped cilantro, a large portion of pine nuts, some salt and pepper and garlic and saute it all in olive oil until it’s soft. It’s wonderful all by itself and even better with some good pasta.

Everything that was left over got used in spaghetti sauce or frozen. A friend gave me the best tip for freezing zucchini; She told me to pack it into 1/2 cup portions and freeze the “pucks” on waxed paper. Then, once they are frozen hard, you can toss them all into a bag together and when you need some later you can reach in and take out exactly the amount you need.

Cucumbers

My family loves raw cucumbers so we ate huge piles of fresh cucumbers. They went on every plate at every meal for days (weeks?).  Still, there were baskets full of left overs and so we tried our hand at making pickles.

For dill pickles I used this recipe. They have a strong flavor and they’re just the right amount of spicy.

pickles

I also made several jars of sweet dills, which my husband LOVED. I’m not a big fan of sweet pickles but these had both a tinge of sweetness AND the bite of a dill and, somehow, it works really nicely together.  They are “refrigerator pickles.” That means they process much faster and they are ready to eat within a day of canning (though they get even better the longer they sit) but they will only last a few months and they must be kept in the fridge. The others will, theoretically, last forever on a dark shelf.

Ingredients

2 lbs firm pickling cucumbers

1 1/2 cups white vinegar

1 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup sugar

2 tsp pickling salt

2 tsp dill seeds

1 tsp black peppercorns

2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

8 sprigs of fresh dill

1. Scrub the cucumbers and cut them into spears. Evenly distribute them in 2 quart-size or 3 pint-size jars, packing them snugly.

2. Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, dill seeds, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add the garlic and dill. Let it rest for a few minutes.

3. Strain the brine into another container, reserving the herbs and spices.

4. Cover the cucumbers in the jars with brine, leaving about 1/2 inch of headspace. Add the reserved seasonings, dividing them equally between the jars. Put on the lids and shake well, but gently.

5. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours before eating.

Carrots

We didn’t have a massive crop of carrots, and they’re not quick to spoil. My kids love them raw so we’ll use most of them that way, but we did can a few jars with the Sweet Dill recipe (above) and they are a great snack or side dish. Handsome Hippie Hubby eats them like candy!

I also learned that carrot tops can be substituted for parsley. I hung our carrot tops to dry and have used them several times in various recipes and they’ve been delicious.

Tomatoes

Pizza sauce is a staple in our house. We LOVE pizza! This sauce was easy to make and it’s got a great garlicky flavor.

Life doesn't get much better than pizza.

Life doesn’t get much better than pizza.

“Why would you make spaghetti sauce? It only costs a dollar on sale at Meijer.” That’s what a friend asked me. Then he tasted home-made spaghetti sauce. Then he said, “Next year you should plant more tomatoes!”

This sauce is extraordinary! It is just a little spicy. It’s just a little chunky. It’s thick and delicious and filling.  I tried a few changes, based on what I had around the house. I used a little white sugar and molasses instead of brown sugar. I added zucchini to my first batch and used jalapenos from the garden instead of banana peppers. It takes HOURS to simmer it down but the result is worth it. In the meantime, your house will smell amazing! (click here for the recipe)

Years ago I worked in the kitchen of a Mexican restaurant in Arizona whose claim to fame was their salsa. It’s very mild and full of flavor. It’s not complicated. I think it’s the sheer freshness of the flavor that makes it so great.  I’ve made this with cherry tomatoes too and they worked great. The sweetness adds a nice dynamic. The owner closed up shop and retired to Mexico so I don’t feel bad about sharing his great recipe.  The measurements are estimates, so you may want to tweak it according to taste.  You can’t can it because it isn’t cooked but it freezes beautifully.

6 medium tomatoes

6 green onions

1 bunch of cilantro

2 jalapenos, seeded

3-4 cloves of garlic

2 TBSP of lime juice

2 TBSP of salt

1 large avocado

Dice it all as tiny as you can and mix it well.

Crab Apples

I didn’t even know what these were! I had been wondering and then a friend asked and so I finally posted a picture on Facebook and got my answer: Teeny Tiny Apples.  Raw, they are tart… like Granny Smith X 100 tart. Sweet Hippie Daughter loves that! She nibbles them right off the trees now that she knows they’re safe.

I turned to my friend, Pinterest, and found a few recipes for them.

Sweet Hippie Daughter made this super easy “Pickled Crab Apple” recipe (click here) all on her own.  You have to let it sit quite a while before you eat them, so we haven’t tried it yet but it was so easy (and the apples were so abundant!) that it seemed silly not to give it a try. I can’t wait to taste it! The combination of the tartness, saltiness and spice intrigues me.

I also tried baked crab apples. I tossed them in olive oil, cinnamon and sugar and spread them on a single layer on a cookie sheet and baked them at 250 degrees for about an hour (until they were soft). They’re a sweet-tart treat that you can eat right off the stem, like a cherry or mash them up and mix them with oatmeal. Yummy!

Everything else we simply sliced and froze or gobbled up fresh. It’s been a fun journey so far. I can’t wait to plant twice as much of what we’ve loved this year as well as a few new treats next summer!

Two New Awards!

In other news, I was very honored to have been selected by Healthy People, Healthy Planet AND, by A Touch of Grace for a Liebster Award. It always warms my heart when I realize that blogging has led me into a whole community of people striving toward good and worthy goals.

liebster-award

The Liebster Award highlights blogs that have less than 200 followers as a way to recognize new and upcoming blogs.

After being nominated, each nominee must:

  1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger
  2. Share 11 random facts about yourself
  3. Answer the 11 questions the blogger that nominated you has created for you
  4. Nominate 11 new bloggers
  5. Post 11 questions for your nominees to answer
  6. Let all the bloggers know that they have been nominated; but you cannot nominate the blogger that nominated you.

11 Bloggers I nominate:

Boof & Monk-Monk

Nye Noona

A Girl and a Garden!

Nanny Naturale’s Yogi Care

A Little Homemade Health

Organic Vibrations – “Joe is BRAND NEW.” Go check out his blog and help him get started. :)

Mended Musings

Sustainablee

Change the World

Busychica

Genesis 5020

11 Random Facts about me:

1. I almost always take my shoes off at work, when no one is looking.

2. I’m disgusted by grasshoppers (the bug, not the drink)

3. I once worked as a janitor in a diesel shop. I stunk like diesel fuel all the time.

4. My family calls me, “Frank.”

5. I love Red Stripe beer.

6. I adore long, slow drives in the country.

7. The small of the desert is one of my most favorite things, and one of the things i miss most now that I don’t live there any more.

8. I’m still amused by trying to do hand-stands in the swimming pool.

9. There are weeds growing in my garden and lawn that I can’t bear to pull because their flowers are too pretty to kill.

10. I once accidentally cooked a tarantula.

11. I am chronically late. For everything. I’m trying to improve.

My answers to 11 random questions:

  1. Do you have any pets? What are they? – I have a big lazy dog of a breed we’ve identified as “St. Shar-oxer.” This would be 1/2 Shar-pei, 1/4 St. Bernard and 1/4 boxer.
  2. What is your favorite thing about blogging? – The growth and accountability! When I write about something I always end up learning about something and I’m held to a certain standard. It’s embarrassing to be the town hippie and get caught buying Twinkies so I never buy them any more (in the town where I live).
  3. What is a goal you have for your blog? – The current, tangible, goal is to reach 500 subscribers AND 500 Facebook fans (recognizing there is a lot of overlap).  The less tangible goal is to know that, somewhere in the world, someone is inspired to strive for peace, help make the planet better or encouraged in raising their own children by what I’ve written.
  4. What is your favorite book? – One Door Away From Heaven, by Dean Koontz. Or maybe Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver. Or One Year Of Living Biblically by AJ Jacobs.   Or maybe Jesus by Anne Rice.  Uhm… seriously… I have no idea. That’s like asking me to pick which kid I love most. I love books!!!
  5. What is your favorite vacation spot? – The one I get to explore with my Handsome Hippie Hubby and that involves amazing food.
  6. Who is the most important person in your life? – See #5. He’s my twin soul.
  7. What do you want to be doing in 5 years? – What I’m doing now, with more flair.
  8. If you had to sum up your life into 2 college majors, what would be the practical major and what would be the useless, for fun major? (example: my college majors are biology and Latin, guess which is which) – Education and culinary arts.
  9. What is the one food you can’t resist? – pizza!
  10. What song is (or was most recently) stuck in your head?  “I love you” by the Beatles. My toddler sings it All. Day. Long.
  11. Why did you choose to share number 7 on your list of random facts? – Because my mom talked about the desert rain this morning so I had it on the brain.

Questions for my nominations ( I totally ripped these off from my nominator. LAZY Hippie Mama, remember?):

  1. Do you have any pets? What are they
  2. What is your favorite thing about blogging?
  3. What is a goal you have for your blog?
  4. What is your favorite book?
  5. What is your favorite vacation spot?
  6. Who is the most important person in your life?
  7. What do you want to be doing in 5 years?
  8. If you had to sum up your life into 2 college majors, what would be the practical major and what would be the useless, for fun major? (example: my college majors are biology and Latin, guess which is which)
  9. What is the one food you can’t resist?
  10. What song is (or was most recently) stuck in your head?
  11. Why did you choose to share number 7 on your list of random facts?

Whew! That’s enough words for one day! I’ve got 20 pounds of tomatoes on my kitchen counter, just waiting to be turned into more spaghetti sauce so I’ll say TTFN and look forward to meeting you back here soon.

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

Why not follow LazyHippieMama on WordPress, by email or Facebook to get all the updates.

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!  

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13 responses »

  1. I have been canning up a storm over here too. I used to can for years when the kids were little and got away from it when I was working so many hours. This summer I have been off with my knee and I have the time again. I forgot how much I love looking at my food all pretty in the jars and how wonderful the taste of home canning is. I think that it is something I will continue to do. Hungarian Work Horse even grinds his own horseradish. Now that will clear out your sinuses.

  2. Ohh, pizza is a great way to use an excess of tomatoes!! When I read your quote about tomatoes, I thought of zucchini, and then I kept reading, hahaha

    I love the sunflowers!!

    And your description of your dog made me laugh, I’d love to see a picture. 🙂 Thank you for linking to Super Sunday Sync!

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