Finally a very nice day coincided with a couple "free" hours today, and I was able to get out to plant the lettuce and peas. And sure enough, out came little girls to help! It is amazing how much they enjoy planting and subsequently eating peas. With all the stereotypes of children refusing to eat their mushy cooked peas, to my children, fresh peas off the vine are like candy. And really, they are. If you've never planted peas, now is the time. Their natural sugars are so high that it is a wonderful substitute for candy, at least for children whose taste buds have not been over-stimulated with junk. (Remember, my youngest thinks fresh kale is a treat!)
Eating peas for breakfast last June
The Little Marvel worked very well for us last year, and so I am doing it again this year. I have had very little success with climbers, but this bush variety was wonderful. We don’t plant enough to blanch and freeze, or even to make a meal. Just enough to give the children several weeks worth of fun food fresh from the garden. When I asked the older children once what was their fondest memory of my gardens as they were growing up, it wasn’t my beautiful flowers, sigh, it was fresh peas, beans, and cherry tomatoes from the garden. Oh, and those thick-skinned, large-pitted ancient grapes in the fall. Food leaves the longest and sweetest memories.
OK, as I promised, here’s the secret ingredient for the mock apple pie – zucchini! Anyone surprised? The children all raved, because it REALLY tasted like apple pie. One of the girls shared that it reminded her of "Ma" in one of the Little House on the Prairie books, The Long Winter. In the story, all the girls and Ma were full of excitement and giggling, because they had a surprise for Pa – a very special dessert. When they brought it out and he tasted it, he was amazed! "Apple Pie! Where in the world did you get apples?" The girls could contain themselves no more. "It’s green pumpkin!" the youngest shouted. Pa was convinced Ma was the best cook in the world.
I took it as a high complement that I reminded them of Ma, especially since they don’t always like my concoctions, and because my son refused to even try it when he found out it had zucchini in it. (I told him if he didn’t want to eat what I was serving, he could choose to eat nothing. So he did. At 17, if he wants to be stubborn, he can make that choice. The girls all told him afterwards it was absolutely delicious and tasted just like apple pie. So there.)
So here’s the recipe. (Yes, I try to limit white sugar in the house, but hey, it has 8 cups of zucchini! That has to be good for them!) Try it, then comment! I’m feeling lonely without comments.
Zucchini "Apple" Pie
1 ¼ c. sugar
1 ½ Tbs flour
1 ½ tsp cream of tartar
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
1 Tbs lemon juice
8 cups zucchini, peeled, seeded, and sliced (I sliced them to look like apple slices)
Cook the zucchini in 2-3 cups of water until they turn opaque, 10-15 min. This is the most important step. My slices were no more than ¼ inch thick, and I cooked them until they cut easily with a fork and had no white look left to them. You don’t want them mushy, since they are going to cook more in the pie, but if you don’t cook them enough now, they will not fool anyone in the pie. It’ll still taste good, but not like apple. Once cooked, pour into a colander, drain, and cool. Put into a bowl and add the rest of the ingredients, mix well and pour into an unbaked pie crust. Dot with butter and add the top crust. (I always cut vents in the top crust, and cut little crosses to bless the food. My paternal grandmother always blessed her bread dough as a prayer that it would rise and as a prayer for those it would feed. So nice. I also brush the top with milk and sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar.) Put tinfoil just around the edges of the pie crust, bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Then remove the tinfoil, lower the temperature to 350, and cook another 35 minutes. Your pie will be a masterpiece! (Some time I’ll give you my pie crust recipe, but this post is long enough!)
Here’s a lovely, fun summer dinner! Neatly sprinkled with edible flowers, this colorful meal really satisfies
The fruit and veggie platter is garnished with borage, monarda, mint flowers and sprigs, and nasturtium. Also from our garden: blueberries, a smattering of red and black raspberries, beans, and broccoli.
The cheese, pepperoni, and egg platter is garnished with mint and nasturtium. The salad includes three kinds of lettuce, kale, lamb’s quarters, wood sorrel, bachelor buttons, monarda, two kinds of calendula, and white and red clover. Adding various vegetables, seeds, cheese, and salad dressing make a delicious and nutritious salad. This dinner was an opportunity to try different flavors. My girls discovered that mint tastes great with cantaloupe, and lemon tastes yummy with banana. And I discovered that raspberry tastes great in a salad with Italian dressing!
The "apple" pie was actually the main course! Not made with apples, but with a secret ingredient from the vegetable garden, you’ll have to wait until I post the recipe to find out! I promise I’ll do it soon!
This is what Christina thinks of this meal. Bon appetit!
So, always wanted to make jam, but were intimidated by the processing and the mess? Well, you need not be intimidated any more! Just grab yourself a packet of Ball Original Fruit Pectin (formerly known as Sure-Jell), and make yourself some freezer jam! Here are the steps, but the instructions are right in the packet. There are also instructions for berry, cherry, peach, strawberry-banana, and strawberry-kiwi. We actually added a few mulberries to our strawberry batch, giving us wonderful purple dots in the pink!
Welcome to Growing Goodness! This website is dedicated to growing good things, both plants and children. It's a gardening blog with maternal overtones, as I discuss the goodness and value of plants, both wild and domestic. In the process I hope to help you pass a love of nature on to your children. Happy Gardening!