My garden has been killing me. I have given grocery bag after grocery bag of produce away, cooked some for every meal and the piles just keep growing. I don't remember having this much excess when we had big gardens as a kid.
Then it hit me...
Back then, we also had lots of chickens and as least one hog.
Well, that explains that. I told MH that since I am allowed to have a garden again next year...
We'll probably have to go the chicken and hog route as well.
The allowed to have a garden again has become a joke between MH and I due to the large amount of time I spend puttering in the garden. However, the husband has deemed that time worthy due to the number of new dishes on the menu.
This year has been a learning process to be sure. I was a kid that last time I remember gardening seriously. My mom always had a garden until '76 when the grasshoppers descended and ate everything in sight. I clearly remember how absolutely disgusting they were in those years.
When my dad moved back to the family ranch in the early 80's, he took up where my grandmother had left off and had acres and acres of garden. I don't think I was even born yet when my grandmother was bitten on the finger by a rattlesnake when she was picking tomatoes, but I grew up with that story embedded in my head, that when gardening....you must be very, very careful about digging around in the plants. To this day, and even though we do not have any poisonous snakes in the area I live in now, that thought crosses my mind and I am cautious when I start digging around for hidden produce.
Oddly, some of my best memories of my dad was gardening with him. He was a much different person when he was working in his garden than anywhere else. I think it gave him a sense of peace and purpose. He was a very troubled man.
Even though I have been a bit overwhelmed with the sheer production of my tiny little garden, I can totally relate to why my dad's garden made him feel good.
Needless to say, I have had to do some digging to come up with new recipes to use up all of this that I am growing. The freezer is holding all of the extra peas and corn. I have tried canning some pickles and can't wait to try them in a few weeks. I have my fingers crossed that they turn out. MH is a dill pickle fan. I prefer a zesty bread and butter.
I have baked zucchini bread and muffins and froze them. I tried several recipes until I found the one we liked the best. It's a bit more cake-like than bread-like. I am currently trying chocolate zucchini cake recipes. I have also grated numerous bags of zucchini and froze them to use later in the winter. Shredded zucchini freezes very well.
Multiple recipes for zucchini patties have been tried and we settled on two that we really like. One has bread crumbs, one is more of pancake batter style.
I have served stuffed zucchini, made by gently cooking the whole zucchini, cutting it in half, cleaning out the squash, mixing that with sausage and parmesan cheese and then filling the shells with the mixture and baking. THAT was a huge success. The flavor was there, even if I was disappointed that my zucchini shells went totally flat. LOL
The latest and greatest was Zucchini Custard Pie. Sounds kinda gross, but we have absolutely inhaled them. MH says they are his new favorite pie.
The one thing that I have had a hard time coming up with new recipes for was the yellow squash. My tried and true recipe for fried squash chips has not gotten old yet. MH really likes them just for something to nosh on. But outside of that and a couple of casserole dishes I would like to try yet, I was coming up short of what to do with the yellow squash. It doesn't particularly freeze or can well. Although, if I could find some casserole recipes for it, I was thinking of seeing how it froze in shredded form like the zucchini.
While I was digging through my piles of recipes and recipe books, I ran across an old page I had saved that had a zucchini/squash relish recipe. Since I am inundated with produce, I figured I'd give it a shot. Not to mention it called for the use of 'Italian peppers'.
In my pepper selection this year, I had included some Gypsy peppers. They have been quite prolific, but neither MH or I cared for the taste of them raw or sauted, so I was at a loss of what to do with the excess. I have been chopping them up and putting them in the pico de gallo, as well as the salsa I have started making, but as I said, they are prolific little buggers, so I don't ever seem to use them up.
Let me just say...I ate spoonfuls of this relish while it cooled. OMG...It is delicious. The recipe does not call for canning it, rather it is a refrigerator relish (lasts about 2 weeks) or can be froze for a month. I am thinking it could be canned and am going to try that for the next batch. I immediately ran out and bought some Italian sausages and bratwursts and it's heavenly piled up on them. I think it would be good piled on hamburgers as well. It's wonderfully sweet and tangy, a bit crunchy and the addition of jalapenos and curry gives it a lot of depth.
If anyone is interested, I'm happy to share the recipes. Believe me, I am not into complex cooking. If anyone has squash or zucchini recipes that they are particularly fond of...please send them my way. I'm drowning in a sea of squash. ;-)