Saturday, July 25, 2020

Garden Food:Italian Summer Squash to Freeze

Hi gardeners and friends,

This week our Midwest garden has been producing lots of summer squash and no zucchini. There wasn't enough to pressure can, so I decided to cook some up to freeze, as my refrigerator was getting crowded, LOL.

We are only going to cook the vegetables half-way through and this recipe is low-sodium. I use lemon juice for seasoning and it also helps to keep the vegetables bright and fresh.

Start in an electric wok or frypan with cut small size summer squash. (These are still nicely tight inside with very small seeds). I cut them in equal sized chunks/halves or quarter slices. Add 2 Tbsp of olive oil to the pan and cook at 350 stirring occasionally. 

I added hearty shakes with a Italian Seasoning mixture and then 1 tsp of celery salt. (This is one tsp salt for 4 quarts) @

In another pan I sweat at medium heat in 1 Tbsp of olive oil, 1 thinly sliced large sliced red or yellow onion, and 6-8 stalks of celery thinly cut, add 6 cloves of minced fresh garlic, just stir these until they are getting translucent. 

Add the celery and onions to the lightly simmering squash.

In the used pan, add 8-10 garden tomatoes cored and thickly chopped. I use whatever is ripe. Sweat down at medium heat, until they are just breaking down.

When the tomatoes are just breaking down and juicy add, 6 squirts of lemon juice, additional seasoning (I added a heaping tablespoon of my Pesto). 
Stir and then add the hot tomato mixture to the squash. Give it all a good stir, turn off the heat and let cool.

You don't want to overcook the vegetables, just until they have a bit of crunch.

Scoop into meal-size containers or bags. 

This batch made almost 4 quarts.  TIP: Place your 1 quart bag in a 1 quart container to fill. Fill to the container top, when you pull bag out, just enough space will be left to squeeze out air and seal. 

I like bagging as they are easier to thaw, and take the least amount of room in the freezer. We are trimming down to one freezer this year, so I have to think about room. Don't forget to Label and Date! 

You can certainly add salt, pepper or any other seasonings to this when you cook with your Italian yellow squash. Great on pasta, with chicken, pork, fish, or shellfish or as a side-dish. Very light, healthy and refreshing. I love having a taste of summer in December. SMILES!



Friday, July 24, 2020

Garden Food: My Herb Garden Pesto

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If you have been following my Midwest Gardening posts, the weather has been the dictator of dealing with produce. Yesterday I decided to cut back my herbs as they are struggling with the heat and constant sun. It's a good thing to trim back when plants are drooping. You can keep basil inside cut and the stems put in a glass of water. Even those stems were drooping. So I decide to use everything for Pesto.


Starting a Pesto---Pick fresh herbs, clean with cold water, discard any discolored leaves. 


I started with almost 4 cups of basil leaves. A good handful of tiny oregano leaves, some cilantro and parsley heads, avoid stems.

And Pulse chopped this until small pieces.


Add 1 1/2 Tbsp of white wine vinegar, and 2 Tbsp of lemon juice and pulse just a few seconds more, remove from chopper.



Add 1 Tbsp of olive oil to your 12 garlic buds, (we love garlic), and chop as fine as you want them. I coarse chop ours.


Combine with the greens and stir well. I'm not putting in pine nuts, these can be added to your dish when you are cooking. Remove to your clean canning jar.


Add more olive oil until everything is covered (2 more Tbsp for this batch).

Place uncovered in the microwave, microwave on High for 1-2 min, until you can smell the herbs, and know it has reached a hot temperature. 


Cover and store in the refrigerator. This keeps for a month or two, depending on how often you use it. I use this on fish, in sauces and dishes, also in pasta salds for summer. 

You can always add your dry Italian cheeses and toasted pine nuts for a traditional Pesto when you use it. 

Low Sodium Pesto for the Fridge.                             Makes @1/2 pint or more.

3 1/2-4 cups of Basil leaves
1/4-1/2 cup of oregano leaves
1-2 cups of parsley/cilantro heads
1 1/2 Tbsp of white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice (this replaces salt)
12 garlic cloves cut in half
@ 4 Tbsp of Olive oil. . 

Chop cleaned herbs in chopper or by hand, add lemon juice and vinegar, chop a bit more. Move to glass jar or microwave proof container.
Chop garlic cloves with 1 Tbsp of olive oil.

Combine all. Add remaining oil until all greens are covered, stir. Microwave for 1-2 min on high, just until HOT to touch.
Seal with lid while hot. Cool, when room temperature store in refrigerator. 
You can add grated dry Italian cheese and/or toasted pine nuts with this. 
Excellent on bread, in pasta, in sauces, basted on meats, grilled vegetables and is a great time saver!  

What's your favorite summer Make Ahead.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Poorman's Bouquet and Vintage Finds

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Hi, Friends! 
Two things today, Poorman's Bouquet and Vintage Finds.

Well, it's Thursday, and we had a slight slip in temps so I charged outside with a long list of to-do's. Yikes it still was hot with our high humidity and I only lasted 3 1/2 hours. 

So, today I'm sharing a Poor man's Bouquet, all scavenged flowers from my garden. Why, Poor man, you ask. 


When I worked in a couple of fresh flower shops in my career... we would clean the coolers on Tuesday (many flower shops are closed on Mondays). It was obvious what flowers needed to be trimmed, cleaned, or thrown away. Often we would make a gorgeous floral piece for the counter with whatever was unsellable, even though it would last only a day or two. Often these 'Poorman' bouquets would be edited daily, freshened, or another set of castoffs arranged on the counter. 


This tradition followed me into the Faux flower world and my Silk Design career. Often the last stem of a style (discontinued or a seasonal send out order- a 1 time shipment) would linger.  I would collect these and add lots of greenery and make an eclectic design and place this on my design desk, with a tag---One of a Kind Special at a modest price.

Surprisingly these sold very well, as they were colorful and often very natural looking, a great bargain for the customer and sold from practically unsellable product. 

NO ONE buys the last stem or anything damaged, no matter how cheap it is, other than another scavenging designer. 

So, today as I am pulling weeds and dead stuff, I survey the condition of all my plants. (We've had tons of bugs this year, and leaves look like Swiss cheese, but since we are organic, I ignore or spray again with soap water). Anyway, I had a few stems of Lilies, two broken Zinnias. I added a broken stem of coleus and three Caladium leaves that were hiding in some bushes. Add a bit of yarrow and my never ending supply of Sweet Peas and it's enough for a little Poorman's Bouquet. It won't last long, but is a bit of cheer in our kitchen and broken flowers are saved for a bit.

Vintage Finds:

Two weeks ago I ventured to a thrift store and found some doll items, minis, and these 4 plates. 

I love any transfer ware, and sales have been strong and my stock is depleted for my Etsy store. I grabbed these without thinking twice, I knew the shell edges on this type of ware are easily chipped and these were perfect.


Wedgwood's Bramble tranfer ware plates were made of   Even with crazing on the back these are very pretty and in great condition. The Barlaston of Ertruria referred to the factory opened in 1769 in Stoke on Trent, one of the most prolific area of ceramic production in England. This factory lasted 180 years and was closed in 1949. So best info I have for the pattern is 1942-ish or pre-1949. 

Really quite pretty, these would certainly mix with many red transfer ware patterns. I'm torn between using them, or letting them go...!

Part of the problem with loving Antiques and Vintage is letting go, lol. 

What have you Scavenged Lately?