Go for your garden zucchini

Wow! What a wet week we just had. The grass is nice and green, but is growing faster than husband Norm can find a dried out day to cut it as much as he would like. Guess we humans will complain, no matter what. At least, we haven’t needed to drag out the hose to water the garden. I have a plan to take care of that watering problem for the garden for next year if I can convince someone to help me build it. There are more raised beds planned, so maybe it can all be done at the same time. I guess Norm has finally realized that a farm girl will never quit trying to garden, even if it isn’t something she can still do easily. Good news – I think – the zucchini is starting to come on – and that means grilled zucchini and zucchini casserole. Now, we will work on the roses.. As Scarlett says, “Tomorrow is another day.”

Our family reunion is in three weeks here on the hilltop. Can I be ready for it? I doubt it. The house will just have to be what I can get done – the health department isn’t invited. – and if someone doesn’t like it, they can just pick up a broom or dust cloth and go to work on it. Hopefully, it will be a nice sunny day, with breezes, if Old Mother Nature will just cooperate. I know I won’t get everything done that I want, so the mind is being set to not worry about it.

I enjoy using things that have memories connected with them, like the little measuring cup that I use to measure detergent for the washer. It is from the days when we had cows and used a milking machine. The company name it reminds me of daily chores when we were growing up. It is sad that many young people today haven’t had the chance to learn good work habits. Then there is the Rosenthal Chrystal wine glass from a set I got in Wiesbaden, Germany, when my friend and I went shopping in her home town. I wonder where she is now. Memories are precious and a comfort to the soul. We all need to keep journals of our daily life, but we seem to be too busy to do that. I have regrets that I always put it off, and now wish I had written down the experiences I had. Learn from my mistake and keep a record of your comings and goings – you will be thankful some day and those who follow you will be so thankful for the record of life in a time before they were born.

The newspaper is full of ideas for enjoyment this summer right in our valley. Too often we think we have to travel someplace else for a vacation, or even a day of relaxation, when folks in other areas come here to see the very things we overlook. This valley is full of history and beauty. A lot of money isn’t necessary for us to enjoy the summer – just explore our own valley.

Summer camp is great for kids, but if it isn’t in the cards for your kids (money, etc.), you can give them a good summer with things they would do at camp. A tent in the back yard, a volleyball set, ball games of all sorts, even a cooking class – these are all things they will enjoy and remember. If they are in the 4-H program or in a church youth group, then camp is not an expensive thing to do. A friend of mine tells about refusing to go to her sister’s wedding because she didn’t want to miss the fun at church camp. There are short time camps for adults in our valley, too, and an inexpensive way to recharge one’s battery and learn a new craft or just to sit and visit with other adults. Do something with your young ones, though, so they, and you, have those precious summer memories. Children grow up so fast – we wonder where the years go – and our time to spend with them is limited. Remember these days will not come again, so enjoy it now. In fact, one should spend time with all the family as we never know what tomorrow might bring.

Don’t scream when you look at the calendar and realize how soon school will start or how soon the holidays will slip up on us. We think we have loads of time, and then, all at once, it is upon us. While you make those jams and jellies or freeze that Zucchini Bread, make extra for gifts for family and friends. Everyone appreciates something you made yourself over what you ran out to the store at the last minute and bought. Also, it is more cost effective and relives much of the pressure that the holidays bring as we try to do too much in too little time. It is a lot more enjoyable to make cookies with the kids then be running around downtown trying to get everything done at the last minute.

Plan ahead as you do your preserving this summer. Fancy jelly jars filled with the fruits of our valley make wonderful gifts for anyone. Preserving – freezing or canning – is an enjoyable task and should be taught to the kids as they are young. That way, they will consider it a fun thing to do. You don’t even have to tell them that it is a money-saver.

Zucchini time is upon us. There will be some recipes today, and I know you have lots more. Don’t tell the kids the great cake you just made has zucchini in it or they will turn up their noses. Just slip those veggies in wherever you can. They don’t realize the veggies are what makes it so moist and good. Freeze your excess for winter use. Put shredded zucchini in packages in the amount needed for your recipes and it is easy to defrost and use. I then put the smaller packages into a gallon sized freezer bag and it is easy to get out that just one cup needed. Diced or sliced for casseroles are handy frozen in the amounts needed for one recipe. Keep some iced tea cold for when you finish making that jam and want to take a break with a cool glass and a sitting time in the swing. Cuddle with your kids and enjoy your family. This is the first day of the rest of your life. God Bless.

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ZUCCHINI SPICE CAKE

Two cups all purpose flour

Two cups finely chopped zucchini

One and one-fourth cups sugar

One cup chopped nuts

One-half cup vegetable oil

One-third cup water

One-and-one-fourth teaspoons baking soda

One teaspoon salt

One teaspoon cinnamon

One-half teaspoon ground cloves

One teaspoon ground nutmeg

One teaspoon vanilla extract

Three eggs

Combine all ingredients and beat at low speed in mixer, scraping bowl constantly, until blended, about one minute. Beat at medium speed two minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour into greased and floured 13x9x2-inch pan and bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool, and then frost with cream cheese frosting.

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CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

One (8-oz.) package cream cheese

One tablespoon milk

One teaspoon vanilla extract

Four cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

Beat cream cheese, milk and vanilla until smooth. Gradually beat in powdered sugar, one cup at a time, beating until smooth and of spreading consistency. Refrigerate cake after frosting.

NOTE: Lemon flavoring is good in this also, especially with a spice cake. This is a basic recipe for cream cheese frosting.

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ZUCCHINI MARMALADE

(Sent to me by my friend, Sarah Jalbert)

Eight cups zucchini, peeled, seeds removed and ground

Six cups sugar

One-half cup lemon juice

One can apricot juice

One 6-oz. package apricot Jell-O

Cook zucchini and sugar until clear. Add lemon and apricot juice. Cook gently until thick. Remove from heat and add apricot Jell-O. Stir until dissolved. Freeze.

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ZUCCHINI BROWNIES

One-and-one-half cups all-purpose flour

One-and-one-half tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

One-half teaspoon baking soda

One-fourth teaspoon baking powder

One-half teaspoon cinnamon

One-fourth cup vegetable shortening

One-fourth cup vegetable oil

Three-fourths cup sugar

One egg

One-fourth cup sour cream

One-half teaspoon vanilla

One cup grated zucchini

Three-fourths cup mini chocolate chips

One-third cup finely chopped walnuts

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. In another large bowl, beat shortening, oil, sugar and egg until smooth. Beat in sour cream and vanilla, then flour mixture. Beat for two minutes. Fold in zucchini and chocolate chips. Spread in a greased and floured 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Sprinkle nuts on top. Bake in preheated 325-degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center of pan comes out clean. Cool in pan. Cut into bars.

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ZUCCHINI CASSEROLE

Six cups sliced zucchini

One-half cup sliced onion

One-fourth cup sliced celery

One-fourth cup sliced carrot

One-fourth cup water

One cup sour cream

One can condensed Cream of Chicken soup

One-half cup butter, melted

One package chicken flavored Stove Top Stuffing Mix

Place zucchini, onion, celery, carrot and water in a saucepan and cook until just barely tender. Add sour cream and condensed cream of chicken soup and mix. In another bowl, combine melted butter and stuffing mix. In a greased 2-quart casserole, place half of zucchini mixture, then half of stuffing mixture, then rest of zucchini mixture and top with last half of stuffing mixture. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven about 30 minutes, or until bubbly.