Thursday, July 21, 2016

Cheddar Dill Zucchini Cakes

Are you getting enough zucchini in your diet?  If not, you're probably not growing them. Or, you are having a bad zucchini year. Otherwise, you are no doubt looking for recipes for zucchini all the time.

These zucchini cakes are based on the traditional recipe for salmon croquettes (which we call salmon patties) that is my favorite. They will bake up a little soft because of the zucchini and cheese, so let them sit a bit before serving. They reheat for lunch like a dream.

Cheddar Dill Zucchini Cakes
1 medium zucchini, shredded
1 T. canning salt
1/2 sleeve saltines, crushed
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. mustard powder
2 tsp. dill.

Preheat oven to 350. Shred zucchini, salt with about 1 T. canning salt and let wilt about 10 minutes; rinse thoroughly.

Combine zucchini with other ingredients and place on greased baking sheet in baseball-sized, flattened patties.  Cook 30-35 minutes, flipping over at the halfway point.

Makes 5-6 patties

The Analysis
Fast:  These are quick to put together, especially if you just have to run out to the garden for a zucchini.

Cheap:  Basic ingredients keep our costs under control here.  Pay up for the free-range eggs and organic cheese, if you can.

Good:  Good as a dinner side dish; even better the next day.

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Thursday, July 14, 2016

How Much Does a Garden Grow: June 2016

It was all about the blueberries this month in the garden!

I love a June garden. July and August can almost be an embarrassment of riches (and I love that, too), when you are hopefully bringing in baskets of produce and trying to figure out ways to cram more veggies into your diet and more time for canning into your schedule.  But in June, harvests come on one by one, and you gorge yourself on one thing while hoping eagerly for the next.  There's nothing like having a cereal bowl full of blueberries every night while you obsessively check the garden to see if you can get a single zucchini yet.

And that's pretty much how June was around here. During the month, we brought in 61 ounces of blueberries, nearly a half gallon.  (Spoiler: we'd pass the half gallon mark the next week.)  I don't think that's bad for two mature blueberry bushes and one tiny one. Mr. FC&G had blueberries on ice cream almost every night, and I ate them straight out of a cereal bowl. Going by the prices at my local farmers' market, I harvested $23.18 worth of blueberries.

We also had some other produce come in: a few cents worth of peas that came from a plant I started from leftover seeds in utter gardening frustration in about April, and a regular influx of greens.  I've been letting the kale take a break lately, but it is almost time to start cutting on it again.

With no expenditures this month, we are clawing our way toward profitability.  Totals are below:

Cumulative Totals:
Total Ounces Harvested: 90.5
Total Pounds Harvested: 5.65625
Total Value of Harvest to Date: $45.18

Total Expenditures: ($204.08)

Net Profit (Loss) to Date: ($158.90)
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Friday, July 8, 2016

In Praise of a Clover-Filled Yard

I was talking to Papa FC&G the other day, and he recounted a story from his grandfather ("Pop").

When my dad was building his first house, Pop told him that he should be sure that he mixed plenty of clover in with the grass seed when he seeded the lawn. According to Pop, the clover would "sweeten" the soil, which was a desirable thing to have happen.

When did we start hating clover in our lawns?  Pop was right, you know. Clover is one of the crops that fixes nitrogen in the soil, making it easier for other nitrogen-loving plants to grow.  In fact, we are often happy to see some clover creep into our garden, although we usually have to get rid of it to make room for veggies.  However, when we do, we use the hoe and cut it off at the surface, leaving those nitrogen-filled root rhizomes in place.

Clover is pretty, too. Remember picking your mother a bouquet of clover and bringing it into the house? I sure do.  I loved to follow those slender stems down to the ground and picking the fluffy little white flowers, which Mom would always put in a special tiny vase (which I believe was a crystal toothpick holder).  And I spent countless summers looking for a four-leaf clover. If you have kids, you should have at least one huge patch of clover just for the entertainment value.

And the bees! We all know we've had problems in this country with colony collapse and a lack of bees to pollinate our fields and gardens. Growing a special "bee and butterfly" garden of flowers is great, but if you also let the clover grow in your yard, you will attract bees like crazy. In fact, we have one special patch of clover just outside the garden that we tend to "forget" to mow about every other time, and it attracts bees to the flowers. From there, it is a short hop over to the cucumbers, zucchini, and tomatoes, and I regularly find bees nestled in the veggie flowers. Yes, I get stung about once a year, but it is generally from a bee that I've stepped on, which seems fair to me. The bees that are already happily gorging in the veggie flowers usually leave me alone if I do likewise, and they tend to be docile, sated, and amenable to a gentle brush of the hand to move them if I really need to get into that plant.

Finally, clovers is a very economical kind of ground cover. Unlike grass, clover simply doesn't grow very high, so the more patches of clover you have in your yard, the less frequently you have to mow and the easier the job is. We have one side of our yard that is currently about half covered with clover, and it is the easiest section to mow and the one that needs it the least.

My temptation when I started this piece was to rail against herbicides and growing grass in monoculture, and I probably will do so another day.  But, on this fine summer day, I'm going to enjoy looking at my yard full of clover. Pop was right: in so many ways, it makes the yard sweet.
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