Posts tagged food

What To Do With Dried Zucchini

Because that’s one of the most common search terms used to find this blog, and I don’t think any of the other posts really give it a thorough treatment :-)

To make dried zucchini:

— Slice your zucchini into thin rounds or slices — about 1/8 inch works well.  This is most easily done with a mandoline, but you can also use a vegetable peeler, grater, or knife.

— Put slices on dehydrator trays or on parchment paper.  Set them in your electric or solar dehydrator, or in the oven on “warm” (prop the door open a little).  In a good electric dehydrator in reasonably dry weather, they dry in about five hours.  In wet weather and/oror substandard equipment, it may take longer.  Keep them in until they are brittle.  Pay particular attention to the seeds, as they will take longer to dry than the rest of the slice.

— Keep in a sealed container in a cool dry place.  Check them every few days for mold — if it’s been a couple weeks and they don’t mold, they’re probably fine.

What to do with the zucchini:

  • Sprinkle a little salt or other seasonings on them and eat like chips while they’re still very brittle.  If this will be your primary use for the things, you can season the slices before you dry them, so it will stick better.
  • Sprinkle cheese on them and toast until the cheese melts for a tasty snack.
  • You could probably deep-fry them if you were quick enough with a fryer to get them out before they burned, but I have never attempted this.  It would probably be easier to just fry them *instead* of drying.
  • Throw in vegetable soup and cook until they rehydrate.  Rehydrated zucchini slices will be a bit chewier than fresh ones; in many applications, this is an advantage.  They’ll almost never go mushy like fresh squash sometimes does.
  • Rehydrate in warm broth, then use in casseroles or lasagna.
  • Grind or chop them up and use as part of homemade instant soup powder
  • Add powdered dried zucchini to sauces, veggie burgers, or bread for extra vegetabley goodness.

This will, of course, also work with yellow squash or other assorted cucurbits.  Does anyone else do anything nifty with dried squash?

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I attempted to make challah on Friday.  I was using a new recipe, but it still didn’t work to a rather impressive degree.  The gluten didn’t activate and it didn’t rise, resulting in a sort of challah-biscuit-thing.  Both the flour and the yeast were brand-new.  I made very successful popovers with the flour yesterday, so I think the flour is ok, but I’m not actually clear on how much gluten you need for popovers.  Maybe I’ll try making pasta at some point.  I really hope it isn’t the yeast…if the flour’s weird, I can just make quickbreads and stuff with it, but if the yeast is bad, I’ll just have to throw it out.

In other news, I’m almost done with homework.  I still need to finish up three lesson plans, and post them in the wiki.  I was going to go to a cookout, but I don’t think I’ll have time to go and still get both homework and packing done.

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ShrubShrubShrub!

I have made delicious peach shrub! Approximate recipe:

peaches
apple cider vinegar
sugar
spices
vanilla extract

Chop peaches into small pieces and put into a container with lid. Pour over just enough apple cider vinegar to cover the peaches. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours (mine were in there for 5 days, resulting in delightfully pickled peach bits for me to make into chutney at some point).

Strain the vinegar and juice out of the peaches. Poke it with a spoon to get all the juice you can. Measure the liquid and put in a pot with an equal amount of sugar. I used 2 medium peaches, which resulted in 1 cup of liquid. Add spices and vanilla to taste. I added rather a lot of vanilla (at least 1tsp), which worked beautifully. Boil mixture for 5 minutes. Let cool and pour into a bottle; store in the fridge. (With that much vinegar and sugar, it’s quite possibly shelf-stable, and probably cannable, but I’m not going to try.)

Note: When you boil it, it will produce copious amounts of froth. Stir constantly and take it off the heat periodically when it threatens to boil over.

To turn into delicious colonial soft drink, mix the syrup with water, seltzer, or iced tea to taste. Can also be made alcoholic, but that was apparently less common. Instead of or in addition to sugar, you can use honey. Or maple syrup, I assume, but that would give it a rather strong flavor.

I like this even better than the ginger stuff I got in Salem. That had a much more pronounced vinegar taste, which I liked, but was a bit odd. I think the peaches meld more with the vinegar, so that you get peach-apple-sour flavor without it registering as vinegary. The vanilla and spices round it out very nicely. The peaches I used were not meltingly ripe, which I assume would have made the finished product even peachier.

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Today has been a strange day for food. It’s hot, so I don’t feel much like cooking in the first place, but I decide hey, I could use up the rest of the cheese and tortillas and have a quesadilla for lunch. That would be tasty. But the cheese has vanished! I swear I don’t remember finishing it…

And then tonight, I decided to make eggs with swiss chard, and we’re out of eggs. That was less surprising, since I didn’t have a concrete memory of us currently having any, but still. Meh.

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Pickles!

It is now summer.  It’s official, because we have lots of squash and cucumbers :-)  I made some nice refrigerator pickle spears, seasoned with garlic and fresh fennel fronds…I think they’ll make a slightly lighter, fresher effect than dill.  And we didn’t have any dill.  All but one of the pickling cucumbers fit perfectly in one of the half-gallon glass jars the kimchi comes in.  I plan to make lots of refrigerator pickles.

But we did have sad news from the farm today…the tomatoes have late blight, which is Really Really Bad, especially since the farm’s organic.  They were going to spray with copper as a preventative, but weren’t able to do it in time because of the rain.  They removed the obviously-infested tomatoes and sprayed in hopes of saving the rest of them.  At least the other nightshades seem to be spared.  It’s hit the whole region, so there may not be a lot of tomatoes at the farmer’s market, either.

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Travels

My parents and brother visited last weekend.  It was good, and they’ll be back briefly on Saturday on the return trip from camping in Maine.  We went raspberry-picking and visited Concord (including Walden Pond) and Salem.  Concord was nicely colonial-New-England-ish while being remarkably free of tourists given that it was a stunningly beautiful Saturday July morning.  Salem was full of tourists, but it was a nice sort of touristy.  We visited the old cemetery in both towns and looked for potential ancestors.  

The West India shop (run by the Park Service) in Salem was remarkable for being a historically-appropriate tourist shop — it sells coffee and tea and spices and other things that a major port would have sold to merchants and travelers.  There I bought a bottle of shrub.  Shrub is delicious!  It’s a colonial-era soft drink, sold as a concentrated syrup (in this case ginger, but more frequently fruit).  You make it by soaking the fruit in vinegar overnight, then straining, mixing with an equal quantity of sugar or honey, and boiling for several minutes to reduce to a syrup.  It’s then added to water or selzer or whatever.  I really like the unusual tang that the vinegar gives it.  It’s perfect for putting a dash of in a water bottle to make it taste less boring.  And if I used local honey and homemade vinegar, it could be a completely local soft drink :-)

I also found a pair of adorable tiny ladybug-shaped candle-holders. They’re meant to hold those little half-inch candles that you find in a variety of colors at New Age shops.  Conveniently, I have a box of natural beeswax little candles.  I will use them for Shabbat when I feel like being any of extra-cute, extra-candley, or portable.

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Three weeks of summer

Yesterday, we picked up our third CSA share. I’ve been documenting what we get each week and how we use it on a whiteboard by the fridge. This helps to reduce the chances of mysterious bags of brown goo weeks later when we forgot about that other bag of spinach.

Items with no note text to them means we haven’t eaten any yet.

6/11
Spinach (Asian soup)
Chard (sauteed w/tomatoes; in eggs)
Tatsoi (soup w/noodles)
Collards (dried)
Garlic scapes (stir fry; soup w/noodles; lentil soup) — still have some
Sugar snap peas (OM NOM NOM)
Napa cabbage (snack, dumplings)
Radishes (snack)
Bok choy (stir-fry; other stir-fry)

6/18
Kale (dried)
Napa cabbage
Garlic scapes
Sugar snap peas (stir-fry)
Snow peas (stir-fry)
Lettuce (salad)
Scallions (salad, fried rice)
Chard (steamed w/shu mai)
Book choy (stir-fry)
Beets
Spinach (salad, udon soup) — still have some

6/24
Asian greens; ambiguous what kind (fried rice)
Radishes
Snow peas
Sugar snap peas
Collards
Carrots
Scallions
Spring bulb onions
Chard
Basil, parsley

Moral of the story: we eat a lot of stir-fry. Also, Ben makes *really good* fried rice. And kale and collards dry nicely; I’m going to be sending them to Rosie, and I’ll probably store some for my own use later. They’ll work very well in soups.

Tonight I have planned an early summer roast veggie mix with the onion bulbs, carrots, and beets, seasoned with the herbs and garlic scapes. Some new potatoes would be perfect, but it’s still slightly too early in the season for them. Can you roast radishes? They’re *really pretty* radishes.

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