Friday, August 27, 2010

friday potluck: it's zucchini week!

In the spirit of my old potluck group, I thought it would be fun to start a virtual potluck, where bloggers could take turns hosting and choosing a theme.
Here's how it works:
  1. The host chooses a theme and posts a recipe on their blog on a Friday evening.
  2. Other bloggers will leave links to their recipes in the comments section.
  3. The first person to post a recipe link becomes the next host, who then gets to choose a theme. The themes can be as elaborate or a simple as you like, and the recipes don't have to look like these, by any can simply post a recipe, or even a link to another blogger's recipe. (Just make sure to give credit where credit is due!)
I'll post the link to the next week's host here on Thursday.

This week's theme is...
Z U C C H I N I !

Here's a recipe my dad created years ago that he called "Scrambled Eggplant".
Because I didn't plant any eggplant, and the single zucchini plant in my garden seems bent on overpopulating the planet with monster squash, I'm substituting. And I'm changing the name, because "Scrambled Zucchini" just doesn't sound right, somehow.

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Zucchini Jambalaya

3 Tbs olive oil
1 cup chopped bell peppers (any color)
1 small jalapeno, chopped (optional)
2 cups zucchini, cut in half-inch cubes
1 small chopped onion
2 cloves minced garlic
2 cups of cooked, seasoned rice {see recipe below}
note: plain cooked rice works fine
1+ cups of tomato sauce
9 slices of monterey jack cheese
salt & pepper
2 sliced green onions

Preheat oven to 350º
Chop all your veggies and heat olive oil in a large cast iron skillet.

Saute onions, peppers, zucchini and garlic over medium heat until everything gets all soft and juicy and the onions are transparent.

Add the tomato sauce

and then the rice. Season with salt and pepper to taste,
mix thoroughly and cook on low heat for a few minutes while you cut the cheese.
{did I really just say that?}
Slice the cheese!

Arrange the cheese on top and sprinkle with paprika. Then bake in the oven for around 15 or 20 minutes, until the cheese melts and gets a little brown on top and the rice gets a bit crispy around the edges. (Since it was about 95º the day I made this, I put the whole shebang on the barbecue and cooked it on low with the top closed.)

Sprinkle with the green onions, and chow down.

Seasoned Brown Rice

2 Tbs olive oil
1 cup brown basmati rice
1/2 small onion, chopped fine
1 clove minced garlic
1 Tbs tomato paste
1 3/4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 tsp oregano
1 Tbs chili powder
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a 2-qt (medium) saucepan over medium heat.
Saute the onion until it becomes translucent. Put in the rice, garlic, chili powder and oregano, and stir for a couple more minutes, making sure not to burn the garlic and spices. Add the tomato paste and stir until it's all combined. Add the stock and season with the salt and pepper. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to very low, cover and cook until all the water is absorbed, about 25-30 minutes. Turn off the heat, and let it rest with the cover on for about 5 more minutes, then fluff it with a fork.
Makes 2 cups

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So, got any zucchini? What are you waiting for? Link to your recipes already...I'm buried in squash and I need ideas! In the meantime, here's a nice recipe over at Aunt Snow's blog, Doves Today.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Saturday, August 14, 2010

unsolicited advice, part three: are you happy now?

A few months ago, a concerned neighbor left a note on my car kvetching about the sorry state of our parking strip. Apparently, she/he was worried about our weeds spreading to surrounding gardens. This anonymous neighbor (and I'm pretty sure I know who you are now), who evidently has a bird's eye view of our property and all the time in the world to critique my gardening skills, somehow missed the countless hours we've spent trying to battle those very same weeds over the course of the almost 20 years we've lived here.

So to make a long story even longer because I know you're just dying to find out what happened, here's the progress that has been made since my last update:

I dug out the dreaded horseradish and Canada thistles once again
and cleared the patch for phase two of what I'm now calling Operation Victory Garden.

Here's the pile of cedar 2x6's we saved from our deck remodel a couple of years ago. I've been planning on building some new raised planters with them. After scaring away about a hundred spiders, I picked through the boards and hauled them out to the sidewalk.

I measured and cut all the boards and waited for Dave to get home,
because assembling those suckers turned out to be a two person job.

While taking a break from screwing assembling the boxes, Dave inspected my weeding job and pointed out I'd missed some horseradish that was growing in the street in a crack between the curb and the asphalt.

He determined it was time to try a new method of eradication.
And discovered it takes a lot of heat to burn horseradish leaves.

In a last-ditch effort to keep the horseradish from coming up again, I decided to line all the planters with 1/4" metal screening and covered that with a layer of weed-blocking fabric. That step took a ridiculously long time, because the screening doesn't come in sizes wide enough to cover the bottom of the bed in one piece, and I figured if I didn't sew all the seams together that horseradish would certainly find its way through any crack.

My friends Iris and Laurie stopped by and helped shovel dirt for awhile.

This entire project has turned into a communal garden of sorts. Dave and I built the beds and provided the land and water, and my friend Laurie bought the dirt and helped fill all the planters in return for the use of the one farthest from the camera. We finally got all the vegetables and seeds planted at the end of June.
Here's what the garden looked like last week:

The corn is well over my head.

Laurie went on vacation, and by the time she got back,
her radishes were the size of torpedoes.

And I thought I was being smart by planting only one zucchini, but I've harvested four in the past week. (Those giant leaves hide the squash until they're the size of baseball bats!)

Anyone got any good zucchini recipes?

Friday, August 13, 2010

imagination unleashed

I love Anthropologie. Every time I walk into that place I'm inspired to look at styling in a completely different way, to play around and use the humblest of materials to elevate an idea into the realm of great design. Yesterday I stopped in to visit the Portland store and was transported to another realm, as I am almost every time I visit. Don't take my word for it, see for yourself:
scraps of fabric create a bohemian canopy bed

circles cut from old books and scrap paper, sewn together to make a fabulous curtain

a chandelier of twisted wire and cut-up plastic bottles adorns the fitting rooms

crazy cocoons fashioned from strips of recycled cardboard

I love this place!