Thursday, 29 September 2011

Vegetable variety

As the days and nights are cooling down, my vegetable garden is slowing down, at least in the tomato department. There are lots of green ones, so I'm hoping for another month of tomato-friendly weather!

Earlier in September, the horticultural society I belong to held our fall flower show. My entry, pictured at left, won in the vegetable category. It includes zucchini (the climbing 'Trombetta' and a yellow variety), eggplant, pole beans (rattlesnake and purple), ground cherries, garlic, arugula and tomatoes ('mortgage lifter' and 'bloody butcher'.) I was quite pleased to be able to come up with this kind of selection out of a rather tiny space.  Of course I'm already planning to make it even more productive next year...

I was also delighted to win 'best flower' for a spray of miniature roses.

I didn't do much in the design categories this time around, mostly due to lack of time. The entry I was happiest with was this arrangement of 'Limelight' hydrangeas in a bright blue watering can. It just looked happy to me!

Saturday, 3 September 2011

The Zucchini Bread Recipe I Couldn't Find

My garden has entered that late summer stage where, as far as flowers go, it's all about the dahlias and the rudbeckias. Rudbeckia Triloba has self seeded in several places (not all of which are convenient, but I let it go anyway) and it certainly must be one of the cheeriest flowers on the planet.

And as far as the vegetable garden, it's all about the tomatoes (yum and yay!) and zucchini. This year I tried out 'Trombeta di Albenga' a climbing heirloom Italian variety from Renee's Garden. To say that it is a vigorous grower would be an understatement--I think the vine is somewhere between 12 and 15 metres long now. And the zucchini! Well, take a look...


If you grow the more conventional zucchinis (the smaller green or yellow ones) you might think I've left this on the vine far too long, but I consulted with a friend whose family has grown these, and she assures me that they are indeed supposed to be allowed to get this big. In fact, I received a little talking to when I picked one too young.


The first mature one that I grated (in order to bake with it) measured in at over 7 cups! Time to get baking!

So I went in search of a good zucchini bread recipe.

I tested several (on my coworkers and my husband ,and even on my husband's coworkers) and found that they were either too oily, or too cakey, or just not the right bread-like consistency I was going for.

I wanted something with a texture like banana bread, not coffee cake. So I took the closest recipe to that out of my collection and started playing...

...and I came up with something that's pretty much exactly what I had in mind (I love it when that happens! Too bad it doesn't occur more often.) If you're looking for something similar, I'll share it with you: 

Zucchini Orange Oat Bread

Makes 2 loaves

4 eggs
1 ½ cups sugar
¾ cup vegetable oil
1 ½ cups orange juice
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 cups shredded unpeeled zucchini
3 ¼ cups all purpose flour
½ cup rolled oats (not quick cooking)
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp cinnamon
½ tsp cloves
1 cup chopped nuts (preferably toasted)

Heat oven to 350’. Place a piece of parchment paper crossways in the bottom of each of two non-stick 8 x 4” loaf pans. 

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat eggs until thick and lemon coloured; gradually beat in sugar. Add in oil, orange juice, vanilla extract, and zucchini. In separate bowl place all dry ingredients, combine with a whisk, and then stir by hand into wet mixture until everything is well mixed. 

Pour batter into pans.  Bake for approximately 50 minutes or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely. Use a flat spatula to release loaf from ends of pan; lift loaf out by lifting on edges of parchment paper. Store in a sealed container. Freezes well.

And if you have as much zucchini as I do...repeat all of the above!