Tag Archives: gardening

Fun Friday: Dreaming of the gardening days

14 Mar
I love seeing their kids out in the garden, exploring the things we're growing.

I love seeing their kids out in the garden, exploring the things we’re growing.

I don’t know about you, but I totally have spring fever! We’ve had a cold and snowy winter, and although I have loved those days too, I’m ready to move on. We’ve had some warm days mixed in with our end-of-winter weather this past week and it’s given us a taste of what’s coming.

Spring is right around the corner!

I truly believe that having all four seasons is a blessing, and it allows us to love and appreciate each season for its differences. To me, there’s nothing like seeing those first buds of spring as they’re starting to make their way through the ground. Seeing the leaves on the trees sprouting and feeling the sunshine and warm wind on your face is exciting to me after the winter days.

As I’ve run my errands over the past week, I’ve started to see it: signs of spring inside too…packets of seeds, seed starter kits, grass fertilizers and outdoor patio furniture. It makes my heart skip a beat when I go past the aisle, thinking of those days being upon us so soon.

This week, a friend posted an article on Facebook called “Advice for eating well on a tight budget from a mom who’s been there.” It’s about a woman who is helping those on public assistance learn how to use fresh, home-grown fruits and vegetables to supplement what they get for public assistance and to enhance their eating habits. The woman herself had been on public assistance as a mom of seven and had always tried to utilize things she could grow, in order to help nourish her family. I thought it was a great article and great to see someone who’s “been there,” giving back.

One year we "accidentally" grew pumpkins, and these were our three Halloween pumpkins that year; first time we'd ever grown our own.

One year we “accidentally” grew pumpkins, and these were our three Halloween pumpkins that year; first time we’d ever grown our own.

Although we have never been on public assistance, we have always had a pretty tight budget and we’ve always had a summer garden which helps us stay below budget on our food spending during the summer months. We grow mostly vegetables, but one year we were able to grow pumpkins, and that’s a fruit! I love seeing the kids take on roles with the garden, helping to plan it, clean it up, plant it, water it, and then to watch them run out every day to see what’s grown and what’s ready to pick. One of my all-time favorite photos from years ago is a picture of two of my daughters out in the garden in their Halloween and dress-up costumes, picking tomatoes off the plants. We had one Minnie Mouse and one Cinderella, outside, in the garden, picking veggies and it was so funny to see; but such a special memory for me as well.

There is absolutely nothing in the world like fresh, garden vegetables in my opinion, and when you’ve grown them yourself, that makes them exponentially better! I love cooking and baking with the things they’ve planted and picked and I love telling them, “This is from our garden!”

A pack of seeds is not expensive and the amount it yields is far more than what you put out financially for the seeds. As soon as last year’s garden was done, I already had a list on the fridge of our successes, so that we wouldn’t forget to plant them again this coming year. The list is still there, and it’s ready to go.

I love to see the kids eating the veggies they've picked, right off the vine, all summer long.

I love to see the kids eating the veggies they’ve picked, right off the vine, all summer long.

I think it’s important too, to make sure that our kids have an understanding of where their food comes from, that it’s not just from the grocery store. I think it’s important that they understand about nutrition and local produce as well. I like to see them eating their snap peas right off the plant outside or eating their cherry tomatoes as they pick them. I like them to know that they can grow their own food, and that you don’t need a lot of space to do it. We don’t have a huge house or a huge yard but we have a really good-sized garden and it teaches them that it doesn’t take much of anything other than hard work, to grow their own food.

So as winter comes to a close, and spring begins, I’m already dreaming of our gardening days. Spring Fever has hit hard, and I can’t wait to start picking out seeds and planning out what we’ll plant, pick and cook all summer long. Take a look at the article above, and think about how you too, can add home-grown fruits and vegetables to your summer menu!

It doesn't take a lot of space to have a garden, and lots can be done in containers if you don't have a yard at all.

It doesn’t take a lot of space to have a garden, and lots can be done in containers if you don’t have a yard at all.

 

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Val’s Zucchini Fritters

5 Sep

These zucchini fritters were easy to make and according to Val you can make them using almost anything including Swiss chard, spinach, broccoli or carrots, or any combination of the above.

It’s zucchini season. If you are someone who grows zucchini in your garden, then right about now you have lots and lots of zucchini. We are often those people, but this year our zucchini didn’t take. So when we were at my cousin Val’s house a couple of weekends ago we were lucky enough that she gave us some of the zucchinis that she and her husband Bob grew in their garden this summer. And, she gave us the most fabulous new recipe for zucchini fritters. We had them that night and we have since made them ourselves (when I say we, I actually mean Don made them) this weekend for a big cookout that we attend each year on Labor Day Weekend.

This cookout that we attend is big and it’s been going for 40 years. You can even read about it here. The menu has evolved over the years and every so often a new menu item is added in. I can tell you now that Val’s Zucchini Fritters will be returning to the cookout next year. Additionally, all of my kids liked these, so it’s a recipe all five of us liked, which is rare.

From the printout Val gave me, I can see that the recipe she uses is originally from Simply Recipes. You can see the original recipe that she gave me, here. Valerie said the most important thing to remember is to squeeze the zucchini, or whatever vegetable you’re using, until there is as little moisture left as possible.

Here, from Simply Recipes is the recipe for Val’s Zucchini Fritters, great for an appetizer before dinner or to go along with dinner:

Zucchini Fritters
Ingredients

  • 1 lb of zucchini (about 2 medium sized), coarsely grated
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup grape seed oil or olive oil
  • Sour cream or plain yoghurt

Directions

1 Salt the zucchini with about 1 teaspoon of salt. Try to remove the excess moisture from the zucchini by either squeezing the liquid out with a potato ricer, or by squeezing with paper towels. (The original recipe calls for putting the zucchini in a colander set in the sink to let it drain for 10 minutes after salting it. I think it works much better to use a potato ricer.)

2 Whisk egg in a large bowl; add the zucchini, flour, scallions, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Mix to combine well.

3 Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook fritters in two batches. Drop six mounds of batter (2 Tbsp each) into the skillet. Flatten slightly. Cook, turning once, until browned, 4-6 minutes on each side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Sprinkle with salt. Repeat with remaining batter.

Serve immediately, with sour cream or plain yoghurt on the side.