Chocolate Zucchini Cake

I was recently reminded about this delightful treat by a friend.  This cake is so moist that it doesn’t need icing.  You can even dress it up a bit by sprinkling powdered sugar on top.  However, if you insist on making one, a cream cheese version would be lovely.

2 c. flour
2 c. sugar
3/4 c. cocoa powder
2 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1/2  t. salt
3eggs
1 t. vanilla
1 c. oil
3 c. grated zucchini

Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour 9×13″ pan.

Blend eggs, vanilla and oil, whisking well.

Combine all dry ingredients and add to egg mixture.

Stir in zucchini and combine well without over-beating.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Corn and Zucchini Medley

Yum, yum and YUM!

2-4 sliced bacon, sliced
2 c. diced zucchini
2 c. corn
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
1/4 c. shredded cheese
pepper to taste

Fry the bacon in large skillet until cooked.  Drain and set aside, reserving  1 T. of drippings.

In reserved drippings, saute zucchini, corn and onion until tender-crisp.  Add garlic and saute for additional minute.  Season with pepper, if desired.  Top with bacon and cheese.

Garlic Breath

Dave often stops by the grocery on his way home from work if I need anything.  I’m usually in the midst of supper preparation when he gets home, so one of the kids gets assigned the task of putting away the groceries.

I’ve been smelling something in the mud room/pantry area for the last several days that reminded me of horrible garlic breath.  I couldn’t figure out what it was.  I dug a little deeper this morning and found a grocery bag with a full bag of onions and a bag with two garlic bulbs.  One of the bulbs of garlic is complete mush and SERIOUSLY foul-smelling.

Remember the Family Circus comic’s “Not Me”?  Well, he lives here, too.

Now to air out my mud room!

Rainy Season

It has been approximately 60 hours since it last rained here at Country Haven.  According to our informal calculations, that’s the longest stretch of dry weather we’ve had since mid-June when our three-week drought broke.  We’ve received over 20 inches of rain in 6 weeks.  That’s a lot of water.  A couple more inches are forecasted for tomorrow morning.

Blah.

We have repeatedly mowed between the rows in our gardens to keep the weeds down until it was dry enough to actually run the tiller through.  Potatoes are rotting in the ground, green beans are molding on their bushes, pepper plants are yellowing, squash plants are wilting.  I mowed down our first two plantings of green beans yesterday; the leaves were the color of lemonade.  Poor things were probably glad to be put out of their misery.  I usually have more than 120 quarts of green beans canned by now.  This year, I’ve put up twenty-seven.

And our pepper plants!  To get a better look at a growing pepper, I gently moved aside some of the spotted, yellow leaves on one of the scrawny plants, and three of its leaves dropped to the ground, reminding me of Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree.  Poor, pitiful thing!

Fortunately, we planted way too much of almost everything, so it will be enough to have something every week until the first frost hits.  We keep re-planting, too, using next year’s seed that we bought to save shipping costs on next year’s garden.  I don’t know if this amounts to optimism or foolishness; time will tell.

In spite of the tendency to focus on all of our loss this year, I cannot help but be thankful for all that we have.  In some parts of the world, these conditions would have a direct and possibly dire effect on the nutritional needs of the growers.  We are so fortunate that this is not the case with us.  Even without having the extra produce to can and freeze for the winter, we can rest assured that our bellies will be fed nonetheless.  And, without the extra income that we hoped our abundant harvest would bring, we know that our bills will still be paid.

What a blessing.

Surprise Baby

Last Monday evening, my oldest daughter came in from doing the barn chores with a surprise.  We had a new baby.  One that we didn’t know was coming.

I had been trying to get my hens to actually hatch a clutch of eggs for the better part of three years to no avail.  Either the hens would try to set on their eggs during one of our rooster-less seasons or the hens wouldn’t be in the mood to brood when we knew the eggs were being fertilized or the hens didn’t like the new fun, safe brooding area I made for them and revolted or the rooster wasn’t manning up to the challenge of doing the deed.  Whatever the reason, it was always a 100% failure, and both man and bird seemed a bit stressed out by my meddling.

So, I called it quits two months ago.

We now have a baby.

IMG_6567

One of our black Australorps sneakily laid her egg in a corner on the floor of the coop.  We never saw the egg to gather it because she was setting on it.  We just thought she was being anti-social or wanted to be in out of the almost-continual rain over the course of the chick’s three-week gestational period.  Completely devoid of any human intervention, this young momma hen hatched a perfect, fluffy chick.

I know there is a lesson in here for me somewhere.

Ladies and gentleman, I think it’s time for me to leave well enough alone.  (I think I just heard an “Amen!” from my husband.)

God’s totally got things under control.  He hears my heart.  He knows my strengths as well as my weaknesses, and He knows what is best.  My meddling really, really, really doesn’t help matters.  In fact, it might just stress people out.

Better-with-Bacon Summer Squash

Summer squash is often the gift that keeps on giving in our neck of the woods.  And, even though I have dozens of tried-and-true recipes on-hand, I find myself looking for new ways to prepare it.  This is especially true because one of my kiddos pretty much loathes the stuff.  She will eat it when it’s served, but only because she’s hungry.

Since so many things are better with bacon, we’ve added it to our summer squash this year in the hopes of finding another recipe that we can all get excited about.  Even if it doesn’t pass muster with her, I look forward to having this with some fresh corn on the cob and thick-sliced heirloom tomatoes.

You can use any type of summer squash in this recipe:  zucchini, yellow squash, patty pan or even 8-ball zucchini.  It really doesn’t matter.  This can even be served with rice or over pasta if you want to bulk it up a bit.

4-6 strips bacon, diced
2 small zucchini, thinly sliced
2 small yellow squash, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese, if desired

In large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp.  Remove bacon and carefully drain grease, keeping 2-3 tablespoons in skillet.

In the bacon drippings, saute summer squash and onion for 6-8 minutes or until crisp-tender.  Add minced garlic and stir for 1-2 more minutes until garlic is cooked.

Sprinkle with cheese if you want (and why wouldn’t you?).

Shredded Zucchini Saute’

6-ish c. shredded zucchini
1 T. cooking oil
1 T. minced, fresh basil
salt & pepper to taste
2 t. butter
2 T. grated Parmesan cheese

Squeeze moisture out of zucchini by wrapping in a cotton towel and twisting to remove moisture.  Scrape zucchini into a bowl.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add zucchini, basil, salt and pepper.  Saute’, stirring often until crisp-tender–maybe 5 or so minutes.

Dot with butter and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.