the zucchini harvest

Zucchini is taking over my life (with squash in a close 2nd).  This summer, zucchini has been harvested early and often.  Although we harvest a bunch at one time, it has averaged one a day.  Ironically I couldn’t find one zucchini last year.  We didn’t grow any nor did I see them at the farmer’s market.  I suppose we’re making up for lost time this summer.  My thoughts and research are consumed with zucchini and different ways to cook and eat it.  I refuse to waste any of it and giving it all away is just too easy at this point.

I’ve challenged us to eat zucchini at least twice daily.  And you know what?  It hasn’t been as difficult as I thought. There is the obvious choice: Grilled Zucchini.

the great zucchini harvest of 2015

And the most pleasing choice: Zucchini Bread… and muffins… and mini muffins.  We’ve had our share but I’ve also found healthier ways to utilize the harvest.

Zucchini muffins

 

Zucchini Soup

Last week, I made zucchini soup.  Yes, soup!  It was very tasty as a gazpacho as well.  Unfortunately I do not have a formal recipe to share as this is a work in progress but I can explain the process.  Almost all of our zucchini goes through the food processor for shredding, aside from those that we slice up and grill.  I used about 4 cups of shredded zucchini for our soup.  After sauteing onion and garlic in a large pot, I added the zucchini and 2-3 cups of water to boil.  Plus all of the fresh herbs I could get my hands on.  Namely, basil.  About 2 cups.  Plus oregano, marjoram and chives all snipped fresh from the garden.  I seasoned with salt & cayenne pepper.  I reduce to a simmer and used my immersion blend to puree the combination.  We ate it just like that but decided the smooth soup would make a great base for shrimp.  Next time!  There will definitely be a next time to continue to tweak zucchini soup.

Shredded Zucchini

Zucchini Juice

We also tried juicing zucchini which I am not a big fan of on its own.  It tastes like, well, zucchini water.  But with the addition of lemons, it was much sweeter.  Zucchini-ade anyone?

Heirloom Zucchini seeds

Zucchini Smoothies

I’ve found the easiest way to use up all of the zucchini is in smoothies!  I fill the blender with the shredded zucchini as a base for the smoothie.  I’ve cut out yogurt and banana completely so this smoothie is lower in fat than our usual.  Once the zucchini is blended, I added in berries which completely dominate in flavor.  As an added bonus, I’ve been blending fresh mint from the garden as well.  When blended, like in the soup, zucchini takes on a creamy texture.

cocozelle zucchini harvest

Summer tastes so good!  What is your favorite zucchini recipe?

 

 

garden to table

Welcome to our new layout!  We’ve switched things up a bit at circadee.com to make more of a landing page for those looking for information on our shop.  If you’re here for the blog posts, you’ve found them!  We’ll continue to post regularly about our adventures, finds & projects.  That’s how this little business got started after all.

broccoli & edamame

Lately I’ve been spending all of my spare moments in the garden.  Early morning seems to be ideal.  Before the sun peaks but also when the mosquitoes are at bay.  It’s amazing how rapidly everything is growing.  The sporadic thunderstorms have certainly helped.  Alleviating the plants from the 90 degree temperatures and also alleviating me from the chore of watering.

oregano & lemon balm

Our harvest has already been plentiful with much more just around the corner.  At this point, the snap peas are about spent but I’m hoping to yield another harvest later this summer.  I’m still tucking bean seeds in vacant spots as I see fit.  They sprout almost immediately!

There have been a number of volunteer plants including two tomatoes, beans and a few squash – we’re not sure which species yet.  I’m certain that we can thank our compost pile for this surplus.  It has made for a few crowded beds since we weren’t expecting them but everything seems to be content.  The more the merrier!  I like to practice close planting to keep the weeds down anyway.

squash flower

We’re almost ready to harvest the kohlrabi and broccoli.  We’re seeing the first signs of tomatoes, peppers and eggplants.  The potatoes are growing like wild fire.

This is actually our first year growing potatoes which we did in two plantings.  The first cycle in containers and the second in the ground.  The containers we’re using this year are actually terracotta chimney flue liners.  I’m digging the height they add and the border they create at the end of the garden.

chimney flue liners as raised garden containers

I seem to be favoring the herb garden most this year.  Last year, I was all about the flower bed but I think the herbs are stealing the show.  I expanded their footprint this year by taking three large galvanized tubs and creating a double-decker border so each herb has its own pot.

galvanized tub herb garden

The herbs have made a cameo in almost every dish.  There’s the obvious basil pesto but we’ve switched it up and added it to fish and fruit like shrimp and watermelon.

Basil Pesto

We can’t eat pasta everyday but when we do we’ve used oregano pesto with whatever veggies we can steam or saute.

oregano pesto

My tried and true summer carb is rosemary bread.  I follow a simple beer bread recipe and fold in loads of rosemary right from the garden.

Rosemary Bread

But what to with all of the that dill?  It makes a pretty, airy bouquet!  I’ve also mixed dill with chives to create a tasty little dip that complements homemade pita chips.

Dill & Chive Dip

What’s growing in your June garden?  I’m off to figure out how to use this morning’s marjoram harvest…

 

in the garden

These sunny April days have me craving the garden.  All I want to do is get my hands dirty and dig in the soil. We’ve planted seventeen varieties of heirloom vegetable, herb and annual flower seeds with about six more to go.  We’ve also established two new garden beds.  I am calling one the pesto garden as it will become a patch of basil.  There is never enough basil.

This year we’re sowing Hudson Valley Seed Co. organic heirloom seeds which we are now selling at The West End Garage. Not only are the seeds heirloom varieties but the packages are little pieces of art that are totally frame worthy.  Each one is designed by a different artist which you can read about inside the envelope.  I love beautiful packaging.

in the garden - april-6358

Some seeds were started indoors in the beginning of the month like our squash, tomatoes and zucchini.

Others were direct sown such as the salad mix, beets, carrots and peas.

To free up some space in the vegetable bed, we have created a kitchen container garden on the deck with the direct sow vegetables.  The peas have just emerged and will soon be taking off up the lattice with a tub full of salad below.  It’s nothing fancy but this little setup will be where our June salads are harvested.

I can’t wait to grocery shop from our yard all summer long!  This one lonely kale made it through the cold winter.  And the oregano is back with a vengeance.  As is mint and lemon balm.

Once we get all of the vegetable seeds direct sown or transplanted we’ll shift our focus to the adjacent flower bed which is already offering a show.  First with flowering bulbs and now with perennials which seem to grow an inch everyday.  I plan to focus on companion planting between the flower and vegetable beds to repel some of the more common pests.  Last year we had an issue with cabbage worms.  We’ll be armed with scented geraniums to the thwart the worms.

This period of time, the spring days in the garden, is full of so much promise.  I’m dreaming of June salads, kale smoothies and big bunches of zinnias.  July zucchini bread and August caprese salad.  Roasted eggplant and fresh tomato sauce.  Yum!

to plant a garden...

What is growing in your garden?

 

watercolor easter eggs

watercolor Easter eggs with milk paint-6306

Where are all of my milk painters?  I’ve got a simple project to share with you today just in time for Easter.

I started by hard boiling eggs and letting them cool overnight…

watercolor Easter eggs with milk paint-6275

When I’m working on a milk paint project, I almost always use a glass jar with a lid to mix the paint in.  This allows me to store any excess paint for a future project.  I had several jars with just a tiny bit of paint left so I added some water and mixed up the pigment which resulted in a watercolor paint consistency.

Next, I carefully slid the egg into the jar allowing it to soak in the paint mixture for a few minutes.  I splattered paint on some of the eggs with a brush.  Using a plastic spoon, I slid each egg out of the jar and set it to dry thoroughly.

watercolor Easter eggs with milk paint-6280

Prior to painting, I taped off a few of the eggs with floral tape which proved to be too heavy-duty for the delicate shell in some cases.  I like the look of the watercolor eggs without tape best anyway.  The dyed eggs have a very simple, organic look to them using this watercolor method.  Multiple colors could easily layered on each egg if you’re looking for more pizazz in your Easter basket.

Happy Easter!

watercolor Easter eggs with milk paint-6306

mixed greens Christmas tree

Last week I shared our front door decor for the holidays which is relatively simple and traditional.  Less seems to be more this year…

holiday door decor-5217 PM

I’ve been utilizing what nature has to offer as winter approaches.  We’re seeing beautiful holly, dried marsh grasses and bushy cedar beginning to take center stage.  A brisk walk in the woods will provide you with enough supplies to make your very own mixed greens tree.

DIY mixed greens tree

If you’ve read the December issue of Better Homes & Gardens, you may know where I am going with this project…

garden Christmas tree

There are two very important tools that you’ll need to construct this tree:  Florist wire and a tomato cage.  An upside down tomato cage creates the perfect cone shape!  You’ll need to find some sort of base for your tree.  I used a vintage enamel pot.  The handles were perfect for the tomato cage to sit on.  Wire the 3 “legs” together on top to create the point of the tree form.

Tomato cage DIY Christmas Tree-141616

I started creating the tree with cedar cuttings first and followed the lateral lines of the cage, wiring each piece on as I went.  Besides the top point, I wired all greens facing down (stems up) so it looked natural.

DIY tomato cage christmas tree-142539

After all lateral lines are wired, it looked kind of hairy.  Perseverance pays off.  Keep going!  I wired greens on the horizontal lines starting with the bottom first, making sure to overlap the enamel pot.  Each subsequent layer covers the stems and mechanics of the previous layer.

Tomato cage DIY Christmas Tree-142901

Finally, fill in your cage so it looks like a nice, full tree.  I stuck holly branches in without even wiring them.  I also “decorated” the tree with dried grasses and a burlap ribbon remnant.

DIY mixed greens Christmas tree

My DIY mixed greens tree is a little bit wild but it was fun and free to make!  It took about 30 minutes to complete.  And what else was I going to do with my tomato cage in December?

believe Christmas sign-5255

I have been back at milk painting holiday themed signs and boards as well…

holly jolly Christmas sign-5250

Oh deer!

oh deer!

 

 

 

autumn transitions

Being that we’ve reached mid-November, Christmas decorating is at full blast in the retail sector and even in some homes.  Remember when Thanksgiving was strictly a fall decor holiday?  Now it seems like it can go either way – burnt orange and crunchy leaves on the last Thursday in November OR a red and green feast.  Me personally, I am ready for Christmas decor and have been decking our retail halls.  The selling season is really short after all.  However, I don’t switch our own home decor until after Thanksgiving.  The best of both worlds!

Here are two fresh and fantastic wreath ideas that lend themselves to either holiday.  Better yet, they can don your door for both – more bang for your buck!

Southern magnolia wreaths are pretty much season-less.  Their rich green leaves dry out and get better looking with age.

Southern magnolia wreaths

The green leaves contrast against the coppery underside in such a beautiful way.

coppery magnolia leaves

The silver dollar eucalyptus wreath is an oldie but goodie in terms of style.  This silvery-blue-green wreath can take you from Thanksgiving all the way through the winter months.  It can easily be dressed up with burlap or velvet ribbon.

silver dollar eucalyptus wreath

What holiday spirit are you in?