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?

 

on stocking books

After only sourcing vintage for years, it has been very exciting to choose a selection of new products to bring into the shop at The West End Garage.  Similar to my approach when buying vintage, I simply buy my favorite new items to stock.  I ask… Is this something I would want in my house?  Is this something I truly love?  Is this something I will be sad to see go?  The answer should be yes!  (Hello, turn of the century oak harvest table pictured below.  I really, really love you!  I will be sad to see you go but you deserve a good home.)

West End Garage April

This approach to buying inventory is something that I have been reminded of lately and have found myself telling others who are just starting out.  I think it is really important to love what you are selling.  Don’t choose it or make it just because you “think” someone else will love it.  Now granted, not everyone will have the same taste as you.  For example, I have a growing collection of old ship captains, ahem.  However, I believe the authenticity of your merchandise will show through when you are passionate about what you are selling.  It’s hard to honestly sell something you don’t believe in.

West End Garage April

With that said we’ve stocked a few choice cookbooks and gardening books to keep in line with the garden to table collection we have at The West End Garage.  I am really excited about the line up. We have Deep-Rooted Wisdom, a new release authored by blogger Augustus Jenkins Farmer.  I am about half way through this book and I’m loving the gardening tips, stories & characters.

Deep Rooted Wisdom

People have asked me how I chose which books to carry.  Well, I initially took the lead from a few tried and true favorites in my own kitchen stack of cookbooks and cocktail books.

Kitchen

The Kinfolk Table has since been added to that stack.  It has quickly become a favorite for two reasons.  One, the photography and stories are beautiful.  Of course I love a good aesthetic!  Two, the recipes are really approachable made with pantry staples that we pretty much always have on hand.  Essentially the book lends new ideas with classic ingredients.

Kinfolk Table in my kitchen

I have been inspired to make many of the soups and stews outlined in The Kinfolk Table.  A few weeks ago I made the Wilted Greens & Potato Soup on page 287.  I hadn’t thought to put kale in soup until this recipe.

Wilted Greens & Potato Soup

  Great idea.  We loved it!

Wilted Greens & Potato Soup Kinfolk Table cookbook

What is your favorite gardening or cookbook?

shop news: west end garage

As the tides change and we settle into life in Cape May, the timing has also allowed me to get back to my roots.

How’s that for puns?

Circa Dee at West End Garage in Cape May, NJ

Once in a while an opportunity comes along that is just so right.  This particular opportunity will allow me to pursue my passion in horticulture coupled with my flair for vintage.  I couldn’t be more ecstatic to share the news that Circa Dee continues to grow under The West End Garage’s roof – an antique tin one at that!

Circa Dee at West End Garage in Cape May, NJ

You can now find us in our new location up front where we’re proudly featuring a garden to table collection. Amongst our very favorite vintage furniture and quirky finds you’ll find succulent gardens, herbal wreaths & topiaries, bitters & other fixings for fantastic cocktails, cookbooks, botanical stationary, garden tools, vases, pots & cloches with much more to come!

Circa Dee at West End Garage in Cape May, NJ

We hope to inspire you to get back to the simple pleasures in life as we currently are…  Growing your own summer cutting garden and arranging fresh flowers.  Harvesting your own vegetables and cooking them for dinner.  Planting your own terrarium and watching it grow.  We’ll offer seasonal merchandise to help make that happen.

Circa Dee at West End Garage in Cape May, NJ

In addition, we’ve been working hard to bring in a selection of sustainable, high quality American Made goods that complement our new garden to table direction.  It has been very empowering to work with so many small, family owned businesses and artists who are experts in their craft.  I am looking forward to sharing these products with you here on the blog and, of course, for sale in the shop.

Circa Dee at West End Garage

I’ve been a fan of The West End Garage since the day the doors opened nearly 5 years ago.  It is Cape May’s most unique shopping destination boasting an eclectic mix of vendors that we’re proud to be a part of.  You never know what you’ll find hidden in that wonderful, old building.  It’s worth the trip!

Circa Dee at West End Garage in Cape May, NJ

The best news of all is that we’re already open for business in our new location.  We’ve been busy bees.  Stop in one weekend this spring or any day this summer!

The West End Garage

484 West Perry St. Cape May, NJ

Here’s to a new chapter in our story…