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December 5, 2022

Country roads

Renee Kiff
Do zucchini and tomatoes overwhelm gardens and kitchens this
time of year? Do we waste good, nutritious food that Mother Nature
provides in favor of high calorie, high cholesterol fast food junk?
You bet. And the irony is that there are so many main and side
dishes, breads and even desserts that call for those two items. It
leaves us no excuses for overlooking the bounty that surrounds
us.
If you don’t want to bake goodies, then make soup. If you don’t
want to do either, then cook up these vegetables as an entrée, a
stir-fry. Every meal can include these two vegetables.
Start with breakfast. A scrambled egg is much tastier with a
fresh tomato diced into it just before it is finished cooking. And
adding some chopped basil or arugula is a nice touch, too.
Instead of boring old white toast, bake up some Zucchini Walnut
Bread.
This recipe belongs to Mrs. Harry B. Thomas of York, PA.
2 C. grated, unpeeled zucchini
1 C. raisins
3 C. unbleached white flour
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1 T. cinnamon
4 eggs
2 C. sugar
1 C. vegetable oil
2 tsp. grated lemon peel
1 C. chopped walnuts
Prepare zucchini and set aside. Rinse raisins, drain, and mix
with 2 T. of the flour. Sift flour with soda, salt, baking powder,
cinnamon. Beat eggs and gradually beat in sugar, then oil. Blend in
dry ingredients alternately with grated zucchini. When thoroughly
mixed, stir in raisins, lemon peel and nuts. Turn into 2 greased
and floured loaf pans (9x5x3). Bake at 350 degrees about 55
minutes, or until top springs back when lightly touched. Cool in
pan about 10 minutes, then turn out on rack to cool.
For lunch: try grating a small zucchini onto the middle of a
tortilla and add a bit of cheese and any seasoning you choose.
Cilantro, chives, bell pepper are all good. Wrap the tortilla up
like an enchilada and warm in a microwave for one minute at about
60 percent power.
Of course, tomatoes make any lunch dish better. Tomatoes can be
the feature in a soup. Just melt some butter or Nucoa (Nucoa
doesn’t burn and it’s been my choice of butter substitute spread
for years — on grilled cheese sandwiches or to fry eggs in) — about
3 T. would do. Melt the Nucoa in a large frying pan and then stir
in an equal amount of flour. When this mixture is bubbly, add
diced, skinned tomatoes – as many as will fit comfortably in your
frying pan. You can add some sauteed, chopped onion or not. You can
thin the mixture with chicken stock or vegetable stock. Salt to
taste. Simmer and stir occasionally until tomatoes are soft.
If this isn’t simple I’ll eat my hat but I’d rather not — it
shades my head and has been my farming companion for years.
On to dinner. Forget fancy cooking in summer. Eat pizza from
your garden and do it yourself! Here is a pizza dough for two
pizzas and making this is a great way to begin working with yeast,
if you are a newcomer to the process.
1 package active dry yeast
1 and 1/4 C. warm water (read the packet for guidance as to
water temperature)
3 and 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
Dash of pepper
2 T. olive oil
Cornmeal
Sprinkle yeast into 1/4 C. warm water. Wait a minute and then
stir it until it is dissolved. Sift flour, salt, pepper into large
bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in 1 C. warm water, olive
oil and the yeast mixture. Mix with wooden spoon until you can
gather the dough into a rough ball. Turn onto floured board and
knead, using a little more flour. Kneading is the action taken by
your hands, turning and gently pushing the heal of your hand into
the ball of dough. If the dough gets sticky you can sprinkle more
flour over the kneading surface as well as over your hands.
Continue to knead until the dough is bouncy and cooperative. Place
in oiled bowl, cover with foil or towel and let rise in a warm
place until doubled, 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours. The beauty of yeast
dough in summer is that the kitchen is often 80 degrees, the
optimal rising temperature.
When ready to make pizza, punch dough down and divide into two
balls. Knead each again for 30 seconds and then stretch and flatten
dough to desired size. Place on pans sprinkled with corn meal.
While dough is rising you can prepare the other pizza
ingredients.
Saute sliced green onions or chopped sweet onion with bell
pepper in 2 T. oil until soft. Remove to dish. Saute thinly sliced
zucchini until crisp tender. Use 2-3 medium size zucchini per
pizza.
Brush pizza dough with 1 T. oil and a little tomato sauce,
canned or your own. Sprinkle a pinch of oregano and chopped basil
over the sauce and spread the sautéed vegetables over that.
Finally, top evenly with grated mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.
Bake 425 degrees until crust is browned and cheese melted, about 20
minutes.
So, there it is — tomatoes and zucchini at every meal, and we
haven’t even mentioned zucchini soup and tomato jam, zucchini chips
and dried tomatoes, zucchini pickles and tomato soup cake. Call me
if you want those recipes.
Renee Kiff weeds and writes at her family farm in Alexander
Valley.

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