Monday, July 23, 2007

The veggies are here! The veggies are here!

Friends, this morning on my way to work, I saw the sign that confirms that the harvest season has begun in earnest--the folks that sell corn out of the back of their pickup truck was open for business up at the corner of Rt. 22 and Miner Farm Road. YIPPEE! I knew it would happen soon, as all of the produce vendors had the first teeny-tiny but very sweet little ears of corn for sale this past Saturday. Of course, my silly roommate has a terrible toothache right now, and the dentist won't be back from vacation until August 7th, so corn on the cob is out and mushy and/or liquid foods are in. And since we have been experiencing a spate of unseasonably cool weather, I decided to make that autumnal favorite, corn chowder. Here's my method:

First, I use kitchen shears to cut a half pound or so of bacon into thin little strips, and I brown them in a big pot. Once they are crispy, I fish them out and set them aside. Then I add a half stick of butter to the bacon renderings and cook 2-3 ribs of diced celery and one large diced onion until soft. Next, I add a teaspoon of tumeric and a half cup of flour to the pot and cook the roux for a few minutes to get rid of the raw flour taste. Then I add two quarts of chicken stock, a tablespoon of dried parsley, a teaspoon of dried thyme (although fresh herbs would be preferable at present!), a pinch of cayenne, salt and pepper to taste, and then I stir the broth. Next, I add four large or six medium potatoes (peeled or not, as you like) cut into sizable chunks and simmer them for maybe ten minutes or so until almost completely tender. Then I add about a pound of corn kernels (cut fresh from the cob at this time of year or a bag of frozen will do in off-seasons) and cook for another five minutes or so. Finally, I stir in a pint of cream or half-and-half, correct the seasonings, and serve with a sprinkle of the crispy bacon pieces on each bowlful. YUM!

Not only is the corn coming on, the squash deluge has begun. I have actually been too busy with the farmers' market this year to plant more than tomatoes and peppers, but as prolific as squash is, I'm sure my friends and neighbors will hook me up! And now that zucchini is plentiful, customers at the market have been asking me to make zucchini bread. Here's the one I've been making for the past couple of weeks, and it's yummy! It's a zucchini and carrot bread to which I add a little candied ginger for extra zing. I also use white whole wheat flour for added nutritional value, and if you wanted to take the health issue a bit further, I bet you could swap out some applesauce for some of the vegetable oil. Even though this makes a very dense loaf, it is surprisingly moist, and it and keeps for quite awhile in the fridge. And the spices give it a great flavor--kind of a cross between zucchini bread and carrot cake. So when the zucchini starts overtaking your home and garden, give this recipe a try.

Zucchini-Carrot Bread
(Makes two loaves.)

3 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups grated, raw zucchini (no need to peel it)
1 cup carrots, peeled and grated
2 teaspoons vanilla
2-3 tablespoons finely-chopped candied ginger
3 cups flour (I use white whole wheat for this)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/3 of a nutmeg, grated
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two loaf pans or spray with cooking spray with flour. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until light and fluffy. Add sugar, oil, zucchini, carrot, vanilla, and candied ginger. Mix well. In a small bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Add to zucchini/carrot mixture. Mix just until combined then fold in the walnuts. Pour into prepared pans and bake for about an hour. Cool on rack for 10 minutes then remove from pans. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Randi said...

I'm going to try this bread!! I make one that is similar, no carrot though. Isnt it funny how the simplest things can make us so happy!!

kitchenmage said...

Of course you have a recipe for this! I was just going to make one up. Thanks for saving me the trouble; now I can just corrupt yours instead.