Grilling from my garden!

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We have spent a year in our house. A fall, a winter, a spring, and summer. A year can go by fast when you’re not counting the length of something. Some of my favorite things about living in this house have been the surprises that pop up in our yard. We moved into a blue house with a yellowed yard, the grass dry and prickly from the rain-free summer days of perfect blue skies and nice breezes. When the rainy season came we were happy to see the grass nourished again and refreshed to an emerald green (while the weeds grew taller!) In the springtime the tulips that we didn’t plant popped up, (thanks previous owners!) the camellia tree bloomed white flowers that quickly browned, and the rhododendrons grew big and bright in front of our window.

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I started my first home garden this summer, though as is typical of me, I had high hopes for all the things I would grow, but I never really planned how to make them happen. Eventually I planted some lettuce, which grew, but had a short season, and some herbs, strawberries, sunflowers, and squash. When the weather finally warmed enough I was rewarded with beautiful tall sunflowers, tiny, ruby strawberries, and zucchini whose leaves grew and spread wide just as I hadn’t really expected. I’ve since lost count of how many squash we’ve harvested from that giant plant, but I am thrilled every time I see a new one forming among the squash blossoms. I literally exclaimed with delight and surprise when I discovered the yellow patty pan squash growing on the other side of the plant. (The package I bought said squash medley, but somehow I only expected one type to grow!)

What I love about squash is their ability to be transformed into a number of different delicious dishes. I love zucchini bread, roasted zucchini, zucchini and cheese casserole, and many other recipes. However, though I tend to complicate things when it comes to food, zucchini are probably at their best when simply grilled. Toss them with a little oil, a sprinkle of salt, a few grinds of fresh black pepper and throw them on a hot grill alongside your chicken or burgers or whatever. Grilling them makes them soft, sweet, and smoky, the perfect way to eat more vegetables this time of year.

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I also forgot to mention another garden surprise from our new house: tomatillos! I never planted tomatillos and yet they sprouted seemingly out of nowhere in my garden bed (apparently they’re perennials). If they ever get ripe enough, I hope to share a recipe using them on the blog soon!

Summer is certainly winding down and it makes me sad to think of the return of the rain and cloudy, cool days, but I also look forward to our grass turning green again and the milder temperatures of fall. Happy end of summer!

Grilled Summer Squash

yellow squash or zucchini, any amount, any variety*

oil, salt, pepper

fresh herbs (optional)

Preheat your grill to medium heat (about 400 degrees)

Wash your squash to remove any dirt and trim the stem ends. Slice into rounds, about 1/2 an inch thick or close to that. Most importantly make sure they are close in thickness for even grilling. Toss or brush with your choice of high heat oil on both sides (olive oil or canola oil for example). Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

When grill has heated up completely, lay squash out on clean, oiled grates using tongs or your fingers (carefully). Cook for a few minutes on one side and then flip and cook a few minutes more. How long you cook them will depend on the thickness, but you want them to be soft and have good grill marks. Remove and serve with a sprinkle of fresh herbs and grilled chicken.

*In general the smaller the squash, the better the flavor. These round squash are perfect for grilling because you can cut them into rounds so they don’t fall through the grill grates. If you buy regular long zucchini, cut them into long strips from end to end. It is much easier to flip bigger pieces.

Post 81 – Recipe experimenting!

I like experimenting with recipes – especially when they turn out well the first time! Here are some loosely written “recipes,” more like guidelines, for making three delicious dishes (say that 5 times fast!)

Baked Fish in Parchment Paper

Inspired by the cod we enjoyed over the weekend while visiting my aunt at her new home in Connecticut, I decided to try my luck at poisson en papillote or fish baked in parchment paper. It keeps the fish moist and requires very little work and time.

You simply put the fish on a square of parchment paper large enough to fold into a package, season as desired…

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fold it up and bake it…

photo 4(14)(make sure you put it on a sheet pan or in a baking dish). I recommend baking at 375 for 10-15 minutes (depending on the thickness) or until the fish feels slightly firm when you press it.

And voila! Moist fish!

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If you can tolerate lemon, onions, and garlic these would be lovely additions.

 

Summer Squash Gratinee

Since I had bought some summer squash, I also made a tasty squash “gratinee” based on this recipe. Usually gratinee is a dish baked with cheese that gets nice and browned and crispy and tasty, but since I can’t eat cheese right now I found an excellent substitute thanks to some recipe browsing: almond flour.

Start by salting your squash. Slice the squash into even slices (about 1/4 inch thick) and place in a colander. Toss with a fair amount of salt (about 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt for 3 medium squash) and let drain for at least 15 minutes. The salt will draw out the excess water in the squash so as not to water down your dish. Shake excess water out and pat dry with a paper towel. Oil or spray your baking dish. I used a pie plate for mine. Place the squash in a pretty pattern, seasoning each layer with fresh ground black pepper, oregano, and a drizzle of olive oil.

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photo 2(25) Sprinkle with a few tablespoons of almond meal (3-4) and lightly drizzle with olive oil OR spray with an oil spray. Bake at 400 for 35-45 minutes until desired doneness is reached and it is slightly browned.

Let cool slightly and enjoy! The topping looks like cheese and even tastes slightly cheesy from the nuttiness of the almonds. I would definitely make this dish again.

 

Almond Butter Bites

My final experiment was a recipe based on a comfort snack food my mom made growing up: peanut butter balls. She would mix an indiscriminate amount of peanut butter, oats, honey, powdered milk, raisins or chocolates until it became a dough like consistency with the right amount of sweetness and the right texture. Then she would form the dough into balls and we would eat them for a snack. Delicious!

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Since the ED eliminates peanut butter, oats, chocolate, milk, and raisins (I can have honey in small amounts) I had to come up with my own version using almond butter, cooked buckwheat, coconut, flax, and honey (mixed in unknown amounts to achieve the flavor and texture desired). I rolled them in unsweetened coconut so they looked pretty. I’ll be taking these tasty buggers to my all day frisbee tournament tomorrow for a nice little treat! Here’s hoping it doesn’t rain.

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Happy weekend and hope you do some kitchen experiments!