Zucchini Bread Winner

Sorry, beards.  I took you down.  I don’t want to gloat, but that bread was delicious.

That's me. Gloating.
That’s me. Gloating.

We’ve got zucchini’s the size of our forearms right now.  Approximately one million of them.  And since we don’t know what else to do with them (there are only so many zucchini parmesans, zucchini fajitas, and stuffed zucchini dinners out there before you want something different), we decided to have a little bit of a bake off.  Paul started off with his zucchini bread.  It was good, not too sweet, a more healthful version that we all appreciated… Muelsa went second, a bit of a treat with some exotic spices (black pepper to spice it up!).  Then it was Leroy’s turn (that’d be me, of course).  I was really going for a “knock your socks off” version of this classic.  I didn’t want it to be super sweet, and I was looking for something with interesting spices, some natural sweetness, and nothing over-dry.  To be quite honest, I wanted to make the perfect zucchini bread.  And, I think I outdid myself on this one because it was perfect!

This is honestly a complete fluke.  As many of you know, I’m not a baker by any stretch.  So after researching a few recipes with nothing too inspiring, I decided to just wing it (as I always do in the kitchen), and it turned out to be amazing.  Here’s what I came up with:

Ingredients
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup sugar
1 cup maple syrup
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup water
2 cups grated zucchini
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup diced apple

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350F. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, spices, baking soda, and sugar. In a separate bowl, combine oil, eggs, water, syrup, zucchini and lemon juice. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry, and fold in nuts, raisins and apples. Bake in 2 standard loaf pans, coated with butter, for 1 hour, or until a tester comes out clean. Alternately, bake in 5 mini-loaf pans for about 45 minutes.  (I used 1 standard loaf pan and 3 small loaf pans, they came out great!)

You could probably substitute brown sugar for the maple syrup since it’s expensive (again, not a baker!) but since we made our own this year, I just went ahead and dumped a whole cup of it in!!

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Raw Beet and Chickpea Salad

Beets and chickpeas.
Beets and chickpeas.

Raw beets.  I can’t get enough of them. Paul is still warming up to them, but he’s going to come around.  I basically use raw beets as a carrot substitute 1) because they’re beautiful, 2) because they’re delicious, 3) because I can usually get them right out of my garden or fresh from the farmer’s market.  In fact, we got our beets from the King’s Corner Market right in downtown Tully this past Tuesday from Grey Barn Farm, along with some Music and German Red varieties of garlic.  Dang, it is so good to be home!

This salad is quick and easy.  Perfect for a potluck or picnic at the park (Ha!).

Ingredients
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/3 cup olive oil
2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 medium sized beets, shredded
2 cups cooked chickpeas, cooled to room temperature
1/2 cup whole dates, roughly chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/3 cup toasted almonds, sliced

Directions
1) For the dressing, combine the first six ingredients into a lidded jar and shake vigorously.  If you want to get extra fancy, you can add the cumin to a dry skillet and toast for 2-3 minutes, or until aromatic.  Sometimes I do this, sometimes I don’t!
2) Combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Toss with the dressing and serve.

This isn’t as pretty after mixing it up with the beets, of course!  But it’s completely delicious, and wonderful as cold leftovers for lunch!

Adapted from 101 Cookbooks by Heidi Swanson.

Monday for a (not in the field) Wildlife Biologist…

You know what I did today?  Me neither.

Saturday was the last field day.  Today I’m back at home, staring at my computer, wondering what I should do next.  Do I send out emails?  Do I start looking at data?  Do I unload and unpack?  Or should I just abandon everything and go outside because I’ve been outside every. single. day. for the past five months… There’s a lot of anxiety around not knowing what to do, yet knowing that you have a lot to do, you just can’t remember where to start.

And so begins Day 1.  Stuck inside.  Oh boy.

Sunrise from a nest camera.
Sunrise from a nest camera.