Saturday, August 6, 2011

Squash and other Happenings

Each year, since 2005, we 've been  planting zucchini because we heard that it is relatively easy crop to grow.  One of  T.V. cooks once said that her father brags about the abundance of his  zucchini crops.  She added that zucchini is so easy that it could grow on cement.  Not  in my experience.   Our  first year's crop was good but after that we did not have much luck.  Last year, we just harvested about 2 or 3 zucchinis.  Not good considering we planted 6 plants.   We suspect the soil in our backyard was spent.  We added compost, rotated crops but still....

This year, we, again, blessed by the squash god, or maybe it's the virgin pasture soil in our new property.  Anyhow,  I am officially overwhelmed by the amount of squash we have.  I am currently scouring for recipes and trying to share my crops to people who would have them.   And this is just the beginning!

My favorite recipe is Fried Zucchini Pasta.  You could use as much zucchinis you want in this recipe.  It just takes time to fry them.    I wonder if I could use the deep fryer or use the oven with  drizzle of oil.  I learned of this dish through Gwyneth Paltrow.  I already tried this recipe  twice.  I admit I did not totally follow it.  I added finely chopped garlic to give it a slight kick.  I did not have enough Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese at one time, so I supplemented with Romano cheese that was in my refrigerator for months and it was delicious.   WARNING:  This is a vegetarian (not vegan) dish and would make omnivores not miss meat....

1 lb zucchini, very thinly sliced crosswise.  (You can add as much as you want)
1/4 cups all purpose flour (approximately, add more if you will use more zucchinis.  Whole wheat flour is okay)
Salt  (sea salt is preferable)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil  (approximately)
3/4 lb spaghetti (I use a low-carb variety)
1 cup shredded Parmigiano-Regiano cheese, plus more for serving
1/2 cup torn basil leaves.  (Can also be coarsely chopped)
Freshly ground pepper
Lemon wedges, for serving (If you want,  you can squeeze 1 lemon directly to the pasta while  tossing Just decrease the amount of pasta water.)

In a medium bowl, toss the zucchini with the flour and a pinch of salt.  In a very large skillet, heat half of the oil until shimmering.  Add half of the zucchini and fry over high heat, turning once or twice, until brown and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the zucchini to a paper towel-lined wire rack and season with salt ( you can omit this if you prefer low salt).  Repeat with the remaining oil and zucchini.

Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente.  Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking liquid.  Return the pasta to the pot and toss with the 1 cup of cheese, the basil and a generous pinch of pepper.  Add the reserved pasta water a little at a time, tossing well to coat.  Transfer the pasta to a bowl and top with the crispy zucchini.  Serve right away with lemon wedges and additional cheese.


I just wat to show photos of the last week and a half.....

                                                          The So-called Perk,  or Stigma?  You choose...

                                             The Entertainment (while waiting for the doctor)

                                                  The Chemo (2nd to be exact)

Our town was one of the overnight stops of RAGBRAI (Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa), a non-competitive bike ride across Iowa.  It doubled the population of our town.  There were about 15,000 riders who participated this year.   It's not Tour de France but town people were excited, none the less, if not irritated because it was more difficult to navigate around town with car.    The heat index that day was 103.   We braved to walk 6 miles or more to join  the festivities and see the riders.   Seldom you get to see this bedroom town comes alive....

                                           The town showing their hospitality...

                                           Outside a grocery store.

                                           The park closed to our house became tent city!
                                           Recumbent bike.  I would like to have one someday...