17 Ways to Prepare Extra Fruits and Veggies When You Have a Bumper Crop

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They may be ugly but they are sooooo good. Those about to be grilled; we salute you!

Oh man, have I been busy in the garden! Sunday I turned 30#s of German Johnson tomatoes into 6 cups of rockin’ roasted tomato & pepper soup and 5 quarts of amazing basil tomato sauce.  Do you get a little overwhelmed with your harvest?

Juicing helps a lot because Herb & I both juice at least one meal a day, heavy on the veggies. Plus we sell a lot of our surplus at the local Ag Center and tail gate farmers markets, but still – whew!

Here’s an article I found that had some really good ideas – I’m a hummus addict so I’m dying to try the baba ganoush and the curried squash bake.

Enjoy these and please share your ideas with me !

Holy Produce Proliferation! 17 Ways to Prepare Extra Fruits and Veggies When You Have a Bumper Crop

By Kim Kash

Maybe your home garden had a bumper crop, so every mixing bowl in your kitchen is full of tomatoes. Or perhaps your neighbor, who has a green thumb and a propensity for random acts of kindness, showed up at your door with enough jalapeños to bring all of Mexico City to tears. Or was it that the zucchinis at the farmer’s market looked so beautiful that you got a little carried away and now don’t even have room in your fridge for the milk?

Assorted Vegetables

Either way, it’s easy for fruits and veggies to pile up come summertime. If you’re ready to run screaming and leave the whole pile to rot—don’t! Here are some ideas for making delicious things out of LOTS of produce.

Too Many Tomatoes

Blender tomato sauce. Fill your blender 3/4 full of cored, quartered tomatoes—should be about a half dozen or so. Throw in a few cloves of garlic, a generous handful of basil leaves, and a small onion or a small bunch of green onions or scallions. Salt and pepper to taste, and blend with a little bit of olive oil, tasting and adding up to 1/2 cup to get a smooth but not oily consistency. When you stir this into fresh, hot pasta, the sauce will warm up just enough.

Roasted tomatoes. Slice tomatoes in half or in big chunks. Arrange on one or more baking sheets. Add big handfuls of basil, cilantro, or spring onions, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until tomatoes are wrinkly and soft, and herbs are completely wilted and disintegrating. Put into a bowl, and be sure to scrape all the oil and bits of herb off of the baking pan. Makes a great pasta sauce, bruschetta topping, or chunky topping for chicken, fish, or another cooked vegetable.

Tomato salad. Mix a variety of colors and types of tomatoes, throw in some herbs, and add a simple oil and vinegar dressing and a bit of salt and freshly ground pepper. Just because it’s salad doesn’t mean it has to have lettuce in it.

Tomato sauce. Yes, it’s obvious, but this is the Cadillac® method for using up a whole lot of tomatoes at once. Plus, tomato sauce freezes really well. There are too many recipes for us to recommend just one.

A Surplus of Summer Squash

Grilled squash. Thickly slice squash lengthwise and roast on the grill.

Summer squash bake. Slice or roughly chop a combination of summer squashes, enough to fill a baking dish. Add fresh herbs if you have them. Grate a layer of cheddar, jack, or even mozzarella on top, and use your fingers to sift a little bit of the cheese down into the vegetables. Sprinkle whole-grain breadcrumbs on top if you wish. Bake in a 350-degree oven until the vegetables are soft and the cheese is beginning to brown. Cover with foil if the cheese or breadcrumbs are browning too quickly. If the finished dish is a bit watery (some summer squashes are more watery than others when cooked), just serve with a slotted spoon.

Italian summer squash bake. Same as above, only add tomato sauce, and use mozzarella cheese.

Curried summer squash bake. Same as squash bake above, only omit the cheese and add a drained can of chickpeas, maybe some fresh greens, and 1 to 2 tablespoons curry powder to taste, depending on the quantity of squash you’re baking.

Your signature summer squash bake. Are you getting the idea about this squash bake thing? Summer squash is very mild in flavor, so it plays well with both eastern and western spices. Make a squash bake whenever you need to use up zucchini plus almost any other vegetable or herb or sauce or cheese.

Grate and freeze. Use later for zucchini fritters, zucchini bread, in frittatas, as a thickener for spaghetti sauce, or a filler in any kind of vegetable bake or casserole.

Bustin’ at the Seams with Basil

Pesto. Pesto. Pesto. You can use basil a few leaves at a time in Caprese salads or tomato sauce recipes. But if you need to use up a ton of basil in a hurry, pesto is what you want. Experiment with the many recipes out there—with or without cheese, with various kinds of nuts, with lots of olive oil or very little. Pesto stores beautifully in the fridge, in a tightly closed glass jar with a layer of olive oil covering it. Here’s what you can do with pesto:

  • Smear it on bruschetta.
  • Add it to green salads as a dressing.
  • Use it as a pasta sauce; this is great with cherry tomatoes tossed in.
  • Use it as a sandwich spread.
  • Top grilled or roasted chicken, fish, or vegetables with it.
  • Eat it with a spoon out of the jar.

A Cornucopia of Cucumbers

Raita. This Indian cucumber-yogurt condiment can be thick like a dip, or thin like a sauce, depending on the thickness of the yogurt you use. Thick or thin, whip some yogurt with a whisk to even out its consistency. Then stir it into to a bowl of chopped and (optionally) peeled cucumbers. Add more or less yogurt as you wish. Salt it to taste. If you want a spicy raita, add a seeded, finely chopped hot pepper.

Cucumber water. Peel and slice one or more cucumbers and add to a pitcher of water. Squeeze in a little lemon juice, and serve very cold as a refreshing thirst quencher on a hot day.

Cucumber salad. This was on the supper table almost every summer day when my mother was a child in Kentucky. Very thinly slice cucumbers, pour a little bit of white vinegar over them, and salt. Some people also add a little sugar, but Mom would not approve. These are simple and delicious—but don’t put leftovers in the fridge for next time, because as they marinate in the vinegar, they lose their crispness.

A Big Bell Pepper Buildup

Oven roast or grill. As with basil, there are plenty of recipes that call for one or a few red or yellow bell peppers. But when you have a real bell pepper glut, roasting them is the way to go. Take as many red and yellow bell peppers as you have and spread them on a hot grill, or on the top rack of the oven, set to broil. If you’re using the oven, line the peppers up on the front edge of the rack, and put a baking sheet underneath them to catch drips. When the skin blackens, give them a quarter turn with a good pair of tongs, and repeat until the peppers are charred all the way around. Then remove from the oven or grill and let rest. The charred skin will peel easily off of the cooled peppers. Core and slice the now-soft roasted peppers, coat the strips with olive oil, and store in a tightly closed container. Use these in pasta and on sandwiches and bruschetta.

Excessive Eggplantery

Many recipes call for the notoriously spongy eggplant to be fried in oil. Roasting eggplant instead is much healthier, and roasting on the grill imparts a rich, smoky flavor. In addition to the recipes below, try adding roasted eggplant to casseroles and veggie burgers.

Baba ghanoush. This Middle Eastern dip is often served alongside hummus, with pita bread. Slash one or more eggplants in several places and bake on a pan in a 425-degree oven until very soft. This can take an hour or more, depending on the size of the eggplants. Cool, then peel off the skin. Throw the soft interior into a food processor. For each eggplant, add 2 cloves of garlic, 1/4 cup of tahini, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and the juice from one lemon. Blend just until incorporated, leaving the texture a little rough. Salt to taste. To serve, make a little well on the top of the baba ghanoush and pour some olive oil into the depression. Sprinkle parsley over the top. (Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison.)

Roasted eggplant salad. Roast eggplants as above, peel and roughly chop. Serve in a large salad bowl with toasted pine nuts or walnuts, lots of parsley, and mint. If you have too many tomatoes, chop and add a few of those. Dress with either a light vinaigrette or with a bit of whipped yogurt.

Resource:

  • American Heart Association: http://www.heart.org
  • Yu Wen Li, Zhao Ya Ping, Xue Zheng, Wang Da Pu (Shanghai Jiao Tong University); Study on Synergistic Effect of Two Antioxidants and Its Anti-ageing Properties [J]; China Oils and Fats; 2002
  • Haibo Wang, Muraleedharan G. Nair, Gale M. Strasburg, Yu-Chen Chang, Alden M. Booren, J. Ian Gray, and David L. DeWitt. Antioxidant and Antiinflammatory Activities of Anthocyanins and Their Aglycon, Cyanidin, from Tart Cherries. Journal of Natural Products 1999, 62 (2), pp 294-2
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Motivation to ReCLAIM My Life

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I found this motivational photo on Pinterest from a post by Skinny Bitch and it really struck right to the heart of my renewed initiative to lose the weight I lost last year and have since put back on…

I’ve printed it out and taped it to my bathroom mirror. I intend to read this every day and to keep the focus on my choices throughout the day.

I’m also going back on my juice fest because I felt great getting all those nutrients and it kicked all the cravings. Those damn cravings! I’m back in the thrall of them – burgers, pizza, pasta dishes, ice cream… everything chocolate!

The veggie garden is in full swing, so there’s a lot of variety very conveniently located. I have absolutely NO excuses not to do this.

Another area I’ve been slacking off in is my exercise. Last year I dedicated myself to doing the Beachbody Power 90. Well into that, with juicing, my energy levels soared and I added the C25K program. My weight loss started slowing down, but the inches were melting off, so who cares about pounds!

I started a walking group called the Foothills Mile Markers that meets every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday morning for two reasons. One, to help keep me motivated and accountable and two, to share what I’ve learned about nutrition and fitness to help others. Oh yeah, I forgot the third reason: TO HAVE FUN!

So, Tony Horton, once again, its you and me, bay-bee. Gonna be pushing PLAY when I get back from my walk to do the Sweat Circuit and Ab Ripper. I’ll do the Sculpt Circuit Tuesday, Thursday & Saturdays.

Please, God, I want to lose this extra weight, and I know how to do that, feels like You & I have done it a hundred times. But more than that, please help me to finally make the deep personal transformation to keep it off and make it a non-issue for the rest of my life. I pledge to help others every step of the way.

 

 

It’s Not About the Weight Loss – It’s About a Healthy Happy YOU

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I just don’t get it.

Even though I’ve struggled with my weight most of my life, I just don’t get these weird and mostly expensive weight loss gimmicks.

Bride-to-Be Feeding Tube Diet – really? I cannot imagine someone who’d pay $150 a day to walk around with a tube up their nose.  Is sticking to a real nutritious low calorie whole foods plan really so much worse than sticking a tube up your nose?

Body Wraps – Measure yourself, pay someone $150 – $500 to wrap you in constrictive elastic bands agonize for an hour telling yourself this is good for you, get unwrapped and measure again – ooo look you’ve lost inches!  Yep, wait a couple hours and then measure yourself again…

Ear Stapling – Piercing, acupuncture, whatever, its been around for more than 10 years, and seems to be enjoying a bit of a come back. At about $60 per ear, if it really worked, it would not have gone away and there’d be at least three infomercials about it!

Diet Sunglasses – bwahahaha! if the food looks blue you’ll eat less of it. Tell that to my blue M&Ms. But a $20 price tag and the possibility of being mistaken for Johnny Depp ain’t all bad!

Weight Loss Soap – Well, heck you’ve got to wash anyway – why not give it  a whirl – but I wouldn’t pin all my desire for a healthy fit body on  a $3.50 bar of soap.

Tape Worms – ewwwwwww! C’mon people, seriously? Induce a tapeworm infestation? Maybe it causes weight loss because it is eating YOU and stealing all your nutrients! I know cancer treatments cause weight loss, too, anyone so desperate to lose weight they’d sign up for that? If so, I don’t want to know.

Diet Dinnerware – $22 forks & spoons with flashing red & green lights to tell you when to eat and when to put your fork down… I guess the old chew your food for the count of 20 and count to 10 before taking another bite is just beyond our automated world?

Why do so many of us got to such bizarre lengths to lose weight? Why is it so hard for us to just eat well and exercise?

 

Start a Walking Group

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Losing weight

is just a happy by-product of exercise,

not the end game.

There have been too many times I’ve lost weight and then once I reached that goal, I got complacent and guess what, the weight came right back, far easier than it was to take off!

Back to the drawing board for me so…  no matter what your fitness level the least expensive and highly effective way to maintain or ramp up that level is by walking.

To keep myself accountable and to help others reach their health and fitness goals, I’ve started a walking group called The Foothills Mile Markers. We’ll  meet at 7:30am every morning, Monday through Friday, rain or shine at a local fitness trail. The only time we’ll not meet is if the weather is so bad the schools close.

Everyone is welcome to join me. If you are not in my area, consider starting a walking group where you are. Here’s some tips on how

You likely already know the health benefits of walking. Here’s what else you get when you walk with others:

  • Safety
  • Socialization
  • Accountability
  • Friendship
  • Motivation

Simple 4-part fitness test

One of my intentions is to associate exercise with losing inches and gaining flexibility, strength and stamina. Therefore we’ll be tracking everyone’s progress at the start and every two weeks with this simple 4-part fitness test.

Waist Measurement: Using a cloth tape measure, measure the waist just above the hips. Record your waist size.

Sit & Reach:

  • Place a yardstick on the floor. Secure it by placing a piece of tape across the yardstick at the 15-inch (38-centimeter) mark.
  • Place the soles of your feet even with the mark on the yardstick.Ask a helper to place his or her hands on top of your knees to anchor them.
  • Reach forward as far as you can, holding the position for two seconds.
  • Note the distance you reached.
  • Repeat the test two more times.
  • Record the best of the three reaches.

Push Ups: From the toes or knees with arms straight, hands under your shoulders, see how many pushups you can do to a measured count of down, hold, up, one, down, hold, up, two, etc. Record how many you can do.

Ab Crunches: On your back with your knees bent, feet shoulder width apart, place hands sort of cupping your ears. Belly button in, exhale & contract the abdominals, keeping neck straight and raise your shoulders off the ground to a count of up, hold, down (inhale) one, up, hold, down (inhale), two, etc. Record how many you can do.

Stretching

Always remember to stretch before and after your walk to help prevent injuries. Here’s 5 easy stretches. Ease into each until you feel the tension in the muscle you want to stretch and hold until it feels looser.

  1. Calf stretch: Stand at arms length and lean against a wall or fence. Put one leg straight back and the other bent underneath you. Keep back straight and lean hips forward. Keep rear leg straight with heel on ground. Repeat for other leg.
  2. Side stretch: Stand and stretch both arms over head reaching as high as you can. Drop and rest your right hand at your hip and bend to the right while reaching your left arm overhead for a count of 10, then repeat for your left side.
  3. Torso twist: Stand with both arms out to side with elbows slightly bent. Feet should be at shoulder width or slightly wider. Twist your torso to the right and then the left, alternating back and forth slowly.
  4. Quadriceps (thigh): While leaning against a wall, reach back with your left hand and grab your right ankle. Pull your foot back and up toward your buttocks. (If this is easy, pull your foot back and up away from your buttocks.) Repeat for other side.
  5. Hamstrings (back of legs): Put your right leg out about 18 inches from your body with toe pointed up. Bend your left leg slightly. Reach down with both hands toward your right foot. Repeat for other side.

The camaraderie you experience in a walking group and the shared fitness success can help you walk your way to better health.

The Foothills Mile Markers walking group is free, but I ask everyone to chip $5 each week into a kitty. Each month half of the kitty will be donated to the Tryon Youth Center and the other half divided and rewarded as follows:

  • Most Inches Lost
  • Most Improved Fitness

Getting support from others by walking together will actually help us stick with our health and fitness goals.

Each day we show up makes winners of all of us!

4th of July

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I wrote this yesterday, but couldn’t get to my photos so I’m posting it today

4th of July, its early morning with the sun just coming up. I’ve begun taking nature walks in the morning usually going out to Tom Raymond’s Fitness Trail behind St. Luke’s Hospital.

This morning however I went for a walk right here on our 6 acres on a trail through the woods Herb & I put in about 6 years ago.

It runs in an sort of ½ mile elliptical loop from the back of the house past the blueberry hedge and into the woods. Past Mushroom Central (where the shiitake logs are kept), down a steep slope with holly, dogwood, sassafras and other trees, then beside a burbling creek through a mountain laurel lined path, back up a rather steep slope peppered with lady’s slippers in the spring, along a path where the oyster mushroom monoliths line the driveway. Cross the driveway, up the path to the grape arbor, turn and go along the asparagus bed back into the woods to loop around in back of the barn. Turn and retrace your steps and you’ve got a nice little mile walk.

This morning I took some meditative literature with me to read on a primitive log bench Herb made for me down by the creek. I easily get lost in the low chuckle of the creek and the play of light through the leaves there – it was my “get-away” spot long before Herb made the bench.

When I finished my mind journey and continued my walk, I saw two black snakes and a box turtle and found three new spots where Reishi (Ganoderma) mushrooms are growing. Herb & I have been foraging Reishi mushrooms for quite some time now. We dry them out and then grind them to a powder in a coffee grinder to add to our teas.

This is the top of a Reishi mushroom I picked to show Herb – note the shiny varnished look.

This is what the underside looks like, smooth stark white body abruptly meeting the almost purplish stem.

Two more Reishi (Ganoderma) fungi (took this photo just this morning as I didn’t have my camera with me yesterday)

Then it started getting super hot out.

Scooter (on her back) and Pippi hanging together (very unusual!) on the cool concrete in the shade

As I write this, I have a blueberry and pear custard pie in the oven that is beginning to give off a really heavenly aroma. Note: here are some photos I took of the pie later when it came out and after we’d dived into it before going to see the splendid fireworks in town.

Hot out of the oven – Blueberry and Bartlett pear pie.

Served with homemade peach ice cream – sorry, no photos, it was scarfed up as soon as it hit the plates!

I really love our place and this country. I have so much to be grateful for. Deepest appreciation to the brave soldiers that have given their all so that I could enjoy this day with Herb, his two sons Daniel & Zac and our friend Jarrod.

Happy Birthday, America, you’ve got a Grand Old Flag and long may she wave..

Father’s Day Weekend

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We had a lovely weekend weather-wise. Friday night we went to a Summer Tracks concert. Originally, we were going to the movies to see Men In Black III but dinner went late so we went to the concert instead. While we only saw the headliner, The StereoFidelics they kicked butt and it was a most excellent show plus we caught up with a number of friends. But it was serendipitous because we ran into one couple we’d not seen for a few months. He’s an excellent musician and I told him of a song my guitarist & I are working on, Anna Nalick’s Breathe and we made plans to get together with the gang for a jam.

I’m so glad we saw him, so full of joy and enjoying the fine music at the concert, because I just learned today that he passed away on Sunday. How fickle is life, only 58, in good (supposedly) health and very much in love with life and his wife. No one yet knows the reason. If dinner hadn’t been late, we’d have gone to the movies and not the concert and I wouldn’t have seen him…

Saturday we went tubing and canoeing on the Green River and then finally went to see MIB III at the theater in town.

Father’s Day started out with my only-on-special-occasions Dutch Apple Pancake for breakfast. Then we went to a local indoor flea market where I found a really cool tablecloth & 6 napkins in dark blue with a gold foil Egyptian motif. I got the cloth for a covering for my work desk in the home office, so teh napkins were a very pleasant extra. Dinner was a chicken and vegetable stew over  potatoes mashed with sour cream & cream cheese with homemade artisan bread. I’d recorded the first Sherlock Homes movie with Robert Downey Jr. and we watched that with some homemade coffee ice cream.

All-in-all a perfect weekend, except for learning about my friend today.

I’m looking at some photos I took over the weekend and am sharing them here. I’m looking at the ice cream, bread and Dutch Apple Pancake and I’m looking at these lovely veggies and fruits coming on in our garden and I’m thinking it might be a good time to fore go the bread-y and sugar-y stuff and jump back on a juice-fest!

The soybeans are from organic seed. Studies with GMO soybeans are flat out scary! So, since I love edamame, I found a source, Wannamakers for organic seed and they are just one state over in South Carolina.

The beautiful shiny orange mushroom is from the Ganoderma family,and is also known as reishi a highly respected medicinal mushroom. Some say Reishi can cure cancer, HIV and a whole host of other dire illnesses. Most of these claims come from people selling reishi pills. In my opinion, these mushrooms, dried and taken in tea form somewhat consistently, will significantly benefit the immune system and support other aspects of the body to effectively keep itself in good health. Again, just my opinion.

Picked beets, kale and green beans to have in my juice tomorrow morning.

Do me a favor – Tell all your family and friends how much you love and appreciate them, right now. Life is fickle and all we have is right now. I’m going to get off the computer and pick up a harmonica, then I’m gonna get the dog and go hiking. I’m going to live in a way I’ll have no regrets.