Cold Zucchini Soup with Buttermilk – Too Much Zucchini, part III

 

Chilled Zucchini Soup

We have a zucchini plant in our garden this year.  Just one, as we have learned from years past that zucchini quickly becomes overwhelming.  Fried zucchini blossoms are one of our favorite summer treats, and one of the most cost-effective ways to get our hands on them is to plant our own zucchini plant.

Apparently, though, there is something mysterious in our soil because that one zucchini plant has grown to monstrous proportions.  It’s the tomacco of zucchini plants – each leaf is the size of a cocktail table.
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We are diligent about seeking out the zucchini and picking them when they’re either still flowers or at a reasonable size, and we’ve been eating a lot of zucchini fritters and zucchini bread this summer.   However, occasionally one will escape our notice, hiding under a massive leaf, until one day we discover this Godzilla-zucchini, and have to figure out what to do with it.  They’re more watery and less flavorful than the little ones, and the seeds are enormous, too.

Giant Zucchini

 

Staring at these enormous zucchini this weekend, I was struck with inspiration.  What do you do with any excess vegetables?  Make soup.  But since it is July, and it is going to be 101 degrees at my house tomorrow, chilled soup is the game.

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Baked Scotch Eggs

Baked Scotch Eggs TXT

When you are a working parent, each weekday can feel like a battle, and each working day, a war.  Mornings are especially chaotic – the opening shots are fired at 5:45 am, when the alarm goes off (better – at least I can drink a cup of coffee in peace) or the toddler goes off (No chance of snoozing with that one.)  From then on, it’s a full charge ahead – getting two children and two adults awake, dressed in some semblance of reasonable clothing, fed some semblance of breakfast, out the door with all the appropriate gear (lunches, snacks, permission slips, changes of clothes, diapers, two matching shoes, laptop computers and wallets) requires, skill, strategy, manpower, and a great deal of cunning. By the time I actually (drive to daycare, drop off toddler, get to work, park and then) settle into my desk, I feel like my quiet cup of tea is a truce before the workday really begins (and then the whole process must be rendered in reverse).

Weekends, therefore, must be dedicated, not to rest, relaxation, or socializing, but to TACTICAL PLANNING.  Meal planning and grocery shopping are crucial, but so is the Sunday cook up, whereby I stock the kitchen for the week ahead.  I roast a tray of veggies and another of chicken legs (great kid foods), boil a dozen eggs, chop up and wash salad.  If something happens on Sunday to derail the preparation, I know that the weekday war can quickly spin out of control.

Breakfast is a keystone to my strategy. I know my kids and I all do better if we eat a good, solid breakfast – something with protein, that will last us reasonably well until lunch. There’s no time for pancake flipping and omelet making on weekday mornings, but I will stash pancakes and french toast from the weekend in the freezer, for a quick run in the toaster oven.  My favorite weekday breakfasts are portable – there’s no guarantee that I will get a chance to actually eat something before that cup of tea at the desk, and the kids can eat SO SLOWLY that taking breakfast in the car is essential to avoiding the tardy bell.

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Slice and Bake Buckwheat Chocolate Shortbread

BUckwheat cookies

I love the holiday season – I really do.   I keep a nested to do list on my phone to keep track of Christmas presents.  I drive out of my way to find houses with the best light displays.  And I bake a lot of cookies.   But there’s a point in the season (and this year, it’s right about … now) when the merrymaking starts to feel a little forced.   I consult my calendar, and it reads something like “Holiday Performance (school):  10 am.  Holiday Performance (after school program): 2 pm.  Coworker’s Party:  4 pm.  Family Movie Night:  7 pm. ”  It should be followed by “Mom falls asleep on the couch: 7:30 pm.  Kids get into Christmas candy dish and smear chocolate on said couch:  7:34 pm.”  I’m a little burnt out, and when every single event on that calendar asks that you bring “a homemade dessert to share!” I start to consider putting my head under a pillow until January.

Fortunately, there are Christmas cookies that come to the rescue.  These are not the decorated, iced, hand painted, seven layered sugar swirled confections that usually constitute Christmas cookies.  These are a little more … austere, when austerity provides a welcome counterpoint to the mad festivity.  (And don’t  suggest just forgoing cookies altogether, BLASPHEMER.  It is Christmas and there will be cookies.)  These are easy to make – the dough comes together seamlessly, the ingredients aren’t too difficult to track down, and the log sits happily in your refrigerator (or freezer), ready to be sliced and baked whenever the calendar demands it.
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Peach Almond Slab Pie

Peach Almond Slab Pie Slice
Summer time is pie time.  After years of resistance, I have come to love  a good fruit pie, with juices running every which way.  But as seasonal as it is, fruit pie is not often convenient for summer activities.  It doesn’t go on road trips, or to the beach.  It doesn’t slip into sack lunches for camp, or feed the crowd at the Friday night neighborhood barbecue.
Enter slab pie.  It may sound unprepossessing, but slab pie is a pinch hitter for summer fun.   Sure, a higher crust to fruit ratio makes it neater to take along with you, but it’s also just a little sassier – big enough to feed a crowd, with a slick of icing and generous proportions, it’s the Fat Amy to regular fruit pie’s Becca. (Bonus points if you get my reference.)

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