Saturday, after gathering more than 15 lbs of fresh, local veggies and fruit from the market and co-op and realizing that we would only be in town through Thursday due to the upcoming Fourth of July holiday, I decided to spend Sunday afternoon in the kitchen. My goal: to tackle two new-to-me projects – pickles and zucchini bread.
I’m not sure if I mentioned in a previous post about my recent purchase of home canning equipment (the Ball Canning Discovery Kit), but I bought this at-home kit so I could start canning vegetables. Within a few hours of purchasing the kit, I made salsa. Did you know that homemade salsa, when first canned, is pink? It doesn’t turn red until the jars are properly preserved. But anyway – I decided to make my own pickles this week. Based on some things I’d seen on Food Network and several recipes, I decided to use a hot-pack technique by boiling various spices in vinegar, inserting fresh herbs, onions and garlic into the jar like a bed for the cucumbers, tightly packing the cucumbers and then pouring the hot liquid over the contents and sealing the jars. I didn’t follow any one recipe – just got ideas from the Ball Blue Book and other recipes found online. Now, we have to wait four to six weeks to try them! I’m calling them my sweet and spicy dill pickles.
Later Sunday evening, I pulled out a 14-inch long zucchini (which was also about 4″ diameter) and started grating it in preparation to make two loaves of zucchini bread. I decided to base my recipe on Paula Deen’s Zucchini Bread. Note – it is not low-fat, low-cholesterol, or low-sugar, but it is perfectly moist and yummy! It’s loaded with fresh zucchini (about one cup per loaf), cinnamon and nutmeg. It would be easy to make it slightly healthier by replacing some of the eggs/sugar with banana and some of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour. Honestly, with a little cream cheese frosting – this batter would make great zucchini cupcakes!
ZUCCHINI BREAD (modified from Paula Deen’s recipe)
2 cups grated zucchini
1/3 c. water
4 eggs, beaten
1 c. canola oil
1 t. vanilla
1 T. lemon juice
1 t. grated lemon zest
3 c. sugar
1 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
2 t. baking soda
1 1/2 t. salt
3 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. lemon juice
1 t. grated lemon zest
1/2 c. finely chopped walnuts (almost like a fine dust)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a separate bowl, mix together sugar, spices, baking soda, salt and flour until well combined. In another bowl, mix together zucchini, water, beaten eggs, oil, vanilla, lemon juice and lemon zest. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry and mix together until all dry ingredients are well-moistened. Pour batter into two greased loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for an hour to 65 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
8 lbs. pickling cucumbers, sliced into spears
4 c. white vinegar
4 c. water
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. canning salt
3 T. mixed pickling spices
Green or dry dill (1 head per jar)
1 Vidalia onion, sliced (my addition)
1 clove of garlic per jar (my addition)
1 bay leaf per jar (my addition)
Wash cucumbers and drain. Combine sugar, salt, vinegar and water in a large saucepot. Tie spices in a spice bag or place in a tea strainer; add spice bag to vinegar mixture and simmer for 15 minutes. Pack cucumbers, onion slices, garlic and dill into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Ladle hot liquid over cucumbers, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust two-piece caps. Process pints and quarts 15 minutes in a boiling water canner.
For Kosher-style pickles, add one bay leaf, one clove garlic, one piece hot red pepper and 1/2 t. mustard seed to each jar. Process as recommended.