The Gang

The Gang
October 2008 Sweet Potatoe Harvest

About Me

I am a busy mommy of 6, seeking to be a loving, godly helpmeet to my husband and a biblical discipler to my children. God has blessed us with a child with Autism. May the lessons that the Lord is teaching me and our family be a blessing to you and yours!

My Favorite Books

  • Bible
  • Created to be His Helpmeet by Debi Pearl
  • Four-Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman
  • Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver
  • Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll
  • Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
  • Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp
  • The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
How many creative and yummy ways can you use zucchini? This is the time of year that zucchini and summer squash are producing mass amounts in the home garden. You can also find them for a very reasonable cost at the grocery store and farmers markets. These two types of squash can usually be used interchangeably in all recipes that call for zucchini.

Phil and I decided a couple months ago that we were going to need to live as if our family was in a depression financially. With the expense of running two houses until our Pembine house is rented our finances are very tight. My grocery budget has been cut $500 dollars, some months even more..... that is a lot especially when you consider my grocery budget covers not only food but all other living needs, clothing, feed for the animals, purchase of animals, paper products, etc. I am not writing this blog to complain nor to have others feel sorry for us. EVERYONE that drives a car and shops at a local grocery store is feeling financially strained right now!! I am writing this to try to encourage others to think outside of the box by cooking healthy meals using what you have available in your kitchen/pantry.

Our tight budget has caused me to try to get really creative with the abundant food that the Lord has provided for us. We decided back in March to use part of our stimulus check for dry beans, rice, and grains that would store for a long time and yield a lot of food and nutrition for our family. Usually we have a lot of beef and pork in our freezer too but right now I'm down to less than 10 pounds of meat in the freezer. This October/November we will start to butcher our roosters, one of the pigs and hopefully Phil will get some Venison for us. For now, beans, rice, milk, grains, nut butters, a little frozen fruit, honey, organic sugars, agave nectar, maple syrup, some eggs and veggies are what I have to work with.

To be honest I was getting really discouraged trying to come up with food that would satisfy this crowd and be prepared quickly with all the time needed in the garden. The past two days I took time off from the garden to sit down and look through some of my favorite cookbooks for creative ways to use the veggies, beans, and rice that I have in abundance. I also have to note before sharing some of the great recipes I found, that I am blessed to have a husband that is extremely supportive. He usually raves over whatever food is put on our table which encourages the kids to accept just about everything. Plus, when what you serve is all you have.... the kids learn to eat what is in front of them or go hungry. Another trick I've learned is to make a “healthy” dessert on evenings that I know the kids will not want to eat parts of the meal. The rule is always they must eat a little of everything if they want dessert.

So, what have we already made these past few days? Egg Zucchini & Onion casserole, Egg Vegetable Strata (layers of torn whole wheat English muffin bread, sauteed veggies, and eggs with just a sprinkle of cheese for flavor, made the night before and baked in the morning at 350 for 50-60 minutes), Baked Oatmeal, Veggie loaded Omelets, (every time you see veggie I am always using zucchini and other veggies from the garden or our CSA), Vegetable Rice Medley, PBJ, & PB Honey Sandwiches, Biscuits, Bread, Garden Vegetable Enthusiasm Soup, Valentine Soup, Balsamic Beets, Zucchini Coffee Cake, fresh salads, Creamy Cucumber Salad, Cole Slaw, Strawberry Kefir Smoothies, Kombucha, popcorn (made with Coconut Oil & sea salt) and probably more that I cannot remember right now. That doesn't sound all that much like a starvation diet does it??

Over the next few days we will be trying: Chocolate Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake (without icing), Navy Bean Soup, Hearty Minestrone Soup, Zucchini Crisp (just like apple crisp except use 8 cups of cubed peeled zucchini), Zucchini Pie, Cabbage Sloppy Joes, Cucumber Salsa, Cabbage with herb butter, Corn & Bean Soup, Marinated Cucumbers, Lentil Vegetable Soup, Kimchi, cucumber and red onion salad, and Garden Vegetable Pizza.

I do want to take a minute to stress that if you are limiting your diet to veggies, beans, and grains it is SO important that these foods be prepared properly. Many people start making their own bread but don't realize that if the grains are not pre soaked you actually miss out on 50-70% of the nutrient content. This is the same for beans and rice. We are not really choosing to not eat meat right now, it just isn't in the budget. That is why we use lots of raw whole or partially skimmed milk, butter (made from the raw cream skimmed off), coconut oil, olive oil, and flax oil/meal. It is SO important to have good fats in your diet especially for the little ones. Fat is brain food for our kids if it is the right fat!

So what cookbooks and other sources am I using for these recipes? Bean Cuisine by Janet Horsley, Bean Lovers Cookbook by Golden West Publishers, Taste of Home Annual Recipes 2000 & 2001 (Thanks Kristin), Quick Cooking annual Recipes 2003, Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book, and Pillsbury The Complete Book of Baking. I also refer to the following blogs: The Nourishing Gourmet, Passionate Homemaking, and Keeper of the Home for wonderful nutrient dense recipes that follow the Nourishing Traditions guidelines. If you do not have a lot of cookbooks (which I doubt) then use your Internet to search for recipes that use the ingredients you have on hand. Just type in the ingredient into your search engine and you'll be shocked to find out how many recipes are floating our there in cyberspace. You can also go to your local library and spend time looking through the cookbooks there.

So, here is my challenge to you. Take some time to look through a few cookbooks and prepare food with the resources that are in your house. If you don't have a well stocked pantry and a garden you might find it more challenging to cook a variety of healthy filling meals. I am so thankful that we decided to do a large garden this year and stock up on dry foods that store well. It was a very worth while investment since it will see us through many months of lean times ahead. God is good!!

Ok, here are the Zucchini bars I made yesterday, my Garden Vegetable Enthusiasm Soup, and a Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake made the nourishing way! I did cheat on the zucchini bars recipe and NOT soak it because the kids were very hungry and I wanted a somewhat healthy snack for the afternoon and to use for dessert to make them eat their Garlic Buttered Swiss Chard and salad. :-) Once I work with the recipe more and soak the grains successfully and reduce the sugar or use a sugar replacement like Agave, or maple syrup, I'll re-post it as a nourishing recipe.

Whole Wheat Zucchini Bars

Combine 3 eggs, 1 ½ cups sugar (organic Cane or Rapidura preferred), and 1 cup oil. Blend Well.

In a separate bowl combine: 2 cups whole wheat flour (I used Prairie Gold), 1 tsp baking powder, ½ tsp sea salt, and 1 tsp cinnamon. Mix with a spoon.

Add dry ingredients to wet and mix well. Stir in 2 cups shredded Zucchini or summer squash.

Spread into a 13 X 9 baking dish. Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Variations: Leave out the cinnamon and sprinkle on ½ cup of carob or chocolate chips. Add 1 cup or dried currants or raisins. Add 1 cup chopped nuts.

Garden Vegetable Enthusiasm Soup

1-2 Leeks or 1 red onion, chopped
½ green pepper, chopped
3 celery ribs with greens, chopped
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Freshly pressed garlic cloves
1 small head of cabbage, sliced thin or shredded
1 yellow summer squash, cut into chunks
1 zucchini, cut into chunks
4-8 cups chicken broth (depending on the amount of veggies in your pot)
2 large freshly picked tomatoes, diced
a handful of fresh basil chopped

Heat a large stock pot. Drizzle with olive oil. Add leeks, green pepper, & celery and saute until translucent. Add freshly pressed garlic and saute for about 1 minute stiring constantly so the garlic doesn't burn. Pour over sauted veggies 4 cups of broth. Add the cabbage. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes or until the cabbage is crisp tender. Add summer squash & zucchini and simmer for an additional 5-10 minutes just until the squash is crisp tender. You may need to add additional broth at this point. Make sure the veggies are all covered by the broth. Just before serving add the fresh tomatoes and basil. Only cook the soup for an additional minute or two with the tomatos & herbs. Salt and pepper as needed and serve with fresh bread or biscuits.

Variations: Add carrots and potatoes to the original veggie saute. I believe that parsnips or turnips would be a nice addition too but haven't tried them yet.

Whole Wheat Nourishing Zucchini Cake

Soak 12-24 hours at room temperature in a covered bowl:
2 ½ cups soft white wheat (pastry flour), spelt or kamut.
½ cup buttermilk
¼ cup oil
½ cup melted butter

When you are ready to prepare the cake preheat the oven to 350, and butter a 13 X 9 cake pan.

Add to soaked mixture:
1 ½ cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa or carob powder
1 tsp baking soda

Mix well.

Add 2 cups shredded zucchini and ½ – 1 cups carob or chocolate chips and ½ cup chopped nuts.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. The original recipe called for frosting but I omitted it because we don't need the extra sugar.

Does anybody have any great beet recipes?? I have another 2 meals worth of beets to use. I think I'll try basic buttered beets for one but would like something new to try for the other meal. Please leave a comment with you favorite cucumber, zucchini, or beet recipes or link to your blog if you've posted a recipe there that uses one or more of these foods!


diersa said...

Hi Shirley ~
This is a first for me (blogging) and my second attempt to leave a comment for you, so here goes ... I applaud your effort to provide for your family using what you have from the garden and pantry. I see many of your recipes contain whole wheat and dairy products. I am curious to learn how you manage the GFCF diet for Thomas or if you have transitioned out of it. Having farmed and gardened for over 25 years in Minnesota, I know it takes LOTS of work, so I am also wondering how you will "do school" this year. I would be interested to read your comments about these questions as you are able. God's blessings and peace to you and Phil and the kids. Special hello to Thomas and Philip. Anne

Shirley said...

Hi Anne! I'm so glad you left a comment! I see our mini farm life as a great way to incorporate math, history and science into real life for the kids. We will be starting the year studying agriculture and fractions for the older kids. We will use the canning process for the fractions and even some science as to why you need certain foods to preserve other foods properly and farm things that we are doing as part of our units of study focusing on the history of our nation, why farm, how to raise animals, how to choose what animals to raise, food to animal ratio, etc. We have actually already started some of our "school" for the year. Our first literature series is The Hobbit by JR Tolken. Plus we are also doing some history already. Depending on how extensive our harvest is we may modify our school days until mid-September. One of the great advantages of homeschooling is that you can teach practical lessons along with the academic which is what I am seeking to do our first term. Another thing that is quite interesting is that when you are only teaching 4 children (kindergarten isn't required in WI, yet I will still be working on some letter & number recognition, writing and early reading skills with Philip) it is completely different than teaching a class full of children. My older 3 will be doing the same level of spelling. The older 2 will do the same level of English and Math. Caleb will be on his own for English and Math but he is a quick learner so I don't predict any struggles. History, Science, & Health will be done as a family. The older children will be required to do extra learning while the younger will do easier things like coloring pages and answering simple questions about the lesson. We are very blessed to have a wonderful library only about 8 miles from the house that will allow the older children to do the more advanced work for the group topics.

I am already keeping a log of the hours spent doing literature and history. It is really quite easy to get in the required home schooling hours when you have a focus on fun learning with your children. My kids are constantly listening to literature on tape/cd, along with history and science on tape/cd. I then take what they've listened to and quiz them on it and/or have them log what they've learned from a lesson. We do a lot of discussion and further study in areas that interest them. It is fun!

As for the diet issues we have with Thomas. I usually have to cook something totally separate for Thomas. He is so extremely picky with his sensory issues that he doesn't eat much anyway. I'm so used to doing it now after almost 3 years of cooking GF/CF for him that I don't really even think about it anymore.