18 September 2008

Zucchini Bread....

A customer from the farmer's market we attend was asking for a zucchini bread recipe...I couldn't find the one I was thinking of, but this one is great too! Zucchini & Cheese Bread 2 Cups all-purpose flour 2 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp baking soda 3/4 tsp salt (if desired...I never use salt) 1/8 tsp red (cayenne) pepper, ground 1/4 tsp dried oregano, crushed to release flavor 1/4 tsp dried basil, crushed to release flavor 1/2 tsp dried, minced onion 1 TBSP sugar 3/4 Cup shredded Cheddar cheese (3 oz.) 3/4 Cup shredded, unpeeled zucchini, can us green or yellow or mixture 2 eggs 1/2 Cup pureed unpeeled zucchini 1/4 Cup vegetable oil..if using olive oil, use the lighter version...better for baking 1 TBSP lemon juice Grease and flour an 8"x4" loaf pan and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, red pepper, oregano, basil, onion, sugar, cheese and 3/4 C shredded zucchini. Set aside. In medium bowl, lightly beat eggs. Stir in 1/2 C pureed zucchini, oil and lemon juice. Stir into flour mixture only until dry ingredients are moistened. Turn into prepared pan; smooth top. Bake 45-50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand in pan 10 minutes and then turn out onto a rack to cool. Makes 1 loaf.

11 September 2008

Remembering 9/11

I wanted to write today in honor of all the victims of 9-11 and in honor of our troops, working hard to keep us safe. Today is the 7th anniversary already of that tragic day. I'm watching it again on the news. Sometimes I hate to see the replays, but I think it's important that we're all reminded of that terrible day. Life goes on and we take things for granted. We need to remember our fellow Americans who have lost their lives or lost their loved ones that day. They don't need these reminders from the national media to remember. They remember everyday. There are parts of their lives just torn apart that they've had to try to rebuild. Think of the children who have lost one or both parents. Or the parents who have lost children who worked in the towers. Or sisters, brothers, friends, etc. who now have to carry on without that special person in their lives. My heart goes out to them all. I pray for them and I pray for justice. It's hard to try to forgive. I don't think I can. We also need to remember that it's important to keep our country safe. The president's rating has dropped considerably with the war the Iraq, but let's not forget that we have not had an attack on American soil since 9-11. The turmoil needs to stay overseas away from our land, and our troops are doing an awesome job. I hope you all have found a way to support our troops. I stopped at the dollar store the other day...they are asking customers to purchase an item so they can send it to our troops. Many churches and other groups collect items to send also. Please make sure to support our troops. If you don't know who to ask so that you can help, search the internet. There are plenty of organizations working hard everyday supporting our troops. I am reminded of a story I heard recently while watching the Republican Convention on TV last week. I can't remember the name of the teacher or the state she lives and teaches in, but a story was told of how the teacher had removed all the desks from her classroom on the first day of school. She told the students that they had to tell her how to earn the desks back and the right to sit in them before they would be returned to class. They came up with all sorts of ideas, like getting good grades, being respectful of others, behaving in class. This went on all day with all of her classes. All the answers given were not what she was looking for. At the end of the day, she called everyone into her classroom. She told the students that she didn't expect anyone would come up with the correct answer. What do you think the right answer was? I'll tell you. She said to the students, "you can't earn the desks back, because these people already did it for you." And into the classroom came Military Serviceman, each carrying a desk. Can you imagine the impact that had on the students? I think that was a great idea for a first lesson! Our troops keep us safe and risk their own lives for our country. God Bless them all! We certainly don't want them over there longer than necessary, but these days, with all the terrorism, I think they need to be there. And they are happy to go and serve their country. Let's not forget they are there in the Service on a voluntary basis. They were not drafted. It was their decision and we need to support them. Without them, we would not have the liberties & freedom we have in this great country today. My heart goes out to the families who have lost someone serving our country, but I thank God for them and am grateful to them as well. I hope you'll find a way to support them and say a prayer for them today and everyday. God Bless our troops and God Bless America.

07 September 2008

Flowers But No Fruit?

I have had several people ask me how we grow such great looking eggplant and want to know why they had problems this year with their eggplant. They seem to have beautiful plants and lots of flowers, but no fruit on their plants. There are several answers to this problem, and the answer for each person's garden may be one or a combination of both. First, we need to remember that while it is important to fertilize regularly, too much Nitrogen will offset the fruiting capability of the plant. In essence, the Nitrogen encourages plant growth, so that the foliage and plant itself grow and remain healthy, but while the plant grows, the Nitrogen does nothing to encourage fruit set. In other words, the plant puts its energy into growth, rather than fruit production. Because of this, you may have some flowers, but they may be dropping off the plant prematurely, before pollination occurs. By changing the ratio of elements in the fertilizer, we can regulate how our plants grow on the farm. However, the home gardener may not have the capability to do this. The fertilizers we use on the farm that are available commercially are available as individual elements; for example, we can get Nitrogen, Potassium and Phosphorous by themselves and in different concentrations than is available in a pre-mixed form for the home gardener. Thus, by regulating the concentration of certain elements and the frequency, we can regulate plant growth and fruit set. I would recommend looking for a vegetable fertilizer that is a bit higher in Potassium and Phosphorous than Nitrogen. For more information on fertilizers, see the post titled
"Indoor Gardening Part 4; Soil and Fertilizer" You will find it in this blog under the tag for fertilizers.
Secondly; eggplant is in the tomato family as are peppers. I know, I know...sounds weird, right? But it's true. For the purposes of this discussion, let's just say they are pollinated in the same fashion, by wind. They do not need bees to pollinate, like cucumbers and squash do. Here in the Northeast, we've had lots of rain. Especially from Albany and to the north. If it had been raining hard, like it has been, during the time of pollination, then the rainstorm would have interfered with the pollination of the eggplant, tomatoes or peppers. So you would have lots of flowers, but no fruit because there was no pollination to enable the fruit to grow. So I hope that helps my friends who were having trouble with their eggplant. Any further questions, please feel free to comment and ask. For great gardening info & tips, Click Here!