Aug 012013
 

LEARN AS YOU GROW

Beginning gardeners, take note. Growing your own food has never been more fun or rewarding with tips and tricks from Crystal Broussard. A relatively new gardener herself, Crystal offers valuable advice for those who long to raise their own vegetables and fruits—whether to honor a family tradition or for the simple sake of being more self-sufficient.

By CRYSTAL A. BROUSSARD

As my garden harvests have started to come in, I’ve been left wondering what I can do with all of these vegetables before they spoil. In years past I would batter and fry squash and zucchini every day, have tomatoes on a bacon sandwich, or add tomatoes to tuna salad. However, in the spirit of adopting a healthier lifestyle, I have changed my eating habits and ways of cooking.

In the pursuit of this lifestyle change, I have researched and read up on tons of recipes. I don’t necessarily follow a recipe exactly as written, but I use it as a guideline and adapt it to my personal tastes and preferences. Following are a few of my favorite summer recipe ideas for you to try. Happy cooking!

Ratatouille

Ingredients:
1 eggplant, peeled & cubed
3 lbs. tomatoes, chopped
3 cups sliced zucchini
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
½ cup fresh basil, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
½ tsp. black pepper
2 Tbsp. olive oil

Directions:
Spray the inside of a slow cooker with cooking spray. Combine all ingredients in the cooker. Put the lid on and cook for 3-4 hours on high.

Veggie Chili

Ingredients:
1 cup diced carrots
½ cup diced celery
1 cup diced onion
1 lb. sliced mushrooms
1 ½ cups diced zucchini
1 cup diced yellow squash
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. black pepper
2 lbs. diced tomatoes
2 cups cooked pinto beans
1 cup corn

Directions:
Spray a large skillet with cooking spray. Over medium-high heat cook the carrots, onions, and celery until they are clear. Add the mushrooms, zucchini, and squash. Cook another 2-3 minutes. Add  seasonings and stir. Spray a crock pot with cooking spray. Add all the ingredients and stir to blend. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

crock pot salsaSalsa

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 chopped onion
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3 lbs. chopped tomatoes
2 tsp. fresh cilantro
½ tsp. oregano
1 ½ tsp. ground cumin
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded

Directions:
Coat the bottom of a large pot with olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, allowing them to become tender. Add the remaining ingredients. Simmer 20-25 minutes.

Note: I like to put my salsa in a blender to break the ingredients down. My children prefer a puréed salsa rather than chunks of vegetables. After cooking, I suggest refrigerating the salsa; it seems more flavorful when chilled.

Zucchini Bread

Ingredients:
1 egg
½ cup salad dressing
1 ½ cups shredded zucchini
1 ½ cups flour
1 cup sugar
3 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

Directions:
Pre-heat oven to 350ºF. Mix egg and salad dressing in large bowl until well blended; stir in zucchini. Sift dry ingredients in separate bowl. Add to zucchini mixture; stir until moistened. Pour into 8-x-4-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely.

Vegetable Kabobs

Ingredients:
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. rosemary
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup cubed zucchini
½ cup cubed yellow squash
½ cup cubed eggplant
2 onions, quartered
1 cup 1-inch pieces green bell pepper

Directions:
Prep wooden skewers by soaking overnight in water, making sure they are completely covered. Preheat the grill to medium heat. In a large bowl, add squashes, eggplant, pepper pieces, spices and oil; toss to coat evenly. Put all the vegetables on the skewers, alternating the order. Lay foil on the grill and place skewers, rotating every 3-5 minutes on each of the four sides to cook evenly.

Crystal A. Broussard lives in Hillview, Kentucky, with her husband and children. She learned her gardening skills from watching her grandparents and by trial and error.

 


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 August 1, 2013

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