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Posts Tagged ‘great zucchini recipes’

1

Hot, hot, hot, hot! That’s what I’m about today. For the next 10 days we living here in sunny California are being treated to 100 degree temps or upward. Palm Springs, so the weather gurus tell us, is in the 122 range. Are you kidding me! If someone gave me a palatial mansion in that area you would never find me living in it during the summer months. Phoenix is another area I couldn’t make home. The news showed a video of a man cooking a pizza on his dashboard in that area. Not for this Canadian I guarantee. Over the past eight years or so I have come to find I could eliminate summer entirely. Every time it shows up with it’s tirelessly smiling face it brings with it relentless fires and glorious sun I’m told I can’t sit in unless I wear body armor. Winter could take a vacation as well, after Christmas, naturally. Instead I would settle for balmy spring and glorious fall as my seasons of choice.

We had our A/C unit checked under our home warranty. Good news. For being twenty-three years old it’s in good shape. Kind of like me, if you add a number of years to the equation. Of course if everyone is pumping out air, whether the unit is functional or not matters little once the electric company’s grid shuts down. At that point, we will either go downstairs where you could hang meat on most days or check into a hotel that takes cats. Right now blessedly the overhead fans are churning out a nice steady breeze, Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, is lying in cool comfort across from me, and cold sandwiches and a crunchy veggie salad have been put on my menu by the cook (that would be moi).

The last few weeks have been a solid blur of activity. This is the first chance I have had to sit down and even think about gathering my thoughts. For several months I’ve been helping a dear friend organize a fundraiser for her daughter who is ill. A project of love, but a project. The fundraiser itself was the weekend before last and a great success. As much as I enjoy putting together gift baskets and doing artsy activities, it is nice to have reclaimed my guest rooms which my mother and her roommate occupied for a week immediately after the baskets went to the event. Whew.

I planned the week with my mum so that we would be busy. I love our house but whoever built it originally did not intend on having company. Thankfully a dining room was added on by the second owner allowing for more space for entertaining. Having owned a restaurant I’m fairly good at using the available space so with a card table here and there plus the deck area we made do as company rolled in and out. I spent most of my time with my hands in something, either chopping or tossing or cooking. All in all it was really fun and a great memory to press into my scrapbook of my mother and I.

In the middle of the week I booked us four tickets on the Hornblower to take an hour cruise on the Sacramento River. According to the weather report the day before it was going to be overcast and possibly rain. In June? Great. I want to be a weather caster. They’re rarely on the money and they get paid well to be wrong on a regular basis. I would excel under such a job description. As it turned out we woke up to a day that was gorgeously warm, but not hot, with high puffy clouds floating by in a brilliantly 2blue sky. Yea for our team. We boarded the two-tiered ferry at a dock adjacent to Old Town Sacramento. For an hour we cruised lazily up and back along the river watching people floating by on inner tubes and boats moving in and out of the marinas. Glorious. Back on solid ground we tied on some plastic bibs and dug into a delicious meal at Joe’s Crab Shack under an umbrella on the deck. It was a helluva day at sea sir.

As per the usual in my life the week was not without mishap. Having trouble finding a place to blow my hair dry in the morning with both guest rooms occupied and Rick snoring within earshot of the upstairs bathroom, I finally found an available plug in the bathroom my mother was using. First I blew my hair dry and then planned to use the curling iron as usual. To say my mother travels with enough facial products to open her own store would be an understatement. Nearly the entire surface area around the sink was occupied with one jar or another. I left the iron to heat up and returned shortly to add a few curls. Not looking before I rolled the front of my hair around the rod I detected a burning plastic smell. Looking in the mirror I could see melted black goo on the iron now stuck in my hair. Fortunately, I worked the iron out before I was missing an entire row. Is there a black cloud that circles me every day, or is it just the universe getting a huge kick out of toying with me? Unplugging the iron, I pried the stuck hair apart and slowly worked the black stuff off the ends. Probably I left a quarter of the hair in front in the sink. I wonder if they sell just bangs for women? After the iron cooled off I got whatever was stuck on the metal off with an SOS but for two days black specks of plastic kept dropping out of my hair like parachutists on D-Day. A day in the life of Susie I would suppose.

Monday was their last day here. Nice to get to know my mother’s new roommate a little better and know she is in good hands at home. I will miss them but I must admit it is delightful to put my feet up and retire my apron for a day or two.

On that note, I will end for now and share this delicious take on summer squash. A friend gave it to me. To air her dirty little secret, she is a closet recipe tearer. You know the person who keeps clearing their throat in the doctor’s office or while under the dryer at the beauty salon all the while slowly tearing recipes out of magazines. I’m glad she copped this one. It is a whole new idea for summer squash and quite refreshing. Yum and yum.

Lemony Creamed Summer Squash

2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 onion, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 yellow summer squash, shredded
2 large zucchini, shredded
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tsp. dried dill
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp. lemon zest
Salt and black pepper
Hungarian paprika

Melt butter over med.-high heat. Add onion and cook 2-3 mins. until tender. Add garlic cook for 1 min. Add squash and cook for 8-10 mins. or until all the excess water is released. Stir in flour and cook for additional minute. Remove from heat.

Stir in sour cream, dill, lemon juice and zest. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with paprika.

Serves 4

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People are getting creative when it comes to housing these days. Home loans are harder to come since the plug was pulled on badly written loans letting the air out of the housing boom. Rental owners sensing blood have sent home rental costs soaring NOV2712_Image_02making alternative options more interesting. Homes fit for one, maybe two if you really like each other, offer affordable options if providing somewhat cramped quarters. 400 square feet of living with everything tailored to “living small”. Some models come with hookups to your pickup or SUV allowing the owner the flexibility of moving at a moment’s notice without packing a box. This has all the earmarks of something turtle inspired, but I can’t say I hate the idea. (more…)

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hummus final

Today I went shopping for groceries and came home with five bags of groceries and a new pair of sandals.  When I am stressed or feeling uneasy about something two things help to make it better, chocolate and shoes.  Mind you I did not need a new pair of shoes.  In actual fact, like others of my kind I only have two feet. Try as I might these two feet alone, no matter how adept at keeping me erect, could never accommodate the shoes already residing on the floor of my closet waiting to be filled.  However, I’m feeling much better about my world knowing these little bejeweled sandals are mine. They were on sale, so as I explained to my other half, practically free.

My other half does not seem to comprehend fully the “on sale” hypothesis, nor does he view this as a viable reason for purchasing something you do not need.  Several times I have endeavored to explain the concept to him complete with reviewing store brochures, explanation of savings margins, and even factoring in the “fad quotient”,  which in layman’s terms means, “if you bought it twenty minutes ago, it is now outdated”.  Still, he seems to hold to the premise if you already have twenty pairs of shoes and only two feet, this should keep your feet covered for some years to come, unless, naturally, new feet begin to grow then he promised to revisit the discussion along with explore getting me a spot on Letterman.  Try as I might he refuses to see a clear picture when it comes to this subject. So, my work here is done. Even at my most persuasive, I cannot move a rock with an ice cream stick.  I’m just sayin.

For the most part I am a fairly thrifty being.   Several months after I first met Rick he and I went shopping to fill a grocery list for a party he was planning.  Somewhat of a high roller I thought when it came to his choice in foods. As we walked the aisles the cart was filled with expensive cheeses and high-end olives and appetizers.  By the time we arrived at the check stand he looked down to find several baguettes, a flat of steaks, two boxes of mushrooms, a bunch of fresh asparagus and a bag of red potatoes.  Without even realizing it, used to several years of stringent budgeting, I had unconsciously put all the unnecessary items back on the shelves.  That, he said, was the deciding moment for him.  I was definitely the woman of his dreams. When things were tight for me financially in the years when my children and I were on our own, I had a system which worked beautifully for cutting spending.  If I saw something my heart really desired, I would load it in the cart to enjoy while I did the rest of my shopping.  Before paying for my items I would return the object of my affection to its rightful spot in the store, say my goodbyes, and purchase the things I actually needed.  I guess some of that frugality lingers beneath the surface in my makeup because even now I think a while before tossing something frivolous in the cart.  Rick will report to you, however, under his tutelage I have made great progress in overcoming this handicap over the years, as would be reflected in our monthly grocery bills.

Growing up I can remember my mother being a bit of a spendthrift.  Not entirely her fault really, for she was raised in an affluent household with little denied her.  As she will recall, even during the war years in the 1940’s when luxuries were hard to come by, she felt little in the way of deprivation other than perhaps suffering a shortage of nylons or chocolate.  Although many foodstuffs were rationed, my grandfather was a physician with many farmers listed as patients on his accounts receivable list, so spring lamb, newly butchered poulets, fresh eggs and seasonal vegetables arrived at the doorstep even in the leanest of times.

Born with an innate sense of good taste, Mother really should have pursued a career as an interior designer or personal shopper so she could spend other people’s money.  On our shopping expeditions together these days, I am the one holding up the white flag on behalf of my feet, long before she’s ready to quit and go home. In high school, bags from the mall were smuggled in while my stepfather tended his beloved rose bushes in the back yard. Stashed in the closet or attic crawl space they were reintroduced later as “this old thing” or “that, I bought it last summer”.  Drawn into the subterfuge by blood ties, I remained mum hoping no questions came my direction.  A terrible liar, I literally lose a dress size in perspiration when interrogated, making detection inevitable. Although my parents earning scale would have been considered upper middle class for the time, we lived on the teetering edge of disaster most days, each paycheck accounted for before the ink was dry on the signature.

Mother compensated for her joy of spending by working hard, bringing home a tidy paycheck.  Rarely do I remember her taking a day off, and our house, in her defense, was always beautifully appointed and a pleasure to walk into, our food beautifully prepared and presented, and my closet was never lacking for something to make the hangers feel they still had a job to do.  For my stepfather, keeping up with the expenses meant scrambling every summer, as his principle job was, well, principal. He could choose to have his salary distributed equally over twelve months at a lessor amount each month or get paid more for nine months with no paycheck during the summer. With the spending on full throttle, the latter became the necessary option. The man sold Kirby vacuum cleaners door to door, extension courses, worked in a gas station pumping gas, redeemed tickets at the movie theater, and scanned the papers and magazines every weekend in search of every get rich quick scheme out there or any contest requiring no purchase to enter.

In the end they taught me well with regard to money, in a backwards kind of way.  I learned to respect money, enjoy it, and most certainly learned the work ethic to earn it. I also learned not to keep too tight of an eye on it while at the same time not letting control of it get out of my sight completely. All in all I am certainly not rolling around in bills tossed in the center of my king sized mattress but I’ve formed a friendship with my finances and found I can live well with quite a bit in the bank and equally as well with just enough.

This hummus came to me via a friend’s pool party recently. It is so quick to put together and a lighter touch served with vegetables rather than pita chips or pita pockets, although good with both. When I make tahini for falafels, I freeze the extra tahini in small bags to be used down the road for hummus. Lovely on the patio in the summertime.  Happy Mother’s Day!

Zucchini Hummus

1 1/2 medium zucchini, sliced thin lengthwise
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 can garbonzo beans (chickpeas) rinsed and drained
3 cloves garlic, quartered
3 Tbsp. tahini
3 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
Sliced vegetables or pita chips for dipping

Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil over med-high heat. Add sliced zucchini to pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brown on one side for about 3 mins. Turn over and repeat. Cook until fork tender watching not to burn. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

3

Coarsely chop zucchini. Add chickpeas, garlic, tahini, lemon juice and zucchini to food processor. Puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

2

Serve with pita chips or sliced vegetables.

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