Thursday, July 26, 2012

Creamy Cucumber Salad

This is my third year growing/maintaining a vegetable garden.  My mom has always told me that some crops will be better than others on certain years.  Of course that makes sense, but this is the first year I've actually had the opportunity to make that observation myself, and it's been bittersweet.  To date I have not harvested any zucchinis :(  In previous years I've been up to my elbows in zucchini, cranking out zucchini bread, muffins, casserole, fritters, etc. like it was my job.  This year the plants are healthy, and the weather has been great for growing with blazing hot days with intermittent rain, so what gives?  The other day, my suspicions were confirmed.  At about 3pm I observed a large (and obviously well-fed) rabbit snatching the flowers from my zucchini plants as an afternoon snack!  How irritating!  Short of erecting a fence around the zucchinis (our yard is already fenced in!) I've tried everything to no avail to ward off this rabbit.  I've sprinkled fox urine, spritzed animal deterrent and even stuffed a few wads of cat fur around the base of the plants in an attempt to scare this bunny off.  Although I've been unsuccessful in salvaging any zucchini flowers I still remain hopeful each time I see a new flower thinking "maybe this one will make it".  But that blasted rabbit always wins.  I'm starting to feel like I'm in a Bugs Bunny episode and I'm Elmer Fudd. *Sigh* 

On a brighter note, my cucumber plants are really thriving.  Last year I harvested 4 stumpy, lumpy cucumbers.  This year I've already harvested 5 perfectly tubular and delicious cukes and there are many more flowers on the vine.  So today's recipe is brought to you by our bountiful cucumber crop.  This salad is quick to throw together if you plan ahead.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Rosemary Bread

I love bread.  I really do.  There's something comforting about a slice of bread from a freshly baked loaf that warms the soul.  I have to admit I don't really understand the low/no carb thing and the people that strictly abide by it.  I don't mean to alienate any of my readers, and I know it works for some people, but in my opinion it's all about moderation.  I tried a low/no carb diet a few times before our wedding in a last ditch attempt to drop a few pounds before the big day, and you know what happened?  I started the diet on a Monday and made it all the way until Friday at which point, when I got home from work I feverishly searched the pantry for a chip, a cracker, a piece of bread, etc. and had myself a nice carb binge.  I'm pretty sure that negated my entire week of carb consciousness.  Lesson learned.  

Soap box aside ;-) homemade bread is tasty on its own, but it can also be the perfect (and simple!) compliment to your dinner.  I usually try to make 4 baguettes every other week.  It's a time investment up front, but the benefits are reaped for the next few weeks since I cut each in half and place them in a resealable freezer bag for defrosting with dinners.  Lately I've been looking to deviate from my normal production.  I've been wanting to try to make a beer bread or herbed bread of some sort, but the right opportunity had not yet presented itself.  Low and behold during a visit from my parents my mom presented me with a beautiful bouquet of fresh rosemary from her herb garden.  Ding!  That was my answer.  Rosemary bread!   The recipe below is adapted from one I found on AllRecipes.  Don't be intimidated by the amount of time it takes.  With bread, there's minimal prep and cook time, but a lot of waiting for it to rise.  Usually I pick a day when I'll be home doing some other projects or errands. I'll prep the dough, then run out grocery shopping, do laundry, or write a blog entry, etc. and return when the dough requires attention.  Ultimately the end product completely justifies the time investment :)