It’s zucchini season

ZucchiniBread_croppedIt only takes two zucchini plants to make a LOT of zucchinis. The first few small ones (before they develop seeds) go into salads or get pickled. Then comes grilling, and mixing with whatever we can think of. But our all time favorite is zucchini bread, best made with chocolate chips, and eaten with morning coffee. When we’ve finally had our fill, and given away as many as we can, we dehydrate the rest to add to winter soups and stews.

Our favorite zucchini bread recipe (thanks to simplebites.net)
Ingredients

Dry ingredients:
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour (or all-purpose)
2 teaspoons freshly ground cinnamon (or 1 Tablespoon pre-ground)
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Wet ingredients:
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup canola oil (or peanut)
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1/3 cup buttermilk (or regular milk with a splash of vinegar)
1 cup organic Turbinado sugar (or brown sugar, firmly packed)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups finely grated zucchini
4 oz dark chocolate, chunked

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Oil a 9×4 inch loaf pan and line with parchment paper. Line a 6-cup muffin tin with papers OR oil a mini loaf pan.
2. In a bowl, sift together dry ingredients and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, beat eggs until foamy; beat in yogurt, buttermilk, oil, sugar, and vanilla. Combine well. Stir in grated zucchini and chopped chocolate.
4. Fold flour mixture into the wet ingredients and stir until combined.
5. Spoon batter into 6 muffin cups (or mini loaf pan) and pour the rest into the 9×4 loaf pan. Bake for approximately 50 minutes.
6. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes in the pan. Loosen the sides and remove from pan. Cool loaf completely before cutting.

Coffee Soap

coffeeSoap2_croppedToday we decided to try a batch of coffee soap. We used a kit from Soap Making Resources , where we buy all of our supplies. In addition to coffee, it has several different essential oils in it, which made the house smell fabulous during the process. Now we just have to wait a month or so, to let the bars age, but after that we’ll be able to drink coffee and shower with it at the same time.

Plant mister

MistSystem_croppedThis may be the greatest way yet to create free plants. In case it’s hard to make out, it’s two raised beds filled with sand and watered with a misting system that’s set to spray for 10 seconds every ten minutes. Many of the cuttings from our prunings just get stuck in the beds, and with no care at all we get new plants. Of course, some work better than others, and some not at all, but for each one that does we’re making from $5.00 to $25.00.

Free Trees

clamshell_croppedAnother of our experiments this year is a super rapid way to propagate trees using a clamshell air propagator. Instead of growing from seeds, or taking cuttings, you actually create a new tree in only a matter of weeks. We are really excited about this, and if you’re considering expanding the trees on your property, or propagating trees to sell for a profit, you need to check this out. It works on the principle of air laying, where you create a root system on the branch of a tree (or bush). This clamshell is on a Mountain Ash, which cost us about $25.00. That means that for every branch we air layer, we’re creating a potential profit of $25.00. Plus, the price of the new tree actually increases the longer we keep it. How many things like that do you have?

Tomato Halos

TomatoHalos_croppedLast year we used these tomato halos as an experiment, and they worked so well, that we’re expanding out this year to chilies, eggplant and okra. The idea is that the halo creates a mini raised garden effect for warmer soil, plus adds a moat for slow absorption of water around the roots. We’ve got them lined up on the south side of the house, and mulched around them, so we’re expecting fantastic results…