Sunday, August 23, 2015

August Conservation Tip

Why some zucchini are to die for...

...quite literally as a couple of weeks ago a senior citizen in Germany died of  zucchini poisoning.
More about this at the end of this post, let's celebrate the zucchini first, as its health benefits outweigh its possible dangers by far.

First of all zucchini are really easy to grow and come in many different varieties. Zucchini is one of the very low calorie vegetables with only 17 calories per 100 g. It contains no saturated fats or cholesterol and the peel is good source of dietary fiber. Zucchini are also a very good source of potassium, an important intra-cellular electrolyte. And they are rich in Vitamin A and C. (1)

Right now, in gardens near and far, they are prospering and the number one topic between gardeners is:"What to do with all the zucchinis..."

Well, there are filled zucchini, zucchini bread, zucchini fries, salsa with zucchini, pasta with zucchini, zucchini salad, quesadilla with zucchini and the list goes on and on.

Our very favorite recipes are zucchini feta fritters, so I thought I share that recipe with you

For about 4 servings you will need:

4 cups grated zucchini, that's about a good pound
2/3 cup of flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
4 large eggs, separated
1 bunch thinly sliced green onions
some freshly chopped parsley
some freshly chopped mint
olive oil, salt and pepper and some sour cream for serving

Let the grated zucchini stand in a sieve for about 20 min and squeeze out any excess fluid at the end of that time. Combine with egg yolk, crumbled feta cheese, green onions and the herbs. In a separate bowl combine the flour with baking powder and add salt and pepper. Stir zucchini in the flour mix. Beat egg white until soft peaks form and fold carefully into zucchini batter.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and add zucchini mix with spoonfuls of the batter. Fry until crisp, about 2 min per side. Transfer to a paper towel and keep warm while you are frying the rest of the batter. Serve with dollops of sour cream....hmmm so yummy
Adapted from "Cooking from the Farmers' Market"

For more recipes check out this link: More Zucchini Recipes

But one can only eat so much zucchini, right? Eventually we will have enough....but then in the deep of winter, what would we give....Did you know, that you can freeze zucchini really well?
Whatever we can't or don't want to eat, I grate and either freeze pre-portioned for a favorite recipe ( for example 1 lb for the fritters, although you have to freeze a bit more than the recipe calls for, as zucchini will loose water when thawed) or I fill it in big ice cube trays and freeze it this way. After a day or two I take it out of the trays and store it in a ziploc bag. I use the cubes for soups and casseroles, adding a bit of summers' flavor during the winter.

Now, as promised, more about the zucchinis' dark side....
As I first heard about the death of a German retiree I wouldn't believe it...poisoned by a zucchini?? It's true and I will post the link for any one who wants to read up on it, it is in German though. Researching the topic I found out the following:
Zucchini, as well as cucumbers may occasionally contain a group of natural toxins known as cucurbitacins. These toxins give zucchini a bitter taste. Bitterness in wild zucchinis has been known for a long time, Scientist assume the plant produces the cucurbitacins to protect its self from herbivores.
Eating bitter zucchinis has caused people to experience vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhoea and collapse. And now, for the first time in record, someone died of it. I think this is a really rare occasion and the reports states, that the man who died ate the zucchini a neighbor and gardener gave him, although it tasted extremely bitter.
All "commercial" zucchini and seeds that are on the market are practically free of cucurbitacins. But if grown together with pumpkins and other plants from the squash family cross pollination can happen and therewith a transformation back to the "wild form". Since more and more people are saving their own seeds the possibility of cucurbitacins coming back is given.

Long story short: Enjoy the zucchini but DO NOT EAT A BITTER ZUCCHINI!!!

The zucchinis blossoms in my garden at least making the peace sign...I guess I'm fine...;-)

(1) Zucchini Nutrition Facts 
(2) Spiegel article about the incident, in German
(3) Food Safety New Zealand

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Meet Shadow

...another puppy girl. This time a Belgian Shepherd, to be more precise, a Malinois.

Isn't she ever so cute??

There are four types of Belgian Shepherds, the Tervuren, the Groenendael, the Malinois and the Laekenois. In Belgium where the breed originally comes from all four are seen as varieties of one breed, the Belgian Shepherd. In North America though, all four are handled as separate breeds. (1)

" The Malinois is very active and will thrive on lots of regular and varied physical exercise and mental stimulation. Problems arise, though, when this smart, people-oriented dog is underemployed and neglected. Exercise, and plenty of it, preferably side by side with their adored owner. Intelligent and trainable, the Belgian Malinois possesses a strong desire to work and is happiest with regular activity and a job to do." (3) Yup, I think her owner has some work cut out...this little girl was quite energetic, but I have to say, already listened very well!

The US military uses the Malinois for many different tasks. I have even seen images of the White House with Malinois on guard. The SEALs for example train these dogs to parachute, jumping either in tandem with their handlers or solo. "In 2010, a canine parachute instructor and his dog Cara set the world record for highest man-dog parachute deployment, jumping from more than 30,100 feet up — the cruising altitude of transoceanic passenger jets. Both the instructor and Cara were wearing oxygen masks and skin protectors for the jump." (2) Crazy....

I tried my to set up for some more "formal" images, but no chance. Shadow had her own idea what to do with the backdrop...

A fun photo shoot this morning. I hope I will have the opportunity to play more (camera) catch with Shadow in the future.

(1) The Belgian Sheperd

(2) Malinois

(3) AKC Malinois