Squash Birth Control- Squash Blossom Recipes

Squash blossom pizza with grilled corn

If you never have eaten a squash blossom, go down to the nearest farmers market and pick up a bag and try them out. Even better, grow a few plants in containers or in a garden to pluck them fresh off the plant. They are a wonderful addition to summer menus. I grow squash, not only for the vegetable, but for the flower. And when you pick the young squash at a certain point, you get both the veggie and the blossom, and that is the best of both worlds.

Baby squash with blossoms attached

To eat them, I slice the squash in half and fry them up, put them on pizza, stuff the blossoms with goat cheese, and make latkes or fritters.  You could also cut them up into ribbons or a chiffonade and drape on top of a pasta dish. There are countless ways to enjoy the yellow trumpets that emerge from the plants all summer. Here is a great pasta dish using blossoms: Pasta with Squash Blossoms.

P1060410
Pick the blossoms first thing in the morning

Also, consider this as birth control for squash. It reduces your yield tremendously when you really don’t need another 20 zucchini or yellow squash cluttering up your refrigerator. When the squash comes in, it is an avalanche!

DSCN2482
Big variety of summer squash

The trick is to catch the squash when it is only a day or two old, has the blossom attached, and is still tender. Or just pluck the blossom before it becomes fertilized and starts a tiny squash.

The blossom is pretty fragile so carefully snip it off, and I like to give it a quick rinse as insects like to lay their eggs on the blossom, namely squash bugs and ants. Bees seem to get drunk on the pollen inside the flower and it is fun to watch them. Make sure the blossoms are bee free. Place the blossoms in the fridge wrapped in damp paper towels for no more than 24 hours to use in your favorite recipe.

 

Early morning is the best time to pick them before the heat of the day wilt them. Shake out any bees that spent the night curled at the base and collect as many as you can. I use both winter and summer squash blossoms and have taken out flowers from my fridge that still have buzzing bees in them that awaken when taken out into warm air. So, be careful about examining them carefully first.

Open the flower, and snip off the stamen in the center as this is tough.

029 (2)

At this point, you can stuff them with goat cheese or just batter and fry them. My post on stuffed squash blossoms is an easy recipe bound to impress everyone as an appetizer. Blossoms are sublime as a pizza topping. My favorite treatment though is Squash Latkes/Fritters.

Squash blossom latke recipe
Squash blossom latke recipe
Chop the squash along with the blossoms into chunks
Make your batter
Add chunks to your batter
Fry in olive oil on both sides
Serve latkes with sour cream

Squash Birth Control- Squash Blossom Recipes

Squash blossom pizza with grilled corn

If you never have eaten a squash blossom, go down to the nearest farmers market and pick up a bag and try them out. Even better, grow a few plants in containers or in a garden to pluck them fresh off the plant. They are a wonderful addition to summer menus. I grow squash, not only for the vegetable, but for the flower. And when you pick the young squash at a certain point, you get both the veggie and the blossom, and that is the best of both worlds.

Baby squash with blossoms attached

To eat them, I slice the squash in half and fry them up, put them on pizza, stuff the blossoms with goat cheese, and make latkes or fritters.  You could also cut them up into ribbons or a chiffonade and drape on top of a pasta dish. There are countless ways to enjoy the yellow trumpets that emerge from the plants all summer. Here is a great pasta dish using blossoms: Pasta with Squash Blossoms.

P1060410
Pick the blossoms first thing in the morning

Also, consider this as birth control for squash. It reduces your yield tremendously when you really don’t need another 20 zucchini or yellow squash cluttering up your refrigerator. When the squash comes in, it is an avalanche!

DSCN2482
Big variety of summer squash

The trick is to catch the squash when it is only a day or two old, has the blossom attached, and is still tender. Or just pluck the blossom before it becomes fertilized and starts a tiny squash.

The blossom is pretty fragile so carefully snip it off, and I like to give it a quick rinse as insects like to lay their eggs on the blossom, namely squash bugs and ants. Bees seem to get drunk on the pollen inside the flower and it is fun to watch them. Make sure the blossoms are bee free. Place the blossoms in the fridge wrapped in damp paper towels for no more than 24 hours to use in your favorite recipe.

 

Early morning is the best time to pick them before the heat of the day wilt them. Shake out any bees that spent the night curled at the base and collect as many as you can. I use both winter and summer squash blossoms and have taken out flowers from my fridge that still have buzzing bees in them that awaken when taken out into warm air. So, be careful about examining them carefully first.

Open the flower, and snip off the stamen in the center as this is tough.

029 (2)

At this point, you can stuff them with goat cheese or just batter and fry them. My post on stuffed squash blossoms is an easy recipe bound to impress everyone as an appetizer. Blossoms are sublime as a pizza topping. My favorite treatment though is Squash Latkes/Fritters.

Squash blossom latke recipe
Squash blossom latke recipe
Chop the squash along with the blossoms into chunks
Make your batter
Add chunks to your batter
Fry in olive oil on both sides
Serve latkes with sour cream

Suburban Homesteading – Raising and Preserving Sustainable Food

Putting up tomatoes

Sustainable is the new catch word for gardening. I hear it everywhere and I think it is overused without anyone really understanding exactly what it means.  By definition it means –  Conserving an ecological balance by avoiding depletion of natural resources. And by working gardens, keeping chickens for meat and eggs, preserving food, adding solar panels, etc., we are all sustainable consumers in some fashion. Not fully sustainable by any stretch of the imagination but plugging away at bits and pieces of sustainability.

Portable chicken coop on wheels that my neighbor moves around on her front lawn

Most of us are still on “the grid”. I have read the magazine Mother Earth News for years and I am always surprised at the number of people who are off the grid and flourishing. I am not ambitious and energetic enough to be off “the grid”, but I would love to reduce my dependence on it and have chipped away at it.

I saw this wind power system that you can put up at your home to generate power at the Mother Earth fair

Now that it is fashionable and smart to try to live sustainably, I have observed many of my neighbors have added homesteading in some way, shape, and form to their lifestyle. Even with a full-time job and lots of family responsibilities, many have added gardens, preserving food, and are raising chickens for healthier eating.

Repurposing old drainpipes to grow veggies

When we get together as a neighborhood, we often talk about how sustainable our neighborhood is, and how we would work together and pull on each other strengths if there were a natural disaster. Some people are good at raising and putting up food, while others are trained as nurses or can hunt and fish. Everyone has their own unique talents to add to the mix. We even have pumps that could pump water from streams and mechanics that could make them work.

Suburban chicken coop at Mother Earth fair

According to the blog Eat Drink Better – Sustainable Food for a Healthy Lifestyle, the author of Sustainable Landscaping for Dummies, Owen Dell, says that “there is only a three-day supply of food in any given city: what happens on the fourth day when there is a natural disaster or some kind of disruption that stops the food supply chain? Most of us don’t realize how dependent we are on the unseen “food system”  for our daily meals. He says that cities are like a CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation, aka, a feed lot) for human beings: we are separated, dependent, and caged.”

A neighbor took an old wooden shed and created a chicken habitat with minimal cost

The author, among other useful suggestions to grow food sustainably, also suggests having neighborhood food swaps every so often to trade what you have lots of, for things that you aren’t growing. I have a gardening neighbor who planted zucchini plants at the edge of her lawn and puts out a sign for anyone to pick them when ripe. When I had bumper crops of  cucumbers and had preserved all I wanted as pickles, I took the excess cucumbers around to my neighbors and gave them out. Small things, but these all add up, plus it brings the neighborhood together instead of everyone keeping to themself.

Slicing cucumbers for pickles

With natural disasters and severe weather becoming the new normal, we really need to think about a self-sustaining lifestyle, and start getting serious about reducing our dependence on food that is trucked in from thousands of miles away. So, I have highlighted some areas in this post where my friends and neighbors are making a difference with suburban homesteading.

Beekeeping Makes a Difference

Setting up beehives in my back yard

I love beekeeping but it isn’t for everyone.  Managing bees is not easy, can be rewarding at times but also very frustrating when things go wrong, and they can go wrong quickly! I call beekeeping my expensive hobby as you can sink a lot of money into equipment, sugar for feeding, and supplies.  But the payback can be spectacular when you see all that honey flowing out of the extractor. I don’t want to discourage anyone from setting up bees because it is extremely interesting and has given me lots to talk about over the years, but it is a committment of time and energy.

Doing things right and getting lots of honey!

Bartering Food

Adorable goat face

Honey is also a commodity that others love to barter for.  I have a friend who raises 28 goats for cheese making.  She has several varieties including LaManch’s, Alpines, and Nigerian Dwarfs, and milks them everyday which is a huge committment. She produces chevre, goat cheese cheesecakes, crotin – a 14 day aged soft goat cheese, cajeta – a goat milk caramel sauce, and goat milk ricotta. We have traded in the past –  honey for cheese, and the cheese is delicious!  When I extract my honey, I will be calling her to trade again. There is nothing like freshly made goat cheese!

I have made mozzarella cheese myself but it was a lot of work and you need a lot of unprocessed milk to make it worthwhile.  I really didn’t enjoy it and it made my kitchen a mess. So I would much prefer to barter than make cheese.

English: Goat's milk cheese
English: Goat’s milk cheese (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Goats having fun in a feeding trough

Growing Food

Having a vegetable garden in a container or in the ground is simply the easiest way to reduce your dependence on the food supply chain and one of my neighbors has gone about it in a big way. In her front yard, she has created an intensively planted vegetable garden, using raised beds, square foot gardening, and lots of vertical structures to make the best use of space.

Looking into the garden
Making use of black plastic
Synthetic bag garden

Because deer can be a problem, she has fenced things in which also creates space to grow vines up using the fence for support.  Grass was left in the pathways so that you don’t walk on the soil and compact it. There are several types of raised beds used, to pack as much stuff into limited space –  traditional wooden, woven willow, and a synthetic material that looks like heavy black plastic.

Natural willow raised bed with broccoli
Raised bed with beans

A lot of vegetables are very handsome and look good in containers or incorporated into a home landscape.  I had a good friend who had this container built below out of redwood, and it has casters so that you can roll it around where you want it to go. The bottom is hardware cloth (very strong wire fencing) so that it drains properly.  You could roll this around to catch the most sun. A large container planted with herbs, cucumbers, beans, and lettuceGrowing in containers isn’t going to set the world on fire with lots of produce but with intensive and successive planting, it is very worthwhile.

Even if you don’t want the trouble of maintaining a large tilled vegetable garden, you can do like one of my neighbors does – just gardens in tilled rows – I call it trench gardening. I like this method because your pathways don’t have to be mulched as your turf acts as a natural mulch. Again, having these permanent pathways means that you won’t compact your soil.

Gardening in the trenches

Cooking Food

I have always been intrigued with cooking outdoors.  I did it on campfires when I went camping and still grill on charcoal frequently.  But I would love a wood fired oven for baking pizzas and breads. When I went to the Mother Earth News fair, they had a brick oven that you could make for your back yard on display.  I would  love to have that when my power goes out, which it does pretty frequently. Even with power, I would love to make wood fired pizzas. This is definitely on my list to make in the future.

Brick oven at Mother Earth News fair

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

 One of my favorite books is Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver, and details how her family for one year, bought food raised in their own neighborhood, grew it themselves, or learned to live without it. You are what you eat!

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