Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Baking With Babies


I was trying to get a blog post put together last week. I baked this zucchini pineapple bread recipe just hours before my friend Talley sent me her zucchini bread recipe on Thursday night. I had lost the one I used years ago (probably more like the one Talley sent me) and I found another one on the internet. Since there is so much zucchini, I figure you can't have too many zucchini recipes, so I'm posting yet one more. (But this is the last one.)

Here's how I managed to bake last week. I'm betting it didn't take Talley a week to get her bread made.

Monday:  Wash the zucchini Daddy-O brought in from the garden.

Tuesday: Set out all of the ingredients. Make sure they are pushed way back out of Baby Girl's reach.

Wednesday: Put the babies to bed. Measure dry ingredients before I fall over. Cover bowl.

Thursday: Measure wet ingredients. Mix batter, while keeping baby out of trouble. Bake loaves. Call for help when Baby Girl tries to help me take the pans out of the oven.

Friday: Wash the mixing bowls and utensils. Eat a slice of zucchini bread—sharing my piece with Little Sister. Put them to bed. Now sit down and eat another slice. All by myself.

Saturday: Give thanks I made it to the end of another week.

      ...adapted from Southern Plate

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs, lightly beaten
¾ cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups shredded zucchini (1–2 medium)
1 (8-oz) can crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup raisins, dredged* in flour

Mix first 5 ingredients together in a large bowl. (I used a whisk to blend.)

Stir together eggs, oil, sugar, vanilla and zucchini in a medium bowl. Pour into dry ingredients. Mix all together. Stir in raisins.

Pour into two 4x8-inch well greased loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for an hour. (I had to cover my pans loosely with foil midway through baking time because it was browning so quickly.)

Or, pour into four to six well greased mini loaf pans and bake at 350 for about thirty minutes, or until centers are no longer soft. 

*dredged just means to toss raisins with a couple of teaspoons of flour before adding to the batter. That keeps them from sinking to the bottom.

Any quick bread like this freezes well. Wrap tightly in heavy duty foil, and then I like to slide the wrapped loaves into freezer Ziploc bags for extra protection.

We are done with zucchini recipes for now. I promise.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Zucchini Relish

Must admit that as wonderful as rocking a baby is, doing it at 2 in the morning is catching up with me. Glad to have another guest blog post today. Susan is a cousin who is a fabulous cook, just like her mother was. She is helping out here with another recipe for you. I won't get to this one (even thought it sounds easy) while babies are under foot. Maybe next summer.

Susan writes:

Hey!  I just read your zucchini blog, so I have to send you my favorite zucchini recipe.  This recipe came from Bill's mom.  She always made it and my family always left her house with several jars!  The first time I made it was disastrous!  But after I questioned her a little, I got it right the next time!  This zucchini relish is good on hot dogs, hamburgers, ham sandwiches, and just about anything else you put it on.  One of my daughters in law has a grandma that puts it on everything. She said it's good on "beans and greens!"  I guess she uses it like we use chow chow.  Anyway, I wanted to share  my recipe in case you're still overloaded with zucchini.  It really is good!

So I asked her if I could use this for blog post...and what questions she asked her mother-in-law.

Sure you can use the recipe!  The main thing I learned after questioning my mother in law was to be sure to rinse the salted zucchini well.  And then drain/squeeze the water out.  My first batch was way too salty.  I've learned to rinse well!  My mother in law didn't put hers in the canner to seal it, but I usually process it ten minutes in a hot water canner.  You can do it like the pickles though, and just keep it in the fridge.  I made your blog pickles too.  They are great!  I wish I could find a recipe that easy for pickles that aren't sweet!  My kids and I like sour/dill pickles better than sweet ones.  

Have fun with your precious grandbabies!!  Tell everybody I said hello!


10 cups grated zucchini
3 cups chopped onions
4 tablespoons salt

Mix well and refrigerate overnight. Drain and rinse well. Place in large pot and add:

1-1/2 cups vinegar
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 cups sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoon celery seed
1 tablespoon tumeric
1 teaspoon black pepper

Bring to a boil and cook 45 minutes. Place in jars and seal.

As Susan said, you can either store in the refrigerator OR process 10 minutes in a water bath.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

What To Do With All That Zucchini

Another friend is helping me out here while we are still in full babysitting mode. Talley and I went to college together and then both worked as home economists for the same Agricultural Extension Service.

This time of year zucchini is plentiful. If you don't have a garden, it's often easy to find someone who is trying to give their extra zucchini away.

Thanks to Talley for sharing these recipes. She even included a gluten-free recipe!

         By Talley
3    Eggs
¼   Cup Oil
1    Cup applesauce
½  Cup Agave light  (sweetener)
1    Teaspoon Vanilla
2    Cups Grated Zucchini

3    Cups Gluten Free Flour (Whole grain Brown rice flour)
½   Cup Flax seed meal
1    Teaspoon Salt
2    Teaspoons Cinnamon
1    Teaspoon Baking Soda
¼   Teaspoon Baking Powder

       Blueberries  (Optional)
       Nuts (Optional)
2   Bananas mashed (optional) (adds moisture)

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees Fahrenheit

Beat eggs until light.  Add oil, applesauce, Agave light , vanilla, and zucchini
Mix dry ingredients together
Add dry ingredients to wet in small amounts mixing
Add water if needed till mixture will stir easily

Bake in greased muffin tins
at 350 deg. Fahrenheit  for 20 min.
Makes approx. 24 muffins

Muffins freeze well

And if you don't need gluten-free.....


3    Eggs
1    Cup Oil
2    Cups Sugar
2    Cups Grated Zucchini
2    Teaspoons Cinnamon
1    Teaspoon Vanilla
3    Cups Flour
1    Teaspoon Salt
1    Teaspoon Baking Soda
¼   Teaspoon Baking Powder
Nuts (Optional)

Beat eggs until light.  Add oil, sugar, zucchini and vanilla.
Add dry ingredients
Bake in 2  9X15” pans, at 350 deg. Fahrenheit  for 1 hour

Monday, June 22, 2015

Keepers Of The Kids

Break out the apple juice! Get the graham crackers! There might even be jelly with the peanut butter (only a smidge.) The two oldest people in the family (that would be me and Daddy-O) are keeping the two youngest people in the family (Little Sister and Baby Girl, ages 4 and 14 months) for the next two weeks while their parents are doing "moving things."

Rest easy, Mommy, the juice will be watered down when we have it. Little Sister only got a half a graham cracker (two skinny sticks) for a bedtime snack last night. We haven't even done the jelly yet. Daddy-O is in charge of ice cream. I'm not taking responsibility for that one.

Our goal is to keep everyone happy and healthy, follow Mommy's rules (most of the time) and for us not to trip over any of the barriers that keep Baby Girl out of mischief.  I'm sure this is good exercise--stepping over this chair every time I go down the hall. I'm only 5'3" so it's a big step for me. Just think, it's much like the exercises I've done at the gym. And this time it's free.

We also are learning to walk the obstacle course that is now our den. We will try not to step on the little toys--those are the ones that will get you. It is imperative that we stay upright. No time for trips to the ER or broken body parts.

These little hands are super quick. I swear that Baby Girl has gotten taller in the few weeks they've been here. I have to remember to push things farther away from the edge of the table now.

We usually do lots of outdoor things with the little ones, but the summer temps are hovering right around 100 degrees now. It was 97 on the porch a couple of days last week. We now consider 90 degrees in the shade a cool day.

Plus, the fire ants have made more homes in the back yard. So far, only two ant bites. This means we might stay inside and see a few more episodes of Miss Spider's Sunny Patch and Curious George. Little Sister thinks that's a great idea! They have a nearly TV-free household. And I agree with Mommy that no television is a good thing for little ones. But these are desperate times. It is nice to be able to sit down for more than 14 seconds at a time.

Before Mommy left for the city, she spent some time cleaning out the closet of her old bedroom here. She was throwing out lots of things when she came across a packet of materials her first school gave to new teachers on how to handle the stress that comes with that job. Mommy left this "stress diet" plan for me. I think I already knew about this diet.

Yes, we expect to be very tired and probably frustrated (that's one of Little Sister's words) and maybe cranky as this time goes on. But we are also so happy to have this much time with these two precious little girls. It is a privilege to see them play and learn every day. We are thankful that we are healthy and able enough to keep up with them.

We will try to do you proud, Mommy. You take care of business there. We've got it covered here on the farm.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Baked Cream Cheese Spaghetti

Busy times here at the farm. But we must still eat. And if I don't put the recipe here, I might not find it again when I need it. I saw this recipe some time back on Plain Chicken's blog. (See link on my blog roll on the sidebar.) And remarkably I could still find it. (That is not always the case.) I remember it sounded easy and good. It was indeed.

Baby Girl liked it. She had two helpings. Daddy-O liked it. He had two helpings. Everyone in between agreed. I like recipes that cover all the ages! This could be made ahead and cooked later in the day. But we made it at supper time and it didn't take long to stir up. Will definitely make this one again.

             ...from Plain Chicken

12-oz. spaghetti
1 (28-oz.) jar spaghetti sauce
1 lb.  ground turkey (or lean ground beef)
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 clove garlic, minced (or 1/2 tsp of jarred minced garlic)
8-oz. cream cheese, cut into cubes
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a skillet, brown turkey until cooked through. Drain, if needed. Stir in spaghetti sauce. Let simmer while preparing the rest of the dish.

Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain and placed hot cooked spaghetti in bowl. Add cream cheese, Italian seasoning and garlic. Stir until cream cheese is melted and spaghetti is thoroughly coated.

Lightly grease a 9x13-inch dish. Spread a small amount of meat sauce in the bottom. Put spaghetti on top of sauce. Top with remaining meat sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes, until bubbly.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Pickled - Part 2

 If you can slice a cucumber and own a microwave,
you can make these bread & butter pickles.

I totally trusted Bev that this was a good recipe, but when I saw this comment posted yesterday (the same day that I posted the recipe) I knew I had to make them. Soon.

I have already made a batch of the pickles today. They are delicious!!! They are crispy. The flavors are subtle and the perfect proportions. Easy peasy! I will make them again. I agree that the onions would be the perfect addition to potato salad. I am thrilled!

Goodnightgram does not exaggerate.

Yes. Bev's pickle recipe I posted yesterday is indeed easy enough to make with a 4-year-old dancing and singing around me as I work. And a baby who stayed right under my feet, hoping I'd drop something for her to pick up and put in her mouth. But, it did take me two days to get to the "cooking" part.

Yesterday afternoon I washed the cucumbers from the garden. I found the onion. I set out all the spices and the vinegar. I was going to make the pickles after everyone went to bed. That didn't happen. I fell in bed as soon as I read a bedtime story to Little Sister.

This morning after I got back from the dentist, I was determined to get the pickles made before the cucumbers were beyond using. I used my mandoline* to slice my cucumbers quickly. (It probably took me as long to find the safety release on the mandoline was as it did to make the pickles.)

Bev is right. Once you find the right size dish, this gets even easier. I used my postal scale to weigh cucumbers. I learned that three cucumbers from the garden weighed roughly one pound. So I sliced nine cucumbers and measured them---just about 8 cups. I used a 2-1/2 quart Corningware casserole for the cooking part. It looked like it was nearly too small when I added cucumbers and the onion (had to leave out a few cukes.) But as they cooked in the microwave, they started to cook down.

 This dish was full to the top before the microwaving and cooling.

When the microwave part was done, we had lunch while they cooled on the counter. By the time lunch was over, there were a couple of inches left at the top of the dish. Next time I'll slice my onion into that dish, then slice cucumbers in until the dish is full. No weighing. No measuring.

So thank you, Bev for the recipe. And thank you, Goodnightgram, for the encouragement to do these today. These are as good as the ones my mother used to make. And much easier. I am so happy to have this recipe.

*The only accident related visit to the ER I've ever had was years back when I sliced my finger badly as I was slicing vegetables with a mandoline. Use a mandoline with GREAT CAUTION.

Please stop by Goodnightgram's Blog and say hello! She's also a grandmother and a knitter and lives in a very different part of the country from me. I love seeing what life is like in the far north.

Monday, June 15, 2015


One friend, who always keeps two school-age children for the summer, told me, "Well, I started combat duty this week." I understand. While loving every minute of time spent with these precious little folks, it does give us old folks quite the workout. My brain is slightly pickled. There is not much time to sit down. Someone is always getting into something they shouldn't be! But this is memory making at it's finest. It gives us things to think about when we don't see them as much in the fall.

 The littlest of the three granddaughters here now.

Since my blog writing time is limited, I'm sharing (with her permission) a recipe from a fellow knitter I met at the knitting retreat in Georgia this spring. Thanks, Bev, for helping me out here this week! Our garden is providing squash and cucumbers at an alarming rate right now. This recipe sounds easy enough for me to try even while keeping the littles. Maybe. I'll let you know if that happens.

Here is what Bev wrote...

Here’s the pickle recipe. Here’s what I like about it…it tastes good, you can make it in small batches, it’s easy and quick to make, it doesn’t heat up the kitchen, and it makes a great gift to take. Make it today, put in a pretty jar tomorrow and it’s ready to give away.


1 cup sugar
1 cup white vinegar
2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry minced garlic
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced thin
2-3/4 to 3 lbs pickling cucumbers, sliced

Mix everything except onion and cukes in a large microwave safe bowl. Stir in onions and cukes. Microwave 9 minutes on high, stopping to stir at 6 1/2 and at 4 minutes to go (as the microwave timer counts down.) 

Remove and allow to cool. Cover and refrigerate overnight before placing in jars. Store in fridge. NOTE: SPICES WILL STAIN A PLASTIC BOWL OR SPOON OR KITCHEN COUNTER!

Yield: 6 to 7 half pint jars

The onions in this are wonderful and I use them and the juice in potato salad, egg salad, slaw, chicken salad etc. I like big slices of onion instead of sliced thin. If you use squash and red sweet pepper instead of cukes, it is tasty as well as pretty in the jar. You can use any kind of cukes, but I like the pickling ones best. I have a big deep casserole dish that I use and I don’t measure the cukes, I just fill my dish and make sure to stir it good at the times noted in the recipe.

Hope you like it.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Interesting Or Beautiful

In an effort to keep Little Sister from waking up the rest of her 
still very tired family this morning, 
I gave her an assignment. 
(Little Sister is an early riser like her Mimi.)

I told her to put on her boots.

I gave her my iPhone.

I told her to stay in the yard.  

And I told her to make pictures of anything she thought was "interesting or beautiful."

 About ten minutes later, she had made 100 photos.

This activity didn't last as long as I had hoped.

But she had fun and it kept her busy at least for a bit.

It isn't lunch time yet.

What will we do next?

It looks like we could clean out the fountain.

 Or, I could start deleting photos.

@ All photos courtesy of 4-year-old Little Sister.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Back At Home

 Just so you know. We survived the two-day 1,000-mile journey home.

And it took 2.3 seconds for Little Sister to show Baby Girl where we keep the toys.
(Mommy and Baby Girl have not been here at the farm in a year.)

Pretty sure this will be our "new normal" for the next several weeks.

And we wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Moving Day

I have been on extreme grandmother duty this week while Mommy and family pack to move. They still will not live in the same state as we do, but they will be much closer. That makes us happy.

While packing, Mommy found a half knitted dishcloth I must have started while here on an earlier visit. During nap time one afternoon, I got it finished.

And there was enough yarn to make another one. I mostly knitted the second one while standing up so that I could see what both little girls were getting into. Two new dishcloths for the new house! (The girls are in constant motion, so there is no need to sit down.) 

Yarn: Sugar & Cream (Robin's Egg Blue)
Needles:  size 7

Mommy also found one size 2 double point needle and a nice wooden crochet hook as she emptied every cabinet and drawer. Evidently I must leave a trail of knitting tools behind me.

The movers come today. It will be a long haul to get everyone and everything to the Atlantic side of the country. They will stay with us temporarily while the new house gets ready for them. It will probably take me a while to get us all settled once we get to the farm.

Don't give up on me if you don't see a new blog post for a while. Hope I'll be back here in about a week.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Banana Blueberry Bread


Well, I now know that bananas cannot be too ripe to use them for baking. (Google was right. I checked before I tried.) The ones on my counter looked like they were headed for the trash can. But I had a little spare time and thought I'd see if I could salvage them. I also had the last of a box of blueberries that needed to be used.

So I tweaked my long-standing banana bread recipe. Daddy-O doesn't eat nuts. (He likes the nuts. The nuts don't like him anymore.) Plain banana bread is good, but it's nice to jazz it up a little. This was delicious.

Just as I stirred the berries into the batter, I remembered that I should have dredged them first. All that means is to toss them in a little flour to coat them. That would have kept them from sinking to the bottom of the loaf.  But then...I could just call this "Berries On The Bottom" bread!


1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups self-rising flour
3 ripe large bananas, mashed
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat. Alternately add flour and bananas (start and end with the flour.) Stir in vanilla. Gently fold in blueberries. Pour into greased 9-inch loaf pan.

Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour. Remove from pan and cool on a rack. Wrap in foil and let the loaf "ripen" for a day or two before slicing. (It really gets better if you wait.)

This can also be baked in three 5-inch baking pans, to make small gifts. Reduce baking time to about 45-50 minutes. Banana bread also freezes beautifully.

One of the joys of banana bread is that you can make it a few days before you need it. You should make it a few days ahead. I baked this on a slower day, and then it was ready to take to the lake. We enjoyed it for breakfast with coffee. And it also made a good snack and then it was dessert.