Tuesday, 4 September 2007
The Monster of the Garden
Living in a rural setting as we do, the temptation is quite great to want to have a garden that is not only full of flowers, but also vegetables and fruits. We have a small patch of rhubarb in a shady corner of the garden, but, I am sad to say, we have never had much success when it comes to growing vegetables. The soil in our garden is just too poor, and the creatures that live it far too abundant and voracious, for us to get very far with it. I am afraid that I am far too kind and soft to do anything that would prevent them from benefiting our bounty. Besides, I do enjoy watching the little bunnies grazing about our lawn and feeding in the soft light of the early evening.
We have tried, at various times to grow runner beans, yellow wax beans, tomatoes and courgettes. The beans and tomatoes never quite came up to our expectations and I'm afraid that the field mice and bunnies that frequent our grounds gained far more from the experience than we actually did ourselves. We always have enjoyed a fair modicum of success with the courgettes though. So much so, that, they have always grown at a far quicker rate than we can actually get them used up. One year I even grew yellow ones, which were lovely to see and made for a variation in colour, if not flavour.
I don't think there are too many home gardeners that don't enjoy and understand the mixture of pain and pleasure that accompanies bolting courgette plants! Your neighbours quickly learn to both revere and abhor the sight of you and your endless gifts of the lovely green fruits. (One really can only use so much!) There are lots of delicious ways to enjoy them, but eventually the zeal and ability of even the most devoted culinary artist abates and one has exhausted every possible way to cram them into any variety of dishes . . . your freezer is full to the brim with sliced, diced and shredded green beauties, and your husband is threatening to leave the country should another one be placed in front of him to devour. Ahhhhh . . . the folly of planting more than just a few plants is something I know only too well. Over the past few weeks Todd, my husband, has been cajoled into enjoying courgettes in casseroles, stuffed, fried and baked in every possible way shape or form known to mankind. He's a patient man, but I fear even he is about to rebel. Perhaps I can tempt him with just one more gift from the garden . . .
Makes 2 loaves
This is a delicious sweet bread that has been kicking around my blue recipe folder for longer than I can remember. I have tried many other versions, but this remains the old standby that I return to time and time again. Moist, fragrant and spicy, this one is a tried and true keeper.
2 1/2 cups caster sugar
3 large eggs
3 cups plain flour
1 cup mild flavoured salad oil (don't be tempted to use olive oil)
2 cups grated courgettes
the grated zest of one medium orange
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pre-haet the oven to 180*C/350*F. Lightly grease two nonstick loaf pans and set aside.
Whisk the flour, sugar, salt, soda, baking powder and cinnamon together in a large bowl. In a large measuring jug, whisk together the eggs, oil, orange zest, and vanilla. Pour into the dry ingredients along with the shredded courgettes and stir it all together, mixing it all in well. Pour into the two prepared pans and bake in the heated oven for about one hour, until it is risen, lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pans for 15 minutes before removing from the pan to cook completely on a wire rack. This freezes beautifully and is one of those loaves that gets better tasting and moister every day.
*Note: you can add 1 cup of chopped walnuts of pecans with the shredded courgettes if you wish.
This has been a post for the September "Grow Your Own" event being hosted by Andrea of http://www.andreasrecipes.com/ Come join in the fun!