Saturday, February 28, 2009

Zucchini Recipes and Ideas

There is nothing like growing your own food for inspiring creativity in using it! When you garden you don't have the luxury of buying only what you need for a recipe. Instead, you have to find recipes for the food you've grown! A lot of people resort to giving away their zucchini to anyone who will take one, because they have so many. Since I'm a more obsessive type, I've instead attempted to find a use for every zucchini we grow. Sometimes I have dreams about zucchini, and think I'll soon join the ranks of the givers of unwanted gifts, but in the meantime I've come across lots of ways to use zucchini. Here are a few that I recommend:

Stuffed Zucchini

If you let your zucchini grow a bit big, this is a fantastic way to use them. Cut the zucchini in half and take the soft inner part where the seeds are. Blanch them in boiling water until softened and drain. Prepare savory rice to your taste - we like to include beans, cheese, onion, some of the zucchini cut from the middle, and herbs. Pine nuts, currants, capsicum and onion can also work. Place rice into zucchini shells, and top with cheese. Bake.

Zucchini Bakes

I have a couple that we like.

* Breadcrumb Zucchini with parmesan and parsley
* Tomato, Zucchini and Capsicum Gratin - oregano and feta gives this one a great flavour

Stir Fries and Curries

Young zucchini are great as part of a general vegetable stir fry, or you can use them in Thai Green Curry. Basically, you can chuck a zucchini in most of these types of dishes!


This is a new one for me this year, and it is fantastic! I was surprised at how good zucchini soup can taste. You can use big zucchini with success.


Another new one for me this year, I tried a zucchini pickle recipe. We will have to wait and see how it turns out, but I tried one someone else had made and it was great.

Egg based dishes

Zucchini can be added as one vegetable in a quiche, or better yet made into zucchini slice.

Muffins and cakes

Savoury muffins with zucchini can be tasty. I recently adapted one with delicious results (or we thought so, anyway). Here it is:

2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 cup cheddar cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 and 1/4 cups buttermilk or milk (buttermilk gives a lovely tangy flavour - you could also use a combination of natural yoghurt and milk)
3 0z (90g) butter, melted
2 medium zucchini, grated
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
Enough fresh tomato to garnish

Mix up the dry ingredients with the cheese and basil. Mix up the wet ingredients with the zucchini and add. Stir until just combined. Place in muffin cups and top with sesame seed and a small piece of fresh tomato.

Would you believe it, you can also put zucchini in sweet cakes and breads. Zucchini chocolate cake is lovely and moist, and you wouldn't know the zucchini was there!


Add a small zucchini as one of the vegetables on pizza.


Pop zucchini slices in toasties, dice tiny ones in salads . . . anything! One surprisingly simple and good recipe I came across recently uses zucchini, oil, tomatoes, garlic, olives and parsley to create a vegetable mix that can be eaten hot or cold. It tastes great plain or on toast. I am hoping to experiment with placing it on top of pasta or a grain.

After all this, it is still possible to be inundated with too many zucchinis! I suggest harvesting the flowers for garnishes on salads, or choppping them up as one ingredient in salads. After all, one of the keys to zucchini control is pick 'em young! Pick them in the early morning and keep them in the fridge until needed.

If you have a lot of yellow zucchini, or patty pan squash like those above, the perfect thing to do with them is make Tammy's Chicken Squash Bake. We love this! Since we don't have a functioning grill, we just bake it for the last part. I also just use ordinary cheddar cheese, and it is fine.

I am happy to provide any of the recipes for these ideas on request. If you have further ideas for using zucchini and squash, please let me know!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Education to the glory of God

Now that I'm a Mum to an unborn child, I plan to pay some attention to defining and understanding what our family's vision for Christian education is. My friend John Dekker once stated that he believed this was essential for excellence in home schooling, and I think he has a point. In the past, through my studies at Wesley Institute, I had the opportunity to define my beliefs in an assignment. I'll be using some of the ideas in this to build further understanding. Those of you who are interested in the topic of Christian education may also find these thoughts of interest. Here is the first part of "My personal philosophy of Christian education".

“To glorify God and enjoy Him forever” is the way Augustine described the goal of the Christian life. The education of children is part of this broader aim. Education is inescapably religious. It transfers information about what is meaningful in life, how we should live, and whom we should serve. Even when these ideas are not explicitly spoken, they form the basis of what is excluded or included in the curriculum. Secular education is not neutral. God cannot be glorified where he is not praised. Students do not have a full opportunity to enjoy God when he is not acknowledged. Christians who desire to glorify and enjoy God in education can look to the Bible for encouragement and guidance. The central biblical commands found in the Creation Mandate (Genesis 1: 26 – 28), the Great Commandment (Mark 12: 29 – 31), and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:20) provide insights into what truly Christian education should look like.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Baby's quilt

I've been working on a baby quilt for months. I think I chose the most time consuming idea possible :). Finally, nearly every animal is finished - just some details of several have to be done. I'm glad the animals are interspersed with plain blocks. They are much quicker! The idea is that the quilt represents South Africa and Australia, like our family! There is a koala, lion, emu, hippo, leopard, kangaroo (and joey), etc. all mixed up together! We hope that our child will identify with and pray for both the country where he/she was conceived (South Africa) and the country where he/she will be born - Australia! This is by no means the final block arrangement, just one layout idea. The only definite colour patterning is the emerald green.

Oh, and our bed is not even properly made in this picture - just so my online friends realise I'm not a perfect housekeeper :).

February 2009 garden

Our garden has been giving us a lot of pleasure this month, as we've begun to harvest more from it. It is exciting that Dave has now completed all the beds and we are able to see the design come together.

We planted gem squash, a South African favourite that is not sold here in Australia. We are planning to keep most of them for winter (they keep up to 12 months) but Dave couldn't resist harvesting one and preparing it the right way, boiled whole then halved and served with a dab of butter and salt and pepper. These photos were taken on February 7.

This is a more recent photo, taken on Sunday. Dave is the resident waterer, and I am the resident planter/harvester/main cook and preserver. I think it is a good deal, because watering takes a long time each day!

Dave is becoming increasingly passionate about knowing where our food comes from and participating in its production. He's been mulling over many agrarian ideas.

The expectant couple

This pic was taken on January 31 at Shellyanne and Tim's wedding.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Congratulations John and Kara!

I am thrilled to be able to publicly congratulate John and Kara on their engagement. The story of how it happened is recounted here with a satisfying amount of detail! Thanks John. I am also happy to be able to say that I had a small part to play in this, through keeping a blog! The details of that are recounted in John's post. It is exciting to have been used by God to answer my own prayers for John! I also corresponded a bit with Kara, answering questions about John. At some point she may have realised that my replies were somewhat similar to advertisements :) - just joking, but I did have a lot of good things to say! I've been praying for years that God would bless John with a wife, and I'm convinced that Kara will make a good helper for him.

45 days immersed in God's word

Today I reached the milestone of completing half of the "read the Bible in 90 days" plan. It is an answer to prayer that I've been able to keep up with it (sometimes, like today, through completing two days in one). It is not easy to read 10 - 20 + chapters of the Bible each day, and requires me to prioritise Bible reading over lots of other activities or reading that it would be nice to complete. That is exactly why I chose to attempt this plan. I wanted to purposefully devote my late pregnancy to learning about God. A challenge like this seemed like a great way to do so!

At times I have wondered if there were really benefits to soaking myself in Scripture at such a rapid rate. I think it was somewhere between 1 Samuel and 1 Chronicles that I began to wonder if being soaked in ugly stories about Israel's history was at all edifying! I remembered though, that Israel really lived through this. God really bore with his people through this. Couldn't I stick with it a few days? Before I knew it I was paging through the more familiar pages of Job and the Psalms. The more I've read, the more convinced I am that reading through the Bible quickly does have benefits. I've gained a stronger perspective on God's work through in and through his people - the "big picture" of who God is and what he cares about.

I believe that God blesses our efforts to seek Him, even if the results are not immediately evident. Here are a few of the aspects of Scripture that I've felt the Holy Spirit has particularly applied to my heart as I've commited to reading God's word. . .

* We had a terrible wind storm in January. I was home alone and a little afraid of the wind. It was hard to stand against it as I tried to stake the tomatoes, rescue the roses, and tie back the sunflowers. As I looked at the wind God reminded me of how much more terrifying his wrath is. I had a good picture of this through the Bible history I'd been reading!

* I've coloured in many themes during my reading time. One of these is the fatherless and widows. I'd never noticed before the way that Job's defence of his righteousness hinges upon the way he treated the poor. Job says that if he had mistreated the poor and fatherless he would deserve his suffering. However, instead he had been as a father to the fatherless (Job 31:18) and shared his food with the widow (Job 31:17).

* Fear is another theme I've explored. The fear of God has become clearer to me, as have our other fears. God is a Father who speaks to the realities of human emotions and reactions. He does us the great kindness of not leaving us to our own devices. Instead, he reaches down to teach us how to love and fear Him in the midst of it all!