My favorite part of gardening is growing vegetables. Raising your own food is just so satisfying, but we are only a family of 2, and overages inevitably occur. A prime example is the squash, which soon overrun the garden. We preserve as much as possible, but the bulk of the fruit is given away in some form or another. It gives me great joy to share our harvests, and hopefully the recipients are happy, too.
Sharing The Harvest
Oh the joys of the growing season! Those first snap peas and fresh lettuce, followed by beans, corn, tomatoes, and of course squashes. Summer and early fall are rife with their bounty, most of which we are able to use. But growing vegetables sometimes produces way too much for us to eat. The raspberries can be frozen, but I make a bunch of jam to share with the neighbors to keep from filling the freezer just with berries. Similarly, other veggies are frozen or canned, but the fresh stuff finds its way into the arms of family and friends, and often the food bank.
One of the things I have trouble getting rid of is the squash. When I plant my seeds, I always put a few in, just to make sure I get plants. This usually results in a bumper crop of vines, tumbling over the other produce. The harvests in items like yellow summer squash and zucchini are over the top.
In spite of checking the plants frequently, there are some monsters that no one wants. These I seed, grate and turn into quick bread. I even make them into squash chips. Some fun squash recipes see me making zucchini fritters or stuffed zucchini boats. The latter can take whatever else is growing a little too well: Tomatoes and basil with parmesan or green chilies with tomatoes and pepper jack.
I am great at making up squash recipes. Spaghetti squash keeps well in a cool, dark place, but I cook and freeze much of it. Over the winter season, it gets made into spaghetti squash cakes, spaghetti squash pizza, and as a noodle substitute in Asian, Italian, and other cuisines. Other winter squashes find their way into soups, stews, and part of roasted root vegetable medleys.
Using Flawed Produce
Growing vegetables is a bit addicting. My extra garden produce is easy to give away if it is perfect, but flawed items need to be processed before I find any takers. That is where my skills as a former chef come into play.
Garden produce features prominently in homemade holiday and birthday gifts, like
- Cream cheese frosted zucchini cake for a 50th birthday.
- Dried fruits in a cute container for a thank you.
- Lasagna featuring garden veggies to perk up the food bank ladies on a cold day.
- Pumpkin spice cookies for the waste removal guys.
- Homemade apple jack for celebrations.
- Preserves as a “just because you exist”.
We never have a problem using most of what we grow. It is a pleasure to share with those that mean so much to us, and a gift that makes everyone smile.