Attack of the Giant Zucchini

Photo Credit: krossbow via Compfight cc

The Prairies are well known for the bounty of certain cash crops in the agriculture sector, but closer to home there is the bounty of our individual vegetable garden plots. And nothing is more prolific when it comes to produce than the legendary zucchini plant.

It is often the case that the zucchini squash starts out as a tasty tender morsel that can be eaten raw, skin and all, or cut up and stir fried in a succulent vegetable medley. But sometimes the plant conceals its progeny under a sheltering leaf hoping it will mature enough to produce the seeds of the next generation. Mother Nature’s process of natural selection has bestowed the gift of accelerated development on the young zucchini squash to assist in it’s self preservation. And then it happens. In a matter of days the tasty morsel morphs into a giant impervious monster thumbing its nose at its nurturing caretaker. At this point, rather than becoming overwhelmed the good-natured gardener cherishes the bounty that has been bestowed upon them and mobilizes their “community” in a magnanimous gesture of “sharing”.

Sharing is part of our culture at Prairie Spruce Commons and we will have a shared garden space on site where those members that love to get close to nature can cultivate and harvest produce of all kinds, including zucchini squash. And for those who just like to watch the cycles of nature unfold their extra sets of eyes will help to prevent the attack of the giant zucchini. And in case a few of the zucchini escape notice and grow large enough to squash a small animal, we can always turn them into chocolate zucchini cake using one of our favourite recipes.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Photo Credit: Matthew Oliphant via Compfight cc
  • ½ cup margarine
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 ¾ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup sour milk
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon cloves
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cream margarine, oil and sugar.
  3. Add eggs, vanilla and sour milk. Beat well.
  4. Mix together all dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture. Beat well.
  5. Stir in zucchini.
  6. Pour batter into greased 9 inch x 13 inch pan. Sprinkle top with chocolate chips.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes.

Dave and Lill

Cohousing Recipes: Caramel Pretzel Sticks

I used to make 7 or 8 different things for Christmas. Now I only make 2 – perogies and caramel pretzel sticks. I have already made perogies with Prairie Spruce members. If Lois and Murray help me another 4 times AND are willing to keep the recipe a secret, I might divulge my formula for super silky perogy dough.

Luckily I have no such attachment to my caramel pretzel stick recipe. I found it in a Taste of Home recipe book. Before Christmas, I spent a very long day and made about 85 caramel pretzels. With the big kitchen in the common area, and some willing cohousers, we could make hundreds in one day to share.

Caramel Pretzel SticksCaramel-Pretzel-Sticks

 

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • 1 cup butter cubed
  • 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 package (10 oz) pretzel rods (Try Sobeys or Bulk Barn)
  • 6 to 12 oz white candy coating
  • 6 to 12 oz milk chocolate candy coating
  • 3/4 finely chopped walnuts – optional

In a large heavy saucepan combine sugar, butter, and corn syrup. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Continue boiling, without stirring, at a moderate-steady rate for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and then stir in the milk.

Reduce to medium-low; cook and stir until candy thermometer reads 245 (firm ball stage). Keep warm. I find this steps takes a long time as I use low heat so the caramel doesn’t burn. I then put it in my slow cooker to keep warm. 

Pour 2 cups of the caramel mixture into a 2 cup glass measuring cup. (I wedge my slow cooker into a larger pot at an angle.) Quickly dip each pretzel halfway into caramel. Allow excess to drip off. Place on well buttered baking sheets; let sit until hardened. I use parchment paper.

In the microwave, melt the white candy coating; stir until smooth. Dip half of the caramel pretzels in the coating. Repeat with milk chocolate coating and dip the rest. Voila!

Joanne