It is hard to believe it is almost the middle of August. I stay close to home this time of year to tend the garden, harvest the produce and catch up on projects.
Always during this time I am designing and making our quilt for the annual shop hop in our area, “Quilter’s Quest”. Each of the 10 shops designs a quilt based on fabric swatches that are collected during the Quest. Participants can pick up the free patterns at each of the stores.
I’m piecing our quilt by hand, although it is very conducive to machine piecing as all of the seams are straight lines with no set-in parts. I get most of my work done while watching the Washington Nationals baseball games. I finally finished all the blocks and am giving you a sneak preview here. I’ll have the top finished soon.
We had our shop hop meeting at the Studio this week and we are gearing up for this special event. In case you want to leave the driving to us, all shops still have space available on their buses including two buses from the Studio.
The Quest newsletter goes out the middle of each month from now through November. Be sure to sign up for it for the latest information and to get the free patterns for our Quest Mystery Quilt. Here are the first two blocks.
The patterns are only available through the newsletter. Shops have fabric kits for the fabrics they are using in their version of the mystery quilt. You can sign up for the Quest newsletter here.
The vegetable garden is consuming quite a bit of my time. I have never had so many cucumbers. I am constantly begging people to take some. I take them to the shop and when a customer comes in I tell them “Congratulations! You have just won a door prize.” I was not able to get to the garden last Friday and, by skipping just that one day, some of the cucumbers and zucchini got out of hand. I loaded up bags and took them as well as tomatoes and basil to the shop.
My favorite cucumber is a Japanese variety called Palace King. No matter how large they get, they still stay crispy and taste fantastic. The one in the photo is by far the biggest I have had. It measured 23”! The zucchini is 22”.
So, what do you do with all of that zucchini? One of my employees took one home and made delicious zucchini bread. I asked for the recipe. I hardly ever do a recipe exactly how it is given so I altered it a bit. I am on a self-imposed low cholesterol diet. I would rather regulate my cholesterol with diet instead of pills. So for this recipe I used 6 egg whites instead of 3 whole eggs. I used a half cup less sugar (and substituted brown sugar for the white). I thought cranberries would be a nice addition. I always like to sprinkle lemon/sugar zest on the top of the batter before baking so I included that as well. I served this at the Quest meeting the other day and everyone wanted the recipe, so I am giving it here for you as well.
No Cholesterol, Low Fat Zucchini Bread
Makes 2 loaves
- Butter and flour for preparing baking pans
- 3 cups unbleached flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 3½ cups grated zucchini (you can use as little as 2 cups and as much as 4)
- 6 egg whites (After doing a price comparison on eggs vs. egg whites in a carton, I found that for $2.99 I could get a dozen eggs. For the same amount of egg whites I could get from that dozen it was more than twice the price. So I’d rather discard the yolks or save and microwave them to add to the dog food.)
- ½ cup applesauce
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1 ¾ cup brown sugar
- 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups coarsely chopped pecans
- 1 ½ cups dried cranberries
- 3 Tablespoons Smart Balance (similar to margarine)
- 3 Tablespoons sugar
- grated rind of 1 large lemon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter and lightly flour two 8”x4” loaf pans.
1. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir gently to combine.
2. Shred zucchini, lightly packing it down as you measure it.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat egg whites, applesauce, oil, sugar and vanilla extract. Mix very well. (You don’t want to over beat quick breads after the soda and baking powder are added, but since this is just the liquid part, and especially with the egg whites I think it helped to add air to the batter.)
4. Slowly add the dry ingredients (about ⅓ at a time) mixing as you go – then beat well to fully combine.
5. With a rubber scraper or wooden spoon, stir the shredded zucchini, cranberries and nuts into the batter and mix well.
6. Pour half of the batter into each prepared pan.
7. Melt the Smart Balance and brush on the top of each loaf.
8. Mix the sugar and grated lemon rind together and sprinkle on top of each loaf.
9. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. (The bake time will vary depending on how much shredded zucchini you add to the batter.)
Remove from the pans and cool on wire racks.