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Mmm…Pie…

The massive raspberry bush that towers over our garden started out innocently enough.  A friend had bought a house with an overabundance of landscaping, and he was looking to simplify by getting rid of a few of the yard’s many beds.  Bill and I went over to take a look, and returned home with a rose bush, some blanket flowers and a chunk of a raspberry plant.  The cheery red and yellow blanket flowers found a new home in our front flower bed, the rose bush went next to the house, and we transplanted the raspberry plant in a corner of our vegetable garden.

The rose bush bit the dust not long after we adopted it, but the blanket flowers are still going strong.  And to say that the raspberry bush thrived is an understatement.  If we had not taken preventative measures, it would cover our entire garden by now.  The plant sends out little creeping runners, which if left unchecked, will develop into  new canes.  As our garden is not very large, and we were tiring of constantly weeding mini raspberry canes, we came up with a plan:  We would install a barrier to keep the plant corralled within its allotted garden plot.  After looking at different options, we settled on 12″ metal flashing.  We figured in a few minutes we could dig around the perimeter of the raspberry bush, install the flashing, and voila–instant raspberry fence.

What we failed to remember was that when we moved into the house six years ago, a large tree stood only a couple of feet from the raspberry bush’s current home.  And trees have roots.  Which are very thick near the base of the tree.  So, installing the flashing became a chore that took several hours and quite a bit of sweating, sawing and swearing.

Our tricky raspberry bush still sneaks some runners under the flashing on occasion just to keep us on our toes, but they are not nearly as invasive as they used to be.  The now-restrained 4′ – 6′ raspberry canes produce a beautiful abundant crop of plump red berries each July that we use in many recipes, including the mouth-watering pie, below.  The recipe is extremely simple if you buy pre-made frozen pie crust, but if you want to make your own–hey, knock yourself out.  A slice of this juicy, slightly tart pie with vanilla bean ice cream is a heavenly combination. However, since I made the pie up north at our cottage this week with groceries and ingredients transported in a cooler, we were sans ice cream this time.  Oh well.  Guess I’ll have to make it again!

NOTE:  The first time I made this recipe exactly as written, and it was very soupy.  This time I added about 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and it was just right.  Also, in the oven I was using,  I had to bake it about 10 minutes longer than instructed.

RASPBERRY PIE

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/raspberry-pie-ii/detail.aspx

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The Neglectful Gardener Makes Stuffed Zucchini Cups and Oven Zucchini Chips

The main garden, thriving with little care

This summer is cruising by so quickly that I can’t believe that July is almost halfway over!  Many exciting things have been happening in the garden, such as plants inconveniently producing berries and oversized vegetables while we were out of town, and octopus-like weeds popping up everywhere to mock our neglect. We returned home from our cottage a few days ago to find that our beloved raspberries, overripe from not being picked, had become fodder for flies.  Luckily, we caught the zucchini before they developed enough to become self aware.  The weeds continue to grow, since I have been too busy (i.e. lazy) to do anything about them.

The first night back, my husband rooted around and emerged from the garden with a monster zucchini, some semi-normal sized zucchini, several cucumbers, and one single pathetic raspberry.  The decimation of the raspberries saddened me, because our homemade raspberry jam is one of my favorite treats from our garden. I was afraid that we wouldn’t be able to make it this year.  However, I had the foresight to pick and freeze about two cups of raspberries before we left for vacation, so now I am slowly adding to that amount each night as fresh berries ripen.  We should be able to squeak out a few jars of jam, but probably won’t have enough for raspberry pie–another one of my favorites.  Sigh.

I knew that leaving the garden unattended for a long stretch of time wasn’t the most responsible choice, but with temperatures forecasted in the 90s, we sure as heck weren’t going to sit around our sweltering backyard and watch things grow when we could be at a cabin on the lake.  So, we sacrificed raspberry pie for up north.  As my husband said, “You can buy a raspberry pie, but you can’t buy the up north experience.” So true.

The rest of the garden is doing its thing.  The tomato plants are flowering and becoming unwieldy (as we are behind on the staking), and new plants are emerging from last year’s unintentional reseeding.  We’re getting some peppers in, and best of all, we will be having corn on the cob tonight because I actually managed to pick the first two ripe ears before the local wildlife ravaged them!

Corn for dinner tonight!

So now that we are finally able to harvest some stuff, I thought I’d pass along two new zucchini recipes that we tried. The first one successfully used up a monster zucchini.  (I still have one more lurking in my vegetable crisper, awaiting its fate as zucchini bread or spice cookies).

If you like stuffed peppers, this recipe is along the same lines.  In fact, you could stuff them with the filling that you usually use in peppers.  We made the recipe pretty much as directed and thought it was a keeper.

Stuffed zucchini cups

Meat, Tomato and Mozzerella Stuffed Zucchini Cups:

http://www.kalynskitchen.com/2009/09/recipe-for-meat-tomato-and-mozzarella.html

I think this second one is going to be made on a frequent basis this summer as my go-to savory zucchini recipe.

Zucchini chips

Zucchini Oven Chips

http://www.health.com/health/recipe/0,,10000001087041,00.html

We whipped this up as an evening snack recently, and it was sooooo good.  Simply slice a normal sized zucchini into chips, dip in milk and a seasoned breadcrumb mixture, and bake the slices in a 425 oven for half an hour on a nonstick baking rack.   I didn’t have breadcrumbs on hand, so I pulverized some Parmesan/garlic croutons in my little food processor to use instead.  Also, it seemed like these would be good with a dip–like the zingy dip served with Bloomin’ Onions at Outback Steakhouse.  Since we were out of horseradish, my husband improvised and came up with his own tasty dip. I’m giving you the closest approximation to his measurements that I can, since he was in mad scientist mode and measured nothing.  So, I suggest starting with minimal spices, tasting it as you go and adjusting accordingly.

Zippy Dip

  • 1/3 cup sour cream (or lite sour cream)
  • 1/4 cup mayo (or lite may0)
  • capful of white vinegar

Approximately 1/4 tsp of each of the following, or to taste:

  • chili powder
  • ground cayenne
  • paprika
  • garlic
  • dried minced onion

Mix sour cream and mayo together.  Add a capful of white vinegar and spices and stir until combined.  Taste, and add another capful of vinegar if you want more zip.  Add more of any spices you desire.  Mix well.  Serve with Zucchini Chips or other veggies.

Click ZIPPY DIP for a printable PDF of this recipe.