In the early morning, I love to wander among the few squash plants in the garden and watch the incredible bumblebees and honey bees on the brilliant orange blossoms. It is such a beautiful sight, especially if you don’t get in the bee’s way!
In pondering the beauty and realizing that those were zucchini plants that I was oohing and awing over, and what was going to be on the other end of that blossom in a few short hours – well maybe a day, I began to ponder once again the age old question of what else can I do with ALL of this squash. The neighbors now know who is leaving it on their porch at night and running!
You see for the last couple of years I couldn’t get any squash to grow for whatever reason. So this year, the adage that took root is: more is much better than none. Right? Send me your address and I will send you squash. And yes, even with squash, my thought processes turn to preparedness.
Therefore, what to do with squash also means how in the world do I fix it? Which in turn means what do I flavor it with? Which in turn means what are the spices on my shelves that will work with squash? (Drum roll….) And of course, all of this means I have tied it in to my preparedness plans. Is there even a variety of spices on my shelves to use with ALL this squash?
One of the things you should/could be working on year round, but especially now while you have the opportunity, is to make sure that your spice and seasoning shelves are well stocked.
This particular discussion is about spices and spice related seasonings, not the foil wrapped, commercial sauce mixes and seasonings.
The rule of thumb is that seasonings are a combination of spices to create a specific taste, as in taco seasoning. Spices are a product of a plant, root or tree, one item per container, as in cinnamon.
Wherever you keep them, DO NOT store spices or seasonings in the cupboard above the stove/oven, the place normally appointed for this in most kitchens. The heat and steam from cooking will destroy the nutrients and flavor of almost all spices in short order.
Stretching your budget to include spices for your preparedness cupboard. Check out Big Lots and Dollar Stores or house brand labels for better than regular prices. “Healthy-food store” bulk bins are another option, but calculate the final price to make sure it is within your budget. Impulse buying is a huge item in the bulk aisle. Also, beware of the warehouse/discount/bargain basement outlets if the products are from freight damage loads. Spices are food and you don’t buy damaged food containers!
If you purchase spices and seasonings in bulk or cardboard cartons, repackage them when you get home. Put them into glass jars or other air-tight containers. Be sure to label them immediately! (Nutmeg and cinnamon look similar once out of a labeled box.) If you don’t repackage, when you attempt to create a recipe, you might end up using tasteless or cardboard-flavored spices!
Having a well-stocked spice / seasoning shelf can extend your budget and make the difference in successful-tasting “survival stash.” (You know, the foods you thought, and prayed, that you would never have to eat.) Now rice and beans can be made more ways!
About that zucchini: count your blessings that you have it. By having on hand the right spices, you can make breads, cakes, casseroles, soups, more breads, muffins, steam it, batter it, fry it, put it in stir fry . . . and more.
The cinnamon works in the breads, muffins, rice dishes with squash, and other recipes you may discover.
The bumblebees are there just because they are beautiful and will cause more squash to grow!
Should we have a contest to see how many ways to fix zucchini that really taste great? There must be at least a gazillion! One word of caution: should you consider canning or preserving batches of relish or a multitude of those recipes, remember that zucchini is a vegetable and must be pressure cooked, no matter how much sugar you use.
For the rest of the season (no pun indented) enjoy the squash blossoms, bumblebees and cinnamon.