From the topsoil to the table

My grandfather and grandmother both grew up very poor. When they were young, and into the early years of their marriage, planting a garden was done out of necessity. Raising that garden though literally grew into something that they both enjoyed. For over 50 years, my grandfather would diligently plan, plant, and harvest. My grandmother would clean, cook, and preserve. Throughout those 50 years, we were all the benefactors of their hard work. Oh what I wouldn’t give for a jar of my grandmother’s green beans!

Although, I don’t have any jars of her green beans (or beets!), I do have her recipes. Listed below are a few recipes that we have titled, From Grandpa’s Garden to Grandma’s Kitchen.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. margarine
1/2 c. white sugar
1/2 c. vegetable oil

Cream above items together, and then add:

3 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1/2 c buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk you can make it by placing 1 T white vinegar in a measuring cup add milk to make 1 cup, stir and let sit for 1 minute).

Stir well. In a separate bowl combine:

2 1/2 c. flour
1/2 t. allspice
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. salt
2 t. baking soda
4 T. baking cocoa

Sift dry ingredients together. Add into wet mixture. Grate 3 zucchinis (6 inches long or not more then 2 cups). Squeeze out the excess moisture and put into the batter. Stir until well blended. Pour into a greased 9” x 13” pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes.

To make Chocolate Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake fold in 1 cup of chocolate chips to batter before baking.

Beef Stuffed Zucchini

3 medium zucchini
1 small onion
1/4 tsp. pepper
4 oz shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 lb. ground beef or ground turkey
1/4 tsp. oregano
1(15 oz.) can of tomato sauce
1/4 c. water
1/4 tsp. sugar

Cut each zucchini lengthwise in half. Scoop out center of zucchini, leaving 1/4-inch thick shell. Dice scooped out zucchini.

Brown meat, onion, diced zucchini. Drain. Stir in oregano, pepper, and half of the tomato sauce, and half of the cheese. Remove from the heat. Remove mixture from the pan.

Into each zucchini shell, spoon meat mixture. In same skillet, stir in water, sugar and remaining tomato sauce. Arrange stuffed zucchini in sauce. Cover and simmer until zucchini is tender. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and serve. Makes 6 servings.

Strawberry Dream Dessert

4, 3 oz. packages of strawberry Jell-O
2 cups hot water
2 1/2 cups fresh sliced strawberries
1 Angel food cake, prepared
2 packages of Dream Whip mix

In medium bowl dilute 2 packs of strawberry Jell-O mix in 2 cups hot water. Add sliced strawberries. Tear Angel food cake into small pieces and put into 9” x 13” pan. Pour Jell-O and strawberry mixture over cake pieces and refrigerate until set.

After the first mixture is set, dilute 2 more packages of Jell-O mix in 2 cups of hot water, let partially set. Prepare 1 package of Dream Whip mix. Add it to second Jell-O mixture. Pour over first mixture and let set. When ready to serve make second Dream Whip mix, cut Jell-O desert into pieces and top each with Dream Whip. Makes a very cool, summer dessert.

Beets in Orange Sauce

12 beets, cooked
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
3/4 c. orange juice
2 Tbsp. grated orange rind
1/4 c. butter

Combine cornstarch and sugar. Add other ingredients except beets, and cook together. Add beets, cut up or whole, and heat until beets are warmed through. Serves 4.

Great Grilled Green Beans

1 lb. fresh green beans
2 cloves garlic
Olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
Sliced or slivered almonds (opt.)

Remove ends from green beans and if using almonds, mix them with the beans now. Cut a large sheet of tin foil and pile in beans (& almonds). Drizzle a small amount of water over the beans so the outer layer looks rained on. (A sink sprayer, lightly squeezed, works nicely.) Chop the garlic finely and sprinkle over the beans. Drizzle the olive oil over the beans. Salt & pepper to taste. Fold the tin foil to the middle of the bean pile. Put the ends together and roll until tight. Take each end, crunch the foil together and roll tightly so that no moisture escapes. Place the bundle of beans over hot coals, and allow about 15 min to cook. Move the bundle around the grill as needed so it gets medium heat rather than red coals. When the beans are done, place in serving dish, and voila: Great grilled green beans!

Kathleen Carr is the owner of The Growing Scene, Inc., a garden center and landscaping company. She can be reached by calling 815-923-7322 or Have a gardening question? Please contact her. She may address it in an upcoming column.

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