Monday, August 18, 2008

Squash Blossoms, Bumble Bees, and Cinnamon

In the early morning it is a marvelous thing to wander among the squash plants and watch the incredible bumblebees and honey bees on the brilliant orange squash blossoms. It is such a beautiful sight.

In pondering the beauty and realizing that these 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.

However, by now you know that a lot of my thought processes turn to preparedness, especially on blog days.

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 preparedness.

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 blog is about spices and spice related seasonings, not the foil wrapped 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. The heat and steam from cooking will destroy them in short order.

If you are a bargain hunter check out Big Lots and the Dollar Stores or house brand labels for better than regular prices. Watch out for the “health food store” bulk bins, if your budget is in jeopardy. 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!

Should you purchase spices and seasonings in bulk or cardboard cartons, repackage them when you get home. Put them into glass jars and be sure to label them immediately! Do you know how similar nutmeg and cinnamon look? If you don’t repackage, then when you create a recipe, use the cardboard and throw out the ruined spices.

Having a well stocked spice and seasoning shelf can make the difference between success or - “Oh Help” – if it comes to attempting to survive on your “survival stash.” You know the foods you thought, and prayed, that you would never have to eat.

A well-stocked spice and seasoning shelf can help you extend your budget much further if you can create fifteen recipes from that rice instead of one.

And about that zucchini, count your blessings that you have it. Find the right spices and make breads, cakes, casseroles, soups, more breads, muffins, steam it, batter it (as in eating not abuse), fry it, put it in stir fry . . . and more.

The cinnamon works in the breads, muffins, rice dishes with squash, and other recipes you discover.

The bumblebees are there just because they are beautiful and cause more squash to grow!

Should we have a contest to see how many ways you can fix zucchini that really taste good? For the most submissions you can win two large bottles of the spices of your choice. And no, you cannot submit an already in print zucchini cookbook. Let’s be fair here, it is recipes you use and like. Entry deadline is August 30. No entries will be accepted that include a real zucchini and arrive by snail mail. I will post the name of the winner in the blog and send an email spice list to them to choose from.

For the rest of the season (no pun indented) enjoy the squash blossoms, bumblebees and cinnamon.

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