Dina’s Zucchini Bread

It occurred to me yesterday that I’ve not made zucchini bread since I got married.

You know – 20.5 years ago.

Let me revise that: I have not made “my” zucchini bread since we got married. I have a vague memory of making a rather passable batch of something resembling zucchini bread at some point in time over the past 20 years.

If we’re going to be honest – I don’t really love zucchini bread.

I mean average zucchini bread.

It’s just kinda – eh – okay.

Not – wowza! Gotta make that again!

The reason I was able to ascertain how long it was that it had been since I made zucchini bread? The formula is still written in professional production quantities. I.e., you know, about 30 pounds worth of batter per batch from back in the day when I needed it written in those kinds of quantities.

So – given the fact that my husband LOVES zucchini bread and we’re in the midst of the zucchini boom that’s going on around here, I decided it was time.

Before we go forward – I feel in the interest of full disclosure that I should admit this: I’m a lazy baker. I like putting together stuff that basically I can throw together with half a thought and half as much effort.

This is not that kind of recipe.

It’s fussy.

I.e., it has a lot of ingredients and it takes a fair bit of prep.

All that said: TOTALLY worth the time and effort.

Here you go…

Dina’s Zucchini Bread –  -click hyperlink to go to PDF of the recipe.

Ingredients
1 cup Sugar
1 cup Brown Sugar (packed)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon Baking powder
1 teaspoon Baking soda
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Nugmeg
2 cups Bread flour
1 cup Cake flour
2 1/4 cups Zucchini, shredded
1 cup Carrot, finely shredded
1 cup Bulgarian buttermilk
3 Large Eggs
3/4 cup Olive oil
1 cup Chopped nuts
1 cup Golden raisins
1 can Crushed pineapple
1 cup Angel flake coconut

Preheat oven to 370° F.

Do you know this little trick? You’ve got some flexible cutting boards around somewhere, right? Well – I measure my dry ingredients onto one of my flexible cutting boards, and then it’s a total cinch to scroll it up and transfer the ingredients into the mixing bowl.

I usually just start by throwing the sugars into the bowl of the mixer. Then I add in the remaining dry ingredients.

Here are the bread flour, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, kosher salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. If, per chance, you don’t have bread flour and cake flour on hand – switch out the entire flour amount for all-purpose flour. Life will decidedly go on.

Here (in clockwise rotation) are the zucchini, drained pineapple (with the raisins soaking in the juice below), coconut, chopped pecans, buttermilk and eggs, and carrot. Not pictured is the oil.

I think worth mentioning – you just don’t want to develop the gluten too much in this batter. Over mixing will make for a really tough final product. Yuck. One sure way to help prevent over mixing is to make sure your eggs and buttermilk and well blended together. You can tell in the photo above that the eggs are simply resting in the cup. In this picture below, they’ve now been mixed in completely.  (And can I just brag on my baby hens who have just come into lay?  Get a load of that gorgeous yolk coloring in there!)

This is what the batter looks like once the dry ingredients, buttermilk/egg mixture, and oil have been added. You know – before you add in all that other fussy stuff that makes it taste so amazing.

And this is what it looks like after all the fussy stuff has been mixed in and it’s been portioned into muffin tins.

This batter is really kinda on the runny side – its job really is to hold all of the yummy fussy stuff together.

I do, typically, sprinkle the tops of muffins with raw sugar – it gives a lovely little crust on top.

And here’s the finished product, in muffin form:

And loaf form:

And after breaking into one of these…

I can guarantee that it won’t be 20 years before I make them again.

Yum….

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Home again!

One has only to spend 17 days in the hospital (two stays) over the course of a month (first admission 7/23/09 – second discharge 8/23/09) to really come to appreciate one simple fact:

Home is precious.

I’m so glad to be home.

I’m about a weak as a kitten, but I truly feel the beginnings of well. I haven’t been there for a while.

I have a lot of work ahead of me- remembering to eat (even though I don’t have much of an appetite), remembering to rest (probably the hardest thing), resigning myself to doing what I CAN, not what I feel I OUGHT to do. Can put a kink in a girl’s preconceived ideas of doing stuff!

And just in case you didn’t know.

I adore my husband.


(John holding William – Oregon Coast, 1997. William was just 6 months old.)

He’s so kind. Patient. Loving. Compassionate. Conscientious. You know – one of those guys who do the right thing – even when it’s not the easy thing to do. A guy who has the character of God deeply ingrained in his heart. His smile and laugh just make my heart glad. I’m just so thankful to God for the great honor of being John’s wife. Something I truly do not deserve. But God…

So – guess what I did when I got home from the hospital yesterday afternoon! (Okay, after I checked email.) I grabbed the camera, headed out to the yard, found a place to plant myself, and I took a few pictures.

Stuff happens when you’re away from home!

The babies stopped looking like babies and look more kinda like awkward teenagers now! At first we thought we had one Dominique and one Silver Laced Wyandotte. Now we don’t know. I’m hoping they are two different breeds – cause one of these might be a roo if not!

Note the differences:

Birdhouse gourds galore have grown!

And so exciting!

Someone has started to lay the cutest little white eggs!

They weigh in right at 1 ounce each.

Kinda piddly compared to BB’s 3 oz eggs!

Here’s my guess as to WHO the layer of said adorable eggs is:

One of the Blue Andalusians. Isn’t she pretty?

So – it’s good to be home.

Happy sigh.

I refuse to think about the fact that it’s only two short weeks before my kids head back to school again. I am SO not ready for that yet. Jessica comes home from camp tomorrow late afternoon – after a summer away. She will be a senior in High School this year. I want every moment with her possible.

Off I go to rest.

My Husband, The Genius

If no one has told you yet, let me be the first.

Chicken keeping is addictive.

When you first start making your plans to add chickens to your world, you might start by saying something like this: “Three, yes. Three chicks would be the perfect place to start.”

Of course, then you go to the local feed store in Springtime and see the beyond adorable chicks. On the way home you find yourself thinking thoughts like, “Eight is probably a better number… Wouldn’t be that much more room to house…”

How you get from eight to twenty-two (including roosters that had to go away) is anyone’s guess!

Sufficeit to say that by the time you settle down to fifteen hens and NO roosters, things seem, well, comfortable.

Here’s the thing, though. When you’re into chicken keeping, you’re pretty much sure everyone else ought to join you in this wonderful pursuit! So, when a friend happens to mention that she’s been dreaming of starting her own flock one day – all she wants is some started pullets… You help!

Over the course of time things happen. Five go to friends. One dies from some mystery malady. Two get eaten by neighbor dogs. One goes broody.

Before you know it, you’re down to just four or five eggs a day.

That, my friends, is just not enough!

Especially not when you’ve got BiL’s Farm Fresh Eggs to supply!

So – you might start saying things like, “Well… if William is really going to do an egg business this coming year, just how many chicks should we order?”

You, of course, temper those statements with things like, “We probably shouldn’t get chicks – at least not this year. I mean I’m going to have major orthopedic surgery!” (This would be why you’re up to midnight the night before said orthopedic surgery placing your chick order!)

So… somewhere along the line an assumption is made that yes, some chicks should be ordered. Someone might have said ten chicks. Someone else might have said, maybe 12 chicks. And somewhere along the line the order gets morphed into – oh, thirty chicks!

Thirty adorable chicks.

Five Blue Andalusians (one was a rooster).

Five Speckled Sussex.

Five Delawares (two went missing, one came back).

Five Cuckoo Marans.

Five Amaracaunas (one was a rooster).

Five Minorcas – three buff (one’s a rooster, one died), and two black.

See? I NEEDED thirty chicks! J

And, accordingly, we needed a larger coop and run! (Particularly in light of our new neighbor dogs! UGH!)

This is not a job for the faint of heart! It might even require some blood, sweat, and tears! Or at least a blister or two!

John, my genius husband, has designed and drafted plans for the expansion.

Have I mentioned recently what a genius he is? Cause if not – let me just be sure to keep you in the know – he IS! Seriously!

The coop was the first structure he ever built.

It’s been nothing short of amazing and phenomenal. Many people have stopped to remark how nicely it’s built, and what a great design it is.

Yes, like I said – genius!

So, my genius husband has drafted – as in AutoCAD drafted – the plans for the addition. They’re pretty cool looking. But I’m thinking the built-out model will be EVEN cooler still!

This new addition will more than double the space of the coop! This wall will have six new nest boxes.

The new big door will open into the expanded, new, and improved chicken run.

And my brilliant husband even thought to build in a spot for a fan – for the hot days of summer. Last thing we need is a chicken with heat stroke!

I love this door! He built this all by himself! Isn’t it cool?

And here you can see that the cattle fencing has been stretched to it’s new anchor on the corner of the addition. The girls are going to like this so much!

And here’s a peek at the new chicken yard addition – an actual area with grass for them to hang out in! They’ve already tried it out and seem to think it’s a great idea!

So – now we wait. We’ve got 25 chicks who will begin laying sometime around mid-August. John’s got a schedule all worked out to make sure everything is finished up and all of the new nest boxes are in place in plenty of time for that!

In the meantime – we’re on chick hatch watch:

Shelly is on day 20 on Sunday. It takes 21 days of a hen setting consistently on her eggs for them to start hatching out. I’ll be sure to report any signs of progress!

So that’s it from Hip Chick Chronicles central!

The thrill…

Will I always feel that thrill when I open the door to the nest boxes and see this? Will I ever be able (willing?) to go to the coop and check for eggs without camera in tow? I’m sure that at some future point in time it will change from a feeling of utter delight to drudgery perhaps… maybe in the dead of winter? Nah… I don’t think so!

I actually have a spreadsheet that I’m keeping that includes which hen laid which egg, what time of the day, how much said egg weighed, and the age of the hen. I’m sure some additional fields will eventually make their way in there, but thus far, these fields seem to be sufficient. I’m such a wierdo sometimes! LOL!

Suffice it to say that the egg watch has retained it’s high level of importance at our house – from the youngest kid on up – we’re all still thrilled with the discovery of a new egg.

Today Millie joined the egg-laying ranks! Woo Hoo! Her first egg was 1.5 ounces – just like Henrietta’s first real egg. But note the difference in color! Millie’s egg is on the left, Henrietta’s is on the right. Interestingly enough, Henrietta is the lightest in color of our three Rhode Island Reds. Wild, huh?

Henrietta’s egg shown here was 2.25 oz – thus far two of hers have been 1.5 oz, and two have been 2.25 oz. We haven’t cracked the second 2.25 oz egg yet, but the first one was a double yolker. Jonathan has dibs on the second one, and I’m sure will be a part of his breakfast in the morning!

This is the first time I’ve raised eggplant. This is an Ichiban variety, and is supposed to be good eats. If lovliness of a plants flower has any weight for the flavor argument, this one is gonna be really good. Wow – isn’t it gorgeous?
John’s pepper plants seem to have gone bezerk all of a sudden. One day you can’t find a pepper, the next, this!
Tonight at dinner John actually took one of these Hungarian wax peppers and diced it to enjoy with the tacos. (Yes, he was the only one interested in consuming it!) He reported that it’s a very sweet pepper thus far, but he’s read it has the potential to kick some serious butt!

Aren’t they gorgeous?
And look! The new planting of green beans are doing their thing!

By the way… I know this is difficult to see, but if you’re good at deciphering clues, you’ll find as we did – HOOF PRINTS! That’s not all we’ve found… more plants uprooted, green tomatoes with bites out of the sides of them, etc. Darn deer!

Thankfully, we’ve got enough tomatoes that the few the deer have gone after thus far have been inconsequential. (I could get QUITE cranky, however, if they don’t watch it!)


Last year our cherry tomato offerings were a little bit paltry. That will not be the case this year!

I think one of the most astounding things in life is to find a tiny little zucchini one day, and the next come back to find a ready to pick and consume fruit!

Of course, there is no such thing as too much yellow crookneck squash, but WOW – we’re getting lots of it, and it’s only just begun! Isn’t it pretty?


I’m watching the berry bushes daily (and of course quality control testing) the fruit to determine if it’s time to start picking. I hope to harvest many, many times in the coming weeks so that we’ll have plenty of jam, jelly, syrup, pie filling, and frozen fruit. I’m sure I’ll find some other things to do with the berries, too – just give me a little time! 🙂

And our first green bean patch is growing like crazy – there are blossoms all over, and baby beans left and right – hooray! I can hardly wait to start canning these for the coming year!

We took a ride out to Ag West today to pick up a couple of things. My heart just yearns for a place that we can call our own… driving through the countryside just outside of the urban growth boundary was a call to my heart… oh, please Lord! Let there be a place for us one of these days!

25 hours later…

Can you see her in there? There’s our Henrietta – who for the better part of an hour hung out in “her” nest box (bottom right) – arranging the pine shavings, moving the wooden egg here or there, squking now and then, and as William observed, “looking kinda angry!”

Yesterday we retrieved egg number 1 at 1:08 p.m. Today, egg number 2 was retrieved at 2:08 p.m. According to Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens by Gail Damerow, “Approximately ever 25 hours, one ovum acquires enough layers of yolk to be released into the oviduct…”

So, makes sense, huh?

And not only did she prove to be consistent in terms of timing – the next quote from Damerow, “As a hen gets older, her eggs get bigger.”

Yep! Yesterday’s egg was 1.5 ounces. Today a whopping 2.25 ounces.

WOW!

That means egg number 2 is just shy of the jumbo eggs that we purchase, and nearly double of yesterday’s egg!

Wow!

As William reported today, “Henrietta rocks!”

I think he’s absolutely correct!

It’s an egg!

Today – a full week after the first (sort of) egg was laid we heard Henrietta squaking like there was no tomorrow. We were eating lunch and could hear her all the way into the house – pretty unusual – but we’ve heard her loud before. This time, it was pretty sustained.

After lunch William went out to investigate, and came back yelling, “It’s an EGG!” To which we dropped everything, grabbed the camera and raced out to the coop – where Henrietta was smart enough to lay her egg – in an actual nest box. Good chicken!

Isn’t it cute? The wooden egg on the left is pretty good sized, but this is decidedly a petite egg.

But pretty, huh?

Compared to the Jumbo sized eggs we buy (which weighs in at 2.75 oz) I don’t think our 1.5 oz egg looks too bad, do you?

Here she is – the woman of the hour – Henrietta! I’m so proud of her!

Here’s hoping it doesn’t take a whole week for the next egg!

Kinda awkward…

You would think a chicken would want a more – well – convenient place to lay her first egg. But on the roost?! Comfort seems like it would be an important factor… but apparently not for my big girls! Yes folks, here is our first egg from the big girls – now if only we knew which one!

As you can see – it was soft shelled. Also interesting – no yolk! – it was just egg white. It was somewhat petite in size, which we expected.

I’ll admit it – we’d been waiting for what seemed so long we were totally surprised when it appeared!

Here’s hoping they figure out the whole why we have the nest boxes to begin with thing soon! LOL!

Cucumbers!

Do you see that? just above the flower (and the pink construction tape that I use to tie plants with) – the little itty bitty cucumber?

Woo Hoo!

I admit it – I was worried. There are green tomatoes galore, even some peppers present, squash coming on like gangbusters – but no signs of cucumbers! I worried there weren’t enough pollinators. I worried that the ones that we’d seen weren’t getting their job done.

Okay – I admit it – I worried it would be another dismal result with our attempt to grow cucumbers. I thought, “Great – I’ve gotten cocky, now they’re gonna show me how much I don’t know!”


But – sigh of relief – the pollinators are doing their jobs… See? There’s a lovely bumble bee about his business – bless his little heart!

I honestly believe that the sight of a yellow crookneck squash plant in serious bloom is one of the loveliest sights there is… feast your eyes…


Hard to believe summer is halfway over. The kids go back to school in six short weeks. It feels like the summer isn’t just passing – but evaporating!
We are on serious egg watch here. Henrietta, Hallie, and Millie are now 18 weeks old – RIR’s typically start laying somewhere in the 18 to 22 week mark. So we’re keeping them in the coop/run area for the majority of the day, only letting them out to free range in the late afternoons – in hopes that when the day comes that they decide to join the ranks of laying chickens that they’ll decide to do so IN the nest boxes! Updates to come, of course!