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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Too Much Zucchini?

So far, I have not had to deal with an overabundance of zucchini.  And even when my garden does actually grow plenty of it (not the case this year), I keep finding great recipes (zucchini marmalade!).  Tonight, on a whim, and because I was looking for a different way to serve vegetables for dinner, I decided the make zucchini fritters.

I'm not sure where the idea came from; I wasn't looking for recipes, but maybe the simple image of a partial grated zucchini in the fridge was enough to trigger the thought (I had used part of the zucchini earlier for zucchini bread).
I don't have exact amounts for you, but here's a list of ingredients and a pseudo-recipe -- these fritters were quite tasty and very easy, and the recipe can easily be cut in half.
2 medium grated zucchini
2 eggs
Mix zucchini and egg; add flour to reach a batter consistency; salt and pepper to taste.  Heat vegetable/canola oil in frying pan.  Drop by spoonful or 1/4 cupful into frying pan, turning when browned on one side.  Makes about 8 fritters, depending on size.

These are a lot like pancakes or latkes and are good with salt or with syrup.  Delicious for dinner, probably pretty good for breakfast, too.  Enjoy!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Dining at the Church on the Lake

Last May I posted about a delightful dinner served up at the First Congregational Church of Hadley, with the recommendation to blog readers (and others) to make time to attend such church suppers.  Last night Mr Madley and I took our own advice and attended the Chicken BBQ and Corn Fest at the North Hadley Congregational Church.
We arrived after the start and without reservations, which nearly lost us the opportunity to participate.  But after the chickens were counted and found to still be sufficient in numbers, we were admitted to dinner.  And what a delicious dinner it was -- barbecued chicken halves, corn on the cob, baked potato, salad, cherry jello pickles, lemonade, and watermelon.  Yummy.
The dinner was held outside at picnic tables behind the church, where there is a beautiful view of Lake Warner and the mountain.  We gathered our food and made our way to a table where we discovered a small group of new friends from our neighborhood.  We chatted about schools and a proposed project to clear some waterways, experiences car-camping and living in the West, and other good neighborly things.  One of the best things about these church dinners is the community-building they provide.  Don't get me wrong -- the food is delicious; but the people are what really make it worthwhile.

After dinner we were taken on a tour of the old church and some of its history was shared.
The Asparagus Testing Fork of Dot Russell.
Original foundation, exposed when the basement was dug out -- by hand.
The memorial plaque inside the church.
The chapel from the front.
The pipe organ (I hear they have a wonderful organist).
Original chandelier inside the chapel.
Chapel, congregation-view.
Isn't it lovely inside?
After dinner and the tour, we grabbed a program of upcoming events and traveled down Rt 47 to Creamy Delights for some ice cream.  A lovely time was had by all.

Now a question for the Hadley citizenry: what would it take to get you to attend one of these community church dinners?  Music, activities, more publicity...?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Grains & Fresh Flours

I've been a fan of and fed on fresh-milled grain products since I was just a tot.  My mother had a big stone-grind Magic Mill that she used every week to grind whole wheat flour for the bread she made.  (She also added that whole wheat flour to brownies and cookies, which gave them a super-delicious nutty flavour.)  I never gave much thought to having a mill myself until I recently remembered how satisfying bread making can be and got into a huge bread-baking kick.  Then I discovered and joined a local grain share (I have since discovered another, and they sell at the Amherst farmer's market sometimes), and my search for a mill began. (I've also been reading a lot of homesteading blogs, and I suppose they may have influenced me a little, too.)

I don't have hundreds of dollars to spend on a mill and I don't have a large family I'm baking for on a regular basis, so I don't need anything too fancy or large.  Plus, Mr Madley is wheat free, so my mill won't just be about wheat and wheat flour -- I want to be able to make grits and cracked wheat and steel cut oats, quinoa flour and rice flour and corn flour.  My first mill will need to be adaptable.

Since I've been refinishing my kitchen this summer, I have spent a lot of time online researching kitchen items, including grain mills.  I'm still not sure if there's one mill that would satisfy all my desires, but I did purchase a second-hand Victorio hand-crank mill that just arrived.  So excited was I that I tore open the packaging, put it together, and immediately set to grinding any kind of whole grains we had in the house.  I milled 1/4 cup each of brown basmati rice, rolled oats (not the ideal oats to mill by hand), quinoa, toasted buckwheat groats, all on the finest grind available; and then I also ground 1/4 cup buckwheat groats on the coarsest setting for cracked cereal.  You can see the results in the picture below.
Clockwise from the top: coarse-ground buckwheat, buckwheat, brown rice, oat, quinoa.

Even used, I like this mill.  The fine flour seems very fine, and I'm excited that when I purchase oat groats I'll be able to coarse-grind for hot cereal.  It's not super fast, but if I'm only grinding a cup or so, it's easy enough -- plus, I'll get to keep my arms toned.

Anyway, it's all great -- the high flavour and nutrition of freshly-milled local grain.  A loaf of homemade bread with homemade almond-flax butter and peach butter (both of which I learned to make this summer).  Can't get much better than that.  I'm not going to want to grind all my flour by hand, but all in all, it should be a very satisfactory starter mill.
Garden flowers, cracked oatmeal, zucchini bread from fresh-ground oats and quinoa and brown rice (with local zucchini and maple syrup), and peach butter from local peaches.
(1.5 days later: I've already made steel-cut oatmeal, gluten-free pizza crust, gluten-free zucchini bread from hand-milled grains.)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Pollinator Insect ID

Have you ever seen this before?  It's been buzzing around my butterfly bush for the better part of the summer.  Fuzzy pollinator, like a bee, but so large and shaped differently than most bees I've seen.  Can you help identify it?  (Sorry the picture isn't super clear.)


Friday, August 17, 2012

Celebrate -- Attend a Fall Festival!

It's the end of the summer, and with that comes the barrage of fun and fantastic fall festivals -- starting today with the Heath Fair.  The Valley and surrounding locales fill up the autumn season with fairs and festivals -- you can find a listing on the calendar.  If you know of a fair I haven't posted, please let me know -- just add a comment below.

This is one of the best seasons to live in Western MA -- don't miss out on the fun!  Coming up next week -- the Cummington Fair and the Red Fire Farm Tomato Festival.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Town Notices

Notice of Public Meeting

Notice is hereby given that the Hadley Select Board will hold a public meeting on Wednesday, September 12, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. in the Hadley Town Hall upstairs Meeting Room 203 for a discussion regarding the future of Town Buildings. 

Town of Hadley
Special Town Meeting
Thursday, October 25, 2012
7:00 pm  Hopkins Academy

The Select Board of the the Town of Hadley have opened the Warrant for Special Town Meeting.  The Warrant will remain open until the deadline of 4:00 pm on Wednesday, September 5, 2012.  Deliver all warrant articles to the the Office of the Select Board, 100 Middle Street, Hadley, MA  01035.

More notices and/or details found here: