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Mom’s Zucchini Bread

Yesterday I found myself nostalgic for the summers I loved so much as a kid. Life was simple, and the days seemed endless. On really hot days my brother and I would gather the assorted ice pops we had in our freezer along with a big jug of lemonade and head down to the end of our driveway. We would set up camp for hours, praying that someone would stop and buy something from our little lemonade stand. We killed time by sucking on big strawberry freezer pops that would slowly melt over our warm hands as the sun beat down on us. By the end of the day, we would have big red rings around our lips, and stomachs full of sugary lemonade. We never did sell much, but we always loved it.

At times, our lemonade stand would be accompanied by Mom’s zucchini bread. That’s when sales really started to pick up. At first, I remember thinking, “eww, zucchini, gross!” But I quickly learned to love it. We ate so much zucchini bread during the summers that I thought I’d never be able to eat it again.  But each new summer I’d go right back—craving the bite of spicy cinnamon and crunchy walnuts.

As I got older, zucchini bread became my thing. I remember bringing it to movie nights, and teaching friends how to make it. Some people bake cookies, but I bake zucchini bread.

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Thrifty Tip Tuesday: No Sew Curtains

Today’s Thrifty Tip is a little more complicated than the usual, but thrifty nonetheless. You see, I’ve had this really awful folded up curtain hanging in front of a makeshift storage space the previous tenant created in my apartment. It sits right above my bathroom and hall closet in the “foyer” and I hate it. But it’s useful, so I keep it. It’s just a piece of plywood that holds a bunch of bulky things. I keep suitcases, winter clothes, and some other (currently) unusable odds and ends up there. It’s one of the only spaces in my apartment that isn’t meticulously organized, so no one is allowed to see it, which is why it requires a little curtain loving.

The problem is in the mismatched, ugly green curtain I’ve had up for a year (omg, I can’t believe I’ve kept it up for an entire year). So I decided it was time to finally take it down. I have really poor sewing skills, and no sewing machine (yet— I’m working on it), so sewing a new curtain was not an option.  But what I do have is an iron, scissors, and some hem tape, which is all you need to make a good, clean, thrifty hem.

I’m going to give directions for making a curtain for my weird storage area, but the same instructions can be used to make adorable little café curtains.

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Spicy Dillys

It seems like every week my string bean pile gets bigger and bigger. It’s like the Little Shop of Horrors where the plant just keeps getting bigger and scarier by the day. With the CSA shares getting larger by the week, I’m finding less and less room in my fridge. I feel like at some point, my fridge door is going to bust open and a fountain of green beans are going to come pouring out in bushels.

In order to maintain my plethora of beans I had been accumulating, I decided pickling was the most delicious option. Or maybe that was my secret plan all along…mwahaha.

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How To Make Salty Walnut Pesto

There’s not much better than the intoxicating scent of fresh basil. It smells like a summer’s afternoon spent drinking cocktails midday, barefoot, in a lawn chair. Didn’t know the smell of fresh basil did all that? Well it does, for me anyway. It’s a lovely thing, basil. Paired with super sharp salty parmesan cheese and walnuts it’s even more lovely. Add olive oil and you’ve got yourself a jar of pesto.

I got the most beautiful bunches of basil last week from my CSA that I was practically running home to whip up a batch of pesto. It has been so long since my little taste buds had the pleasure of enjoying the peppery bite of basil. The scent followed me, sidecar, all the way home in my tote bag.

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Thrifty Tip Tuesday: Keeping Nuts

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I never knew that nuts could go bad, until I actually ate a bad one. It wasn’t the worst thing I’d ever tasted, but it definitely wasn’t good.

You see, for years I’ve been making this really fantastic toffee brittle candy-bar-thing that my family calls Cape Cod Crunch. It’s a super simple recipe and I love making it around the holidays for gifts. The topping on this deliciously crunchy, savory sweet treat is chopped up nuts (of any kind). I love to make it with walnuts, and I had some in my pantry so I chopped ‘em up and made a batch. But when it was done and I tasted it, something was noticeably off. I thought that maybe I had burnt the chocolate, or that something had gone awry with the caramel. But I tasted each element as best I could, and lo and behold, it was the nuts that tasted so strange.

I called my always knowledgeable mother to ask if nuts could actually go bad. She said, “Of course they can, that’s why I always keep them in a Ziploc in the freezer.” Who knew?!

The next time I bought nuts for a recipe, I froze the leftovers to see how they would fare for the next time I needed them. I’m happy to say that they were absolutely perfect. The texture and flavor was right on.

The great part about this Thrifty Tip is that when you see nuts in bulk or on sale, you don’t have to worry about them going bad. Just pop them in a bag and stick it in the freezer. I currently have about 4 different varieties in my freezer, fresh and ready to go, whenever I need.

So keep those nuts frozen!

Cherry Pit Infused Brandy

So remember how I told you in yesterday’s Cherry Balsamic Shrub Syrup post to save your cherry pits? Well I hope you did, because we’re going to make a really delicious infused brandy with them. That’s right, two projects for the price of one!

It’s super simple because all you need are two things—cherry pits and brandy. Oh, and a jar to put it all in. I didn’t have tons of brandy, or cherry pits for that matter, so I just combined everything I had and it was the perfect ratio: a small handful of cherry pits per ½ C. brandy. The result: a slightly sweet and sort of almond-y liquor. Just like in my Almond Scented Apricot Jam, the pit lends great flavor to the final product.

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Sweet Cherry Balsamic Shrub Syrup

When we think preserving, we automatically think jams and pickles. I know I do. But preserving is much more than just canned goods. Beyond fruit jams and pickle preserving there is also dehydrating, fermenting, infusing, and the list goes on. It helps if you think of preserving as a process in which you extend the life of an otherwise short-lived piece of produce. I mean, that’s what we’re doing when we hot water bath can, right?

With that in mind, I’m going to take you on a journey into shrub land. It’s a journey I have never been on before, but have always wanted to try. The concept, like many preserving skills, is super old school and totally awesome. Plus it’s, like, super hot right now.

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