Zucchini & Cheese Casserole

What a delicious surprise this recipe is i found in an old recipe book a good friend gave me.  In my search on how to prepare zucchiniwithout making a sweet bread, i stumbled on this one!  Have already made it multiple times to great reviews and made a couple more that i put into the freezer with cooking instructions written with a Sharpie marker on the foil covering it.

Zucchini & Cheese Enchiladas or Casserole*

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp chili powder (optional)
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups chopped onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1 large bell pepper chopped (optional)
  • 6 cups chopped zucchini
  • 16 to 18 corn tortillas
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes

Directions:

In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Stir in the flour, chili powder, and cumin to make a thick paste.  Add the milk, a little at a time, using a wire whisk.  Slowly add the cheese, stirring constantly until cheese is melted.  Season with salt and pepper.  Remove from heat and set aside.  Preheat oven to 400˚F.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onions and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes.  Add bell pepper and zucchini and sauté 2 more minutes.  Add ¼ cup of water, cover, and steam veggies until tender.  Remove vegetables from heat, and drain excess liquid.  Gently mix in 2/3 of the cheese sauce.  Lightly oil a 9×13-inch baking dish.  To assemble, place two tortillas side by sade at one end of the pan.  Spread a generous amount of filling down the center of the tortillas, then fold them over and roll up the tortillas.  Place filled enchiladas seam-side-down in the pan.  Continue in this manner until you have filled the pan.  Spoon remaining sauce on top and garnish to tomatoes.  Bake, uncovered, for 20 -25 minutes.  Serves 8

*I prefer making this as a casserole since it’s much easier.  i do take the time to prepare freshly made corn tortillas with Masa Harina, then loosely layer the flavorful tortillas on the bottom of the pan, then top with half the zucchini/cheese mixture, layer another set of tortillas and spread the remaining zucchini/cheese mixture.  Spread the remaining 1/3 of cheese mixture on top, then dot the whole casserole with diced tomatoes.

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Home grown zucchini, canned diced tomatoes (my tomatoes are WAY behind in growth), and i found this Masienda brand of Masa Harina, bought it and LOVE it, then flavor is awesome.
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but i do find it challenging to make the tortillas.  I have greatly improved my technique and final product since taking this photo.
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Casserole ready to pop into the oven.
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Rolling Prairie Cookbook available from several vendors but published Rolling Prairie Farmers Alliance in Northeast Kansas.

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To keep from needing to drain extra water out of the cooking mix, i chop the zucchini then set it inside a large piece of cheesecloth.  Let it rest at least 10 minutes, then squeeze the heck out of it.  A great amount of green flavorful water will be removed.  I freeze this water up for making soup later this winter.

Jim Gerrish puts it all together!

Here is a podcast Jim did with Charlie Arnott when he and Dawn were in Australia earlier in the year. Charlie is a biodynamic farmer/grazier located in New South Wales who also produces podcasts related to regenerative ag, human health, and an array of other current topics.

This serious yet lighthearted conversation covers a lot of ground. We hope you choose to listen & enjoy it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orRLYqSQQEM

 

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In this episode Charlie chats to the American grazier and educator Jim Gerrish. Jim takes us on his regenerative journey and recalls the moment, when he realised that the aroma of freshly turned/ ploughed ground he had always liked growing up was in fact the smell of the earth dying…this proved to be the turning point in his life. Jim’s journey is a captivating one which touches on human health & diet, food definitions, changing farm practices and a whole lot more. To start a dialogue and converse more about topics raised in this podcast, please visit The Regenerative Journey podcast Facebook group. Episode Takeaways We don’t need feedlots. We just need people who have grazing management skills to take a pasture and turn it into delightful beef | In research we don’t call it a cow pie/cow pat, it’s a SEE…a Single Excretory Event! | We don’t need new knowledge, we need to be applying what we already know | The whole idea that beef cattle are destroying the environment is only tied to feedlot phase of it | The methane thing is a real red herring with grazing cattle, feedlots it’s a problem. It’s the production model not the ruminant animals that are the problem | Grass feeds the grass, grass feeds the soil, then grass can feed the livestock| Human health is intrinsically linked to soil health. Links Jim Gerrish – American Grazing Lands LLC Maia Grazing – Grazing management tool Dr. James Anderson – Scottish agriculturist in 1700’s Diana Rodgers – Sustainable Dish Sacred Cow – Film project led by Diana Rodgersint

A Perfect Match by Jim Gerrish

Once again, Jim Gerrish, owner American GrazingLands,  pens a thorough and relevant article.  This one published in The Stockman GrassFarmer June , 2020 issue.  Click here if you’d like to request a free copy of The Stockman GrassFarmer.

A Perfect Match

May, Idaho

Some things just seem to fit together really well.  Bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwiches come to mind, among other things.

How about no-till, cover-crops, irrigation, and MiG?  That is another combination that is hard to beat.

Industrial farming with conventional tillage has led to widespread land degradation through soil erosion, loss of soil carbon, and destruction of soil life.  No-till minimizes soil disturbance and the concurrent loss of organic matter soil life.  The downside of no-till farming over the 50 or so years since its inception has been heavy reliance on potent herbicides like paraquat and glyphosate.  To eliminate the need for those herbicides and their toxic side effects, innovative farmers have figured out approaches.  The roller-crimper as a mechanical tool can terminate existing vegetation and turn it into moisture-conserving mulch.  High stock density grazing can also terminate or suppress existing vegetation and turn it into dollars.

The exponential growth in cover-crop use over the last decade has also accelerated the adoption of no-till farming across the USA and around the world.  While many farmers started using cover-crops based solely on soil health benefits, others came to realize livestock were the missing link in their efforts to heal the land.  We quite talking about sustainable ag a few years ago and started talking about regenerative ag.  Why settle for sustaining the agricultural wreck we have created over the last century?  Why don’t we try fixing it instead?

Ray Archuleta uses a great example to illustrate the difference between the sustainable and regenerative concepts.  ray asks,  “If your marriage is a wreck, why would you want to sustain that?  If your farm is a wreck, why would you want to sustain that?”

Regeneration is meant to create something healthy and strong that will last your lifetime and beyond.  I think it is a valuable lesson in world selection and world viewpoint.

In a similar vein, many years ago I said the most tragic divorce that has happened down on the farm was the divorce of livestock from the land.  Taking grazing animals off the landscape and locking them up in concentration camps removed a critical component of ecosystem health.  We will only regenerate a healthy landscapes with effectively managed livestock as part of the process.

We can argue about the sustainability of irrigation.  Around the world, including the USA, aquifers are being pumped to the point of depletion.  Land is being degraded due to salinization from irrigating with high salt content water.  Pumping costs are increasing in many irrigated farming areas as water is pumped from deeper and deeper wells.  No, irrigation in that sense is neither sustainable nor regenerative.

Living in the Intermountain Region of the USA for 16 years now and enjoying a different type of irrigation basis.  I think there is a time and place for irrigation in a regenerative ranching or farming context.  With direct snow-melt as our water source we avoid aquifer depletion and most of the salinity risks associated with irrigation in semi-arid landscapes.

For many years, a lot of this region was flood irrigated.  There are a number of benefits to flood irrigation.  Flood irrigation can rely entirely on gravity flow of water so there is no pumping cost.  It can hydrate parts of the landscape outside of the farmed fields.  The infrastructure investment is fairly low.  However, Water use efficiency cannot be counted as one of the favorable aspects of flood irrigation.

Per ton of forage grown, flood irrigation typically uses about 50-80% more water than sprinkler irrigation.  As we think more and more about the pending worldwide water crisis, all of us in agriculture must become better versed in water conservation whether we are in high natural rainfall or irrigated environments.  That brings us back to thought of no-till farming with cover-crops and the role of grazing animals in groundwater management.

We have all heard and read those popular press articles citing how many pounds of water it takes to produce a pound of hamburger or a steak.  Some beef industry estimates are as low as 1000 lbs of water per lb of beef all the way up to 12,000 lbs of water/lb of beef claimed by some vegan groups.  Since a pound of beef only contains about 10 ounces of water, the rest of all that water has to be somewhere else.  That somewhere else is mostly in the soil or the atmosphere meaning that same water will be used for something else tomorrow or the next day or the next.

Our job is to get as much back into the soil or the deeper ground water system.  This is where MiG comes into the picture.  We use time-controlled grazing management to manipulate the amount of living plant residual and the amount of trampled litter we create in the pasture.  Both of those grazing management responses are critically important factors in managing soil water.  Infiltration rate and surface runoff are directly tied to our day-to-day grazing management choices.

When we can easily produce twice as much animal product per acre using MiG compared to ineffectively managed pastures, that translates to a doubled water use efficiency.  Think about the cost of seeding cover-crops on irrigated land and the relative return on investment between those two different management scenarios.  Regardless of the particular pasture in question.  MiG always increases the return potential.

Jim Gerrish is an independent grazing lands consultant providing service to farmers and ranchers on both private and public lands across the USA and internationally.  He can be contacted through www.americangrazinglands.com.  His books are available from the SGF Bookshelf page 20.

 

 

 

 

Corned Beef & Corn on the Cob

Tough to top this delicious lunch for today!

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Corned Beef

Sandra Best from her days of preparing food for the sheep shearing crew in Longreach, Queensland, Australia

INGREDIENTS: 

  • 5 lb rolled rump roast
  • 4 1/2 quarts of water
  • 2 lbs coarse salt

DIRECTIONS: 

Heat water to dissolve salt then let cool completely. Stab thawed roast about 60 times with a long-tined meat fork. Pour salt water into a #2 ceramic crock and submerge roast into it. Weight down the roast with a brick or whatever. Place crock in a cool place and cover with kitchen towel. Let sit for 9 days. (I found some recipes, which called for turning the roast everyday, but we forgot to do that and it worked fine).

To cook:

Rinse roast, then place in a stockpot filled with enough water to cover roast 1 inch. Bring to slow boil, then pour off water, rinse out pot and refill with enough water to cover roast 1 inch. While water is heating add 2 tablespoons brown sugar, two bay leaves, 1 onion, quartered, 2 teaspoons nutmeg, and 1/4-cup vinegar. Cover and bring to slow boil, then simmer until meat falls off of a fork or skewer. (about 3 hours).

Serve with mashed potatoes or for an easy potluck, break up the meat and stir into potatoes and serve in a crock pot. Or let cool and slice off for sandwiches to take to work.

Life Lesson in the Garden

A life lesson from my friend Tina Reichert.  She lives and works on her husband’s family farm and hosts guests from around the world at their Sycamore Valley Bed and Breakfast home/farm stay outside Brunswick, Missouri.

Enjoy and Shabbat Shalom!

tauna

 

A Little Life Lesson from My Garden

Training the blackberry canes, mulching, weeding, watering, weeding, watering, weeding, more training, weeding, weeding and finally some fruit. Then comes pruning the dead canes that are spent from producing the season’s fruit. But the weeding, watering, training continue through the summer into the fall in preparation for the next year’s crop. I am hot, sweaty (or is it “glowing”), and scratched from the process today. But there is a sense of purpose and accomplishment that makes me smile.

This morning’s garden experience has brought to mind this is a lot like relationships. Meaningful relationships take work, a lot of work, continuous work, sometimes unpleasant and even painful work. But if I want to see the harvest: healthy, vibrant, life giving relationships that flourish bearing much fruit in my life and the lives of others, I must stay the course and remain faithful to the “garden” of relationships the Lord has called me to tend.

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. ” Romans 12:18

I am no Master Gardener, but I know the One who is. He continues to teach little life lessons in the simplest of tasks. Another sweet reason to give thanks for my garden.

May you have a blessed day tending to your “life’s garden.”

 

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Image may contain: plant, sky, tree, outdoor and nature
Image may contain: plant, food, outdoor and nature

Summer Slump Savvy

Another great video by Greg Judy describing summer slump grazing in Missouri.  He lives in central Missouri.  He also gives his two great interns special attention in this one.

Summer Slump Management

Tanzanian Peaberry

Excellent roast.  My first cup was a bit of a surprise at how dark and strong Tanzanian Peaberry was.  After that, i adjusted the amount of beans i use for just the right enjoyment.  Although the description uses aromatic notes such as Sweet Brown Sugar, Black Tea, Anise, my first sniff reminded me of campfire cooking.  Salter Bros Coffee Roasters roast the beans you order AFTER you order.  Super fresh.

Looking forward to trying some of the other roastings by Salterbroscoffee.  A bag of Honduran medium-dark roast is waiting patiently in the cupboard.

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Brekky with a freshly made banana nut/oatmeal muffin.
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FLAVOR: Sweet Overall, With Lemongrass, Plum, Light Nougat
ACIDITY: Crisp
BODY: Rich Medium to Full Body
AROMA: Sweet Brown Sugar, Black Tea, Anise
ALTITUDE: 1,200-1,600 Meters
SOIL: Volcanic