Thursday, June 28, 2012

Gourd Bowls & Oven Fried Zucchini

I can't believe I haven't posted anything in a month. Time sure flies. I was working like a mad person through most of May and June, though, trying to finish up any work for my now ex-job, which basically ended on June 20th. I hear commercials on the radio while listening to Mets games about retirement. All these jolly people chuckle and say really stupid things like, now I have no more homework, or we call it Jubilation [not retirement]. I guess retirement is a whole lot different. Since anyone who has read my earlier posts knows, I have a real hard time getting seriously depressed, although maybe not such a hard time getting slightly neurotic. I did get a bit moody back in March, and sad again in May as the job was starting to really wind down. It felt like someone had died. After 18 years, you have an attachment that's hard to break and I admit I cried some. Rick had bought me a bunch of really cool stuff on Mother's Day to make copper jewelry and shawl pins so I could focus on something else. But for my birthday in early June he got me a super cool, incredibly awesome, pyrography burner called an Optima 1. I didn't even know something like it existed! He has got to be the best husband ever. (Remind me I said that when he annoys me.) I woodburn his Navajo spindles, so this new machine will make it easier to get more detailed, plus it's just more fun. He also bought some gourds for me to decorate and I just finished burning a design on a small gourd, using colored pencils to add a touch of color, and then applying an acrylic sealant. I posted it on my etsy shop. I have no idea if selling shawl pins or pyrographed gourd bowls is going to provide any kind of income, but it's been gratifying to get my old artistic juices flowing and to not be sitting in front of a computer screen all day. I am having fun!!!
Bottom view of my gourd bowl

I do need a routine or structure of sorts. Hmmm . . . maybe a bad choice of words, but a groove for my days so I can be more productive. I've only sporadically set the sun oven outside because I haven't been able to concentrate on getting dinner going in the morning or early afternoon. I always cook from scratch, but it's been a bit chaotic as I rush around trying to accomplish way too much and getting nothing really done -- or what feels like a whole lot of nothing. Sheesh! Dinner keeps getting started at 6:00pm with the thought, "What can I cook in half an hour?" I did do a bit in the solar oven yesterday. I put some greens from the garden, minced onion, 1/4 cup chicken broth, minced garlic, and a few bits of bacon in one pot, and in the other pot I placed a few sausage links drizzled with olive oil. Today, though, I was back to starting dinner after everyone was already hungry, but I managed to cook penne a la vodka and some oven baked zucchini sticks in short order. The zucchini sticks have just become a favorite, as they are super easy and make a great side.

Oven Baked Zucchini Sticks

2 medium zucchini, cut into fat french fry style "sticks"
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
a tablespoon or two of freshly grated parmesan cheese
dash of fresh or dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons of mustard

I'm kind of guessing on amounts, since I rarely really measure. But after I cut the zucchini I threw it into a tupperware bowl and drizzled oil and mustard into the bowl. Then I covered it and shook it real well until the zucchini sticks were coated (healthier than using an egg). In a separate bowl I mixed the breadcrumbs, grated cheese, and spices. I rolled the mustardy-oily zucchini sticks in the breadcrumb mixture and placed them on a parchment covered baking tray. Bake the zucchini sticks in a 450ยบ oven for 20 to 30 minutes. Just keep checking until they look golden brown.