Lemon and Zucchini Muffins

Lemon and Zucchini Muffins

The rain has come and settled in, ready for a long stay so today was the perfect day to do some baking.  Our kitchen reno is so close to being finished: only the flooring and tiling of the backsplash are left to go. This means I finally have my new bench tops in place and it’s been W-O-N-D-E-R-F-U-L.

I mean, we were making do before but it was a tad depressing trying to ‘clean up’ a makeshift MDF board bench that literally soaks up and displays all the stains…

But anyway, enough about that for now. I will do a proper reveal of the finished kitchen on my channel in the future.  Now let’s get down to business, and by business, I mean Lemon and Zucchini muffins.

These little cakes are so fluffy and moist thanks to the addition of the zucchini. (Moist. That word everyone seems to hate. But seriously, have you looked it up in the thesaurus? Moist wins out of all the other options by far. Like, damp and soggy? No thank you!)

I added wholemeal flour to add some texture, and a little more fibre, a mere hint of cinnamon plus plenty of lemon zest for a tangy kick. These muffins as they are, freeze really well and make an excellent lunchbox filler.

Then top with a tart and tangy lemon glaze and you’re all set!

The batter makes enough for 12 standard sized muffins or a 23 cm round cake tin, though the baking time will have to be extended if making this as one cake.

I only added a simple lemon glaze on top to reduce the sugar amount a little, but if you were going all out then these would be excellent with a thick cream cheese icing.

Lemon and Zucchini Muffins

Ingredients:

1 cup granulated sugar
zest of 2 lemons plus juice
1 cup coconut oil or other cooking oil
3 eggs
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2  tsp baking soda
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup wholemeal flour
1 cup grated zucchini

Lemon glaze:

Juice of 1-2 lemons
1 cup icing sugar

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line a standard 12 muffin tin with paper cases.

In a large bowl combine the sugar and lemon zest. Rub together with your fingers until the oils in the lemon zest are released. Add the lemon juice, eggs and oil and beat well until combined.

In a separate bowl, sieve together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir well to ensure it’s all mixed well together.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and fold in well. Fold in the grated zucchini.

Spoon the finished batter into the muffin cases. They should be filled just over 3/4 full.

Bake for 20 minutes. Leave them to cool and make the glaze by combining the lemon juice and icing sugar until it makes a thick but runny glaze.

Once the muffins are cool, drizzle with the glaze.*

*if you are freezing the muffins, omit the glaze. It doesn’t freeze that well.

Happy baking!

 

EVEN EASIER: Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar from Apple Scraps

EVEN EASIER: Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar from Apple Scraps

One of my favourites and easiest ways to use up excess apples is making your own ACV: apple cider vinegar. I wrote this post at the start of the year and have since revised how I make my ACV, so here is the new and improved way!

You’ve all heard of the benefits of apple cider vinegar right? All the probiotics and enzymes  in there help balance your blood sugar, increase weight loss, reduces blood pressure…

Apple cider vinegar has been around for centuries and was traditionally made from pressed apple juice. Using apple juice is a great way to make ACV and that’s how I’m making it today,  but don’t think you have to use whole apples on this. This way is still using only apple scraps! (Though obviously, if you have too many apples, by all means use the whole thing!)

When I used to make it previously I would weigh the apple scraps down underneath filtered water, add in some sugar and let it sit. This way does work but you have to make sure all the scraps are held under water and you need to add a little sugar.

Now, all I’m doing is juicing my apple cores and peels. Even just these parts of the apple make a substantial amount of juice. You can add in some filtered water to bulk it out though if you want to make more. This new way needs no added sugar, and you don’t need to hold anything under water. The only maintenance is to scrape off any apple juice scum for the first couple of days as it rises to the top. It’s also a brilliant way to add in different types of fruit scraps for some exciting vinegar flavours such as feijoa, berries, pears, kiwifruit, stone fruits.

Once your scraps have been juiced, let it sit for a while so all the thick fruit scum rises to the top. You’ll want to separate this from the liquid. Scrape off what you can, then pour the rest through a cheesecloth, into a sterilised glass jar.

Now you can bulk it out with some filtered water if you like, don’t add more water than fruit juice though or it will be too diluted. Then you can in some already made vinegar to speed things up (both these are optional.)

Then cover your container with a cheesecloth or paper towels. You definitely want there to be airflow happening when you are fermenting, otherwise, you’ll have an explosion on your hands!

Store this mixture in a warm, dark place for about 3-6 weeks. I keep mine in the cupboard under the stairs. Every couple of days in the first week or two, I’ll check the scum that has risen to the top and scrape it off. If I added in some already made vinegar, the chance of this scum growing mouldy is minimal but if you’re making it completely from scratch, then you’ll need to scrape it off.  After the first week or two, you probably won’t need to scrape it anymore. It may form a white or grey topping,  or a scoby on top are fine to leave.

After a couple of weeks, you can start to taste your vinegar. Once it tastes to your liking you can bottle it. If you added no extra vinegar the process will take at least 4-6 weeks. With vinegar it’s as little as 3 weeks.

*Notes*

  • You may see a white or grey scum forming on the top of your vinegar. This is absolutely normal and is just a sign of the fermenting process. If mould grows it doesn’t mean all is lost. If it’s grey or fuzzy scoop it off before it has a chance to affect the taste of the vinegar. If dark green/black, discard the vinegar and start again.
  • A SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast) may occasionally form on top of your vinegar. This is just all the good bacteria combined in this squidgy little disc. (And yes, you can make kombucha from this SCOBY.)
  • Your vinegar will look cloudy and there will be remnants swirling around in there. These may form into another sort of squidgy disc but this one stays under the surface.  This is the vinegar ‘mother’. Both the SCOBY and the Mother of Vinegar are a collection of acetic bacteria (the bacteria that oxidise the sugar and turn it into alcohol) contained in a cellulose structure, but the SCOBY contains yeast while the vinegar mother does not.
    The yeast causes carbonation. This is why kombucha made with a SCOBY is fizzy, while a vinegar with the mother is not.
  • You can absolutely make fruit vinegar with other types of fruit, the possibilities are endless! Apple cider vinegar is mainly so popular because of the abundance of apples. Try pear cider vinegar or plum!

 

Summer in the Garden- February to do List

Summer in the Garden- February to do List

The last month of summer is already here! Time goes so quickly, especially when you plan around the seasons. There is always something to do or prepare for.

What to sow this month: Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, bok choy, carrots, beetroot, leeks, spring onions, lettuce, fennel, swedes, turnips, parsnips

What to plant from seedlings: Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, basil, coriander, leeks, fennel

February has to be one of the most rewarding months for the NZ vegetable garden. Your summer crops will be ripening quickly in the heat and you may find yourself overloaded with produce. Finding ways to preserve your excess fruits and vegetables is one of my favourite things to do and it means you can enjoy your homegrown bounty all year round.  I have been canning, dehyrdating and fermenting and it’s been so fun! I’m working on a few favourite recipes to share in the future.

In the Garden

Just because Autumn is around the corner, doesn’t mean the heat is stopping. February is one of the hottest months in NZ, and judging from how this summer has been so far, this February won’t be an exception.Therefore, keeping your garden hydrated is still at the top of the list.*

*Do remember though: a deep longer watering is better than many quick ones. This will ensure the water has time to actually reach the plant roots.

Liquid Fertilisers

Keep on top of liquid feeding! I make all my own liquid fertilisers (see my post here), and in summer I need to replenish my supply regularly as I am using it so often. Liquid feeding your plants every one to two weeks in summer is great to give them that extra boost they need to keep producing.

Seed Saving

Some of your leafy greens and herbs that are not so heat tolerant may start bolting and going to seed. Try your hand at seed saving so you can resow these next season. Leave the seeds on the plant to dry out completely before cutting them down and placing them in a brown paper bag. Keep your seeds in a cool, dry, dark place until you are ready to use them.

If you are wanting to seed save from plants such as zucchini or cucumber, wait until the plant is nearing the end of its life before letting one vegetable grow to full size. This is because, if the plant is putting its energy into growing a zucchini to full size, it’ll put less energy into producing more flowers and produce for you.

Once you have harvested a decent amount, let a few of the healthiest vegetables on the plant grow to full size. Zucchinis will grow huge and their skin will harden when they are mature. Cucumbers will turn yellow. Once mature, you can scoop the seeds out from the middle and wash them well to remove the pulp. The same goes for pumpkin seed saving. Once collected, let the seeds dry out completely on a tray before storing in a dry, cool and dark place.

Beans seeds can be collected by letting the pods dry completely on the vine until they rattle when you shake them.  

Prepping autumn garden beds

My own garden is still very full of summer crop so I don’t have a lot of room to start preparing yet but I do make the most of each little space that comes up and I have prepared a few small sections for some of my autumn crops.

Your soil will have been very busy and depleted over summer so you want to add nutrients back in. Spread a layer of rich organic matters such as leaf mould, worm castings, aged manure or seaweed over your soil. I use a deep mulching method in my garden so I don’t work any of this stuff ‘in’ to the soil. I place it on top and then plant right into it. This layer also works as a barrier for weeds. 

Autumn Seedlings 

Start off your brassica and leek seedlings now if you haven’t already done so. If you are planting out any brassica seedlings already, be aware the white butterfly is still out so it pays to cover them with a net.

Strawberry Runners

Your strawberries will be producing many runners around this time. Once these runners have rooted you can snip them off the parent plant and replant them as their own individual plant. A strawberry plant does its best producing in the first three years, so it’s a good idea to replace the older plants with some of these new plants.

Compost

At this time of year, I have a whole heap of compost piles. It’s so easy to just throw any green waste in a pile. Any leaves I chop back, or plants I pull out all get dumped (semi-nicely) in a pile. I mix it in with some carbon (dead leaves, straw, hay) and let it do its thing. Because they are dotted all around my garden, once it has broken down I can use it straight in the garden without having to cart it around too far.

If your plants were hit by any diseases such as blight or curley leaf , or were plagued by pysllids, do not compost these leaves to avoid spreading these problems to next season. Instead, burn or bin these infected leaves.

Want to see my personal February garden to do? Watch the video below.

Happy gardening!

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