Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Zucchini Quesadillas

Well I am reaping zucchini big time now, baby!!!

It all started happening so fast.  One day I was doing some serious "distress" research - my zucchini were looking like they were going to be a giant, colossal, prickly, garden-space-hogging failure.  They began just fine, but were ending in a stumpy mess.  However my computer legwork revealed that what was happening was probably squash blossom rot, a sad result of the abundant rainfall we'd recently received.  I just had to sit tight and see if the dry-out time would give them what they needed to recover.  Sure enough, I wound up with what we dubbed "big woman arms of zucchini."

We've had zucchini sauteed in garlic, fried zucchini, zucchini fritters, and zucchini bread.  After giving a few arms away, we shredded up the rest, bagged them in three to four cup increments, and tucked them away in the freezer for winter baking.  Still, the zukes keep coming.  So the other day I decided to tuck them into one of our favorite quick lunch items - quesadillas.  Wow, did this pump up the umph factor!  Snack, nibble, or dine on these tasty tidbits for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or whenever.

Zucchini Quesadillas

2 T olive oil
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1/4 cup onion, shaved in slivers
1 medium zucchini
1/4 cup cut up cilantro
8 flour tortillas
raw cheddar cheese (or whatever cheese your family prefers)

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan, toss in the garlic, and stir around for 1 minute.  Add in the onions and saute a minute or two more, till the onion starts softening a bit.  Now add in the zucchini, salting and peppering to taste.  Continue to stir around so that all is evenly cooked.  Toss in the cilantro at the end and stir to distribute.  Place four tortillas on the counter, sprinkle with cheese, then generously divide the zucchini mixture between them, spreading over the surface of each.  Sprinkle a tad more cheese on top to create good sticking power for the top tortilla.
Normally, we cook our quesadillas on a dry surface of a frying pan or comal.  This time, however, I drizzled another fry pan with olive oil, allowed it to heat up, and then placed a ready quesadilla in the pan.  This created a crisp, toasty, fried tortilla.  Your tortilla might begin to rise just a bit as the air pockets within fill with a bit of steam - yummy!  Flipping it over once the first side has achieved golden perfection, I toasted the other side.  Quarter with a sharp knife and serve with salsa and sour cream - and feel good about interjecting some yummy green veggies into your day!

Shared at Works For Me Wednesdays and Simple Lives Thursday

Monday, June 25, 2012

Give Me This Mountain

On my quest to becoming a passable gardener, I'd begun to routinely come across a suggestion for how to get a boatload of mulch.  It was advised that I contact tree removal services and ask if they would be willing to stop by my house after a job and give me the ground up trees.  After watching the wonderful Back To Eden video, I was convinced that this was the way to go.  However, seeing as we live way back in a cul-de-sac of an extensive neighborhood, we don't exactly fit the bill as a convenient drop-off spot.  We'd actually had some trees of our own cut down a few months back, before I knew enough to keep what we had and so we missed out big time.  You can believe I kicked myself over that one for quite a while.  I've been determined now to make some calls and see what I could accomplish.

Well, what should show up one morning last week but some handy-dandy fellas in bright orange ready to cut down a neighbor's tree and shred it into a zillion little pieces!  If you've never been out here to NC, when I say "a tree" I'm talking about a timber roughly four stories tall.  So I ran out and put a note under the windshield wiper blade of one of the trucks, politely requesting a truckload of their wood chips.  These gentlemen were quite happy to comply - and I was thrilled!  I looked at it and laughed, "Oh yeah... Yes, give me this mountain!"

The choice of words comes from a passage in the Bible.  Many will be familiar with the story of the twelve Israelites being sent in to spy out the land the Lord was going to give them.  Ten of them were scaredy-cat nay-sayers, but the other two (Joshua and Caleb) urged the people to go forward in faith.  It's quite a story, wonderfully told here.  Well, the forty years of desert wandering followed.  And then we come to the point where the people are all gearing up to give entry into this promised land another go.  Caleb is ready!  He recalls the Lord's promise to him, via Moses: 

"The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly."

Now he requests, "Give me this mountain promised to me that day...."

Well back to our little plot of land in NC... This was our third and final day for my kids to complete their annual standardized tests, so we went back inside and gathered around the dining room table.  They got settled in to start on their last section; I sat down to eat my lunch and check some e-mails in the quiet of test-taking time.  Opening one from a friend, I began reading.  My eyes dragged across words.  My bones turned to water and my stomach began quick, repetitive somersaults.  The trust we'd been building over the past nine months slowly toppled and fell in slow motion with a silent jolt and crash.  Outwardly, I cheerfully started the timer and took a bite of my sandwich, forcing a facade of normalcy to my voice and face.  

Life is like this.  One moment all is normal and right.  With the next phone call, knock on the door, conversation overheard, letter opened, turn taken, decision made - all can be undone and turned topsy-turvy.  We shake and tremble and try to get our bearings as the ground beneath our feet rolls.  And we know - we are not in control.

God is not like this.  He is eternally faithful and reliable, and this is no more important to us than when our own personal world begins to waver and wobble.  He is in control.

My appreciation for the timing of the deliverance of this pile of mulch in my driveway grew to new proportions.  I needed something big and major to occupy my children for a spell so that I could have some time to process and wrestle with this stomach twister.  They alternated shoveling up and rolling back wheelbarrows between the front and back of the house.  Inside, I went to the pages of deep prayer in Valley of Vision and was reminded that my cross is not to be compared to that of Christ's.  At length, I sent the kids inside in to make a simple salad and grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner; and I began my own turn at the mountain.  I poured out my anger, feelings of betrayal, outrage, and hurt.  I turned bewildered eyes to Him, not understanding, but trying to.  I petitioned for help; I searched my soul; I returned with confessions; I asked for forgiveness; I returned once again seeking guidance. As I wheeled the shavings and splinters of wood and prayed aloud, I thankfully coined this providential provision "cross therapy."  As the sweat built up, my heart considered others I know who are carrying far greater crosses than my own, bearing serious, serious burdens as well.  This brought perspective to my troubles - not minimizing them, but serving to widen my scope of vision beyond the expanse of my own hardships.

I picked up a piece of the mammoth tree I was shoveling into my wheelbarrow and turned it over, feeling the rough harshness of it.  Not only are the crosses we bear nowhere near approaching the weight and measure of The Cross; they are, quite simply, a small part of His cross.  "My cross" is one of those wood chips, a recognized, fragmentary bit of the whole.

My words earlier in the day had been a somewhat joking reference to Caleb, from Judges 14.  He'd said these same words, referring to a relational promise that the Lord had made at an earlier time.  Caleb had wholly followed the Lord, his God; in response Moses told him, " The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly."  With the Lord's help, his goal was to take the victory for God's glory.  

May I have a faith to rival that of Caleb, for my own sake as well as that of my children, and for God's glory.  Pushing my wheelbarrow of  "mountain" forward, carrying my cross ... with the Lord's help.

Shared with Titus 2sdays

Monday, June 11, 2012

It's Not Easy Being A Blogger

I saw this title via another blog I follow, but when I went to read it... well, have you ever expected to relate to somebody because of a shared experience and when you get to talking you find out that what you feel is nothing like what they feel.  So I'm blogging about this from my own place.

Top 7 Reasons I Find It Hard To Blog

  1. I get off my routine.  I had a good groove going, shooting for Sunday night or Monday morning as my time frame when I could fit in writing a post without feeling that I was taking too much time away from my dear husband and kiddos.  Then I went to Texas for a long overdue visit with my family, came back and had a full week's schedule waiting to be tackled as I hit the ground running, while trying to do the post-trip decompression.  Heck, things have been a bit hectic and off kilter ever since. 
  2. Change of Calendar Season.  I know it's not officially Summer yet, but it's felt like it to me for two months now.  Only thing is, I've been sort of vacillating between the calendar on my wall and the one in my mind.  So I don't have a clear plan formulated for these months "in-between" one school year and the next.  It's desperately lacking and interfering with my ability to blog, among other things.
  3. Inspiration eludes me.  Simple writer's block, old as pictograms and cuneiform.
  4. Too many ideas when there's not enough time.  I jot them down when I can; then I come back later and check on them.  Some are rightful gems; however, more were silly court jesters masquerading as wordy valedictorians.
  5. Illumination and Energy are on different schedules.  I often feel the tickles and tingles of imagination sparkling like fireflies, coming on just around the time dusk begins to settle.  But I'm also entering a season of feeling as tuckered out as a toddler once the sun snuggles down for the night.
  6. Doubt.  I thought this might be a good moment to interject a quote so I looked around online. Funny how around half of the words confessing one's self-hesitancy and misgivings are written by writers.  Point made.
  7. I can't talk about it.  The balance between being open and forthright on the one hand, yet considerate of the privacy of others is ever present before me.  And sometimes the latter area of my life is so tremendously large and consuming, I find it to be rather a dis-service to these weighty issues to attempt blogging about the more modest routines of life that are helping me get by.  
  8. You name it.  I know this is a list of The Top 7, my favorite number, but then this last one knocked and demanded entry.  All too often there's something - another hobby, a particularly trying child, hospitalizations, the freezer konks out and I'm forced to marathon cook for three days, whatever.  Its the unexpected arrival or intrusion of something that squeezes out or necessarily minimizes Life's other activities and obligations.  For the past two weeks its been Japanese Beetles - you know the buggers?
My mojo has been missing for a while now, but just blogging about it has helped.  

Thanks, ya'll.