I should start with mentioning that I’ve felt rather absent from the blog of late. I still seem to be posting quite a bit, but it’s been a bit of a struggle. I’ve been otherwise occupied with an online, interactive photography class. Remember the fancy new camera I bought a couple of months ago? That purchase compelled me to learn manual mode. The class started last week. It’s four weeks in duration and it’s intended to teach manual basics. Last week I learned about the exposure triangle and figured out how to adjust the aperture, shutter speed and ISO on my camera. I also learned about histograms. There were reading assignments, videos to watch and photographs to take and post for critique. The photos in this post are some of my efforts over the last week and a half.
This week we’re focusing on aperture. And there’s reading and videos and assignments. I’m enjoying it. Some days it makes my head hurt. Other days it makes me scratch my head. Other days I find myself saying, “Ohhhh…I get it. Wait…do I get it?” I’ve been struggling a bit this week because, while I understand the concept of aperture, trying to practice it while making sure that everything from last week doesn’t fall out of my head is….hard.
I am finding that my work schedule is interfering with my desire to educate myself photographically. And I’ve definitely been hanging in the blog scene less, though probably still writing more than many. Because I just can’t help myself. I’ve also noticed that, for some reason, over the last few weeks the number of views and likes on the blog has, well, tanked. Not sure what’s up with that, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that it’s a little discouraging. So, the class came at a welcome time.
Anywho, I wanted to tell you about the bag of goodies I found on my desk when I got to work this morning. A bag of zucchini, summer squash, turnips and a green bell pepper. A co-worker’s neighbor has a big garden and gives vegetables away to any takers. This takes me straight back to my childhood.
My Grandfather had an insurance business in the town I grew up in. Auto, home, etc. That kind of insurance. It eventually became a family affair: my Dad became an agent and my Mom the secretary. Later, Mom became an agent, too, Grandpa retired, my Aunt became the secretary and Dad & Mom bought the business and ran it until they retired. In previous posts I’ve referenced the large garden we planted on my Grandparent’s property when I was a kid. Large gardens produce large amounts of garden goodies…some more appreciated than others.
Take zucchini. How many people do you know, by mid-summer, are willing to pay people to take zucchini off their hands? Are they offering you their corn? Their tomatoes? Their broccoli? No. But, if you’d like a zucchini as long as your arm they have a half-dozen they’re happy to give you.
Zucchini are a bit like cockroaches…no matter the season, be it rainy and mild or dry and hot, zucchini will prosper. You can’t kill zucchini plants. At least not in the Pacific Northwest. When I was a kid we were always given strict instructions about how many zucchini seeds we were to put in each hill (I think it was either 6 or 8). I personally always tossed in a few extra, “Just in case.” Just in case of what? Nuclear fallout?
So, we were “those people.” The ones giving zucchini away to any takers. However, we had the benefit of an office. Yup. It was not uncommon to see a cardboard box in the lobby of the family insurance business with zucchini in it. If clients inquired about the contents they were invited to help themselves. Undoubtedly, some would stop by expecting to walk away with some kind of vegetable (likely zucchini).
Over the last few years I have experienced a zucchini drought. We’ve not attempted zucchini in our little garden and there just don’t seem to be a lot of gardeners in the circles I run with. And, our summer trips to visit the family are often before high vegetable season (though this year we’re going in August, so I may get to pilfer the garden). Therefore, if I overhear someone talking about giving vegetables away I have no problem piping up and asking to be included.
That’s what brought me to today’s bag of goodies: I happened to be strolling an aisle of the office last week and noticed a couple of summer squash on someone’s desk. I asked her where she got them and she pointed me to “the source.” And, the delightful part of it all is that the zucchini were picked while still small, which is how I prefer them (before the seeds grow to the size of pumpkin seeds). Sometimes our giveaway zucchini was of the “as long as your arm” variety. This happened most often if we all left town for a few days, or if one “hid” and went unnoticed for a while. If you ask the family they would likely swear that zucchini has the capacity to triple in size over night.
I’m not sure what to do with the turnips. To be honest, I don’t know that I’ve ever eaten turnips. Of course, up until a year or so ago I thought that I didn’t like beets or brussel sprouts, so perhaps I’ll have a similar moment of enlightenment with turnips. I’ll definitely have to make a sweet with some of the zucchini this weekend. I’m fond of zucchini bread or muffins or whatever, and that’s the only way the husband will eat zucchini. I also like to slice it, dip it in a little egg and a mixture of either breadcrumbs and grated parmesan or panko and parmesan and bake it in the oven. I also have a recipe for a crust-less zucchini quiche that I’ve been eyeing. My go-to for summer squash (these are little yellow crooked necks) is a simple pasta dish. Newman’s has a spicy spaghetti sauce called Sockarooni. I like to slice the squash, saute it in a little olive oil and garlic, dump the sauce in and add some fresh chopped basil. I toss it with angel hair pasta and top it with some parmesan. Comes together in about 15 minutes. Good stuff.
I don’t think I have enough zucchini or squash. Anyone have extras?