Fare Exchange: Chattanooga-area cooks serve up zucchini fried, baked and in pizza bites

Good morning, fare companions. Today's request, which could be answered in multiple ways, came from a young mother who corrals four little ones and, at day's end, is out of menu ideas. "Help," she said. "I can't think of anything to cook. I need recipes and menu ideas. They will need to feed little ones with simple appetites and a husband who likes a tasty meat entrée."


FRY IT UP

Rhonda McDaniel is already thinking about fall and things like pumpkins and spice. But then she wrote, "Even so, produce abounds in late summer and should never be wasted. To me, what I am sending does not even qualify as a recipe. But it recently occurred to me that what I consider simple may be like an unknown planet to others. So I am submitting my steps for making fried okra and squash and of course zucchini if you please."

She adds: "To me, okra is a bit easier to coat and brown. The cornmeal coating does not cling as well to squash, but when done, it still tastes really good. My grandmother always said squash will be scrambled if it is overly turned and stirred. Not being a perfectionist, I am not at all bothered by scrambled squash."

Fried Okra, Squash or Zucchini

2 pounds squash or okra

About 1/2 cup diced sweet raw onion

Salt and black pepper

3/4 to 1 cup cornmeal

1/4 cup or more canola oil

Cut squash or okra into about 1-inch rounds into a large bowl, discarding stems or ends. Add raw onion, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add cornmeal, and mix well. (I shake this mixture up in a plastic bowl with a lid.) Heat canola oil in a large skillet. When oil is heated but not popping, carefully pour in squash or okra and cover with lid. Stir and turn in about 4 to 5 minutes as it begins to brown. Continue to turn and brown as it becomes as brown as you like. (I like mine crispy.)

(READ MORE: Fried okra, beyond the batter)


READY TO JAM

Patrick Hunter has been experimenting in his North Georgia kitchen. "It is pepper jam time in Rock Spring, and I wanted to share this," he writes. "I took from other recipes in various cookbooks, and created my own, a mouthful of fruit in every bite. I have made 'sweet pepper' jam with sweet banana and bell, 'spicy pepper' jam with hot banana and jalapeno, and a mixture of both. Staying with one color (green, red, even orange using bell and habanero) makes for a brilliantly colored jam."

Pepper Jam

6 to 12 fleshy big peppers (more if they are small)

1 cup vinegar, divided

5 cups sugar

2 packets Certo liquid pectin

Remove stems, seeds and thick membranes from peppers. Put pieces into a 32-ounce bullet blender container (or any blender). Add vinegar. Blend/puree it down pretty well. Repeat with another 32-ounce blender container and another 1/2 cup vinegar. Put pepper/vinegar mix, along with sugar, into a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, and cook on low for 10 minutes. Add both packs of pectin. Bring to a hard rolling boil for 1 minute. Ladle into hot jars, cap and seal. Makes 6 to 7 half-pints. Great on a biscuit, with cream cheese or on a pork roast.

(READ MORE: This shrimp po'boy hits all the right notes)


ZUCCHINI FAVES

Teri Purvis is grateful for many good recipes shared by you in Fare Exchange and today, in return, sent in two of her favorites. (I love it when you send recipes just because they are your favorites; that is the best of recommendations.)

(READ MORE: Zucchini surplus? 5 fresh ways to enjoy summer squash, from skillet lasagna to harvest bowl)

Stuffed Zucchini

6 small zucchini, cut in half lengthwise

10 diced mushrooms

1 stalk celery, diced fine

2 tablespoons onion, chopped

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon basil

1 teaspoon garlic salt

1 tablespoon Parmesan

1/2 cup bread crumbs

More Parmesan cheese for sprinkling on top

Bake halves of zucchini, skin side up, until tender. Cool. Sauté mushrooms, celery and onion in vegetable oil and basil until tender. Add pulp of zucchini, garlic salt, 1 tablespoon Parmesan and breadcrumbs. Mix with diced vegetables. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake 15 to 20 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Zucchini Pizza Bites

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 zucchini, cut into ¼-inch thick rounds

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/3 cup marinara sauce

1/2 cup finely grated mozzarella

1/4 cup pepperoni minis

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning (optional)

Heat oven to broil. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add zucchini and cook, flipping once, until golden, 1 to 2 minutes on each side. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Place zucchini rounds onto a large baking sheet. Top each zucchini round with marinara, mozzarella and pepperoni minis. Place into oven, and cook until the cheese has melted, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve immediately, sprinkled with Italian seasoning, if desired. Makes 8 servings.


CARROTS WITH GRAPES

Last week we spoke of family cookbooks — whether in print or in an online version. The combination of carrots and grapes that follows came from one such collection. In this case, Sara Friedman added to her husband's family treasury. That is the way it works — two people combine resources and create their own curated gift to the next generation. Long ago somebody advised a bride to learn to cook like her mother-in-law, not her own mother. As with much advice, this one depends on the mother and the mother-in-law. And why limit that advice to the maternal side? How about, instead, "Learn to cook like your in-laws, not your own parents." Better still: "Open your mind, your heart and your kitchen to both sides of any family to which you belong."

(READ MORE: Carrot curiosity: Finding new ways to cook the veggie Mom always said was good for you)

Candied Carrots

¼ cup butter

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1/3 cup honey

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

3 cups cooked, sliced carrots

1 cup green or red seedless grapes, halved

Melt butter, and blend in cornstarch. Add honey, lemon juice and cinnamon. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture boils. Add glaze to carrots and grapes. Stir to mix.

Next week? Yes, please.


REQUESTS

— Simple dishes to please children and their meat-loving dad


TO REACH US

Fare Exchange is a longtime meeting place for people who love to cook and love to eat. We welcome both your recipes and your requests. Be sure to include precise instructions for every recipe you send, and know we cannot test the recipes printed here.

Mailing address: Jane Henegar, 913 Mount Olive Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750

E-mail: chattfare@gmail.com

photo Jane Henegar


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