The fair is over and families with children are already turning their thoughts to getting ready for back-to-school, which makes us think of fall, while in truth, we have many weeks of summer left in Indiana.
The local farmers' market has been open since late spring, but now is when the bulk of summer produce is available and at it's best. Whether you grow your own produce or enjoy the harvests of others, now is a great time to enjoy wonderful locally grown tomatoes, corn, green beans and more.
If you have extra produce and are planning to freeze or can some of it for future use, be sure to follow reliable USDA approved recipes and directions. While it will be great to pull out and enjoy some of this summer's tomatoes and beans later in the year, it isn't worth a case of food poisoning, some of which can be deadly. If you have questions about how to process your produce, contact the Extension Office for reliable information . Better to be safe than sorry.
Also, if you are going to be canning beans or anything else that requires pressure canning rather than a hot water bath, remember that it is a good idea to have the gauge on your pressure canner tested periodically. The Extension Office provides this service free of charge to Putnam County residents. You can call ahead for an appointment or bring your canner to the office and leave it for a day or two so that it can be tested.
One vegetable that grows prolifically in Putnam County is zucchini. So much so that the punch line of my favorite joke is that the only time you need to lock your car in Indiana is the months of July and August because you might come back and find it full of zucchini. The good news is that there are many ways that zucchini can be prepared other than the ever popular zucchini bread. Because zucchini doesn't have a strong flavor on its own, it works well when combined with other ingredients to make a wide variety of dishes including, relishes, casseroles, soups, breads, and cakes etc.
A carrot cake mix makes this a quick and easy cake to prepare and bake. Frost with cream cheese icing or dust with powdered sugar.
Easy carrot zucchini cake
* 1/3 cup vegetable oil
* 4 large eggs
* 1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineabpple with juice, undrained
* 1 box (18 ounces) carrot cake mix with pudding in the mix
* 1 medium zucchini, unpeeled, grated, (about 1 ½ cups)
* 1 cup chopped pecans
* 1/2 cup flaked coconut, optional
Heat oven to 350 --grease and flour a 13x9x2-inch or 10-inch round baking pan.
With an electric mixer, beat oil and eggs together. Beat in the pineapple with juice and the cake mix. Stir in the zucchini, nuts, and coconut, if using. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the cake bounces back when touched lightly with a finger.
For more information on food preservation, contact the Putnam County Office of the Purdue Extension Service at 653-8411 or stop in the office at 209 W. Liberty Street, Rm. 5, Greencastle, IN 46135. Or check out our website at www.extension.purdue.edu/putnam to view the most up to date information about programs that are being offered. It is always best to call ahead to be sure the items you want or the person you wish to see is available. Many publications are free, but some do have a small fee.
Aug. 7-23: Indiana State Fair
Aug. 10: Extension Homemaker lesson "Taste of Italy", Extension Office, 7 p.m.
Aug. 18: Master Gardener Classes Begin, Greencastle, 6 p.m.
Aug. 25: Extension Homemakers District Meeting at McCormick's Creek State Park
Aug. 26-27: Drainage 101, Indy
Sept. 14: Ext. Homemaker lesson "Rice Is Nice" Extension Office, 1 p.m.
Sept. 15: Energy Conservation Program, Rockville, 6 p.m.