Camper Cooking: Container Grown Squash au Gratin

In my previous blog, I mentioned having leftover homegrown zucchini and yellow squash. We’re going to eat squash dishes all week with our harvest! I ❤ growing and eating my own food. Anyone with a space for a container can grow some vegetables, such as squash, or tomatoes, or peppers, or herbs. My chamomile plant went nutball, and we had to transplant it to a larger pot. I ❤ harvesting the flowers for chamomile tea!!! Gardening is fun. Hope you’ll try it!! Plus, with organic potting soil, you can rest assured you’re not eating agrochemicals. 🙂

Shane prefers his squash cooked, so I made a squash au gratin that was so good we had no leftovers!!!

It’s a super simple, light comfort food. And delicious like you wouldn’t believe! All you need are one and a half of the summer squashes. I used the remaining halves of my zucchini and yellow squash, and sliced up another yellow squash. I chopped 1/3 of a sweet yellow onion.

To make, layer the casserole dish by alternating the zucchini and yellow squash. Top with diced onion. Add a dash of herbs. Dot it with butter (from grass fed, pasture raised cows..better for the cow, for the environment, and for you) or vegan spread (look to see if it uses palm oil and if so check if it’s sustainable on RSPO or Green Palm. Unsustainable palm oil leads to deforestation and endangerment of tigers, orangutans, rhinos, and elephants). Sprinkle on mozzarella and cheddar cheese (grassfed and pasture raised!!!). Repeat the layering until you run out of casserole space. 🙂

Bake at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes, or until you feel the cheese is done to your liking, and the squash is a bit tender.

It serves 2. Maybe. Depends on if you’re sharing with someone like me who can’t eat a lot because having Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS) means my stretchy stomach triggers the full sensor nerve too early, and I have early satiety. Shane had to finish my plate. I’d had bigger eyes. 😛

Ingredients

  • 1.5 – 2 squashes
  • 1/3 onion
  • Herbs
  • Half a stick of butter
  • 1-2 C shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheese

Camper Cooking: Container Grown Zucchini and Squash Quesadillas

Growing your own food is a very rewarding task with delicious results! 🙂 This spring I planted some yellow summer squash and zucchini in a very large container. With all the rain, the plants went crazy and bloomed up a storm.

The first sign of fruit made me feel like a proud mama!

And I eagerly watched it grow…like a water balloon. Lol

Then I harvested my first summer squash and zucchini, and made the squash and tomato quesadillas. I wanted to try uncooked version of the fruit to see if I could tell the difference between store bought and homegrown.

Raw squashes retain more of their nutrients, especially vitamin C, and provide more energy because cooking reduces protein content as well. As long as the summer squashes aren’t bitter, they’re safe and healthy to consume raw or al dente. So enjoy this high antioxidant, low carb, nutrient rich, good for your heart, brain, and digestive health meal. 🙂

You’ll need 5 ingredients: squash, tomatoes (I used Lakeside heirloom but Roma variety is good too), Italian herbs, shredded mozzarella cheese (from grass-fed, pasture raised cows), and tortillas (I use a high fiber, low carb one).

An aside…Why grass-fed? Besides that’s what cows really like to eat and it packs in the omega 3’s, this protects the environment and biodiversity. 70% of the Amazonian deforestation is caused by growing soybeans to feed factory-farmed beef and dairy cattle. So if your cheese doesn’t come from grass-fed pasture raised cows, then you’re contributing to tropical rainforest and biodiversity loss on a big scale. Most people are unaware of this fact, which is why I bring it up. So I urge you to spend more on what you eat rather than save money on products that have very high environmental costs. Jaguars, ocelots, giant otters, macaws, monkeys, etc thank you!!! ❤

To make simply heat your tortilla on a pan, flip, add the cheese, squash, herbs, and tomatoes. Cook on low until cheese melts and before you crispify the tortilla. 🙂

Shane had never eaten rawish squash nor this quesadilla. New foods are sometimes not as agreeable, so he wasrt as excited as I was to eat these. Lol I ❤ these. To me, it’s like eating a cracker thin pizza. 🙂

Ingredients

  • 1-2 small yellow squash and zucchini
  • 2 tomatoes
  • Tsp herbs
  • Shredded mozzarella–enough to cover half a tortilla (depends on size of tortilla)
  • 2 tortillas

This seves 2 people. We used two squashes, but I had half of each leftover. Those turned into dinner the next night! So check out my other blog!!!

The Wanderful Life as a Professor

I’ve neglected my blog site. But I have good reason! The head of the environmental studies department at the University of Cincinnati asked if I could teach a class in the fall, then asked if I could teach two other classes in the spring and offered an annual position that comes with a lot more departmental responsibilities than simply teaching. I accepted! 🙂

I will develop 2 of the 3 classes. In the fall, I’ll teach an advanced topics course on food. I had discretion on the topic, so I chose food security and the future of farming. I’m very passionate about food and agriculture, especially those approaches that protect both food security, farmers, and especially the environment. Without healthy soils and adequate water, we will lose our ability to grow food. Rich biodiversity is important for our wellbeing, including our economy, as much as it is for natural landscapes. We need a variety in our diets too. So the traditional monoculture agriculture needs a revolution. 🙂 I’m still creating the lectures (2 more) and need to find scientific articles and videos for a few of the lectures.

It’s time consuming, and I’m actually teaching my Endangered Earth course now (online). I have 40+ students and 4 written assignments to grade each week. So you understand why I have been absent.

But I have hiked some. Not as much as I’d like. Too much rain and too many mosquitoes. My herbal armor insect spray works, but the swarms find the few spots you missed. And you can’t spray your eyeballs so…buzz buzz in your eyes!!! I swear they’re bigger this year too. Anyone else notice they’re turning into something Godzilla will fight???

We’re also growing some vegetables in containers. My squash and zucchini are doing awesome with all the rain! We did lose peas and spinach though. See diversity is important when growing food.

My chamomile has gone nutball too. 🙂 I’ve harvested flowers for tea!!!

Sunflowers have bloomed beneath the bird feeder and already attract the finches.

Even the fatties (aka mourning doves) think they can perch.

We had new arrivals to the feeder. A red-winged blackbird ((not pictured) and a red-bellied woodpecker.

As you can see, I spend a lot of time looking out the window while I work. Lol

I don’t know if the video will load, but I recorded a mama downy woodpecker feeding her offspring at the feeder!! ❤

After I finish working on my food course, I need to develop the natural resources and sustainability class. The other class is already established, and I just have to follow the textbook. Fir Wright State University, I need to develop a world geography course. It’ll be my first human geography course. I’m an environmental/physical geographer. Sounds like a lot right? But I love creating courses!! 🙂 I love teaching. So it’s still the Wanderful Life. 🙂

I’ll miss living in the camper in the winter, despite issues with the cold. See my older posts! 🙂 I’ll especially miss not being with Shane every day. He’s the wonderful in my Wanderful Life. ❤

We’ve visited the Pittsburgh Zoo, the science center, the Living Treasures (petting zoo), a couple putt putt places, and picked up a fun new hobby activity. Disc golf. They have lots of disc golf courses here!!

I’ll write again soon. Just know I’m still loving living in the camper and enjoying nature!! But I have to grade endangered species blogs now.

Camper Cooking: Blueberry Bliss (aka blueberry crisp with a yummy twist)

I ❤ blueberries, Nature’s skittles. 🙂

Luckily I can have berries on my low carb diet. But we had a lot of blueberries leftover after I made Shane a Waldorf salad with a twist (blueberries and blueberry yogurt), and I can’t eat enough before they’ll go bad. So I made a gluten-free crisp with a twist. 🙂

I’d guess I had somewhere between a cup and 2 cups of blueberries left from the 18 ounce carton. I apologize for not measuring! But use enough blueberries to fill an inch at least in a quart Corningware or half a ramekin. You could easily make a dessert to last for days, feed a group, or individually one day at a time. This recipe doesn’t need any science behind it. It’s an art. 😉

Basically this Blueberry Bliss is willy nilly, and oh so numnum!!!! I probably can’t reproduce what I’ve done, but it would turn out roughly the same yummy. I’ll guide you through my willy nilly steps. Pretend you’ve entered Willy Wonka’s factory. Just don’t turn into a blueberry! 😉

A dash of nutmeg sprinkled on the blueberries with a splash of lemon juice. You can add a little sugar, sweetener, or syrup, but ripe blueberries are sweet naturally so try to omit. I did add about a teaspoon of corn starch (organic, non-GMO) so the filling would thicken as it baked. Stir it magically or with a spoon/spatula. 😉

I used the rest of our oats. I think about a cup, maybe more. I didn’t even take them out of the canister. *snicker snort*

To this, I dumped in some cinnamon and finely chopped walnuts. Let’s say I chopped a cup’s worth. 🙂 Yep, I mixed it all up with my butcher knife. Told ya’. Willy nilly.

Then I melted what was left of my stick of butter. Hmmm, 6 tbs I believe. About-ish.

I added the crisp topping and blended into the melted butter. Then I had a BRIGHT IDEA!!! Why not add protein powder???

And there you have a nutritious protein-boost twist that lends a sweet vanilla flavor. 🙂 This I did measure because it comes with a scoop. I put in 2 scoops. 😀

All filled and topped, the blueberry bliss is ready for a 375* preheated oven!

I baked it for 40 minutes, and let it cool. Not too long though. I wanted my blueberry bliss warm!!!

Ingredients (about-ish measurements)

Filling

  • 1-2 pints of blueberries
  • 2 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • 1-2 tsp cornstarch

Topping

  • 1 c oats
  • 1 c chopped walnuts
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 scoops pea protein vanilla powder (contains monk fruit as a sweetener)

If you don’t want sugar free, add a tbs of sugar to the filling and 1 tbs brown sugar to topping.

Add whipped cream or ice cream to your crisp. Go willy nilly!! I have to eat mine naked. But….oh so sweet and yummilicious!!!!

Camper Cooking: Glaze N Blaze Veggie Kabobs (Vegan)

Warm weather at the campground means grilling, and it’s lighting up my food world! 🙂 I’m experimenting, of course, since I haven’t had a grill. But, I can say thus far grilled corn is the only way I ever want to eat it! I place the naked cob on the grill and baste in butter while it grills. Super sweet! So onward to other vegetarian grilled dinners!

I’ve been wanting to try veggie kabobs for the longest time. Finally had my chance, and wow, the results set our hearts aflame! As were the kabobs. Gloriously so. Lol

What set these veggie kabobs ablaze?

The glaze, of course. I basted the kabobs with balsamic vinaigrette.

Much to my surprise, being a newbie griller, flames burst upward as if I’d awakened a dragon. 🙂

Oops, ooooohhhh!

Turning the kabobs is both art and sport. 😛

If you can’t tell, I used zucchini, yellow squash, sweet onion, and baby bellas. I also used sustainable bamboo skewers. Just be careful not to torch the skewer in half while grilling. 🙂

Check out these sites for the health benefits of eating these veggie kabobs.

9 Reasons to Eat Zucchini

Benefits of Yellow Squash

Benefits of Baby Bella Mushrooms

Portobello Mushroom Benefits

Onions; Health Benefits

Basically these kabobs are swords, fighting inflammation and disease, guarding your health. And as low calorie, low carb food, you can slay a dragon’s worth for dinner!

We did ruin the vegan meal by adding grilled bread cheese. Feel free to keep it vegan friendly, and add marinated tofu to the kabobs for extra protein. Since I have EDS, I need more protein to repair and maintain muscles. Even with 2 vegan protein drinks daily, I don’t get the required protein. So I try to boost protein while keeping carbs low in every meal and snack. Though because breast cancer runs in my family, I limit soy. So…I don’t eat as much tofu as others can.

Ideally we all should eat for our body’s needs while balancing our ecological impact. A vegan, vegetarian, or Mediterranean diet has the lowest. Enjoy your food and world!!

Camper Cooking: Zoodles with Lemon Cream Sauce (low carb, gluten free, vegetarian/vegan option)

Oh how I ❤ zoodles. I want oodles and oodles of zoodles because they’re so goodles for me. 😛

When the supermarket puts zoodles on sale, you buy two! They’re not cheap otherwise. I couldn’t bring my spiralizer, so I’m stuck buying premade zucchini and squash noodles.

My preferred way to cook zoodles is to saute them with onion and spices in oil. I like them to carmelize a little for extra flavor. For this dish, cook your zoodles as you please: sauteed, boiled, microwaved, baked, or raw & uncooked. Simply cook until desired tenderness. I included Italian spices and garlic to my zoodles.

Since this would be a cream sauce, I sauteed my finely chopped onion in butter (from pasture-raised, grass-fed cows). Again I added Italian spices. Then the cream (from pasture-raised, grass-fed cows).

The vegan option is to make cashew cream. Soak and cover a cup of cashews in water for 4-12 hours in cold water, or 15 minutes in boiling water. Drain the water. In a blender, puree the soft cashews in 2/3 cup water, lemon juice, and sea salt. Cashews are high in carbs though, so this won’t be as low carb.

Most recipes call for a couple tablespoons of flour before adding the cream to make a white sauce roux, but I omitted to keep it low carb and gluten free. Add your zoodles to the pot too.

Now I know some of you are wondering how it thickens as a sauce to stick to the ladles of zoodles. Trust me, it will thicken naturally as you stir over heat. You must stir continuously or you risk burning the cream to the sauce pan. If you find the cream sauce isn’t thickening as quickly or to your liking, you can incorporate some parmesan cheese or textured vegetarian protein (TVP). Once thickened, dump in lemon juice. A lot. Make the zoodles turn into lemonoodles! (I should quit this, but it’s too fun for me. My apologies to you.) 🙂

It’s yummy lemonicious!! I could eat this every day I think. But I’m still waiting for another sale. They should stop their canoodling and put my zoodles on sale!!! 😛

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 pkgs zoodles
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1/4 onion chopped finely, halved
  • Italian spices 2-4 tsp
  • 1 c cream
  • 1/4-1/2 c lemon juice or juice from 2-3 lemons

Serve with a salad!

Wonderful Wanderful Life!!!

Spring has sprung! 🙂 Living fulltime in a tiny camper in the middle of nowhere is some of the best living I’ve ever done. ❤ All day I hear my favorite songs.

I hope the video of the Baltimore oriole singing plays for you. They say listening to birdsong is the antidote to stress, and I agree. Nature’s AntidoteIf you listen closely, you’ll hear structure in the choral cacophony. Such as two orioles communicating with each other. Last night it was either a female or juvenile male in “our” tree, and in the background you hear another. We’ve seen the mature male in “our” tree as well. Possible pairing? Or possible competitor? But, so many different birds, so many different songs. ❤ All day I see painted masterpieces.For all my hiking years, I longed to glimpse the blooming of the woods. I finally enjoyed the opening of the vernal gallery. I cannot describe the awe, and my camera could not truly capture the beauty of pastel and primary colored landscapes in shade and sun. Having the ability to observe the subtle differences in hue and texture as the days of spring march toward summer, I feel such gratitude and grace. I’ve been to the Louvre, but its art pales in comparison to Mother Nature’s. Her art breathes life into itself and into me.We’ve had a lot of visitors to our feeder. Golden finches. House finches. Tufted titmouse (last image of it dive bombing for seeds!). Nuthatches. Chickadees. Downy woodpecker. Cardinals. Sparrows. Morning doves. Brown-heased cowbirds.Robins and grackles hunt for worms and nesting material in “our yard”. The grackles like apple core cut up for them. 😉 The oriole sings in our tree. I saw an Eastern bluebird sitting on our fire pit this morning. 🙂 I watch the feeder often. Even my camper neighbors watch our feeder. 🙂 It’s such a trill! 😛 Yes, a bad pun. As I write this outside, I’m watching the birds peck at the ground for fallen seed. 4 morning doves and 4 male cowbirds. My “pet” oriole below.All day I feel peace, joy, and harmony. Even if I spend my days indoors because of rain or work (preparing for my summer class and developing a class for the fall), I’m loving this wonderful Wanderful Life. You know how you feel losing yourself in a book? Yeah, I’m lost in my own adventures, and it feels like a fantasy. I don’t doubt I will see real faeries soon. (My friend warned me to stay social or I’d get weird. Oops) The North Country trail passes along the campground, and 1.1 miles from the trailhead up the road (literally a steep up) Indian Rock sits face up. 🙂I predict I’ll spend most of my time along the NCT. I don’t need to drive and I can increase my distance. I’m not worried about the time. I belong to the Sloth Hiking Club. “We’ll get there when we get there.” 🙂 I have a lot of hiking days ahead of me. Not today though. Storms. Until then, I’m going to watch the birds and research journal articles for the best ones to assign my students. Enjoy your day and your world!!! ❤