There is a sort of frantic frenzy this time of year when suddenly gardens are producing explosions of zucchinis. The Eyota farmers market tonight reflected this and much more. Peppers were in heavy supply, all shapes and flavors - mild lemony yellow to hot dark green jalapenos.

I found sweet corn for canning a batch of corn relish and a basket of pickling cucumbers for the first batch of dills. One vendor had lovely mini pears that tasted sweet when she let me "sample" one.

Apparently once a week at a market wasn't enough for me, because on a recent weekend I tried my hand at selling herb plants in Chatfield, when the city was celebrating its annual Western Days.

Everyone else had other places to go that weekend, so I accomplished this venture on my own. I packed my gear, plants and tent the night before. Early Saturday morning I was on my way to Central Park and my rented stall.

Although I didn't expect getting help setting up my tent, my next-door neighbor helped.

Throughout the day I talked about the virtues of cooking with herbs and even sold a dozen herb cookbooks for a buck (that I normally give away free at the Eyota Farmers Market). My hope was to reduce our inventory of herb plants and houseplants. Truthfully, I didn't sell a large number. But I really enjoyed spending the day talking about something interesting to me.

A couple folks passing by added up a few factors - Since I was from Eyota and a woman who talks about herbs, I was asked if I knew Iris from that town or if I "advertised" in a local paper. I laughed out loud. "Oh yeah," I said as I raised my hand. "That's me."

Again, I can't say enough about how much I enjoyed this day, in spite of it being a very long and tiring day.

It helped me realize there is an interest in cooking with and growing herbs. Many years ago I sold items from a table near the library in Chatfield. It seemed I had come back, full circle. Only my interests have evolved since years ago.

After a month away from the cabin, I returned to check on my plants and find I had been providing a feast for wild animals. SOMETHING had eaten all the cherries off the tree and the giant leaves on the hosta I had planted.

Oh, and the ruffly leaves of my kale plants were pretty much gone. And where were the leaves on the strawberry plants? Not only had the strawberries disappeared when I visited during the Fourth of July weekend, now some beast was gnawing the leaves off the plants!

OK, I live in the woods and there are animals in the woods, but the woods is full of food for those beasts. This is MY food and I planted it for my family!

So I have started a fight to keep my plants. I purchased a powdery substance with natural ingredients that promises to repel deer and rabbits. The only thing, I am not sure if it is deer or rabbits. A bear perhaps? One was sighted by my husband about a half-mile from our cabin.

On my return visit, two weeks later, the powder seemed to be doing the trick-the kale plants had several leaves and the green cherry tomatoes were unmolested. So I planted three Brussel sprout plants, but spent nearly $40 putting up green fencing around them, not really trusting the powder.

Speaking of vegetables, I have been doing my best to cook and use them up in pizzas, cookie bars, stir-fries and baked dishes.

One of the really nice things about working at the Eyota Farmers Market is that people give me seasonal recipes. My favorite so far is the carrot and zucchini bar recipe that Sandy, a regular customer, gave me. It offers a healthy combo of ingredients and uses up a bit of the available produce. Tonight I was given an interesting salsa recipe that includes cabbage.

I had printed off a nifty recipe using both yellow summer squash and green zucchini from a Facebook friend. I tried it and was pleased with the presentation and the flavors.

So folks, those are the recipes I am sharing today. Use up those zucchini and eat healthy! One co-employee accused me of giving him a serving of vegetables with the bars.

Carrot & Zucchini Bars

with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

2 eggs slightly beaten

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup canola oil

1/4 cup honey

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cup shredded carrot

1 cup shredded zucchini

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, oil, honey and vanilla. Any lumps left will dissolve while preparing the remaining ingredients. Then fold in the carrot, zucchini and walnuts. Combine four, baking powder, ginger and baking powder (in a sifter or another bowl). Add flour mixture to wet mixture. Stir until just combined. Spread batter into an ungreased 13x9x2 inch baking pan. Bake about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool completely in pan, then frost.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

1-8 ounce package reduced fat cream cheese

1 cup powdered sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (or zest from one lemon)

In a medium mixing bowl, beat the frosting ingredients with an electric mixer until fluffy. Spread frosting over bars. Makes 36 bars.

Source-"Healthy Happy Helpers" and market shopper, Sandy.



Vegetable Tian

Thin slices of zucchini, yellow squash, potato & tomato, stacked together and stood on edge, roasted & topped with cheese.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium yellow or white onion

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 medium zucchini

1 medium yellow squash (or 2 small)

1 or 2 medium sized potatoes with skin on

2 large Roma tomatoes or 1 medium sized thick-fleshed tomato

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme

Salt & pepper to taste (Could try a seasoned herb salt.)

1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Finely dice the onion and mince the garlic. Sauté both in a small skillet with the olive oil until softened, about 5 minutes.

Prepare the other vegetables: Thinly slice (about 1/8 to 3/16th inch thick) all the vegetables into 'rounds.' Scrub the potato & remove any blemishes before cutting with the remaining skin on.

Spray the inside of a 8 X 8 inch square baking pan with non-stick spray. Spread the softened onion and garlic in the bottom of the dish. Place the vegetables in rows (about 3 in the pan) with the rounds set vertically & alternating the zucchini, potato, yellow squash and tomato slices until the pan is filled. Sprinkle with thyme leaves, salt and pepper.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, top with cheese and bake another 15 to 20 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown.