Our neighborhood has a well traveled 1800 step path and on a morning like this, I’ll round it three or four times rather than venturing out where the scorching fingers of the AZ sun might grasp me. I’m not alone in my desire. As many of our local cities and towns are updating their general plans, they are focusing on the attributes of livability. Those attributes include the development of amenities such as parks and recreation, interconnected neighborhoods,and improved air quality and yes, shade. The creation of shade is emerging as a key issue in order to keep our neighborhoods more walkable, our features accessible year-round and as a component to enhance our overall health.
Shade can be created in many ways such as umbrellas, awnings and sails but there are aesthetic and environmental benefits to planting shade trees. The laundry list of possible benefits from increasing the number of shade trees includes improved air quality, noise absorption, reduction of ambient heat and a possibility of increasing property values.
Native Americans have known about the value of shade for centuries and took it down to a fundamental level in their agriculture by planting what is known as the Three Sisters. The three sisters; corn, beans and squash all work together. Corn provides a stalk for the beans to grow up, beans add nitrogen to the soil necessary for the corn and the squash provides a shade structure for the earth that helps the soil retain moisture. It’s a dense method of gardening that is sometimes hard for those who are accustomed to orderly rows.
Here, it is time of year when that third sister seems unstoppable. In fact, in certain neighborhoods, overzealous planters are said to be looking for any outlet to dispose of their excess zucchini including unlocked cars. Nancy Vienneau at Good Food Matters always has terrific ideas and I had nearly everything on hand for these delicious treats. If you haven’t begun following Nancy’s blog, do so now and if you haven’t purchased her terrific Community Potluck cookbook, do it here.
Zucchini Faux-Crab Cakes
modified from this recipe by Nancy Vienneau
Yields 12 cakes
- 4 cups grated zucchini
- 2 cups bread crumbs (I had a bag of TJ’s organic on hand)
- 2 eggs
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced–use entire scallion
- 1 cup small diced Red Bell Pepper
- 1 tsp Wye River (Nancy uses Old Bay) seasoning
- 2 tsp mustard
- 2 Tbs plain Greek yogurt
- Juice of ½ lemon
- vegetable oil for frying
Place grated zucchini in a colander; sprinkle lightly with salt, allow to stand for 30 minutes,draining. Squeeze by hand to remove additional liquid – it should be fairly dry. Place zucchini, bread crumbs, and all the other ingredients in a large bowl and mix well by hand. Form into 12 patties the size of crab cakes. Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet or on a griddle, and cook patties on both sides, browning well. Drain on paper towel.
Vegan red topping
- 10 grape tomatoes
- ½ red bell pepper
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1/4 cup raw cashews
- 1 hot red cherry pepper
- sea salt
Put all of the ingredients in a high speed mixer and blend until smooth.
This is a terrific lunch or light dinner item and the variations are really endless. Enjoy them in the shade.
What are your thoughts about the incorporation of shade into plans to make urban areas more livable?