Hearth & Home

Hearth and Home by Daphne Ross

This Lucky Penny Stays Put

When I get change at the gas station I drop pennies into the Leave a Penny, Take a Penny cup next to the register. When I get change at the fast food drive-thru I drop my coins into the charity catch attached to the counter. When I clean out my purse at home I drop found small change into my husband's big bottle bank. I sort coin purse change into my cash drawer at my shop.

I always believed finding and picking up, a penny heads up would bring me good luck, and picking up a penny heads down caused nothing but misfortune. When it comes to bad luck we all want to affix blame onto something, onto someone. But according to folklore and fish tales, there is more to finding a lost penny.

If a penny is found heads down, it should be left alone or given to someone else. And that luck can only be had if the found penny is passed along to a friend or stranger, within the same day. So I guess I can pick up heads down pennies and still be safe from bad luck; just don't tuck it into my pocket, sort it into my cash drawer, or drop it into the coin cup in my van.

Some Old World European cultures, particularly those with roots in Ireland, believe that found pennies belong to leprechauns, fairies, brownies, and pixies. Finders of these pennies spit on the coin then throw it into the bushes for small beings to use as payment to then bring good luck to the coin tosser. Good comes from both penny pinchers and penny pitchers.

If you have filed a big jar of pennies and have decided to turn your good luck coins into easy-to-spend cash, it may be wise to take your coin to a bank branch coin sorter. Because when it comes to pennies you may get short changed every time if you pour your collection into a vending-style coin counting machine.

Coin machines set up inside the service center at your local discount store may hold back pennies from your final cash in count. These machines will can back any foreign coins, any 1943 United States steel pennies, alone worth 50 cents, damaged coins are kept and sticky coins are not counted.

This is the end of the road for many pennies, their luck has run out. Of course, if you are the keeper of the coins that holds the key to the sorting machine, you may be running on stolen luck.

I shared a penny heads-up with my husband and son; I left it on the kitchen counter for many days, hoping it would find its way into one of their jean pockets. One morning while cleaning up after breakfast, I began to wipe the counter, thought the penny would whisk off into my cloth; it did not move. I never let my counter get that sticky. I soon discovered the heads-up lucky penny I found and chose to share with my family has been permanently Super Glued to my kitchen counter. I wasn't mad. I was pleasantly surprised, touched by the thought.

I am so lucky; I go to bed each night and thank the Lord. I wake up each morning and thank the Lord. And I rub that penny all the time.

Fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, fresh air meals; send your favorite fresh food recipes to Hearth & Home, 5973 Blachleyville Rd., Wooster, Ohio, 44691. Emails are always welcome: thewritecook@sssnet.com

Brown Sugar Zucchini Bread
2 cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
6 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
3 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups grated zucchini
Grease and flour one 9 x 5 loaf pan. Stir the flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a large mixing bowl. When combined, mix in the oats. Make a well in the center of the ingredients. Whisk the eggs, oil, and vanilla together in a small bowl and pour the mixture into the well. Combine lightly; stir in the zucchini. Do not overmix. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, mounding it up in the center. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 or 65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Let the bread cool at least 10 minutes longer before slicing. The bread can be served warm or at room temperature. It keeps well and makes great toast.

Zucchini & Chickpea Summer Salad
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup chickpeas
2 medium zucchini, diced into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced, rinsed
5 romaine lettuce leaves, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch strips
1-ounce Parmesan, crumbled into 1/4-inch pieces
For the Vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper until combined. For the Salad: Place the chickpeas, zucchini, corn, red onion, and lettuce in a large salad bowl. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and toss well. Garnish with the crumbled Parmesan cheese; serve fresh.

Crispy Green Tomatoes with Red Tomato Salsa
4 medium green tomatoes
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 large egg
1 tablespoon milk
5 cups cornflakes
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Fresh Tomato Salsa:
5 medium red tomatoes
2 fresh jalapeno chiles
1/4 medium sweet onion
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Cut tomatoes into 12 (1/2-inch thick) slices. In a bowl, whisk together flour, salt, sugar, and cayenne. In another bowl, whisk together egg and milk. In third bowl place hand crushed corn flakes. One tomato slice at a time, dredge in flour, shake off excess, dip in egg, let excess drip off. Coat slices with corn flakes, pressing into crumbs, and arrange slices in 1 layer on a baking sheet. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil over moderate; fry 3 tomato slices until golden brown, about 3 minutes on each side. Place tomatoes on paper towels to drain. Fry remaining slices in remaining butter. On another baking sheet arrange drained tomato slices in 1 layer. Bake tomatoes in middle of oven until tender and hot, about 4 minutes.
Serve tomatoes topped with salsa.
Fresh Tomato Salsa:
Quarter and seed tomatoes; dice tomatoes and place in bowl. Wearing rubber gloves seed and finely chop chiles, chop onion to measure 1/4 cup, chop cilantro. Stir chiles, onion, cilantro, and garlic into tomatoes with sugar and lime juice and salt and pepper, to taste. Salsa may be made 1 hour ahead; chill. Yield: 2 1/2 cups.

Grilled Zucchini and Bean Toss
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 serrano chiles, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
2 minced garlic cloves
1 (15-ounce) can white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
3 zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch thick slices
Prep a grill pan to medium-high. In a medium bowl, whisk the lime juice, vinegar, and oil until slightly thickened; season with salt and pepper. Add the red onions, cilantro, serrano chiles, and garlic; toss until the vegetables are coated. Add the beans and stir to combine; season with salt and pepper Brush the zucchinis on both sides with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill the zucchini on a lightly oiled grill rack until tender, turning over once, about 4 minutes per side. Cut the zucchini crosswise into 1-inch pieces. Add the zucchini to the bowl with the dressing and beans. Toss to combine and coat.

Green Tomato Twist Pie
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups green tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon vinegar
Prepared pie crusts for 2-crust pie
In a bowl, mix flour, nutmeg, sugar, cinnamon, and cornstarch. Add tomatoes and vinegar. Pour mixture into pie crust, and dot with butter. Cover with top crust and make four small slits in center to vent. Bake for 20 minutes at 425 degrees. Then reduce to 325 degrees for 40 minutes.

Zucchini Stuffed Plum Tomatoes
4 large plum tomatoes
Salt and sugar
1 1/2 pounds zucchini
1 teaspoon salt
1 medium onion, sliced
Pinch garlic powder
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1/2 pound grated Swiss
Preheat the broiler. Cut the tomatoes in 1/2 crosswise. Scoop out the centers. Sprinkle the inside of tomato shells with a couple pinches of salt and sugar, and flip over on a paper towel lined plate to drain off excess liquid, until ready to stuff. Grate the zucchini, and place it in a strainer. Toss the zucchini with 1 teaspoon salt and place the strainer over a bowl to catch the juices. Allow to drain for 5 to 10 minutes. In a large heavy skillet, saute the shallots in 2 tablespoons olive oil, until they begin to caramelize. Meanwhile squeeze the zucchini to release as much water as possible.
Turn the heat up on the shallots, add the dry zucchini to the pan, and saute the zucchini with the shallots for 5 minutes. Add chopped parsley and thyme, and then toss the zucchini with the cheese, reserving 1/4 cup of the cheese for topping. Stuff the tomatoes with the filling, mounding it slightly, and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Place in tomato halves in ovenproof baking dish and broil them until the tops are golden. Serve hot.

South of the Border Zucchini Fries
2 medium zucchini cut like French fries
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon your favorite grill seasoning
1 cup bottled chili sauce
Arrange zucchini on nonstick cookie sheet. Spray zucchini with cooking spray. Combine spices and sprinkle over the zucchini fries. Place in a 500 degree oven and bake 15 to 18 minutes. Serve hot with chili sauce.

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