Monday, June 23, 2014

_The Hancock News_ Column-- June 11, 2014

The New Generation of Zucchini Bread

The garden is mostly planted. The lettuce, spinach, and radishes have already found their way into our salad bowl. Tomatoes, onions, green peppers, jalapenos, and cilantro are all in the ground dreaming of the day we’ll turn them into salsa. Green beans, peas, pumpkin, cantaloupe, watermelon, carrot, popcorn, and parsnip seeds are tucked in for a little nap until their stems shoot out of their bed of dirt to greet the sun.
All of these I love, but the sprout I’ll be most tickled to see pop up will come from the hills where my son planted zucchini seeds. Yes, I know that in a month or so I’ll likely be buried up to my elbows in zucchini and that I’ll practically have to pay people to take it off my hands, but there is just something about that zucchini!
What is it? It’s not simply the taste, although I do find it yummy in several dishes. It’s not only that I’ve had more luck growing zucchini than my other garden vegetables. It’s not just that it joins “fettucini” and “tortellini” as the coolest words to say with a fake Italian accent.
No, the thing I like most about zucchini is that it grows like magic. It starts like any other seedling, pushing it’s way out of the hard dirt and unfurling a couple of leaves. Then it seems you go to bed, wake up the next morning, and when you walk out to the garden the next morning, “Poof!”  Suddenly each hill of dirt is covered by a huge bush bearing pretty yellow blossoms.
You stare in delighted disbelief and appreciation. When you blink to see if it’s all real, the blossoms are withered at the ends of small, elongated green squash. You blink again, and the zucchini is the size of a baseball bat. Simply amazing.
My eldest, the very son who planted our zucchini this year, is turning 10 this week. Ten years old. How did that happen? One day he was the biggest baby in the neonatal intensive care unit, crying lustily and pulling at whatever tubes doctors had attached to him. Then I blinked, and I had an ever-curious toddler pulling open every drawer and cupboard he could reach. Then, shame on me, I blinked again, and now I have a thoughtful boy, still curious, but more likely to be opening a book instead of a cabinet to find the answers.
Ten years ago I marveled at how he perfectly fit in Daddy’s arm, and now I bravely stand still as he measures himself against Momma to see if he’s taller than me yet. I try to soak in the beauty and magic of each age and stage, but I must admit that too many cute sayings and sweet gestures have escaped the grasp of my memory. The old, oft-used saying is so true; they really do grow up too fast.


Now’s the time to plan for what you’ll do with the bag of zucchini a co-worker leaves on your desk or a neighbor deposits on your porch. I’ll leave you with a recipe my almost 10-year-old made up all by himself. He doctored up a basic zucchini bread recipe with some almonds and cranberries, and I’m not just mommy-bragging when I say that this recipe deserves an award.

Cranberry Almond Zucchini Bread

3 eggs
1 cup oil or melted butter
2 cups sugar
2 cups zucchini, shredded
3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 Tbsp. almond extract
1/2 cup almonds, chopped or slivered
1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped

Mix eggs, butter, and sugar. Add zucchini and mix well. Add flour, soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, almond extract, almonds, and cranberries. Pour into 2 greased loaf pans. Bake at 350℉ for about 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes and remove from pans to cool completely. 

(The picture was not published in the newspaper.)

*I changed this post to link up to a Homestead Barn Hop (a first for me) at New Life on a Homestead. There are tons of clever people sharing helpful home types of tips. I'm also sharing at Strangers & Pilgrims on Earth for the Art of Home-Making Mondays link-up; take a look!


JES said...

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your zucchini bread recipe with us. Sounds like you have a future chef on your hands! I would love to have you link up this recipe with us on our weekly link up too. Please join us on the Art of Homemaking Mondays! :)

Have a wonderful week~ JES (the lady who had 38 zucchini plants :)

Jody said...

I'd love to. Thank you. Today was the first time I've ever done anything like the Homestead Barn Hop. Can I link up not on a Monday? I don't think I'm going to have a chance to get to it today. . . baby will need me quite soon. It takes me a bit longer to figure things out; I'm very new to blogging and definitely not up on all things technological. (If you have any pointers, point away!)

JES said...

You did it! :) Sure, you can link up whatever day is convenient for you. It will just have more exposure when done earlier in the week is all... And of course baby comes first! :) There are none cuter! Hope you join us again next week if time permits... Have a wonderful weekend ~ JES :)