Monday, June 14, 2010

First, assemble your ingredients...

Vegetable gardening has a down side. If the garden is a bust, that's frustrating. If the garden produces loads of stuff, I have to cook.

This year we got smart and planted in early March instead of June, and it paid off. My beets and carrots are looking impressive (pictures later), though that, as i discovered last year, doesn't mean there's any substantial root under all the lovely leaves. I'm leaving them in the ground for awhile because Larry's plantings are yielding so much. The squash started coming in, the tomatoes are piling up, and he's picked a couple zucchini.

I will never never never enjoy cooking for its own sake. It really is possible to be a good, if not great, cook, but never really find it fun. Means to an end. Period.

The home grown produce is forcing me -- horrors! -- to learn new recipes and processes. After i'd made 2 of my old standby squash casseroles, I had to blanch and freeze the extra squash. This being a new experience, I couldn't do it in my sleep, the way I can do longtime recipes I've made a gazillion times -- recipes that I have, actually, selected for my repertoire just because they're that easy and foolproof. Not that it's hard to blanch and freeze, but to discover that I had to, like, research and read instructions and everything.

Cooking, in my opinion, should be doable in one's sleep at all times.

But I pulled out and put back books until I found that Fanny Farmer explained it (Joy of Cooking doesn't tell you how to blanch vegetables for freezing - unless I just couldn't find it in the book. You gotta have Fanny Farmer. Or Google, but I like books), and got it done.

Today's project: zucchini. I've never bought or cooked zucchini. I decided to start with something decadent. If I have to actually work at this, I want a treat.

So! Zucchini Bread! I really love it when something that's actually a cake is named a "bread," which sounds like something that it's mature, responsible and healthy to eat.

Still, this would be Work. That 4-letter word.

All the cooking guides tell you to assemble your equipment and ingredients before you start. That's no problem. I wouldn't even consider starting without the most important equipment of all:

1. Music. Keeps my brain from shorting out. Well, usually.
2. My thickest, most comfy bedroom slippers.
3. A headband. Cooking is aggravating enough without hair in my eyes.

Oh...oh yeah, the edible ingredients.
Not pictured are the spices, eggs and oil. Or the zucchini themselves, but they are shown below.

This is our yield so far, but the heat and the bugs that plagued us last year are taking over again now that we're back into June (97 degrees f., yesterday, high humidity, ghastly, and the weather won't break for another day or 2). Anyway these 2 may be it for this year.

Notice the difference! I love genetics. The zucchini were planted next to the yellow crookneck squash and our bees cross-pollinated squash pollen into one plant.

And here's the bread. It hardly rose. It looks less than appetizing, to me anyway.

So I dreaded tasting it, but I steeled myself and sliced off some.

It's wonderful.

It's delicious. Seriously. I'm stunned. So I guess the whole thing was worth it! This will definitely join the recipe repertoire. After all, eating "bread," especially with green vegetables right there in it, is mature, responsible and healthy.


Dann said...

You can also try cutting it half the long way. Removing the seeds which should leave a trough. Fill the trough with ham loaf. Cover with spaghetti sauce. Bake until done.

Dinner's on!!

Also, cut it into pieces like pickle slices. Drag in through some egg. Drag it through flour mixed with pepper, salt, and anything else you have in mind. Fry 'em in a skillet. Deeee-licious.


Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

Cool - both sound easy and tasty! I've had the fried zucchini in restaurants as appetizers but hadn't thought of it for home cooking.

ronnie said...

I've had fried zucchini. It is delicious! Good suggestion, Dan.

If we wanted to plant in early March (I'm giggling just thinking about it) we'd have to shovel through a half-metre of snow just to get to the bed...