Speaking of Zucchini

Jean:

Anybody else inundated with the stuff?  Don’t get to hating it quite yet.  You might want to try this recipe for zucchini bread.   I took some to our neighborhood Fourth of July picnic, and people said they hadn’t had any in a long time but this was better than any they remembered.  (I am the Mrs., by the way, to our Garden Guru who showed you a picture of our naughty zucchini plant in “Z Is for Zucchini.”  We also took some of its missiles to the neighborhood July 4th party last month and I made a little joke about comparing sizes that got a few chuckles even from the guys.)

Now about the recipe.  I originally got it from my sister-in-law (more about her later), who typed it up for me on a pretty recipe card the way people used to do.  I have few of these kinds of recipe cards left.  Some of my better ones have gotten lost over the years.  My sister who can’t cook is always rooting through my recipe box and may have made off with them; I don’t know.  She thinks the secret is in my recipes but that’s yes and no.  I make changes to every recipe I collect.

This recipe says it makes two 5×9 loaves.  I have had so many problems over the years getting fruit and nut breads to bake in the center in those loaf pans that I got one of the new types of bread pans that are much longer and thinner.  I halved the recipe but then it made a very short loaf.  I think probably I could put the whole recipe in that long pan and it would cook well, or you could try a tube or bundt pan, but with loaf breads, you have to play it by ear and test the center no matter what.  Particularly with zucchini, a very wet ingredient, you just can’t be sure how much moisture it’s packing.  Anyway, I’m just going to give you the recipe and let you bake it your favorite way.

2 cups packed, grated, unpeeled raw zucchini (I love making the Man grate it.  Put a little salt on it and set it aside to drain for at least 15 minutes while you beat the eggs and oil together as follows:)

3 eggs, beaten

1 cup oil (originally intended to be vegetable oil, but here is where I play a little.  I use half olive oil (green, right? and Italians use it in baking with great success) and half applesauce to save the calories and add a little more sweetness.  I actually found a pear applesauce that is green, too.)

2 cups sugar, added to the eggs and oil until you get kind of a thick paste.  If you like alternative sugars like unrefined sugar or Stevia products, I have tried several of these with success, although I generally keep it to no more than half the total sugar.  (If you have the applesauce, you can also cut down a little on the sugar here, even if you used no-sugar-added applesauce, if you are being careful with your diet.)  Meanwhile, mix the following dry ingredients together with the fruit and nuts:

2 cups flour (here, again, I try to make it a little healthier by using part whole wheat flour, part soy flour, maybe a tablespoon of ground flaxseeds.  You don’t want to go overboard on these things because they change the taste and texture of the bread, but not much; if you like to add extra fiber, protein and other nutrients to your recipes, try this sparingly.)

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt (or less if you used a lot on the zucchini)

1 T. vanilla (yep, that’s a tablespoon; don’t leave this out–it adds nice flavor.  Some recipes for zucchini bread also use a tablespoon of cinnamon; I love that as well.)

1 c. walnuts (again, I make a change here and use pistachios (green!) when I can get them

1 c. raisins (I always use golden raisins in baking because I think they are prettier, and they kind of sneak up on people who might otherwise be trying to dig the dark raisins out.  If I have a Granny Smith apple (you know what color those are), I chop that into little chunks to use instead of or along with the raisins.

Add the dry ingredients, after giving them a whisk, to the wet mixture.  Don’t forget to add in the zucchini, after giving it a squeeze to get out the extra water and salt.  And don’t forget to prepare your pan with some cooking spray or whatever you like to use.

Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour, but it might take 15 minutes more depending on your oven and pan.  Smell is an important indicator that the bread is getting ready, and you don’t want the edges to get too dry and tough, but you must take the measure of that center because it will fall as it cools if not thoroughly cooked.

If this sounds time-consuming, think of my sister-in-law while you work on this.  I think she gave me this recipe when she was young and very healthy looking.  She and my brother had a nice baby boy who was great friends with my daughter, born a couple of years later.  A few years after that, however, they found a spot on her lung.  It was cancer, although I don’t think she ever smoked.  Boy, did she fight it, trying to live long enough to see her son grow up.  She had immunotherapy that was experimental at the time, blew up on steroids, and had several operations, including on her brain, after it spread there.  A couple of months after my nephew’s graduation from high school, she mercifully died.  So if this recipe card is all I have left of her strength and determination, I’m going to make it over and over again in her memory.  Thanks, Joy.

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