Zucchini Bread Recipe

Fresh From the Oven

As I write, a large loaf of zucchini bread finishes up its baking. We did give four squashes to a neighbor today, and I figured I had to make more bread. We do need to use up this squash, but this bread also happens to be tasty. Here is the recipe:

Prep time is about 15-20 minutes and baking time is 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.

Mix:

  • 3 cups fresh shredded zucchini1
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 large eggs

Slowly add to this mixture:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

I use a large loaf pan (9″) and bake it for 1 hour and 15 minutes at 375 degrees. You can also use two small loaf pans (8″) and bake for 50-60 minutes.

Let cool and slice her up.

Day of Food

I spent a good deal of time on food today. It was well worth it, but I am ready for one last trip to the kitchen, to scoop a bowl of coconut chocolate chip ice cream I made a couple days ago, then a sit with a book. I baked bread in my running clothes, after I lit a fire in the stove. I ran 7 1/2 miles this morning in the twenty degree grayness. It was a heck of a beautiful morning and I do that again. We had friends planning to come over and I was on kid duty (four of them) while my wife and company ran. I had to get started.

I was dressed in proper duds by the time our guests arrived, and I also had cut carrots, celery, potatoes, turnips, peppers, and onions. Soup was on. Since I was at it I decided to make some soup stock. The soup and bread were for lunch, along with the apple crisp I whipped up. I froze the stock, along with the remainder of the last batch of stock I made. I also spent time outside in the garden, digging and pulling the weeds that snuck in at the end. I turned compost and worked on making more with leaves and weed bits. I added compost from our kitchen scrap pile to some of the garden beds. And I covered several beds with silver maple leaves that were starting to decompose. It was a productive day.

I wish I could spend this much time on feeding our family more often. I would love to have fresh healthy food every day. We do almost every day, but we do sneak in processed food now and again, in the form of crackers and granola bars and such. Frozen meals almost never make their way to our house, and those boxed ready to prepare meals I feel like I hardly know. I was asked to do a survey recently of instant type meals. There were probably a dozen of them they asked about. I didn’t recognize any of them. I stay away from those center grocery store aisles.

I also baked up a pumpkin and a squash at the tail end of it all. I pureed them in the food processor and popped that in the freezer. The squash was a mystery plant that grew in the compost pile. We had sweet dumpling squash plant last year and this one was sort of like it. But it was orange and green. It think it may have been a cross between a pie pumpkin and the sweet dumpling. Inside it was bright yellow. It tasted sweet but different. I saved the seeds and will plant them in the spring. If it grows again as it did this year, we may have a new variety. I named it after my son.

That son of mine is asleep, along with his sister. He got tuckered out helping me spread dirt and leaves this afternoon. Now is the time to have that ice cream. I am a little tuckered myself.

Garden Woes

Ready for Planting

Ready for Planting

We started our garden at the house in which we now live in 2007.  That garden was limited.  We dug up some lawn and gathered some compost and got going.  We planted tomatoes and carrots and lettuce, pumpkins and strawberries.  Last year we expanded, adding more compost and digging more beds.  This is year three.  That first summer we had no problems at all.  Everything grew like gangbusters.  Now the troubles have started.

One mistake was getting compost from a new source last year.  It was filled with weeds and contained the larvae of cucumber beetles.  Cucumber beetles eat the roots of young plants and then, after they hatch, eat the leaves of the same plants.  I have had to replant zucchini and yellow squash and cucumbers, and the melons are pretty much bumming.  I have done nothing yet to get rid of them this spring so our problems persist.  I thought turning the soil late in the fall would help.  I turned it all again early in the spring.  No dice with that simple plan.

I planted peas for the first time this year.  They started off well but now the rabbit that hangs out in the woods has discovered the plants.  It keeps whittling them down to nubbins.  The pea plants are no taller than they were six weeks ago.  Then our cuddly friend discovered the carrots and the lettuce.  The little pecker is nibbling down our salads.  And a squirrel is eating our strawberries.  These critters are killing me.

I planted popcorn today.  Last year I had to plant corn three times.  The first time the turkeys ate the sprouts just as they emerged.  Then the crows did the same after I put up a scarecrow (can you say misnomer?).  Finally I hung a string across the bed with old CD’s hanging from it.  Those spinning reflectors kept the birds away.  I hope that this trick will keep them away again.  The popcorn was one of our best crops last year.

At this point the onions, at least the ten out of 26 that survived (no idea what was up with that) are healthy.  The leeks (except for the handful some crazy bird yanked out but left on the soil) are shooting up, and the pumpkins are spreading.  The tomatoes and peppers (planted a few days ago) are still alive but my optimism is wavering.  We will have some food out of this endeavor but not as much as we might.

I’m not all that upset, really.  I am disappointed, of course, but not upset.  This gardening adventure is about persistence over the long term.  I planted red zebra tomatoes the first summer.  They grew well but were not the sweetest.  I may plant them again as sauce tomatoes, or I might consider trying to grow them over a few years to breed sweeter fruit, but I learned that another variety might be better.  I also have not had much luck with melons.  They need warm weather and lots of it.  The beetles snacking on them don’t exactly help.  So melons will require much more trial and error (hopefully with diminishing error).

I have had luck with seeds I saved for peppers and pumpkins.  I will try more of that this year.  I like the idea of keeping the cycle going–planting seeds from plants that grew the previous year, then doing that again.  It is amazing that it works at all.  Plant a few seeds and they grow into plants that provide food?  That is plain old miraculous, really.

So I do what I can to keep things growing.  I weed and water and hang old computer discs.  I need to get on the cucumber beetles.  They haven’t hatched yet, but I know they won’t wait for an invitation to sit down to dinner on my cucumbers.  Their social graces, it seems, are less than refined.

Burning My Fingers

We are having a bunch of friends over tomorrow and i was planning to make them some soup.  I baked up a bunch of butternut squash, an hour and a quarter at 350 degrees, and let it sit for a while.  I thought it had cooled enough, but 350 degrees is pretty hot.  I toasted my fingertips.

I have done plenty of cooking.  I do most of the cooking in our house.  i try hard to come up with something wholesome and fresh and tasty, so we don’t end up eating reheated pasta with tater tots.  I have made soup a number of times this fall.  I have to use the pumpkins we grew.  This time I used something different.

I look forward to making soup tomorrow, but my fingertips are really sore.  In fact, typing this right now is uncomfortable.  What was I thinking?

Whatever.  Tomorrow I will whip up the soup.  And a couple of pies.  Crap, the oven is going to be busy all day.  So much for reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.  Maybe it will balance out.  Local squash and apples instead of California squash and Washington apples.  A day of baking can’t pump out too much carbon compared to shipping food thousands of miles can it?

After a day of baking I am hoping my fingers will have cooled a bit.  I suppose even if they haven’t, some apple pie will distract me long enough to forget about it.