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Q. It’s summer time; so how can you tell if a Reddingite has no friends?
A. She’s in the store buying zucchini.
Really, though, it’s not a laughing matter if your neighbors and friends are gardeners and their zucchini seeds have properly propagated. You’ll notice. You’ll observe The Desperate Ones, lurking about, smiling and ready, like a quarterback, for the hand-off. But it’s not a football they want you to snag. They’ll be trying to hand you a bag … full of oblong green veggies … those ever-loving, prolific little bombs known as zucchini.
Yes. They will come. Knocking at your door, toting a large brown bag overflowing with long green logs, begging you to take “just a few.”
You like your neighbor. You think, “Well, I could use a few.”
But then your friend, who lovingly tilled a backyard patch of dirt and planted a small garden, greets you. A bulging recycled plastic grocery bag hangs over his arm – shades of green peeking out – he suggests your family has to try “just a few” of these healthy squashes he managed to produce.
And your cousin decides to bless you with “just a few” garden-fresh zucchini.
A little clarification here: The words “just a few” can’t be used in the same sentence with zucchini. That would be an oxymoron.
The first year we planted a garden at the ranch, I labeled myself an authority on the “how to” of successful small-crop management. After all, I pointed out to our family and visitors, look at those zucchini plants. There was not one, but four hills of maturing zucchini vines, weaving their way toward the garden gate, encroaching on the carrots, corn and tomatoes, heading south into the cattle pasture. I was thrilled.
Inflated with pride, I bragged about our good fortune and discussed the benefits of “hilling” versus “rows” in zucchini raising. They listened. They nodded. They smiled, indulgently. (That was not a smirk. There were no smug smiles, I’m positive).
No one shouted, “What the heck? Four hills of zucchini? Are you friggin’ nuts? Are you trying to feed the entire Chinese Army?” Oh no, that was me months later, screeching at the cows, grabbing zucchini from an overloaded wheelbarrow, tossing them over the garden fence, trying to entice those bovines into eating the big beautiful green zombies.
In our small rural town we leave our vehicles unlocked while grocery shopping, picking up mail at the post office or standing around gossiping. But, in the summer time, we watch for The Desperate. They are not difficult to identify. They’re the ones skulking in the shadows, dodging in and around parked cars, with their loaded brown bags, attempting to share their harvest when they locate an unlocked vehicle. If you are spotted casting about, like a zucchini Good Samaritan, friends and neighbors have been known to lock their car doors.
So, after you’ve given away all you can, taken boxes to the homeless shelter, and sold bags and bags at the local farmer’s market, what then? Well, you ask friends, rummage through cookbooks and surf the net for zillions of new recipes. And you make and bake and freeze anything and everything you can dream up that could possibly include zucchini: chili, soup, spaghetti sauce, quiche, marmalade, pizza sauce, bread, muffins and cakes.
One of my favorite recipes is Chocolate Oh Chocolate Zucchini Cake. It’s quick, easy and freezes beautifully. If you are one of the lucky ones, with an over-abundant zucchini plant, or you have a friend who gardens, or if you’ve purchased this incredible versatile vegetable, you’ll enjoy this delicious sweet zucchini treat.
Chocolate-Oh-Chocolate Zucchini Cake
- 2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup butter
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon baking soda dissolved in …
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup cocoa
- 1/2 teaspoon each salt, baking powder, cinnamon
- 2 cups grated zucchini
- 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate pieces (hold one cup in reserve)
- 1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
- Cream sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla.
- Dissolve baking soda in buttermilk and add to the creamed mixture.
- Blend dry ingredients together and stir into creamed mix.
- Fold in the zucchini and chocolate pieces and nuts.
- Pour batter into a 9-by-13-inch greased and floured pan. Top with remaining chocolate pieces.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.
- Dust with powdered sugar.
- Serve with ice cream if desired.
Kathryn Barker has never met a child, a tea, or a baby animal she didn’t love. With her sweet husband of 43 years, she has raised three extraordinary children, doctored all manner of farm animal, driven a team of horses, made soap, spun wool and opened a tea room. An avid photographer, Kathryn has had tea in a ger in Mongolia, viewed the Three Gorges Dam in China and waved to the Queen of England. She maintains a tea booth at the Oregon St. Antique Mall. Visit her at tea4kate.com or on Facebook and Twitter at tea4kate.
A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment. Views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of anewscafe.com.