It's that time of year when friends present friends with zucchinis the size of their thighs. Compost them, my friends, or , if you just don't have the hears, perhaps this quick bread.
If every month has a distinct personality, and it does, August has two. August is summer full-blown and blousy. Cicadas. Sun tan oil. Sangria by the pool. Lazy, hazy, feet up relaxed. Time to enjoy selections from that dubious category of books called, “Summer Reads”. Dinner will be late and easy. Fire-pit and family, and those comfy friends who are more like family sometimes than family. August doesn’t need a recipe. Sliced tomatoes which are, for one, brief, shining moment, everything a tomato should be. Corn on the cob, picked today. Something barbecued. Easy because it doesn’t get better than just, plain, that. Glorious August!Yet August has another personality, one that lurks just under the calm peace of high summer. It might rear up with the first “Back to school” ad, or a tinge of red on the outer edges of the sumac. Tasselling corn. Folks foisting overgrown zucchinis on anyone who will take them. A cool breeze. It’s time to put down that book and deal with the harvest. Winter is coming and we must be ready. Get out of the pool! There are beans to be blanched! Tomato sauce to be canned, things to be pickled. We channel our inner homesteader. The bounty of August cannot simply be enjoyed like there’s no tomorrow! It must be bagged and jarred and preserved, captured - like lightning in a bottle. Time to quit idling and get it into gear! August’s second personality is slightly hysterical. Of course, all this entails quite a lot of heave ho, sometimes beyond all reason. Perhaps your fruit jam is better than anyone else’s. And your tomato sauce exceeds the best of the store bought. Perhaps all that blanching and pickling and freezing is worth the effort. That’s entirely your call. But surely the moment where we take leave of our senses is our inability to walk away from those overgrown zucchinis! They do look so much like something that should be done to - so firm and earnest. They are so ubiquitous in August that some folks think that’s how heaven intended them. If you know someone who tells you that they don’t like zucchini, they have probably been served one of these big babies as a viable vegetable. Overgrown zucchini tend to have an overabundance of seeds, a stringy texture and a bitter taste.A recent Facebook post gave me a chuckle: “My mom had never grown Zucchinis before and they got huge. She entered them in the county fair and of course didn’t get a thing. The winners were all the exact size. They were all tiny. Told mom that “I think we goofed!” Now my neighbour lets hers grow giant size so her son can float them.”But other than floating them, what’s to do? Definitely peel and de-seed! The remaining flesh can be shredded, squeezed firmly and added to breads, muffins and cakes. Most recipes add cheerily that “you wouldn't even know there’s zucchini in it!” which has to make you wonder. Of course, there are only so many cakes you need in your freezer in anticipation of the apocalypse, and one large zucchini can make quite a few. But, ok. Here’s one that’s pretty good. From www.aprettylifeinthesuburbs.com:
This Zucchini, Cheddar Cheese & Chive Buttermilk Quick Bread
In about 1 hour you can have fresh baked bread to serve alongside your soups, stews or casseroles.
2 cups flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup melted butter
1 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (use an Old Cheddar)
2 tbsp chopped fresh chives
1 cup shredded zucchini
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
In a bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and egg.
Whisk the melted butter into the buttermilk mixture.
Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mix, and gently combine. Don’t over mix the batter.
Stir in the shredded cheese, shredded zucchini and chopped chives.
Line a 9 x 5 baking tin with parchment paper and bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the bread comes out clean.
** Edited to Add: Some readers have mentioned that their loaves took a really long time to bake, and I think this may be due to the zucchini being ‘wet’ after being grated. So you may wish to squeeze out the excess juice, using a tea towel, before adding it to the batter. I have made a few of these loaves and haven’t experienced this problem, but I wanted to add this note for you. **”
All this being said, I’m not sure I would recommend sacrificing too many precious hours of doing nothing on a lovely August afternoon fussing with overgrown zucchinis, peeling, de-seeding, dicing and freezing.
Consider, instead, this sage advice from www.ourdailylife.com:
“Chuck your overgrown zucchini into the compost heap. You can dice, slice, or run the zucchini through a blender beforehand for quicker composting rewards. Compost can be used for additional soil nutrients when gardening, or can be dried and used as fuel for burning. An inedible zucchini is not a useless zucchini. If you do not have a compost bin or heap yourself, ask your neighbours, friends or family members if they do.”
You see? You can toss those beauties on a compost heap and assuage your conscience all in one go! Now, grab a fat tomato sandwich and that novel, and hop back into the hammock before it’s time to collect those crabapples and get making jelly!