Best Zucchini Bread

You really know it’s summer when you start getting more zucchini than you can possibly eat plain.  Forget those adorable, skinny little courgettes – these are huge, dachshund size squash with their own zip codes and personality.  Of course you cannot throw them out and can’t pass them up – what do you do with them?  Here is the first of several recipes to come.  This is the perfect way to get more veggies into your diet, use up those green giants, and also have lovely cake/muffins/bread around for guests.  Enjoy!

Best Zucchini Bread Ever

for bread:
3 eggs
1 cup oil or melted butter
1 ½ cups sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups flour
3 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

for topping:
½ cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325. Well grease either two bread pans or a baking dish (or muffin tins or Bundt pan – whatever you like). Beat eggs with a whisk until they are frothy. Beat in oil and sugar. Stir in zucchini and vanilla. Then stir in spices, salt, baking soda and powder, then flour. Pour into pans, sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon. Bake 45 minutes then check with a knife. It might take as long as 60-65 minutes to bake, depending on pans.
Cool, remove from pans, cut and serve.

-you can use grated carrot, apple, yellow squash instead of the zucchini or any combination of the four
-you can add nuts or raisins to the bread
-you can use ½ cup oil and ½ cup applesauce in place of 1 cup oil
-you can use the zest of an orange or lemon in the bread or as part of the topping
-you can substitute lemon or orange juice instead of vanilla
-you can add chopped candied ginger to the bread

Soup and Bedtime

Why, oh why must bedtime be such a struggle?  It never fails, come time to brush teeth and get in bed, that’s when the badly behaved monsters come out.  Not just the kids, I take full responsibility for my part – impatience, thy name is mama at bedtime.  I hate it.  Each night I promise myself, no yelling tonight, no frustration and then just when I think we might make it to sleeping child time without an outburst from me and naughty testing from them – bang.  I end up hating myself once again and they go to sleep with the taste of negativity.  They never seem to remember in the morning, but of course I do. 

At least tonight’s bedtime ritual started out ok, with their usual snack before bed.  It was bowls of fresh, hot soup.  Who eats soup in the summer, you might ask?  My great-grandfather claimed nothing was better than hot soup on a hot day as it makes you sweat and then you cool down.  There may be something flawed in that logic but nonetheless hot soup always has a place on our menu.  Try this great soup using fresh vegetables; it is a great way to use the sorrel you got from the CSA and don’t know what to do with it. 

Sausage, Lentil, and Rice Soup

  • 1 lb raw turkey sausage, without casing
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 3-4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper (any color), chopped
  • 2 cups chopped or julienned sorrel or spinach
  • (you can also use corn fresh off the cob, shelled peas, chopped green beans, chopped kale or chard)
  • 1 large can chopped tomatoes
  • 3-4 tomato cans full of water
  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 1 cup rice
  • oregano and basil (fresh if you’ve got them, dried otherwise)
  • 2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • drizzle of olive oil to cook sausage

Cook sausage in the bottom of a large soup pot in the oil, chopping it up so you get little bites.  Add in the chopped onions and cook a couple more minutes.  Add the tomatoes and scrape the bottom of the pot to get up all the fond.  Add the water, rest of the vegetables, lentils, and rice.  Cook until the lentils and rice are soft (a couple of hours should suffice.)  You can transfer the soup to a crock pot and leave it for several hours at this point.  When soup is basically cooked, add in herbs, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper.  Cook another half an hour then readjust salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with a green salad, fresh bread, nothing at all, iced tea – whatever strikes your fancy.

Summer, Poetry, and Food

Rafi's pride - his homemade pretzel

Tonight’s Food Book Group met and read food related poetry and ate delicious food.  A couple Nerudas, a Soto, a child’s poem book about Italian food, an original Hersh (thank you Orly), Persian rice and red lentils, caponata, crunchy mustard fish, homemade pretzels (made by the kids’ own hands!), brie stuffed apricots, popcorn, watermelon.  All in all a lovely evening followed by a now cooler and languid night.  Kids are sleeping, we are looking at houses for sale and fantasizing about where to put the china cabinet and will the bed fit there.  Maybe by next summer we will be closer to the dream house.  If not, we will still be eating delicious food, reading poetry and food books, and enjoying weather hot enough to droop the tomato plants and dry enough to crack the earth and sunny enough to bleach the floorboards through the windows.  And loving it.  Right?  Of course right.