AAAAAAAAGH! Or, What I Found On My Doorstep This Morning…
<shudder> I like to think I’m fairly tough. I can clean up a sick kid with vomit still stuck to my shirt. I can pick up 3 day old dead rats and throw them away. I can…well, let’s not make you nauseous, shall we? The point is, there are very few things that turn my stomach. That make me break out in a sweat. Spots in my vision, the whole thing.
I opened the front door this morning to find a pile of zucchini squashes squatting malevolently on my front lawn. No signature on the note, mind you, because there is the chance I might return them if I knew who did this terrible thing. Utahns take their veggie gardens very seriously–right up to the point where they forget that one innocuous zucchini plant can spawn, like, 8,009 of those disgusting tubes of death. Then, the “generosity” begins. Perfectly nice neighbors are subjected to “drive-by squashing” because there’s only so many of those vile, spongey things one can consume.
(photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/raludwick/)
Simply for self-preservation, I came up with a killer Zucchini Bread recipe a few years ago when I lived in Virginia. If the bloom of romance with your zucchini has faded on the vine, perhaps it’s time to make those vile creatures actually edible.
Hampton Roads Zucchini Bread Muffins:
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 cup shredded, raw zucchini
1/2 peeled and grated raw apple
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 safflower or canola oil
1 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla
1/2 cup shredded coconut
Cream Cheese Frosting (optional, but always welcome in my world)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 tsp. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Grease (or spray with a nonstick vegetable spray) a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan.Toast the pecans or walnuts for about 8 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant. Let cool and then chop coarsely.Grate the zucchini, using a medium grater, and then peel and grate the apple. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ground cinnamon, and nutmeg. In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract until well blended (about 2 minutes). Beat in the grated zucchini and apple. Add the flour mixture, beating just until combined. Then fold in the nuts and coconut. Scrape the batter into the prepared cupcake pan and bake until the bread has risen and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50 to 60 minutes. Place on a wire rack to cool and then remove the bread from the pan. Frost with cream cheese icing, if desired. Well wrapped, this bread will keep for several days at room temperature (if unfrosted) or for several days in the fridge (if frosted). This bread can be frozen.Makes 12 muffins.Editor’s note: I took the main recipe from the venerable “Joy of Cooking” cookbook and added some stuff I found in www.thejoyofbaking.com. Both excellent resources.
Frosting: Beat the butter and cream cheese until very smooth with no lumps. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar until fully incorporated and smooth. Beat in the vanilla extract. Spread over the top of the cooled zucchini muffins. Garnish with toasted coconut, if desired.
(Editor’s note: I only use the frosting if I’m making muffins from the mix. But at parties, it’s fun to watch the internal struggle of the Healthy Nazi Mom when she realizes the muffin is actually nutritious.)