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August 17, 2007

I’m in love with this image:  the funky hairdo, the apron, the giant fish apparently nailed to the wall in preparation for the demonstration . . . I do wonder why her dining room is filled with Pick Up Sticks (that’s Spillikins for my transAtlantic reader).  Nevertheless, it’s perfect for today’s conversation, which is about zucchini.

Every year I look forward to the first squash of the season.  I love them, with their tender greeny-black skins, their invisible (but brutal) spines, their sticky, sapid juice.  They are so lovely, so innocent, so delicious–particularly dipped in cornmeal and fried, as is our tradition for the very first squash each summer.  Mmmm.

Then, about a week later, there are 5ooo of them, and they are the size of the station wagon, and even if we only planted one hill, there are now seven, each with four plants, and no matter how careful we are, no matter how thoroughly we seek beneath those treacherous leaves, we miss some, and they get so big we have to take an axe to them and then winch the pieces up to the porch, like the elk quarters we drag down the hill each fall.

Thank heaven, it is possible to go from this:

to this:

http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1331/1145595535_020d266641.jpg

quickly and easily.  I love this recipe, which is a modified version of a recipe I tore from a magazine without bothering to take the whole page, so I would know where it came from.  My apologies to the original developer–and you should never have put all that baking soda in, ’cause it was nasty.

Four Loaves of Zucchini Bread (can be halved, but honestly, why?  It freezes, your office mates will love it, because it’s free, and you’ll be eating it toasted with butter for a midnight snack.)

Preheat your oven to 350 F, and liberally spray or otherwise grease 4 loaf pans.

6 eggs
2 cups vegetable oil
3 1/2 cups sugar
4 cups (plus or minus) grated zucchini (All Praises to Cuisinart, who maketh shredded zucchini rain down abundantly upon us in mere seconds)
1 T vanilla
6 c unbleached flour
1 T cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
1 t cloves
1 1/2 t baking powder
2 t salt

Beat the eggs, oil, and sugar at medium speed till well-combined.  Add zucchini and vanilla.

In another bowl, combine the remaining ingredients thoroughly.

Stir the dry mixture into the egg mixture just until combined.  Do not bother to beat it–just mix it up and make sure there’s no icky clumps of dry flour at the bottom.

Divide among your four loaf pans.  Bake for about an hour, or until golden brown, cracked in the middle, and barely sizzling when you hold it to your ear.

Turn out of the pans onto a wire rack and let cool.

Some people like to add about 2 cups of raisins, dried cranberries, walnuts, or chocolate chips to their zucchini bread.  This Is Not Our Way. 

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