‘Tis the Season for Zuking

Even though the weather is still quite warm—sometimes uncomfortably so—folks in Vermont are looking over their shoulders at the approach of winter.

The gardens they’ve been tending since May are now ready for harvest. Edie Wolfe has a delicious way to preserve zucchini squash. I think you’ll like this recipe.

So glad you could stop by to visit Carding, Vermont today.

Years ago, Edie Wolfe and her friend Ruth Goodwin decided they would grow their seasonal veggies together, each in her own garden according to hours of daylight and space. Since they both live a solo lives, it made sense that one of them should do all the lettuce, the other radishes, and split the harvest.

The only exception is tomatoes. Each of them has a favorite heirloom variety (or two) so they both string up vines then swap the results.

Ruth has a bit more space than Edie so she’s become the duo’s squash provider. While they each love adding crooknecks and zucchini to their summer suppers, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the abundance.

That first summer, Ruth limited herself to “just” three hills of the yellow and two of the green because everyone knows “that zucchini can easily get out of hand.” 

The result was too much, way too much.

So the next year, Ruth and Edie decided that one hill of each veggie would be plenty. “If we need more, there’s always someone with squash to spare,” Edie said.

The two women have been diligent, picking their produce just as it’s ready, keeping the squash smaller and manageable. They’ve even pickled some of the zucchini, sparking it up with just the tiniest bit of jalapeño pepper.

But as everyone who’s ever grown zucchini can tell you, there’s always one or two that get away, snuggling close to the ground, under and blending in with the leaves. Somehow, no matter how diligently you look, they don’t reveal themselves until they are massive and the plant’s leaves are just beginning to die back.

“Bread squash comin’ at ya,” Ruth announced when she showed up at Edie’s house yesterday morning. She waved a massive vegetable at her friend.

“Whoa, you could hurt somebody with that thing,” Edie said. Ruth handed it over for Edie to heft.

“So how many zuke breads do you think you can get out of that one?” Ruth asked. 

“Hmmm, my recipe calls for only two cups of shredded zucchini so I’d say we’re looking at—what—eight breads? And today’s a good day to get started with the overcast,” Edie said with a glance at the sky. “It won’t get as hot in my kitchen.”

“Well, I’ll let you get to it,” Ruth said, turning away.

“Wait, I’ve got some Brandywines for you.” Edie picked up a tomato-filled basket from the table on her porch.

“Oooh, I’m so glad you decided to try these. They’re a little spicy, don’t you think?”

And from there, the two friends were off on their favorite topics—gardening and tomatoes and the outcome of the harvest in progress.

It started to rain just after Ruth left, a rare event this summer, so Edie decided there was no time like the present for making her first batch of zucchini bread. She liked to cut her loaves in half and tuck them in the freezer until the snowy months when the spicy bread would be toasted and smeared with butter.

Here is Edie Wolfe’s favorite zucchini bread recipe, adapted from The New Zucchini Cookbook by Nancy C. Ralston and Marynor Jordan.

Zucchini Bread (Makes 2 loaves)

3 eggs beaten

1 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 cups grated zucchini

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cups raisin and/or chopped walnuts (optional)

Beat the eggs, add the oil, sugar, and grated zucchini. Mix thoroughly then add all other ingredients, saving the flour for last. Mix thoroughly, making sure all the flour has been combined. Divide batter equally between two greased loaf pans. Bake at 375 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes. Center of loaves should be raised and firm when done.

Enjoy right away or freeze. Wrap cooled loaves in waxed paper then foil for freezing. Pop into plastic bags before sliding them into your freezer.

Sonja Hakala lives on a river in Vermont and is the author of the Carding, Vermont novels and the upcoming Red City mystery, The Broken Moon.

The Carding, Vermont novels are available on Amazon, and they are, in order of appearance:

The Road Unsalted

Thieves of Fire

The Dazzling Uncertainty of Life

Light in Water, Dancing

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