Attack of the killer zucchini

They’re out there — lying in wait, hiding under leaf umbrellas, inching toward the house, growing in the dark. And as soon as we drop our guard, they’ll be in the house — covering the counters and tumbling to the floor. It’s zucchini season, and for the next month every day will be a pitched battle to stay ahead of the crop.

Today we had sort of a stir-fry for lunch with leftover grilled chicken, onion, garlic, lots of zucchini and a little Parmesan. And I made a double batch of The Silver Palate Cookbook (1982) zucchini bread.

Now, before you wrinkle your nose, know that this is a zucchini bread like no other — soft, rich, spicy, studded with walnut pieces. It’s cake, really.

Back in the early 1980s when then-Charlotte Observer book editor Dannye Romine Powell tossed this book across my newroom desk and asked if I were interested, I had no idea how it would shape my ideas of cooking and eating.  Authors Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins (with Michael McLaughlin) believe(d) in fresh — fresh food, fresh taste and fresh combinations. Almost 30 years later I’m still using the tattered shreds of that original paperback.

You make the zucchini bread thusly. And you can double or triple the recipe if you like. You probably will like because any two eaters of only modest skills can demolish a loaf in a day, day and a half, tops!


Silver Palate Zucchini Bread

3 tablespoons sweet butter

3 eggs

1-1/4cups vegetable oil

1-1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups grated (unpeeled) raw zucchini

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 cup walnuts, chopped

Heat your oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9- x 5-inch loaf pan with the butter. Beat eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla until light and thick. Fold zucchini into oil mixture. Stir baking soda and powder into flour and stir dry ingredients into wet mixture. Fold in walnuts. Pour batter into loaf pan. Bake on middle rack of the oven for 1-1/4 hours or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans, run knife around all edges and set loaves right-side-up on cooling rack before wrapping for later eating or freezing.

Served with cream cheese embellished with a bit of brown sugar and cinnamon, this is one of the top reasons for summer.

I will try and keep my consumption under control (like last night with the unsalted cashews when I ate only 1/4 cup) because this morning I hit the 29- pounds-gone point. That’s darn close to 30. And I rode my scarey bike UP our alpine driveway for the first time. It was a real “Rocky” moment.I woo-hoo’ed.

Heat or no, I’m definitely stronger and that feels good. I may yet get to the point where I agree with friends Catherine M. and Sally N., who both say being skinny feels better than anything tastes.






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