Giant Green Monsters Growing in our Garden

So I just returned from a trip to Germany to visit my Grandmother, bringing back a relaxed-self, lots of German chocolate and sweets, and, well, a few extra pounds on my thighs. No wonder, coming from a country where sausages are eaten 24/7 and potatoes count as a vegetable. Not to mention the amazing cakes, pastries, and strudels; Germans really know how to do their desserts. The weather was beautiful, and I enjoyed exploring around Munich and finding lots of new things. I’ll be sure to post some pictures!

To change the subject, why don’t we talk about zucchini. Why zucchini, you may wonder? Well, here’s the story to that: A month or so ago, my dad and I decided to grow some zucchini plants in our garden. Now we’re both not the green-thumb types; the last time I ever grew anything was in second grade when I got a mini cactus. The idea behind growing our own zucchini was, surprisingly, not about the zucchini, but the blossoms. Ever since we had fried zucchini blossoms in Florence, we knew we just had to try to make it at home. We went to every farmer’s market and gourmet shop to find them, but always without luck, so we thought: why not grow our own? A week after planting our zucchini, surely enough, 4 or 5 plump yellow flowers blossomed out. After that, they just kept on coming and coming: we had fried zucchini blossoms almost every day.

When we came home from Germany, we were so surprised to find not one, but 3 HUGE zucchini…I mean the biggest I had ever seen. They looked more like pumpkins. Now my family is going crazy trying to create recipes containing zucchini: zucchini pasta, zucchini soup, zucchini sandwiches…to the point where we can’t even look at another zucchini anymore. I made two quick and easy, heavily spiced loaves of zucchini bread: one to eat, and one to freeze. I cut half of the oil and replaced it with applesauce to make it a little healthier, and it also makes it moister.

Pretty little blossom

Pretty little blossom

The big green monster of a zucchini

The big green monster of a zucchini

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Grated zucchini

Grated zucchini

Sugars, oil, vanilla, eggs

Sugars, oil, vanilla, eggs, applesauce if using

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Flour, baking powder and soda, lots of spices: sifted

Flour, baking powder and soda, lots of spices: sifted

Add dry to wet, stir in zucchini

Add dry to wet, stir in zucchini

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Before baking…

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…and after!

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Zucchini Spice Bread (adapted from Martha Stewart)    Note: I doubled the recipe to make 2 loaves instead of 1

Ingredients:

Nonstick cooking spray

1 3/4 cups zucchini

1 cup packed light-brown sugar

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2/3 cup vegetable oil; or 1/3 cup applesauce + 1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

3/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan with cooking spray, and set aside. Grate zucchini on the large holes of a box grater; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together sugars, oil, vanilla, eggs, and applesauce if using.
  2. Into a small bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and salt. Add flour to egg mixture, and stir to combine well. Stir in grated zucchini.
  3. Pour batter into prepared pan, spreading evenly. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes; invert onto a wire rack, then reinvert, top side up. Cool completely before slicing.
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