I started writing this nearly a month ago--days before my sister's wedding, when the summer gourds were reproducing like mad in my garden. Well, things went pear shaped (me, the misshapen zucchini, but thankfully not the wedding) and the post went on hold. My sister still got married (hallelujah!) and it's mid September and the zucchini continue to fornicate like rabbits. So I'm in luck, and so are you if you've got pounds of the stuff sitting on your counter or growing like wildfire in the backyard (or on fire sale at the farmer's market). With chocolate is the best way to eat zucchini...or in the dead of winter curried up on a grilled cheese sandwich when the bounty of summer squash dances in your head like a vision (that recipe up next). Until then, I dread a few days away for fear of monster zucchini hiding under the vines, discovered and begging not to be wasted.
In the past 24 hours I've made protein and omega 3 packed nut power bars, dehydrated 10 pounds of ripe peaches, prepped cannelini beans for a spread with rosemary, made 2 quarts of green smoothie, repurposed leftover grilled zucchini in a rice paper wrap with a homemade spicy peanut sauce garnished with basil, radishes and carrots from the garden, and made 12 pints of one of my favorite "pickles", curried yellow squash and zucchini. Last week a friend and I canned 60 pounds of tart yellow plums into one of my favorite honey sweetened jams and compotes. But I don't want to talk about any of that. We're trying to eat healthier here at the homestead, so the sourdough baking has been put on pause and mornings are filled with the whir of the Vitamix pureeing its way through a bushel of beet greens, spinach, kale, or carrot tops. I feel great but just can't get all that excited about green smoothies, despite having all the ingredients fresh from the garden. But I can get excited about bon bons. Specifically, mint ice cream bon bons, dipped in a homemade dark chocolate 'magic shell'. No kale, no vitamix involved. A little bit of sugar, cream, mint, a chocolate shell, and a lot of guilt.
Messed up things happen. I was gone 5 days - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, count 'em. Evidently, the entirety of the summer's growing potential jammed itself into those five days. I came home to 17 pounds of squash and zucchini. We're not talking the junior hand size types that are great for stir-fry's (and Preserved Zucchini or Love Pats)-- we're talking two hands needed and my arms hurt after I peeled them types. These were like baseball bats (or small dogs).So, what to do with 17 pounds of giant zucchini? Zucchini relish, (with an Indian spice kick), of course. I now have 16 pint size jars -- who loves hot dogs ?
Summer squash: striped green romanesco zucchini and straightneck yellow squash, fill my garden. I should be thinking zucchini fritters, but instead, I think sex. Wall Street. Bad movies. I can still smell my mom's yellow squash, pungent with red wine vinegar and soggy with butter on my plate, and see me, a chunky pre-teen at the table, watching the clock tick endlessly, day dreaming in protest. I was dreaming of Michael J. Fox in The Secret of My Success...and scheming about how to get a better image on the VCR as my best friend and I repeatedly ran through his nude pool dive in slow motion. The secret, according to the adorable MJF, was sleeping our way to the top. And this, as far as we could tell, involved some sort of wrestling match on a couch with the boss. I wasn't sure about the details, but I knew I had to escape the dinner table (and the soggy squash) to get started. Fast forward 25 years; I feel differently about the squash family now, as well as sleeping my way to the top. I have no expertise in the latter, aside from unconsummated fantasies from too many late nights spent delirious in the office. I chuckled to discover that my old favorite film ranked at #7 in Bloomberg Businessweek's "Top 30 Must-See Movies for Business Students". I wouldn't recommend spending quite so much time on the pool scene however...