Smile Politely

The sweet end of summer

Now that my sister has headed back to school, she is less keen on canning and freezing the bounty of her garden. Teaching junior high can do that to a person.

It can even send 12 junior high teachers for a cocktail or two in a dimly lit bar the first Friday of the school year, as I learned this past weekend. While the group joked about whether there was a tangible difference between behavioral disorder students and junior high students in general, they also talked fondly of their mentors and what they miss most when the school year starts.

For my sister, it is the time that she spends canning green beans, freezing corn, and dressing chickens. She knows that some might view these tasks as drudgery, but to her they represent a meditation on the land and generations of women who made the most of what it offered them.

Spying my empty trunk at the end of this weekend’s visit, she decided to load it down with pears, tomatoes, basil, dill, and Swiss chard before I left. “You know I don’t have time to can and freeze them,” she said sheepishly. Since we operate in a more or less constant state of potlatch, she will be the recipient of tomato ginger chutney and pear hazelnut tart in October. Taking her pasta sauce would be like taking coals to… well let’s just say she already has 27 quarts.

In addition to the exchanging of food, my sister and I also exchange recipes. This weekend I taught her to make an Indian tomato okra dish so that she could get back on top of the okra harvest. And, she taught me her latest trick for getting rid of zucchini.

Thankfully she doesn’t grow zucchini, so I have only my own to deal with from my share in Prairieland Community Supported Agriculture. And while no one is going to confuse these with a fudgy brownie anytime soon, they do give cake brownies a run for their money. Grate the zucchini really fine so that it disappears during baking. Use fresh, moist zucchini and remove any seeds prior to grating. There is no egg in this recipe, so you are counting on the moisture and starch from the squash to bind the rest of the ingredients. If you shred a little extra zucchini, you can freeze it and make these this winter. You also can add a little cinnamon and a pinch of clove for a spice cake version.

Zucchini Brownies

  • 1/4 c vegetable oil
  • 3/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, do not use whole wheat
  • 1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 c finely grated zucchini
  • 3 to 4 T chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and dust an 8 x 8 pan with cocoa. In a large bowl, mix together oil, sugar, and vanilla. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in another bowl, removing any lumps. Stir dry ingredients into sugar mixture. Fold in zucchini. The batter will be very thick. Spread into pan. Sprinkle top with walnuts. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until brownies spring back when gently touched.

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