Zucchini chini bo bini…….

‘Tis the season of zucchini. It you grow it, you know it! If you have an abundance of this veggie you are looking for ways to cook it. I suggest baking it. It’s still zucchini, right? I like this recipe because you don’t need a lot of it. I’m not growing anything this season and it’s rather liberating. When I make my tortellini soup, year round, I buy my zucchini. I’m ok with that. This recipe calls for 1 medium zucchini. I use a Pyrex one-cup measuring cup. Sometimes it’s more than one zucchini. It just depends. Snack on what you don’t need.  I opted to make muffins for portion control. If I cut a slice from a loaf, it’s usually several inches thick. My eye-hand coordination sometimes is off. Oops! You can even put in chocolate chips. I’m a purist and only use raisins. Soak them in warm water to plump them up. (insert Arnold Schwarzenegger voice) You need to soak up some of the moisture from the zucchini. After I grate it with a box grater, I place several layers of paper towels in a shallow bowl and place the zucchini on top, while I get the other ingredients ready. The original recipe says to blot at the zucchini. I don’t blot.

Let’s preheat our ovens!

1 and 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

OPTIONAL – once cup of semi-sweet chocolate, raisins or nuts

1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil

1/2 cup of light or dark brown sugar packed

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg, room temperature

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup of grated zucchini (about one medium)

To make one loaf of bread, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 X 5 loaf pan. Instructions for muffins will follow.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and raisins together is a large bowl. I suggest replacing your baking powder and soda every few months. They are inexpensive enough to replace. You need them fresh, and in the summer they can absorb moisture. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk the oil, brown  and granulated sugars, egg, vanilla and zucchini.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Gently stir until combined. Do not overmix. Batter will be semi-thick.

Spread the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 45-55 minutes. Baking times vary so check on it. Remove bread from oven and place on a wire rack. Let cool completely before removing from pan and slicing. I like to put a piece of parchment paper on the bottom of the pan. I cut it so it comes a little over the top of the pan and is the narrow width of the pan. If it’s too long, it could brown and have a not-so-fresh-smell. This prevents leaving half of the loaf in the pan. Cooling is still required. This bread can be stored at room temperature, covered, for up to 5 days. Who are we kidding? Really.

For muffins, grease a 12-count muffin pan or line with liners. Prepare batter. Spoon batter into each liner, filling each all the way to top (sometimes). Bake the muffins for 5 minutes at 425 degrees. Keeping the muffins in the oven, lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 13-16 minutes. Test with a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin.  It should come out clean. Allow the muffins to cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then transfer to wire rack to continue cooling. Or, if you’re like me, leave in pan until completely cooled, give yourself a headslap because you forgot about the muffins, and place them in a container. Slip them inconspicuously into the freezer. Pull out for a work snack!

You should have at least one serving of vegetables a day! The original recipe is here if you need pictures. I forgot to take pictures even after the headslap but I did a quick sample. Squeeze your eyes closed and picture a muffin. Enjoy!

 

 

 

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Call it what you’d like, but it’s delicious!

 

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A few weeks ago I was browsing through my recipe box. Do people even keep recipe boxes anymore? Honestly, I don’t think I’ve added anything to mine since the 90’s. My mother found it when she working at an elementary school. It’s a distressed looking stained wooden box. In it is a treasure of clippings of home recipes from newspapers and recipes from friends and things I grew up eating. That’s how it was done a million years ago. People exchanged recipes or submitted recipes to the newspaper in hopes of sharing their family recipes. There were no chefs writing for newspapers or magazines, nor where there cooking shows on TV except Julia Childs. It was all print media back in the day.

Nowadays, I find most things on the internet. I print them, and put them in a nice pile with hundreds of other recipes, waiting to be gently placed in a clear plastic sleeve and then organized in a three-ring binder. Some may call this pile a fire hazard, others, opportunities! It could happen. I need a snow day!

I scribbled across the lined note card “Irish Bread”. In no way is it Irish bread. I don’t know where I found it, but it is delicious. It’s more like a quick bread or a tea bread. The sprinkled sparkling sugar on top gives it a nice crunch. The pre-soaked raisins add some moisture. I have some cooking right now and cannot wait for a warm slice with a little bit of butter. Pure heaven.

Let’s cook!

2 ½ cups all purpose flour

2 ½ tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp salt

1 stick of butter, melted and cooled slightly

¾ cup sugar

2 eggs

milk

1 cup raisins

1 tbsp. caraway seeds (optional)

Place the flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl. In a measuring cup, crack 2 large eggs (don’t break them up) and then fill with milk to the 1-cup measure line. Sometimes when you’re mixing, you need to add a splash more milk because large eggs aren’t always the same. Many things can impact baking such as humidity and different brands of flour.

Add the milk/egg mixture to the dry ingredients. Add the melted butter and sugar. Mix until batter is combined and thick. Add the raisins and caraway seeds if using. I like to soak the raisins in warm water to plump them up, then drain the water before adding them to the mixture. Keep in mind, this is a very thick batter. If it’s impossible to mix, add a splash more of milk.

Pour mixture into greased loaf pan. Sprinkle sugar on top. Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour. Start checking it at 45 minutes. Oven temperatures vary as do pan sizes. A toothpick should come out clean when it’s done. Cool pan on a rack for 5 minutes. Loosen bread with a knife and then let the bread cool on a rack. Store in an airtight container.

Let it cool, if you can, before serving!