Monday, July 02, 2007

Shredded Sweet

One of the greatest joys of eating locally is eating in season... and having certain foods and dishes appear annually in my kitchen.

Thus far this year, there's been fresh asparagus for pasta and frittatas and souffl├ęs, lots of mixed greens, strawberries for jam and for snacking, and radishes for sandwiches... all my favorite late-spring and early-summer fresh tastes! And soon to come, there will be okra (fried, of course), juicy tomatoes for salads and canning, and corn... sweet, sweet corn!

Everything's coming into the market a little ahead of schedule this year, so I'm already into zucchini season. I like getting the small ones for a quick saute for dinner, and I've already branched out into other kinds of squash as well.

But given how quickly things are growing this summer, you may not be surprised to discover that I've already picked up my first big-as-a-baseball-bat zucchini for the sole purpose of shredding and freezing the vegetable for winter baking. I cut up and shredded most of the zucchini this evening after dinner, ending up with five big lumps of about 1 1/2 c of shredded zucchini stuffed into freezer bags and stashed at the bag of the freezer.

Of course, I can't freeze all of that zucchini right away. I must -- as you might well expect -- bake!

Instead of reaching for my usual zucchini bread recipe in my Betty Crocker Cookbook, I decided to try the whole wheat zucchini bread recipe in King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking. Though I'm well out of local whole wheat flour, I added as many local ingredients as I could gather: zucchini, eggs, milk, maple syrup, and pecans from last year's visit with Sojourner.

The batter filled one of my large loaf pans, and after an hour in the oven, I pulled out a gorgeous green-flecked and well-rounded blond loaf, fragrant with nutmeg and cloves. I let it cool for a while (until it could dump itself out of the pan without help), and then, yes, I had to sample it.

I confess, I miss the darker, more moist and more heavily spiced zucchini bread that I usually make. This version is very good, don't get me wrong: it's light, not too sweet, just moist enough, and very wholesome tasting. But I do like a little more intensity and spiciness to my zucchini bread.

Still, this bread made a lovely sweet treat for the evening as I sat and listened to the band out on the town square, and it will definitely go to work with me for my morning coffee break tomorrow.

And given the amount of shredded zucchini now in the freezer, I'm sure I'll be enjoying more of the same later in the year!


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