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Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Mighty Zucchini

At this time of the year, I am usually overwhelmed with zucchini. In fact, I've been known to be named Mom of the Year, just by allowing the young one and his friends to take the obscenely large zucchini from the garden and demolish them as they wish. Last year, our back yard was covered with the remains of some dearly departed zucchini. And our new puppy, who will still eat anything, was sleeping on his back in the middle of the yard with a distended tummy and a contented smile on his face.

This year, my garden just didn't work out. And, I'm ashamed to admit, my zucchini didn't produce any squash. How can this be possible? Zucchini can be grown by just about anyone. It's the butt of jokes, and it's ginormous yields are the stuff of legend. I tried every trick in the book to get them to polinate, but no squash was produced. And then we got hit with a horrible hail storm.

This year, I had to (gasp) get zucchini from a friend. Her relief at being able to get rid of some of her bounty was apparent, although restrained. Those of us who've raised the mighty green squash know that you can't get too excited when someone's willing to take some off your hands--you don't want to chase your recipient away from future hand outs.

I've been known to secretly deliver my zucchini bounty in the dead of night. Stealthily stalking neighbors and friends, I'll leave my green calling card on their front porch and then run for cover. Heck a friendly smile at the mailbox from a new neighbor just might insight me to rush a basket of fresh from the garden zucchini to their doorstep. Anonymous zucchini drops are commonplace around here. I even got one last year while I was out making my own deliveries!

When my harvest is plentiful, I've been known to serve the squash hidden in all three meals of the day. Shredded, it can be added to breads, muffins, sauces, and pasta bakes. But, this year, since I'm zucch-less (and yes that is a word), I'm using it as the feature flavor. These are two of my favorite zucchini recipes. I hope you enjoy!

Teriyaki Zucchini Stir Fry

Splash of canola oil
Zucchini, cut into rectangles--halve lengthwise and cut into long strips, then cut into 2 inch pieces
One large onion, sliced
Fresh mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
Teriyaki Sauce
Sesame Seeds

Prep all vegetables before heating pan. This one cooks up fast, so be prepared to be with the pan the whole time! Heat a wok or frying pan over high heat. Add a splash of oil. Drop in vegetables and, using two wooden spoons, stir fry until veggies are tender and caramelized. Remove from heat. Season with teriyaki sauce to taste, coating vegetables well. Don't use too much or it will be too salty. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Serve with steamed Jasmine Rice.

Zucchini Corn Saute

A splash of olive oil
Several small zucchini cut into coins
One medium onion, diced
Canned or frozen corn
salt and pepper to taste
shredded cheese: Cheddar, Mozzarella, Monterey Jack--whatever you have around

Heat a wok or frying pan over medium high heat. Splash with olive oil. Add onion and zucchini. Cook until caramelized and tender. Add corn and cook until heated through, stirring often. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and top with a small amount of shredded cheese. Enjoy!

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