Sunday, September 26, 2010
Home Grown...By Someone Else
I grew up in a land of hot, hot summers with an avid gardener. I took it for granted that whatever you put in the ground grew. Not just grew, but grew with a wild abandon. Tomato plants flourished and in the spot where last year's tomatoes had grown, volunteers cheerfully sprouted and bore fruit. Peas clambered toward the sky, shyly hiding their pods behind fans of greenery. Squash and melon vines snaked their way around the garden, flowered, and threatened to take over the rest of the growing space with their enormous leaves.
It took me many years of attempted gardening in the temperate Northwest to figure out that I did not have the same recipe for gardening that my father did. Even if I bought the best seeds, amended the soil with rich compost loam, transplanted indoor-started seedlings after the last danger of frost, and weeded industriously, I had no guarantees that my efforts would yield anything other than slug fodder. The fickle nature of the weather meant that a spring that started with hardy starts and high hopes would most likely end under grey, drizzly cloud cover with sadly stunted, yellowing vines and no produce to harvest. Oh, and I have a brown thumb, so any starts to come into my house are pretty much doomed.
This year my gardening efforts culminated in a single tomato. Yes, just one. And it was a cherry tomato at that. Above is a picture of my son holding our amazing harvest.
I've finally resigned myself to the fact that I'm a terrible gardener and attempt only tomatoes in containers and herbs in the ground, because herbs are basically good-tasting weeds and weeds are all that I'm really good at growing.
Oddly, even though I can't grow them myself, I resent having to pay money for produce that I know my parents are desperately trying to give away. It's not worth the 17 hour drive to go get a bag of free zucchinis, but I still feel ornery forking over cash for them at the market.
When I saw this recipe, though, I know it was worth it to pay cash for the squash. My zucchini-hating family gobbled it up and looked forlorn when the pan was empty. If you find an end of the season monster lurking in your yard, you definitely need to make this cake. And if you have to actually buy zucchini, it's still worth it. It's moist, delicious, plus it has the bonus of sneaking some veggies into your dessert course.
Note: I had an end of season bag of cherries in my refrigerator, so I halved them and added them to the cake. They are entirely optional, but really take the cake over the top
Chocolate Cherry Zucchini Cake
- adapted from homespun living
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
2 cups shredded zucchini
3/4 cup pitted, halved sweet cherries (optional, but very good)
1 Tbsp vanilla
1- Preheat oven to 350 deg. Grease a 15 x 10 x 1-inch pan (jellyroll pan).
2- In a mixing bowl combine the sugar, oil, and yogurt. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
3- In a medium bowl, measure the dry ingredients, whisking to combine.
4- Add the dry ingredients in 4 additions, alternating with the milk in 3 additions. Stir in the zucchini, cherries and vanilla. Spread in prepared pan.
5- Bake 30 minutes. Allow to cool on a wire rack. When cake is at room temperature, frost.
Quick Chocolate Frosting
1-1/3 cups sugar
6 Tbsp milk
6 Tbsp butter
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1- In a medium saucepan heat sugar, milk, and butter to boiling. Boil 30 seconds.
2- Remove from heat and add chocolate chips, stirring until the chips are melted. Spread over the cooled cake.