Madison Monday: The Battle of Big Squash

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Is it Garrison Keillor who tells the joke about zucchini in the Midwest? The only time Midwesterners lock their cars is in the summer to keep their neighbors from dumping bags of zucchini in the passenger seat.

From June until September, this part of the world is under siege by squash. One year I indulged my husband and planted three hills of pattypan squash. That was the summer that put our daughter off squash for good. There’s only one method of squash delivery left for he. Only one way I can enlist her in the battle against the zucchini–bread.

zucchini bread

Always two loaves

Zucchini bread. One incredibly satisfying answer to the eternal question, what the hell am I going to do with all this squash? Two loaves of zucchini bread almost perfectly uses up one immense, football-sized zucchini that is of absolutely no use for anything else. You know, the one that got away from you in the vigilant watch you keep over the zucchini to prevent them from expanding into unusable monstrosities over-night? That one that seemed to grow five inches just during the time it took you to check the cucumbers?

At least according to my mother’s zucchini bread recipe, two loaves makes that sucker go away and clears room in your fridge for–more zucchini. I’ve never tried any other zucchini bread recipe, because first, you saw it was my mother’s, right? And second, it is, luckily enough, perfect as it is. Fluffy and moist and sweet and zucchini-ish in just the right amount.

It might not have been until I was in my early 30s that it occurred to me to wonder why in the hell you would put zucchini in what is basically a version of banana bread. The obvious answer is to get rid of the goddam zucchini. The other answer is moisture; zucchini helps keep the bread nice and moist.

When you have made zucchini bread many times, it gets to be old hat. It’s easy to do and fills the house with a yummy smell. My mother’s recipe always makes two loaves, which means one to keep for yourself, and one to give away. This assumes that everyone else you know isn’t baking their own zucchini bread in order to get rid of the stockpiles of zucchini piling up in their kitchens.

Some versions of zucchini bread I’ve consumed clearly call for pureeing the zucchini into unrecognizable mush. I can certainly understand the attraction of this method. Who hasn’t looked at a zucchini in July and wanted to grind it into a pulp? We grate ours, which means there is no mistaking the finished product for anything other than zucchini bread; the flecks of green don’t lie. I prefer this method. I want to be reminded with each bite I take of my temporary victory over this formidable foe.

Who’d like another loaf?

P. S. Stay tuned tomorrow (fingers crossed) for a Madison Monday special on the bridge demolition. Things go BOOM! It doesn’t get any more exciting than that. Unless we could strategically place zucchini on the bridge…just saying.

P.P.S. Between the writing of this post its eventual posting (damn you internet outages), I discovered another potential use for zucchini. It smells delicious right now. Stay tuned!

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