As an avid gardener, each spring I try planting one new veggie. This
year it was four little zucchini plants.
I didn't know much about cooking zucchini
squash, but I thought I'd look up a recipe or two, and give the rest
away. After all, how many zucchini could four little plants produce?
The day we planted the garden, my friend Paree
told me that if I ever had any extra zucchini blossoms, she would give
me a great Greek recipe for "lemon-batter fried zucchini blossoms".
I told her that was the craziest thing I'd ever
heard. If you pick the blossom, it won't turn into a veggie. Why would
anyone in his right mind do such a thing? I couldn’t imagine how
cooking zucchini blossoms ever got started!
The next day, I went out to view our garden with
visions of veggies dancing in my head. Those little zucchini plants
looked as if they had doubled in size. "Interesting", I thought.
By mid-June, those four little suckers had grown
so large they took over the garden.
By the end of June, I was frantically cutting
back plants as they tried to crawl across the lawn and down the
By mid-July, we had declared war on those
plants. My children swore they heard the theme music from "Jaws" any
time they went near the garden. And each plant offered not one or two
zucchini, but 8, 9, and 10 at a time.
By the end of July, my first "zuc" (rhymes with
Luke. That's gardeners' talk, ya know) appeared, and my daughter
wanted to pick it RIGHT NOW.
It looked like a little two inch pathetic
pickle. After all kinds of persuasive arguments (plus a bribe), she
agreed to wait two days and let the little thing mature a bit.
Two days later, she came staggering in cradling
a 23 inch long zucchini which weighed 17 pounds and looked like a
Throughout the summer, try as we might, our
family never quite got the "knack" of zuc-picking.
We picked itsy, bitsy mini-zucchini. One hour
later, we'd pick super, jumbo mega-zucs. But the magic moment when the
squash were "just right" eluded all of us.
By mid-August, we had harvested enough zucchini
squash to feed the entire town; we were sick of eating them and
couldn’t give them away fast enough. Our neighbors were avoiding us,
relatives stopped inviting us over, and in every phone conversation
with my mother in Florida, she gave me a passionate speech explaining
that no zucchini would survive being shipped all those miles.
At this point, my family demanded a moratorium
on zucchini recipes. I had served it baked, sautéed, deep-fried,
boiled, stuffed, stewed and raw. They awarded a "Zucker" (the veggie
version of the Oscar) to the worst meal in America. Zucchini quiche
won hands down, with my "zucchini-hot-fudge-surprise" casserole as
first runner up.
Amazingly, they ate the zucchini muffins. I
gagged when I mixed the 2 cups of shredded zucchini with brown sugar,
but once they were baked, the zucchini didn't show...and I wasn't
about to tell.
Our teen-agers were the best behaved in the
land, for I had found the ultimate parental threat. "Take out the
garbage NOW or I'll cook another zucchini recipe tonight!"
Then the rains came and our garden, along with
the lawn, driveway and garage floor, were under water for days.
We noted that all four zucchini plants were
totally submerged in water....and we smiled. Then the water drained
off and again the rains came. And again. Each time, all four zuc
plants were under water for days...and we smiled.
Finally, the flooding stopped. And—oh, joy, oh,
bliss, oh rapture unforetold--the zucchini stopped.
Then , on Sept. 25, my son called me out to the
garden. The zuc plants were covered with bright yellow blossoms. we
counted 15 on one plant alone--every blossom offering the promise of
yet another miserable, wretched zucchini.
And I remembered my friend's recipe for fried
zucchini blossoms. And I understood.
In my mind, I saw a clear picture of that long
ago first Greek woman who ever thought to cook a blossom. She's
standing there staring at those darned plants--too frugal to consider
throwing out all that food; too intelligent to even contemplate
cooking and serving any more zucs to her family.
Suddenly, she has an idea. She plucks every
yellow blossom and - voila - a new culinary masterpiece is created.
You might ask me if blossoms taste good, and I'd
answer, "Who cares?" Would any family in its right mind complain if it
knew that each blossom eaten would prevent the birth of another
And now, I think I'll go whip up another batch
of my "zucchini blossom-hot fudge surprise."