Monday, August 31, 2009

Road Trip!

Olympia, Washington--the only place other than Portland that I've seriously considered living. It hasn't lured me away from my beloved city yet, but it's still a possibility. Also home to my dear friend Rob, who used to be my neighbor in Japan! Rob and I share a love of edible plants and a love of making things, so when we're together, we always talk gardens, share seeds, cook a lot, and do an art project like letterpress printing or making paper.

This weekend was a perfect example. We made spectacular zucchini bread with squash from Rob's sister, and then we spent the day making beautiful paper from scraps and ends of art paper I'd been saving up, and then we planted a bed of salad greens, and then I got to look through Rob's seeds and take home some kale plants too.

My girlfriend Theresa and I also took a hike right in the city and found it amazingly forestlike, complete with red huckleberries, my new obsession! I only just learned to identify them and tried them for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and so I am still enchanted by them. Here I am picking and eating!

And here is the recipe for the zucchini bread we made:

I adapted it from this recipe, making changes to suit each of our desires. I wanted nuts and no cinnamon. Rob wanted ginger, and Theresa likes whole wheat. And all of us wanted to use as much zucchini as possible.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread!

You will need:

2 cups unbleached white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups brown sugar, plus 2 tablespoons more to sprinkle on top
3 eggs
3/4 cup plain whole milk yogurt
1/4 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini (see directions below)
3/4 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped or broken walnuts, toasted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Oil two loaf pans.

If your walnuts aren't toasted yet, you can toast them in the oven while you're getting everything else ready. About ten minutes should do it, on a baking sheet. Let your nose tell you...when they snell good, they're ready. Be careful not to let them burn, which can happen quickly! Then let them cool.

First, grate the zucchini on the large holes of a box grater. You will need about half of a baseball-bat-sized zucchini or one to two medium sized ones. Once you have a good pile grated, start taking handfuls of it and squeeze them out over the sink, getting out as much liquid as possible. This is important, so please don't skip this step. Put the dry handfuls into a measuring cup. Keep grating, squeezing, and measuring until you have two packed cups of squeezed-dry zucchini.

You'll need two bowls, one for wet ingredients, one for dry. In one bowl, combine flours, salt, baking powder and baking soda, ginger, and pepper, and give this mixture a good stir to get everything evenly distributed. In the other, whisk together the 1 1/4 cups sugar, eggs, yogurt, oil, and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir gently until just combined. Add the chocolate chips and nuts and stir just a tiny bit more to distribute them evenly. Don't overmix or you will have tough bread!

Pour the batter into the two load pans, sprinkle each loaf with a tablespoon of the reserved sugar to make a crispy sweet topping (trust me, you will be glad you did this!) and bake for 1 hour, or until a skewer poked into the middle of a loaf comes out with just a few moist crumbs on it. Start checking at 50 minutes and don't panic if it takes 70.

Let the bread cook in the pan for at least ten minutes before you try turning it out onto a cooking rack, seriously. If you try to do it instantly the loaf will break into pieces and you'll be sad.

You may want to make a double recipe, because even though this makes two loaves, five people managed to finish both of them between breakfast and dinner in one day. We could have used two more, plus we sure had enough zucchini.

1 comment:

  1. the first photo makes my kitchen sink area look straight out of a pottery barn catalog. it's never looked so good! scratch that. more like it just doesn't look that good. i don't understand how you did it. a dirty dingy dark dish area looks clean, crisp and bright in your photo. oh the many talents of gillian beck. i'll be sure to use this photo to attract future roommates!