It's funny how certain foods can bring back memories. I have a lot of people around me that are trading the bounty of their summer gardens right now. Zucchini is at the top of the trading list. Whenever I think about this wonderful vegetable, I recall a particular woman that I used to work with. Her name was Lee but since she was short, older, and a bit of a pain in the neck with a rather shrill voice, we all called her Aunt Lee - you know, like Aunt Bea from the Andy Griffith Show.
In the building where we worked there was a really long room. She worked at one end of it and used a big old sheet-fed printer way at the other end. My desk was in a cube in the middle. On the days when she seem to be the most irritating, I would wait for her to get within a few feet of the printer then call her phone extension. Every single time she would stop midstream, turn, huff something under her breath, and walk all the way back to her desk. I timed the call so that I always hung up just as she got to the desk. She would then start back towards the printer and just as she got close - the phone would ring again, and back she would go. My colleagues would watch and laugh like crazy as this was repeated a few times in a row.
Yes, this was a bit of a bad prank to play on somebody. Never-the-less it was tons of fun and more often than not, Aunt Lee was in a decent mood so we didn't have to get her more riled up.
At this time of year, she was often in a fantastic mood since her own garden was providing lots of goodies for her to use in her cooking. She was a really good cook and liked to bring in samples for us to try and one of my favorites was a homemade zucchini bread.
Though she called it "bread" is usually was very much flatter in shape, like a casserole, and had a heavily concentrated taste and texture. No matter - it was GOOD! Just thinking about the great flavor of this concoction of hers gets my mouth watering. I've had the recipe on a small yellow scrap of paper that I've lost, found and since cherished since the mid 1980s and make faithfully every year.
Here's the recipe for what I officially call Aunt Lee's Summer's Best Zucchini Bread:
Mix all ingredients. Bake in a greased 9 x 11 casserole at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
Originally posted on Ellery's Kitchen, August, 2011
Why I Make Fresh Pumpkin Puree from Scratch for Pumpkin Pies and More
Several years ago I began getting interested in cooking pies around the holidays. Since I really prefer to cook from scratch whenever possible, I thought the best place to look for recipes was in a collection of cookbooks that had been handed down from my grandmother. I come from a long line of Yankees and this was reflected in the types of cookbooks I reviewed - they all featured very basic recipes from the New England area.
The beauty of recipes from that region is their simplicity - both in terms of the number of ingredients, and also in the amount of steps needed to cook something. I found a pumpkin pie recipe that sounded good except for one thing. It said to use fresh pumpkin, but it didn't tell how to prepare the pumpkin. Several years later, and after many different methods were explored, I developed a way to cook the pumpkin and then process it into a puree with a consistency that makes for a fabulous pie. Baking the pumpkin lends to the process - it keeps the flavor from being parched out as it does when you boil the pumpkin. Plus, baking the pumpkin allows the sugars to slightly caramelize - another bonus in any dessert.
In this short video, you can see how to make both the pumpkin puree and the pumpkin pie. This will give you the instructions with many pictures showing the process of making the puree plus a great pumpkin pie recipe - one that I've developed over time as well. If you'd like to see the printed how-to guides, click here for the pumpkin puree process, and this link shows how to make my Best Ever New England Deep-Dish Pumpkin Pie.
The best part about this pumpkin puree is that you can store it in the freezer for quite a long time. I put mine into small Ball or Mason jars (one-quart or smaller) and use a vacuum sealer machine to close them off. Done this way, the puree can keep for many, many months - allowing you to make fresh pumpkin goods for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or even July 4th if that's what you like!
Other really good things to make from the pumpkin puree include muffins, cookies, breads, cakes, pumpkin rolls, and even soup.
Though it may initially seem like a lot of effort to bake and process the pumpkins, it really isn't. Most of the time is taken up by the baking process (about 45 minutes) and then the cooling process (another 30 to 45 minutes). Take that as an opportunity for a little "me" time!
You'll find that this method of processing pumpkin is well worth the effort and that you will end up creating pumpkin-based dishes that your family and friends will love.
Originally published on Yahoo.com, October 7, 2009
I'm April Bailey, a freelance writer and editor for hire who has been writing about various topics for many years. Most of my early print work was destroyed in a major house fire. Luckily, I was able to pull some copies from an old PC and have posted them here. Other items on this blog reflect my current articles and blog posts written for online publications and copied here so I never lose my work again!