I Have a Foot-Long Zucchini

Okay, get your mind out of the gutter and into the garden.  And technically, it’s 15 inches long. But this is what happens if you forget to check your crops every day. Our zucchinis mature so rapidly that the green gourds grow from 5 inches to 15 inches in length practically overnight.

I love to plant a vegetable garden every year. We’ve been doing this for decades; and while the vegetables we cultivate have changed based on the region of the country we live in, there’s still nothing like nurturing a tiny plant, getting it past the problems of bugs, fungus, drought or excessive rain, and seeing it bear fruit (or veggies in this case) at the end of the season.

Raising children is similar to gardening. We get them started and do the best we can to give them a strong foundation of roots while they constantly reach upward and outward.  We enrich them with healthy food and solid values, and try to protect them from disease and varmints who threaten to tear them down. We regularly weed out the negative forces in their environment. Then, if we’re vigilant — and lucky — the plants grow strong, independent, and blossom, creating wonderful produce of their own.

I realize that I probably spend more time and money growing the zucchini than if I bought it at the grocery store. But I know what kind of chemicals (or not) have been sprayed upon my plants, and I am confident that they are as fresh as can be.  I also know that my carbon footprint is as tiny as a walk into my backyard.  And if nothing else, there’s the emotional satisfaction of knowing that I created something wholesome (and I can eat it, too — bonus!  The child metaphor ends here. We don’t eat children at our house — unless their names are Hansel and Gretel).  I wonder if farmers take for granted their ability to pick fresh produce that they have grown from seed? Do they appreciate what they have? Or is it just a job to them?  And maybe there are blessings that I take for granted in my work life?  I have an amazingly short commute to my office. I have the freedom to write every day — whatever I want without fear of censorship. I get to be creative for my clients. In short, I am the boss of me.

At least my work is a year-round proposition, unlike my garden. The leaves on some of the zucchini plants are already starting to look faded and mottled. Summer veggie season will soon be over. Back to my metaphor. For those who follow my blog (and I am so humbled that you do), you may have read that our first born is going off to college in the fall. In many ways, our days of cultivating and nurturing our son are nearly over. And while we hope his roots have firmly taken hold with his family, it’s time for him to flourish, and for his parents to step back and look at the (hopefully) good job we’ve done to help him to grow. To everything there is a season…

If you also happen to have a 15-inch zucchini, you know it’s too tough to simply slice and eat. So I will leave you with one of my favorite recipes that is perfect for an overgrown squash… Zucchini Cake (it may not be the healthiest, but hey, it’s an amazing way to eat your veggies):

  • Ingredients for cake:
    • 3 cups flour
    • 2 tsp. baking powder
    • 1 tsp. baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1-1/2 tsp. cinnamon
    • 3 cups sugar
    • 1 cup chopped nuts
    • 3/4 cup cooking oil
    • 4 eggs beaten
    • 3 cups unpeeled, grated zucchini
  • Ingredients for decadent caramel, coconut topping:
    • 1 cup brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup butter
    • 1 egg
    • 1 cup chopped nuts
    • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • Directions:  Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Grease and flour a tube pan. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and soda, salt, cinnamon and sugar. Stir in nuts. In a medium bowl, beat 4 eggs, then beat in oil and zucchini. Add to dry mixture. Stir well.  Pour into pan and bake for 2 hours. When 2 hours are almost up, make the topping. Melt butter over low heat. Stir in brown sugar. Remove from heat and add egg. Stir well. Add nuts, coconut and stir. Spoon over cake. Return cake to he oven for 10 minutes.  Let cool on rack. Enjoy with an ice cold glass of milk!



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