"I believe that the energy of humans who touched those beans goes into the beans as well. They become vibrant because of the handling. This vibrancy is something that a machine or harvester doesn't have. From my standpoint ... I believe that if food is grown and prepared with love ... infused with love ... well, it can be the humblest of food, but because it's prepared with love, it's special."
- Valerie Phipps, Pescadero, California
It's been awhile since I've been here. Since July 6th to be exact. I remember it well. I had just found out that my beloved dog, Romeo's kidneys were failing. Just a few days later, on the advice of our vet who informed us that he was suffering, we put him down. It was one of the hardest things I've ever been through. Not the putting him down part, of course I didn't want him to suffer, just the realization that he won't be a part of our lives anymore. He was my first dog. I guess our family had a dog growing up, but Romeo was my dog. That dog went with me everywhere. He made up 1/3 of our family for goodness sake. We never had children, but we had him.
|Romeo- In Loving Memory 1998-2011|
So I guess I've been in mourning. I didn't intend to stop blogging for this long, or at all, I just felt like I couldn't. I took pictures of food, but I couldn't get myself to download the pictures. Maybe because I'd have to look at the last pictures I took of him. Today is the first time I've downloaded pictures in 2 + months. And there it is. The last photo of that sweet face. It's hard to look at. Loss and grieving is a difficult process and my heart goes out to you if you've gone through it.
|My husband built me a windmill for our garden|
Life goes on. I have a garden that's full of it, life that is. I grow stuff I like to eat as long as it's easy to grow. Zucchini's might be my favorite, it seems like you turn your back and they've grown the length of a football. Gotta love a plant that makes food for you in such an easy, nonchalant manner, it's like the plant is saying, "Oh this? This is nothing. I've got 10 more where that came from." And it does. Pumpkins are another favorite. Mine are just starting to turn orange.
|The door to the garden|
Zucchini is so versatile too, and I've been eating my share. One of my favorite breakfasts that I've been eating almost everyday has been a scramble made of diced zucchini, red bell peppers, onions, fresh basil and scrambled eggs. Sometimes I use fresh rosemary instead of fresh basil. It's delicious, I highly recommend it.
|Zucchini Terrific! Like Bunnies, Prolific!|
Zucchini, especially those big ones, are so perfect for breads. This happens to be my favorite zucchini bread of all time, I've been making it for years. Mid way through this post I realized I had blogged about this bread before, back in 2009. Oh well. This is so good, it deserves another go. Since then I've actually improved it, so it's not the same recipe exactly. I developed this bread (actually more of a cake) as a delicious, moist, and decadent vehicle to hold my home grown zucchini. You should trust me on this. I am famous for my fabulous quick breads. It features 3 types of chocolate, hence the name. Unsweetened squares, cocoa powder and chocolate chips. I believe this gives it a multi dimension of rich chocolate flavor.
|If you are using a huge, homegrown torpedo sized zucchini, you need to scoop out the big seeds inside.|
If you have a zucchini hater in your family they won't even know the zucchini is there. You can't see it and you can't taste it. But it does add moisture, fiber and nutrition. Just tell them it's their lucky day and you've made them a rich and decadent chocolate cake.
More incredible quick breads
Melissa's Famous Banana Bread
Rhubarb Nut Bread
Triple Chocolate Zucchini Bread
created by Melissa aka The Alchemist
This recipe makes 2 loaves
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate (3- one ounce squares)
2 cups (400 g.) white sugar
1 cup (240 ml.) neutral oil (I used grape seed oil, use whatever neutral oil you wish)
1 cup (8 oz.) sour cream or yogurt (full fat is best, but use what you wish)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups (380 g.) grated zucchini, lightly packed
2 cups (300 g.) flour
3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup (163 g.) semi sweet or dark chocolate chips, plus a small handful more for topping (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, 180 degrees Celsius, or Gas Mark 4.
Prepare 2 loaf pans. You need to grease the pan and use parchment paper to make a "sling" to lift the loaf out when finished. Grease the parchment too. (Some of the chocolate chips may sink to the bottom, and if they do, it's almost impossible to get the loaf out in perfect shape without the sling, trust me.)
Melt the squares of unsweetened chocolate in a small saucepan on medium high heat, or place in a microwave safe bowl and cook on 50% power for about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally until melted, set aside.
In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, add the oil and the warm melted chocolate and whisk together. Now add the sour cream and whisk. Add the eggs, sugar and vanilla and whisk well, (or if using an electric mixer, use that and beat well.)
In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa. Measure out the one cup of chocolate chips and place in another bowl. Take a few Tablespoons of the flour/cocoa mixture and mix it in the chocolate chips (this prevents them from falling to the bottom of the pan.) Take the bowl off the stand mixer (if using) and mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients by hand (not literally with your hand, with a spoon, not a mixer.) Now add the zucchini breaking up any large chunks if there are any, and mix. Once that is all incorporated dump the chocolate chips and the little bit of flour mixture into the bowl. Mix them in till they are incorporated, but only until then (don't over mix.)
Pour batter into prepared loaf pans. Bake for about 50-60 minutes. Half way through cooking time (after 30 minutes of baking), sprinkle the extra handful of chocolate chips (if using) on top of loaves, and rotate the loaves in the oven from front to back. Loaves will be done when they pass a toothpick test.
Cool on wire racks for 30 minutes in pan, then remove sling from pan and let it sit on the parchment paper until cool. Wrap in plastic or place in an airtight container when totally cooled. Loaves will stay fresh for 3-4 days or so. If you want them to last longer, they freeze extraordinarily well. Just double (or triple) (the secret to them staying fresh in the freezer is to be totally air tight.) wrap them in plastic wrap and place in a large Ziploc bag. They will keep in the freezer for 6 months, easy. If wrapped really well, they will keep for a year.