It’s summer, and summer is a great time to break from monotony. A great time to do something different. I’ve taken some time away to be back in one of my all-time fa-vo-ri-tee places – Ann Arbor. Lucky for me, my sis makes her home here. A2 is packed with great restaurants and lots of character.
It’s also packed with people this time of year for the annual Art Fair. Those that have lived through it as a resident or student tend to avoid it. This is why we opted for picking raspberries instead. My kids were unimpressed with the thorns and insects, but seemed pretty happy with the outcome – 3 quarts of beautiful berries.
Ann Arbor is also the stomping ground for fairies, they say. Here they feel comfortable enough to construct doors for themselves about town. A2 is home to the Festifools Street Party, The Naked Mile, The Blind Pig and the beautiful and enchanting Arb, it’s no wonder fairies decided to make their homes here.
One fairy that is not unique to Ann Arbor is the Zucchini Fairy. As far as I can tell, she works the whole mid-west. Typically, she rings the doorbell in late July and deposits a grocery bag filled with zucchini the length and breadth of your forearm.
The Zucchini Fairy is relentless. She comes back weekly, or even daily until the season turns to tomatoes. The Zucchini Fairy, desperate and overworked from July to August, may resort to stuffing them in your mailbox or leaving them on your office desk or in your unlocked car. She is going to make you eat some zucchini. You’ll eat it, and you’ll like it.
She even found me, here, in Ann Arbor. She disguised her package under a few jalapenos and fresh lettuces, but there they were. Four zucchinis the size of newborn babies.
What the hell am I going to do with this much zucchini?
How much zucchini can one family eat?
Zucchini bread, zucchini muffins. That’s all great and everything, but not real inspired or creative. I can tell you to make sure you use whole wheat flour, cut back the sugar and add some flax meal. Blah Blah Blah. What a bore. I try not to bore you. I try not to bore ME.
I’ve come up with and researched a few additional mechanisms for
disposing of serving this vegetable to your family.
Make your regular variety of pancakes. Throw in some cinnamon and shredded zucchini. It’s not rocket science.
I love latkes, as do my kids. I shred potato, onion, and zucchini. Add salt, pepper, breadcrumbs and beaten egg to bind it all together and fry it in a tiny bit of oil (or bake on a cookie sheet). Nom Nom Nom. Never made Latkes? Fix that with this basic recipe.
Sure you can invest in an expensive dehydrator, or you can lay your thinly sliced zuc on a clean nylon screen and allow it to dry in the sun. My sister is lucky to have an oven with one of those fancy-schmancy warming drawers, so I put them in there on low, sprinkled with sea salt.
Doh. Why didn’t I think of this? You can pickle almost anything, after all.
Fruit Leather Maki Rolls:
What? Yeah, I know. I dunno how I got started on this. First I was thinking zucchini wrapper for a maki roll…. Then I started thinking fruit….Then one thing lead to another…and I started going all McGuyver in the kitchen and creating a sort of Zucchini-Raspberry Fruit Leather Thing-y…. My sister just stood back and watched. I think she was a little skeptical and the cat seemed somewhat concerned.
It was a fairly simple process. I shredded zucchini then macerated it with a wee bit of sugar. After removing as much water as possible I threw it in the food processor. Then I threw in some raspberries and some honey. I poured it out on a cookie sheet lined with plastic wrap. I carefully smoothed it out just as OCD as I could to make it uniform in thickness. Then I stuck it in the warming drawer were it stayed on medium for about 12 hours.
I removed it and peeled off the back plastic. In a small bowl I combined about 1/2 cup of Jasmine rice, 2 Tbsp or so of honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon. I threw in some halved blueberries and whole raspberries. I cut thin strips of banana and laid them across one end of my fruit leather. I then covered 3/4 of the leather with the rice/fruit mix. Then, starting with the banana end, I carefully rolled it up. If I were at home, I would use the bamboo rolling mat I use to roll maki sushi, but hands work just as well.
The results were delicious, but improvements could definitely be made in pliability. A more pliable wrapper would make it easier to roll and the result a little prettier. Version 2.0 of zucchini-apple fruit leather is in the warming drawer now. I have big plans.
So if you have zucchini to spare, get creative. There are no Zucchini Police, but there is a Zucchini Fairy.