Zuchinni Heaven

So, my papa has always tended a garden. And even though over the past 15 years my nana has persuaded him to diminish its borders, somehow they still end up with bushels of extra produce that they are forever thrusting upon family members and neighbors and friends, and even the local food bank.

So naturally, when I was in Erie for a visit a couple of weeks ago, I was sent home with baskets of corn and tomatoes and green beans...and zuchini. For some reason, the most prolific vegetable that comes out of my papa's garden year after year, decade after decade, is zuchini. I like zuchinni - no really, I do. But, as I may have mentioned before, I'm not a terribly accomplished cook and there's only so much I can do with zuchinni. Mostly I grill it. But really, there comes a time when you've had enough zuchinni-grilling.

Today, I was down to my last prickly green squash and ambitiously decided to make my nana's zuchinni bread (it's 102 degrees and I decide to bake - yeah, so!?) My nana's zuchinni bread is by far the best zuchinni bread (or any vegetable bread really) that I have ever tasted. I imagine this is due partly to the fact that even though the name sounds deceptively healthy, it is really-bad-for-you stuff. But, hey, a little zuchinni bread once a year isn't gonna kill you. Once a week, yes. Once a month, probably. Once a year....naaaaahh!

I set about grating the last zuchinni with my ancient, but oh-so-handy-dandy cheese grater, greased and floured two loaf pans (yes, I actually own two loaf pans) and preheated my oven to 350 degrees.When I would "assist" (and I use the term "assist" loosely) my nana with the zuchinni-bread- making process as a child, we/she would blend the ingredients together in an enormous bowl, by hand, with a wooden spoon. Seeing as how this is the year 2007, I instead opted for my gleaming white Kitchaid stand mixer and chucked all the ingredients into that contraption instead.

The ingredients consisting of: 2 cups of sugar, 1 cup of vegetable oil, 3 eggs, 2 teaspoons of vanilla, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of baking powder and 1 of baking soda, 3 cups of flour, 1 small can of crushed pineapple (drained) - no seriously, it may sound weird, but it is SO good, 1 cup of chopped walnuts, and 2 cups of freshly grated zuchini (and squeeze as much of the liquid out of it as possible). In her old age, my nana has been known to sometimes toss in raisins as well. Nobody likes raisins in their zuchini bread, but somehow this always comes as a surprise to her. So, if you're a raisin fan, like my nana, go ahead and put the little dried things in there, but I do not recommend it.

So, ya know, you just mix all that up real good - but not too much - and then pour it into the two pans as equally as possible, and bake for about 50-60 minutes. And voila!, zuchini heaven!

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