This means, of course, zucchini muffins.
Did you know serious gardeners have a whole category of jokes about what to do with excess zucchini? No, really, I heard this once from a neighbor of mine who definitely counts as a serious gardener. Obviously many obnoxious middle schoolers could produce at least one good zucchini joke– but a whole category? Really! I feel as eye-opened as when I first learned that musicians have a whole category of jokes making fun of violists. (“How can you tell when there’s a violist outside the door? He can’t find the key and he doesn’t know when to come in.” Wah…wah…waahh….)
Anyway…I am not a gardener. I hope (someday) that I might actually (want to) be. I love fresh produce. But I can only grow something capable of reminding me to feed it. I bought a tomato plant at MOMS Organic Market about two months ago, figuring I could put the pot in a sunny spot outside my new house and reap the fabulous bounty of nature with little emotional or physical expenditure. A store-bought tomato starter is about as easy as you can get. Well, I don’t know whether my plant had some sort of root shock or home sickness or what, because for six weeks it sat there and DID NOTHING. It didn’t grow bigger, it didn’t grow flowers. It didn’t even commit to wilting and dying on me. Meanwhile the neighbor next door has three serious tomato plants halfway into real tomato production– in fact, if fried green tomatoes are your thing, they’re ready! So why has mine been such a slow starter?
Two days ago I noticed the first little yellow buds on my measly tomato plant. What joy sprang to my heart! “HEY LOOK! BOO! Our tomato has flowers!” I shouted. “It’s alive! Come look!” The boy came hurtling out the side door and down the steps–and rocketed into the fragile tomato plant, snapping the stem in two. And thus ended the saga of my summer garden.
(Or maybe not. Today I tied the stem back together with kitchen twine, poured on a quart of water, and sang to it. So we’ll see.)
But anyway, this is not a tomato recipe. Back to the zucchini.
I make these muffins because I like them. Sally likes them, Bitsy likes them, Dr. Awesome likes them, and Boo tears them apart bitterly complaining of a lack of chocolate chips and “NOT RAAAAAAIIIIISSSSINS!” If you are a master gardener then you probably already have three dozen recipes for zucchini muffins, zucchini bread, and chocolate zucchini cake. Give these a try and tell me how they measure up.
Summer Surplus Zucchini Muffins
Makes 24. Only because I don’t have a bowl big enough to double this batter.
Necessary: a grater. Strong fingers to grate carrots and zucchini without also grating yourself. Two standard muffin tins and something to line or grease them. An oven at 350⁰F.
Handy-Dandy: cream cheese to top them. Wow.
1 cup neutral oil, like Grapeseed or canola
2 cups white sugar (Oh yes I did.)
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1.5 T (that’s tablespoons, D.) ground flax seed, dissolved in 4 T water.*
1.5 tsp salt
1.5 tsp baking soda
1 “heaping” tsp each Pumpkin Pie spice and ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking powder, slightly heaping. (I know, my directions frustrate a lot of other people too. Just have fun with it!)
4.5 cups flour, whatever you like. Here I used 1.5 cups white whole wheat and 3 cups all-purpose.
1 medium-sized zucchini, 2 medium carrots, grated. (Aim for 2.5 to 3 cups grated veg.)
3/4 c. golden raisins. Or not.
*I use flax meal to stretch my eggs, because cage-free, free-range, college-educated poultry eggs ain’t cheap, and we already use about 18 a week. It’s cheaper to me to keep a bag of flaxmeal in the fridge for baking but if you don’t have it, just use 5 eggs in all.
Method to the Madness
- Preheat oven to 350⁰F. Get your muffin tins ready however you like them. I grease mine with a bit of oil usually, but here I spoiled myself (and ruined the planet) by resorting to paper muffin liners. Then I ran out and still had to oil a few.
- Grate your zucchini (watch out!) and carrots; put your flax in water and let it get all gross-textured.
- Beat oil, applesauce, eggs, and dissolved flaxmeal together in a bowl. Looks like making whole-grain mustard, doesn’t it?
- Stir in the sugar, almond extract, salt, spices, baking soda and baking powder.
- Add your grated veggies and stir, stir, stir!
- Gently pour the flour over the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Stir in the raisins. Don’t overbeat. This batter will be super thick, almost like cake batter.
- Spoon the batter into your muffin tins. (I may or may not have licked the bowl and I may or may not suggest you do the exact same thing.) Bake for 20 to 23 minutes; even with two pans in the oven these were almost overdone at 22 minutes. Cool on a wire rack, but for Pete’s sake, try one warm!
- Feel moderately healthy getting your dose of breakfast (or afternoon tea, or dinner-time) vegetables! Enjoy!