We Americans do love our holidays, do we not? No longer is it enough for grateful families merely to raise our glasses to fête the lamentably sacrificed turkey on Thanksgiving day, followed by a happy afternoon wrapped to the gills against the bitter cold to watch the town high school team play football. Now the holiday has been turned into one of the biggest sports days of the year, and in many, if not most homes the TV (the bigger the better) is not only an invited guest, but the main attraction. Nor could we leave Halloween, that humble (and lovably tacky) holiday and its all-important centerpiece THE COSTUME to the last-minute ministrations and negligible creative skills of distracted parents. (Just ask my daughter Jenn about dragging her humiliated 7-year-old self through the neighborhood wearing the worst possible ‘Casper the Friendly Ghost’ costume! — In my defense it was the last one in the store, and I was in the middle of exams!) That holiday is no longer considered “complete” without an expensive store-bought costume (no Caspers in sight in our corporatized Halloween — you can bet your plastic pumpkin on it!), followed by the mandatory spending of a few bucks to “BOO” someone who would most likely rather not get yet one more bagful of candy, thank you very much. Nor are we content to settle, at year’s end, for Hannukah and Christmas, those holidays that so gloriously celebrate our national penchant for excess (no winter solstice blues for us!) . Not we! Every year at Easter, still reeling from overspending on the last holiday, we somehow find the renewed energy to throw ourselves, our pocketbooks, and our unflagging (sugar) high spirits into the support of the American Dental Association as well. This year, sarcasm dripping, I asked one of my daughters if unsuspecting Easter celebrants were getting “hopped” yet. Sorry. I just couldn’t help myself.
So of course I was not at all surprised this year to learn that a new national holiday has arrived on our doorsteps, so to speak. But this one, a true homage to the ever-inventive American spirit, has Mim’s full curmudgeonly approval. Dear readers, I invite you to open your minds and hearts to embrace a holiday whose time has come (and apparently passed, as it was on August 8th): ‘Leave Some Zucchini on Your Neighbor’s Porch Day’. Happily, there’s nothing you need to buy in order to experience the full thrill of this holiday. In fact, it encourages dumping (er, that is, gifting) that which you need to off-load (er, that is, donate) off-site, as it were, in a truly American entrepreneurial (er, philanthropic) fashion. This concept is cleverly designed to be celebrated out of the line of vision of all participants except yourself, so you need to be sufficiently self-contained to get your jollies alone, or at the very most, with your spouse (although if with a spouse, even a tried and tested one, an omerta-like pledge is recommended. Otherwise, you may find your own porch looking like the coastline after a category 3 hurricane, if you catch my drift!)
And so, in the full spirit of this new and noble U S of A tradition, I offer you one of my very own recipes using zucchini (obviously devised before I learned that the ‘Porch Day” option existed). Since the zucchini holiday season (read: deluge) is still in full swing, you might want to accompany your “gift basket” with a copy of it attached. It is easy, healthful (oh, my, how I hate that word!), and very, very tasty. I make mine in a muffin-top pan and freeze them wrapped in plastic and placed in freezer bags. They stack really well because they are flat, and don’t take up much room on the freezer shelf. They are great to have to throw in the toaster or toaster oven for breakfast.
Makes 12 regular muffins or muffin tops
MIM’S ZUCCHINI, BLUEBERRY AND PECAN MUFFINS
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (I used stone-ground)
⅓ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
⅓ cup brown sugar, packed
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 cups packed grated zucchini
⅔ cups buttermilk
2 whole eggs, beaten with a fork
¼ cup butter, melted
1 pint (2 cups) fresh blueberries
¾ cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 375° F. Spray muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray if needed, or line with liners. I use a muffin top pan, a good old Chicago Metallic, and do not have to spray it at all.
Stir together all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. In a small bowl whisk together the eggs, buttermilk and melted butter. Fold into dry ingredients stirring just until combined. Fold in the grated zucchini and mix until it is well coated with the dry ingredients. Gently fold in the blueberries and pecans. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
Bake for about 17 minutes in a muffin top pan, 18 to 20 minutes in a regular-sized muffin pan.
NOTE: This recipe should make just 12 muffin tops if you want to use them in a toaster.
More recipes for your harvest bounty shall be coming your way shortly. They’re in the lineup as I go to post!