One of the many things I love about gardening is the ability to pull out food that I grew in the summer on the coldest days of winter and experience the tastes of summer, especially when you’ve had enough of it in the summer and worried about your efforts going to waste on wearied taste buds. There’s a lot of planning involved in growing our foods, immeasurable efforts and sweat equity and often failures or poor returns, often due to things out of our control. Fortunately, most of the time we can plant a seed and behold as nature takes hold of it’s vital role and rewards us with bewildering wonders that we boldly say we grew, sometimes even that we grew too much of it!
Having an abundance is thrice as nice since you can enjoy some, share some and save some for later via freezing or canning. Pulling out parboiled tomatoes on a cold winter day to make a steamy pot of homemade soup using some of my own garden goodness always makes me smile. By the time my tomatoes really come in, we’ve often tired of them and have had our fill of tomatoes with mozzarella and basil, homemade sauces and BLT’s so I love to preserve for later when we’ll again appreciate our bounty. I can say the same of zucchini. If you’ve ever grown it, you well know how productive one plant can be and while I chuckle when gardeners joke about secretly dropping off zucchini with friends and running because they have so many, I’ve had years that I’ve not grown them and actually missed them, longing to be one of those friends.
This past summer, I had planned to skip them as they didn’t work into my crop rotation plan for my small garden but my son brought home a seed in a cup. Need I say more? Yes, we found a spot to accommodate his zucchini seed and it was planted and marked and watched hourly that first day for any signs of life, and then after temporarily forgetting about it, it sprouted and grew like, well a zucchini plant, fast and big. And boy, was it prolific! After eating our fill grilled, raw and sautéed and giving away many, we turned to zucchini bread but even after a while, we had our fill of that too so I shred them and packaged them into 1 and 2 cup bags and into the freezer they went for a long winter’s nap.
Fast forward to now, the cold days of winter with snow still on the ground, and I decided to make our favorite zucchini bread for a reminder of what has been and what will be. I stumbled onto this recipe from Southern Living Magazine years ago and it has remained our favorite. You can find it at Lemon Poppy Seed Zucchini Bread.
I popped out a frozen bag measuring one cup of shredded zucchini, thawed and drained it a bit. It’s hard to explain the feeling I get when I pull something out of my freezer that I put away. It’s a bit of pride mixed with a bit of reassurance that with planning I can provide for my family along with the fulfillment of actually using what I’ve put away. If you put up or freeze yourself, I know you understand me here. If you don’t, consider it for this very moment as it’s an exhilarating feeling.
I can say of the three small loaves I made, planning to put two into the freezer for another night, that won’t happen because once you haven’t had something for a while, it’s all new again, just like those first ripe tomatoes in summer, and my family can’t get enough of it.
In the summer months, I double this recipe. I’ve made it with little loaves and large loaves, but there’s something endearing about these little loaves. It’s so easy to pull out a little loaf and slice it up with dinner since they thaw so quickly. They also wrap nicely to give to someone during the summer months, something homegrown and homemade when they least expect it. I like to wrap them in parchment paper and baker’s twine and attach a sprig of thyme or lavender along with a tag identifying it.
My favorite part of this bread is the lemon zest which adds such a bright freshness to the taste. I like tucking the zucchini into such a tasty bread because my kids gobble it up without discussion. The sour cream makes it moist and reminds us more of cake than a bread, and what kid will argue a little cake with dinner? Enjoying this bread on such a cold January night invigorates me and reminds me of the tastes of summer. Those days will be here faster than we know so for now, we snuggle into the warmth of our cozy homes and enjoy this season for the splendors it too offers, ever present, but evermore hopeful of what is yet to be.