Today’s post can be heard on the public radio show Crop to Cuisine, hosted by Dov Hirsch.
There was zucchini on my desk when I came in to work the other day, a gift from a gardener desperate to pawn her squash off others. The two dark green logs – a bit larger than I like to harvest them – lay beached alongside post-it notes and memos for the upcoming day.
Shocked to receive this anonymous summertime calling card, I turned to the secretaries for who done it. They averted their eyes and muttered “no comment,” refusing to rat out the culprit.
I haven’t planted any zucchini this year, although I love them, because my family got tired enough of the cylindrical squash to organize a rebellion. Just mentioning planting the seeds had them forming a human wall between the garden and me, and it was only after I promised not to plant ‘the horror’ that they let me through.
Thus, this is my first year to be squash-less, which makes me vulnerable to clandestine gifts. Vegetable gardeners get this way in August because eating too much of one thing makes you crazy. So we begin giving the squash to friends, move on to co-workers, and eventually end up stopping strangers in the street, begging them to take some.
Once the neighborhood watch starts looking for us instead of for burglars, plans for delivering squash start looking more like covert operations, because payback’s a drag, and usually in the form of fruitcake in December.
If you’re in this boat, some of the more creative ways to divest yourself of zucchini include the classic ‘ding and dash,’ abandoning the squash on a doorstep. More novel ideas involve popping bigger squash into the toilet tank to help it reduce water, or joining a parade and handing out the fruit along the route like it was candy.
Larger, thick-skinned zucchini make perfect rolling pins if you don’t happen to have one handy.
And anyone who’s purchased a ‘gotta have them’ pair of leather shoes, despite the fact that they pinch, will love this. Pack shredded zucchini into a sturdy plastic zip-close baggy. Stuff the baggie into the too-tight shoes and put the shoes (along with the zucchini) into the freezer. As the squash freezes, it expands, stretching the shoes one-quarter to one-half shoe size.
Like cucumber, zucchini is a quick pick me up for the eyes, reducing puffiness. First, finely chop the vegetable, then mash it to a pulp with a fork. Smear this concoction on your eyes, and leave it for up to five minutes. By using it slightly cooled, but not ice cold, it’ll be more effective.
Now, take a word of warning from an older gardener, friends: once you’ve gotten desperate enough to try these off-the-beaten path ideas, your family will think you’re nuts. Use this to your advantage – wait until an annoying relative visits to zucchini-stuff your shoes for deep-freezing, smear squash over your eyes, and pound away at biscuit dough with a huge green fruit. They’ll leave in a hurry, and you’ll be left thinking that zucchini is a gardener’s best friend.