Posts Tagged ‘zucchini’

“Woman squashes bear,” was the headline on a small snippet my spouse brought home for me yesterday.  He knows I live for stories like this.

It seems that a woman in the mountains near Frenchtown, Montana, has large zucchini and isn’t afraid to use them, especially when a 200-pound black bear attacked her dog, then tried to shove its way into her home to savage her. 

The woman, who asked not to be identified, had let her three dogs out around midnight September 23 when the bear, startled while feeding on apples from a nearby tree, freaked out.  Two of the dogs ran, escaping the charging bear, but the 12-year old collie, Brin, wasn’t as nimble.

The woman kicked the bear, screaming to try to scare it.  But the bruin turned its rage on her, swiping her leg and ripping her jeans.  As it tried to force its way into the house past the door the woman was desperately trying to close, the woman did what she had to do.

Let me say I’m impressed by this woman’s quick thinking under pressure.  Not only would it never occur to me to take up zucchini in self-defense, but because my kitchen is nowhere near the back door, I wouldn’t have had one handy.  The most I could muster would be a freshly laundered sock.

But lift the zucchini she did, launching a six-and-a-half pound salvo of squash to hit the bruin on its head.  The bear, clearly realizing that where there’s one zucchini there’s bound to be more, fled.  

The woman is shaken, but fine, suffering minor scratches from a swipe of a paw.  The collie was taken to the vet, where it is under observation but seems to be recovering from its close encounter.  Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks are on the case, laying a trap for the bear and planning to use DNA collected from the zucchini and woman’s jeans to ensure they catch the right bear.   

If you live in bear country you have to be prepared, urges the woman, who isn’t amused by the incident.  Indeed, if you live where wildlife could be attracted to your landscaping, be a responsible human and don’t plant things that could lead a bear into temptation.  It isn’t fair to the bear.

Learn more about the attack and living with bears.

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Learn to recognize the one organism that can’t get enough of zucchinis in this video produced by the Boulder Daily Camera:

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They just keep coming, and neither rain, nor snow, nor dark of night will stay these squash from their appointed growing.  The familiar refrain rang through my head as I gathered up yet another armload of zucchini, which after a season, wears even the strongest gardener down.  Every morning, there’s one that formed overnight; in the evenings you collect a few that escaped your attention earlier. 

It’s no joke that you run out of people to give them to; even food banks plead for food other than zucchini.  So the creative gardener turns to less traditional methods to divest themselves of squash. 

“Is there anyone at work you could give zucchini to?”  I asked my spouse, casting a significant glance at the stacked mound of green cylinders on the counter.  Working at a post office, I figured he’d find someone who hasn’t become sick of them yet.

“I don’t think so,” he said, “I can’t just ask people if they need any stamps, package insurance, or a squash.  And besides, everything has to have a stamp on it.”  Disappointed, we stared at the future of our dinners for the next month.

“You know, those zucchinis are perfectly sized for post office boxes,” he said, slowly raising his eyes to mine.  Having postal carriers place them in mailboxes flitted through our minds.  “Seriously, give me the squash,” he said, intoning their motto: “we’re the U.S. Postal Service – we deliver.”

In the morning he set off, a sack of squash in one hand, a pocketful of change for stamps in the other, to work the miracle of modern shipping.  I don’t know if the special deliveries were met with joy; when the bag came home empty I asked no questions. 

Why do we love zucchini at season’s start but loathe it at the end?  True, it could be that we’re overloaded with it when it becomes part of our every day diet.  There are only so many quiches, casseroles, steamed dishes, breads, and cakes you can tolerate.

But there is also an interloper in the garden, a fungus that robs the plant of flavor:  powdery mildew.  Coating the leaves with a fine, white dust, powdery mildew sets in on squash plants late in summer, living off the sugars the plant produces.  Once it takes over, the quality of the squash suffers and it’s not as enjoyable.

Little can be done to combat the disease, other than sowing seeds weeks apart to keep young plants on hand (but prolonging the zucchini season isn’t something experienced gardeners do unless they’re looking forward to a restful stay at a rehab center).  Live with the disease, and when the squash stacks up, think creatively. 

I have a new pile on hand, so when the doorbell rang and I glanced up to see a salesman standing there, I smiled.  Picking up the squash, I answered the door, stretching out my arm as if for a handshake.  His stunned expression upon being zucchinied was worth it – I’ll grow more squash next year.

Many thanks to the United States Postal Service for their sense of humor in aiding with this story.  This post was previously published in the Longmont Ledger.

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Today’s post can be heard on the public radio show Crop to Cuisine, hosted by Dov Hirsch.

Crop To Cuisine

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.

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