Backyard gardening was one of the summer activities that my neighbor Sally and I pursued with enthusiasm. Although we came from different backgrounds, we both had grown up in families where planting, tending, and harvesting vegetables were givens. During my childhood, I lived in a Boston neighborhood outside the core city in an aging Victorian home with a generous lot where my father and his siblings, children of Italian immigrants, diligently cultivated tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and other ingredients for our favorite family dishes. Sally, on the other hand, came from the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania. Her folks, too, were avid gardeners.
Sally and I pooled our knowledge and faithfully supported each other’s gardening efforts. She shared my grief when a hungry woodchuck devoured my lettuce just as it was ready for harvesting. I lamented the passing of her strawberries, bedraggled victims of too much fertilizer. Sally helped me stake my tomatoes, and I passed on my uncle’s advice about when to pick cucumbers so they would continue to produce after the first yield. Cucumbers were always my most successful crop; hers was zucchini.
We were always on the lookout for innovative recipes to use up our home-grown vegetables before they spoiled. I shared Aunt Annie’s pesto and my in-laws’ green tomato relish. Sally’s specialities, not surprisingly, involved creative uses for zucchini. Her cookies and zucchini pizza were favorites among the neighborhood children, while her baked stuffed zucchini was more appealing to the adults. I have chosen to post Sally’s Savory Zucchini Bread because it is a departure from the usual sweet version of zucchini bread, and it goes so well with summer barbecue main dishes.
The sorry condition of the original recipe card, written in Sally’s own hand, is proof that the bread is a favorite, which I sometimes double so that I can share it with others. Here is a tidied up copy with a few minor alterations.
Sally’s Savory Zucchini Bread
3 cups of flour 5 tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp of baking soda 1 tsp salt
1/3 cup of melted butter 1 cup of buttermilk (or 2 tbsp of vinegar with enough milk added to make 1 cup)
2 eggs 2 tbsp of grated onion
1/3 cup of sugar 1 cup of shredded zucchini 3 tbsp of grated Parmesan cheese
Sift the first four ingredients onto a piece of waxed paper. Mix the melted butter, buttermilk, eggs, and grated onion and stir to combine well. Pour about half of the sifted dry ingredients into a large bowl. Add the sugar, the shredded zucchini, and the Parmesan cheese. Mix lightly, then add the liquid ingredients, stir, and add the rest of the dry ingredients. Combine well, but do not beat. The mixture will seem a little dry. Pour or spoon into three small (5 3/4 x 3 1/4 x 2 inch) loaf pans that have been well coated with cooking spray and dusted with flour. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Alternately you may bake the mixture in a large loaf pan (9 x 5 x 3) for 55 to 60 minutes. Cool on a rack and serve warm as you would corn bread.