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Hiding the Zucchini | Pamdemonium
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Hiding the Zucchini

March 2, 2010

My gardening books and calendars say plant zucchini seeds in three weeks, roughly two weeks before the date of the average last spring frost here in Nashville. My guides also warn that beginners – this is my third year – are overzealous with zucchini planting.

Nay, I say. Bring it on.

With a husband who divides the world into two food groups, meat and white things (bread, rice, potatoes, pasta), the zucchini is a key component of my kitchen arsenal. Grated and frozen zucchini still work for muffins and breads, plus stock, soup and sauces. To make the most of the summer bounty, I’ll cook down zucchini, onions, tomatoes and peppers in whatever combination I have, puree it all, and freeze it in blocks. Insta soup base to help fight the winter blahs.

Cubed zucchini, frozen in a single layer then bagged, gets mixed in with dry food for Pilgrim, our male chow mix who is on a perpetual diet. In the summer and fall, we save nearly $3 a week not buying green beans to combine with his food and trick him into thinking he’s got a full stomach.

Resorting to trickery for dog or man is not my first choice but honestly, it is just so much easier. The zucchini has helped me perfect the culinary art of subterfuge. Zucchini led to carrots, all sorts of winter squash and even bananas. The tomato-based meat sauce (shhhh…it is turkey) looks a bit orange? I hadn’t noticed. Yup, this chicken minestrone thickened up nicely, thank you.

I put pureed pumpkin or mashed bananas in muffins. I don’t even bother with recipes, instead using an inexpensive cake mix, adding about two cups of the “organic matter” and one egg for 12 “muffins.” Yes, whole grain or oat flour is better but we have to start somewhere.

Parents do this all the time. Missy Chase Lapine, aka “The Sneaky Chef,” and Jessica Seinfeld, celeb wife and author of “Deceptively Delicious,” have made careers out of the perfection of culinary camouflage and, well, court battles over the idea. For the record, I’ve read neither book and hereby claim “Hiding the Zucchini” as my title and copywrite it for all time in this world and the next.

I think I know how some parents feel. Three hours ago I heard, “Ugh. I smell broccoli. It smells green.” Pilgrim can’t talk.

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