When you see this, we will be winding our way back from Florida. Now, July and August, and usually September, the last place you want to be is South Florida! The beaches may be nice, but one can't spend twenty-four hours a day in the Gulf. I'm not a beach person, anyway. Young ones don't notice the heat if they are at Disney World, but old-timers get somewhat cranky when exposed to the constant heat, even if there is AC everywhere. At least this former Florida resident does! But business is business, and if one has something that must be done, then one has to go, regardless of personal comfort. There are nice aspects of this trip as we will get to spend some time with kids and grandkids. We don't get to see them often. And Sanibel is always nice since they do keep the mosquito population down and one can enjoy the tropical atmosphere without being eaten up by the varmints.
Another nice part of going to South Florida in the summer is that the Snow Birds have returned north for the season! In the winter, it is horrible to try to drive anywhere with all the traffic they bring. That area is getting too full of people for me, anyway! What makes it bad is that husband Norm wants to become a Snow Bird, too! Farther north, though, so it might not be so crowded. In all the years I lived there, the sand never really got in my shoes!! It was nice then, though, before it got so crowded and all my family were there, and I was a lot younger - all reasons why I am not extremely excited about becoming one of those I used to get so exasperated with! Part of the reason that my hair (with help!) will probably never get gray is that when I was much younger and lived there, at Church one Sunday, I looked down from the choir loft on the balcony and saw a sea of gray. I said, "Lord, help me get out of here before I am one!"
One of the pleasures of South Florida was the fresh seafood. I don't understand the extreme increase of price of the local catch unless it is that the supply isn't what it used to be. Now, a Florida lobster costs as much as a Maine lobster - a development not appreciated! The lobsters are two different kinds - Florida being more of a large crawfish. The taste is slightly different, but both are great. In the sixties, the Florida ones were plentiful and very reasonable. In fact, the locals would catch them in season. The restaurant at the Holiday Inn in Fort Myers had a special every Friday night during the lobster season - $3.50 for all the lobster you could eat as long as they had them! We would get there early because they always ran out!!! "This isn't the sixties, Dorothy!" Memories!!! I wouldn't mind being a Snow Bird in Maine during the lobster season! Wonder if Norm would go north instead of south?!
Another reason for coming home early is to see a grandson who is home from college for the weekend. We are so proud of Austin and wish him the best of life! It seems like yesterday that he was just a little guy and now he is almost ready to fly off on his own life. Love your kids and hug them often - the time of their being young rushes by too fast
Mother Nature has really been nice this past week. The cooler temperatures were a very welcome change. Of course, not everyone does agrees with me about that. Norm even wore a light jacket while mowing the lawn one evening.
If you are in the cooking mood, now is the time to make zucchini everything. That vegetable has a short harvest season, but it really goes all out when it is producing! The zucchini bread is a welcome gift at Christmas - equally liked at any meal, even Thanksgiving. They freeze well. There are loads of different recipes for the bread, too, so try several, if you like. I do, and I have never gotten a bad tasting one. Another idea is to make some in small (like individual) loaf pans - either for gifts or for your family. One, taken out of the freezer at bedtime and put out to thaw makes a great "quick" breakfast for anyone.
Granddaughter Cassidy decided she wanted a snack the other evening. My cupboard was a rather disappointing place to look, but she found graham crackers, chocolate chips and small marshmallows. She put some of the marshmallows on one cracker and some chocolate chips on another. Then she put them into the microwave for 45 seconds, took them out and put them together. They were good and I was proud of her for thinking of doing something a little different.
If one used one large marshmallow and a piece of chocolate candy bar, it would be easier to do. Those mini marshmallows tend to make a puffy cloud if you put too many of them on their cracker half - and they are sticky. She did a better job of doing it than I did!
Enjoy the zucchini! If you start getting too much from your "friends," keep your car AND porch doors locked! Anyway, it is easy to freeze. Don't work until you wilt with canning - Norm says there are grocery stores all over, so don't kill yourself with work! Do something with your young ones and enjoy the last few days of July. God Bless!
SHARON'S ZUCCHINI BREAD
Two cups shredded zucchini
One cup vegetable oil
Two cups sugar
Blend in a blender. Place in mixing bowl. Then add the following:
Three cups flour
One teaspoon salt
One teaspoon soda
One-fourth teaspoon baking powder
Three teaspoons cinnamon
Three teaspoons vanilla extract
One cup nutmeats
Pour into greased and floured loaf pan and bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 1 hour.
CREAM OF ZUCCHINI SOUP
Two cups boiling water
Three chicken bouillon cubes
Two cups sliced zucchini
One cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste
One tablespoon minced fresh parsley
Dissolve bouillon cubes in boiling water. Add zucchini and cook until tender. Puree in blender and add milk and season to taste. Heat, but do not boil. Serve hot sprinkled with minced parsley and a teaspoon of sour cream.
NOTE: For a winter soup, freeze zucchini slices. They don't need to be blanched for this recipe. Freeze in two cup portions for an easy bowl of soup.
NOTE # 2: If you have an immersion blender, just blend it in the pan - no need to put it in a blender. That is one kitchen appliance that makes making soup a snap - along with other uses for it. Do get one if you don't already have one.
Two and one-half pounds zucchini, thinly sliced
One-half cup chopped onion
One-half cup chopped green bell pepper
Four tablespoons butter
One small (3 oz.) can sliced mushrooms
One package dry spaghetti sauce mix
One cup water
One can (6 oz.) tomato paste
Four ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
Two tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Cook zucchini in boiling water for 4 or 5 minutes. Drain. Saute onion and bell pepper in butter until tender. Remove from heat and add mushrooms, sauce mix, water, tomato paste and mozzarella. Gently stir zucchini. Transfer to a 7 x 11-inch greased baking dish and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes.
One-half cup white sugar
One cup packed brown sugar
One-half cup butter or margarine, softened
Two and one-half cups all-purpose flour
One and one-half cups shredded zucchini
One-half cup chopped nuts
One teaspoon grated lemon peel
One tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Two teaspoons baking powder
One teaspoon ground nutmeg
One-fourth teaspoon salt
Mix sugars, butter and eggs. Stir in remaining ingredients. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls about two inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in preheated 375-degree oven until almost no indentation remains when touched, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool for a few minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Cool, then frost with Lemon Frosting.
NOTE: Put your cookies in the refrigerator for about thirty minutes before baking for a nicer looking cookie.
Three cups sifted confectioners' sugar
One-fourth cup butter or margarine, softened
One teaspoon grated lemon peel
One tablespoon fresh lemon juice
One tablespoon water
Mix sugar, butter, and lemon peel. Beat in lemon juice and water. If necessary, add more water, one teaspoon at a time, until of spreading consistency.
Patty Christopher is a longtime columnist for The Parkersburg News & Sentinel.