Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Good Stuff

With all the celebrity chefs, beautiful glossy food magazines, and mouthwatering food blogs out there, it's easy to get caught up in the "glamor" of food. The professionally styled food photos, the exotic ingredients . . . especially when you're working on your own food blog. It's easy to lose sight of the good stuff.

Earlier this week, as I was visiting with my mom on the phone, she mentioned my miserable stuffed zucchini experience. She told me there was a great stuffed zucchini recipe from a neighbor in the Methodist Church cookbook. Now, let me pause and tell you about this cookbook. It is something of a phenomenon in my family. Throughout my childhood, both my parents were forever looking for their copy of the Methodist Church cookbook. Every recipe they were looking for seemed to be in that cookbook. Things got a little complicated when a new edition was released . . .

"Was it in the first edition or the second edition? Where is my first edition? I have a first edition at my house but I don't know if it is your first edition. Was her recipe for ___ in the first edition or the second edition? Ask your (mom/dad) if they have seen my Methodist Church cookbook; I need the recipe for ______. I think there is a recipe in the Methodist Church cookbook for that . . ."
It was, to my parents, what the Joy of Cooking is to some people. So how could this seemingly indispensable cookbook slip away from me? Easily, actually . . . it got lost in the shuffle of Bon Appetit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, The Barefoot Contessa, and all the beautiful food blogs in my google reader.

I received a copy of the Methodist Church cookbook as a wedding gift, with a very thoughtful inscription written inside the cover by the gift giver (second edition, by the way). But I hadn't even opened that very cover for well over a year. Until I went to find the good stuffed zucchini recipe, that is.

As you may have noticed in the picture, this post isn't really about the stuffed zucchini recipe; it's not in the second edition. However, as I flipped through the pages, thinking about all the great recipes so carefully submitted by all the great people from my hometown, one caught my eye. Zucchini bars. So, in the midst of the county fair, work, wedding season, and trying to protect my garden from the almost daily thunderstorms, I stopped everything to make zucchini bars.

I just baked them. I didn't even make the frosting. Nothing fancy, just good, moist, tender zucchini bars. I froze 3/4 of the batch and left the rest on the counter. When Ken got home from the fair tonight, I encouraged him to try the zucchini bars (I think he was a bit skeptical at first; after all, we have been eating a lot of zucchini). He loved them, and had seconds and thirds. I mentioned the frosting, which he quickly dismissed, saying they were so moist there was really no need for frosting . . . "they just couldn't be any better."

This zucchini experience has helped me regain my focus . . . it's not really about the pretty pictures or the exotic ingredients, or even how well your recipe experiments turn out or whether or not your garden looks good. Sharing your time, your talents, (your zucchini) and your favorite recipes with the friends and family you love . . . making them smile . . . that is the good stuff.

Zucchini Bars from the United Methodist Church cookbook

4 eggs
1 1/2 c. oil
2 c. sugar
2 c. grated zucchini
2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup nuts (I used pecans)

Mix ingredients in order given and pour into a greased sheet cake pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 35 minutes.

One 8 oz. pkg cream cheese
1 stick oleo (I would probably use butter)
1 lb. powdered sugar
1 c. nuts
2 tsp. vanilla

Beat all ingredients together and spread on cooled bars.


Bethany said...

I just made zucchini bread the other night and it turned out a little dry. I have been looking for another zucchini recipe, too. I will have to give this one a try this week. I ended up shredding my zucchini and freezing it until I could figure out what to do with it!

Sarah said...

I LOVE local cookbooks.

webbie said...

The Alabama phone company volunteer group, The Pioneers, used to put out cookbooks called Calling All Cooks. I have the original and the 5 subsequent publications, named Calling All Cooks Two, Three, etc.. :-)

I love these tried and true recipes.

Your bars look terrific.

Basically, Baby Boots said...

My family had a similar cookbook. I'm going to have to find it and dust it off. There were some good, old fashioned recipes in there.