I was eighteen, madly in love, and browsing the bargain corner of my hometown bookstore. I was imagining all sorts of futures for me and my new sweetheart: getting married, buying a house, having a baby… hey now, slow down there eighteen-year-old self! Yes, I was young and dreamy, but practical. I was focused on making these dreams come true. And one of the first steps I took toward that goal was to… buy a cookbook.
At that point, I was still dragging through my last year of high school, still living at home with my family, and struggling through a long (years-long), long-distance relationship. Sometimes it was hard to convince myself (and everyone else) that the dreams I dreamt could ever come true. Me, married…in my own house…with my own family?
As I browsed through the stacks of books, in which every life imaginable was come true, a thick volume bound in hardcover with a colorful, glossy slip jacket caught my eye. And I think my line of reasoning went something like this, “If only I could cook, my dreams would definitely come true.”
And so I bought The All New Good Housekeeping Cookbook. After all, I wanted a house. Yes, that would be good, and it would certainly all be new. Who in my position couldn’t resist a book like that? I was forging a new aspect of my identity, and this book provided some needed validation.
But…I don’t think I really opened this book that so buoyed my spirits until some of those dreams of mine really did start coming true…painfully true, that is…hunger-painfully true.
Now this cookbook is one of my go-to sources. I didn’t really consider all the cookbook options out there before buying this one, but it turns out I found a pretty basic manual that truly meets a new cook’s most important needs. It’s informative when necessary, with lots of tutorials on cuts of meat, different types of yeast, and how to cut up a whole chicken as well as nutritional information, seasonal availability notes, and substitution guides. There are beautiful full-page color photos, a great index, and a wide variety of dishes, with basic, tried-and-true recipes and enough variation to encourage inspiration. It’s been well used.
I’ve also taken to stuffing in slips of paper, cut from newspapers or magazines, printed from online, or scrawled on in the hand of a loved one, with recipes that have come my way over the years. So when I went searching for uses of zucchini, I found a newsclipping and a notecard from my grandma tucked into the binding of page 575, where the recipe for Zucchini Bread lay. The newspaper’s contribution was a double loaf recipe for plain zucchini bread that used lots of eggs and promised to be moist and dense, and my grandma’s notecard brought back many fond, fudgy memories of her Chocolate Zucchini Nut Bread!
So how to pick a recipe? Naturally, I was leaning toward chocolate, but I had my husband’s tummy, which is not fond of such sweets, to consider. Two loaves would be nice, but I’m trying to be conservative with my baking ingredients in an effort to delay the necessity for another grocery store trip. Plus, I only have one nice loaf pan. The cookbook’s recipe actually turned out to use the least ingredients overall, though I didn’t have orange peel to use as suggested, but hey, I could throw in some raisins… (I hope my obsession with those little darlings is not too conspicuous!)
In the end, I went with the cookbook’s basic recipe. The bread turned out delightfully sweet, with nice browning on the outside, and still-visible green flecks inside. I’m so glad to have instinctively reached out for this cookbook way back when, before I had this all new life, an apartment in a good house, and such a keeper of a husband!
Later, I also saw this recipe in my web browsing…I love the walnuttiness! That’s some inspiration for next time. Ah yes, next time… I’m definitely looking forward to more zucchini this summer. Is it too late to plant some in my garden??
Basic Zucchini Bread
from The All New Good Housekeeping Cookbook
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini (about 1 medium)
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated orange peel (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Greease a 8-1/2″ x 4-1/2″ metal loaf pan. (I used a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan.)
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In a medium bowl, use a fork to mix oil, eggs, zucchini, walnuts, raisins, and orange peel. Stir zucchini mixture into flour mixture until flour is moistened.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack, 10 minutes. Remove from pan by running a thin spatula along edges, then turn out on wire rack. Makes 1 loaf, about 12 slices.
Nutritional info: Each slice about 209 calories, 4g progtein, 26g carbohydrates, 10g total fat (1g saturated), 35 mg cholesterol, 200mg sodium.
Oh, and I found a way to take care of the lack of chocolate, too…