So here in late summer, I’m trying to power my way through the garden produce. I have reached my cantaloupe saturation point. I’ve quit picking cucumbers. The freezer is full to the brim of corn and tomatoes. And I’m thinking up reasons to make this cake. Lucky for me, Sunday was my friend Stefanie’s birthday.
And the reason that was lucky was not ONLY because it uses zucchini, but because it tastes absolutely delicious. I don’t know how a green vegetable can make a dessert so wonderful, but it does. This recipe is from the Nodaway County Historical Society’s “Taste of History” cookbook.
Zucchini Spice Cake
1 c. oil
2 c. sugar
3 tsp. vanilla
2 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
3 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 heaping c. shredded zucchini
1 c. nuts (optional)
Mix oil and sugar. Stir in eggs and vanilla. Add flour and dry ingredients. Stir in zucchini and nuts. Pour into a 9 x 13 pan and bake at 325 degrees for 45-50 minutes. When cool, frost with cream cheese frosting.
The original recipe was for a zucchini bread and it would work just as well if you baked it in a loaf pan. This is a great way to use up the larger squash. Leave the skin on when grating. And as the original recipe says, “Pack zucchini in measuring cup as this is what makes this a good, moist cake.” Serve with a side of cantaloupe.
It was the fall of 1990. A cold, crisp morning and I was headed out the door before the sun was up. A clarinet case in my one hand and a school bag slung across my back. Another concert band practice this morning. If I hurried, I could catch the early bus in time and avoid the 30 minute walk to school.
Gazing down the busy road, I was relieved to see wide-set headlights and the white-ish glow from the city bus. I could use the break from a long walk. Climbing up the steps of the bus, I flashed the driver my pass and slumped in the nearest seat.
It would be a long day. Student council meeting at lunch and yearbook meeting after school. My mother was worried that I took too much on. I was also involved in church activities, in addition to taking violin lessons and a dozen other projects as they came up. But I liked to be busy and so did my friends. We liked involvement and getting things done. I’d be fine.
I rested my head against the large, cool window. Shafts of light spread out from the rising sun between the houses and buildings lining the road. I smiled. Autumn was such a beautiful time of year.
I turned my gaze upward to admire the trees. Instead seeing gorgeous golds and reds, I found nothing but bare trees!
Pressing my hands up against the window, I looked up and down the street. I couldn’t be! Turning my head, I strained to see the trees on the other side of the street. The exact same thing. The rising sun created long eerie shadows of tree limbs stripped of their foliage, like a scene from a scary movie.
How did I completely miss the leaves changing colors…and then falling from the trees? Could it be possible that I was so busy that I didn’t even notice the change in the environment around me?
Autumn was my favourite season. Leaves changing colors was a highlight of the year. That majestic burst of color in the fall was like Nature’s last kiss before hibernating for the winter. And I missed it. It would be an entire year before I could witness the beauty of fall.
I was filled with a profound sadness for what I lost out on that year. What else had I missed?
As I got off at school, my sadness was soon eased by a grateful heart. Grateful that I
had experienced this lesson now, at 17 years old. How many people would go through life missing the changing leaves and not realize the lesson until it was too late? I promised myself that I would never let that happen again.
When fall approaches, I watch those trees and remember that lesson I learned in so many years ago.
What’s a lesson you were glad to learn in your youth?
This summer brought a huge change to my family. My brother and sister-in-law moved to Alaska. Two years ago, when David mentioned the idea to me, I asked him (okay, TOLD him) to never mention that awful idea again. My family isn’t one for big changes. We’ve always lived with a 45 minute radius from my parents. We don’t make major changes.Since that conversation so many things happened and doors were thrown wide open. They walked through those doors and at the end of July, with pretty much everything they were taking packed into a trailer. I hated to see them go. Just the thought that they aren’t nearby brings tears.
Growing up, I’d have paid for the ticket to send my brother to Alaska! We fought hard most of the time. But with age and leaving home, we found a really great friendship. Over the years we discovered we had quite a bit in common. It was a treat for my boys when Uncle David came to go hunting with them and a treat for me when he’d come in after hunting and sit at the island to talk and eat whatever dessert I had made.
I still don’t like that they moved, but since the moment he told me they were going, I’ve been able to say that I’m so excited and proud of them for following their dream. Who amongst us doesn’t have a dream and wish we had the nerve to follow it? They can always come home, but to get into their sixties and wish they had taken the chance, just seems sad. So they left, they are now living in Alaska, and they are loving it.Before they left we all got together for our most traditional meal. Verinika. I’m not even sure I got the spelling right! This is a German dish that we only had when my dad was traveling. Everyone makes theirs different. Some cooks boil and brown on a griddle and served with a ham gravy. Ours are deep fat fried with whole cream poured over the top. Delicious! Growing up the challenge was to see who could eat the most and still walk away from the table. We did not try that this time but we did make a pretty good dent in the dish.
Even our plates were the same we used growing up.
So, we sent them off well. One last meal together, a hug, and a see ya later. And believe me, my boys are counting on the ‘see ya later’ part! They can’t wait until we can go visit Alaska.