This is one of the best times of the year, isn’t it? The leaves are beginning to change, the air is crisp but warm, everything is covered in pumpkins and apples (the two cutest fruit), and everyone looks great in autumn sunshine. Sometimes I’ll walk out into this perfection and think, please make this one day last for three weeks. Like, let it be this exact Monday for three weeks, and then tomorrow it will be that exact Tuesday for another three weeks, and so on until January, when we can have five normal-length days of snow and then roll right into spring. I’d really like that.
Speaking of fall, North Dakota is thick into harvest. When we moved to town last year, Kyle brought two parts of the country with him: A spot for
Kyle the kids to pee outside (SO GREAT LOVE THIS SO MUCH NEXT I’M GONNA STICK A TOILET IN THE MIDDLE OF THE LIVING ROOM SO EVERYONE CAN GO WHENEVER THEY PLEASE), and a very large garden plot. Kyle’s garden plot at the new house is almost the same square footage as the one in the country – which was size-appropriate when we had six acres but a little aggressive in town. That’s okay, though, because I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a point in history when a farmer has looked at their crop and thought, “You know, this is just too much food.”
Kyle spent a couple of weeks in the early spring tilling up the corners of the yard and building garden boxes, and then one solid day planting all sorts of vegetable and fruit seeds in neat rows. That night, he took me outside to show off his hard work.
“Here are the sunflowers,” he pointed proudly. “And here are the beets. And here are the cucumbers. And here, and here, and over there, and over there are the zucchini.”
“Oh, boy,” I said. “That’s a lot of zucchini. How much zucchini did you plant?”
“The whole packet,” he told me.
“Ohhh, boyyy,” I said in that high-octave tone a person uses when their friend tells you they are going to get their face tattooed to look like Frosty the Snowman. “Remember the last time we planted the whole packet of zucchini?”
The last time we planted a whole packet of zucchini, we ended up with a lot of zucchini. Here’s the thing about zucchini: it’s not universally beloved. It’s the broccoli of the squash family. Actually, it’s the squash of the squash family because most of society can only eat so much squash before it’s like, “Hey, let’s stick this on the front step for decoration.” Kyle and I had the university president out to the (country) house and forced him to take a trunkful of zucchini home with him and then he announced he was leaving UND a year later, which was not a coincidence. Even the food pantry couldn’t give it all away.
For the past month, we have been awash in zucchini. Awash. Then, this past weekend, Kyle announced that it was time for Kosior Harvest; he was pulling the garden.
“Head’s up,” he said. “There are quite a few zucchini still out there.”
“How many?” I asked.
Nine. There were nine giant zucchini, each roughly the size of three normal-sized ones. No matter, I told Kyle, I had a plan. I would turn them all into zucchini bread. While zucchini is not a fan favorite, everyone loves zucchini bread – especially our children (who won’t eat it if they think it’s zucchini bread but will fight one another for every piece if we say it’s banana bread; so, if you ever come to our house and we serve you banana bread, there’s a 99% chance it’s zucchini bread). We would be awash in zucchini bread. Awash.
Except here’s the thing – I don’t do well with long projects. For example, I am a great taper but a terrible house painter because I will tape the trim on a room and think, “Meh, I’m done.” I went through a knitting phase where I completed fifty scarves and still have an unfinished blanket – my very first project – shoved in the shame corner of my office closet because I got a couple of feet in and went, “Meh, I’m done.”
On Sunday morning, I woke up and announced to the world that I would spend the day making loaves of
zucchini banana bread. My seven-year-old offered to help, and so we got out all of the stuff necessary to shred zucchini: a cutting board and knife (to cut the zucchini), the Cuisinart (to shred the zucchini), the strainer (to strain some of the water out of the zucchini), and two bowls (one for the straining zucchini, and one for the strained zucchini).
Our process was this: Seven would go out and get one zucchini. I’d peel it and chop it into Cuisinart-sized chunks, and then Seven would run the shredder. While I was emptying the Cuisinart into the strainer, Seven would go outside for the next zucchini. We did this four times before Seven, true to his birthright, said, “Meh, I’m done,” and wandered off to go play. Ha ha, that scamp, I laughed to myself as I finished off the other five zucchini. I cleaned up the kitchen, washed all of the equipment, took out the garbage, set out the ingredients and loaf pans for zucchini bread, and thought, “Meh, I’m done.”
I spent the next half-hour Googling, “How long can shredded zucchini last in the fridge” (one week), and “How to use up twenty pounds of shredded zucchini” (zucchini bread) before giving in and making one double batch (four loaves). While those four loaves were baking, I packaged up all of the rest of the zucchini into ziplock bags and put them in the deep freeze “to use later.”
“You can substitute shredded zucchini for oil in most recipes,” I told Kyle as he hauled out 900 bags of shredded zucchini.
“Oh, boy,” Kyle said. “Maybe I’ll plant even more next year.”
“Ohhh, boyyy,” I said.
The photo above is of me and my zucchini bread. I don’t know why I’m smiling like a nutjob; maybe because I had just spent five precious weekend hours dealing with zucchini.
This week’s news has baseball players, tree planters, and axe throwers. Read on.
Ballers in Devils Lake raised money (with a baseball tournament, in case my nickname wasn’t obvious) for families in need of financial assistance. (Devils Lake Journal)
The city of Bismarck, with the help of Boy Scout Troop 6, will be planting 150 trees in celebration of the city’s 150th birthday. (KX Net)
In close-enough-to-North-Dakota Nice news, Native Artist Laura Youngbird has installed a new piece called “Mishipechu” in Breckenridge. (Wahpeton Daily News)
Competitors from 23 states were AXE-ing (get it) to win the first “Far Thro” axe throwing tournament in Fargo. (Valley News Live)
Mandan’s Ty Breuer is headed back to Las Vegas for the National Finals Rodeo. (KFYR TV)
Grand Forks’ “Way Cooler Than You Think!” website is an international award winner. (Grand Forks Herald)
Let’s Be (Official) Pals!
Sign up for the weekly North Dakota Nice email and get a story and the news delivered to your inbox once a week (and never more than that).