A whole to-do about zucchini | October 5, 2022

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!

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The Library Room | March 16, 2022

As you know, we moved into our new house at the end of July 2021.  As you also know, the world has been struggling with shipping and supply chain issues.  So, as a result, Kyle and I have one room that is currently devoid of furniture.  We call it The Library Room.

Here is a picture of The Library Room as it looks right now.


The Library Room is right off our front door, and is meant to be the home’s formal dining room.  The thing is, we don’t need a formal dining room because 1) I’m not that amazing of a cook, 2) we have an eat-in kitchen in visible distance of the formal dining room, and 3) our children are wild animals and, as such, we don’t have anything I would even describe as informal, let alone formal, in this house.  Is “back alley” an interior design theme?  That’s probably closer.

(In case you’re like, ha ha, that Amanda, always exaggerating – I should tell you that my number-one requirement when I purchased a new rug was its ability to be cleaned.  I didn’t care about color, material, height of pile, or how it was woven; the only thing I Googled was “rugs that can be cleaned with Windex.”)

For a family without anything formal, it’s kind of poetic that we have The Library Room because the title alone certainly brings up our sophistication a few notches.  We call it The Library Room – named by our six-year-old, who was insistent on “The Library Room” and not just “The Library” – because, as you can see in the photo, the only thing in there are books.  We keep a lot of books because 1) I like to reread them, 2) Kyle likes to read my books (not a euphemism), and 3) we just don’t have it in our hearts to get rid of any books.  We own a number of books that we will never, ever read again (I’m looking at you, The Da Vinci Code) and we still dutifully packed them up and moved them over to this house instead of putting them in the “donate” pile where they probably belonged.  We actually have so many books that we don’t have enough space in The Library Room for them all.

(After typing that out, I think we may have a problem.  Someone had better come check on us in a few years and make sure that we haven’t moved into the backyard into a house-shaped fort out of books, with books for chairs and books for tables and books for plates and so on.)

“That room looks fine with only books in it; you should just leave it that way,” you may be thinking.  Well, since it’s a space without any physical encumbrances, Kyle has taken to using it dry out hockey equipment.  I assume the Library of Congress also serves the same dual-purpose.  (The photo above is what it looks like with hockey equipment; you’ll have to imagine the smell on your own.)

The thing is, absolutely not one single guest to our house has questioned this room AT ALL.  As a reminder, it’s right off the main entry.  You’d have to put your hands up to your eyes like blinders in order to avoid it.  At no point over the last eight months has someone walked in and said, “Huh, what’s going on here?”

There are three possible reasons this is the case.

The simplest explanation is that people know we “recently” moved and are still getting our duck(-shaped pillows) in order.  Our second-to-last big project is painting the walls (don’t ask why we didn’t do that before we moved in), and we have patch marks all over the place.  Maybe people see those patches and think, “Man, they still have a lot to do: paint the walls, get furniture in that front room, and stop building that book fort out in the backyard.”

The North Dakota explanation is that NoDakers are nice and polite and wouldn’t ask a question where the answer would potentially offend or embarrass the recipient.  What if the real reason we hadn’t furnished it was because I once got diarrhea in a formal dining room?  No one wants to have that conversation.

The other explanation, and probably the most logical, is that people walk in and think, “Well, obviously, this is something Amanda and Kyle would have.”  Just a big, empty room with a wall of books and drying-out hockey equipment.  Which, come to think of it, is kind of on brand.

The first piece of furniture – a (different) rug, which I ordered in November – arrives at the end of April.  Before that happens, I’m thinking we should have a Clue-style party where the rooms, weapons, and people are all Kosior-specific, like so-and-so in The Library Room with a hockey stick.  Everyone gets to take a book as a prize for participating; the winner gets The Da Vinci Code.

This week’s news has pie, fish hooks, and suitcases.  Read on.

The Dickinson Police Department hosted their 3rd Annual Skate with a Cop, and nearly 400 people showed up for two hours of ice (and ice cream). (Dickinson Press)

Bowman’s Angie Wanek turns old ropes into home art. (Bowman County Pioneer)

A group of Dickinson community members have raised nearly $40,000 in support of humanitarian aid for Ukraine. (Dickinson Press)

In “things Kyle would totally do no matter what the day,” the Bowman community came out in force to buy slices of pie on Pi Day in support of the Bowman Country Regional Library. (Bowman County Pioneer)

A Grand Forks fifth-grader named Jackson Olson is making, and selling, hand-tied fish hooks. (Grand Forks Herald)

In North Dakota-adjacent news, students in Breckenridge High School’s Project U class are raising money for the 14 children in the Wilkin County foster care system. (Wahpeton Daily News)