If I could describe this summer with one word, it would be "parched." This is my third summer living in western Oregon, and while my family and friends back east seem to think it rains constantly, I've learned that Oregon summers are remarkably dry. Everything is brown and...crispy.
While no one's front lawn seems to be faring very well in this weather (and anyone with a green lawn is getting dirty looks from neighbors and passers-by), the zucchini crop seems to be doing just fine.
John's dad Ethan Becker occasionally tells the story of when he was still living in Cincinnati and going through rough financial times. He had a large garden and, since it is a requirement for anyone with a garden, an overgrown zucchini patch. He determined that, to save money, he would rely upon his zucchini patch, supplemented by cheap protein, to survive. He was pretty smug about it, thinking that zucchini was superior in healthfulness. He soon discovered, however, that zucchini is mostly water. It's not bad for you by any means, but if you're after a sustaining source of vitamins and minerals, you might look elsewhere.
John and I are pretty broad-minded when it comes to what we eat. Most of the time we go to the market and buy what looks good and is reasonably affordable. Zucchini is certainly in the mix this time of year. And just like I can't make it through apple season without making a batch of apple butter, I have to make at least one loaf of zucchini bread. It's one of my yearly cooking requirements, and I like to think that, because I make it only once a year, it tastes exceptional.
This year, I went off-recipe a bit. I started with Joy's recipe for zucchini bread. I subbed extra virgin olive oil for the vegetable oil, added chocolate chunks, used honey instead of sugar, and swapped half of the all-purpose flour for kamut (but you could use spelt or whole wheat--I used kamut because I had it in the pantry). If you're looking for a way to use up a bushel of zucchini, this isn't really going to cut it, but it's a nice thing to make regardless.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 × 5-inch loaf pan.
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (or 3/4 cup all-purpose flour plus 1/2 cup kamut, spelt, or whole wheat flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Blend well in a large bowl:
1/2 cup honey
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
Stir in the dry ingredients. Blend in with a few swift strokes:
2 cups grated zucchini, squeezed of excess moisture
1 cup chocolate chunks, chips, or chopped dark chocolate
Scrape the batter into the greased pan. Bake until the bread pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 45 to 55 minutes. Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes before unmolding to cool completely on the rack.