Summer’s monster!

Giant spiky leaves! Watch out!

Friends of ours have been hosting monthly potlucks with a twist: each one features a seasonal vegetable “theme,” giving attendees an opportunity to consider how they might creatively feature the main ingredient. This month’s veggie was zucchini! We ate oodles of zoodles, zucchini salads, zucchini bread, curry zucchini stew with lamb (our contribution), and more.

Before we ate, our host gave us all the opportunity to share our own personal stories about this vegetable, and it seemed everyone had something to share — mostly stories about zucchini gone wild and growing to mammoth proportions or about the lingering pain on the hands and arms after picking them.

Yes, zucchini do have spines on their giant leaves! And, they will certain leave a mark that can sting for many hours. And, the fruits grow amazingly fast. We pick ours at least twice a week, even though the CSA is only once per week. If we didn’t, we’d have gigantic fruit for pick-up, and we know that many people prefer to more moderate sizes (which usually feature fewer seeds and thinner skin, making them desirable for certain preparations).

Inevitably, however, we do miss a fruit or two at each picking. The dark green zucchini are especially good at blending into the shade of the plants, and by the time we get back to the planting, they will have tripled in size. Back at Cedarville Farm, where we trained in Bellingham, we used to call these missed zucchini “zucchini babies,” because they often ended up being about the weight, shape, and length of a large bundled human baby. On one particularly goofy day (probably fueled by the consumption of donuts and a blend of instant coffee and hot cocoa that we called “jet fuel”), we wrapped several zucchini babies in towels and drew on baby faces with a permanent marker, then rocked them in our arms and laughed and laughed.

I think there is something naturally hilarious about a vegetable that can seem so monstrous — spikes! rapid growth! and prolific! oh my! This humorous aspect is what inspires so many “leaving-zucchini-on-the-neighbors-door-step-and-running” type of jokes in August.

But, you know what? I love this vegetable. Both for and in spite of its hilarious features. I love how it produces and produces and produces, the living embodiment of a season that seems to provide us with endless abundant gifts. Practically speaking, I love how versatile it is. I will admit, I am a fan of “mushy” food. I love well-cooked stews with complex flavor profiles and things of that nature (when I first tasted Indian food as a child, I thought I was in heaven!). Zucchini is so well suited to such applications — it can carry the flavor of whatever seasonings you desire to add (Italian, middle eastern, Indian). It can also be roasted or cooked to be al dente too, in a pan, oven, or on the BBQ. Zucchini pairs naturally well with many other summer season vegetables too: tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, onions, cauliflower, potatoes … we’ll begin making regular batches of ratatouille soon — a summer favorite for us.

Tomorrow we’ll mark the halfway point of summer (celebrated as “Lammas” by some). Sunset is already coming earlier, but we are at the peak of what will be a long harvest season here in Oregon. In honor of zucchini and summer’s abundance, here is one of our all-time favorite poems of the season:

The Arrival
Wendell Berry

Like a tide it comes in,
wave after wave of foliage and fruit,
the nurtured and the wild,
out of the light to this shore.
In its extravagance we shape
the strenuous outline of enough.

Now is the time to celebrate and offer our gratitude for these gifts — zucchini included! Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Shiro plums
  • Chehalis apples — The first of THIS YEAR’s apple crop!!!!! These are our earliest apple, and they are just now maturing into deliciousness. We’ll offer these for several weeks, and you’ll get to taste and experience how the flavor and texture will change as they continue to mature on the trees.
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers & eggplant
  • Salad mix
  • Red Russian kale
  • Golden chard
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower & broccoli
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumbers
  • New potatoes
  • Shallots
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