The Great Zucchini Battle ©

 The Chicago Sun Times by Rita Emmett

As an avid gardener, each spring I try planting one new veggie. This year it was four little zucchini plants.

I didn't know much about cooking zucchini squash, but I thought I'd look up a recipe or two, and give the rest away. After all, how many zucchini could four little plants produce?

The day we planted the garden, my friend Paree told me that if I ever had any extra zucchini blossoms, she would give me a great Greek recipe for "lemon-batter fried zucchini blossoms".

I told her that was the craziest thing I'd ever heard. If you pick the blossom, it won't turn into a veggie. Why would anyone in his right mind do such a thing? I couldn’t imagine how cooking zucchini blossoms ever got started!

The next day, I went out to view our garden with visions of veggies dancing in my head. Those little zucchini plants looked as if they had doubled in size. "Interesting", I thought.

By mid-June, those four little suckers had grown so large they took over the garden.

By the end of June, I was frantically cutting back plants as they tried to crawl across the lawn and down the driveway.

By mid-July, we had declared war on those plants. My children swore they heard the theme music from "Jaws" any time they went near the garden. And each plant offered not one or two zucchini, but 8, 9, and 10 at a time.

By the end of July, my first "zuc" (rhymes with Luke. That's gardeners' talk, ya know) appeared, and my daughter wanted to pick it RIGHT NOW.

It looked like a little two inch pathetic pickle. After all kinds of persuasive arguments (plus a bribe), she agreed to wait two days and let the little thing mature a bit.

Two days later, she came staggering in cradling a 23 inch long zucchini which weighed 17 pounds and looked like a green torpedo.

Throughout the summer, try as we might, our family never quite got the "knack" of zuc-picking.

We picked itsy, bitsy mini-zucchini. One hour later, we'd pick super, jumbo mega-zucs. But the magic moment when the squash were "just right" eluded all of us.

By mid-August, we had harvested enough zucchini squash to feed the entire town; we were sick of eating them and couldn’t give them away fast enough. Our neighbors were avoiding us, relatives stopped inviting us over, and in every phone conversation with my mother in Florida, she gave me a passionate speech explaining that no zucchini would survive being shipped all those miles.

At this point, my family demanded a moratorium on zucchini recipes. I had served it baked, sautéed, deep-fried, boiled, stuffed, stewed and raw. They awarded a "Zucker" (the veggie version of the Oscar) to the worst meal in America. Zucchini quiche won hands down, with my "zucchini-hot-fudge-surprise" casserole as first runner up.

Amazingly, they ate the zucchini muffins. I gagged when I mixed the 2 cups of shredded zucchini with brown sugar, but once they were baked, the zucchini didn't show...and I wasn't about to tell.

Our teen-agers were the best behaved in the land, for I had found the ultimate parental threat. "Take out the garbage NOW or I'll cook another zucchini recipe tonight!"

Then the rains came and our garden, along with the lawn, driveway and garage floor, were under water for days.

We noted that all four zucchini plants were totally submerged in water....and we smiled. Then the water drained off and again the rains came. And again. Each time, all four zuc plants were under water for days...and we smiled.

Finally, the flooding stopped. And—oh, joy, oh, bliss, oh rapture unforetold--the zucchini stopped.

Then , on Sept. 25, my son called me out to the garden. The zuc plants were covered with bright yellow blossoms. we counted 15 on one plant alone--every blossom offering the promise of yet another miserable, wretched zucchini.

And I remembered my friend's recipe for fried zucchini blossoms. And I understood.

In my mind, I saw a clear picture of that long ago first Greek woman who ever thought to cook a blossom. She's standing there staring at those darned plants--too frugal to consider throwing out all that food; too intelligent to even contemplate cooking and serving any more zucs to her family.

Suddenly, she has an idea. She plucks every yellow blossom and - voila - a new culinary masterpiece is created.

You might ask me if blossoms taste good, and I'd answer, "Who cares?" Would any family in its right mind complain if it knew that each blossom eaten would prevent the birth of another zucchini squash?

And now, I think I'll go whip up another batch of my "zucchini blossom-hot fudge surprise."


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Rita Emmett, author of The Procrastinator’s Handbook and The Clutter-Busting Handbook, is a professional speaker who presents Keynotes and Seminars nationwide. She can be reached at 847-699-9950 and email is

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