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Happy-Gourmand

A rainbow of vegetables

I was in the garden this week when a thought sprouted and grew.

I was searching for cucumbers and zucchinis, when it occurred to me: we have seen square watermelons and squashes with faces, but when is someone going to come up with vegetables that are practical?

Who decided cucumbers and zucchinis should be green? Why do they need to be stealthy?

I am in the garden every day, checking to see what is ready to pick. I move leaves and peek under, and there will be nothing, nothing and then bam — a zucchini bigger than a football is staring at me.

The yellow zucchinis are much more co-operative, shining out from under the leaves. It’s much easier to enjoy them in various recipes.

Football-sized zucchinis are only good for zucchini bread, and I can only eat so much of that.

I think Mother Nature could pick more colours for the veggie garden. We have flowers in all shades of the spectrum.There are so many green vegetables. 

I have tried purple beans and carrots, which are fun, but they turn back to their original colour when you cook them, which is disappointing.

Did you know that carrots started out purple, and were bred to be orange only when taken from their original home in eastern Europe to Britain? (Apparently the Brits didn’t like how purple looked on the plate.)

How about blue peas? Or maybe pink cucumbers? As a counter-measure to all the fuss surrounding GMO foods, why not have some work done on creating new colours that we could find easily when harvesting?

A gardener’s work is never done, so making the job just a bit quicker would be really nice. And kids might be keener to eat veggies that were weird and wonderful, no?

Perhaps the most interesting veggie for colour is red cabbage. It doesn’t have an exciting reputation, but did you know it will change colour depending on what kind of sauce it is cooked in?

If the sauce is acidic, the cabbage will stay deep red; if it’s neutral in pH, then the cabbage will go purple; and if the sauce is basic, the cabbage goes blue.

It’s the anthocyanins that are pH sensitive and cause all the fun.They are the component in most red, blue and purple plants.

Science is the secret to colour in food – anthocyanins, and chlorophyll (which makes green), and carotenoids (for yellow, orange and red).

A unique exception is beets, which have betanin. All these pigments are nutritious, so no matter what colour our veggies are, they are good for us. We just have to be diligent in the garden.

In case, like me, you have an embarrassment of riches in your zucchini patch, here’s my recipe for zucchini bread that never fails to please.

CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI BREAD

This stuff is deadly good – and mostly healthy. You’d never know it had zucchini in it if you didn’t make it.

The cinnamon adds a nice twist, and nuts and chips make it quite decadent. It freezes well, and it’s great to share.

  • 500 g / 2 cups flour (can sub in gluten free flours if you wish. If using all gluten free, use 1/8 cup less)
  • 5 g / 1 tsp baking powder
  • 5 g / 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 g / 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 g / 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 63 g / 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 3 eggs
  • 375 g / 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 125 mL / 1/2 cup vegetable oil (grapeseed works well)
  • 190 mL / 3/4 cup buttermilk (can be made with regular milk if necessary: use 2/3 cup milk and 1 tbsp vinegar stirred in. Leave in a warm spot for a few minutes, then stir.)
  • 225 g / 1/2 lb shredded zucchini, drained
  • 250 g / 1 cup pecans (optional – and any other nut can be substituted if you wish)
  • 190 g / 3/4 cup chocolate chips (optional, but really tasty!)
  • icing sugar for dusting, if desired
  • Preheat oven to 175C /350F

Sift dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, beat eggs till frothy. Add sugar gradually and beat till fluffy, then beat in oil. Alternate mixing in buttermilk and dry ingredients.

Squeeze excess moisture out of zucchini and fold into batter, with nuts and chocolate chips if desired.

Grease bundt pan (or two loaf pans) and pour in batter. Bake for 55-60 minutes. Bread is done when knife inserted in centre comes out clean. Let cool five minutes on a wire rack, then run spatula around rim of pan (centre and outside edges) and remove bread from mold.

Serve whole cake with a dusting of icing sugar if desired. Store covered in a cool spot, or freeze for later use.



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About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."

 

E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com

 



The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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