The mornings are crisp. The sunrise has grown lazy, only making her appearance on the white of my walls at half past 6. I found myself in the mountains this past weekend with a glistening of frost on my windshield. The sunlight has that peculiar golden hue that signals the closeness of fall. Suddenly, the rush of summer has come to a halt. The tomatoes are still bursting, and my bowls are filled with wrinkled ripe stone fruit but I also spy winter squash at the markets. I have the urge to buy one, maybe roast it, and tuck it into something warm. Autumn is coming. A season I have always loved but have been longing to put off and post-pone this year.
I have struggled with letting go of summer. Did I get enough from her? I camped 7 times, which is maybe 7 times more than last summer and yet it still feels like I did not eat enough tomatoes, husk enough corn, climb enough mountains, celebrate enough of this life, jump in enough bodies of water, bask in enough sun or grow enough in this season of my life.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how to eat a peach. I’ve noticed that each season has begun to have a certain inanimate object, usually a plant, that becomes representative of that time in my life. Spring was daffodils. Winter, bags of fresh milled Canadian winter wheat. I have bought box after box of peaches since the first ones that actually smelled like peaches arrived from California. I have watched them ripen further still in bowls in my house. I’m always trying to think of how to eat them. Grilled. In salads. Crisps. Hot sugar crust cobblers. Roasted jams. On toast. In bourbon milkshakes. But have I just picked one up and eaten it greedily as I did as a child? That was good enough then. There was no need for fanfare or a production. In my head I have visions of my tanned childhood self, smelling of chlorine eating peaches straight from the tree only out of doors as the juice dribbled down my chin and my fingers. This was summer. Last weekend I ate a plum that way. It actually tasted like a plum. Since moving to Montana, it might be one of two, maybe three plums I’ve had that actually tasted like something. It was heaven. Why don’t I do this more?
Fall, I’m starting to grow excited by you. I’m mourning summer a bit because this one in particular meant so much to me in so many hard and wondrous ways. I’m very much in the middle of so much. I remember this past September so well. Can it really have been a year already? It feels like I have accomplished nothing yet am on the verge of so much. When we’re in the thick of it all we often can’t see beyond the end of our own noses. It’s probably when we most get in our own way. I certainly feel that way rather frequently.
With this change in seasons and the changes in my own life I’ve experienced in the past month I’ve felt a pull to step away from the world of Instagram. I have all these ideas, plans for change and transformation, new projects (i.e. #versatileveg, which is still going to happen but just not quite yet) mulling around in my head, in process already, but if you read my last post you’ll know I decided it was not quite the moment to launch full steam ahead. For me this is the moment to come back to myself and I find Instagram to be at odds with that. It’s a platform I love so much in so many ways but right now it feels noisy and a place of comparison. Creatively, I feel really inspired or on the verge of inspired right now. I photograph daily for the joy of it. I’m spending more minutes with a pen in hand or click clacking at my keyboard searching for the words to tell my own unique story. So I may be sharing more on this space but I may not. You can now sign up on the right to be notified when I do post if you are interested in seeing and reading about my experience of this time in our magical world.
I did want to leave you with on new recipe in honor of #versatileveg. Zucchini has been a close second behind peaches for the plant of this season. For once in my life I can’t seem to get enough. I’m stealing them from my mom’s plant almost daily; she’s even had to ask me to leave her some. Zucchini is the underdog of summer that everyone eagerly casts aside and bakes into bread because they have no idea what to do with it. I can eat zucchini every which way every day but lately I’ve craved the comfort of the chocolate studded muffins of my childhood. When our neglected abundance led to squash the size of me the only redeemable use of the oversized variety was a spiced bread. I have made three in the past week seeking to maintain the nostalgia of what I ate as a kid but to brighten and simplify the recipe. This summer I have relied heavily on fresh lemon in my baking and I was reminded that it goes quite well with chocolate and zucchini, and cinnamon. All my favorites together. I’ve chosen olive oil for ease and because it happens to pair quite well with all my key flavors too. Quick breads should be quick and whenever possible one bowl. This is exactly that. You can bake it as muffins or as a loaf, I’ve done both. Regardless, it will be something heavenly to bite into in the morning with a cup of hot tea as you too watch the sunlight drift into that peculiar hue of autumn.
- 2 cups coarsely grated zucchini
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ cup full fat yogurt, greek preferably
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- zest of 2-3 lemons
- 2 eggs
- 1½ cups whole wheat flour*
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup chocolate chips (optional, but who would want to leave these out?)
- Preheat your oven to 350˙F. Grease or spray a loaf pan or muffin tin with oil.
- Wrap the zucchini in a clean dish towel and roll it up and wring it out to pull out the excess water. Set aside. You can skip this step in a hurry but it does help to lighten up the crumb and texture a noticeable amount. Both are still extremely delicious so choose your own adventure here.
- In a large bowl whisk together olive oil, yogurt, brown sugar, vanilla and lemon zest. The zest of two medium lemons adds a bright note but is not too lemony. I really like lemon so I opted for three to get that burst of citrus. Add eggs one at a time whisking in between until full incorporated. Whisk a further 30 seconds to a minute until the batter thickens slightly. With a spatula fold in the zucchini.
- Sift flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt directly over your wet ingredients. Fold in until almost all the dry bits are moist. Add your chocolate chips and continue to fold in until everything is just incorporated, being careful not to over mix.
- Pour into your prepared loaf pan or if making muffins use ¼ cup measuring cup to fill each muffin cup. The loaf will bake at 350˙F for about 50-55 minutes. Muffins take about 25-30 minutes. They're both done when the edges start to brown and toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then remove to cool completely on a wire rack. Or do as I do and eat one with a thick lashing of butter immediately.
- These will stay fresh for a few days and freeze nicely. If I bake a loaf I pre-slice it before freezing a will pull a slice straight the frozen and toast in cast iron for a yummy quick breakfast.