A couple of summers ago the BF and I were living in the southern half of New Jersey (that’s “South Jersey” in the proper Philadelphia vernacular) and it was one of those summers that started right after Easter and ran through the first few weeks of football season. It was ridiculously, crazy hot for about four months.
And everyone’s garden was loving it. When it got so humid that the air couldn’t hold any more water, it teemed down like you’ve never seen it rain before. South Jersey became a rainforest that summer.
I came home one day to find a big, long, striped green…something…on the steps. It was the largest zucchini I’d ever seen and I grew up with an Italian stepfather who used to grow cucuzza
(“googoots” in Calabrian vernacular) in our side garden. This monster was over a foot long and nine inches around (yes, I did measure it) and quite frankly, I was a little scared of it.
I’d just been zucchinied. A hit-and-run, no less.
There isn’t much you can do with a summer squash that big, you know. The skin’s usually too tough to eat and there’s a ton of seeds. And on top of that, they’re usually bitter and woody, so my idea for making soup or a huge pot of ratatouille went right out the window.
Which is exactly what I was ready to do with this beast, but I really hate waste. And since our landlord was the person who gave it to us…well, I really couldn’t put it back outside for the raccoons. So I peeled and seeded and grated and made two loaves of really terrific zucchini bread. I was appalled at the full cup of oil and don’t-ask-don’t-tell amount of sugar that went into it, but it was really good with a schmear of cream cheese.
A couple of weeks later, I found myself with a bit of a blueberry glut and decided to try a recipe I’d seen in one of my cookbooks for blueberry lemon bread. One of the things I remembered liking about the recipe was that there wasn’t a huge amount of fat or sugar in it when compared to that zucchini cake…er, bread…that I made. Throw in the fact that it looked simple to make and I was pretty much sold.
I subbed out the white flour called for in the recipe with whole wheat pastry flour; it’s an 1:1 substitution, so you can go either way with it. White flour will give you a tenderer crumb while the pastry flour gives it just a touch more heft, which I like. Either way, this will keep for a couple of days, but it’s really at it’s best if you eat it within a day or two of baking it.
Blueberry Cornmeal Bread
- Oil/butter/cooking spray for the baking pan
- 1 1/2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour (or unbleached white flour)
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/3 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 Tbsp mild oil (I used sunflower)
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp buttermilk
- Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
- 1 cup blueberries, picked over and rinsed
- 2 to 4 Tbsp walnuts, toasted and chopped
- 1/4 cup rolled oats (also called “old-fashioned”, but not “instant”)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease an 8″x 4″ loaf pan.
- Put the flour, baking powder and soda together into a large bowl. Add the cornmeal, sugar and salt and run a whisk through it to remove the lumps. Yes, you can sift it, but this is quicker and easier.
- In a second bowl, beat together the oil, eggs, buttermilk and lemon rind until well combined.
- Combine the blueberries, walnuts if you’re using them, and rolled oats in a third bowl and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the flour-cornmeal mixture over them. Gently stir to combine.
- l stir the egg mixture into the flour-cornmeal mixture, using as few strokes as possible. Gently stir in the blueberry mixture The batter should be stiff.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, turning the pan around about 30 minutes in so the top browns evenly. If it’s starting to get too dark, cover the top very lightly with foil.
- Let the baked bread cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then run a knife aournd the edge of the pan and turn it out onto a rack.