Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Taming the Monsters

July came and went very quickly for me. I was busy...busy taming monsters. Every Monday through Thursday of the last month, I spent my morning attempting to help a small class of junior high students in Summer School.

Starting at 8am.

Studying Algebra.

Did you all cringe? Did you all have flashbacks to equations that wouldn't solve for "X" and graphs that didn't form straight lines? Did you all think of the moody hormones of your own Jr Hi-aged kids and thank the dear Lord above that you have never been shut in a small room with them and a math book for 4 hours every morning?

I thank you for you sympathies, but it wasn't the students that weren't monsters. My class was actually pleasant, courteous, engaging, and even brought snacks to share. We got along great. The monsters that I attempted to tame were the "I don't want to," "This is too hard," "Why do I need to know this?" monsters. Just the word Algebra puts up roadblocks for so many students. It was my task to find the paths of understanding for this little group. We took detours with cupcakes topped with sprinkles and frosted brownies, but I think by the end of our session, we also found our way to grasping a few math skills and learning that Algebra isn't a monster. I hope.

While my mind was balancing math equations, my garden finally started to take off. After rain and cool temperatures seemed to stunt my seedlings growth, sun and heat unleashed monsters. Plants doubled and tripled in size. Blossoms formed fruit on the sturdy plants and the vegetable flourished. Gardening required daily attention, and sometimes I didn't make it out to my small garden spot as often as I should have. That is when the monster zucchini hit. One day, they can be perfectly tender, little green fruits. The next day, they are HUGELY obscene monsters that seem to be growing and growing and growing taking over the world. Zucchini is a monster that demands taming.

A monster zucchini isn't as sweet or tender as the more delicate, smaller ones. The skin is tough, the core has developed seeds, and the flesh is dryer. It is best suited to shredding, and with a food processor or even a box grater, it doesn't take much effort to tame this monster. Shredded zucchini makes great pancakes, can be added to quiches, frittatas, and casseroles, and of course, there is my favorite use, desserts. One of my personal favorites for taming monster zucchini is Spiced Zucchini Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting. I will gladly wrestle down a summer monster for these to land On My Plate.

4 eggs
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup oil (I usually use Canola oil in baking, but had luck with olive oil in this recipe.)
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
2-3 cups grated zucchini

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine eggs and sugar in using mixer.
Beat in oil until creamy.

Add dry ingredients and beat well.

Stir in grated zucchini until well blended.

Pour into a greased and floured 10 x 15 pan.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until pick inserted in center comes out clean.

For frosting:
3 tablespoons softened butter
2 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp. vanilla

Beat frosting ingredients together until creamy.
Spread on COOLED bars.


  1. I will help you wrestle those monsters for some of these delicious looking bars. Love cream cheese frosting.

  2. I was always one of those students when it came to math. I never gave it a chance because I just didn't get it.
    Now I'm married to a family full of professional actuaries. Ick!

  3. Hi Fran, Someone gave a friend of mine zuchinni so HUGE we were thinking of using it for a baseball bat. LOL

  4. Sweet Jesus. This sounds delicious. I'm going to make it today. *sigh of joy*

  5. For the record I impressed my 6th grader a year ago with my algebra proficiency! :) I do hate the "I can't", "I don't know", & I'm just not good" monsters too!

    That is definitely one of the better zucchini cakesout there. Most of the ones I've seen include chocolate. :( I'd much rather have spice!

  6. I am loving all these zucchini recipes. Especially with yummy frosting! :) Very cute blog. I think I'll follow so I don't miss anything!


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