Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Frig, Frick, Love, Hate and Zucchini Bread.

When I was a kid, two words were off-limits.

It's not what you think.  Of course, all "curse" words were forbidden -- including words that pretended to be curse words, including "dang," "frig," "frick," "H-E-double-toothpicks," and anything that rhymed with "duck."  Curse-word substitutes weren't the only forbidden words.  We kids weren't allowed to say, "yeah."  Mom insisted we say either "yes," or "yes ma'am."  Or really, just "yes ma'am."  "Shut up" was also out of the question, which forced me to invent all kinds of stories where the evil queen declared, "Shut up the dungeon, men!"  If I was able to work a beaver "dam" into the story, all the better.

Today, though, the two words I'm referring to are "hate" and "love."

Sure, I was allowed -- expected -- to tell my parents and relatives I loved them.  I could also love God.  And my black cat, Smokey Joe, who, being born on Friday the 13th, surely warranted some extra affection.   I think what Mom was trying to head off was the tendency of young girls to "love" absolutely anything.  Or really, absolutely "everything."

You know.  "I love the smell of Hawaiian Tropic."   "I love blue eyeshadow."   "I love the black light section at Spencer's."  "I love that 18-year-old boy with the white Camaro."  But I digress.

And "hate"?  Well, I was allowed to say I hated ... nothing.  Nothing whatsoever.  I wasn't supposed to "hate" anything. Mom warned against overstatement.  How could the word "love" apply equally to your feelings for your parents and your feelings for the new Almay, no-sharpener-required, midnight blue eyeliner?  Did my feelings for the buffet pizza at Pizza Inn really equal my feelings for Hitler, Satan and world hunger?

Besides, Mom reasoned, what if your feelings change?  Do you really want to paint yourself into a corner of "love"?  Or, for that matter, "hate"?

Although I've never called my kids down for over-using "love" and "hate," I can't help but cringe when 15-year-old Son claims to "hate" stickshift cars.  Or when 13-year-old Darling Daughter declares her "love" for watermelon-flavored, Jolly Rancher gummies.  The word that really gets me, though -- the word that makes the skin crawl right off my body is "like," as in, "I need, like, three 5-subject notebooks."  Fine.  So you're saying you don't actually need three, 5-subject notebooks, but something "like" them?  Don't get me started.

One thing the kids agree that they hate is zucchini.  They "hate" it.  Hate, hate, hate it.

I want to ask, do you really want to paint yourself in that corner?  Do you really want to take such a strong stand against a vegetable?  And a bland one, at that? How do you even know that you hate zucchini?  Really?  Do you like that bread you're eating right now?  Ha!  It's zucchini bread!

Don't you just hate that?

Zucchini Bread
This wonderful recipe comes from my friend Cathy.  She adds a cup of chopped pecans -- which I think makes the bread even more special -- but which I've left out because of nut allergies.  Makes two moist, delicious loaves.

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 medium eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini

Preheat oven to 350.  In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.  Set aside.  In another mixing bowl, beat eggs until foamy  Gradually stir in sugar, blending well.  Stir in oil and vanilla.  Gradually stir in dry ingredients until well-incorporated (batter will be stiff).  Fold in zucchini.  Divide batter between two greased loaf pans.  Bake until golden (about one hour).  Remove from oven, let cool about 15 minutes before turning from pans, and allowing to cool completely on baking rack.  Freezes well.
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