When it comes to the work I do I have to admit that baking is my love song. Cooking a massive amount of fresh pasta is a close second, but nothing quite beats the extraordinary way that baking just completely overwhelms every sense. It's not just a treat for the person eating the final product, but the process and the action and the precision are all such acts of love and patience; I cannot imagine a sweeter gift than something that comes from the heart and hearth of a sweet friend's home.
I have been cooking and blogging for so long that it can be hard for me to allow a wild and free mentality to take root. My first priority when it comes to cooking or baking is to nourish my family well, and because I let my imagination run rampant for my job it typically means that we stick to a pretty basic diet for our regular non-blog meals. It also means that when I get on a baking kick (like I have lately) I give a lot of food away so that I don't end up outgrowing my yoga pants. It's hard to do, but I've come close a few times before. Just sayin'.
So what does it look like to be wild and free in the kitchen for me? Right now it means allowing this amazing creativity that the Lord has given me to take over. It's letting go of the recipe card, adding and subtracting ingredients, and boldly pouring my heart and soul into that loaf pan right before it gets shoved in the fiery oven, a recipe to be tested by the heat and pressure within. Will my recipe, will my heart, withstand the heat? Will it be molded and melted and ultimately created by it? Or will it fall flat, a failure by most standards, although still beautiful nonetheless.
I suppose I should be clear here: I don't recommend just mixing ingredients together haphazardly and hoping for the best because in my experience it rarely works out. Like that time my parents wanted to encourage my little sister to cook and she microwaved saltines, sugar, milk and eggs together until it resembled dried Elmer's glue? Admittedly I still shudder when I think about that one. But as Jessi said "obedience is wild and there is freedom in submission," which is as true in baking as it is in life. So I know I can make zucchini bread wild by adding a trillion different ingredients like chopped truffles or caramel swirls and the like, but there is freedom in creating a recipe with simple ingredients that make our bodies and our souls feel good afterward.
Zucchini Blueberry BreadMakes 1 9- x 5-inch loaf
- 2 large zucchini, washed and grated
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 2 whole eggs
- 2 cups flour, divided
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
Preheat oven to 375. Spray a 9- x 5-inch loaf pan generously with nonstick spray. In a large bowl whisk together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, oil, yogurt and eggs until smooth and creamy. Sift in 1-3/4 cups of the flour, the baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir until just combined. Add the grated zucchini and stir until just combined. Finally, toss the blueberries in the remaining 1/4 cup of flour, then gently fold into the batter until evenly distributed. Pour into the prepared loaf pan and bake at 375 for 55-75 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before cutting and serving.
For a reduced sugar version substitute the 1 cup of granulated sugar with 1 cup of a stevia baking blend.
For a vegan option substitute the Greek yogurt for a coconut or soy yogurt. Substitute the eggs for a flax alternative: combine 2 tablespoons of ground flax seed with 6 tablespoons of warm water. Allow to sit for about 5 minutes to thicken, then add to the batter as the directions call for the chicken eggs.