Time for the Annual Gigantic Zucchini Give-Away!
by Sam Johnson
Well, it’s that time of year again. Time for the “Annual Neighborhood Vegetable Exchange and Gigantic Zucchini Give-Away!”
The rules are simple:
1). Try to exchange several bushels of your foot-long string beans, overripe tomatoes and mutant cukes for some of the pr o duce your neighbors have at their place (preferably a dozen or so ears of sweet corn, a couple buttercup squash, a bunch of carrots), and then…
2). Think of a clever way to unload a couple dozen zucchini clubs at the same time. (Particularly the 5-10 pound clubbers!)
The first part isn’t too tough and generally results in a fair exchange of produce that provides several excellent meal s and plenty of canning possibilities.
The second part is a different matter.
Everybody has a surplus of zucchini squash, no matter what kind of a garden season it has been. And everybody is looking for a way to get rid of it.
If you are lucky, you might stumble upon one of the those “zucchini zealots” who believes that the zuke is a “wonder vegetable” because that generic tasting green gourd can be transformed into an infinite number of wonderful culinary delights.
These are the people who prepare homemade apple pie, pumpkin bread, orange marmalade, and spiced apples WITHOUT actually using any pumpkin, apples or oranges.
They use zucchini instead, and try to trick the rest of us into believing that their goodies taste the same as those prepared with the real thing.
The problem is, these people are so enamored with zucchini they generally raise their own and already have a freezer full of “frozen zuke cubes” (empty milk cartons stuffed with the ground up zucchini and frozen). You’ll be lucky if they take even one medium-sized (3-5 lb.) zuke off your hands.
However, there are a few sure-fire tricks to unload ing unwanted zucchini on the unsuspecting. But you must act quickly to get the jump on your friends and neighbors who also are likely to have a zillion or two zucchini to clear out.
Begin by making “surprise” evening visits to all your relatives and friends.
Just say, “We can’t stay long, but thought we’d bring over a few ‘garden goodies’ for you to enjoy,” then hand them a bag of your produce (with the large zukes hidden on the very bottom of the bag).
Be assured, they will never refuse you, (unless you make the big mistake of calling ahead, in which case they will always be “too busy” to see you, especially if dropped a load of zukes on them last year).
Anther thing you can do is to renew acquaintances at work by presenting colleagues with “a little garden gift” to take home and sample. (This will work until the word gets out. You’ll know it’s out when your fellow workers b egin to scoot around the corner or duck out of sight when they see you coming.) It’s best to sneak up on them with your zuke clubs under your jacket or in a bag so you don’t scare them off before you can get close enough to present them with your ”little garden gift,” complete with a bright red ribbon and bow.
Then, when this approach starts to wear thin, bring the zucchini to work in smaller boxes (put a few other premium vegetables on top – a few nice tomatoes, a small bunch of carrots – so it’s not obvious that the box is filled mostly with zukes). Place the box in the main office area or employee lounge with a sign such as “help yourself to these garden goodies!” or “please give these a home!”
(I’ve even left recipes for zucchini apple pie, zucchini spiced apples, zucchini bread, etc. to encourage the adoption of my zuke box – and it actually worked!)
If you still have several pick-up loads of zucchini left after this, the only other thing to do is what a group of gourd growers in Obetz, Ohio. did.
Several neighbors banded together to form the “Zucchini Central Committee” and staged what they called the official “Zucchini Fest.”
Held just a few weeks ago, their fest featured a variety of events related to the zucchini. Obetz isn’t the first community to do this. Hayward, California claims to be the “Zucchini Capital of the World” and also holds a zucchini festival with a plethora of family activities.
Some of the events at these “Zucchini Fests” include “The Great Floatable Zuke,” “The Rocket-Powered Airborne Zuke,” and the “Greased Zucchini Toss” – no need to describe these to you, they’re pretty self-explanatory.
In addition, these fests often feature artistic competitions with categories like: “Best Still Life With A Zucchini,” “Best Zucchini Photograph,” and “Best Zucchini Musical Instrument.”
At one zucchini fest, there was even a competition for “Best Zucchini Impression.”
A 5-pound zucchini with a cowboy hat, chaps, and spurs, and riding a zucchini horse won as the John Wayne look-alike. It was simply titled “The Zuke.”
Maybe the Devils Lake Chamber of Commerce should consider sponsoring “The Great Mid-West Zucchini Fest” in conjunction with Western Days, or perhaps all by itself. Then we wouldn’t have to trick our friends and neighbors in order to get rid of all these zukes.
Until then, if you wake up and find a bushel of zucchini on your doorstep, don’t blame me. I didn’t leave it there -- really!
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