glazed lemon zucchini cake

The garden is pretty pathetic. The green beans didn’t even hardly come up and we’re not replanting them, which is a shame because I love green beans and store-bought green beans taste like stalks of cardboard. But I like lots of other store-bought veggies, like peas, broccoli, carrots, potatoes, and cabbage, so we’ll be okay, I suppose. The meager garden doesn’t bother me too much.

I’ve been thinking about that a lot these days: why it is I feel okay buying produce instead of growing it myself. Is my dwindling garden a result of lack of discipline? Am I selling out? Shortchanging myself and my family? 

And then it occurred to me that since I was a little kid—and even in the last ten years—there’s been a food revolution. It used to be that store-bought veggies were gross—everything was about as palatable as canned peas, mushy and flavorless—so homegrown veggies did taste a lot better. But now grocery stores are stocked with flavorful, high-quality produce. For bulk purchases, it’s a piece of cake to find a local farmer, produce auction, or orchard. And foods that are often preserved at home, like pizza sauce, salsa, and pesto, are easy to find in the store, and they often taste equally delicious.

Which kinda throws a wrench in things.

Of course—of course, of course—I still think it’s worthwhile and useful to grow and preserve food yourself (and home-baked goods will always be leagues ahead of anything purchased, can I get an amen?) because there are less pesticides involved, the work keeps you grounded, the self-sufficiency makes you feel good about yourself and reduces carbon footprints, etc, etc, etc. But maybe this food revolution explains why I can’t seem to get my panties in (as much of) a twist over the whole thing anymore?

Am I the only one feeling less of a tug to garden and preserve?

* * *

I stuck a bunch of zucchini plants in the ground and now I have zucchinis coming out my ears. The situation feels more dire than normal because I don’t need to make any relish this summer so I’m not using up the zucchinis as quickly. Still, I try. Yesterday afternoon I made a double batch of  whole wheat zucchini bread, and at suppertime I bulked up our taco meat-sauce-stuff with a grated zucchini.

A few days ago I made a lemon zucchini cake, and even though it didn’t use up much zucchini (my main criteria for zucchini recipes), it was so delicious that I forgave its skimpy zucchini ass.

Glazed Lemon Zucchini Cake
Adapted from a recipe from (my cousin-ish relation) Grace, via Facebook.

I doubled the lemon juice and zest. Also, I glazed the cake while it was still hot and some of the glaze soaked into the cake. This could be good, except the cake is already plenty moist. Next time I’ll wait until the cake is almost completely cool before glazing.

for the cake:
2 cups cake flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 eggs, beaten
½ cup oil
1 1/3 cups sugar
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
½ cup buttermilk
zest of two lemons
1 cup grated zucchini

Whisk together the oil, sugar, eggs, lemon juice, zest, and buttermilk. Stir in the zucchini. Add the dry ingredients and combine.

Pour the batter into a greased, 9-inch springform pan (or a 9 x 5 loaf pan) and bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. When the cake is nearly cool, pour the glaze over top.

for the glaze:
1 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon milk

Whisk together and pour over the slightly-warm cake.

This same time, years previous: kiss the moon, kiss the sun, caramelized cherry tomatoes, and Indian-style corn.


  • Margo

    I don't feel as excited about canning as I used to, but it's so much easier for me because I'm used to it that I can whip out batches of stuff without much fuss. So I do it because of all the things you named. If I buy produce, I'm buying from local farmers, not from the grocery store. I'm gonna get preachy about that one!!

    When I got overwhelmed with zucchini one year, I shredded it and froze it and then used it in recipes in the winter – I actually made a list of zucchini recipes so I could use that stuff up. Our favorite is the zucchini "crab" cakes eaten with a really strong cocktail sauce.

  • Fiona

    I can see why your less motivated this year with all that is going on in your family but store bought produce is prettier than it used to be but it still uses far more chemical and industrial inputs than we should be accepting of. Farmers markets are a better choice and if we do shop at a major chain we try to avoid foods that have been grown overseas or in South America.

    We are using our garden and all the work it entails to eat better and stay more physically active as we age.

  • Elaine

    I lost motivation for my garden this year as I got it in late (due to weather), then the weeds started getting ahead of me. I'm beginning to get plenty of tomatoes, but something is causing some of them to rot. The squash and pumpkin vines are withering up even though we've had plenty of rain. What's with green beans not growing/producing? My daughter had the same problem this year, and mine are so, so. As I am getting older (71) I am leaning more towards buying the produce I need. Like you said there are so many sources of fresh local produce available–so I say, "let the younger group do the grunt work". 🙂

  • Kathy Gardner

    I live in Alabama and my garden did not do well this year. I have raised beds and live in an apartment. I've planted beans three times and have yet to have a decent picking of beans. Rats, yes, rats ate my green tomatoes. I thought it was a squirrel and one day I saw a long tailed rat running through one of the raised beds. I went to the co-op and got rat pellets that I put in the drains where they were running around and got rid of those nasty things. The tomatoes were pretty much history by the time I realized what it was that was eating all the green tomatoes. I picked a few squash before the bugs got the plants. I have a bumper crop of cucumbers and okra coming in soon though…unless I am invaded with rats again. It's just me so I don't need a lot but I usually share with some of my neighbors and they didn't get much of anything this year.

  • Becky

    I definitely haven't been preserving as much this year, but I know it's because first there was no produce to put up (No blueberries – my favorite patches got hit in that April hard freeze) and now that squash and tomatoes are coming in, it's just too hot to bother with it.

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