On a recent evening, just before the sky began transforming into shades of reds, oranges, purples and pinks, my kids and I stopped at Broadway Park so they could play. It was the end of a busy week, and the end of a night spent enjoying theatre outdoors — “A Comedy of Errors” at Indian Trail Park in Brewer, to be specific. A little time at the park seemed like just the right way to end the day.
While I got cozy with a new book on a bench, my kids ran off to climb, swing, slide and play. Here in Bangor, we’re lucky to have so many public parks — I’ve lived in places where all the parks were ancient, and in places where there was only a playground or two. But here, there’s playgrounds and parks everywhere — so many places to enjoy.
It wasn’t long before my daughter was immersed in a game of tag with other kids there, running with her infectious giggles and laughs trailing behind her.
She can make friends anywhere. It’s really admirable.
My daughter, at 8, is fearless and unafraid to just start playing with kids she’s just met. She’s free from the worries and concerns of adulthood. Young or old, she warms up to situations fast and talks to whomever is there.
At 36, I find making friends to be among life’s more challenging tasks. But I could learn a thing or two from my daughter, about jumping in feet first, not being afraid to just join in whatever’s happening.
She’s pretty awesome.
Why is making friends so different as an adult? Are we so confined by thoughts and worries and concerns that we can’t just let go and find friendship everywhere? Or are we just more selective, looking only for those folks who’ll understand our hearts and fill our souls — assuming we do the same for them? I’ve found that the friends I’ve made as an adult fall almost exclusively into the second category.
And the folks I’ve met who don’t just don’t become friends. And that’s okay. Not everyone is meant to be bosom buddies.
Eh, just point me to the kitchen and I’ll be fine. And maybe I’ll sway a few folks into friendship with something yummy — like this bread.
When my mother arrived a few weeks ago for a weekend visit, she came bearing two gigantic zucchini from my cousin’s farm in Connecticut. They were bigger than my forearms, and just as long. Enormous. Gargantuan. Gigantic.
It took me awhile to decide what to do with them. Would I stuff the zucchini halves? Slice them and roast? Something else?
But then it came to me: I’d make zucchini bread — the recipe I’ve made for years that my family back in Connecticut adores.
Often when I make breads and muffins, they are lightly sweetened. It’s what I usually prefer, especially when the breads or muffins are something I will enjoy with breakfast. But this loaf is different. It’s sweet, tender and moist. Perfect for having a buttered slice, but lovely plain too.
See, this loaf is special. I developed it years ago, when I was just beginning to work with my cousins, producing a newsletter for their community supported agriculture program at their farm. That year, there was a bumper crop of zucchini, and I had so much to experiment with. I frozen some, grilled some, roasted some, and then started adding it to baked goods.
Like an early version of this bread recipe. It was a hit. With a strong cinnamon flavor accented with nutmeg — a highly underutilized spice, if you ask me — it was cozy and comforting.
But the best moment was when I gave some to my cousin’s husband Jim, who loved it. He later told me that the bread reminded him of his mom’s zucchini bread. The flavors and spices were just right. It was among the best compliments I’ve ever gotten.
- 1½ cups all purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup freshly grated zucchini
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and flour an 8.5-inch loaf pan. Set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Set aside.
- in a large mixing bowl, whisk together the olive oil, granulated sugar, light brown sugar and eggs until well combined. Stir in the zucchini and vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and fold in until just combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 45-55 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center of the loaf comes out cleanly.