The New Zucchini Cookbook And Other Squash, by Nancy C. Ralson & Marynor Jordan
The most disappointing aspect of this book is the fact that it does not have nearly enough dishes on zucchini. The appeal of zucchini cookbooks, which I must admit to being something of a subject matter expert in, is the fact that they offer the worried home cook/gardener the promise of dishes that will profitably use the massive amounts of zucchini that one has grown from a productive crop in such a fashion that the zucchini will be used and not wasted and that it will be tasty to the family of the reader. The writer of such a cookbook must keep in mind that whatever dishes they include in whatever variations must be done in order to come up with original and therefore copyrightable variations on such familiar themes as zucchini fritters or zucchini bread or zoodles, the book exists as a whole because the reader is in a situation of pain that requires creative solutions to address them. This book does contain a great many recipes, many of which look appealing, but the authors branch out far too far away from zucchini in a way that demonstrates that they did not have enough recipes to write a book about zucchini and decided that any squash would do, including a lot of pumpkin dishes.
This book begins in a somewhat common way for this genre with a look at the history of the zucchini and other members of the squash family as well as the harvesting of squash and the difference between summer and winter squash in terms of how long they take to grow, given that they tend to be planted at the same time. The authors then organize the dishes made from various squashes in the order that one might eat them during the course of a meal. There is a beginning with appetizers and snacks. After that the authors include dishes in the familiar salads and casseroles that one knows if one reads any books about squash. That said, many of the recipes at least have better ingredients given that this book was published in 1990. There are some veggie side dishes, some uses of spaghetti squash and zoodles, and some dishes relating to eggs. The book then ends with a discussion of soups and stews, pickles and relishes, as well as the familiar zucchini breads and desserts and other sweets, after which there is an index.
It is the book’s use of pumpkin dishes that is the most confusing aspect of this book. Now, I love pumpkin, but pumpkin is not the sort of squash that people have a hard time knowing what to do with. As someone who will eat pumpkin pies year round, to say nothing of pumpkin loaves, pumpkin and chicken soup, or pumpkin cheesecake, and to know that such things are not very uncommon, it seems strange that the authors would feel it necessary to pad the length of a book simply to include plenty of recipes from the one variety of squash that is nearly universally beloved. This book does not need more recipes from other members of the squash family that people are going to happily eat anyway in any number of forms. What this book did need was more creative ways of cooking zucchini because it is zucchini that serves as the most prolific member of the squash family that people feel the need to cook for months because no one else will take the vegetable off of their hands in any other way. The authors seem to be losing the script when it comes to knowing what they ought to be about.