The Zucchini Lovers Cookbook, by Addie Gonshowrowski
It is not surprising that a writer from Oregon in the 1970’s felt it necessary and useful to self-publish a cookbook that put airquotes around “Zucchini Lovers Cookbook,” as if he was writing to people who may not have loved zucchini as much as the desire to do something, anything, that would be edible with the simply overwhelming amounts of the squash that they happened to have around them. As someone who has witnessed the alarming tendency of Oregon zucchini to reach truly alarming sizes, I have a degree of empathy with the writer’s desire to make something useful out of this plant that may not be possessed by those who have not seen the terrifying and lethal sizes that zucchini can reach when is a bit of a space cadet when it comes to investigating one’s plants and grabbing them when they are at a more manageable size. And while I think that the author’s focus on zucchini dishes is a bit skewed in fashions that I would not specifically approve of the most, this is certainly a book that I can pay the compliment of having taken recipes from, and that is not something I say lightly, so this is a very good book despite its biases and its limitations.
This book is a short one at less than 100 pages and consists almost entirely of recipes, frequently more than one to a page, that use the humble but all too easily grown zucchini. The author begins, as is common, with a discussion of cakes, before moving to muffins, bars and cookies, and then the omnipresent zucchini breads that many of us are familiar with in our family’s attempts to make a dish out of this squash that will be appealing to picky eaters like I was (and still am, alas). There are then discussions of zucchini pies and other desserts as well as zucchini milk. There are also dishes for jams and marmalads, salads, pickles and relishes, pancakes, and zucchini sauce. For this reader, though, it is the end of the book, which contains a discussion of zucchinis in casseroles and especially with meats, that was the most interesting to me. Dishes like chicken stew, chicken and zucchini, as well as zucchini and rice were all the sorts of dishes that I could imagine myself eating and enjoying, and so I took the liberty of copying them from this book and sharing them, which is precisely the sort of honor and credit this worthy book deserves.
It should be noted that this book shares the tendency of the works of its time in using margarine where it would be better to use unsalted butter or something else of that nature. For reasons that are beyond the understanding of this reader, who was not alive in the 1970’s, it was thought that margarine was to be preferred to butter, perhaps because the people making such recommendations were either idiots or had some sort of vested interest in supporting the production and consumption of margarine, a more lethal ingredient than the zucchini. Be that as it may, this is a work where simple replacement of offending ingredients can be done without much trouble and where the author has a good eye for the sort of organization and structure that makes a cookbook intensely practical for the reader. This is a no-frills book but one that has quite a few recipes that are well worth using if one happens to have several tons of zucchini that one must dispose of in a tasty manner, as is the case with many an Oregon gardener and cook and perhaps some in other areas as well.