If you have attended the Silver Dollar Fair on a hot day, you might recall how lovely it is to enter the Commercial Building and enjoy the combination of oversized fans and the industrial-sized air conditioning unit.
I don’t particularly like shopping, and the Commercial Building is where they sell curling irons, wonder mops and vinyl siding. If you’re patient, you can sample some vegetable juice, if the guy working at the bullet blender booth ever stops blathering.
On this particular day, I was cooling off and gathering free pens when I ran into my friend Richard.
Richard and I soon became entranced by a man with a sharp-bladed, plastic contraption that chopped vegetables faster the chefs at a Benihana restaurant.
My guess is that the pitchman had hoped for a career as a magician, and had likely been a dealer in Vegas. He grabbed vegetables from his produce arsenal, quickly demonstrating the julienne mode, dice mode, followed by thin, uniform slice mode. It looked so easy as his hands glided over produce that would surely take hours to prepare if you ever needed to slice 14 pounds of potatoes for a Girl Scout camping trip.
Richard and I stood with our arms crossed in front of our chests. However, Chopping Chuck kept talking and chopping.
Normally I don’t buy things at demonstrations. When I get home, I fumble around, don’t read the direction and end up donating the contraption to the Salvation Army.
However, the vegetable magician announced that it was late in the day. If he sold all his inventory, he could ride the roller coaster.
“Two for one,” he said.
Richard and I both took the bait and were owners of the quick, safe, easy-to-clean, time-saving gizmo that would hide in the bottom drawer of our kitchens for years to come.
PUT TO GOOD USE
When I returned home from vacation in Costa Rica, I found two gargantuan zucchinis hiding in the raised bed. By the time I ate just one of the tug boats, two yellow crook-neck also needed to be harvested.
This is July folks. If you planted zucchini and squash, it’s time to get creative about ways to gobble all that garden goodness.
My favorite recipe is to slice zucchini into quarter-inch strips, drizzle with jalapeno-flavored olive oil, then sprinkle with crushed pepper. Salt is optional. I use a cast-iron pan which means the entire batch is warm in three minutes.
Yet, you can only cook zucchini the same way so many times before you’re perusing AllRecipes.com for something more creative.
My friend LaDona recently served a pleasant lunch of cold cucumber soup. Yes, there are recipes for cold zucchini soup as well, but unfortunately, this requires cooking.
A cooking-free alternative is “zoodles,” which means using thinly-sliced zucchini the same way you would use pasta. This opens up an entirely new world of red-sauce enhanced food choices. Another enticing idea is the zoodle Greek salad, with zoodles instead of lettuce, http://tinyurl.com/GreekZoodles. Add cucumbers, Greek olives, red onion and feta cheese and you’re slurping down oversized zucchini like Pericles and Pete Sampras.
QUICK AND EASY
I can see into the future, and my future includes at least six additional yellow squash in the next three days. If only I had a safe, easy-to-clean contraption to prepare mounds of zoodles in minutes.
It was easy to find the long-forgotten slicer/dicer, tucked away in the bottom kitchen drawer with the air popper and the 2-in-1 citrus tool. I’m happy to report that except for some mangled zucchini edges, I transformed produce into zoodles without drawing blood.
NO GOOD NEWS
Part of the reason I haven’t been eating large amounts of zucchini is that I have been consuming gallons of ice cream. That’s what I do when I’m depressed and I’ve been bummed since my Feline Unit went missing.
On a tip from a gal on the lost-cat social media website, I cruised down to the dry creek behind S&S Produce. I walked slowly through the bushes, whistling the two-tone sound that usually makes my kitty race toward my ankles.
Kitties peeked from behind bushes. They looked up from garbage they were nibbling.
Several felines gave me alluring glances and one looked like she would be willing to fold into the cat carrier on the back seat of my car. Hoping to find your lost cat at a known lost cat hangout is a lot like going to a singles bar hoping to bump into your long, lost love.
A few folks on social media websites have offered replacements. I’m sure these adorable feline units would be great additions to my empty home. But they are not my Feline Unit. I’m holding out hope that she is trapped in somebody’s garage. Soon she will lose enough weight to squeeze through a hole near the bottom of the sheetrock, and race toward her familiar cat door.
If anyone comes across a friendly, calico kitty with a Manx tail, please send me a note and I’ll reward you with a bowl filled with zoodles.
Contact garden columnist Heather Hacking at email@example.com or follow on Facebook.