Checking the Zucchini Plants
& other daily practices that keep me present
I’m not gonna lie, I’ve never had a week like this last one. Never have I had more visitors to my website nor new subscribers to this newsletter. (Hello, newcomers! I’m Sandy. I live in the woods and write books about madness. I also garden a lot and bake a lot of bread and I play piano and sing, as folks have now heard….)
I’m grateful to all of you who’ve listened to the episode. I’m grateful to those who’ve shared the story, and who’ve responded to it. I’m grateful to those who’ve written me. I’m frankly overwhelmed by it all.
During this week, riding these waves of feelings and more information than I can process, I am trying to be extra fastidious about my daily, self-care practices. For me, that’s morning JournalSpeak and meditation, and I try to every day yoga, bathe, and walk the dogs. During a high-stress period like this (because though positive it’s still stressful), throughout my day I return again and again to that mental checklist: JournalSpeak-meditation-yoga-bathe-walk…and — I added when describing this all to a friend — check the zucchini plants.
What’s Helping Today: My zucchini plants, which this summer are growing more fruit than I possibly know what to do with. This is sorta my fault and sorta not. I planted three zucchini plants this year, which felt like a reasonable amount. Last year I’d done two and it felt a tad underwhelming, zucchini-wise. This summer, some weeks after planting, on the other side of my property in the bed where I’d done pumpkins, it became clear that three of those pumpkins were actually additional zucchinis.
Suffice to say I am presently drowning in zucchinis. Zucchini plants have a bad reputation for exactly this reason, they start to overwhelm the summer gardener. Especially annoying is the tendency of individual zucchinis to literally overnight become unbelievably huge. (The fellow Who? Weekly listeners among you will know what I mean when I say massive courgettes).
But I’ve realized in a sense it’s a great problem to have, these too-many zucchinis threatening to become massive. Because it forces me, every day, to go out to the garden and see what’s up.
I never regret doing so. Even when my anxious head is telling me to stay inside and fixated on screens, the abundant zucchinis remind me to get out of the house, and back into nature, and breathing.
My fav zucchini recipes (which not shockingly are mostly from Smitten Kitchen):
- This zucchini pasta situation
- This zucchini pasta situation
- This zucchini tomato corn galette which I tried recently and fuck is it good
- Zucchini muffins
(my recipe, adapted from lots of places but especially this)
2/3 c evoo
2/3 c maple syrup
1 c buttermilk
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp kosher salt
3 1/2 c whole wheat flour
3 c zucchini / don’t wring it out
Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix wet ingredients. Mix dry. Stir one into the other then slowly fold in zucchini; mix as little as possible. Generously grease and / or line your muffin tins; this makes 12 muffins with actual bakery-style tops (because why don’t home cooks want those; I never understand). Bake for ~25 minutes (or less/more) until a toothpick comes out clean. Also great with (cooled) toasted pecans or walnuts; add with zucchini.
- What in my house we call Croatian Zucchini Surprise, which I make based off something I remember eating when I was 18 and traveling with a boyfriend in Croatia. A woman summoned us into her kitchen; maybe her house was a restaurant? It was very unclear as we shared no language. She had us sit and then a long time later she produced: cheese stuffed zucchini halves, baked in tomato sauce (I think). It was easily one of the best things I’d ever eaten at the time or at least I felt. So, this is not the greatest dish in the world, this is just a tribute, but: I take mozzarella and put it in hollowed out zucchini halves, surround it with marinara sauce and bake until extremely delicious. Serve with pasta or bread.
FWIW: I’ve updated my website, including my FAQs and my resources page, which is mental health-focused. I’ve also reorganized my past publications by theme (madness, gender, so forth) in case you want to read my essays or listen to my radio pieces.
Again I appreciate all of you who’ve shared and otherwise responded to the TAL story. I am probably not going to be able to respond to these messages, at least for some time.
Know I’m reading them all. Know some of them make me cry. Like, ugly cry. I’ve printed off several to revisit and hang out with; the cats are enjoying them too.
p.s. Shoutout to the piano tuner who wrote me, volunteering to drive from many states away and tune my piano for free (LOL). I did already have it scheduled, and this week, hooray, my old piano got a tuning and sprucing up.
p.p.s. Speaking of practices that keep me present, I baked some bread this week when my anxiety was spiking and it turned out cute:
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