Eating with the season's harvest

Zucchini bread from the garden's bounty

Zucchini bread from the garden's bounty

September 07, 2008|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

SMITHSBURG - A fan of cooking from scratch, Debbie Doyle's proximity to fresh produce puts her in a good place.

Doyle, who lives off Jefferson Boulevard near Smithsburg, is strides away from farmers markets and orchards. Her neighbors, avid gardeners, are always willing to offload their extras. So in her kitchen, that translates to lots of from-scratch tomato sauce made from fresh, locally grown tomatoes, or peach-custard pies made from fruit plucked from the tree that day.

Right now, zucchini is the produce of the moment.

Doyle uses fresh zucchini to make a spicy bread from a recipe she adapted from a neighbor's recipe more than 20 years ago. Doyle's zucchini bread is rich like banana bread but without the sticky, moist feel. She uses blueberries and shaved coconut and has subbed chocolate chips and apples when the spirit moved her. Cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon are what give the bread punch.


Doyle said she grew up in Hagerstown.

"I've been fortunate I've been around really good cooks all my life," Doyle said. She draws influence from her culinary heroes - her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.

"My mother, she's gone now, she has a great fruit cake," Doyle said. "It's like an applesauce bread with the candied fruit."

Doyle, who works for a bank in Frederick, Md., and her husband, Jay, have been married 31 years. Their only child, Jacob, got married last year. Cooking is a way of bonding in the Doyle household. She likes to bake strawberry pie for her son.

Doyle chatted with The Herald-Mail over a slice of fresh zucchini bread on a late Wednesday morning about her favorite stress reliever and about cooking with home-grown produce.

Q&A with Debbie Doyle

Is buying fresh, local-grown produce really worth it?

I work in Frederick, so I go by these markets every day ... for me, yes. The taste. I love it. I'm not much for eating things out of a box. Once in a while, I'll spring something out of the freezer. I freeze corn.

But it's not like it's coming from the freezer section at the store. It's some food you've frozen to eat later.

Right ... One time when I was younger, more energetic, one of my neighbors had such nice cabbage and I had never made sauerkraut. My husband's aunt had the recipe.

How'd it come out?

It came out well. I've made it three times since then.

So, for people who are like me - people who eat lots, but cook little - could you explain why you find cooking to be relaxing?

I guess part of it is knowing that the people you're cooking for will enjoy it. Don't make it so difficult, don't focus on one thing. A lot of times I'll throw something in the oven or crockpot and go to work and let it cook all day. Time really is a problem for me because some nights I'm not getting home until 7 o'clock and we aren't eating until 8. I try to do things in steps, ahead of time. I hate to come home and rush to cook.

Zucchini bread

3 eggs
1 cup oil
2 cups sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1/2 cup coconut, shredded
1/2 cup blueberries, frozen and thawed or fresh

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Beat eggs until light. Add oil, sugar, zucchini and vanilla and mix well. Mix and sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and spices, then add the dry mixture to the egg mixture. Add the nuts, if using. Incorporate the coconut and the blueberries.

Pour into three, 9-inch-by-5-inch, greased and floured loaf pans. Bake for 1 hour.

Allow the bread to cool for 30 minutes before removing the bread from the pan and serving.

- Courtesy of Debbie Doyle

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