Many of the recipes that I have found excellent enough to be passed on have originated in church cookbooks. I love using church cookbooks for two reasons. First, you know that the recipes have already been home kitchen tested. Secondly, not only did these recipes pass the “family liked it test”, but these recipes are so excellent that the cooks chose them to share them with their friends and neighbors.
My first church cookbook was from the parish where I was baptized, confirmed and married–First Lutheran Church, Grove City, MN and was given to me at my church bridal shower over 38 years ago. Since then I have collected church cookbooks from different religious denominations, periods of history and from all over the country. What all of these church cookbooks have in common is the cooks love for God and food.
I find that these cookbooks are just interesting to page through. Some have histories of the founding of their communities and the church’s role in helping those early settlements grow and prosper. Many books have bible verses and encouraging inspirational messages scattered throughout their pages.
One the latest additions to my church cookbook collection comes from my current hometown of Centerville. It is called, “Recipes & Remembrances From an American Country Church, The Church of St. Genevieve, Centerville, MN.” This book contains a very good history of the early pioneers of our town along with many of their traditional French-Canadian recipes.
I am sure that in the future I will share some of the more traditional recipes from this hometown cookbook. However, today’s culinary mission was to find uses for the currently ripe and ever robustly yielding summer squash–the zucchini.
Our street is basically a paved hill. Over the years the children of our neighborhood have put this incline to good use for wagon rides, skate board, bike and zucchini boat races.
Yes, zucchini boat races! Even the most vigilant of gardeners will find zucchini that have grown too big to use in the kitchen. In stead of just throwing them into the compost pile, we would cut them in half length ways, clean out the seeds, turn on a hose at the top of the hill and let the children race zucchini boats down the street.
Some of the children would get creative and use wooden meat skewers, toothpicks, plastic straws or chop sticks to add a mast to their vegetable ships to gain an edge over their competitors. I do not believe our children ever had more fun with another vegetable.
Zucchini is so much more than a toy, it nutritious and versatile. It can be simply sliced and saute’d in butter; stuffed; cut into slices the long way, brushed with olive oil and grilled; cut into strips roasted in the oven and used in place of noodles for a carbohydrate less lasagna; made into baked goods such as Zucchini Bread and Chocolate Spice Zucchini Cake (two recipes I have already posted) and made into a delicious jam.
6 cups of finely shredded or ground raw zucchini, peeled
6 cups sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 cup crushed pineapple with juice
1 (6-ounce) package of orange or peach flavored jello
Drain zucchini. Boil zucchini until it is translucent and clear looking. This takes about six minutes. Add sugar, lemon juice, crushed pineapple and juice. Boil six minutes. Remove from heat and add orange or peach gelatin. Stir until thoroughly dissolved.
Ladle jam into sterilized jars, cap and put in a boiling water bath to seal. Boil half pint jars for 5 minutes and pint jars for 10 minutes.
Yield: Makes 11 ( 1/2 pint ) jars of jams.