Nana’s zucchini bread, slightly elevated
What happens when a writer takes a family recipe for zucchini bread from his wife’s late grandmother and adds a little THC to the batch?
It’s a cold, rainy morning. The cats want to go outside, but quickly retreat into the house once their paws feel the temperature. The coffee maker gurgles as I place two slices of Nana’s zucchini bread into the toaster oven to warm.
Ding! chimes the timer as news headlines echo from the television. I open the portable oven's door to a familiar aroma that creates a sense of nostalgia. Butter pats melt before I can spread them across each slice of bread.
When the coffee is ready, the cats want to cuddle, my favorite program is on and the day is open—that's what eating Nana's zucchini bread feels like. And by adding a little THC to her recipe, I've elevated the winter coziness.
Although she called it bread, it more closely resembles the sweetness and texture of unfrosted carrot cake. But, oh, what a unique taste the zucchini creates. It's the kind of comfort food that is gobbled up quickly and then everyone wonders where it all went.
Nana is the late grandmother of my wife, Teresa. As a child, Teresa baked cookies and cakes alongside her beloved Nana for the annual Christmas day feast.
“We would make ranger cookies with cornflakes, and tassies [walnut tartlets] and buckeyes [peanut butter dipped in fudge], and of course, zucchini bread,” she said. “Nana would make a loaf for everyone in the family. She also made a bunch to freeze.”
Because Nana's bread was most often eaten in the weeks following Christmas, it became the family's favorite wintertime comfort.
When Teresa was an adult, Nana let her write down the original recipe, scribbled on two index cards and framed and hanging on our kitchen wall. Over the years, Teresa has carried on the tradition of baking during December. In a daylong performance, she hauls the big stand mixer across the kitchen and begins preparations. My job is to buy groceries, grate zucchinis and wash cookware between batches.
Then the lobbying begins.
“Can you make a loaf for the letter carrier?” “What about a few loaves just to freeze?” I ask.
She always says yes.
On one occasion, Teresa was procrastinating. When I offered to bake a batch, she cautioned that I didn't know the secret ingredients “that aren't in Nana's recipe.” I said that it wouldn't be Nana's recipe with secret ingredients.
“Mine's better,” Teresa answered.
But Teresa recently relented and let me bake, after she saw the framed recipe laying on the counter and me grating zucchinis for a THC-infused batch.
“The secret ingredients are an extra teaspoon of vanilla extract and a little maple flavoring,” she said.
Knowing I hate maple flavor, she reassured me that it wouldn't be noticeable. But when she said to add nutmeg, I protested.
To include THC, I used 1 gram of live-resin concentrate from the Monterey Kush Company. Concentrates leave no detectable cannabis smell or taste. Preheating the oven to 200 F, I cooked the live resin for a half hour. This crucial process, called decarboxylating, boils off inert ingredients while activating the THC. Heating also allows the concentrate to blend in evenly with warmed cooking oil.
My tray of a dozen tiny zucchini bread loaves turned out great, except I had to shorten the baking time. Perhaps there was too much concentrate as well. These loaves were hella potent.
I want to caution readers trying the THC option: Everybody reacts differently to edible cannabis, which can take as long as two hours to kick in. There is absolutely no comfort in overdosing family or friends, so the baker should sample every batch before offering it to others. For those who want to make a straight batch alongside a loaded one, one way to distinguish them is by adding chopped walnuts to one batch.
Nana’s zucchini bread
2 cups sugar
1 cup cooking oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups grated raw zucchini
3 cups flour
1/2 cup walnuts (optional)
1/2 teaspoon more vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon maple extract
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Add 1 gram of cannabis concentrate, or a 1/2 gram for less potency.
Beat eggs in mixing bowl until foamy. Add in sugar, oil, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, baking powder, zucchini and flour. Mix well at high speed. Pour into well-greased 9-by-5-inch loaf pans, and bake at 350 F for 90 minutes. Reduce baking times for smaller loaf pans.