I love the idea of gardening — wide brim straw hats, cute packets of tiny seeds, perusing the greenhouse, watering pails, and of course eating fresh produce picked daily.
But I hate the actual work of it. Hoeing dirt, kneeling in dirt, digging in dirt, battling the inevitable weeds, scorching sun, drought, and insects. Did I mention it’s dirty too? After twenty minutes of pointing the hose at the brown-eyed Susans, I’m cooked.Which is why I am greatly indebted to friends who labor diligently and let me reap the rewards without breaking a sweat. The other day, we returned home from vacation to an overgrown echinacea bed and a huge bag of zucchini on the porch. The first thing I felt was guilt — were they sure they could spare so many, and such big ones too?
The answer came back with all the pride joy of farming I know nothing about: Of course they had more than enough to share. Their plants were producing dozens everyday and you should have seen the Goliath they’d plucked just this morning! In fact, they’d be relieved if we’d take some off their hands.
I like to do my friends a favor, so the zucchini was embraced with open arms as if I had grown them myself.
Zucchini is a funny vegetable. It doesn’t have a striking taste, it isn’t exotic or used much in dishes of delicacy. It’s eaten summer long, but largely ignored during the colder months. Most people actually prefer it in baked goods, like muffins or breads studded with chocolate chips — the kind of thing you eat and say “Wow, there’s zucchini in here? I never would have guessed.”
But despite it’s somewhat lowly culinary standing, zucchini plants give abundantly and generously.They grow big and long, their vines are continually stretching out to new ground, and keep producing new fruit till the sun is nearly set on summer.
“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver….He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.” (2 Corinthians 9:7,10)
True, genuine generosity is giving what you have. Even if it isn’t much. It’s sharing the blessings that God has seen fit to share with me. “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God” (Hebrews 13:16).
A helping hand.
A listening ear.
An encouraging word.
A bag of homegrown zucchini to farmer never-gonna-be.
A simple, inelegant vegetable dish, reminiscent of a French platter but not too uppity to be eaten on the porch on a lazy summer evening. Served bare foot like a proud farmer.
Take it away, Zucchini. The spotlight’s on you.
Lazy Girl’s Ratatouille
This dish is a one-pan stir-fry of all my favorite summer vegetables and is highly customizable. If going for a traditional Ratatouille flavor, use extra-virgin olive oil in place of soy sauce. I enjoyed this for lunch inside a pita with hummus, but it is also good atop a salad or as a side.
Ingredients (Serves 6 as a side, 3 as a main)
- 1 large zucchini
- 2 medium yellow squash
- Two medium tomatoes
- 1 large bell pepper
- 1 medium onion
- 1 c. mushrooms, sliced
- 2 t. lemon juice
- 1 T. soy sauce (or olive oil)
- 1 t, garlic salt
- 1 t. oregano
- 1 t. basilInstructions
- Slice zucchini, squash, tomatoes, pepper, and onions into uniform thin slices.
- In a large dry skillet or wok, heat zucchini, pepper, and onions over medium heat. Add garlic salt. After a minute or two, the zucchini will release some water. Stir veggies occasionally, until they turn a light brown
- Stir in lemon juice and soy sauce and continue to heat for about 6 minutes, or until veggies have softened and the zucchini is somewhat “translucent“.
- Turn heat to low and add tomatoes and mushrooms. Sprinkle with oregano and basil.
- Toss for a few minutes, just until heated throughout. Serve hot.
Really, it is more blessed to give than to receive. Which is why I plan on making zucchini bread to thank my farmer neighbors for sharing their abundance. “See? It’s got lots of chocolate chips in it. You can’t taste the zucchini at all.”
“Give, and it will be given to you.
Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap.
For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38)