447: Zucchini

Matthew Amster-Burton 0:00

Hi. I'm Matthew and I'm Molly. And this is spilled milk. The show where we cook something delicious. Eat it all and you can't have any.

Molly 0:10

Today we are talking about zucchini. This is Episode 447. I cannot believe we're taking us this long to get to zucchini.

Matthew Amster-Burton 0:18

No, this was one of those where a listener wrote in do I did I write down? Who the listener was? No. Hang on. We were off to such a strong start. And then yeah, here

Molly 0:30

we are, like 13 seconds into recording. We're off to a great start.

Matthew Amster-Burton 0:35

Okay, episode suggestion. Zucchini. Adrian. Thank you listener Adrian. So So Adrian wrote in and said, Hi, would you consider doing an episode on zucchini? And as soon as I read this, I'm like, Okay, this is gonna be one of those where I'm gonna pull up the zucchini episode and send her the link and then sit back smugly as if I had just like sent my grandma the the, you know, let me Google that for you, link. So I went to find our zucchini episode and found that there wasn't one.

Molly 1:02

So here we are. And I'm particularly excited about this. Because so we are recording. It's the first week of July. It's still the first week of July. Yes. Anyway, this is airing at the end of July. But right now my zucchini plant in my yard is going off. And it's it is one of the most satisfying things that's ever happened to me.

Matthew Amster-Burton 1:26

It's putting people on blast. It's like, like taking someone down. Like he gets a new term like every week, and I can't keep up

Molly 1:36

Well, anyway, I'm never I'm never taking this zucchini plant down, even though it's an annual and it's gonna die after it does its thing this year. I think it is I think pretty much all vegetables are annuals, although, actually, I'm pretty sure some listeners are going to absolutely prove me wrong in this because like I think about herbs and stuff. Those are a lot of those are perennials.

Matthew Amster-Burton 1:58

Yeah. Like, like rosemary Bush, like those those are around. Or

Unknown Speaker 2:04

Yes, yeah. Time or time,

Matthew Amster-Burton 2:06

we should also let people know we're recording at night.

Unknown Speaker 2:10

We are the first time in

Matthew Amster-Burton 2:11

quite a while like we would record dire desires at night. Of course, sometimes sometimes I'll just say yeah, no, but this show like, like, if you notice, like there's that there's a free song hanging in the air. It's because we're recording this at the very erotic hour of 7:30pm.

Molly 2:30

I wondered what that free song was.

Matthew Amster-Burton 2:32

Yeah, now, you know,

Molly 2:33

now I know. Anyway, I'm really excited to be talking about zucchini because well, so this is the first year that I have tried growing any real edible things in my yard.

Matthew Amster-Burton 2:45

You've been granted some fake shit.

Molly 2:47

Yeah, I've been growing some fake plastic trees in my yard. Anyway, but no, this is the first year and so I have one zucchini plant and I had no idea how prolific I mean, I know that zucchini is famously prolific. But this really has lived up to its reputation. And I love it. And I'm so excited for the rest of my life of growing zucchini,

Matthew Amster-Burton 3:10

but you are gonna have to replanted every year.

Molly 3:13

I think you would think I would have pinned this down in researching this episode, but I didn't know it's okay.

Matthew Amster-Burton 3:19

No, probably you have to save a zucchini from this year in your root cellar and then plant it next spring.

Molly 3:24

Actually, Matthew you'll see as we as we proceed into the knowledge that I acquired for this episode that it is it can be a bit dangerous to save seeds from your zucchini to plough. Okay,

Matthew Amster-Burton 3:36

I'm excited. The free song is danger.

Molly 3:40

It is. Anyway so Okay, wait, let's start out where we always start. Let's Let's traipse down memory lane, shall we? Okay,

Matthew Amster-Burton 3:47

you have written on the agenda here. The phrase, the Ratatouille of my youth? Should we dive right into that? Sure.

Unknown Speaker 3:56


Matthew Amster-Burton 3:56

I feel out of the wildest races I've ever

Molly 3:59

called out. Well, so both of my parents liked to make Ratatouille but they made it differently. Sure.

Matthew Amster-Burton 4:07

I think everyone's parents like that. Whenever whatever a family comes together, whatever the form of that family, it's the merging of various Ratatouille styles.

Molly 4:17

Anyway, my dad did this thing where he would cut up all the different vegetables for it. He would put them in a brown paper grocery bag, add a couple tablespoons of flour and shake it up. And then yeah, so he was like almost like you would lightly does something in flour before pan frying it

Matthew Amster-Burton 4:35

or like, like shake and bake

Molly 4:37

like a shake and bake. Yeah. Oh my god. Why didn't I think of that? anyway? Yeah. So then he would brown off these vegetables and he also swore that the ratchathewi or the flower helped kind of thicken up the tomato a sauce, but I don't think it really needs any help thickening like it. Okay, yeah, there's that much tomato sauce going on.

Matthew Amster-Burton 4:57

Yeah, anyway else. It's like add. I think more fast food places in Japan you can get fries along with like a flavored powder and like like you pour the powder into the bag and shake it up and yeah, soy sauce flavor like other flavors. I always got the soy sauce flavor.

Molly 5:14

Well he made flour flavored vegetables.

Matthew Amster-Burton 5:16

Sounds great. Yeah, that's where we were at in the 80s.

Molly 5:20

Yeah. Anyway, my mom on the other hand didn't do this flowering technique. And but yeah, they made a lot of this stuff anyway. So I think of that being the primary use for zucchini in our household although I think when like when roasting became a thing

Matthew Amster-Burton 5:40

Yes, yeah, that's like every once in a while, like like right now for example, I will think about that book and how and how wacky it was that it was a whole book where you where you turn the oven to 500 degrees

Molly 5:52

and you wrote

Matthew Amster-Burton 5:54

like in your smoke alarm goes off and like you have to leave.

Molly 5:57

Yeah. Anyway, but you know, whenever that came out, my parents started also roasting vegetables and I remember zucchini was like always on the the roasting rotation, but it makes sense. I think as a kid I wow, this is really a scintillating revelation about me that as a child. I kind of confused like yellow crookneck squash with zucchini.

Matthew Amster-Burton 6:23

And you were anyway. Old on the playground for

Molly 6:26

that was I was Yeah.

Matthew Amster-Burton 6:28

Anyway, remember last held last week we talked about how if I had a time machine I would use it to to settle and old old dad preschool playground score. Yeah, you would go to tell me your chance. You would go back. Yeah, tell

Molly 6:42

a little Molly. Hey, no, zucchini is not the same as those yellow crookneck squash but there is yellow zucchini right exactly. is a related hybrid to the green zucchini we usually think of

Matthew Amster-Burton 6:56

Yeah, wait so is a is a yellow zucchini. What happens when a green zucchini and a yellow crookneck squash love each other very much.

Molly 7:04

What happens is they rub their bodies together and it feels really good. Okay, then they have a really like extra good feeling. That's like a sneeze. Wait, what's

Matthew Amster-Burton 7:12

this from?

Molly 7:14

The book? Like Where did I come from?

Matthew Amster-Burton 7:17

Peter male?

Unknown Speaker 7:18

No, no.

Matthew Amster-Burton 7:22

Do you remember it? Because as soon as you started saying that, unlike this sounds familiar.

Molly 7:25

Yeah, it had these adorable little illustrations of this very happy looking sort of sort of cartoony looking people who would jump into a bed together. I think you could see their toes. Yeah, I would say they would rub their bodies together. I think it did say that a penis went into a vagina. Say who's Sure. Anyway, but it described it

Matthew Amster-Burton 7:54

to say who's he gave their their names and Social Security.

Molly 8:00

Anyway, but yeah, it described an orgasm as being like, you know, when you can feel a sneeze building up. You finally sneeze?

Matthew Amster-Burton 8:07

Kind of true, right? Yeah.

Molly 8:12

And sometimes this nice goes away, and then you're sort of like,

Matthew Amster-Burton 8:15

yeah, that's the worst. And in either case,

Molly 8:19

right? Anyway, but um, yeah, we are. We're not going to be talking about in general about yellow squash. Or where I'm from. Okay,

Matthew Amster-Burton 8:29

so kind of think we probably are gonna end up talking about at least one of those things.

Molly 8:32

Yeah, probably the yellow squash.

Matthew Amster-Burton 8:34


Molly 8:35

Anyway, what about your memory lane? How do you learn where babies come from?

Matthew Amster-Burton 8:38

Oh, okay, so we definitely watched like the of the well, I guess isn't like where babies come from? per se. But we watched like the miracle of birth video.

Molly 8:48

Was that the one where, where you see a baby being born? Oh, yes. I thought that this was like some sort of apocryphal idea when I was a kid. Like, I don't think we ever saw it, but I heard about it. And I was like,

Matthew Amster-Burton 9:02

yeah, we definitely reached it. It was it was pretty scary.

Molly 9:06

Were you like, I am never gonna be at child birth ever. And no, I

Matthew Amster-Burton 9:12

think I already had the sense at that point that like, Oh, I get the easy part.

Molly 9:18

Yeah, glad you I'm glad you realized that and could acknowledge it openly. Yeah, I did. Anyway, okay, but wait a minute. Sorry. Sorry. What about zucchini?

Matthew Amster-Burton 9:26

Oh, um, I definitely remember like, you know, steamed and roasted zucchini maybe sauteed also usually like in some sort of vegetable Medley I think

Molly 9:34

why insects add classes? why did why did they use a banana to demonstrate putting on a condom? Because it seems to me that zucchini Oh would be better.

Matthew Amster-Burton 9:47

I think bananas are very inexpensive.

Molly 9:51

Yes. Okay. That's true. Definitely more inexpensive than zucchinis. Yeah, I'm

Matthew Amster-Burton 9:55

realizing now like I I know approximately how much bananas cost. But I haven't bought zucchini recently.

Molly 10:04

I mean, you can get bananas for 79 cents a pound and you definitely can't get

Matthew Amster-Burton 10:08

on sale for like 49 cents. Yeah. Okay, but yeah, you wouldn't pay 49 cents a pound for zucchinis now and that's, and that's why, I mean, maybe if they put condoms on the on the zucchinis they would last longer.

Molly 10:20

Okay. All right, so anyway, you remember it as a frozen vegetable blend?

Unknown Speaker 10:25

Yeah, I

Matthew Amster-Burton 10:25

think so. I mean, I'm sure I'm sure. Judy amster when I was growing up, we cook fresh zucchini. Also, it was never a vegetable that made much of an impression and to this day, still has not.

Molly 10:38

Okay, I see that you wrote here on the agenda that it was a frequent side dish when you were younger.

Matthew Amster-Burton 10:45

That's true. And I'm not sure how this started exactly whether this was like a preparation that Laurie brought to the relationship but I remember we would often get a zucchini and slice it into coins and saute it with olive oil and usually like then sprinkle a little parmesan on it which is which is good. It is what to cook it like the thing about zucchini is it has a lot of water and water doesn't have a lot of flavor and so I think the best ways to cook zucchini are the ones that did get rid of a bunch of water.

Molly 11:18

How do you tell when when your sauteed zucchini or your roasted zucchini is done? Do you do you look for it too you know how there's this this moment when the internet when the inter here flash switches it's just from looking like opaque and sort of pale greenish white to looking slightly more like translucent and more kind of yellowy. Yes, yes,

Matthew Amster-Burton 11:47

I do you know what? I was I was you listening I think it's come from well actually I think about like yeah, like the the the internal turning from like light green to this is some sort of like, like alien sex fantasy. And that's okay. Right everyone? Yes. Yeah. Like when when it starts when it starts to get kind of translucent and you can like you can see it getting more tender. And then also like when I'm hanging out I want like some like brown spots.

Molly 12:14

Yeah. Anything else about memory lane?

Matthew Amster-Burton 12:16

No, I think that's it. Okay.

Molly 12:17

We have we have an impressive list of ways that we we cook zucchini, but first I want to talk a little bit about the history of zucchini and where Molly says we she needs an impressive press was a way of ways she cooks again. I love zucchini.

Matthew Amster-Burton 12:32

No, no, I know. I'm not. I don't know zucchini. No, I'm not a nine on blast to the extent that it that it may sound I just don't have strong feelings about it one way or the

Molly 12:45

other. But I think that in part when I cook I tend to cook food that is less highly seasoned than you. Yeah, I

Matthew Amster-Burton 12:51

think that's true.

Molly 12:52

in general. I don't think of zucchini showing up in as many of the in many dishes in the cuisines that you usually cook these really like high flavor cuisines. I mean, I don't say I'm sure you're

Matthew Amster-Burton 13:05


Molly 13:06

You know what I mean? I feel like zucchini is a vegetable for those of us who who who really can appreciate bland things.

Matthew Amster-Burton 13:14

And I would like to I would like to have a greater appreciation of bland things. I'm serious.

Molly 13:18

I love bland things I get set. So today at lunch, I had two zucchinis from my garden that I had just cut up and I cooked them in olive oil with some salt until they were you know getting soft and lightly browned. And I just put a little bit more salt on them and ate them with my lunch. I was so into it.

Matthew Amster-Burton 13:42

I had some zucchini in my dinner and i think i think the what I did with it is going to kind of illuminate the two styles of cooking that they were discussing is I put zucchini into my Yaki soba. Oh, okay, which I which I went along with some Cabot like stuff I found in the fridge, cabbage, onion, carrot, and I seasoned it with a sauce that I made from like commercial tonkatsu sauce. And so I sauce and mirin and homemade chili oil.

Molly 14:10

Oh, that sounds fantastic.

Matthew Amster-Burton 14:12

Yeah, was really good. And I and I threw some some meat in there also.

Molly 14:15

Oh my god, that sounds really good. Okay, well, hold on. Like, we'll come back to this. But first I want to get real deep into into zucchini.

Matthew Amster-Burton 14:24

Is this gonna be a botany lesson? Because I am. I am all in for that.

Molly 14:28

I don't know if it's really going to be a botany lesson but it's gonna be a zucchini lesson. Okay, okay. So anyway, in some other places, it is called a course yet actually referred to it as a course yet in Canada. Right. And certainly,

Matthew Amster-Burton 14:42

maybe another listeners,

Molly 14:44

apparently in the UK, in South Africa, some other Anglophone countries, they refer to it as a Mero Yeah,

Matthew Amster-Burton 14:52

I think maybe in Australia because my my mom when I was growing up, let's go back to memory lane for a moment would always get the Australian women's weekly cookbooks. Are you familiar with this? No. It's a series of like, you know, you know how like when something is like partway between a magazine and a book. It's like a thick magazine that sells for like $12. Sure. That's, that's Australian, women's weekly and like it would be so it'd be like theme issues that we're sort of like magazine format cookbooks. And so, you know, Australian, women's weekly, you know, soups and stews, and I would enjoy reading them because the recipes were really good. And also like it had Australian names for all the ingredients. I think Miro was one of them.

Molly 15:33

I remember a long time ago, around the time that I first started hearing about Rancho Gordo beans. They used to carry regularly a type of being called a marrow bean. Yeah, that's anyway, so yeah, it's interesting how many different foods the word marrow shows up with? That's true. Not just for bones,

Matthew Amster-Burton 15:53

not just for bones anymore.

Molly 15:54

Anyway, all right. So can you help me pronounce the the species of that zucchini?

Matthew Amster-Burton 16:01

I was hoping you would know. I mean, it's kooker cucurbit,

Molly 16:05


Matthew Amster-Burton 16:06

pepo or paipo. It's really fun to say either way. Let's let's just kind of toggle back and forth between pepo and PIPA.

Molly 16:14

Great Okay, well, whatever the species is, it contains some other squashes and pumpkins. Zucchini, of course can be light or dark green striped or even as we discussed earlier, sort of a deep orangey yellow and like all squash zucchinis ancestors originated in Mesoamerica Okay, okay, Matthew, can you pronounce so its original name in nahi? swaddle is

Matthew Amster-Burton 16:37

why are you making me pradesh?

Molly 16:39

In other episodes Do you have when we did the tamale? Did we do it tamales episode? episode when you tea is maybe you pronounced a word in Guatemala and I was so impressed with your like, like next normalization?

Matthew Amster-Burton 16:55

Yeah, but

Molly 16:57

I think everybody can say next time I'll share your right anyway. Okay, so in wattle, its original name was

Matthew Amster-Burton 17:05

always the avocado Episode

Molly 17:07

A I'm not gonna try

Matthew Amster-Burton 17:09

biochar nettle

Molly 17:11

i think i think that is as good a try as we're going to get today. But interestingly enough, what we actually know as zucchini today like this green cylindrical summer squash was actually like developed and cultivated in Italy. So you know, its ancestors were taken by Europeans back to back to Europe. And then in northern Italy, they developed a, you know, a version that we now know as zucchini, okay. I'm realizing, as you say this that I don't think I understand what the difference between summer squash and winter squash is, even though like winter squash was our second episode. No, I

Matthew Amster-Burton 17:49

mean, like, you know, morphologically, I do but I did not realize that like a summer squash and a winter squash could be the same species. It does seem crazy that it would be the same species you would think same family but yeah, I was I sort of imagined that like the summer squash were all like things like a cucumber and the winter squash were all things like a pumpkin but apparently not,

Molly 18:12

you know, Matthew, here's the here's the part of the show where we remind our listeners that we get a lot of our information from Wikipedia. Okay, so there is a chance I did I had the same thought when I was reading about this. And I definitely thought to myself I wonder if it is incorrect that these are all the same species maybe they meant to write family or no,

Matthew Amster-Burton 18:33

you're absolutely what you wrote down is absolutely correct. So so it was our squashes that are harvested when immature while the rind is still tender and edible. Nearly all summer squashes are varieties of cucurbita pepo though not all cucurbita people are summer squashes. Most summer squash have a bushy growth habit. Oh, unlike the rambling vines of many winter squashes.

Molly 18:55

Oh, interesting. Okay, this makes sense. I'm

Matthew Amster-Burton 18:59


Molly 19:00

And I'm sure you've had the experience of seeing like a really large zucchini that somebody has, you know, like, Okay, well so the rind on that gets thicker, and the flesh gets much harder it gets much denser. Have you noticed that? I

Matthew Amster-Burton 19:15

don't think I knew that at all. And it makes so much sense.

Molly 19:18

It's definitely not near I mean, it's not like cutting into a kabocha squash or something like that. But not not like

Matthew Amster-Burton 19:26

zucchini jack o' lantern. Ah, if you had to,

Molly 19:30

if you had to. Yeah, if you had to.

Matthew Amster-Burton 19:33

If like this Halloween, things have gotten even worse and all we have is one big dump zucchini.

Molly 19:39

I'll pay half of it and you can Yeah, you can check

Matthew Amster-Burton 19:43

without the zucchini. That's even sadder than the scenario I was already.

Molly 19:46

But if it's really that bleak, Matthew you are going to be real happy to get that half a zucchini.

Matthew Amster-Burton 19:52

That's right. We're gonna jack o' lantern it and then like when it starts to rot and soften then we're gonna eat it.

Molly 19:57

Anyway. So what we think of as as you can Today was first cultivated, as I said in northern Italy in the second half of the 1800s.

Matthew Amster-Burton 20:06

It seems pretty recent, pretty recent, right? I mean, that's like, your dad invented altoids. Which is I like I that's how I divide the world. Like

Molly 20:14

BC and then AC the A stands for altoids.

Matthew Amster-Burton 20:17

Yeah. And what is the C stands for?

Molly 20:19

altoids created? Yeah. Okay.

Matthew Amster-Burton 20:22

So yeah, before creation and altoids created.

Unknown Speaker 20:28

Okay, good.

Molly 20:28

I'm glad we figured that out. But okay, interestingly enough zucchini, you know, was not cultivated until about 300 years after squashes were first introduced into Europe from the Americas. So, squash was kicking around in Europe for a while before the thing that is zucchini was developed.

Matthew Amster-Burton 20:47

Is that because someone was that like, like a new variety that popped up? Or was it like someone realized, hey, we could pick this before it's ripe, and it'll be good.

Molly 20:56

I'm not sure. It could have been like an accidental hybrid, who knows? Who knows

Matthew Amster-Burton 21:02

for them, but like, for the first couple 100 years, they were just using them for jack o' lanterns, right?

Molly 21:07

Yes, yes. Early varieties of zucchini were named after like nearby towns in Italy. Wait, you're gonna share some right. I'm not gonna share any Actually, I didn't see any listed. I should have done a zucchini name quiz. Okay, and we could have figured out how many Italian Italian town names you know, like I could have been like, Buca di beppo.

Matthew Amster-Burton 21:29

I've been there.

Molly 21:31

So anyway, the word zucchini is a plural of zucchini. No, which is a diminutive of zuca, which is Italian for pumpkin or squash.

Matthew Amster-Burton 21:39

Okay, that makes sense.

Molly 21:40

Yeah. I didn't get into masculine or feminine. There was a part about it and Wikipedia and I thought, you know what, I'm not getting into the gender this in Italian.

Matthew Amster-Burton 21:48

of the word or the

Molly 21:50

word the plan. Okay, now the word the first records of zucchini in the US date back to the 1920s. And it was almost certainly brought over by Italian immigrants. Hooray for immigrants.

Matthew Amster-Burton 22:01

Yeah, I imagine broccoli probably came over around the same time

Molly 22:06

as broccoli also from Italy.

Matthew Amster-Burton 22:07


Molly 22:08

I mean, it makes sense with the name of it. I guess it was probably first cultivated in the US in California. Interestingly enough, I would have thought it would have been the the East Coast given that it came over from Italy.

Matthew Amster-Burton 22:23

I have no opinion on that.

Molly 22:24

Great. Okay. Anyway, but let's get into the botanicals of this the bow

Matthew Amster-Burton 22:29

I bought, like oh, I think maybe we were gonna like add some like, like, like, fruity fragrances to our shampoo.

Molly 22:39

Okay, okay, botanically zucchini is of course a fruit. It has seeds. It's a type of berry called a Pico or a pedo.

Matthew Amster-Burton 22:47

everything turns out to be a type of berry

Molly 22:49

every night Berry. It's the swollen ovary of the zucchini flower. I'm just here to say I'm really glad my ovaries don't swell up like that.

Matthew Amster-Burton 22:57

Yeah, I mean, Count your blessings. Most fruits are swollen ovaries,

Molly 23:01

yes. But this one can reach up to one yard, or about one meter in length when mature. So you don't want you don't want an ovary like that.

Matthew Amster-Burton 23:10

No, definitely not.

Molly 23:12

But as you have mentioned, it's usually harvested when it's still in mature. It's usually harvested between six and 10 inches in length. And at that point, the seeds are still soft. Like sometimes you hardly even notice the seeds if it's small enough, right? It's

Matthew Amster-Burton 23:25

true. No, I cut up a whole zucchini and threw it into the Yakisoba. And I did not notice any seeds. Sometimes like when you cut it when you cut it into coins and saute it like you can sort of see when the flesh becomes translucent like the seeds reveal themselves. Yeah, pretty cool.

Molly 23:38

But it's definitely the seeds are less prominent than in like crookneck like yellow squash, right

Matthew Amster-Burton 23:43

where you've got kind of a big belly that's got a lot of seeds and much less prominent than in like, peach.

Molly 23:50

Yes, that's a very prominent seed. Yeah.

Matthew Amster-Burton 23:54

Prominent seeds. This year, we absolutely like harvested the shit out of the sour cherry tree out in front of the neighbor's house. That was so exciting. so successful. Don't turn me in for illegal

Molly 24:08

I was gonna say you're allowed to do that.

Matthew Amster-Burton 24:10

I doubt it, but no one else was

Molly 24:12

so there's a house on my block that has been vacant for like eight months. I think it's like wildly overpriced or something. Anyway, it's been vacant for years. Right? And I'm gonna squat No, it's got this kind of little gripe driveway. Like a little gravel parking spot out front. And I noticed that it had little Alpine strawberries growing like out of the gravel. And so I talked with ash about it and I was like, I think I want to go like dig up some of those Alpine strawberry plants. And June overheard us talking and she was like, I don't think you should do that. And I was like, ah, anyway, I did it one day when she was inside doing something else and I was out working in the yard. By myself, I dug up three of them. They're like a dozen little tiny plants and they're all sending out runners. Anyway, I dug them up I planted them in my yard. I don't know if they'll survive. Don't tell on me, Matthew,

Matthew Amster-Burton 25:11

is it? Is it the worst? How like you want your kid to have a sense of right and wrong, but then when they do, it's so fucking annoying. Yeah, I was like,

Unknown Speaker 25:21

houses vacant? Yes.

Molly 25:23

I mean, I've consoled myself with the thought that who knows what the new owners might someday do with those strawberry plants like I'm carrying on the legacy of, of this lady who used to live there.

Matthew Amster-Burton 25:35

Yeah, you're also carrying on a legacy of larceny? Yeah. Did you explain to her the concept of use of frocked which doesn't apply here whatsoever? What does it even mean? Use of frocked is the is the principle in English common law that anyone is allowed to harvest fruit that's like hanging over the public right of way.

Molly 25:53

Oh, yeah. Yeah, I don't think that applies here. Is does that apply to your cherries?

Matthew Amster-Burton 25:59

Is there on the planting strip? So this being Seattle, I think it's like, whatever the law says, Does it really matter? It's like is your neighbor gonna post about you on next door? Yeah.

Molly 26:17

As you may have been able to deduce about me at this point, I've become the kind of

Matthew Amster-Burton 26:21

person or a criminal.

Molly 26:23

I've become the kind of person who goes out and observes her garden multiple times a day to see if there's like a zucchini that is ready to be harvested or if the strawberry plants have died yet.

Matthew Amster-Burton 26:34

Well, and also to see if your neighbors are as lawless as you and are coming to steal your zucchini.

Molly 26:39

That's true. That's true. I have to monitor things. You never know what's gonna happen. Anyway, one thing that I have found really cool in growing zucchini and learning about it is the plant makes male and female flowers. Okay, and you can tell the difference pretty easily. The the male flowers grow on stems, like you might imagine, like about the thickness of like a tulip stem, and but the female flowers grow on what looks like stubby little zucchinis they're like protos zucchinis. Oh, yeah. And the flowers open up, and the flowers need to be pollinated. Almost always by bees. I think that other insects can do it as well. But you know how bees have hairy legs, right?

Matthew Amster-Burton 27:20

Yeah. They like pollen, it sticks to their legs.

Molly 27:22

The pollen from the male flowers, sticks to their legs, and then they go over to a female flower and they pollinate her. Now you can also pollinate by hand. Thankfully, I have not had to do that. My

Matthew Amster-Burton 27:34

zucchinis have pollinated. Why do you say thankfully is because that would gross you out?

Molly 27:39

No, it's just I think I would have to like watch a YouTube video about how to do yeah, like it would be hard it Yeah, I mean caught going on YouTube. Anyway, but so if the flower. If the female flower does not get pollinated, the the ovary will just shrivel up and drop off. So okay, anyway, so what happens when it is pollinated when the female flower is pollinated it, it shrivels up, and then the fruit beneath it starts to swell and to grow. And it takes only like a week after pollination for the fruit to get up to six inches long.

Matthew Amster-Burton 28:15

Wow. So you know how they can hear their zucchinis growing?

Molly 28:19

They mean it? Yeah, anyway, but uh, but it's interesting. I mean, if you think about it, this makes sense. The male flowers are longer lived, like if you if you're going to pick it and you want it to still be fresh and you're going to eat it. You've got kind of a longer window of time with the male ones because the female ones shrivel up after they've been pollinated.

Matthew Amster-Burton 28:39

So do you mean you mean if you want to eat the flowers if you want to eat the flower? Yeah, okay. Have you ever watched a video of bamboo growing in real time? No, I recommend are you doing it right

Molly 28:49


Matthew Amster-Burton 28:50

Yeah, no show at all. I've watched a video of bamboo growing at a at a rate of like half an inch per hour.

Molly 28:59

god that's so exciting. If we keep going the way things are going like and we're just all at home all the time. I mean well those of us who are lucky enough to not have to go to a job outside the house. We may have to plant bamboo and just watch it grow Okay, I mean Okay, anyway, but hold on Matthew. There is danger lurking in the the cooker btca family Yeah,

Matthew Amster-Burton 29:25

of course there is your your neighbors are trying to steal them.

Molly 29:27

Yeah. So anyway, so in this family, which of course includes like zucchini, pumpkins, cucumbers, there are these toxins called cucurbit tations. How would you say that

Matthew Amster-Burton 29:39

the way you said it?

Molly 29:40

Oh, really? Okay. Yeah.

Matthew Amster-Burton 29:41

And of course it Jason's

Molly 29:42

as you can imagine these defend the plant from from predators. And like a lot of poisons they have a bitter taste to humans.

Matthew Amster-Burton 29:50

Can you get high on them?

Molly 29:52

I don't think you can get high on them. I think you can die. But anyway cultivated members of this family have been bred to not have a lot Have it however if you you know if you happen to eat a member of this family that tastes especially bitter Don't eat it,

Matthew Amster-Burton 30:07

because it eat a member of this family.

Molly 30:10

Especially fitter, it's me.

Matthew Amster-Burton 30:13

If you haven't eat a member of my family, I would prefer not me. Think of some people I would nominate,

Molly 30:20

but pumpkins that are not bred for eating ornamental pumpkins, jack o' Lantern, okay, yeah, it's okay. They can have a lot of this toxin. And they can cross fertilize with other plants that are, you know, hybrids that don't have a lot of the toxin. So then then you can wind up with a hybrid plant that has toxin production that's higher than you expect.

Matthew Amster-Burton 30:42

Is this a thing I should be worried about? I don't think I'm planning to start worrying about it. I

Molly 30:48

don't think you should worry about it. However, I did see that for people who have, like an impaired sense of taste, and in particular for the elderly, they should or at least Wikipedia was like elderly people should have other people taste their zucchinis

Matthew Amster-Burton 31:06

that explains so much about things that happened. went to visit my grandparents

Molly 31:14

did also say it did also mention at least one elderly person who's died from poisoning of this toxin well weighed down. It may be one person in the history of humankind, though, so who knows? Okay, well, I'm

Matthew Amster-Burton 31:27

gonna continue to to just like right into the Trader Joe's zucchini with impunity,

Molly 31:34

I think you'll be fine.

Matthew Amster-Burton 31:36

Like if it's my time to go like because I because I bid into a poisoned zucchini. Like, that's just the way it's got to be.

Molly 31:43

Well, I hope that there's somebody around to eat you so that your family doesn't have to deal with the body.

Matthew Amster-Burton 31:47

Right. And also, like, now that I retract the thing I just said, I am going to have people taste my zucchinis from now on.

Molly 31:55

It's good to have a spouse for these things, you know? Anyway, uh, what I wanted to say is that so apparently, those of us who grow zucchinis you're not supposed to save seeds from your zucchinis and replant them in subsequent years. Because apparently, you never know whether the production of the toxin will be. Whatever,

Matthew Amster-Burton 32:18

no, like, like a like a reversion to the mean type of thing.

Molly 32:22

Yeah, anyway, but

Matthew Amster-Burton 32:22

really mean like poison mean?

Molly 32:25

It's so so mean, cruel, even. Okay, well, Matthew, this episode is already pretty long. Let's talk about cooking this thing.

Matthew Amster-Burton 32:32

Oh, yeah, I forgot you could do that. I thought it was just like, natural history exhibit.

Molly 32:38

So anyway, as you may have noticed, in the kitchen, we generally treat zucchini as a vegetable like to as opposed to treating it as a fruit which we do in all the other rooms.

Matthew Amster-Burton 32:51

Well, yes, of course. Like I have in in my parlor, a fruit bowl, of course, like, right, like it's got all the popular fruit. It's tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, cucumber, avocado, avocado, right? Yeah. And but then when I select a piece of fruit of ripe specimen from the fruit bowl, I carry it from the parlor into the kitchen, but by the time I get to the kitchen, it's a vegetable.

Molly 33:17

Yes. We'll see. Okay,

Matthew Amster-Burton 33:19

I got it. I got a b minus in botany,

Molly 33:21

as previously mentioned, you can roast this thing you can make Ratatouille from it. You can saute it. Well, let's talk about other things. Matthew, what else do you do with it?

Matthew Amster-Burton 33:31

Okay, so not a whole lot. I do like a grilled zucchini. I don't personally grill but like if someone were to grill me a zucchini i would i would be pleased. Okay. And you know, other than that, like, are we talking about squash blossoms on this episode? Because like a fried squash? Yes. Um, whether stuffed or not is delicious.

Molly 33:49

Yeah. Let's skip ahead to that. So okay. In Italian cuisine, you often run into fried zucchini blossoms. Yeah, sometimes stuffed with with cheese ricotta, other Yeah,

Matthew Amster-Burton 33:59

they're they're very, very delicate. And, you know, if you get some of the farmers market, you need to cook them pretty quick. I think they're good. sauteed also,

Molly 34:08

I know that in some parts of Mexico, the flowers are used quite a lot, especially in soups. And yes,

Matthew Amster-Burton 34:15

yes, yes. Yeah, I've had that before. It's delicious.

Molly 34:19

Okay, well, so there are lots of different ways that I have prepared zucchini over the years. I think that there was a time when my mom served some like steamed zucchini when I was a kid. Oh, I

Matthew Amster-Burton 34:28

think I add that to the pre

Molly 34:30

roasting era.

Matthew Amster-Burton 34:31

Yeah, when your house when I was a kid.

Molly 34:34

So recently, actually with the first two zucchinis that I cut off my plant were like six inches long. They were like beautiful little baby zucchinis and I wound up I decided I wanted to just taste them as they were and so I was making pasta out on those evenings. And I like dropped the zucchini in the well salted pasta water before I cooked the pasta. And I cooked it until it was tender and then I cut it up and tossed it with olive oil and salt.

Matthew Amster-Burton 35:05

Yeah, you really can zucchini on that one

Molly 35:07

that was so delicious. And I think of that as something that I learned from. Well, I learned that from my friend Louisa Weiss, whose mother is Italian from northern Italy. And Louisa tends to do sort of more boiled vegetables than I would have ever thought of doing and she highly recommended boiled zucchini. Which vegetables do I boil? That's a good question.

Matthew Amster-Burton 35:32

I mean, like, jeans,

Molly 35:35

she boils chard,

Matthew Amster-Burton 35:36

she smiles, charred,

Molly 35:38

right? I mean, I just would have never thought to do that. But yeah, you think about like, like, you know, you think about, like, whatever your vision of Italian grandmother cooking our boiled

Matthew Amster-Burton 35:48


Molly 35:50

You sound high right now. Wow. parboil.

Matthew Amster-Burton 35:56

I just realized as I started to say that part of parboil char, I will parboiled chard as our pirate episode like it was, it was not an interesting thing to say in terms of content. But in terms of phonology, it was kind of interesting. The delivery was nice, I leaned into it, okay, I lean into a pot of boiling pot, that's very dangerous.

Molly 36:19

So one of my very favorite ways to cook zucchini is something that Rachel Roddy, Rachel Roddy is a British woman who lives in Rome, who has written a couple of cookbooks, and writes for The Guardian, or at least did for a long time. And the way that she sort of got me cooking zucchini was slicing it into coins, and then warming some olive oil in a pan with with a few whole cloves of garlic. So just kind of infusing the oil with garlic, taking the garlic out before it brown and then pan frying the zucchini or sort of sorting it, and then throwing in a few torn basil leaves at the end. Oh, sort of. It's delicious. It gives it it's like sauteed zucchini but with use a little bit more olive oil than I would generally use. And it almost has like a pesto taste but is you know, much simpler than that.

Matthew Amster-Burton 37:14

Speaking of a lot of olive oil, isn't there like a maybe province Sol thing where you like, like layer like yellow and green zucchini and like bake it like a casserole. Am I making this up? Is that a Tian Tian? Maybe?

Molly 37:28

Yeah, yeah, I think I always think of that as like a relative of Ratatouille. Yeah, that makes sense. But yeah, similar. I also think of like, so in Italian cooking, there is a technique where you pan fry something, not breaded, but just, you know, pan fry something and then you marinate it in in vinegar. Oh, sure. I remember what is that called? It starts with a C. I'm totally drawing a blank. But it's a it's a technique and it's served like room temperature. Yeah, I know. Anyway, I've had zucchini served that way.

Matthew Amster-Burton 38:02

I think that's good. Because I think I think I want I always want more acid with zucchini than a lot of zucchini dishes offer. And so that makes sense to me.

Molly 38:13

So there's that. I'm sure our listeners will know the name of that technique. I can't remember. Anyway. Other thoughts? Oh, of course. Stuffed zucchini. I never do this. Do you ever do that?

Matthew Amster-Burton 38:26

stuff to cainy? No, although I feel like I have made this once. And I'm not sure what the recipe was. Have you? Have you done it?

Molly 38:36

I'm not a big fan of like stuffing things. It always feels like more work than I then wrote in an

Matthew Amster-Burton 38:43

episode on stuffed foods, right?

Molly 38:45

We did. We did. But we were talking about shells.

Unknown Speaker 38:49


Molly 38:50

And I'm done with stuffing shells. For some reason. I've never gotten to stuffing vegetables, peppers.

Matthew Amster-Burton 38:56

You know how often I've made stuffed shells since we did that episode? How tell you I still have the rest of that box of shells.

Molly 39:03

Are you serious? Yeah. I think I've made them like four times during the pandemic. Anyway, so stuffed zucchini I think of that as something that shows up well in many different cuisines but particularly in the Middle East I think like stuff being stuffed with lamb maybe a rice mixture also in the Middle East like all sorts of interesting preparations of zucchini on like kababs or fried and then served with like a yogurt II type dipping sauce. Yes.

Matthew Amster-Burton 39:31

Yeah. Fried zucchini is great because yeah, like that's the in that case like the water is an asset I think because it's juicy.

Molly 39:39

Yes. Yes. Kind of like very hot and very hot. Just

Matthew Amster-Burton 39:42

another way that zucchini is trying to kill you. There's the okra, like the hot oil. Yeah, it's like fried okra.

Molly 39:50

Okay, hold on. I want to be sure and mention like zucchini soup like putting zucchini in soup like either a pureed soup that would be as zucchini soup or at Fretwell soup, as I've mentioned many times usually, usually I put zucchini in that Okay, I think it shows up in different versions of minestrone Francis lamb a million years ago when he used to write for gourmet. Yeah, he wrote this recipe no

Matthew Amster-Burton 40:16

no like me he did it much better than I do.

Molly 40:19

Oh anyway, Francis lamb I think we can probably Google this and link to it but he made a pasta sauce that was made from long cooked egg plant that you shot

Matthew Amster-Burton 40:29

yes, I do remember that

Molly 40:31

and I got super super into this eggplant pasta and then I decided I think that's at some point that summer. I tried a version of it with zucchini because zucchini also if you cook it that long, you can mash it and

Matthew Amster-Burton 40:42

very damp vegetables.

Molly 40:45

Yes. The zucchini version wasn't quite as good but it was still delicious. So if you've got a lot of zucchini and you're looking for something to do with it, you might try this eggplant recipe but wing it with zucchini. I don't like raw zucchini I don't want anything to do with it.

Matthew Amster-Burton 41:01

I don't either

Molly 41:02

I don't understand like serving it like with a dip I don't want it in my salad

Matthew Amster-Burton 41:08

I don't think about this recently and like this could get shot like a potentially controversial moment on the show. Oh god let's do to try and boost the ratings. Yeah, like Should we just not eat salad? Oh, is it is it like an unnecessary risk? Because lightning in terms of you're gonna if you're gonna get like badly poisoned in the kitchen like salad is a very likely vector for that and you can all of the things in salad that are going to attack you are things that would easily be killed by cooking

Molly 41:44

That's true. Although What about all those wonderful like soft lettuces like I can get with someone

Matthew Amster-Burton 41:50

like salad i'm saying is it is a salad good enough that it is worth the risk.

Molly 41:57

I personally love a good salad. Like peak summer like all those like little heads of lettuce. You know? Love that shit. Like

Matthew Amster-Burton 42:10


Molly 42:11

little gem lettuce, or like baby butter lettuces. I love sliced radishes and I like it if you've got an avocado and then you do a vinaigrette that's like

Matthew Amster-Burton 42:23

until the avocado

Unknown Speaker 42:25


Molly 42:25

I think that I would miss that stuff.

Matthew Amster-Burton 42:28

I know alright, so that was that was our little controversy corner.

Molly 42:32

Wow, that was super scintillating.

Matthew Amster-Burton 42:35

I'm gonna stick with eating bitters zucchinis

Molly 42:39

I you know actually, Matthew after after we wrap up this show. I've got some baby heads of lettuce from the from my CSA to finish Okay, so I'm gonna go play with food poisoning later.

Matthew Amster-Burton 42:51

Awesome. All right. Is that is that it for zucchini?

Molly 42:54

You know? Oh, I think we have some listeners who will feel that we have. We've left out an important use of zucchini and that is to say I realized zucchini zoodles called zoodles

Matthew Amster-Burton 43:07

Yeah, of course. I don't think I've ever eaten this. Have you?

Molly 43:10

So there was one summer when Brandon and I I remember

Matthew Amster-Burton 43:17

the summer doodling?

Molly 43:19

No, we never zoodles I think we had like recently gotten a mandolin or something. And so I do remember that summer discovering that we really liked it when we like mandolin into sort of like strips the size of like a McDonald's french fry.

Matthew Amster-Burton 43:37

Okay, yeah.

Molly 43:38

When we when we cut up zucchini like that. And sauteed it and some olive oil and then toss that with spaghetti and pesto. Oh, that sounds good. Yeah, there's this the same way that it's that it's kind of traditional to toss green beans in with your pasta and pesto.

Matthew Amster-Burton 43:53

Oh, that's one of life the show Lori's favorite foods of all time.

Molly 43:57

Yeah, so we did that with zucchini a lot one summer in particular. I think I wrote about it maybe in a homemade life probably. But I've never had like a spiralizer and I certainly have never I've never thought about like giving up pasta in favor of zoodles

Matthew Amster-Burton 44:13

here's what I add the zoodles to my right here's what I want is I want like to have someone like within my care who is really into this so that I can be in charge of like you know churning out spiralizing the things because that looks really fun. I don't necessarily want to eat it but like playing getting getting to like work with my hands and and make like you know sculptural frill frilly items out of my vegetables like I will like I want to spiralize things all day.

Molly 44:41

Well Matthew you know I think that if you really want to you know get really into decorative foods and things it seems like a like you're you're most of the way there with your Japanese cooking

Matthew Amster-Burton 44:51

right could take a class on vegetable and fruit carving. Yeah, you're right. I should do that.

Molly 44:58

I am really excited. had to be on the receiving end of this someday when I can see you in person again, okay? Yeah,

Matthew Amster-Burton 45:03


Molly 45:04

Okay. All right. I can't wait for my little tiny carrot flower.

Matthew Amster-Burton 45:08

I can't wait either. All right, you can find us online at spilled dog podcast.com and facebook.com slash bill dog podcast. Please let us know what you like to do with zucchini that we didn't get to have you doodled who have used doodled Yeah

Molly 45:22

Is that where babies come from?

Matthew Amster-Burton 45:23

right you've been wondering is zoodle like a sneeze

Molly 45:26

did your your sex ed teacher uses zucchini right good question.

Matthew Amster-Burton 45:31

Yeah or like a like a you know when a skinny eggplant or a non skinny eggplant? I don't know.

Molly 45:37

Yeah, condoms are backed up to a point

Matthew Amster-Burton 45:41

I mean certainly can stretch around an eggplant because like, I mean, did you in your sex ed did your teacher like inflate a condom? Like like makeup water balloon condom water balloon like the size of a watermelon and then put like oil based lube on it to show why you shouldn't do that because I remember this demonstration

Molly 45:59

I don't remember that. I do quite a bit in college. I

Matthew Amster-Burton 46:02

don't know.

Molly 46:03

I do remember a condom being like you know sort of blown up or stretched a lot as a way of saying like Dude, if you are saying that this thing is uncomfortable or to say like check out how stretchy It is like really? You're not big enough to make his complaint

Matthew Amster-Burton 46:19

Yeah, but then but that is just like inviting some some kid to like raise their hand and say like but I haven't you know 17 inch wide penis

Molly 46:31

fatty Matty you've been waiting all

Matthew Amster-Burton 46:35

That's right. And three, three inches long. It looks like I should meet top of the cheese. I know that's the craziest.

And the good news is it takes like 45 minutes to bake.

Unknown Speaker 47:10

I bet the ladies love that. Yeah, you

Unknown Speaker 47:13

are in it for the long haul.

Unknown Speaker 47:15

Yeah, you get it in

Matthew Amster-Burton 47:18

it's the kind of thing like you're you're only gonna want to enjoy it like once a year at the All right. Dude, what else did dad I'm pretty sure JV circuit. Everybody I'm Matthew Amster-Burton.

Molly 47:37

I'm Molly wise and

Matthew Amster-Burton 47:40

deep days for

Unknown Speaker 47:51

schiit bra.

Matthew Amster-Burton 47:53

This is some creamy paper