Growing up, my mom used to give out pans of her famous double fudge brownies to the neighbors when they shoveled our walk. After a huge storm, they’d come to our door, frozen runny noses and all, take the pan in gloved hands, and walk home across the newly clear path. God bless those boys. They saved my mom, sisters, and I countless hours of shoveling and sore backs.
In college, I carried on my own version of this, giving my across the hall neighbors different baked goods or making Sunday Suppers for us. I’d often hear a furtive knock on my door followed by a sly “What did you make now?” when I had something cooling on the counter, the scent inevitably drifting into the hall.
I’ve been very fortunate in my (albeit, short) life to have very pleasant neighboring experiences.
My current neighbors are no exception. They’re friendly and helpful and generous. Helping me when I moved in, keeping an eye on the place when I’m out of town, sharing the bounty from their garden with me over the summer.
They gave me so much zucchini over the warmer months that I couldn’t possibly use it all. Because I hate waste, I knew the easiest answer was to grate it and freeze it, envisioning the zucchini bread I’d have when the weather turned and I wanted a taste of summer. This craving is also what keeps me up to my eyeballs in frozen bananas year-round.
My freezer is far too full at the moment, however. (And there’re only so many frozen lasagna leftovers I can eat.) To make room, I decided to make a batch of breads! Quick bread! Three ways! Banana, pumpkin, and zucchini variations of the same recipe. And! As a bonus, I’m gifting my neighbors some loaves made with the vegetables they gave me!
It’s an easy, thoughtful gift that can be made and shared right away or stored in the freezer (if you have the room, that is!) until the holidays roll around. So go ahead and whip up a batch, or two, it’s the neighborly thing to do.
Easy Quick Bread
(makes 4 small loves, the perfect size for gifting!, adapted from Martha Stewart)
2 cups flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground ginger
Pinch of ground cloves, nutmeg, and allspice
8 TBSP (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
¼ cup canola oil
½ cup granulate sugar
½ cup brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
¼ cup sour cream
½ cup whole milk
1 cup banana puree, pumpkin puree, or grated zucchini
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray mini loaf pans with baking spray and set aside.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Set aside.
Cream butter, oil, and sugars together until light and fluffy, scraping down sides as necessary. Add egg, one at a time, mixing until fully incorporated. Stir in vanilla and sour cream.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet, alternating with milk, ending with the flour mixture. Mix until fully incorporated before stirring in chosen fruit or veggie.
Divide evenly among prepared pans and bake in preheated oven for 45-50 minutes, or until tester inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. Cool on rack in pan until room temperature.
To store in freezer: wrap breads tightly in plastic wrap and then in foil before placing into freezer bags. Before gifting, thaw in fridge for at least one day.