Sunday, July 31, 2016

Chocolate Zucchini Cake By the Ocean

  "Bottle Cap", the game of jumping off the raft to see who can get to the plastic orange milk cap first, has now morphed into one person balancing the fluorescent cover on the top of the closest blue and white boat mooring as it bobs up and down in the waves. Here are the rules according to what I can glean while watching from my anonymous perch on the beach: 1. Everyone else is supposed to wait on the raft until the cap is sufficiently balanced and released.  2.They all jump off and swim for it, a mad dash of splashes, kicking legs and flailing arms until the winner grabs the prize.  3. The winner places the cap on the buoy and it all starts over, again.
  As I have been told, the "real" "Bottle Cap" involves one person pencil diving off the raft and placing the bottle cap somewhere in the murky depths.  (This game does not work in totally clear water, seaweed and muck are a must.)  He or she "hides" the cap by leaving it suspended underneath the surface.  Once given the signal, the others then dive in and search under the levels of water as the cap slowly ascends to the surface and once it is captured, that round is over.
  It's a lot of jumping off and hauling the body back onto the raft.  No one has time to wait for the ladder which ends up with its rungs beneath the water totally encrusted in barnacles, anyway.  Sharp, shelled organisms that give nasty cuts on tender, waterlogged feet and hands.  After about an hour of this strenuous activity, I see Ava yanking Declan's floppy, lazy arms to help him out of the water.  It's probably time to call them into shore to eat some lunch, reapply sunscreen.  But I know they will come in eventually.  So, I give myself one more minute of peace.
  We are hoping for this magical beach recipe for hunger and exhaustion. All of us Mom's who pack coolers full of Cheez-its, watermelon and re-usable water bottles , wash and fold beach towels, cajole and threaten until sunscreen is applied, we finally flop, utterly spent by 10:00am into a beach chair after lugging it all across the hot sand only to do it again and again on each and every sunny day this summer.  The kids are happy darting from the ocean waves, to investigating the catch on the dingy dock, to playing made up games on the raft, swimming, diving under.  Each adventure far enough away so I can't hear them fight, close enough so I can see that they are safe.  Extraordinary, yet typical everyday life in a summer vacation land.

  Mix this one bowl cake in the evening while making dinner.  Bake it, then let it sit overnight.  The next morning, cube it up and pack it in the cooler.  You can sneak a piece when it comes out hot from the oven and top it with vanilla ice cream while the kids are watching the Red Sox or holed up in their beds reading before lights out. You deserve it.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake
(makes one large pan)

1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar, divided
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk or sour milk (milk plus 1/2 teaspoon vinegar)
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups grated zucchini
2 1/2 cups flour
10 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease a 9x13 glass baking dish.
Mix together butter, oil and 1 3/4 cups sugar until fluffy.  Add eggs, vanilla  and milk.  Combine thoroughly.  Add cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Mix well.  Add zucchini and stir to combine. Add flour and stir until all ingredients are incorporated, scraping the bowl as necessary.  Pour batter into prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle top with semi sweet chips and remaining 1/4 cup sugar.
Bake for 45-55 minutes until a pick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack and serve warm or at room temperature.


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