October 31, 2011

Zucchini Candy!

 I suppose this is sort of a Kids Cook Monday.  We totally ran out of ideas for that, but we're conjuring more!  Every Monday we think about it and then lament how long its been.  But here's a kid friendly confectioner's oddity for Halloween!

If we're facebook friends or Google + friends you've no doubt heard about and maybe joked about my latest attempt at making zucchini something other than the world's most boring vegetable.  We grow it every year because it's impossible to kill and its very presence comforts us when everything we plant turns brown and blows away.  It's the faithful friend that we never really appreciated.  The one that we took comfort from in times of need, but snickered about when any more worthy veggie happened to flourish.

But this was zucchini's moment in the sun!  Last year it had it's moment in Steffanie's Poser Pie.  This year it made its way to the status of candy!  Yes, yes.  Laugh if you must, but this zucchini made the kind of candy that kids keep coming back for!  I put some out at our book study last night and my friend Barb couldn't stop herself!  It's actually yummy!

I found several recipes for zucchini candy and I ended up not really using any of them.  Haha!  As usual, I decided I could do better.  I have no idea whether I did or not because I never made them any other way, but here's my stab at zucchini candy which, as I said, is now much loved by many children!  :)

I peeled 4 medium sized zukes.  I cut them in half lengthwise, scraped out the guts, and cut them into approximately 1 inch cubes.  Next I tossed all those cubes into a pit and added 3 packets of Kool-Aid mix and the sugar and water that I would have added had I been making Kool-Aid.  This was the main place that I changed things up.  Every recipe I read said to use the invisible Kool-Aid that makes a drink that looks like water.  Well, it's already going to be a hard sell to get Hannah Jane to even try this, so I went with a bright red flavor of Kool-Aid so that it really looked like candy instead of simply tasting like candy.  I also added more water.  Not because I meant to, but because I got lazy and didn't check back in with the recipe from which I was already deviating.  It appears that you are supposed to use 2 packets and half the water.  I used 3 and ALL of the water.  But all's well that ends well, right? 

I boiled the zuke chunks in the Kool-Aid for quite some time- WAY longer than recommended, ensuring that absolutely ZERO nutrient content remained in the food.  I just wanted to wait until the red color had made it's way to the very core of every bit of zuke.  By the time it was done boiling, the pieces looked like those very fake looking canned fruits that great grandmothers put in jello.  The fruit bits that claim to be all kinds of different fruit  from papaya to apples tossed together, but really they all look like the same red tinted, semi translucent cubes of something that may or may not have its origins in nature.   Then it was in to the dehydrator that I borrowed from the very generous Karen.  She not only delivered it right to my door, but she also gave me a tip on where to snag a deal on one of my own should I enjoy the experience.  Nice!  Just about 24 hours later we had a full quart jar of lovely shriveled, red zucchini.  I tossed those babies in a nice dusting of confectioners sugar to keep them from sticking together and served them up!

During our mad science party, some kids asked what it was and if they could have some.  Rather than tell them what it was, I decided when better than a science party to say, "Hey, stick this in your mouth and then I'll tell you what you're eating."  Considering that they had all just cut open real eyeballs, I'd say it was a pretty brave thing to do.  But not only did they like it, after I told them what it was they kept coming back and politely saying, "Um, Skyla, can just have a little more of your zucchini?  Please?" 

If I'm being completely honest with myself and with you, we'll likely never actually do this again.  It was something fun to do one time with zucchini, but let's face it.  After the boiling and dehydrating and pumping full of sugar and color, the zucchini candy had none of the benefits of its ancestral veggie and wasn't really any better than regular candy.  It was merely a fun little experiment that we're deeming a success but not planning to recreate.  So, next time you have a zillion zukes in your garden and you've made everything under the sun already, have some fun with zucchini candy.  Just don't think it's actually healthy!

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