Arrow-right Camera


Front Porch: Garden bounty welcome, Stefanie Pettit says

UPDATED: Wed., Aug. 9, 2017, 3:31 p.m.

Cindy Hval and I take turns writing the Front Porch column. Last week Cindy wrote about being inundated by the zucchini she’s growing. I don’t grow my own zucchini, but I am the happy recipient of other people’s labors in that regard.

And that (plus other items of produce) is what I wrote about for this week, in advance, because of travel and waves of summer visitors. And here I am with no time to start anew, but I wanted to let you know that you are not being presented Cindy’s quite funny column a second time.

Same subject – different writer. Sometimes it just works out that way.

It’s that time of year when produce abounds and we get inundated. A friend offered me my first zucchini of the season last month, a modest 15-by-4-inch specimen, and I took it gladly. And then came the others. Friends asking hopefully if I’d like another, sometimes with that pleading look in their eyes.

I often say yes and then begin a marathon bake-a-thon, grating away and turning them into breads of different sizes and also cake varieties with all kinds of combinations. I’ve found some tasty zucchini-lemon cake combinations of late and launched a few of those as well. Then most finished products get chucked into the freezer, to be brought out when a tasty bread is needed or one will serve nicely as a gift for a friend.

This year, the first zucchini was offered only two weeks after we’d eaten the last of our zucchini breads from the freezer. Timing is everything.

I prefer using zucchini when it’s fresh, but I also grate and freeze, for use in soups or other recipes in the winter. It’s a lot of enjoyable work, but as the zucchinis get bigger as the season wears on, my ability to handle more and more of it diminishes.

I’m also facing a plethora of rhubarb, which grows plenteously in my backyard. Rhubarb crisps for immediate consumption result, plus breads for freezing. And I share my continuously producing harvest with friends who like rhubarb, too.

Last year I was left with so much rhubarb that I froze a bunch of it and made jam this spring, using a rhubarb-pineapple recipe I found in the retro Dorothy Dean Recipes spring rhubarb section of The Spokesman-Review. Very tasty. I’ll use it again.

My niece from Wenatchee spent a few days with us late in July, bringing with her some delicious cherries (Bings and Rainiers) plus some blueberries and apricots that she picked herself – a bounteous feast of perfectly ripe fruit, too much for us to consume by ourselves. We shared with friends and neighbors and still had plenty left for us.

We got some local cherries free this year (who can resist that?), and I canned those – to be revisited in the colder months when a taste of summer is always appreciated.

Note to self: Don’t eat so many fresh cherries all at once, no matter how delicious they are. The gastrointestinal result is not charming.

Company came last week in the form of our youngest son and several of his friends, so cooking ensued, topped off with a rhubarb-cherry dessert that pleased all. Recipe from my sister-in-law.

Because I can’t help myself, every year I get huckleberries. I used to go to a special spot in a clear-cut in the mountains near Priest Lake to pick, but I’m afraid my scrambling-on-mountainsides days are over, and I just buy them now. We’ve “got a guy” who picks and doesn’t charge too much (by huckleberry standards), so that results in one pie and a bunch of jam. I do believe that huckleberry jam is my very favorite.

Homemade jam also makes good Christmas gifts, and we are happy to share with friends. But we do hint that we’d like to get the jars back if convenient. Those are the expensive parts of the endeavor, and, believe it or not, a lot of people just throw the empties away.

Just trying to keep up with it all – and manage to get my regular work done. And take a little trip or two. And entertain guests. And go to the lake. It is summer, after all.

But the produce just keeps coming, and it’s hard to keep up. I’m not complaining, really. How fortunate we are to have and to be able to both share and receive. It would be nice if the delights from the garden managed to spread themselves out throughout the year, however, and not clump up all together in the lovely playing-outdoors season. But it just doesn’t work that way.

I am currently looking at the tomato plant in the big pot out on our deck. We’ve eaten two tomatoes already, and I see a bunch of them – and I do mean a whole bunch of them – starting to color-up, all at once.


Voices correspondent Stefanie Pettit can be reached by email at