About the Author

Jill Maisch - as a writer, speaker, missionary, and educator - has a tendency to wander upstream... against the more comfortable current of social and spiritual complacency.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Zucchini Bread Recipe

I guess now we're all hungry for zucchini bread!  By popular demand, here's the simple recipe I followed this afternoon along with some friends' suggestions.  (The picture is of the four loaves cooling on my stove right now... yum!) 

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 eggs

 Grease and flour two 8 x 4 inch pans - plain old loaf pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl.
Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.
Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan, and completely cool.

1 cup vegetable oil
2 1/4 cups white sugar (Cheryl Minekime uses Splenda For Baking)
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 cup chocolate chips (Betty King's suggestion!)

Joy of Zucchini

Nate lives at Safehaven – a temporary housing unit in Westminster, Maryland.  This summer he has been taking care of the vegetable garden some volunteers from our church put in last spring.  I’m told that each morning he’s out there weeding, watering and checking on the veggies.  He was there this morning when a group of us went to weed and mulch the flower garden in front of Safehaven.  I asked Nate if he would show me the vegetable garden.  He proudly pointed out the squash, corn, strawberries, and various other plants that were all thriving… all except for the beans which looked pretty scraggly.  Not the least bit concerned, he explained that the ants were eating up the bean plants, but he said that’s OK – he thinks it keeps them from eating the other plants.  He was surprised that I was able to pick a couple handfuls of beans off the scrawny plants anyway.  Toward one end of the garden loomed the largest zucchini plant I had ever seen.  I noticed one huge zucchini along with many smaller ones that were not quite ready for harvesting.  I asked Nate what he was going to do with all the zucchini.  He didn’t know – he had never cooked up a zucchini before.  I shared with him our family’s summer favorite of stir-fried zucchini, yellow squash and onions.  He said he might try that.  I also asked if he liked zucchini bread.  He said he did, but didn’t know how to make it.  I offered to take the one zucchini home with me and return this evening with a couple loaves of fresh zucchini bread.  I ended up with so much grated zucchini that I was able to double the recipe.  Nate will definitely have enough zucchini bread to share with the other residents of Safehaven.  The four loaves of zucchini bread are in my oven right now and they smell amazing!  More amazing, though, is how a friendship can begin over a simple vegetable.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Flip Flops and Fellowship

My beautiful friend, Pam, decided to gather together a group of her friends for “Flip Flops and Fellowship” this summer.  At first I was concerned about the fact that I won’t – can’t – wear flip flops.  It’s the “toe wedgie” thing that I find extremely uncomfortable.  I’m more of a Berkies gal.  I was assured I would still be welcome sans the requisite footwear.  We meet weekly and pretend to read and discuss Riding the Dragon (Robert J. Wicks).  OK – that’s not fair.  We really ARE reading and discussing the book.  All the FFFers (as Pam calls us) are women who have lived (or are living) through challenging times and Riding the Dragon offers us an alternative to how we, in our society, typically deal with stress.  The book’s introduction reads, “…difficult times can offer graced moments in a more striking way than the good times can.  Through reflection, they can bring us back to the recognition that we can’t avoid all trauma or stress.  Moreover, we are called neither to win nor to abandon the fight to be a sensitive, joyful, compassionate person, but we are called to live fully.”  As we discuss key concepts in the book, our own stories – as well as our tears and laughter – flow.  We’re learning about and from each other.  We’re growing and journeying together.  In short, we’re building relationships – with or without the footwear.  Thanks, Pammie! 

Choosing the Upstream Journey

During one of my first mission trips to rural El Bijague, Nicaragua, I heard the following story. 

In a very poor farming village near a large stream there lived an old woman.  One night she awoke to the cry of a child which seemed to come from the direction of the stream.  She rushed out of her house to the water’s edge and saw a frightened little girl being carried downstream by the swift current.  She waded in and saved the little girl. 

The next night she heard the cries of two children who were being carried down the stream.  As she ran to save them, she called on her neighbor to help.  Together they were able to pull the children to safety. 

The following night the old woman heard the cries of a dozen children coming from the stream.  The whole village ran to save them from certain drowning. 

For the next month, the whole village worked together each night to save the children who were floating down stream. 

One day, the villagers paused as they watched the old woman – a pack of her few belongings on her back and a walking stick in hand – begin trudging along the path that headed upstream.  “Where are you going?” they asked.  “We need your help!”  The old woman turned to them, smiled, and said, ”You are all doing a fine job of rescuing the children.  You are doing good work.  My work is no longer here.  I need to journey upstream to find out why the children are falling into the water.”

I realized this was the story of me... the story of a woman who chooses to journey upstream.