Today my wonderfully helpful sister was weeding my jungle of a garden. She told me there were tons of tomatoes, especially cherry ones. Then she exclaimed that there were these really long cucumbers hanging off the back fence.
“Cucumbers?,” I thought. Didn’t all my cukes die during the heat wave a couple of weeks ago? And since when do cucumbers get “really long”? (Yes, I know about English cucumbers, but I wouldn’t consider them really long.) “Mmm, I’ll go take a look,” I told her.
Frankly, I have been avoiding my garden like the FREAKIN’ PLAGUE for the past two weeks since I was eaten ALIVE by freakin’ NJ mosquitos. (My swollen and itchy legs gave me a new appreciation for migrant farm workers who break their backs harvesting the food we find in the grocery store. I know the work is oppressive, but add mosquito bites and images of torture conjure in my mind.) Thus, why the garden is overgrown with weeds and the vegetables are overripe and nibbled upon by voracious bunnies.
But… you are never going to believe what I found!!!
Beautiful red, ripened tomatoes of all shapes and sizes.
Japanese eggplant, when baked in olive oil and tossed with salt and fresh garden parsley, tastes like candy. The one Italian eggplant that had grown to the proper size had a massive bunny bite. Damn you Peter Rabbit!
Two cucumbers that survived the heat wave.
Tons of basil which made a lovely addition to the tomato and cucumber salad for dinner.
And… 40 inch long cucuzzas! Look at the size of it compared to a medium-sized tomato!
Now, I knew when I saw them, they were NOT cucumbers. I remembered I did plant some Italian squash or gourd, but could not recall the name of the vegetable/fruit. The garden store was sold out of zucchini seedlings, so I purchased “something” with an Italian name. However, I could not for the life of me, find that little-plastic-thingy with its description that my son methodically moved from the plant tray into the ground months ago in late spring. What the h*ll was this thing? So, I did what every 21st century homemaker does nowadays, I googled. Here’s what I typed:
“very long Italian squash”
Here’s what came up:
“Daddy’s mother used to make Goo-gootz,” my 80-year-old mom informed me. “Very tasty,” she explained, “baked with olive oil and salt.”
I did a little research and there are many fun recipes to make with cucuzza. It can be substituted for zucchini, like in zucchini bread. The cucuzza just needs to be peeled. (There’s also a fun song called, My Cucuzza, by Louis Prima.)
My kids loved walking around with this vegetable oddity, longer than they are tall. A weapon of mass destruction for my 3-year-old boy. A humorous “cucumber” for my eldest son. A counter-weight for my toddling toddler.
A pleasant surprise for this Jersey mom! What’s growing in your garden?
This is an original post for Jersey Moms Blog by Brenda Milouchev, a New Jersey mom. Although Brenda would have liked to reap zucchini more than cucuzza, she looks forward to the cooking adventure that lies ahead with her new-found Italian veggie.