Want to do something new and interesting with all that zucchini growing out in the garden?
Ever considered putting it in a cake?
Crazy, you say? Not in Carmela Smith's capable hands.
Mrs. Smith was the winner of this week's Local Flavor: Recipes We Love contest because of her Zucchini Chocolate Cake recipe. The Roaring Brook Twp. resident received a $75 gift certificate from Rossi's ShurSave Market in Old Forge.
Mary Ann Gordon of Moosic was awarded the $25 runner-up prize for her Bacon Bits Meatballs recipe, which can be found online at www.thetimes-tribune.com/localflavor.
Mrs. Smith has been making Zucchini Chocolate Cake ever since a co-worker gave her the recipe about 17 years ago.
Today, the cake is a family staple, especially during this time of year, when zucchini is fresh and abundant. Her husband, Tom, loves it, as do her three sons, A.J., 6, and twins Eric and Brian, 4.
The zucchini is shredded, and, after it's mixed with the other ingredients, it's practically imperceptible to the naked eye.
"I don't even tell the kids that it's in there," Mrs. Smith said.
You can't really taste it in there, either. It's just a really good, really moist chocolate cake with the added bonus of chocolate chips on top.
The moistness, Mrs. Smith said, comes from another somewhat nontraditional baking ingredient - sour cream. Originally, the recipe called for sour milk, but, Mrs. Smith joked, "I don't know how to make sour milk."
"I never keep a recipe the same way," she said. "I make it my own."
Oddly enough, Mrs. Smith is no big fan of the cake, or really any cake in general.
However, she is an avid baker, one who has tried just about everything over the years, from cookies, cupcakes and brownies to soft pretzels, bagels and popcorn balls.
"I've made funnel cakes - whatever you can do to entertain the kids," said Mrs. Smith, mentioning the Thanksgiving when she had to pass out ground cloves to all her neighbors for their pumpkin pies.
"I bake a lot."
So much so that her sister-in-law calls her Olivia Walton, a reference to the matriarch on the old TV show "The Waltons," who was known for her baked goods.
Necessity vs. fun
But, for how much Mrs. Smith likes baking, she can't say the same for cooking.
"I like to bake; I don't like to cook," she said. "For me, cooking is a necessary evil. I can't be creative with a chicken."
Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org/4 cup margarine
1/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream
2-1/2 cups flour
4 tablespoons cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups shredded zucchini
12 ounces chocolate chips
Cream margarine, shortening, vegetable oil and sugar together in mixer. Add egg, vanilla and sour cream, mixing until well blended. Mix in flour, cocoa and baking soda. Mix in zucchini last. Spoon into greased and floured 9-by-13-inch baking pan and sprinkle top of cake with chocolate chips. Bake at 325 degrees F for 45 to 50 minutes. Winestein says