We love potlucks in this house.
There’s something humble and lovely about a potluck. Sure, dinner parties are great: the day of prepping and anticipation, the smells coming from the kitchen, the moment of lowering the main course onto the table and listening to everyone’s happy sighs. But the only problem with dinner parties? You only eat your own food.
We’re lucky to have friends who are good cooks and food lovers. They’re not all chefs or food writers, thank goodness. (It’s good to have some variety in our lives, after all.) They’re people who love to laugh, sit around on the deck and talk about the lack of sleep we’re all getting with toddlers, have strong opinions and gentle hearts, and don’t mind a slightly messy house. Nobody worries about what to bring to the potluck. They all love food.
We love our friends. We never get to see them enough.
So, just a few weeks ago, we started a new tradition at our house: open Sunday potlucks.
Every Sunday, from 9:30 to 12:30, our house is open. Whoever can make it that week with a dish of delicious gluten-free food is welcome. This means that every Sunday, we have a different group of friends, a table laden with food, and small children running around the yard giggling.
Plus, to be honest, it forces us to spend a couple of hours every Sunday morning cleaning the house. If you want a clean house, throw a party. This place is actually starting to look pretty good!
Last week, we went to the thrift store on the island and bought a big stack of plates and a box full of coffee cups (wow, there are a lot with kittens on them), each for 50 cents. We keep them in the laundry room, after we have washed them, and bring them out for the next potluck. No more paper plates to throw away. Plus, the person who receives the Golf Maniac coffee cup always laughs.
Each week I have been trying out new baked goods on the crowd. A couple of weeks ago I made what I thought was the first attempt at a zucchini bread, with dried cherries and sunflower seeds. Every one of the people there — none of them on a gluten-free diet — told me, “You’re done. This is amazing.” None of them missed the gluten at all.
We know that soon the weather will turn chilly. (It started to feel like fall this week, that certain slant of light, as Emily Dickinson called it.) We’ll have to move all the food, the children, and the cups into the house. We can’t wait. The laughter will be bouncing off the walls.
Gluten-Free Zucchini Bread with Dried Cherries and Sunflower Seeds, adapted from Simply Recipes
The deer ate our zucchini this year. They pretty much ate everything in the garden. So of course, the summer I am bereft of zucchini is the summer I just HAVE to make gluten-free zucchini bread for the first time.
This zucchini bread recipe is adapted from the lovely Elise Bauer at Simply Recipes. You know about Elise, right? She is humble and smart and incredibly generous. More pertinent here, her recipes always work. If I ever want to make something for the first time, I check out what Elise has done first.
This recipe makes two small loaves of zucchini bread, if you have 5 x 9 pans. Baking this zucchini bread is what made me realize we have gargantuan loaf pans, much bigger than 5 x 9. If that’s your story too, then you can make one big loaf, as we did. (The baking time will be longer.)
Buying zucchini is worth it for this bread.
Reminder: I give you the flours in weight because that is the only way to ensure the recipe works for you. If you still haven’t bought a kitchen scale, please do! In the meantime, try this conversation chart if you insist on measuring in cups.
60 grams teff flour
60 grams oat flour (make sure it’s certified gf)
60 grams superfine brown rice flour
240 grams sweet rice flour
1 teaspoon guar gum
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 eggs, at room temperature, beaten
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups fresh-grated zucchini
2/3 cup (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
Preparing to bake. Preheat the oven t0 350°. Grease 2 5 by 9 loaf pans.
Mixing the dry ingredients. Sift the teff flour, oat flour, superfine brown rice flour, and sweet rice flour into a large bowl. Mix in the guar gum, xanthan gum, the cinnamon, and the nutmeg. Set aside.
Making the batter. Combine the eggs, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. Add the grated zucchini and melted butter. Stir, gently. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the top of the mixture, then gently stir them in. Add the flour combination to the mix, 1/3 at a time, stirring after each addition. Add the dried cherries and sunflower seeds and stir until they are combined.
Baking the bread. Slide the loaf pans into the oven. Bake the zucchini bread until the tops are browned and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, about 50 to 60 minutes, depending on your oven. Allow the bread to cool for 20 minutes, then turn the pans over and gently release the breads onto a waiting cooling rack.
Makes 2 loaves of zucchini bread.