Missing in Action: Something’s Gotta Give

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I’ve fallen into one of the perils of writing a blog: not having anything to say. This is a heavy weight. As explanation and apology, I refer back to an earlier entry where I mentioned that sometimes, in order to accomplish a special task, something else has to give. For the past few weeks that something has been not working in my studio—from which Violet Rose spouts forth. The garden harvest has been upon me with a bountiful supply of zucchini, cucumber, and tomato. Something’s gotta give….

I want to give you a zucchini bread recipe. (I know, I know, it’s not a weaving recipe, but I think the source—Paula Simmons—legitimizes this recipe’s sharing.)zucchini cookbook

It seems we have more to thank Paula Simmons for than her significant contribution, Spinning and Weaving with Wool (among other writings). Her The Zucchini Cookbook with its hilarious introductory essay by Louis R. Guzzo (former executive editor of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer) is a godsend for any gardener in late summer with a plethora of zucs. (Just how creative can you be, and just how many friends do you have?) Written in 1974, this slim volume includes no-nonsense recipes for breads, soups, salads, cakes, cookies, and more. I ran across my copy several years ago when I was cleaning out my mother’s kitchen cupboards—most likely a lighthearted gift (and hint?) from a friend around this time of year.

Curious (and to ask permission to post her recipe) about how it all started, I gave Paula a call today at her home in Chilliwack, British Columbia. Married for twenty years to Patrick Green of Patrick Green Carders, Paula is a delight to talk to, and she can tell you enthusiastically that even at her age “there’s not enough time to do what you have to do or want to do.” Content to be home with Patrick she has no desire to go anywhere. “We’re happy, healthy, and in love. Who could ask for more?” This doesn’t mean that they’re sitting around in their barcaloungers… Patrick is busy every day making carders; summers find Paula in the garden.

Paula Simmons is an accomplished spinner and writer. She is also an avid gardener and food preserver. All day every day during the growing season she’s in her garden of 48 raised beds (no kidding—she’s got 12 freezers and 5 cold rooms to store it all in!) or in the kitchen, freezing, canning, and storing her garden’s bounty.

Originally from Seattle, Paula studied opera in Chicago and was a photographic model in her 20s. Tired of modeling and fast-paced life (this was the ‘60s—the back-to-earth movement) she moved to the country outside of Seattle. She thought she’d like some black goats because a friend had some, but she could only get brown ones that didn’t like grass. Sheep would be better, she decided. And if sheep, they had to be out of the ordinary. She wanted black sheep, but either they didn’t exist or no one wanted to sell her any. She finally found a farmer in Wenatchee, Washington, who said he’d sell her a couple of black sheep. But by the time she got there to pick them up, they had died of accidental poisoning. He offered her two “really old ewes”, a brown one and a gray one, that he didn’t guarantee would bring black lambs. The price was right, they were old after all, and with these she started her colored flock of sheep. Next spring she had her black lambs.

Spinning came shortly afterwards, and she sold the yarn and did some weaving, becoming virtually self sufficient. She also wrote books and articles for Handweaver and Craftsman on the side. Always generous with her time and information, Paula’s books are written in a straightforward and helpful manner. Recently, when she learned that her out-of-print Spinning for Softness and Speed was selling on the internet for over $100.00, she self-published it. You can order it directly from Paula for $20, including postage (see below for address).

Today’s spinners and weavers can thank Paula Simmons for writing her important books at a time when people were just beginning to think about spinning and weaving in earnest. Because there was very little information available at that time, Paula’s sharing of her knowledge through her writing helped scores of spinners, weavers, and wool growers learn and love the crafts she wrote about.

Here’s Paula’s recipe for:

Dark Zucchini Bread
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
2 cups brown sugar
3 tsp vanilla
3 cups grated zucchini
1 Tbs molasses
4 cups flour, unsifted
1 tsp salt
1 tsp soda
¼ tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (I substituted clove)
½ cup nuts (I used walnuts)

1. Beat eggs.
2. Add oil and brown sugar and beat well.
3. Add vanilla, grated zucchini, and molasses and beat.
4. Mix dry ingredients together, add nuts and beat well.
5. Bake in greased and floured small loaf pans or in 3 oiled (size #2 ½ cans).
6. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
7. Cool in cans until bread will remove easily, then cool on rack.

Note: This freezes well. To freeze in cans, cool bread completely, then return
it to can; top with double layer of foil tied securely over top of can.

Paula says her Chocolate Zucchini Cake in the same book (chop the zucchini, don’t grate it she says) is better than this bread recipe (it must be pretty darn good, cuz the bread is delicious).

An Amazon search not surprisingly turned up copies of The Zucchini Cookbook, as well as her The Green Tomato Cookbook and My Secret Cookbook: Shortcuts for Easy Homemade Cooking (which she says is her best) along with her seminal Spinning and Weaving with Wool, among others.

For more about Patrick Green Carders:
Web: http://www.patgreencarders.com/super.htm
Phone: 1-604-858-6020 9 am-noon; 2 pm -6 pm pacific time.
Write: 48793 Chilliwack Lake Road, Chilliwack, BC V4Z 1A6, Canada.

Coming Soon
Paula informed me that Spin-Off magazine recently interviewed her for an article in an upcoming issue. Watch for it. www.interweave.com

A recent posting on Sweetgeorgia about Patrick Green Carders:
http://www.sweetgeorgiayarns.com/2006/02/where-carders-come-from/

Books by Paula Simmons
The Zucchini Cookbook, 1974
The Green Tomato Cookbook, 1975
Raising Sheep the Modern Way, 1976
Spinning and Weaving with Wool, 1977
The Handspinner’s Guide to Selling, 1979
My Secret Cookbook: Shortcuts for Easy Homemade Cooking, 1979
Spinning for Softness and Speed, 1982
Turning Wool into a Cottage Industry, 1985
Storey’s Guide to Raising Sheep (with Carol Ekarius), 2000

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Schacht Spindle

Schacht Spindle Company, Inc. was founded during the back-to-earth movement of the late 1960's and its accompanying craft resurgence. Their first loom was a simple tapestry loom, a version which they still make today. Over nearly 50 years, Schacht has developed a broad range of high quality hand weaving and hand spinning tools, including their popular Cricket Loom and Ladybug Spinning wheel. Schacht’s mission is to create beautiful and well-designed products that enhance customers’ weaving and spinning experience through innovative problem solving, creative ideas, skilled woodworking and craftsmanship, and friendly, knowledgeable customer service. Schacht’s family owned business is located in Boulder, Colorado.