Retirement: Pleasant People and Problems solved

I was out shopping today – in the middle of the day – and everyone was so pleasant. People were exchanging niceties; wishing each other good days. It was beautiful. From whence did this beauty sprout and bloom?: Retirement! Yes, these were the happily retired, sharing their good fortune and good will. I remember stopping to get some shopping in on my way home from work. Talk about climate change. People were hot under the collar (as well as every other point where work clothing ignited their collective mood). With the exception of the curmudgeon who answers the “How are you today?” question with, “I’m retired; everyday is the same to me,” the retired are a happy lot. I hope that the occasional curmudgeon means that every day is AMAZING, but I don’t get that impression. It’s all I can do to keep from piping in with “Hey buddy, buck up. There are working people out there who wish they were here shopping at this time of day.” I would love to be the Pied Piper of Retirement Joy.

To that end, I must apologize for bemoaning my good fortune at being the recipient of bushels of zucchini, pears, plums and apricots. While working, one of my bosses (there were many layers of bosses – a veritable Princess and the Pea eider-down mattress stack of bosses – it could get oppressive as I was the virtual pea-on), had a rule that you could not present him with a problem, without also presenting a possible solution. I have complained about my abundance of fruits and vegetables, without sharing possible solutions. The zucchini supply has led to many zucchini based recipes: zucchini bread, zucchini muffins, fried zucchini, grilled zucchini, zucchini pizza, zucchini lasagna, etc. There’s also been a lot of zucchini-based provender sharing. The vote is in and the favorite is Zucchini Apple Muffins. I will share that problem-solving recipe here:

ZUCCHINI APPLE MUFFINS

  • 2 & 1/2 cups shredded zucchini (squeeze out excess moisture – I freeze the shredded zucchini, and when I thaw it the excess moisture pours right off)
  • 1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs – beaten
  • 1 & 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons low fat Greek yogurt (I add a couple of tablespoons of Greek yogurt to all of my baking, because I like it)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 2 & 3/4 cups self rising flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Combine all ingredients, scraping side of bowl until well blended. Transfer to muffin pans sprayed with cooking spray with flour. Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 30 minutes (until top of muffins spring back when touched).

As for pears, Orange Ginger Pear Chutney, is a close second (but much more work) to Pear Orange Cranberry Bread. I’m sharing that recipe, too:

PEAR ORANGE CRANBERRY BREAD

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons low fat Greek Yogurt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup peeled and chopped pear
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons raw sugar

Combine first six ingredients in medium-size bowl. Whisk together egg, yogurt, buttermilk, butter and vanilla and add to dry ingredients. Gently stir in pears, cranberries and orange zest. Transfer to loaf pans sprayed with cooking spray with flour. Sprinkle tops of loaves with raw sugar (you can substitute 1 tablespoon white granulated sugar mixed with 1 tablespoon brown sugar for raw sugar). Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 30 minutes (until top of loaf springs back when touched).

The squash pictured here has not previously appeared in this blog.

Pleasant people, between the hours of nine and five, are as abundant and easy to find as zucchini in my backyard. Life in retirement is good!

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