Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Miracle of the Zucchini Bread

A miracle happened in my kitchen this week.

Let me introduce Lily, 15, and Autumn, 12.

Both girls are in the Young Women program at church. Both of them want to go to YW camp this summer. And both girls needed to earn the money to pay their camp fee ($115). Autumn had a vague plan to do some babysitting. Lily didn't have any plan at all.

Even though Lily is older, she is fairly new to the YW program. Her family became involved in church activity again a little over a year ago. Last summer she wasn't interested in going to YW camp because she didn't know the girls very well, but this year is different for her. She wants to go. So, after she brought a homemade loaf of zucchini bread to a YW activity several weeks ago--a loaf she made by herself--I suggested to her that she could make some zucchini bread and sell it to earn her camp money.

We put a plan in place. I helped her create some sign-up lists. The bishop approved the project for promotion within the ward. The sign-ups weren't going well at first--in fact, they weren't happening at all--because Lily missed a couple of Sundays. But then, when she came, it was perfect. Because she came on Fast Sunday, when the ward members were fasting, like we do every month, and so...when she passed the sign-up sheets around...their tummies were rumbling! The women in Relief Society ordered 20 loaves. The hungry men in Priesthood? They ordered 42 loaves of zucchini bread!

Whoa. Way too much bread for one girl to make. And way more money (at $5/loaf) than she was going to need to earn for camp.

Enter Autumn. When I asked the other young women if anyone would like to work with Lily on this project, Autumn's hand shot in the air. A team was born.

They met together for their first go at zucchini-bread-production a week ago, in Lily's family's kitchen. They got their skills down pat with some coaching from Lily's mom. But Lily's family lives in a cramped, busy apartment, and one day of zucchini-ness was enough for that family.

Enter Sister K, one of the YW Advisors. She recently quit her job, has a big kitchen, and was happy to host the girls for their baking. Scheduled for last Tuesday. And then...

Tuesday morning my phone rang. Autumn's voice had a kind of panicky edge. "Sister Haynie?" she said. "Ummm...Sister K is in labor today."

Oh, did I mention that Sister K was also very pregnant? Apparently, she had other things "in the oven" that day besides zucchini bread!

So, we spent two days with Lily and Autumn and 40+ loaves of zucchini bread in our kitchen. What a riot. The girls were great. I helped them occasionally--donated them a missing ingredient or two, taste-tested the loaves that didn't come out quite right, etc--but for the most part, they ran the show themselves. I didn't have any big plans for the kitchen on those days anyway, and it was incredibly rewarding to watch the girls work together on their project.

 Autumn measuring

 Lily mixing

 One more batch (behind them) out of the oven)

 My kitchen smelled so good all day!

22 loaves of zucchini bread in one day!!

I met with the girls on Thursday morning for the final accounting. Each of them had some of the money from making the deliveries. I had the checks, now cashed. We still needed to reimburse Lily's mom for some of the ingredients. 

All along, I had been making mental calculations--would they earn enough for camp? Some of the ingredients were kind of expensive. Zucchini is not exactly cheap at this time of year. I worried that the girls might be coming up short.

But it all worked out. There were tender mercies along the way. Sister C donated zucchini from her freezer and most of the eggs the girls needed. Sister T donated more zucchini. Sister A donated the last few eggs, a jug of oil, and some flour. Brother L donated cans of crushed pineapple.

More tender mercies. Two sisters paid above and beyond what they were supposed to for their loaves of bread.  

So, Thursday morning. Counting the $20s, the $10s, the $5s, the $1s into two even piles. Making it come out fair for both of the girls. Their eyes got bigger.

$128.50 each.
I think I knew what it meant before they did.

"How much for tithing?" I asked.
"$12.85," said one.
"Make it an even $13," said the other.

"Ok," I said, "so what's $128.50 minus $13?"
They did some mental calculations.

Even though I hadn't been able to keep track of how the money was going to come out, obviously Heavenly Father knew. Each girl got to keep 50¢ of play money after paying tithing and her YW Camp fee. With all the ingredients to buy, ingredients donated, money to collect, extra money donated, it came out perfectly. Exactly. 

And I don't even know how to calculate the self confidence and faith the girls gained from the project. That came out immeasurable. 

And that, my friends, is the miracle of the zucchini bread.

PS - Here's their recipe:

Lily’s Zucchini Bread

Separately mix wet and dry ingredients:

Wet ingredients – Mix well
6 eggs
4 cups sugar
2 cups canola oil
3 teaspoons vanilla extract

Then add:
1 can crushed pineapple, 20 oz, drained
4 cups grated zucchini

Dry ingredients – Mix well (separate from the wet ingredients)
6 cups flour
1 ½ teaspoons nutmeg
3 teaspoons cinnamon
4 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 ½ cups walnuts

Combine the two bowls of ingredients until just blended.
Scoop into 4 or 5 loaf pans.
Bake for 45 min – 1 hour at 350ยบ.


Dorothy said...

What a bright and happy looking kitchen they had to work in! After you told me this story last night, and now reading it again, I wonder if you have considered sharing it with the New Era or even the Ensign. These stories are the kind that help strengthen testimonies!

Lisa Lou said...

What a wonderful experience for those girls to look back on and see the hand of the Lord!

Anna said...

I really really liked this story. Also,it made me really hungry for zuchinni bread.

Polly @ Pieces by Polly said...

Wow! What a great experience for those girls. Reminds me of days around Easter making mega batches of rolls with Patti...although I don't think we ever had such a worthy goal as girls camp we were earning money for. How awesome that you had a big enough kitchen to help them out.

Unknown said...

Isn't it wonderful that the Lord lives us and knows us so well?

I agree you should submit the story to The New Era.

It is a wonderful example of how the Lord asks us to do everything we can, and then he will make up the difference. Truly the tender mercy of the Lord!

Patricia said...

Oh Kathy! I have tears in my eyes after reading this. I'm so amazed, although I shouldn't be, at the beautiful "tender mercies". What a wonderful ward full of great support for these beautiful young women. Thanks for sharing.

Hillary said...

This is so great. I think I'll share this with the young women in my ward. Such an awesome story!!! There are so many parts of the story that make it so cool. Friendship, service, earning money, determination, the value of work, the Lord's tender mercies, paying your tithing, good works, etc. So cool. Way to go girls!!

Teacher Heather said...

What a lovely parable of faith, diligence and the beauty of what can come from a fantastic YW leader who supports and loves her girls. I don't know who benefits more from this story, us as leaders or those girls! I am so grateful to you for your help on that day, even though it was just false labor. I had to chuckle in hindsight. When I was truly labor, that Tuesday experience seemed so silly. What a great talk this will make for the girls. Hopefully one of them will asked to speak in sacrament soon!