Sunday, January 27, 2013

Two of My Favorite Things - Zucchini Fritters & Veggie Spaghetti Sauce

I've developed quite a friendship via Twitter with a seemingly random group. We are pediatricians, SAHMs, librarians, writers, and, I believe, a lawyer. One thing we all have in common, the ties that bind, are that we all have children of all age ranges, and we all love food - cultural, natural, tricking-the-kids-into-eating-veggies, cleaning-out-the-pantry food.

Smiles may be one universal language, but so is food, and my tweeps make me smile as well as indulge my love of food.

That being said, and in efforts to utilize more veggies in life, I promised them I'd share two recipes I have that I thought would be too difficult to type out in 140 characters, especially once I got all the twitter handles into the message.

The first I promised is for Zucchini Fritters. These lovelies are truly divine when they're fresh. I thought they got a little soggy after chilling, but I would recommend trying to reheat them in the oven to crisp them up again, if you have leftovers. The recipe is courtesy of a parenting magazine.

Prep Time: 15 minutes plus 2+ hours draining and chilling time
Cook Time: 20 minutes

2 lbs zucchini, cleaned & grated
2 tsp sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
2 large eggs, beaten
3 Tbs freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or other hard Italian cheese
1 Tbs flour
1 Tbs fine breadcrumbs
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Olive Oil for frying

1. Put shredded zucchini in a colander and sprinkle with sea salt. Then, place a plate and weight on top of the zucchini to press out excess water for 2+ hours (put colander in the sink)
2. Transfer zucchini to a clean kitchen towel and squeeze to remove any remaining moisture. In medium bowl, mix the zucchini w/ the beaten eggs, cheese, flour, breadcrumbs, and pepper. (For gluten-intolerance, the flour and breadcrumbs can be substituted). Chill for 1 hour. (Mixture should be soft but not watery.)
3. Fill a deep skillet w/ 1 1/2 inches of oil and heat over medium-high heat until it sizzles. Add rounded spoonfuls of zucchini mixture, taking care not to crowd the pan (remember, adding the mixture cools the oil, so add slowly and carefully). Fry until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes, turning once halfway through. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fritters to paper towels to drain. Sprinkle while hot with sea salt. Repeat with the remaining zucchini mixture. Serve immediately.

SO YUMMY! I could easily have eaten the entire batch. I ate them plain, though I could easily see this  being dipped into a tzatziki or some other tangy dip.

The other recipe, a fantastic Veggie Spaghetti Sauce, I posted in May of 2011. The only notes I would like to add to this are that it definitely is too watery as it stands. I would recommend either reducing or eliminating the extra 2 cups of water at the end. It requires watching so it doesn't burn as it cooks down, but I think that would make a huge difference in the viscosity. My goals now are to try this w/ spaghetti squash and see how the boys like it. I did begin adding frozen spinach, and that added some interesting issues to the immersion blender - the fibers in the frozen were rather stringy and clogged the blade. I would like to keep the spinach, but I need to determine how to keep the fibers out - perhaps fresh spinach would be better. I also reduced the red pepper and celery and increased the leek, but the beauty of recipes is that they are meant to be tweaked to your own tastes. 

I hope this is helpful to anyone who stumbles upon this page. Happy cooking, all, and Hail to Veggies!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Bittersweet Weekend

 This weekend was long and bittersweet, for several reasons.

The Sweet:

We finally got a decent snow. My school system is desperate to get a minimum of 10 inclement weather days this year, or we are required by the state to start after Labor Day next year. Now, anyone who is familiar with the Murphy's Law knows that if we start after Labor Day next year, we will lose all our teacher work days and carry school into July because that is when we'll get our 10+ days. 
We were closed with Hurricane Sandy. And now with the remnants of Storm Iago. Apparently, this is a year for the 'named' weather.
That being said, the snow was welcome for 3 reasons: 
  1. Simply put, it offered us a day at home.
  2. It is much better timing than hitting this upcoming week (our first round of SoLs is the 30th). 
  3. We're closed Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Thus, we have a 4-day weekend.

 Syd snoozes. He sure knows how to sleep hard! I only included this because, well, it's cute.
 We got out of school early on Thursday. I had just enough time to get to the grocery store and get home before the sleet started. By 3pm, it was snowing. Here, Syd and Daddy play in the snow after dinner. It is an excellent way to use of the last vestiges of energy! It also offered excellent Daddy-son time, as Steve had to go out of town the next day for the entire extended weekend for business.

What isn't shown above is that this was a beautiful, wet snow. This took me back to my days in Wisconsin when our lake-effect snow would come. It was perfect and wet and heavy and made the best snowmen. Knowing the area in which I live, I knew the packing ability would diminish by dawn, so in the half-light after dinner, we made Sydney's first snowman. The next morning, Syd and I went back to take pictures before the sun did its damage.
 Not bad! Mommy did most of the work on the base of the body, but Syd and Daddy helped with the middle ball and the head. Syd placed every piece of accessory himself.

The Bitter:

Unfortunately, while we were gearing up for the weekend and Daddy's business trip, I was awaiting news from my sister about Pop pop. He passed away Thursday. 
Yours was a beautiful life, Pop pop. You are loved, and you are missed. I only wish I could be there in person to give Grandma a huge hug and say goodbye to you.
In addition to all that was going on this weekend, Skye had been quite ill. 
Kitty Skye died on Saturday. 
This was difficult to handle solo because Syd was witness to everything that occurred with her.
Skye, you were a wonderful kitty. I still wait to hear your soft padding coming down the stairs and your squeak hello. I love you.

The Lesson:

Life, and all it entails - it's joys and sorrows, ebbs and flows. It brings to mind the song by The Byrds:

To everything - turn, turn, turn
There is a season - turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

To everything - turn, turn, turn
There is a season - turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones
A time to gather stones together

To everything - turn, turn, turn
There is a season - turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

A time of war, a time of peace
A time of love, a time of hate
A time you may embrace
A time to refrain from embracing

To everything - turn, turn, turn
There is a season - turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time to love, a time to hate
A time of peace, I swear it's not too late!

Monday, January 14, 2013

It's Testing Season, Again

The Reading SoL is in less than 3 weeks. It isn't even mid-January yet.

The test is harder.
It is harder to pass.
We've only just begun to discover what the new test questions are like.
It's earlier in the year.

I'm a little frazzled. A bit concerned. A skoch worried. 

I, and my 11th grade cohorts, have restructured our entire curriculum this year in order to attempt to prepare our students. There is nothing more we can teach; now, we wait and see what sank in.

Forgive me my brevity. I've had a lot on my plate.

But the effulgent lining?

After January 30th, after the scores come back and students know whether they've passed or failed, after the weight is lifted...

...I have no idea what to do or how to do it because I've never had this much time to actually ENJOY teaching without the threat of stormy SoLs hanging over my head. I look forward to navigating these new waters and discovering hidden gems to which I've long since said 'adieu,' since they weren't aligned with the State of Virginia's Standards of Learning. This shall be fun.

Oh, and Mother Nature may then storm all she wants and I won't stress. At least, not over my juniors... My seniors still need to prepare for their AP Exam in May. But one worry at a time... :-)