Friday, August 26, 2011

Shreds of Summer: Korean Zucchini Pancakes

I'm not sure what it is lately, but I've been a pretty negligent blogger.  Part of it is the CSA.  Apparently, the universe is having the last laugh after all of my complaining about chard last summer: we have had eight (8) weeks straight of mostly zucchini/summer squash (which might as well be the same thing, in my book) and cucumber this year.  I've eaten about as many cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches as I can stand.  I've also just about exhausted the variations on squash-for-dinner, and I hate to subject you, my dear readers, to yet another one.  (I will anyway, but that's besides the point.)

But the other part of it is that life has sort of gotten away from me this summer.  Here's a quick update, in shreds, like the zucchini waiting to be added to the next round of dinner.

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I always get an itch to chop off my hair at this time of year.  It must be something about the beginning of the academic year; working in academe for 12 years has irrevocably tied my biorhythms to the academic calendar.  I got a sort-of job offer about four weeks ago now, back at the same university I'd left, working for a very different group of people, doing something that's quite a bit different.  Down side: huge salary cut, too much to justify day care for two plus the commute.  Up side: they're trying to work something out.  Down side: I'm in employment limbo.  I guess I'm preparing myself for the first day of school, just in case.

*          *          *

My son I. will turn five this year, and he's decided that he wants a friend-party this time, all about space.  We're doing a party at home, and I have been scouring the internets for party activity ideas.  So yes, among other things, I'm making cereal-box jet packs (complete with NASA stickers; now THAT was a find) and molding baking soda paste around small astronaut figures, which I am baking into "moon rocks," to be hunted for in a kiddie pool full of balloons.  Partygoers will drop said "moon rocks" into vinegar, oooh and aaaah at the fizzy effect, and retrieve astronaut for a souvenir.  I have tried this once so far and it worked, impressing I., so I'm hoping it wasn't a fluke.  I wondered briefly if it was sacrilegious or something to be baking an astronaut, and then decided it was OK.

*          *          * 

I got a speeding ticket recently for which I had to appear in court.  Mind you, I am generally not an unsafe driver; it was a particularly bad day, and I was paying no attention to how fast I was going, my mind in Philly with my heart-transplant friend, on being unemployed and not on unemployment, and on my destination (knowing that I was going to have a screaming child in my back seat at any minute, since N just LOVES her car seat ... not).  Of course, I had to take N to court with me.  Of course, she was due to be hungry just as court was to begin.  Of course, I tried to nurse her in the back row of the courtroom, and she proceeded to squirm and scream.  At the front of the courtroom, someone said "lady with the baby, please come forward."  I was so flustered by the whole experience that I didn't rebutton my shirt or tuck my boob back into my bra.  No, friends: I walked right down that aisle, exposed lactating boob covered only in my Moby, and that not even very well.  They reduced the penalty so that I would plead guilty and get the heck out of court.  I quickly agreed to this arrangement, and returned to the courtroom, where N proceeded to squawk like a parrot, and I was asked to leave until fetched by an officer to record my plea.  I'm not sure if she's going to be a lawyer or someone who practices civil disobedience.

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My friend who had the heart transplant is still in ICU, after yet another surgery to close a "flap" and remove an infection that had spread the length of his torso.  I can't even begin to imagine what this has been like for him and his family.  His boys have been coming here for playdates once in a while, but I feel incredibly powerless to help, short of meal delivery, which I've been coordinating.

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And my mother also managed to get herself stuck in the hospital with a kidney infection.  She insists that she is fine and doesn't need me to visit, but I am, of course, concerned; even if our relationship is imperfect, she is still my mother.  And while it may not be very serious, it would be nice to know that she's getting out soon.

*          *          * 

A hurricane is apparently coming, and I have a freezer chock full of breastmilk.  Anyone want to lend me a generator?

How about you?  Are you preparing for a hurricane?  Drowning in squash?  Baking spacemen?  Pull up a chair, stay and chat, and have a zucchini pancake.  Take my zucchini, please!

Zucchini Pancakes

600g – 700g zucchini or summer squash
2 t. salt
2 carrots, grated
1 large onion
2 c. flour
2 large eggs
2 cups water
Salt and pepper, to taste

Dipping sauce ingredients
4 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
** Optional: 1 tsp gochugaru (Korean chilli flakes)

Top and tail your zucchini, then slice it into matchsticks.

Toss the zucchini with the 2 teaspoons of salt, then set over a colander for 30 minutes to allow the zucchini to soften and the liquid to drain out.

While the zucchini is softening, lightly beat the eggs together till combined.

Add the flour and whisk in till thoroughly incorporated, then add the water gradually, ensuring that you whisk well after each cup addition. Once the batter reaches the consistency of thin pancake batter (thin but not watery), add the strained zucchini and mix in.

Grate in the onion for a little sweetness, then add the grated carrot and stir in till everything is well combined.

Heat a non-stick frying pan (preferably cast iron for the even heat distribution and retention) with a little oil over low heat, then add about 1/2 to 1 cup batter to the frying pan.

When you pour in the batter, it should be no more than about 3-4mm thick at most in the pan. Feel free to spread the vegetables out into an even layer with a spoon to ensure even thickness and cooking.

Once the bottom of the pancake is browned and the top is dry and set, carefully flip it over and cook till the top layer is also browned, then set aside on a paper towel to drain. Serve warm.
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  1. My mother makes a similar zucchini pancake and they are delicious with a sprinkle of olive oil on top and extra salt. Sorry to read that you were in court, but I had to laugh after I pictured your boob exposed in a court room. Hope your friend and mum recover well. xox

  2. I had a surprised laugh with your "freezer full of breastmilk". Hmmm...I suppose if all else fails, you could set up a lemonade-stand-style sales booth. I hope that the hurricane doesn't hit you too hard and that your power doesn't go out!

  3. Oh I'm so out of touch with everyone's blogs! I make pancakes similar to this - I put in whatever veggies are appropriate and I have a lot of. An easy way to get veggies into the husband. And I walked out to the footpath yesterday morning with a boob out - not as many people as a courtroom, but I'm sure I'll do it again. :-/

  4. I so wish I could take some of your zucchini, those fritters look great. And LOL at both the baking astronauts and lactating boob defense!

    I hope the storm doesn't hit you too hard, and the breast milk stays frozen.

  5. All of the zucchini/squash recipes you have posted lately have left me craving fact..I bought a TON of zucchini with the intention of making zucchini bread (which I love but have never made...suggested recipes?). So much to respond to: I'm sure you've checked out Etsy for cool bday stuff. Could you do a pinata in the shape of a space ship or maybe get one of those model rockets that take off (um, maybe liability issues...never mind...but small kids LOVE that stuff). As for the job, I hope something works out. As for your friend, just CARING, bringing food, etc. means SO much!!!

    (Runningmama from More Room in My Heart) Blogger, I hate you!

  6. our zucchini bombed this year, for the first time ever, & honestly i'm a little lost without having pounds of zucchini to figure out every other day.
    love the astronaut idea! i hope the breastmilk stays frozen & you avoid the hurricane (or it avoids you), & that N grows up to be a civilly disobedient lawyer! :)

  7. Oh my goodness. I am picturing you trotting down the aisle with your boob hanging out. Dying! I recently had to go to court for talking on my cell phone (they don't mess around in NY). I was so nervous you'd have thought they were going to haul me away in cuffs. Happy to report they reduced mine too (I didn't even have to pull my boob out). :)

    Still thinking of your fiend and wishing him well.

  8. I would take some Zucchini for you, but that would be a bit in shipping charges. You've had quite an eventful summer, and I wish you and yours the best of health and well being.
    Over here, my father-in-law is doing much better and is pretty much back to perfect health with the addition if cholesterol medicine. My newest thing is taking care of my friend with her jaw surgery, and her recovery is longer than the heart surgery, go figure.
    Court is never a fun place to be, and I'm sure you were a site to behold. I'm glad it was reduced though.

  9. Let me just tell you that your courtroom drama gave me the best laugh out loud I'm sorry you had to endure that but thank you for sharing the humor of the situation with us all:) So sorry to hear of your friend, sending prayers and thoughts for him as well as your mother. Hoping the path of the hurricane doesn't cause damage in your area and that wonderful breast milk stays nice & frozen

  10. Sorry, but I had lol about your court appearance. Gave me a big smile wt 2am while pumping! Lil tip from a Korean who has been neglectful in th cooking dept of late. A splash of beer to your batter will make the pancakes extra crisp. If you prefer them that way, that is.

  11. Oh, Justine, the boob. In court. Before the judge. Sweet jaysus, that cracked me up. :)

    These pancakes will be a perfect addition to my meal plan this week. My trip to the farmers market this morning was crazy--only half the vendors were there, so only half the selection of veggies/fruits (bc of the hurricane); and everyone was so frantic about the hurricane biz that people were elbowing and in a hurry. I just nabbed some stuff quickly hoping I'd figure out something to do with it--and I came home with bunch of zukes and yellow squash.

    Sending healing, hopeful thoughts to your friend... And I hope you get a good word on the new job opportunity!

  12. Whew! Don't forget to breathe lovely lady!! I think we're going to be drowning in green beans soon, I can't cut my hair till Boyfriend does (, interstellar space as explained by Stephen Hawking still confuses me, I've never been pulled over, and I hope everyone feels better!!!

  13. Is it bad that I giggled over your courtroom experience? Well, anyway, it seems to have done the trick:)

    But I'm so sorry to hear about your friend, and your mom. I will send my good thoughts to both of them.


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