|My dad pretending one of his non "football" zucchinis is a cigar|
I’m grateful to my grandfather since my love for vegetable gardens and a great deal of what I know about gardening, I gleaned from our summers together. However, Alice’s absolute delight at what she could reap—even if not of prime culinary quality—from a few small seeds planted in a patch of destitute earth has inspired me over the years. To her that massive and overripe, seed-filled zucchini was the ultimate reward for the hard work and love she put into the earth, and it didn’t matter to her that it wasn’t the best tasting zucchini.
Often the effort we put into something has a direct correlation with our satisfaction. If you are a picky eater or if you have children who won’t touch a vegetable with a ten-foot pole, grow a vegetable garden. It sounds like a crazy idea, but you may discover a latent penchant for kale, tomatoes, or zucchini as a result of the love and time that you put into your little patch of earth. Regardless of whether you grow tender young zucchini or leave them on the vine until they’re large and full of seeds, there is power in growing your own food, be it a small pot of mint on your kitchen counter or an acre of vegetables. I’m constantly in awe of nature’s majesty when I see what one tiny seed can become.
What other things in your life might you perceive differently if you spent time tending to them and nurturing them?
Asian Zucchini PancakesAnyone who has ever had a vegetable garden knows how zucchini and other summer squash can pretty much take over your life during the later summer months. Luckily, there are so many delicious ways to eat zucchini and enjoy its bounty. This is one of my very favorite recipes for zucchini. It’s so good that you might even wish you had more zucchini!
makes 1 cup
3 tbs. sugar
1/3 cup tamari
¼ cup seasoned rice vinegar
1 tbs. mirin
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
¼ cup water
2 - 3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbs. black sesame seeds
1 bunch of scallions, thinly sliced (use only the white part)
1 tsp. red chili flakes (optional)
makes 10 pancakes
6 cups grated zucchini (from 3 to 4 large zucchini)
3/4 cup grated sweet yellow onion (from 1 small onion)
2 inch piece of ginger, peeled
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup sweet rice flour*
vegetable oil for cooking the pancakes
*Sweet rice flour is made from glutinous (sticky) rice, but it isn’t sweet and doesn’t contain gluten. It has a fine texture and is often used as a thickener. It can be purchased in Asian grocery stores, natural food stores, or online.
In a small bowl combine the sugar, tamari, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and water. Mix in the garlic, sesame seeds, sliced scallions, and chili flakes. Set aside.
Using a food processor fitted with a shredding disc, grate the zucchini. To remove the excess liquid from the zucchini, bundle it in a clean dishtowel and squeeze. This is best done in multiple batches. Since this can be messy, do it over the sink. Put the dry zucchini in a large bowl. Grate the onion and ginger in the food processor and toss with the zucchini. Mix the zucchini and onion with the egg and sweet rice flour until fully combined. Heat a generous splash of vegetable oil on medium high on a griddle (about 400˚F on an electric griddle). With a large spoon, scoop about ½ cup of batter and flatten into a pancake on the hot griddle. Cook each side until golden brown and crispy (2-3 minutes per side). Add more oil and repeat.