The covid pandemic hit, and we experienced the initial shock of having to shelter within our homes in order to hopefully, stay healthy. Living in that beginning time was like watching a tsunami make land in slow motion.
I, like many others, started to have all of my food delivered. One of my deliveries was a box of vegetables and other add-ons from a CSA. At the beginning I received way too many apples, because no other fruit seemed to be in season, or available. I received a few zucchinis in the box as well, week after week.
I had already made an amazing apple cake, even though I wound up forgetting to add in the eggs. I blame my baking mistake on multi-tasking, which never really works. While mixing the ingredients I was also watching opera streamed by the Metropolitan Opera. Watching opera nightly, while knowing nothing of that art but wanting to learn, was my way of coping with the NYC lock-down.
The apple cake was then followed by baking many loaves of banana bread with chocolate chips, of course. I used bananas in my larder which had turned brown, way too quickly. After all of that, I did not want to make zucchini bread with my weekly quota of zucchinis. I needed to make something healthier than all of those baked goods.
People who were self-distancing in earnest, coined this baking on steroids "stress baking." They joked about the covid 15 (a play on gaining the "freshman 15" the first semester of college). It was time for an end to my baking spree and the resultant extra pounds. After all, I couldn't call up my neighbor and offer to deliver some of my baked goods to their door. We were all self-distancing!
I would open the refrigerator door and look at the zucchini in the vegetable bin of my fridge. Indeed, those beauties were still there, waiting for me to figure out the best way to use them in a recipe.
I checked out my favorite cook books, food blogs on the web, and I googled "zucchini recipes" quite a bit. Finally, I settled upon this recipe for Zucchini Fritters. It looked easy, but tasty, which was just what I wanted. At the beginning of cooking all my meals at home, which continues to this day, Zucchini Fritters became my go to recipe of these pandemic days. Cooking up a batch of Zucchini Fritters became one of my happy places. Who could have predicted such a thing?
Let's face it, when I waited too long to cook something, Zucchini Fritters were the answer. When I just did not want to cook anymore, but needed to eat something, these Zucchini Fritters, again, were my answer.
Most often I made them for breakfast after my at home, morning yoga class. Live yoga is now taught on zoom, the new web site kid on the block. It is where prior human interactions now take place. And for all of us who made going to the gym on a regular basis part of their lifestyle, thank goodness for this AI replacement!
My online yoga class is taught by Elias, one of my former and favorite instructors at the Park Slope Armory Y. His classes are listed at Happy Warrior Yoga. If you like yoga, I recommend you sign up for one of his online class series. If you don't want to commit to a two week series, try one drop-in class. I hope that you will love his yoga class as much as I do.
Now that things in society are opening up a bit, you may shop for zucchini at your local grocery store in person, as long as you self-distance and wear a mask. These zucchini fritters remind me of potato pancakes, but are much healthier. Trust me, they are super delicious, and make for a fun, easy breakfast. I recommend adding some lemon zest into the fritter batter, as well as into the topping. And if you are looking for something sweet to round out and finish your meal of zucchini fritters, top it off with a summer peach.
Try this recipe, and enjoy!Jump to Recipe
This, that, and the other...
Thank you for meditating with me.
During the years I attended college The Beatles learned how to meditate by studying with the Maharishi. All of a sudden TM, or transcendental meditation was everywhere. Teachers of TM arrived on my college campus. Word spread, and I signed up to learn, as did many of my friends. It was the hip thing to do. The counter culture was now adding "meditation" to its already existing sacraments of "sex, drugs, and rock'n roll."
Nowadays, meditation has become mainstream and is touted by the medical community as a good way to lower one's blood pressure and reduce anxiety. In those days, it was something exotic. The West was just beginning to learn the secrets of India's culture. Hand in hand with meditation, yoga would become part of the American culture as well. The Beatles in Rishikesh seemed to be the start of it all.
Transcendental meditation focuses upon the use of a mantra. There was a lot of ceremony that went with learning TM. One was told to bring offerings to the initiation, a piece of fruit and a flower for the altar.
There are things I remember most about that ceremony. After a number of minutes trying to do things right and go deeply into my inner being and connect to my third eye, I was unconsciously totally bent forward from the waist. The more I repeated my very own new mantra silently to myself, the further South I went. My teacher gently brought this to my attention. Needless to say, I was deeply embarassed. But the process was repeated, and I sat upright on the second go and made some progress. Upon completion of the initiation ceremony, the flower I brought was returned to me as a present, my friends were waiting outside, and life felt sweet.
In later practice sessions with friends in one of the campus study rooms, we would try to get our minds to float to the ceiling or the sky. That had been one description we had heard, about what happens when you meditate. We really did not know what we were doing. But I tried hard to get it all right.
I would like to say that meditating twice a day for 20 minutes as recommended became a regular part of my life, but it did not. I was always an inconsistent meditator. In later years there were other courses where I learned how to follow "the breathe," or learned "metta" or loving kindness meditation. As I delved deeper into the meditation process, I would say that my life was further enriched. I continued to practice on and off for the rest of my life, and now more so, these days.
Nowadays, I use one of the iPhone meditation apps, the "insight timer," for meditating. My timer is set for 20 minute sessions, with four single interval bells. Three bell sounds indicate the end of the session. There are nine different bell sounds to choose from when you set up your own practice.
This particular app reinforces one's practice. It logs in the total number of days one has meditated, as well as consecutive days. What I find most reinforcing is that after meditating, you may see other members of the community who may live close to you, or far away, and thank a member for meditating with you. Click on their avatar, and the message is sent. A red dot on your own avatar will show you that you have received a message. "Thanks for meditating with me."
The questioning part of me wonders if this smacks too much of "likes" on Facebook, or "retweets" on twitter. Shouldn't personal satisfaction be enough?
And yet, click on the avatar of the person who sent you the thank you, and you may see where the person is from. Since I have not traveled much in my life, I find this interesting and enriching. Sometimes their avatar will have a tagline as well, letting you further into their psyche or philosophical mindset. Most are gentle loving messages. I have been thanked by fellow meditators as close as Brooklyn, and as far away as Mount Isa, Australia.
Meditators are allowed to send friend requests, and there are groups to join, such as a "gratitude group." There are courses to take and music to which to listen. This small app has a lot to offer.
At first I was puzzled by why one would want to be a virtual friend to someone within the framework of the Insight Timer app. So I polled people who had asked me to accept them as a friend, and also posted the question on some of the group boards. A number of responders replied that they were wondering the same, but overall, responses were positive. Some answered that real friendships had developed over time and were beneficial. It felt good to connect with the larger community. One person with whom I identified most said that she challenged herself to step out of her comfort zone to try something new and connect. A lot of responses reflected the Buddhist philosophy that "we are all interconnected."
Presently, our society is learning the hard way that we are all interconnected. What we do in terms of mask wearing and social distancing in this pandemic affects all of us.
Because we live in a black hole in terms of federal government leadership, we the people need to live ethically and take action. Hopefully we will work together by being mindful of our fellow humans, to contain the covid 19 virus. Hopefully we will save our democracy by voting blue in the November election. Then after voting, we may all say to each other, "thank you for voting with me."
"These fritters keep well, either chilled in the fridge for the better part of a week and or frozen in a well-sealed package for months. When you're ready to use them, simply spread them out on a tray in a 325 degree oven until they're hot and crisp again."....
"These fritters are also delicious with a poached or fired egg on top, trust me." Deb Perelman (Smitten Kitchen).
Frankly, as far as I am concerned, these are great, straight out of the fridge, when you want to eat the leftovers. Barbara (cooking the kitchen).
- 1 lb (about 2 medium) zucchini
- 1 tsp coarse or Kosher salt, plus extra to taste
- 2 scallions, split lengthwise and sliced thin
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- olive or another oil of your choice, for frying
To serve (optional)
- 1 cup sour cream or plain, full-fat yogurt
- 1 to 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp lemon zest
- pinches of salt
- 1 small minced or crushed clove of garlic
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Have a baking sheet ready.
Trim ends off zucchini and grate then either on the large holes of a box grater or, if you have one, using the shredding blade of a food processor. The latter creates the coarsest and most rope-like strands, if you like your fritters with more texture.
In a large bowl, toss zucchini with 1 teaspoon coarse salt and set aside for 10 minutes. Wring out the zucchini in one of the following ways: pressing it against the holes of a colander with a wooden spoon (or your hand) to extract the water, squeezing out small handfuls at a time, or wrapping it up in a clean dishtowel or piece of cheese cloth and wringing away. The great amount of liquid you will lose (and you will be surprised at the amount), will save the fritters from sogginess.
Return deflated mass of zucchini shreds to bowl. Taste and if you think it could benefit from more salt (most rinses down the drain), add a little bit nore; 1/4 tsp. more is probably just right. Stir in scallions, egg and some freshly ground black pepper, in a small bowl, stir together flour and baking powder, then stir the mixture into the zucchini batter.
In a large heavy skillet - cast iron is ideal here - heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Drop small bunches of the zucchini mixture onto the skillet only a few at a time so they don't become crowded and lightly nudge thenm flatter with the back of your spatula or spoon.
Flip the fritters and fry them on the other side until browned underneath again, about 2 to 3 minutes more.
Drain briefly on paper towels then transfer to baking sheet (no paper towels on the baking sheet, just the fritters) and then into the warm oven until needed.
Repeat process, keeping the pan well-oiled, with remaining batter.
It is good to see that the fritters have at least 10 minutes in the oven to finish setting and so that they become extra crispy.
For the Topping
If using, stir together the sour cream or yogurt, lemon juice, zest, salt and garlic and adjust the flavors to your taste. Dollop on each fritter before serving. You may want to serve each portion with a poached or fried egg on top. Simply delicious.