Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Girl and Her Stove: Cooking with Granddad (Fried Zucchini)

I've been a very bad blogger lately. Blame it on the post-Europe sinus infection, the spreading of news to family and friends that the girl is getting hitched to Dave in the fall of 2010, or the fact that I've enlisted a personal trainer on July 27 to whip the post-injury girl into bride-fighting shape. I'm still gonna bake, but I'm not going to put as many of my tasty creations into my mouth. The girl has some sit-ups to do while the oven timer is running.

This week's installment, however, does not count calories but rather childhood memories of swimming with my granddad and kid sister Jenna in the Pomme de Terre Lake (which literally translates to Potato Lake; you've got to love Midwesterners and their earnest sense of French flair), eating homemade vanilla ice cream that my granddad spent a whole day making, and sipping sassafras tea by the wood-burning stove of my grandparents' country home in Weaubleau, Missouri, Pop. 518 (9 years ago that is... I think it may be less now).

My grandfather, who I always call Granddad, now lives in Clinton, Mo., former Baby Chick, as in fowl, Capital of the World. I went to visit him July 10-12, and we participated in our regular routine of reminiscing, watching the Gameshow Network, and eating at the Golden Corral on Sunday.

Saturday, well before the insipid buffet that is Golden Corral, was magical. We drove to the Clinton town square and purchased peaches, tomatoes, zucchini and cucumbers from a little produce stand that procured its wares from an Amish greenhouse in Windsor, Missouri. My granddad John Dee haggled with the other elder statesman behind the wall of zucchinis about the quality of his tomatoes. True to my granddad's hard-scrabble, skeptical "show me" nature, my granddad threatened that he would be back if the tomatoes weren't good; and while I would never have the chutzpah to say something like that to a roadside vendor, my granddad comes from a time period (b. August 25, 1925) where what you sell should be quality, or else.

Thankfully, Granddad had nothing to worry about. The tomatoes were juicy and steak-like in their thickness. The cucumbers were "dressed" quite nicely, as Granddad would say, with white vinegar, sugar, a little water, and salt and pepper. The peaches were the best I've ever had, and that's saying something for a girl who doesn't really like the fuzzy texture of a peach. Forgive me, readers. Based off of the peaches I ate in Clinton, I've seen the error of my ways. Peaches can be delectable if ripe, juicy and cut with a serrated knife so the sweet fruit can be bitten into first. But the highlight of our Saturday afternoon adventures was my granddad's fried zucchini.

Fried Zucchini

Recipe by John Dee Hammond (aka, Granddad)


3 healthy sized zucchinis, sliced into coin-size pieces
A skillet full of bacon render (this ain't low-fat cooking)

1 large egg
1 cup of flour
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 to 3/4 cup whole milk

1. Prepare the batter by whisking the egg into the cup of flour. Add milk to this mixture until the batter is the consistency of a medium-thick liquid. Note: the batter should be able to coat the slices of zucchini easily without falling off the zucchini before it enters the frying pan.

2. Heat up the skillet full of bacon render at medium heat until it's a lake of glistening fat. You'll know it's ready when you drop a dash of batter into the pan. The batter will fry into a tiny, crispy golden-brown dot. You're ready!

3. Fry the zucchini for 2-3 minutes on eat side until golden brown. Turn once and repeat. Then place the fried zucchini (which looks and tastes like a croquette) on paper towels or newspaper to soak up the excess grease.
4. Serve hot with other summertime produce. Enjoy!


Anonymous said...

I don't think I've every met your granddad, but I feel like I know him just from all your great stories. Oh, and do a sit-up or two for me.

Anonymous said...

this is so sweet--I love that last picture. and--YUMMY! I think I may be trying this--like a good Southern girl, I've got a jar full of bacon fat in my fridge at home.

Kella said...

Thanks, Stef and Nishta. This is a fun way to eat your veggies, albeit not a healthy one (wink). I will definitely do a sit-up for you Stef, though I think you look fabulous!! And Nishta, you're so good. I've never cottoned to bacon render like my granddad, so I never save it. My mistake!

David said...

I'm sorry I missed that visit! Fried food, fresh produce, and vats of bacon render! Arrgh. :)
I like hanging with your Granddad, and wish I could have been there with you two. I'm glad you had a good time together, Love.

Kella said...

I love you, Dave. You're welcome anytime at Granddad's.