There’s no point in avoiding this blog just because I’m in a slump. Cooking slumps can be easily weathered, thanks to the spoiling of visiting in-laws, surprises in the freezer, and beer—that liquid nourishment. But life slumps? Those are far harsher on the writer’s fragile bones.
A bike accident this week left me banged up and my faithful Raleigh doomed for the dumpster. Rain and cooler temperatures marred the memory of last week’s sudden spring. Some unexpected and minor blips at work on Friday launched an unusually reflective weekend.
As the writer Thomas Moore says in his book The Care of the Soul, these are the days that reveal the most to us. They slow us down and force us to look at the weeds growing along the path: Loneliness (how did I end up here and where are all the people I love?), stagnancy (where exactly do I think I’m going with all of this?), restlessness (when will I be able to do, and be recognized for, something that makes me happy?)
When this stuff is staring you in the face there’s not much else you can do but stare back. I’m used to this, right? This is familiar. I’ve dealt with this before. But no: why does each new disappointment, each new criticism, each new failure, bear so little resemblance to the last one? Why is facing old demons so hard?
I thank God for these small and saving cheers: a co-worker reminding me of the Sex and the City episode where Samantha has to rush into the elevator to hide her emotions; good discussions about being a woman in a male dominated workplace; distractions of parties and board games and beer and friends who get me, even if they haven’t known me long; keeping up with the boys at a neighborhood bike shop ride through the wilder parts of Maryland; simple thoughts of afternoon cooking; excitement for next weekend’s Easter excursion with a friend I don’t get to see enough of.
I was holding off on posting about these Indian-spiced vegetable fritters (or pakoras if you’re trying to sound exotic) so that I could make them again and take better photos. That’s not going to happen, though, so here they are. I made them for friends awhile ago, and am finally sharing them on this sorely neglected blog.
As I type, Patty Griffin’s words become my prayer on this strangely and sedate Sunday:
Be careful how you bend me
Be careful where you send me
Be careful how you end me
Be careful with me
Indian-Spiced Vegetable Fritters
makes about 24 fritters
½ cup frozen peas
1 medium onion, peeled
1 large russet or Idaho potato, peeled
1 yam or sweet potato, peeled
1 large or 2 thin carrots, peeled
4 large eggs
4 Tbsp all-purpose flour
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
A pinch of cayenne
2 Tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger
2 Tbsp minced fresh cilantro
- Preheat oven to 200°F. Place two nonstick baking sheets in oven.
- Defrost the peas in salted, boiling water, or microwave. Drain.
- Coarsely grate onion, potatoes, carrot and zucchini and place in colander set in sink, setting aside to drain.
- In large mixing bowl, lightly beat eggs. Whisk in flour, coriander, turmeric, and cumin. Mix in ginger, cilantro, and peas.
- Press potatoes and onion to extract as much liquid as possible, then add to bowl. Season mixture with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Using wooden spoon or hands, mix well, but do not overwork.
- In a heavy-bottomed, 12-inch non-stick skillet over moderately high heat, heat 1 tablespoon of oil until hot but not smoking. Drop 4 scant ¼-cup portions of potato mixture into pan and flatten with spatula to form four 3-inch pancakes.
- Fry until bottoms are golden-brown (the darker you let it go, the more the pancake holds together – this goes for both sides), 4 to 5 minutes, then turn over and fry until golden-brown and crisp, 4 to 5 more minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain; season immediately with salt and pepper. Keep warm on baking sheets in oven while making remaining pancakes.
- Using paper towels, carefully wipe out pan. And 1 tablespoon oil to the pan and fry 4 more pancakes. Repeat with remaining batter, wiping out pan and adding 1 tablespoon oil before each batch.
Serve the fritters hot with:
2 cups plain yogurt (I love the Fage fat-free stuff)
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon sugar
a squeeze or two of fresh lime juice, to taste
salt and pepper
adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s adaptation of an Epicurious recipe