GInger beer-battered zucchini & artichoke fritters

GInger beer-battered fritters

We had a family joke when I was growing up that whenever my brother was ill, my mom would make enchiladas. Delicious, yes, but maybe not an ideal comfort food. It probably only happened once or twice, but it became the stuff of family legend. Yesterday Isaac wasn’t feeling well, and I made these. Sigh. I thought it would be fun for him, because he likes food you can eat with your fingers and dip in sauce (as who doesn’t!). In my defense, his fever didn’t start till after dinner, but when you’re feverish, battered vegetables probably aren’t your first choice of meal. Malcolm loved them, though, and the dipping sauce they went out in (which had tamari, balsamic, lime, red pepper flakes, and basil.) I thought it would be fun to make a beer batter, but with ginger beer, because I LOVE GINGER BEER! I flavored the filling with a touch of ginger and lots of fresh basil, and added goat cheese for taste and texture. So, crispy on the outside, soft and melty inside, tasty and fun to eat.

A while back I wrote an essay on food, music, childhood, comfort, memory and the soul. I sent it around to a few places, but, strange to say, there’s not a huge market for essays about Proust, Memphis Minnie, and RZA! Who knew! Well, guess what, today we’re going to have a guest speaker in the form of my own self. Most if it will be after the jump, because the authoress goes on and on and on.

And here’s a short playlist of the songs mentioned.

The Taste of Memory

We all know about Proust’s Madeleine. After a dreary day, the prospect of a depressing morrow left the narrator dispirited, until one bite of Madeleine, dipped in tea, filled him with an overwhelming joy. The taste of the food, and the memory of childhood happiness acted as a powerful tonic. He describes taste and smell as souls, persistent, faithful, bearing the weight of the vast structure of recollection in their tiny, fragile essence. Most adults have probably experienced this – when you’re feeling unwell or depressed, you crave some food you ate when sick as a child. It’s not the food that makes you feel better, it’s the memory of being cared for, of a time when you were not isolated by your maturity, not relied on to make decisions, not expected to take care of yourself and protect others.

To be continued…. (the recipe is after the jump as well, just like it always is!)
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carrot cashew fritters

carrot fritters

Somewhere in the last decade I lost the ability to put a sentence together in such a way that you could start at the beginning of it and find your way to the end with the sense still in tact. See? You’re scratching your head, you’re wondering what the hell I’m talking about! I don’t know! Words used to come easily. I could write a 10 page paper on feminist film theory in an afternoon. And it would be good! I don’t know what happened, exactly, but the ability to put words together slowly eroded, leaving me, confused and muttering, trying to explain my thoughts to anyone who would listen.

I feel like it’s been getting better, lately, though, because I’ve been exercising my sentence-forming-ability. Taking it out for short runs every day, and putting it through its paces. Nothing too strenuous or stressful, nothing too complicated. I took two days off, watched a lot of cartoons on cable, and I feel like it’s all gone again! Sheesh.

Anyway – I’m back, and we’re making crazy food here. These carrot cashew fritters were the product of a nearly empty fridge. We had some carrots, we had some tarragon I wanted to use up. We had some fresh ginger. Would that be good with tarragon? Yes! It would! I wanted to use chickpea flour, but either I used it up, or it got lost in some strange nether world of odd flours in my overburdened cupboard. Pushed to the back behind the toasted barley flour and the tapioca flour and the masa harina, it was all like, “I’m out of here! She doesn’t even know I’m around any more!” So I used urad flour, which imparted a nice earthy taste to the sweet bright carrots and ginger. But you could use chickpea flour or even just regular flour, if you don’t happen to have a cupboard spilling over with bags of strange flours. The secret surprise in these fritters is mozzarella cheese! It makes them fun to eat, when it gets all melty and delicious. We ate these with a tamarind-chipotle sauce that I made a little bit too hot, but which Malcolm liked anyway.

Here’s John Buddy Williams Band with Saturday Night Blowout, my absolute favorite song at the moment. Since words have failed me, we’re going with an instrumental. Doesn’t it prove that you don’t really need words to say what you’re feeling? It’s a whole conversation.
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