Friday, September 14, 2012

A simple supper: light fried zucchini, applesauce, and spicy nuts

Some of my earliest and best memories are watching my grandmother cook in her kitchen. Somehow she is the best and, perhaps perplexingly, skinniest southern chef I know. Every meal there were fresh pies, bread, cakes, cookies, or other delightful treats streaming out of the oven. She can take any three ingredients and make something delicious, five and it will be a feast. She is also super savvy and clips coupons for everything. She can tell you the lowest price to get zucchini or any other single item on any given day in three counties.

But one of my favorite things still is her pan fried zucchini or squash. It revels the crispyness of french fries but with an added sweetness. At her Oklahoma house there was always a big garden some country kin or friend was always coming to unload more of their surplus zucchini, as if she didn't have plenty already. So she sliced zealously and stored extra battered squash in the freezer to use throughout the winter.

To me a plateful even by itself is a delightful dinner or it goes with just about everything. So here is a super simple super.

Light Fried Zucchini 
Golden zucchini
  • 4 zucchini or yellow squash (my farmer's market had yellow zucchini this week so we tried that) $2
  • 2 eggs $0.34
  • 1/3 cup medium ground cornmeal $0.14
  • 2 Tbsp (or 2 tsp dried) of these herbs: Rosemary, sage, oregano, basil $0.40 
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt. 
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil $0.25
Total: $3.13
Cut the squash as thin as possible in half moons. Shake in a container with a lid with 2 eggs and 1 Tbsp of water.

Finely dice herbs and mix with flour. Shake the egged squash in this mixture.

Heat oil first. Cook about 3 min on each side or until has amber brown spots. Can also be frozen at after battered or fried. (Try this out and let me know your preference of having it just battered, or already cooked!)

  • 2 lbs of organic apples (a mixture is best, I really like granny Smith-also a tribute to my grandma) $4.00
  • 2 peaches $0.80
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (not local)$0.15
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg (not local) $0.10
  • 1/4 tsp ginger (not local) $0.10
  • 1 cup water
Total: $5.15
(Did you know that apples are the number one sprayed fruit in the U.S.? Even if we don't individually consume that much pesticide residue, what does this do to the soil or the water?)

Apples are a difficult crop to find organic in Oklahoma. Our brutal summers and bugs are hard on these trees.

Core but don't peel apples and pit peaches. Dice all. Add with water and spices and simmer for about 25 min or until becomes slushy. Could also be canned.

Sweet and spicy fat-blast nuts 

Some of my other farm memories are watching my brother try to pound pecans and walnuts from my grandpa's young trees with a hammer. It wasn't always pretty, and sometimes ended in tears. And it was a lot of work for a little nut.

Nuts are so healthy and delicious but their prices may make them a luxury item. I used to have a pecan tree in my yard, ashamedly I never thought to do anything with them. For that I was paying pecan penance with every purchase, until recently.  Upon finding a place that processes nuts at Mason's Pecans near Norman you bring in for fantastically low prices of $0.45 /lb, I will certainly be putting my little squirrels to work harvesting nuts! Stay tuned for some thoughts on pecan trees in public spaces and a visit to the nut processing place!
  •  3/4 lb of pecan pieces ($7.00 for pre-packaged or 2.5 lbs of nuts for processing $1.13!)
  • 2 Tbsp of olive oil $0.12
  • 1/2 lime- few squirts for drizzle $0.10
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt ground
  • 2 tsp sugar $0.09
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp chipotle pepper powder $0.10 (For years this is the only shop Evan will buy dried peppers from.
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon $0.05
  • 3 tsp olive oil $0.25
Total: $1.94
Coat the nuts in the oil and lime. Then generously sprinkle with the spice mixture. Bake at 375 for 7 min in regular or a toaster oven.

These are so good. (The kids want them without the pepper). I'm also hoping the cinnamon and the pepper will help as I loose the rest of baby weight! These are some of the spices my acupuncture friend swears by. Getting closer...

Menu Total: $10.22
$1.70/ person

What is your favorite quick simple dish?

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