Zucchini (Courgette) Fritters

Uncooked zucchini fritters

Uncooked zucchini fritters

This is another recipe we made at our Greek cooking class in Crete a few weeks ago. It seems especially appropriate for me to post in August, as I know much of my family back home will currently be experiencing a glut of zucchini from their vegetable gardens. These are a tasty addition to any cook’s zucchini recipe repertoire and earned two thumbs up from three members of my family. The fourth member of my family, well, we’re just happy when we can get him to eat something green.

As a bonus for those of you with too many zucchini, (Mom, Dad? Sisters?) you can freeze these uncooked, and for those of you who would prefer not to fry the fritters, you can also bake them in the oven.

Zucchini (Courgette) Fritters
Serves 10

5 medium zucchinis, grated
1/2 Tablespoon salt
4 eggs
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup feta cheese, grated
3-4 cups bread crumbs
1 cup onion, grated
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
olive oil for frying (about 1 cup)

1.Place grated zucchini in a colander. Add 1/2 Tablespoon salt, mix and let drain for 30 minutes, then squeeze out the extra liquid with your hands.

2. In a large bowl, combine zucchini, 2 eggs, both cheeses, 1 cup bread crumbs, onion, mint, parsley and pepper. Mix well. Add more bread crumbs until mixture can be formed into balls.

3. Beat 2 eggs in a small bowl.

4. In another bowl, add 1 cup of bread crumbs.

5. Heat 1 cup of olive oil in a large frying pan.

6. Form balls of zucchini mixture, dip each ball in the beaten egg, then coat with bread crumbs, and fry. Drain on paper towels.

Frying the fritters

Frying the fritters

OR

Bake in the oven at 180°C/350°F. Form zucchini fritters like a medium-size burger, brush with beaten egg and dredge in bread crumbs. Bake for about 45 minutes.

To freeze:
Form into patties and put uncooked fritters onto a lightly floured tray. Leave in freezer for a day and then put them in a plastic bag for long-term storage.
To cook:
Defrost for 20 minutes and then fry them in olive oil.

Tasty Tuesday

Rice stuffing for the grape leaves

Rice stuffing for the grape leaves

Welcome back to Tasty Tuesday! As I mentioned in my last post, my family just spent a 10-day holiday on the island of Crete, where we were lucky enough to enjoy a four-hour traditional Greek cooking class in the town of Vamos. The class was held in an outdoor kitchen area on the site of an old olive press on a steamy hot day (they were all steamy hot days—and though we sweated through them, we enjoyed them). So, for the next few weeks, I’ll be focusing on the Greek recipes we made, rather than my usual focus on traditional English recipes, starting with my favorite, Grape Leaves with Rice.

These are easier to make than I ever would’ve thought and this was my new favorite during our stay, the one I hoped every restaurant would serve. Most of them did, though the taverna in our village served a variation: zucchini (courgette) blossoms stuffed with rice. Grape leaves were out-of-season when we were there, but the grape leaves we used had been harvested earlier and stored in the refrigerator in salted water, then rinsed off when ready to use. I need to find a source for grape leaves in the UK—we’ve only been back a few days and I haven’t had a chance to do that yet. These can be eaten hot or cold.

Grape Leaves with Rice

8 ounces fresh or canned grape leaves
1 cup grated onions
1/2 cup fresh chopped dill
1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup dry white rice
2 tablespoons fresh chopped mint
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

1. Wash the grape leaves. If using fresh, boil them in water with salt for 5 minutes. If canned just wash them well.

2. Mix the onions, dill, parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, rice, mint, salt and pepper in a bowl.

3. Wrap each grape leaf around a spoonful of the onion/rice mixture. (Note: fold up the bottom of the grape leaf first, then fold in the sides, and roll up.)

Making stuffed grape leaves

Making stuffed grape leaves

4. Place layers of finished grape leaves in a large pot. Add two cups of water and two tablespoons of olive oil with a little salt. Cover leaves with a plate and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes. Drain and serve warm grape leaves with yogurt or sour cream.

And now that we’re home and I’ve flicked through our photos, I realize that I was too busy eating stuffed grape leaves to take any pictures of the finished product. So you’ll have to take my word for it when I tell you they looked good, too.

 
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Four Years

I would like to have grown these poppies, but sadly, I didn't.

I would like to have grown these poppies, but sadly, I didn’t.

It’s hard to believe, but we moved here four years ago—as of last Monday, August 3rd (when we were enjoying a family holiday on the island of Crete—more on that another time). I feel the need to mark the milestone here, but I’m not really sure what to say. It’s been a tough year—and I know, I say that a lot, but it has. Nothing about moving here has been easy; this move has kicked our backsides in ways we just weren’t prepared for—and hindsight is 20/20, as they say. This year has seen some major milestones: the (finally) selling of our house in Ohio (though I’d move back into it in a heartbeat) and my British citizenship coming through. We’re thinking about buying a house here next year, and though we want a home of our own again, I honestly don’t want to move house ever again. The mere thought of it is exhausting, so if anyone wants to find us the perfect house, pack up all of our things, move them, and then unpack for us, feel free.

So things are going to change again in the coming year with another house move and (cross your fingers) me entering into a serious job search. It’s time. I’ve come to accept that I am probably never going to feel truly “at home” here—home will always be somewhere else, but that’s part of the price you pay for an international marriage. Someone is always homesick.

Life is a journey, as they say, and what a journey it is. Thank you, dear readers, for being part of mine.

Baby Hedgehogs

Hedgehog 1

The tiniest little hedgehog ever

I’ve had one of those weeks full of appointments and places to be, all of which have taken far longer than I’d hoped they would. This means that none of my week has gone according to my own personal plan, my “to-do” list remains largely unfinished and my house more of a wreck than usual. (Sigh.) Friday afternoon I thought I might finally get around to finishing up some of those onerous tasks when, as I pulled in from work, I saw my neighbor looking grim in her daughter’s pony’s stall. They’d discovered 3 baby hedgehogs the evening before and, being wise people, did the right thing and left the babies there.

Yesterday afternoon my neighbor discovered that one of the hedgehogs had died and the other two were looking pretty poor, so I, the veterinarian’s daughter (and having a very soft heart as a child and the belief that I could save every abandoned baby animal I found), hopped the fence to have a look. I quickly grabbed my gardening gloves and a box to put the two living hedgehogs in and we took them inside her house to give them a bit of sugar water while she phoned hedgehog rescue groups—as hedgehogs are endangered animals in England we wanted to ensure we did all we could to aid their survival.

Now, I must say, as a good country girl who was taught well by her parents: you should never disturb baby animals in the wild, as it’s very likely their mother is coming back for them. We made a judgment call to collect these two, as it didn’t look like their mother had been back to tend them and the two who were still alive weren’t going to be for long. As we live on a farm with multiple dogs and cats, and as the litter had been born in the pony’s stall, we felt fairly sure that the mother had either abandoned them because she was upset by all the animals around, or something had happened to her.

This little guy curled up into a ball as soon as I picked him up--he was adorable.

This little guy curled up into a ball as soon as I picked him up–he was adorable.

I fed them the best I could and tried to clean them up a little, but mostly we kept them warm with a hot water bottle and a towel in a box and took photos. Eventually I took them to a veterinarian’s office where they were going to be tended to until a rescue organization could pick them up.

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a hedgehog in the wild, and certainly not a baby, and oh my goodness were they ever cute. So while I didn’t get to eat lunch until after 3:00 or do any of the things I had planned, I really had fun. Fingers crossed these two will make it.

Two baby hedgehogs curled up close

Two baby hedgehogs curled up close

Things I Don’t Understand About the British, Part 5.1

The heated towel rail. Totally pointless and very expensive.

The heated towel rail. Totally pointless and very expensive.

Last week I posted about my confusion with bathroom fixtures: the sink with separate hot and cold water taps, the cord to pull the light switch, and the lack of electrical outlets except for the plug for an electric razor. I’ve had some good comments about these things on Facebook and here, and thought they necessitated an update.

So. That thing about not having “mixer” taps? As it turns out, they exist! Some of my friends even have them, including my own sister-in-law, who also has an actual switch to turn on the light in her bathroom instead of a cord. Why do I not have these things?

One of our friends in America, who happens to be British, very helpfully posted a link to the equivalent of the British Home Depot where I discovered you can buy mixer taps for installation in your very own home! When I own a home again I will be installing these. Apparently such things weren’t common 20 or so years ago but are more common now, but I still don’t think I’ve seen them out in the real world.

Another of my readers commented here about the glass shower door that only encloses about half of the bath or shower, allowing you to splash water all over your bathroom floor. These I have seen and can’t make any sense of. You’ll have to take my word for it as I can’t find any photographic evidence of these online. The same reader also pointed out that there’s always the heated towel rail to make up for other bathroom failings—though I think he was in agreement with me that heated towel rails are pointless—in my experience they only heat a tiny portion of towel, and they don’t heat that portion very well. There might be a dearth of radiators in many British homes, but hey! We’ll install a heated towel rail to do a pretty poor job of heating your towel, and that’s it! For the rest of the day you can freeze.