Eat your vegetables

Zucchini patties

… if only so the vitamin A in this dish will give you better night vision than I had today.  You never really expect to experience midnight at noon, but I suppose our little two-hour power outage was just one of those little reminders that windows are good things, and shutting the computers off once in a while just serves to bring people together.  
I’m supposed to be cursing the fact that another student’s hard work was destroyed in a matter of milliseconds, as valves shut with a bang and vacuum pumps died. And I am sorry, really. I know if it were my experiment were running this week, I would be devastated.   There’ll be no beam for the rest of the week, which means no data, and even worse, a lot of work for everyone in the lab.  It takes a small army to re-order the small universe inside our walls into the unstable, electricity-hungry state we require for our work.  
Zucchini prep
But this post isn’t about devastation. It’s about the fact that two hours without power — without the ever-present hum of vacuum pumps, air conditioners, and computer screens — prompted a candlelit storytelling circle in the break room. It’s about the fact that everyone sat down and shared a little something about their lives.  
This never happens.  Need I remind you that I’m a physicist, and we are naturally reluctant to come out from behind our screens and greet the world that surrounds us? I’m a case in point, here, typing away in my kitchen to the sound of washing dishes and boiling soup.  Though I think physicists aren’t the only ones guilty of this behavior.
Zucchini final 
Cooking something from scratch can bring about the same interaction.  Have you ever tried to send e-mails and grate vegetables at the same time?  Believe me — it isn’t going to work.  So go find a bit of time to gather with your friends and family over dinner sometime, away from all the craziness you usually have going on.  It’ll do more for you than these curried veggie fritters will; I promise you that.   

 Zucchini and Sweet Potato Fritters
Serves 3-4, depending on appetite.
This recipe is a work in progress, which is probably why I chose to focus this post more on people than on food.  Truthfully, the vegetables didn’t cook fully before the patties started to get dark, so they were crunchier than I had hoped for.  The flavor was quite good, so I think there’s hope for this dish yet, and it’s healthy and quick regardless.  I think roasting the grated sweet potato and zucchini in some olive oil might help matters, and, if you’re smart, you might even consider sticking to one type of vegetable in each fritter.  The cooking speed should be a bit more even if you do.  I should warn you: these fritters are fairly eggy. If you don’t like eggs, you can try adding more flour in place of one of the eggs.  I haven’t tried this suggestion myself, though, as I love eggs, so I’m not sure how well it will work.
Alternatively, you could dip the mix in a batter and fry them like they do at Indian buffets … It’s so good, and so, so greasy.  Perfect for those occasions when your thesis experiment goes to shit and you really need something to help the beer go down.  Cheers!
  • 1 medium zucchini, grated.
  • 1 medium sweet potato, grated.
  • 2 medium eggs, lightly beaten.
  • ~4 T. all-purpose flour.
  • 2 T. curry powder.  Yes, making your own is best, but even the best of us are lazy sometimes.
  • 1/2 t. cayenne.
  • 1/2 t. salt.
  • 2-3 T. olive or vegetable oil.
Mix all ingredients together (or learn from my mistake and roast the grated sweet potato and zucchini in the oven at 400°F until soft).  Heat olive or vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Shape the vegetable mixture into patties — use your hands — and place in the skillet.  Cook, flipping occasionally, until the outside of each fritter is golden brown and the inside is hot (test one of them).  You can help this process by covering the pan between flips.  
If you don’t want to serve the fritters immediately, place them on a cookie sheet and keep in the oven at 250°F.  Try not to do this for more than 10-15 minutes, or you might dry them out. 


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2 responses to “Eat your vegetables

  1. RE antisocial – engineers too!! There’s something to be said for an experiment going wrong… it always makes me think about my priorities (now why exactly did I invest so much emotional energy into something that gave me neither emotional satisfaction nor success?). I hope none of your experiments were affected!

    You might try parboiling the sweet potato – they’re a little less starchy that way, but a tablespoon of flour solves that problem too.

    By the way:


  2. liz

    Oops! I read that post, too … I must have liked the title? :-/ Sorry …

    Thanks for the tip — I’ll have to try parboiling first and see how it goes. I really wanted these fritters to work, and the leftovers were good; just not quite what I was hoping for. I suspect the fried version they used to serve in the dining hall of all places were really what I wanted, so perhaps it was futile anyway.

    As for “now why exactly did I invest so much emotional energy into something that gave me neither emotional satisfaction nor success?” — that is a very good question. I kind of figure that we’re here to learn, which means we have to mess some stuff up along the way. Otherwise, we’d have the degree already! But anyway, lucky for me, my stuff was all ok. I just happened to be on shift, so I got to help clean up the aftermath. Thanks for asking, though!

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