I usually hold the Weekend Herb Blogging notification for later in the post, but this week, I’m the host for Kalyn’s fun weekly event. Please check back here Monday for the round-up of posts from around the world featuring a variety of herbs, vegetables and flowers. I guarantee you’re in for a treat.
If you want to submit something for Weekend Herb Blogging, please send it my way (genie at theinadvertentgardener dot com) by 3 p.m. Utah time on Sunday. Kalyn’s rules are here, so please check them out ahead of time, and please be sure to include a link back to my blog in your post.
And, without further ado, my Weekend Herb Blogging submission for this week:
For the first half of July, it seemed like all I did was fry things out of the garden. Fried green tomatoes. Fried green tomatoes made into sandwiches. And in June, I’d already fried up sage leaves in butter.
So it would make sense that, when presented with squash blossoms, I would treat them the same way I’d been treating all the other veggies and herbs: batter up.
But first I must explain. I am not a Fry Daddy kind of girl. I like me a good fried item, but I’ve purposely spent my life not attempting fried chicken and other such Wesson-bathed delicacies because I don’t want to deal with the grease disposal problem and because I feel like the easiest way to limit one’s intake of fried food is not to learn how to do it at home.
As with my no-gardening policy, though, it seems that this summer, all bets were off.
Steve and I went down to the farmer’s market one Saturday morning, and I worked the stands while he trailed behind me, uncaffeinated and a little overwhelmed by my quick work with the vegetables. We stopped in front of one stand that has been my summer source for baby zucchini and yellow squash, particularly since our plants have presented in a sub-par manner.
“Look,” I said. “Squash blossoms for $1.00 a box. Should we get some?”
Steve gave me a look that ever-so-clearly said, “Are you going to float those in a bowl or what? Why would you buy squash blossoms?” (We’ve been together long enough for me to be able to roughly translate the looks.)
“Do I need to clean them?” I asked the farmer.
“Not really,” he said. “They’re pretty clean. Just pull out the stuff in the middle, and they’ll be fine.”
“How do you recommend preparing them?”
“Some people sauté them up in butter. Some people stuff them like a pepper and then fry them,” he said. “It depends on what you like. Just make sure, if you don’t use them today, that you blow the bag full of air and then tie it off at the top and leave it in the fridge. Then they’ll be good until tomorrow.”
Pressure=on. We weren’t (OK, I wasn’t) going to have time to make it up the learning curve on fried squash blossoms that particular Saturday, but an open block of time on Sunday beckoned.
A quick check of The Joy of Cooking (the only cookbook I own that includes very clear instructions on how to fry things) revealed a decent plan for a stuffing mixture: garlic, cheese, parsley, basil. Batter in egg and flour, and fry them up in a pan. Lucky for us, we had some leftover shredded Monterey Jack/cheddar mixture in the fridge, since I overbought for a midweek taco dinner.
On Sunday, I went out to the garden to check on things, and in the process of checking for zucchini, managed to knock a lovely squash blossom off the zucchini plant. For once, my clumsiness became an asset, and I carried it inside, planning to add them to my dollar-stand purchase.
Steve was in the living room when I picked up the blossom from our garden, untwisting it carefully to pull out the stamen. This is the point at which I should tell you that I lived in Germany, a.k.a. Land of the Earwigs That Rise From the Tub Like Little Stormtroopers, from age three to seven, and, in that EarwigLand, learned to hate the little buggers. I have always feared them and remain, to this day, irrationally afraid of one actually getting into my ear and pincing at my brain.
I had to tell you that because what to my wondering eyes did appear, but an earwig in the bottom of the blossom. I held the petals open and whacked the blossom upside the sink, hoping to dislodge the offending bug. I did, and it fell into the sink, where I promptly washed it down the drain.
I let my heart slow down a little, then began again, untwisting the blossom, reaching in with my fingertips for the stamen, feeling little feet against my finger.
“OH MY GOD!!!!” I yelled, throwing the blossom into the sink. I picked it back up and opened it and, sure enough, another earwig, this one in possession of a cloaking device, crawled around in the bottom of the blossom.
I tried the same bang-the-flower-against-the-sink technique, and it fell out. I washed it down the sink and opened the flower petals again, looking very, very carefully to be sure there Were. No. Earwigs.
Meanwhile, the intrepid, temporarily invisible second bug climbed back up the drain and out into the sink. I screamed like a little girl.
“Do I need to come in there and help?” Steve called from the living room.
“MMMRRRPFF!” I yelled, and then turned on the hot water as fast as I could, splashing the earwig until it plunged, headfirst, back down the drain. I let the water run as long as I could, until thoughts of the millions of people in the world without clean, running water crowded out my hatred for earwigs and I was able to turn off the faucet.
At this point, I threw away my little garden blossom and went wholly with the farmer’s blossoms. My thinking? No earwig would have survived the refrigerated balloon treatment we’d put the blossoms through overnight. So there.
Fried Squash Blossoms (adapted from The Joy of Cooking)
10 to 12 fresh squash blossoms
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 c. shredded Monterey Jack/cheddar mix
1/2 c. grated Romano cheese
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
A few grinds of black pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Approximately 1 1/2 c. flour
Mix the garlic, salt, cheese, herbs and pepper together in a bowl. Remove the pistils from the blossoms and stuff them with the mixture. Twist the tops to hold them closed.
Heat about 1/2 inch of olive (not extra-virgin) or canola oil in a heavy frying pan or cast-iron skillet. Dip the blossoms one at a time into the beaten egg and then into the flour. Fry them three or four at a time, turning occasionally, until they are golden brown on each side. Drain briefly on paper towels and serve immediately with marinara sauce for dipping.
As we sat on the porch, eating our delicious (and earwig-free) blossoms, Steve looked over at me and said, “Fried squash blossoms? How did you think of frying squash blossoms? How do you come up with this stuff?”
“I just hear about things,” I said with a smile. “I spend a lot of time on the Internet.”