Notice what's happening around you.
Now...wait a sec. What are all of these fall colors and half-naked deciduous trees doing flaunting their stuff already? What is this cold chill in the air that makes me don sweatshirts and socks while lounging about my house in the evenings? How can the houses around me be decked out with Halloween decorations this early? What is this talk of Thanksgiving turkeys and dinner plans? How is it that my mom is already suggesting buying tickets home for Christmas?
This summer, with all of its trials and tribulations, experiences and obligations, literally flew by and passed me over. Somehow, I let my last summer in Oregon just slip by, unnoticed...I didn't stretch my toes in the sand on the beautifully gray Oregon beaches, star- and moon-gaze the long nights away, or spend luxurious moments spilling over tide pools or mountain streams. I spent only a single evening in the arms of LB cuddling next to a campfire (complete with an army of mosquitos), and I can count the number of hikes spent with my dogs on a single hand. I've only posted on this blog 7 times in the last two months. I haven't made a single advancement towards the planning of my wedding in the last month and a half, and I can't think of anything I did the entire month of September!
How did this happen? Is this the pace of life that the last year of graduate school takes on? Is it the pace of life that I've let my life become? Or have I just forgotten to "stop and smell the roses" in the midst of everything going on? I'm teaching now, so yes, my schedule has become far busier than before if that's possible. I'm still cooking; at times it's my only solace from the hustle-bustle of the rest of my world, but I find myself scarfing the meals I make - sometime even beating LB to the bottom of the bowl before he's halfway done, then scrambling to the kitchen to wash my dish and start my classroom "homework" (and LB is not a slow eater!). LB and I just returned from my sister's wedding (and some much needed rest) in Colorado to find that our surroundings have completely changed in the mere 7 days that we were gone...it's already deep into the Fall season. Some small part of me knew it had arrived before I left, but there's no denying it now. But with the chill in the air, the few rainy days we've had, and all of that snow I saw in the mountains from the plane...Winter is swiftly on its way.
I refuse to just sit back and let my very last Fall (for the next several years!) slip by me the way that I allowed Summer to do. So, now that I've recovered from the wedding (especially that bachelorette party! And I did make a very *cute* cake for that occasion!), it's back to the lab bench, back to teaching, and back to the kitchen. Luckily, our friends had bumper crops of zucchini and squash this summer, so we still have several in the fridge. Perhaps you do to? Once you've made steamed and grilled zucchini a hundred times, zucchini and squash ribbons about fifty times and so many loaves of zucchini bread you can't imagine eating any more of the stuff, you can try this recipe: Zucchini Pancakes with Basil Creme Fraiche. They're much lighter and "fluffier" than you would think. We found them quite refreshing, especially as an appetizer to a hearty Fall meal, or to accompany a bowl of minestrone soup.
You can find the original recipe here.
Zucchini Panckes with Basil Creme Fraiche, adapted from epicurious.com
Makes about 7 pancakes, but can be easily doubled.
For basil creme fraiche:
3/4 cup creme fraiche
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
4 cups coarsely grated zucchini (1 lb)
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 large egg whites
4 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
Blend creme fraiche, basil, and salt in a blender until smooth and pale green. Chill until ready to serve. If you want a thicker sauce, you can strain the creme fraiche first on a paper towel or cheese cloth over a strainer for 20 minutes before adding the other ingredients.
Put zucchini in a colander and toss with salt. Let stand at room temperature 20 minutes, then wrap zucchini in a kitchen towel and twist towel to wring out as much liquid as possible. Transfer zucchini to a large bowl and stir in flour, sugar, and pepper. Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt using an electric mixer until they just hold stiff peaks, then gently fold into zucchini mixture.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Working in batches of 5, spoon 2 tablespoons batter per pancake into skillet, flattening slightly with back of spoon. Cook pancakes, turning once, until golden brown, about 3 minutes total, transferring as cooked to paper towels to drain and adding more oil to skillet as necessary.Serve immediately, with basil creme fraiche.