March 24th, 2011
Remember the charity cookbook for Japan that I’m organizing (site to launch this weekend!)? And remember how I said that this week would be crazy busy because of the extra work? Well let me throw another factor into the mix: my sitter had to leave town on a moment’s notice. Her first grandson was born (yay!) and we agreed that she had to spend the week with her family.
So, yea, now there’s a whole “no childcare” situation going on.
Surprisingly, I’m holding up. Not sleeping much. But holding up. I continue to be inspired by our fantastic contributors (all of whom will be listed on the cookbook site) and am thankful for my smart, passionate co-conspiritors, Rachael of La Fuji Mama and Marc of No Recipes. But dinner. OH dinner.
I don’t have that many good delivery options in my corner of Brooklyn and we took advantage of our favorites over the weekend. The other night, I had the impulse to order from one of our favorite places again, for the second time in a week, because I was craving their Turkish style Zucchini Pancakes. But then, I realized that I had zucchini in the fridge… and that taking a little break from both work and intensive time with the kids would do me good. So I put out puzzles and blocks for the Hungry Boys and hit the kitchen.
These came together in a snap. So easy and delicious! I served them with leftover chicken and a side of buttered, dilled peas (I used frozen). Voila, dinner. And some much-needed down time for my brain.
I know that being in the kitchen doesn’t necessarily relax you the way it does me, but this meal was a reminder of how about 30 minutes and a few staples and/or leftovers can save you from take out. That’s right: with the right mindset, you can make a quick, healthy dinner in the time that it takes your kiddo to do some homework, draw a few pictures, play a game or (let’s be real…) watch Dora. Even when you’re slammed.
I’m not saying that you have to do this all the time. I’ve already copped to ordering take out wayyyy too much since starting the charity cookbook project. But I am reminding us that it really is a mindset. Even for me.
Maybe you’ll think of this the next time you’re convinced that you just can’t possibly cook.
What? That’s a long shot?!
Ooh, okay, I’ve got it: The next time you feel like you have time, make these Zucchini Pancakes. Their deliciousness will win you over (certainly more than my soapboxing about mindset!). Then you’ll give cooking a second thought the next time you’re about to pick up the phone. Just like I did.
Yup, these pancakes are that good.
* These pancakes make a great lunch for kids. Make a bunch and keep on hand. They are also a fantastic first finger food and even great for entertaining… grown ups.
makes 5 app/side sized pancakes
(can be shared with kids 6+ mos)*
3 c shredded zucchini, about 2 large
1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1/4 c flour
1 Tbsp dill, ideally fresh
heaping 1/2 tsp aleppo pepper**
1. Place shredded zucchini in a colander and toss with salt. Allow to sit and drain for at least 30 minutes. Once drained, squeeze the zucchini dry in a kitchen towel. If you don’t have 30 minutes to spare, skip straight to the towel squeeze knowing that you’ll have to squeeze a bunch of times. You want the zucchini to be as dry as possible.
2. Combine zucchini and remaining ingredients to make a batter.
3. Cover the bottom of a pan with thin layer of olive oil and heat over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, drop a scant 1/4 c of batter into the pan per pancake. Allow to cook for about 30 seconds and then, using a spatula, flatten the pancake. These are thin, somewhere between a fluffy flap jack and crepe. Cook until the pancake browns on one side, for another 30 seconds or minute, then flip. Continue cooking until the other side turns golden brown and the pancake is cooked through, another 2 minutes or so. Serve with a dollop of Greek-style yogurt.
*Note: These are a fantastic first finger food. Puree or mash pancakes for little ones not yet adept at finger food eating.
**Note: You can find aleppo pepper online or at your nearest Middle Eastern grocery. There’s no perfect substitute, so you can skip OR try 1/8 teaspoon of either ancho chili powder or red pepper flakes plus 1/8 tsp of paprika.