You know, it takes a big man to admit when he was wrong. And, I don’t know if you know this, but I’m a pretty big guy.
Did I start this post with a meme referencing a 5 year old movie? Jesus Christ, that meme is so dated NAZIS think using it is an obviously silly and mockable attempt to revive the not-so-well-received Third installment of a franchise, that only makes the speaker look bad in public. Alright, start over..
You know, it takes a man of notable moral character to admit when he was wrong. And I was. Just now. That was the wrong thing to do. Also, two weeks ago, I lost my shit trying to talk about Zucchini. I claimed it had a stupid name, and that while the intricacies of Italian linguistics are fascinating, this isn’t the venue to discuss them. I stated that, to me, the zucchini were representative of the loss of control I’ve had in my life, and that I hated the stupid fucking vegetable.
Those were all true statements. Because I’m actually only a mildly big guy, so fuck it, I don’t have to apologize for this specific thing.
SO, WHILE I STILL STAND BY ALL OF THOSE STATEMENTS…It should be noted that none of them are actually zucchini’s FAULT. Like, for all my emotional catharsis, the fact remained that the zucchini itself never did any of that to me. And, I was forced to face a fact that may have driven farmers mad for centuries, but was oddly relaxing for me: like it or not, the shit just won’t stop growing. Which meant that, maybe ten days after the Muses sang of the wrath of Jon, son of Gregory, that brought countless ills upon the O’Guins, (Or at least drained Jon so much he couldn’t write a Thursday post) I found myself staring at...more zucchini.
I am gonna stab so many people the river itself bitches at me to knock it off.
And then I will stab the river, for giving me lip.
And got told, “Hey, find something to cook these in, okay?” Because my parents don’t actually read this site anymore, so they have no idea how I feel about basically anything. I could point out that they supposedly USED to read it with pride and share it with people, but since I moved back I haven’t heard them mention or reference it ONCE in two years, so I’m beginning to suspect their praise was based on LIES…but that’s not this batch of zucchini’s fault. Nor, perhaps tragically, does it even feel surprising.
Ignoring that pathos there because it’s just honestly not useful right now, I also found a recipe for a new zucchini dish while tidying one of the many rooms I am told to clean, and then chastised for cleaning wrongly. So I decided to use that, since it came from a magazine I bought with my own money 4 years ago, so it could serve as some sort of totem that the past can motivate us to do good in the present, or whatever.
LET’S TALK ABOUT THE GARDEN NOW, BECAUSE, SURPRISE, I’M WRITING THIS NOTE AFTER 6 HOURS OF DRINKING, BECAUSE FUCK YOU, IT’S SATURDAY, YOU DON'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO! YOU’RE NOT MY DAD, BECAUSE MY DAD HAS CANCER.
That Got Dark in a Fucking Hurry
Too far? Maybe. My apologies. I actually have been drinking, on and off, for the last quarter of the day, but it clearly hasn’t been too impactful, since I made a damn near word-perfect Iliad reference a coupleparagraphs back. Though, given the nigh-critical levels of Greek mythology fanboyism and high-falutin’ condescension I carry everywhere, let’s be clear: I was always going to nail that reference. Anyway, I DO want to talk about the garden, I just didn’t have a useful transition, what with, you know, the wallowing in self-pity and so forth. Super great sign of emotional stability, and general desirability or attractiveness, Jon.
Wait, were we aiming FOR stability and desirability? Oooh. I though we were aiming FROM them.
What was I saying? GARDEN, YES. Jesus, I am REALLY committing to the “insane drunk literature major” tone here, aren’t I? So we’re clear, while I may have thought or meant some of these things…Ooooh. I don’t know how to write this next part without sounding just a different type of crazy. Ummmmm. You know what, today is NOT going to be another goddamn introspection bullshit party. Bullet point list: Yes, I am (barely) buzzed right now, so I’m a little shit at segues at the moment; Yes, I have felt or thought all this dark shit I’ve been writing, because good comedy comes from honesty; no, I don’t BELIEVE most of them, which is to say that they don’t form lasting impressions or attitudes. They’re thoughts I have, refute or ignore, and move on. Because we HAVE to keep moving forward. JUST LIKE THE GARDEN.
OH NO IT SUMMONED ENTS! RUN!! RUUUUNNNNN!
So, this garden was my mother’s idea, a few months ago, and… …Ugh. Listen. I don’t think I’m doing too well here, guys. I’m gonna call it a night, and have Sober Jon wrap this crap up Sunday, okay? Okay.
Pro-Tip: I am Not To Be Trusted
HEY HEY FUCKING HEY!
Drunk Jon? What are you doing here? We said Sober Jon would handle this!
Welp, Nate went to a Sounders game, I had to go sit in Bremerton for 40 minutes to pick him up, and so I ended up three shots deep! SOBER JON IS DEAD. LONG LIVE DRUNK JON.
You took three shots and drove your brother home?
What? No, of course not. I had him drive, because he was sober. Drunk Jon never physically endangers people with his antics. Drunk Driving is No Joke
This statement paid for by nobody, Jon's just a boring old square who likes to survive car rides.
Any who, what the fuck were we up to?
We were talking about the Zucchini Fritters.
Jesus, those things? They were fine. Didn’t we agree that Zucchini was boring?
WE HAVE ALREADY COVERED THAT. It’s been ONE day, how the hell did you forget what the hell you wrote?!
Don’t yell at ME, fictionally summoned Drunk Jon of Yesterday! We were DRINKING FOR SIX HOURS, in the middle of editing 100 fucking pages of our Game of Thrones alternate Universe storyline! How the Hell am I supposed to- *Sunday Drunk Jon passes out, or is knocked out by Past Jon for bringing up the Game of Thrones thing.*
We Interrupt this post for some much needed Sobriety.
Actual Sober Jon back now. Man, my love of call-backs really gets out of hand when I drink, doesn’t it? IN fact, I had to delete an entire paragraph right here where second Drunk Me pretended to be Sober me, to add even more layers of time-displacement and personality in-fighting. Now, let’s ACTUALLY talk about the garden, and this zucchini dish. Today’s post was another one of “the recipe is pretty simple, so we need to kill a lot of time.” I mean, in the end, the recipe is basically take these two vegetables, zucchini and chives:
The tomato just likes to watch.
And mix them with the ingredients to a fairly normal batter: egg, flour, cornstarch. Then fry the patties. The hardest part of the whole process was wringing the zucchini dry so they would bind together better and fry up nicely. That took like, 20 minutes of squeezing green liquid through a dish towel, and trying to figure out how best to hold a dish towel to squeeze green liquid out of it.
Like a zucchini teabag.
The most UPSETTING part of the recipe was where it LIED to me, having me make a “Soy Dipping Sauce” that was 3 parts vinegar to 1 part soy. Let me tell you, flavorwise, that is NOT a soy sauce, it’s a VINEGAR sauce, with some aromatics. My brother, who you may recall from our Weird Fruit Taste Test loves soy sauce to a frankly mildly disturbing degree, was particularly displeased.
But, overall, the recipe was simple, and perfectly fine. I would personally consider adding some more flavoring to the INSIDE of the fritters, which were basically just zucchini, batter, salt and pepper. My investigation suggests red pepper flakes would work (and they’re in the sauce, so that’s a nice parallel) or maybe Cajun seasoning or something: I just had bites where I found the batter to be a little bland, and something in there to perk it up would have worked.
A Not-So Secret Garden
Now, for my mother’s garden. I railed against it a few weeks ago, for…various reasons. One of the many difficulties in our house is the “too many cooks” issue: literally every member of my family is used to being in some form of leadership position. So EVERYONE honestly believes they have the best plan, and gets irritated when the others don’t agree or adhere to the plan. Me, personally, I’m all about maximizing results: how can I get the most benefit out of the least effort? Things like knowing that cleaning up a hallway makes people happier than cleaning the corners of a room, or moving supplies for tasks closer to where those tasks take place, so things feel more fluid and easy.
My mother believes in a different stratagem: Take all the little problems, and push them into one problem. When cleaning a room, my mother takes all the clutter, debris, trash, etc, and makes it into one pile. Then, as she sees it, there’s only ONE thing to handle: the pile! So, when my father got sick, and decided to buy chickens, she saw this as an opportunity: since we’re outside with the chickens anyway, let’s also redesign the backyard, and plant a garden that we can get my dad to tend to, so he has something to do. And, to be fair, the garden has been taking OFF.
Tell me, have the photo captions been a little too...corny, today?
We’ve had beans and squash and tomatoes for weeks. The PROBLEM is, well…Listen. I do not know how hard chemotherapy is, how draining on the system. I do know that my father hasn’t so much as washed a dish in about 3-4 months now. So the “it’ll force dad outside” objective failed, turning into “he’ll tell Nate and Jon to do it, except he won’t, because it’s not his garden so he doesn’t care what happens to it. So now Mom has to tell Nate and Jon to handle it,” meaning the entire project has become simply another task.
That’s the root, so to speak, of my problem with the zucchini: it’s…a refutation. Like the chickens; like the extra meals we make him that he doesn’t eat, so we feel guilty that we’re wasting food. It’s another thing we did to try and keep our dad up and about, to keep him happy, that he just doesn’t care about. It’s a maximized effort (daily upkeep, multiple days of construction, increased workload in other areas, etc) for a minimal effort. And that grates at me. (Shit, another half-pun. I totally didn’t mean that.)
But the plants keep growing. Soon we’ll have hot peppers and corn, and maybe I’ll grow to hate those too. Or maybe by then things will be better. Today was my dad’s last radiation appointment. He finished Chemo last Wednesday. In a few weeks, we’ll go see the doctor to make sure, but for right now, we’re standing on the end of this particular chapter of bull-shit. So I can stomach a few more bites of zucchini for now, with the hope of some desserts in the future.
THURSDAY: MORE A FARMING POST THAN A COOKING ONE, JON DISCUSSES THE SILENT PURGE OF THE AMERICAN BARNYARD.
NEXT MONDAY: JON HAS DECIDED THAT SEPTEMBER WILL BE “DINER MONTH” , AND PLANS TO KICK THINGS OFF WITH A SPUD: HASHBROWNS AND HOMEFRIES.
Soy Dipping Sauce
- 3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- Crushed red pepper flakest
- 1 1/2 pounds zucchini (about 3 medium), grated
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for seasoning
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- For the "Soy" Dipping Sauce: Mix vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and a pinch of red pepper flakes in a small bowl until sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
- For the Fritters: Place zucchini in a colander set in the sink and toss with 1/2 teaspoons salt. Let stand 10 minutes, then wring zucchini dry in a clean kitchen towel. Place zucchini in a large bowl and gently mix in egg, flour, chives, and cornstarch; season with salt and pepper.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Working in 2 batches, drop 1/4-cupfuls zucchini mixture into skillet, flattening slightly; cook until golden and crisp, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer fritters to a paper towel–lined plate; season with salt. Serve with sauce.