gluten-free zucchini and leek fritters with lemony yogurt dip

Sunday, July 28, 2013

*An open letter to Zucchini*

Dear Zucchini,

First, the bad news: for being so unapologetically phallic, you're a little flavor-impotent. You're pretty innocuous and ho-hum on your own and (sorry to say) usually a bit of an afterthought. That said, I really appreciate that you are flexible, you'll go with the flow, you'll adapt. You can take the grill in stride, make nice in a pasta salad, or feel at home on a crudite platter. You're not super crunchy but you're sturdy enough to be a decent hummus delivery system. 

And you know what? You're humble. I admire that. Even when you grow to obscene sizes, you never forget your roots. You never seem show-offy like a giant pumpkin. No one's writing a Charlie Brown special about you, that's for sure. There'll be no holiday in your honor. And yet you seem to be fine with that, which pleases me. You're good at slipping into cakes and breads without fanfare and somehow knowing you're there is comforting. You're like a late-arriving big brother who stands at the back of a school pageant, or a rarely-seen distant relative who still sends you five bucks for your birthday. 

The dark side to your type of easy flexibility is a flip-floppy, timid nature. In Chinese Medicine, the element associated with this behavior is Water. No surprise there. You're the wateriest thing I know. My Google search lets me know that watery individuals might also harbor some fear. What are you afraid of, Zucchini? Not being delicious? Remember the time I used your moisture for good instead of evil? When I put you in that hearty breakfast bread? I was able to use one whole tablespoon less oil. You took one for the team that day, you selfless champ. And you were tasty. So chin up, Zukes!

Usually you're filler, a background player, rarely the star of the show. That changes today, my friend.
Your ardent fan,

Zucchini and Leek Fritters with Lemony Yogurt Dip
serves 2-3 (yields about 12-14 fritters)

2 medium zucchini, grated
3/4 t kosher salt, divided
1 cup chopped leeks, white and light green parts only (about 1-2 leeks depending on size)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup GF all-purpose flour (or regular extra-gluten flour if desired:))
1/2 t baking powder
a few grinds of cracked pepper
olive oil for frying
sea salt for sprinkling

Yogurt Dip:
3/4 cup greek yogurt
zest of 1/2 lemon
1 T lemon juice
1/2 clove garlic, minced
pinch sea salt
2T chopped mint for garnish

In the sink, place the grated zucchini in a colander with 1/2 t kosher salt. Let sit for 10 minutes to help pull out the excess water. While that sits, sauté the chopped leeks in about 1T of olive oil until golden brown, about 7-8 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. Place the salted zucchini in a clean kitchen towel and wring out as much water as possible--the dryer the better or you risk mushy fritters! Combine the dry zucchini and the sautéed leeks with the egg and stir. Next, sprinkle in the flour, baking powder, 1/4 t salt and pepper and stir to combine. Heat 1-2t olive oil in a nonstick or cast iron skillet over medium heat. When hot, drop mixture by heaping tablespoonfuls and press with a fork to flatten slightly. Cook for a couple minutes (taking care not to burn) and flip when golden, finishing for 2-3 minutes on the second side. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt and serve immediately (or keep warm on a rack in a 200F oven).

For the dip, stir together the yogurt, zest, juice, garlic and salt. Let sit for the flavors to incorporate. After dolloping on a fritter, toss a few mint shreds on top.

Yay, Zucchini!

P.S. I am going to be sporting a sassy attitude and facial prosthetics in tonight's episode (7/28) of Devious Maids on Lifetime!

P.P.S. This is a story I wrote about shooting said episode.

yogurt city

Monday, July 22, 2013

Holy yogurt! I didn't think I could love Pinkberry any more, but after getting to peek inside their Santa Monica headquarters, my crush has been reinvigorated. I want to live inside their office. It's all clean lines, palm-tree views, bamboo surfaces and white walls with bright color accents (and cow paintings!). Not to mention a FROZEN YOGURT MACHINE. I mean, c'mon.

Joeycake* was invited to a food-blogger event to taste some new flavors and try some of their new-ish combos. Did you know that Pinkberry has non-frozen greek yogurt? Me neither. They have these greek yogurt bowls with toppings that were so delicious. My unlikely fave was a savory one with olive oil, chili powder, persian cucumbers and sesame crackers. Crazy good. 

*I love saying this when it's really just me.

And this beauty? This is their new flavor of frozen yogurt launching in September: Butter Pecan, pictured here with bananas and candied pecans. Like frozen banana bread. Super autumnal and decadent.

Another fun thing? I met a couple of lovely and cool ladies, Sara and Mara, who have gorgeous blogs worth checking out (about natural living and fashion, respectively).

The PB folks nicely sent me home with a quart of their greek yogurt (that is available for purchase in PB stores) and it's so smooth--like Fage but creamier and without that gamey quality. I whipped up a batch of JC granola and they are a match made in heaven.

Happy Monday:)

P.S. I'm new to all of this but it's worth saying: there is no pay-for-play on my blog. Anything I talk about here is because I want to and because I feel it may have value to you, too. xo

radical self-acceptance

Thursday, July 18, 2013

I'm sitting here against a hot heating pad with a hot laptop on my lap feeling pretty un-hot right now. I'm having the post-show blues that I always get after a particularly high-flying performing experience but worse. Because at the tail end of it all, post-closing show, when I was leaving the very final, after-after-party, I threw out my back walking to the car. I've been laid up for the last few days, waiting for the spasm to ease its grip.

I'm old enough to know all the things I'm feeling (emotional and physical) are temporary but I feel weepy and a little pitiful nonetheless. It reminds me of living in NYC years ago: I'd be in the throes of mid-winter, freezing my ass off and not able, try as I might, to even fathom what summer felt like. I was thoroughly convinced I would never be warm again. Then poof! Six months later I'd be sweating in the back of a sweltering cab, my bare legs sticking to the vinyl seat. I'd have the same feeling all over again but exactly reversed. Why do we forget so easily? And again and again?

I'm no stranger to post-show-blues nor back pain. I've been dealing with both since High School. I'm decent at coping with the couple-day dip emotionally but the physical stuff really wears on me and tests me in ways I never feel prepared for. Ever since I started dancing professionally years ago, I have dealt with back issues. I've been massaged, cracked, needled, rolfed, and physical-therapied. I can recall countless times I've lay on all those various tables and openly wept. Partly from fear, mostly from pain: the holding onto it and the trying to let it go. The sheer frustration that I'm back with the pain again makes me feel like an utter failure, like I'm back to square one. Back. Stuck. It reminds me of all the other places I feel stuck in my life, and feels like all the work I've done to heal and strengthen have been for naught. 

So. Today, propped up against the heating pad, hopped up on generic Advil and super overwhelmed, I opened the Joeycake drafts folder on my laptop, a way-station for random ideas and little seed-lets waiting to be either nurtured or forgotten, and found a blank post I once-upon-a-time entitled "Radical Self-Acceptance". I completely forgot I'd ever jotted it down. Just a phrase that popped in my mind one day that I wanted to remember to ruminate on. I chose to take it as a note from my past self to the future (now present) me, a little reminder breadcrumb: Be nice to yourself. It sounds simple until you get to the "radical" part. How do you do it when it's hard, when you forget, or when you have to keep doing it over and over, maybe even about the same freaking thing (like throwing your back out)? Can you love yourself if you're not where you want to be? Can you love yourself if you're heavier than you think you should be? Or if you're single and you don't wanna be? Or if your kids are driving you crazy? Or if you can't get pregnant? Or if your career has stalled? Or if you're sick? Or if you're sad? Because, shit: that's when self-love is needed the most. That's when it counts. That's the radical part. And if you can figure out how to give that to yourself? Think about how free you'll be. Don't we kind of owe it to ourselves to figure out how to best support us? 

So I try to ease into it. I breathe. I try and talk myself down. Maybe I needed some rest. Maybe this is just where I am right now. Maybe it doesn't need to have this giant awful meaning attached to it. Maybe this too shall pass. Maybe it's un-figure-out-able and it's okay to let it be. And from that place I catch a glimmer of clarity. I can remember that I've been here before and I've lived through it and that it actually did get better.  

We're all so freaking hard on ourselves. Don't get me wrong--I'm all for holding ourselves to high standards and being able to kick our own asses when it comes to that. But maybe we could just cut ourselves a little slack and treat ourselves the way we'd treat our best friends when they're going through something hard. Aren't we able to honor them in a moment of pain or hardship?

I had big plans for this week (especially since Joeycake has gotten pushed to the back burner around here lately): lots of cooking and picture-taking and getting caught up on multiple fronts. I really had zero plans for heating pads and ice packs. And zero plans for eating gross meals made up of meager cupboard scraps (since neither David nor I have had time to go grocery shopping in over a week) but it is what it is. I told my friend Shannon all I had in the fridge was a bottle of champagne, some soy butter, a lone, over-the-hill zucchini and half a bottle of teriyaki sauce and he said that sounded like a nightmare mystery box from an episode of Chopped. 

I'm gonna go fire up the heating pad and begin this quest with a glass of champagne. It's either that or zucchini with a teriyaki-soy butter sauce and I love myself too much for that.


love on the rocks

Saturday, July 6, 2013

To give you an idea of how busy it's been over here, Lena's retractable leash broke about a week ago and so we fastened two belts together to build her a makeshift one. (Ghetto, anyone?) Several days into this awkward belt-walking, I finally remembered to order a new leash on Amazon only now it's lost in shipping. I can't even deal with it. Thank goodness Lena is so understanding. And since all I can do is stress-eat and -drink lately, my pants have no chance of falling down sans belt.


All this to say that I've been meaning to post these pictures forever. Weeks ago, my sweet Mom and I had a couple hours together in LA and we spent them lunching and strolling around LACMA. I've been dying to see Levitated Mass, a 340 ton chunk of granite that, in an incredible feat of transportation and engineering, is suspended above a subterranean walkway. It was unveiled about a year ago and I had a mild interest then, but something's happened in the last couple months--I've become completely obsessed with visiting. It did not disappoint--there is some serious power in being near/under that piece of earth. It's just cool.

The last time I was at LACMA this happened so it was nice to be there in the light of day this time, not trying to stave off slumber:)

Happy 4th of JULY! Did everyone have a fun Holiday? I hope so. And here it is the weekend, too!  Bonus!


P.S. This. Nylons????
P.P.S. Looking for a strawberry dessert? These are amazing.

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