Tuesday, May 1, 2007

I've Got My Hands in What????

Of the many things I want my children to experience and learn, planting and growing a garden is near the top of the list. For Ashley especially, a vegetable and herb garden represents a world of sensory experiences. The vibration of the tiller makes her whole body shake, and the ‘ah-ah-ah-ah-ah’ she voices makes her giggle uncontrollably. The application of manure to the dirt causes both Ashley and my other children to turn up their noses in disgust and then whisper behind their hands other more crude words for manure. But, I see their sense of pride as they rake the dirt into neat rows.

The trip to the garden center for plants is a much anticipated rite of spring. Although I choose the more common ‘salad’ vegetables (tomato, cucumber, peppers, squash), the kids love to find the more uncommon plants – things like okra, spaghetti squash, and asparagus. More often then not, our uncommon plants don’t do well, but they are still fun for experiments. We throw in a few herbs, including catnip for our two cats, and head home to plant our ‘babies’.

Ashley and my other kids love to plant and get their hands dirty. I guess they have forgotten that they are also getting manure on their hands! They have contests to see who can find the first worm, and then of course, they yammer about how long it has been since we have gone fishing. Sometimes I wonder how the baby plants will survive the less than gentle planting, especially from Ashley, but somehow they almost always do survive. We then spend the rest of the summer watching (and feeling, in Ashley’s case) our babies grow and produce the food we all love so much.

So, here’s to marinated cucumbers, tomato sandwiches, and zucchini corn fritters. And, here’s to kids, no matter their age or ability, learning that they can play a part in bringing dinner to the table!

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
fresh ground black pepper
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 cups grated zucchini
1 1/2 cups fresh corn, kernels cut from cob
1 cup finely shredded Cheddar cheese
oil for frying

In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, cumin, sugar, salt, and pepper.
In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and butter. Whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Stir in zucchini, corn, and cheese; mix well.

Warm oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Drop batter by the tablespoonful into hot oil. Fry until crisp and brown, turning once with tongs. Remove to paper towels.

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