Houses are now bigger than ever and supposed to make our life better, but they come with entrances that require an invitation.
I long for the times we used to sit on the front porch and neighbors would drop by for ice tea or coffee. Even as a teenager, my friends would come to pick me up or drop me off, end up parking the car and we would spend an hour on the porch listening to the latest story about something or about nothing. It didn’t matter. It was just making a connection. Now we have more technology and we can text a friend on the other side of the world, but texting never tells the story.
I recently visited a friend who now lives in the house she grew up in and it has a well used front porch full of stories, history. On two different nights we sat there till after 1:00 a.m. Every now and then the 93 year shirtless man next door would come to his porch and wave. My friend has known him all her life.
A good friend and neighbor, Janet, made it over to the porch several times. She is Italian, loves to cook as much as I do, and when she found out I wrote a food blog, she graciously came with written out recipes in hand to share. I envy her neighbors because she’s the type that not only shares recipes, but comes with food. Good food. Soon after she gave me her zucchini fritter family recipe, she ran home made a batch and returned with a hot platter.
I got more than a recipe from her. I got her story. She’s a giver. She doubles this recipe and takes these zucchini fritters to gatherings. She’s enjoys making people happy with food. I found out that although she is younger than my friend, she was best friends with my friend’s mother. She sat on that porch for years with her laughing, hearing family secrets and, in the end, taking care of her like a daughter would. That front porch created a life long bond far more profound than the instant text.
I could have downloaded a recipe for zucchini fritters from an app, but it wouldn’t mean the same thing to me. When she arrived on the front porch with those hot fritters, I knew I had made a friend.
The Zucchini Fritters
The batter will be thick. The normal size would be a heaping tablespoon, but if you want to make some bite size fritters, uses a teaspoon.
I made it twice to be sure the recipe worked well. The first time I used a food processor to shred the zucchini. The second time, I used an old fashioned box cheese grater and I liked that texture better. I changed a few things by making my own bread crumbs and adding in fresh basil, but the important part of the recipe stayed the same. In addition to the flour, there is a a good amount of eggs and some baking powder. I also like that she used the pecorino romano cheese, which is a favorite of mine. It’s saltiness carries an egg dish which can go bland. I replaced the olive oil with a good grapeseed oil, which has a flavor all its own and is good for high temperature cooking. Make sure you use a full half cup in this recipe. It makes a difference.
I can’t wait to come back with a few more of her specialties like stromboli, or her BLT pasta salad. I tried hard to get her mother’s recipe for cucidati cookies, an Italian fig cookie made at Christmas time, but she did share the secret ingredient. This is Janet’s go to dish for parties.
By the way, one night we had to move our car for trash day. It was 1:30 in the morning and I suggested we use the drive way of the 93 year old neighbor who no longer drives. My friend said, “good idea, I’ll call him right now.” I replied, “but, it’s 1:30 in the morning.” She said, “that’s okay, he’s up till 5.” She called and he was up and happy. I just love the eccentricities that come with living in a city neighborhood.
Tell me, did you ever get to spend time sitting on the front porch?
- 5 large zucchini (size of big cucumbers) shredded with box grater.
- 4 eggs
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
- ¾ cup flour
- ½ cup pecorino romano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- salt and pepper to taste
- Shred zucchini with either a box grater or food processor that shreds, but does not mash. Salt zucchini, let stand 10 minutes and then absorb the extra moisture with paper towels.
- Mix together flour, breadcrumbs, salt, baking powder. Add cheese.
- Beat eggs and add to mixture. Mixture will be somewhat dry when stirring. Let it sit for 20 minutes. If the mixture is too moist, add in more flour until it looks like the picture.
- Drop from a spoon and hot olive oil on medium high heat. I usually do one tester and then apply extra seasoning if necessary, by adding in more cheese, or salt.
- Must get brown before turn them. Use a heaping tablespoon for regular size or a teaspoon for bite size.
- You can serve with yogurt, sour cream or an aoili or just alone, my preference.