letter writing & other diversions

Last year, there was a story on CBS Sunday Morning about the mother of a deceased soldier receiving a letter of sympathy from former British Prime Minister Gordan Brown. Apparently, the handwriting was atrocious and there were spelling errors throughout the letter – not to mention scratched out errors that lent a certain kind of Unabomber affect to the letter’s appearance. The recipient was so outraged, she made the letter public. Why doesn’t a world leader have the experience it takes to practice decent penmanship? The whole situation begged the question – does proper letter writing even matter anymore?

When I was in the fifth grade, I remember a detailed lesson given on letter writing. Of course, this was in a Department of Defense school on a military installation. Therefore, the curriculum had to acknowledge somehow that the kids in the class would constantly have to find a way to make new friends. But why not keep old friends, too? I was fascinated with the idea of trying to hold on through the power of the pen. I think that every since then, I have tried to keep in touch via what is now called “snail mail”.

As a reaction to this story, I stated in my Facebook status that I would be willing to write letters to anyone that was willing to receive one.  I was trying to climb out of my letter writing rut. I felt that I was always writing to Cat or Amy, and although I tried to think out of the box on who else to write, I was feeling a little uninspired. And, no offense to Cat or Amy – you two will still get letters. I sent letters to Wisconsin, Washington, Kentucky, Missouri, California, New York, and even one to someone I know that lives here in Driggs.

It’s comforting somehow to break out pen and paper.

But don’t send a handwritten letter if you have the penmanship of a bipolar 3rd grader. Try practicing a little before you are ready to commit.

On other fronts, I was happy to find red potatoes in the pantry so that I could make one of my favorites from the Pioneer Woman’s kitchen. When you pair olive oil, good tastin’ taters and simple seasonings with high heat – it is always a winner.

I have also been obsessing over this eggplant fritter recipe I found in a cookbook that I have owned forever. I had never tried it, and in the past two weeks, I have made it three times. Tim absolutely salivates over the finished product, and for him to love eggplant that much in any form is a major victory on my behalf. I passed on a copy to my boss. I also kept telling my co-workers “I’ll bring some in on my day off.” I haven’t yet and I fear that if I do, the fritters will be cold upon arrival and both taste and texture will have failed. Each one of them will just have to try to do it at home using the below information…

Oh, before you start reading, I must say that the below original recipe is bland on the seasonings. Add garlic powder, a seasoning salt, paprika, or whatever suits your palette to the portion of flours that are sifted together to make the batter. Also, the amount of oil that is called for is just right for the size of the slices that will be taking the sizzling hot bath. Too much, and the batter will not fry correctly. Too little, and the eggplant will burn. Med high was almost a good setting for my stove, but I nudged the dial just a skosh higher and found the perfect temp.

These tasties are great paired with sour cream or some Greek yogurt that has been spiced up a little.

I wish you the best of luck in making a decent batch. As my friend Red-Head Jen likes to say, these are “DEE-lish!”

Eggplant Fritters

from The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook, Murdoch Books, (c) 1996

1 large, long eggplant
1 tbsp salt
2 tbsp besan flour (chickpea flour)
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 c. pastry flour
1/2 c. besan flour, extra
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 c. cold beer
2 tsp lemon juice
2/3 cup olive oil, for shallow-frying

1. Cut eggplant into 1/4″ thick slices. You may end up w/around 20 with an eggplant this size. Sprinkle both sides of each slice with salt. Leave in colander for about 20 minutes. Rinse the eggplant, drain well & pat dry w/paper towels.

2. Combine the 2 tbsp besan flour & pepper on a sheet of greaseproof paper. Dust the eggplant slice lightly in seasoned flour & shake off excess.

3. Sift remaining flours into a medium bowl; make a well in the center. Add eggs, beer and lemon juice all at once. Beat until liquid is incorporated & batter is free of lumps.

4. Heat oil in a large heavy based skillet. Using two forks, dip floured eggplant into batter a few pieces at a time; drain off excess. Cook in oil over med high heat for 2 min or until underside is golden & crisp. Turn fritter over, cook on other side. Transfer to large plate; keep warm. Repeat with remaining batter & eggplant.

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