Tennesseetransitions


Z Cakes and Chow Chow

I read other blogs and often get good ideas and recipes from them. Some are so good I then want to share them with you. My attempts to make appealing food for Michael while his appetite is so severely affected by his chemo treatments, and yet still keep our meals healthy, local, frugal, and easy for me to prepare, set a pretty high bar. But Zucchini Cakes definitely made the cut. When I was cooking them, Michael was not feeling well (or hungry) but I tempted him with one and it worked its’ magic on those compromised taste buds of his and he ate that cake and then another! This makes great use of a good-sized zucchini (and I’m always looking for solutions to that wonderful dilemma!) and used up the last bit of buckwheat pancake mix I had left in a bag in the freezer. These Z Cakes are good for any meal, but for breakfast we ate them with fresh peaches and homemade bread toasted and spread with some of the strawberry jam I made recently. We ate the remaining cakes with Potato/Leek Soup for lunch but I plan to make some more soon for supper, with corn on the cob and a cold pasta salad. That’ll keep Michael coming back to the table I’m sure!

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Here’s the recipe: (you’re welcome)

Savory Zucchini Pancakes

2-ish cups grated zucchini  (blot or drain to remove excess moisture)

2 eggs, beaten

Approx. 1/4  cup chopped green onion (or any onion can work)

About 1/2 cup grated cheese (a dry, flavorful one like Parmesan is good)

Roughly 1/2 cup pancake mix (I used buckwheat. But, you can use flour plus 1/2 tsp each salt and baking powder)

Optional: cracked black pepper, sour cream garnish

Mix first three ingredients together. Mix cheese and pancake or flour mix together separately, then add to the first bowl, stirring just until moistened.

Fry large spoonfuls in hot vegetable oil, flattening with spatula to get the right pancake thickness.

Here’s one final tip for making Z Cakes: If you’re overwhelmed with zucchini right now, grate it and freeze in 2 cup portions in freezer bags. thawing just long enough to be able to stir into to the cake batter. GREAT way to have your cake and eat it too. 😉

Last weekend, my friend Katie ‘gifted’ me with a 9 pound cabbage and a recipe for her aunt’s ‘Chow Chow’, which is a Southern condiment made of shredded cabbage, green tomatoes, onions, peppers and spices that can be made as sweet or as spicy as you like. After the veggies have sat in a salt brine overnight, you make a spiced syrup to mix into them, then seal it in jars for Christmas gift giving or eating on soup beans or however you like it best. Or, you can set the jars along the fence and just admire them…

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Not only does this food fit my requirements of being frugal and seasonal, it earns extra points in my opinion for using easily available locally grown foods (no matter where you live!) and for being so very healthy. I’ve just begun learning about the health benefits of fermented foods. They introduce helpful probiotics to our guts. And even though Michael’s chemo and radiation treatments are (hopefully) killing his body’s cancerous cells, at the same time they’re killing his ‘normal’ cells too. Enter Chow Chow. Even though this particular recipe is not a true fermented product since it uses vinegar, rather than TIME, to ferment, it’s still good food, packed with antioxidants. Just don’t give me any of yours for Christmas, I’ve got plenty of my own now.

Aunt Elizabeth’s Chow Chow

  • 4 quarts green tomatoes (about 30, sliced)

  • 6 pounds cabbage

  • 2 quarts onions. (5 lbs)

  • 3 hot peppers

  • 12 green peppers (3 ½ lbs)

  • 1 ½ cups table salt (non iodized)

Cover all of these ingredients and let stand overnight. (It all fit perfectly in my 4 quart slow cooker.)

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Next day, (after you’ve had Z Cakes for breakfast!), drain well. Then…

Combine and boil for 5 minutes:

  • 2 quarts vinegar (I like Apple Cider, but you can use your favorite)

  • 5 pounds sugar (I only used 2 ½)

  • 6 tablespoons dry mustard

  • 5 tablespoons celery seed 

  • 2 tablespoons turmeric 

  • 6 tablespoons flour

Add the chopped vegetables and bring to a boil until slightly thick. Pour in sterilized jars, covering the veggies. Seal. Can this Chow Chow just as you would other pickles in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Makes 10 pints; crisp and delicious.

I promise my next post will NOT be about food.

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