Happy New Year and welcome to 2013!
I’m sitting here on my porch, in the heat of the summer sun, watching the tomatoes grow and taking stock of everything that has taken place over the past 12 months. It has been a busy year for me, one of highs and lows. As seems customary this time of year it is a good place to go back over my previous creations for the year and put together a collection of my favourite posts; the ones that were hugely popular and the ones that weren’t but probably should have been. As I go over my list for the year an enduring theme arises and that is one of change and growth.
It is clear to me that 2012 was a year of consolidation, of taking lessons learned and putting them into practice, of letting go, making mistakes and being ok with it and perhaps, most profoundly, one of exhaustion and fatigue. I worked hard in 2012 in so many aspects of my life. I took on new challenges while still juggling old ones, I held onto things I should have let go of, I held others hands as they dipped their toes in the pond and I felt the sting of fear, disappointment and uncertainty. It is safe to say that it has taken its toll.
I have no regrets, it was important for me to be able to do and feel these things but I do now sense a level of determination rise up inside me as I look down the barrel of another year. I want 2013 to take on a different flavour, I want to be in an entirely different place at the end of this year both physically and mentally and what is abundantly clear to me at this point is that I must make this happen for myself and not shy away from the challenges that will undoubtedly rise up and tackle me along the way. I need to ask for help when I need it and be more open about the challenges I face. I must surround myself with good people, do more of the things that make me happy and less of the things that don’t. I must ultimately jump off the jetty and get my hair wet.
This time of year always gives me pause to consider and reflect on what direction I would like my life to be heading. Last years goal was to be less judgemental and more open, to loosen the reigns a little and let things take me where they needed to. I feel that I achieved that to some degree, but it was a hard-fought battle and will take me much longer than a year to achieve. Making personal change is always a difficult process, one that challenges the very core of who we are as people. But in doing so I achieved many wonderful things; in my personal life I welcomed a whole lot of new people into my world, many of whom I now consider good friends, I also let some go and while painful, it was ultimately a cleansing process that was good for me.
As I move forward now I see these challenges as part of the structural changes needed to help guide me along the road of life. In my professional life, I took risks and got burnt, I felt the sting of lethargy and panic as my determination to succeed against the odds gave way to sickness and fear, I waded out too far in order to face the challenges and when I turned around I found myself alone, knee-deep in the mud and not sure how to get out of it. This was ultimately a lesson, one that shapes my every decision now. I know that deep down, going out on a limb is important, but so is making sure that you’re wearing a harness should that limb suddenly give way and leave you free-falling.
So where does this leave me in 2013? On the same road I guess, heading in the same direction but feeling refreshed and revitalised. It’s like I have upgraded to a new operating system, one with better specs and more speed. I want this year to be my level up year, my year of change and reinvention. I want to drink less, move more and spend more time doing the things I love. I want to read more, write more and create. I want to spend less time worrying about things that are of no consequence and ultimately I want to give myself a break.
I want to break free from the chains of self-doubt and embrace my true self, be the person on the inside that I portray on the outside and continue to change and grow with each new day and each new challenge. I am 31 years old now, now is not the time for a Sandra Dee style reinvention, but rather a continued consolidation of learnings and goals and this will be my mantra, I look forward to sharing it with you and I wish you all the best for the coming year.
Crumbed Zucchini Flowers
I am in love with this recipe, it is such a simple and fulfilling way of eating. If you are growing your own zucchini’s then this is a lovely way to use up female flowers that might open in the absence of a male flower. The female flowers are easy to identify, they have a baby zucchini attached to the bottom of them. Simply snip off with a sharp knife at the base and stuff with a cheesy, herby filling. It is a little fiddly but once you’ve got the technique down pat you will find yourself in a bit of a groove. I gently open the flowers with my fingers and snip out the stamen with a knife, I then fill a piping bag with the ricotta-herb mixture and gently squeeze it in, twist the ends closed and then dip in the batter. You could also use a spoon but I found this to be a much simpler method. If you don’t have access to fresh zucchini flowers then you can sometimes find them at the farmers market. They might be a little tricky to open but my only advice is to be patient.
Once stuffed, you simply crumb as you would anything else: dust first with flower, then in egg and then in the crumb. Fry in some oil then eat as soon as possible.
- 6 female zucchini flowers, stems in tact.
- 100g goats curd
- 200g ricotta cheese
- 2 tbspns chives, finely chopped
- 1 cup plain flour
- 2 eggs
- 3 slices of sourdough bread, toasted and then blitzed into crumbs in the food processor
- 1 tbspn cumin seeds, lightly toasted
- salt and pepper to taste
- vegetable oil for frying
- Gently remove stamens from inside the flower.
- Combine curd, ricotta and chives in a medium-sized mixing bowl and then transfer to a piping bag.
- Prepare crumbing mixture in three bowls:
- In the first bowl place the flour with a generous pinch of salt and pepper.
- In the second bowl add the eggs, gently whisked.
- In the third bowl add the fresh breadcrumbs, cumin seeds and a pinch of salt and black pepper.
- Fill each flower about two-thirds full and twist the top to seal.
- Crumb each flower by first dusting with flour, then dipping in the egg mix and then crumbing.
- Crumb each flower before you cook.
- While crumbing heat the oil to almost smoking.
- I use a deep pan and half fill it with vegetable oil.
- When the oil is really hot drop a couple of flowers in and count to thirty, gently flip using tongs and then count to thirty again.
- Remove from the oil to drain on a paper towel while you cook the rest.
- Serve immediately.