Thursday, December 2, 2010
National Fritter Day - really?
Not Making Fritters
December 2nd is National Fritter Day. Now my first thought when I learned this was why would we have a National day of wasting time. It never occurred to me to think about the small little cakes of dough one fries up to eat. I was thinking more literally of the 18th century word fritter which means to cut or tear something into pieces or scraps. It was used a great deal when discussing making scraps which you would do when making albums and quilts, two big 18th century pastimes. (Did I ever mention that in a former life I was a History Museum Curator?)
Obviously I was also thinking of the word the way my mother and grandmother used it when they used to point out how I could fritter away an entire day sitting in the sunshine with a notebook writing the life story of any number of fictional characters I had created in my head because my life was too boring.
I never kept a journal, however I have notebook after notebook filled with words, but they never used my name or my description or my circumstances. I am sure they still tell a great deal about me, I can remember many times the place I was or the situation I was in just by reading them sometimes because of the turn of phrase or the name of a character or sometimes the notes in the upper left corner where I would write phone numbers and reminders to myself.
I find it a wonderful distraction even to this day to fritter away an hour or two sitting in front of the filing cabinet where I keep all these precious notebooks and read about the imaginary characters my mind created. This is all leading to the fact that in November I took one of those notebooks and turned one of those fictional characters into a full-blown novel as part of National Novel Writing Month. The goal was 50,000 words by November 30, 2010. I finished with 35,985 words that you can actually read and another 20,000 that are (in my opinion) useless – so close! It still counted me as a winner, but…
Perhaps next year I will grab another notebook from the drawer and try again. If that works I may yet get the frustrated author inside me out of the cabinet and into the open.
Until then, why not enjoy these Fried Fritter recipes I crafted for the real purpose of National Fritter Day!
A fritter recipe is simply created from a piece of food that has been dipped in batter and fried. Ideally, the taste of the fruit or other filling should be the dominate flavor rather than the taste of the batter. Because they require deep-frying, fritter recipes should be thoroughly drained before serving to avoid a too-greasy and unappetizing dish. If the food inside is uncooked, the oil may have been too hot or the coating too thick. Conversely, if the coating is too thin or uneven, the food may be overcooked or the batter could float off the bits of food. To properly adhere the coating, the fruit or other type of food should be dry before dipping.
With a bit of attention, it is easy to make homemade fritters that are a rich and decadent treat, suitable for breakfast, dinner, dessert, or just as a wicked snack.
Traditional Corn Fritter with an Herbal Twist
1. To 2 cups of grated sweet corn (in winter you can mash up frozen corn or use canned creamed corn) add 1 cup of flour sifted with 1 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. savory and a ¼ tsp. paprika; add also ½ cup of finely chopped celery and the beaten yolks of two eggs.
2. Mix thoroughly and then fold in the stiffly whipped whites of two eggs.
3. Drop by spoonfuls into hot fat and slowly fry to a pale brown.
4. The fat should be about half an inch in depth in a pan-deeper than is required for sautéing, but not deep enough to cover the fritters. You will have to turn them to get even frying.
Cake Fritters (use this to recreate a leftover piece of cake!)
1 cup milk
Grated rind 1 lemon
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
5 slices stale cake
½ teaspoon powdered cinnamon
Sugar and few grains salt
1. Cake should be about a 1/4 of an inch thick, not less.
2. Cut out into oval or round shapes with cutter.
3. Beat egg, mix with milk, lemon rind, salt, and about 1 teaspoon sugar.
4. Lay slices of cake in this egg mixture until they are soft, but not crumbly; time will depend upon how stale cake is.
5. Heat about half of the vegetable shortening in a frying pan. Carefully pick up a few pieces of cake and lay them in hot vegetable shortening.
6. Brown 1 side, then turn them over and brown other side also. Then remove to a stack of folded paper towel to absorb excess oil.
7. Add more vegetable shortening as needed and cook the remaining pieces of cake.
8. Mix cinnamon with 2 teaspoons sugar and sprinkle over the finished fritters.
9. Serve with hard sauce. (that is a museum thing again if you do not know what hard sauce is, just make a drizzle of powdered sugar dissolved in boiling water)