I will miss working with my editor of 14 years, Bert Etling, master of the keyboard and slave to the deadline, who bade farewell to the handful of us dedicated colleagues on The Cambrian staff, all of whom John Brannon described as “few enough to fit in a phone booth.”
I will miss that charming chuckle, twinkling eye and discussions about my use (or not) of the Oxford comma. We shared an appreciation of stargazing, vegetarian recipes and obscure or readily apparent puns.
He was extremely patient as I dealt with the vagaries of my capricious computer, which I must periodically “beat it with a branch,” a la John Cleese in "Fawlty Towers," another shared interest.
As he was departing, my friends of 50 years, Sue and George Stoner from Dallas, arrived to experience the glories of the Central Coast.
I gave them the usual cooks’ tour, leading them to a profound appreciation for all things Cambrian, except the bizarre bathroom constraints.
Since our Air Force years at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, they have been fascinated by facts and myths about earthquakes here, so I provided a field trip out to Parkfield, which was deceptively placid and unexpectedly cool.
We viewed the fault that was filled with just a trickle of water, from vantage points on each side of the bridge straddling the juncture of the Pacific and North American tectonic plates. I think I have allayed their fears that I would chunk off into the Pacific some day, as I described the lateral movement of the iconic fault, which is a good hour’s drive from Cambria.
Little did they know at the time, that there had been two almost imperceptible quakes six miles north of Cambria on the day of their arrival, but I did tell them about the 2.6 “whump” we experienced at 11:42 p.m. on our same fault the evening they flew home. Those must be felt to describe, but my friends were glad to have missed the events.
We enjoyed our trip to Farmers Market on that same lovely day as our great fireworks display, not to be missed from our deck on Happy Hill. The weather behaved for the best time in years, and we picked up some delicious fresh produce and my regular order of Eufloria roses courtesy of my late husband, Richard, the earthquake expert.
The night before, we had enjoyed the San Luis Obispo Farmers Market food and entertainment, and overheard a chance remark, “I’m staying in Cambria. You can’t even flush!”
Vegetarians and party grazers alike will enjoy these unique ways to enjoy the bountiful crop of prolific zucchini from your yard or our Farmers Market. Call ’em courgettes as in Europe and they taste even better.
This one’s for you, Bert!
Squash Blossom Rellenos
- 2 dozen zucchini blossoms
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons rice flour, unbleached flour, or all-purpose flour
- 2 small ice cubes
- Cheddar cheese, cut in small wedges
- Ground pepper and a smidgen of salt
- Peanut or vegetable oil for frying
Clean zucchini and blossoms with a damp paper towel. Slice off the mini squash and reserve for other use. Stuff the blooms with cheddar, and dredge with a little flour so batter will adhere better.
Beat the eggs with enough flour (I have listed them in order of my preference) and the ice cubes to form a thin, pancake-like batter. Season to taste. Heat the oil on high in a large pan, and have a platter lined with paper towels at the ready.
Coat the blossoms in the batter — the ice makes it cook like tempura. Fry quickly and turn them without crowding the pan so they are golden on all sides.
Remove to the platter and finish the other batch(es).
Serve promptly, salted if you wish.
The crunchy mini zucchini are nice plain, with homemade Ranch dressing, in stir-fry or the next morning sliced with onions, mini-peppers and mushrooms sauteed in your morning omelette.