Saturday, August 27, 2011

Boating is overrated.

Will you indulge me in a brief tirade against the tidal toes-guards of the northeast? Thanks, you're too kind.

Is it mildly antagonistic to complain about boating & its requisite shoes whilst the east coast of our country is threatened by the feisty fits & liquid fists of Irene? Well, I don't see it that way. (And I do, in fact, have family and friends out there so this is all in good fun, my friends.)

Anyway, boating shoes, though touted as "comfy" and "preppy stylin'", remind me of an unkindly 'gator staring me in the face, flanked by plaid and framed by an awkward bow atop his furrowed face. (My sister continually insists I need some. I politely refuse the refuse with a kindly nod to my Keens. Sperries are SO OVER!)

Additionally, "stupid" boating & yachting are trumped over and over again by real swimming and aqua fitness. Speeding over choppy waves is cool, yeah, you have me on that one (as is explaining model boats. And dubbing over cartoons). I like billowing gusts abusing my face and spending a lot of money on gasoline to do it (actually, I'm pretty content if it's someone else's lettuce spinning in the petrol coffers). But what about the simple pleasures of running headfirst into oncoming waves of the Pacific, or skipping sideways through the currents of Lake Superior, or padding along over the polished pebbles of the Atlantic? 

Right. Boats are overrated indeed. Hence we must run (push, sink, whatever it takes to get 'em) them out of town. Exterminate them. Cook them. Devour them. So enjoy these zucchini boats with confidence that you're doing everybody a big favor! No more boats! 

Zucchini Dinghies (Gluten-free, Vegan if you use tofu instead of beef)
Makes about 4-6 servings
3 large zucchini with the insides scooped out & put aside
1 teaspoon oil (olive, grapeseed, canola all work) 
1 onion, chopped 
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 rice cakes, toasted (watch to avoid burnage) (or 1 cup breadcrumbs if you're not gluten-free)
3 egg yolks
3 shakes of salt
3 grinds of black pepper
3 shakes of dried oregano 
1 shake of cayenne pepper
2 shakes of allspice (or cinnamon if you don't have allspice on hand)
marinara sauce, fresh or dried basil, mozzarella and fresh tomato for optional garnish!

First get the chopped onion sautéing in a frying pan over medium heat with a teaspoon of oil. While that's beginning to cook, separate the egg yolks (either by using an egg-separator, or breaking the egg shell in half, then coaxing the yolk back and forth between the two halves, letting the egg white drip into a bowl underneath until you just have the yolk left. Another easier option would be to just use two whole eggs instead of 3 yolks!). Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

When the onions are just starting to brown, add in uncooked ground beef and continue to cook on medium heat (or your pound of tofu to cook to your liking instead). 

While the meat's beginning to sear, cut the zucchini in halves, length-wise. Scoop the seedy middle part out, leaving about a half-inch of zucchini flesh in the boat in each direction (aiming to make each scooped piece about the size of a big garlic clove). Put the insides aside in a medium-sized bowl. Arrange the zucchini halves face-up in baking tins, pyrex glasses dishes, or aluminum foil (careful with aluminum foil to wrap well and hopefully put inside another oven-safe dish to avoid spillage while cooking). 

The meat has now cooked for a few minutes, so add the zucchini insides that you'd set aside. Also now you can chop the garlic and add it to the cooking beef. Sprinkle in salt, black & cayenne pepper, oregano, and allspice.  

Next, turn your attention to toasting your rice cakes in your toaster oven (or skip the toasting step if they are crispy and not stale . . . mine were stale). Once those are ready, crumble the rice cakes into the cooking meat. Soon the ground beef mixture should not have any pink left in the meat. At this point, add in your egg yolks & turn off the stove top heat. 

Fill the empty zucchini(s? I can't decide which plural form sounds better.) with the beefy filling, topping them with optional mozzarella cheese, marinara sauce, or fresh tomatoes before shuttling them into the roaring oven for a 30-minute sauna stint.

The boats are ready to be destroyed by your avid appetite once the zucchini are soft. Then you can slice them with your ever-ready dinner knife. Capsize those boats!

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