the next generation

Maybe you remember what I said about chicks raised in the house, and how they grow up to be the chickens with no respect for the boundary of the threshold to the human dwelling. Whenever the wind or a careless human leaves the door unlatched, only the house-raised dare to enter.  You might come to the opening to see a congregation of chickens on the porch, peering in, but they will not cross unless they've logged some time indoors as tots or while receiving in-patient care.  We have one of those chickens in our flock now.  Even the dogs don't notice if she comes inside anymore--I've more than once come into the kitchen to see a sleeping dog on the floor, and Chickalena drinking happily from the water bowl right by his head.  It's a glamorous life for all of us.

OK, so remember the ailing chick and her (I really hope she's a her--still too soon to say) sisterhood of indoor pals?  Great news!  She's still not dead.  And all that house time has really paid off.

In other news, the zucchini are back.  I love it when the zucchini come back, but I think I am the only one beating the drums of welcome.  I love to fry up a huge mess of paper-thin slices with preserved lemon, and I like to make those zucchini-feta pancakes I once told you about, and though I do those things all year long, I especially like doing them generously with fresh, bright, snappy-looking zucchini that taste like something.

When it is too hot to consider standing by the stove flipping pancakes, the same principles that govern those very savory pancakes can be brought to bear on a frittata, which requires no flippage.  A frittata, like an omelette or really any kind of egg, is a very personal matter with probably volumes of written material related to its proper construction.  I feel a little silly pretending to tell anyone how to make one. But the flavors here were nice, and you could personalize this further with, say, some garlic or minced scallions, or red peppers, or that pesky half cup of leftover pasta lurking from last night's dinner.  Frittatas are excellent at any temperature, as you probably know, and are happy to go on picnics.
zucchini-feta frittata with basil & mint

2-3 small (about 7") zucchini, diced
3T olive oil
handful of chopped fresh basil
smaller handful of chopped fresh mint
about 4 oz feta, crumbled
8 eggs
salt & pepper 
handful of cherry tomatoes, quartered (optional, but pretty and very yum)

Heat the oil in a 10" skillet and quickly fry up the zucchini--you are aiming for a still-bright but golden-in-places result.

While this is going on, beat the eggs with the salt and pepper.  How much salt depends on how salty your feta is and how salty you like things. Reserve about a quarter of the feta crumbles, and whisk the rest into the eggs.

Stir the fresh herbs into the zucchini pan.  Now dump in the egg mixture and stir lightly to move the zucchini into the eggs, then resist the urge to stir further or disturb in any way.  Sprinkle the cherry tomatoes on top, and the remaining feta on top of that.  Cook maybe 2 minutes more.Turn off the heat and cover the pan.  

Heat the broiler in your oven.  When it is nice and hot, uncover the pan and slide it under there.  Remain in this spot and totally vigilant for the next 2 minutes while the frittata browns lightly and attractively all over the top, rotating as necessary.  Now turn off the broiler, and let the pan rest there.  After a few minutes, check the firmness of the center.  It should be pretty close to solid, and residual heat in the pan will probably do the trick.  Let it stand on the stovetop until cool enough to engage with, then loosen around the edges and use a wide spatula to coax it upright onto a plate.