If you are wondering how I can possibly top last week’s captivating discussion about fish flies, fear not! This week I have an even more compelling topic to discuss with you: Mosquitoes.
Webster’s Dictionary, ninth edition, describes them as “any of numerous two-winged flies (family culicidae)” with a proboscis that punctures prey. My dictionary is not quite that alliterative, but I thought you might appreciate it.
Give yourself a pat on the back if you already knew that mosquitoes are two-winged flies. I have to admit, that was a new one on me.
Are the skeeters getting to you? Let’s face it. Mosquitoes are as much a fact of life and therefore as much a claim to fame in Wisconsin as butter, dairy, the Green Bay Packers and winter (not necessarily in order of importance).
In a recent syndicated episode of “Criminal Minds,” in which the FBI profilers were investigating a series of crimes in Madison, they somewhat unenthusiastically, and perhaps downright condescendingly, referred to our fair state as the land of cheese, dairy air and man-eating mosquitoes, however not quite in such glowing terms.
After mulling it over, however, I think “fame” might not be quite the right word for our state’s association with mosquitoes. Let’s go back to Webster’s ninth, which defines fame as “public estimation; popular acclaim.”
On the other hand, “notoriety,” which according to the same source is “widely and unfavorably known” might be a better fit. You might call it “fame of a different color” — or maybe “the UN-fame.”
Not long ago I read a timely article online that offered a few remedies for the insanity-provoking itching that accompanies mosquito bites. Those remedies included:
A paste of oatmeal and a little water applied to the affected area.
Spread a little yogurt over said area.
A paste of crushed aspirin and water, also applied topically.
Hold an ice cube on the bite (apparently the brain can only process one sensation at a time, and the cold will trump the itch).
Break off a piece of your aloe vera plant and apply to the bite site.
My personal favorite, cover the bites with honey. Even though you’ll feel like a piece of human flypaper and will want to avoid anthills at all costs, the itch relief you achieve might just be worth it.
Don’t bother filing away this fascinating information somewhere in your brain where it will be easily accessible when you need cocktail party patter. Just call me. My brain is like the warehouse in Washington, D.C., that houses the Ark of the Covenant. Except that at my age it is filled to capacity, so every time I learn something new, something else is randomly booted out. It’s not the worst system in the world, but it can prove embarrassing from time to time.
I have one of those calendars that marks every day as a celebration of something or other. Somehow, I let fried chicken day and sugar cookie day get past me last week. Today is corn fritter day, so I thought I would make up for my oversight by running three simple recipes. You guessed it — one each for fried chicken and sugar cookies and two for corn fritters. OK, four simple recipes.
The buttermilk fried chicken wraps are about as basic as it gets, with a light flour batter and a few of the usual accompaniments, such as lettuce and tomatoes. You could plump it up a bit with cheese, fried onions, or any of the innumerable condiments available to tempt your taste buds. Rather than seasoning the chicken pieces piece individually, I would mix the salt, pepper and/or other seasonings, such as Pleasoning or Grill Mates varieties, right in with it.
The recipe was shared with betterrecipes.com by Nicole Carullo, who says of it: “Creamy ranch, crunchy buttermilk fried chicken, and crisp lettuce come together to create a wrap that’s full of flavor and texture.”
The other recipes came from my recipe files. I can’t acknowledge a source for the corn fritters, because I’m not sure from whom I got them. I couldn’t decide which one I might like better, so both follow. Either one would be quick and delicious. The major difference is that the second recipe adds a bit of a spicy twist with salsa. You could take the Mexican influence a bit further by using Mexicorn.
“No-roll sugar cookies” is actually something of a misnomer — they are no-roll in that you don’t roll out the dough to ¼-inch or less and cut them with cookie cutters. But they aren’t no-roll in that you roll them into balls, then flatten them with a fork before baking. Any sugar cookie is going to be delicious, but these avoid re-rolling the dough multiple times to use as much of it as possible.
This recipe came from my daughter Traci’s late grandmother, Joyce Pitz. It was the first cookie recipe I had ever seen that called for both granulated and confectioners’ sugar. The combination gives the cookies a light, almost flaky texture, and they are very good. I recommend that you try them, but “how you roll” is up to you.
Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Ranch Wrap
½ cup canola oil
3 chicken breasts, cut into ½- to ¾-inch strips
½ cup buttermilk
½ cup flour
Salt and pepper to taste
4 to 6 (8-inch) tortillas
Romaine hearts, coarsely chopped
12 cherry tomatoes, sliced (halved if really small)
½ cup ranch dressing
Heat oil to 350 degrees. Dip chicken strips in buttermilk; dredge in flour. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Fry 3 minutes on each side; drain on paper towels. Assembly: Top tortillas with lettuce and tomato slices; divide chicken among tortillas. Drizzle with dressing; roll up to serve. (adapted from nicolecarullo; betterrecipes.com)
10 ounces frozen corn, thawed, or 3 large ears corn
2 egg yolks
4 teaspoons plain flour
4 teaspoons cornmeal
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
2 egg whites
3 to 4 tablespoons cooking oil
If using fresh corn, remove husks and silk from corn; rinse and pat dry. In small mixing bowl, beat egg yolks with electric mixer on high speed for about 5 minutes, until thick and lemon colored. Stir in corn, flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, and pepper. Wash beaters thoroughly. In a medium mixing bowl beat egg whites on high speed till stiff peaks form. Gently fold egg whites into corn mixture. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large frying pan; add batter by rounded tablespoons. Fry fritters, a few at a time, over medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp, turning once and adding remaining oil as necessary. As fritters are cooked, transfer to a heated platter; keep warm in a 300-degree oven until all are fried. These fritters are rounded in shape, and often called “corn oysters” in their native New England. Serve warm.
Easy Corn Fritters
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 eggs, beaten
¼ cup salsa
1 can cream-style corn
1 cup fresh or frozen corn (thawed)
¼ cup vegetable oil, more or less as needed
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and pepper. Add eggs and salsa; mix well. Stir in cream-style and regular corn. In a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Drop batter into hot skillet 1 tablespoonful at a time (cook in batches; do not overcrowd skillet) and cook 2 to 2½ minutes or until golden on bottom; turn and cook another 2 to 2½ minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined, covered dish. Repeat with remaining batter, adding oil as needed.
No-Roll Sugar Cookies
1 cup butter or margarine
¾ cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4½ cups flour
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter, oil, eggs and vanilla until fluffy. Combine dry ingredients, except flour, and mix into egg mixture. Add flour in ½- to 1-cup increments until dough is firm enough to roll. Roll into balls; place on ungreased baking sheet. Flatten slightly, using a fork to press a criss-cross pattern. Leave plain, press an M&M or dry-roasted peanut half in top of each or frost, if desired. Bake 10 to 12 minutes. (Grandma Joyce Pitz)