There once was a church lady in the coal regions of Pennsylvania. We will call her Eva which may or may not have been her real name. Within the last few years of her life, she was wheelchair bound and ill but still had a love for storytelling and cooking.
Eva was on the church ministry route that my mom and I did. On each of my visits, Eva’s house was the next to the last house and was usually one of the longest visits. She would tell us stories of her marriage to her husband whom she loved dearly to sharing pieces of her costume jewelry with me. I specifically remember a coral necklace that popped with the mostly neutral color palette in my wardrobe at the time. A shared interest we had was our love for cooking. Although we would gush over our recipes, Eva was hesitant about giving out some of her family recipes minus one for zucchini bleenies.
Zucchini bleenies are a recipe that I will always take me with me no matter how far I am travel away from my hometown of the coal region. They’ll always remind me of home. For one, we call potato pancakes “bleenies” which is different from the Russian way of making and even spelling a “blini.” And two, it is perfectly acceptable to eat a bleenie on it’s lonesome with your hands. Forget the blogs telling you to add a salad or home fries.
Okay, if it is a side dish you prefer or you truly need a balanced meal, have at a side dish. But a crispy bleenie is simply perfect on it’s own. As bleenies are a summertime dish in the coal region, now it is not unheard of to add in a vegetable to the batter like some garden fresh zucchini. It won’t throw off the taste, in fact it enhances it.
Happy New Ecclecestial Year, Orthodox friends! I hope the upcoming year brings forth health, healing, peace and spiritual nourishment to you and your families.
Zucchini Bleenies (Vegan, Soy Free, Olive Oil Free)
$ ($5 and under)
1 pound of garden fresh zucchini
1/2 yellow onion
1/2 cup white flour (Use Bob’s Red Mill gluten free flour for gluten free bleenies)
1 teaspoon of ground flaxseed (Buy this in bulk to save money.)
sea salt and pepper
3 cloves of garlic or garlic powder
1/4 cup of organic coconut oil
Cook’s Notes: You will need a box grater to shred the zucchini and the onion. For a thicker bleenie, use the sharper side of your box grater. For a thinner bleenie, use the finer side.
The flax and the garlic are my additions. You can totally omit it if you choose.
1. Wash and peel your zucchini and your onion. Shred both…use those biceps! Add to a bowl where you will combine the flour, flax and spices. Mix to combine.
2. Heat a hot cast iron skillet or pan with the coconut oil. Once the oil is hot and starts to sizzle, dredge some batter on a tablespoon and put it into the pan spreading a little to create a bigger sized bleenie. You can probably get two more bleenies into the pan. Working very carefully now as the pan will be very hot.
3. Fry bleenies for 3 minutes or until brown on each side before transferring to a paper towel lined plate. Repeat until you work through the batter. Serve immediately with a dollop of vegan sour cream and garnished with chives or applesauce or ketchup or simply on it’s tasty lonesome.