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Ocean City

Hustle and bustle of summer is over; time for solitude

If you are in Ocean City this week, you may notice a couple of changes as you drive down Coastal Highway. The speed limit, normally 40 mph through North Ocean City, has been reduced to 30 mph, and Downtown, the speed limit has also been reduced. This is due to the expected, unauthorized H2Oi Pop-Up Rally.  It is reasonable to expect heavier than usual traffic, noise and strict enforcement of vehicle laws during the week and weekend.

Veggie fries with marinara sauce fun and simple snack

DEBORAH LEE WALKER ¦ Contributing Writer

(Sept. 21, 2012) Crystal prisms shimmer as the sun’s offspring smile with anticipation of another glorious day. Much deserved tranquility is reflected under boundless blue sky. Trees and leaves exchange conversation; after all, farewell is in store for the near future. Mother Nature senses the kids are back at school and decides to lower the temperature a tad.

The hustle and bustle of the summer is over and now is the time to be with myself. Distractions can no longer shadow decisions that must come to the forefront. The journey of purpose is on the horizon.

But in the meantime, my stomach signals the familiar tune, “I am starved.” It senses the time has come to venture to the Boardwalk for my annual “pig-out day.” Visions of french fries, pizza, funnel cake, ice cream and lemonade play havoc on the gas pedal. It does not take long to reach Ocean City’s Boardwalk.

I’m going to savor this whole experience. After all, I have only been waiting 364 days for this occasion. So I decide to prolong the culmination of flavors by taking a brief walk along the beach. My bottomless pit is no longer the center of attention. Waves doing an about face and heading out to sea take me back to a time of one with my little niece, Ashley. The past is walking hand and hand. For a moment, the present does not exist.

The frolicking surf creates a dazzling mirage of dancing clowns. Images of Ashley splashing in the water bring a chuckle. She is not alone; screams of delight ride each and every passing swell. This massive ocean has many faces. Right now, we are seeing the fun and tranquil side. Life, too, has many facades. The yin-yang of reality can be cruel, but I dearly hope it is good to her. Comprehension at the age of four is just commencing.

As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. I signal it’s time to leave. Ashley’s tiny feet get consumed by the white, silky powder. As we trudge ahead, the aroma of potatoes sizzling in peanut oil tickles our tastes buds. The pungent zing of vinegar will be my choice of condiment; Ashley informs me she prefers ketchup.

Not a word was spoken. Just two generations of the Walker family munching on french fries. Vinegar versus ketchup signifies the difference of age. However, there is one ingredient that will keep Ashley dear to my heart. No matter where destiny takes us, I will always remember the special times we shared together and love her dearly.

It was at that moment a chocolate Lab puppy approached me, stood on his hind legs, and demanded my utmost attention. I could not resist showering him with affection, present-day just washed ashore.

In the meantime, the grumbling in my stomach had erupted and my first stop is going to be french fries. I can hear the crackling of the hot oil as it cooks the fries. The line is dwindling down and soon I will be able to devour my first course.

I have a few girlfriends coming over this weekend and I have been trying to come up with an alternative to tortilla chips and salsa. As I am standing in line it suddenly dawns on me, how about “veggie fries” with marinara dipping sauce? Panko breadcrumbs will ensure crispiness and the marinara sauce is a refreshing change. My menu is finalized and the girls will love it. Oops, I’m next in line and must go. See you next week.

Veggie Fries 1 small raw yellow squash 1 small zucchini 1/2 eggplant *salt eggplant fries for 30 minutes and rinse thoroughly to remove the bitterness) 3/4 cup flour 1 1/2 cups plain panko breadcrumbs 2 large eggs 2 teaspoons water 8 to 10 cups canola oil, depending on the size of sautГ© pan wire racks kosher salt, fresh ground pepper to taste 1. Cut veggies into long strips resem-

bling steak fries.

2. Dip fries in flour and shake off any excess flour.

3. Whisk eggs and water together. Repeat dipping process. Again shale off any excess egg mixture.

4. Press individual fries in panko crumbs, try to cover entire surface.

5. Heat oil in a large sautГ© pan over medium-high heat. When fries are golden brown, turn and fry the other side. Cool fries on a wire rack to ensure crispness. While fries are still hot, season with salt and pepper.

Marinara Dipping Sauce 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 1 small yellow onion 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 (32-ounce) can crushed tomatoes 1/2 cup chicken stock 1/2 cup dry white wine 1 stall celery, finely chopped 2/3 cup combined shredded raw carrots, zucchini, and yellow squash 2 bay leaves 1 teaspoon dried basil 1 teaspoon dried oregano 1 teaspoon dried thyme few pinches of crushed red pepper seeds couple pinches of baking soda kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

1. In a large sautГ© pan over mediumhigh heat, cook garlic, onions, and raw vegetables in olive oil for 12 minutes. You may need to add extra olive oil.

2. Add the remaining ingredients except for the baking soda. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until sauce thickens. Remove from heat, discard bay leaves, and stir in baking soda. The sauce will form a foam-like texture but this indicates the baking soda is neutralizing the acid in the tomatoes. Serve warm with veggie fries.

Secret Ingredient: Criticism. “To avoid criticism do nothing, say nothing, be nothing” … Elbert Hubbard.

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