Who knew that fried sage and fried green tomatoes would balance each other so well? The combination of flavors is a great idea. An earlier attempt of frying sage leaves wasn’t successful. The leaves burned away. This time, as the last of the green tomato slices were frying, sage that was freshly picked the night before was added to the skillet. The second attempt of frying sage leaves was successful. The first time the sage leaves were fried, they weren’t completely dried. Oil and water doesn’t mix. It’s a basic cooking chemistry rule. Experimentation is part of the creative process of learning and relearning new ideas.
Cooking balances my design skills, because it’s a creative outlet for my personal expression of discovering new ideas. Professors rarely inform graphic design students that projects are the collaboration of left- and right-brained professionals. Designers want to create unique, strong concepts; the real world wants projects to look like the competition. Risk-taking is rare, because timelines are limited and budgets are short. What’s wrong with using orange instead of another shade of blue? Isn’t the layout cleaner if the copy is left-aligned instead of centered? Can the amount of copy be reduced, because images are just as important? Toward the end of the project, the client is right. Another blue promotional piece of literature filled mostly with copy goes to the printer. Creativity in design is always compromised, and it’s okay. Successful projects are effective when it precisely communicates a client’s goals.
I cook to recoup my creative mind. Just like design, it’s the collaboration of left- and right-brain thinking, for cooking is chemistry and creativity combined. Unlike design, it’s okay to take a risk in a kitchen. Recipes are either delicious or terrible, but a new technique will always be learned. Cooking is a creative process that feeds the mind more than a job that produces “cookie-cutter” design work that pays the bills to place fun food on the table. People love trying new recipes and being introduced to unique ingredients. Like a dish being presented on a table, I wish design clients would be open to new ideas.
2 to 3 large green tomatoes; sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 cup flour; divided in half
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
2 to 3 large eggs
1/8 cup milk
Salt and fresh black pepper; to taste
celery seeds; to taste
hot sauce; to taste
Sage leaves; cleaned and dried
1. Sprinkle both sides of the green tomato slices with salt and pepper. Whisk the milk, hot sauce, eggs and seasonings together. Set aside.
2. Place 1/2 cup flour in a large bowl. Use the remaining 1/2 cup flour to mix with the cornmeal in another wide bowl. Season both flours with salt and pepper.
3. Pour enough peanut oil in a black skillet to cover the bottom at most half an inch. Place one green tomato slice in the plain flour. Then place it in the egg mixture. Dredge the slice through the cornmeal and flour mixture. Place on a paper towel lined cookie sheet. Repeat with the other tomato slices. Working in batches, add two slices to the hot oil (be careful not to add too many slices to the pan, for the oil’s temperature will reduce). Fry green tomatoes until golden brown, about 2 to 5 minutes per side. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a prepared baking sheet lined with paper towels; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Keep warm in an oven.
4. After all the tomato slices are fried, add dry sage leaves to the oil. Fry for a few seconds. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
5. When serving the Fried Green Tomatoes, place Fried Sage leaves on top.
6. Enjoy warm.
FYI… A co-worker returned from their summer vacation with a bottle of West Indian Pumpkin Pepper Sauce. It made a spicy addition to the Fried Green Tomatoes.