Like any good Southern girl, I certainly don't fear fried foods. But I'm a Libra so I'm all about the balance. I like to bake some things, but other foods just require fryin'. My meal tonight was a perfect example of the yin and yang of baked versus fried foods. My protein were these Cornmeal Crusted Tofu Stix:
These baked, "chicken" strip-like finger foods are going in my cookbook. They would also be tasty fried, but I haven't tried 'em that way and see no reason to change up the recipe. They get super-crispy in the oven, and they're perfect for dippin' in ketchup, barbecue sauce, or maple-Dijon sauce.
I balanced out the baked main dish with these Fried Cucumbers:
I know, you're probably thinking, "fried cucumbers?! What?!" I thought the same thing when I first heard about this Southern delicacy a couple years ago. I certainly didn't grow up eating cooked cucumbers, but my old next-door neighbor Wes did. He challenged me to try them, so I whipped up a batter seasoned with dried dill and some other stuff. I pan-fried them in a little hot oil, and OMG, they were amazing. These are definitely going in my cookbook.
They taste a lot like fried pickles, but they retain some of that cucumber crunch. They're really tasty dipped in my homemade Vegan Country Buttermilk Ranch (also going in the cookbook).
My other veggie side wasn't fried, but a lot of Southern folks call it fried. I call it Not Really Fried Corn:
My mama calls this dish fried corn, but it's actually boiled with soymilk and flour and cooked down until the liquid is absorbed and the corn is super-creamy. Once absorbed, the flour in the corn cooks to the pan a bit, leaving little sorta-fried brown bits behind. You can see one poking out in the picture. The little brown bits are the best.
So there you have it — baked meets fried. Now a question for y'all: How do you feel about frying? Do you reserve fried foods for special occasions or eat them whenever you please? Or do you shun fried foods completely?