Gardening is slow going. Drop a seed; harvest a carrot. In between there's watering, weeding, waiting. No chase scene, no explosion, no big reveal.
The jump-cut can be spliced together from sprouted potato, zucchini seedling or cabbage transplant. Speeds things along. A little.
Still, it's less action flick than documentary: plodding.
The storyboard for my own garden rom-com calls for copious hedges, the better to background frolic or picnic. But little boxwoods take time, and big boxwoods take money.
Then the guy at the garden center let me in on strike propagation.
Plot twist! Snip a clipping, dip it in rooting powder, plant. Turning one shrub into dozens. I stayed out past midnight, clipping, dipping, digging. I decided to hedge every bed. I envisioned a box-office hit: Gardeners With Borders.
Turns out not every plant likes to be snipped. Not every clipping likes to be dipped. But working out the details has turned my summer into a thriller.
Leah Eskin is a Tribune Newspapers special contributor. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Korean vegetable pancakes
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: About 12 minutes per pancake
Makes: 4 pancakes, serves 2
1 egg white
¼ cup water
½ cup whole wheat flour
1 cup shredded sweet potato*
½ cup each shredded zucchini, carrot, cabbage*
½ cup mung bean sprouts
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
Cooked brown rice
Tamari (or other soy sauce)
Rice wine vinegar
Toasted sesame oil
Korean red pepper paste or hot sauce, such as Sriracha
Whisk: Whisk together egg white and water. Sprinkle in flour; whisk to a smooth, thick batter.
Toss: Heap sweet potato, zucchini, carrot, cabbage and sprouts into another large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss. Let rest 10 minutes. Scoop up vegetables by the handful and squeeze, releasing liquid. Drop vegetables into the batter. Scrape in garlic. Mix with a fork.
Brown: Set a small cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium heat. Pour in a thin film of canola oil. When hot, scoop in one-quarter of the batter. Spread to a thin, 6-inch wide pancake. Cook about 6 minutes. Use the spatula to flip (pancake will still be soft). Brown other side, about 6 minutes. Repeat, browning all cakes.
Serve: Mix two parts soy sauce with one part rice wine vinegar and a good shake of sesame oil. Serve pancakes with dipping sauce, rice and hot sauce.
*Use the shredding disk on the food processor (quick and easy) or the large holes of a box grater.
Provenance: Inspired by chef Bill Choi of Amitabul, Chicago.