Sometimes, life gives you a lemon–and you just have to juice it, zest it and make something delicious out of it. No matter how bad it might seem.

My husband and I have both spent the last year working towards what we thought would be the start of our careers. Then, we each got handed a dreaded lemon.

My “lemon” is the silly hiring freeze that is making it almost impossible for new teachers to land gigs- especially in the arts. So, I took my sour piece of fruit, sliced it in half and accepted a part-time job as a music teacher at three different schools in Brooklyn. Certainly not my ideal job, but the hope is this will elevate my level of experience from non-existent to, well, anything more than that. So I turned my lemon into some zucchini cakes, fingers-crossed that we can continue to buy food to make such lovely delectables in the future (did I mention it’s only part time pay?? yikes.)

My husband didn’t even get a lemon, poor guy. He got a pathetic, tiny lime. I guess someone got confused and handed it over and told him it was yellow when it was in fact green and really just so unexpected. See, he was all geared up to open his very own wine shop in Brooklyn and at the last minute, it all fell through. Everything he has worked so hard to accomplish and was looking forward to: gone. (bureaucratic BS if you ask me)

So, he took his lime, juiced the hell out of it and made this black bean spread- and really showed his amazing ability to bounce back by getting a job at one of the best wine shops in the city: Chamber Street Wines. He’s pretty amazing… and definitely climbing the NYC wine-geek ladder quickly. I’m super proud of him.

In celebration of these new jobs, we ate and drank, recipes below. Congratulations, baby. Here’s to a lifetime of making mountains out of our molehills. 

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Zucchini Cakes

from BGSK

1 medium zucchini, grated

2 scallions, thinly sliced

1/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg, beaten

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

1 tablespoon butter

Combine the zucchini, scallions, sugar, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Toss to combine. Add the egg, lemon juice, and zest and stir until well mixed.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in a large cast iron skillet. Once the butter is melted and the oil is fairly hot, drop in the zucchini mixture in tablespoonfuls, making sure not to crowd the pan (about 5 at a time). Cook for about 1 minute on each side until browned and semi-firm. Remove to a paper towel to drain and repeat with the remaining zucchini mixture, adding more oil as necessary.

NOTE: this can be done a day in advance. Simply reheat the cakes in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.

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Black Bean Spread

We stored this spread in a Tupperware container in the refrigerator for about a week and used it on pretty much everything: quesadillas, lunch sandwiches, eggs, etc. It served us very well!

2 cups cooked black beans (I used canned black beans, rinsed and drained well)

1/2 cup olive oil

Juice of two small or one large lime

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tspn garlic powder

Salt, pepper to taste

In a food processor, add the beans and pulse until well chopped up. Turn food processor on to run continuously and slowly drizzle in olive oil. Add spices and lime juice and blend well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Process until the spread is smooth, about two minutes.

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