What to do with that eggplant…

Eggplants to give away…

We have an abundance of eggplant in our garden right now and were trying to give some away. But most of our friends ask us what they are supposed to do with eggplant, which they apparently don’t usually purchase in the grocery store. So, for our friends, and others who might be offered bounty from a friend’s garden this time of year, here are some suggestions for what to do with that big, purple beauty.

The easiest thing to do with an eggplant is probably to peel it, cut it into smallish cubes, boil it with some salt until soft, and strain it. You could add your cooked eggplant to a stir fry, spaghetti sauce, casserole or soup….

About that peel. I like the peel, and I know our eggplants have no pesticide residue on them, so for my remaining suggestions, I don’t peel the eggplant, but you might prefer to peel yours. Just use a sharp knife. It’s a simple task.

My favorite thing to do is fry the eggplant. I slice the whole eggplant in 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices. When my kids were little and we were living in Vallejo, we dropped them off sometimes with Molly, whose Italian mother lived with her and had sewn costumes for Sly Stone, but that’s another story. Molly used to “sweat” her eggplant slices, by laying them out and sprinkling a little course sea salt over them. After about an hour the slices had “beads of sweat.” After that she would knock the salt off and blot the water with a kitchen towel. I have done the same thing ever since I learned that from her. It is the Italian way to prepare eggplant for frying.

Put the sliced eggplant in a bowl with a couple eggs and a little coconut milk. Then drop them in your favorite fry mix. The traditional Italian way would be a little flour and bread crumbs. I like to make a mixture of flour, bread crumbs, corn meal and a little parmesan cheese. Then fry your eggplant slices for a couple minutes on either side, until golden. You could just eat your fried eggplant right now. 

Or you could lay them out on a cookie sheet, freeze them and then package them. You could take them out of the freezer and put them directly in the oven for an easy way to add a vegetable to your meal at a future date. 

Or you could take your fresh or frozen fried eggplant slices and make an eggplant parmesan, or eggplant casserole. There are lots of recipes online for a traditional eggplant parmesan. My family tells me that I never make anything the same way twice. What follows is one of my hybrid eggplant dishes that is pretty quick to finish after the eggplant slices are fried.

Martha’s Hybrid Eggplant Parmesan

INGREDIENTS

2 large eggplants, sliced and fried

3 pints of spaghetti sauce

3/4 cous cous

2 cups shredded cheese of your choice

1 package uncured turkey bacon, cooked or

1 package ground turkey, browned and seasoned to taste

DIRECTIONS

Pour the uncooked cous cous Into a 13″x16″ baking dish. 

Pour one pint of tomato sauce in with the cous cous. 

Put a layer of eggplant slices over the cous cous. 

Spread 1 cup of the cheese over the eggplant. 

Spread the bacon or the ground turkey evenly over the cheese. 

Pour a pint of tomato sauce over the meat. 

Spread the remaining slices of eggplant over the top. 

Spread the remaining sauce over the eggplant and the remaining cheese over the sauce. 

Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes. 

Uncover and bake for another 10 minutes or until the top is golden brown. 

Remove and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving or a couple hours before freezing.

Learning the Forgotten Ways

Fermenting carrots and ginger, and sourdough starter …

What seems like a long time ago now, when I was a single mother of two, I had mastered a small repertoire of recipes and baking was not included. I was the stovetop queen of East Harlem. So after I moved to California and then got married (and quickly had two more kids,) I was proud of myself when I started baking muffins and other treats. I felt pretty smart when I also started canning the vegetables and fruits that my husband grew in abundance in our little backyard. Even so, when we moved here to Greenville almost nine years ago, I was still a virgin bread baker. I had never used yeast for anything. But I was no virgin to eating bread, and have always preferred it fresh.

I started off with a bread machine that I have since gotten rid of after I realized that most good bread rises twice, and you have to flirt with it for a few minutes in between rises to get the best out of it. For a little while I thought I had arrived after turning out some beautifully braided challah loaves, Belgian waffles and seasonal cinnamon rolls. I also admired the rows of pickled peppers, cucumbers, and cabbage on my pantry shelves. But after awhile I wasn’t satisfied. It was all foreplay, the yeast in my baking goods, the vinegar in my canned goods, the carbonation in my soda.

Continue reading

Image

A Man Among Giants

On July 2 of 2017 there was rain and wind on Paris Mountain. I was reclining in front of the TV, but a lightning storm was interrupting the signal. Then I heard a very loud crack and a bang that brought me instantly to my feet.

A giant tree about a hundred years old, which has been leaning from our neighbor’s side of the creek, had finally fallen. Within a second or two it brought three of our trees, probably about fifty or sixty years old, down with it. The splitting trunk of one of those trees must have been the crack that I heard.

First I thought of Mr. Mims and called him to make sure he wasn’t under there somewhere. Thankfully, he wasn’t.┬áIt’s not like he didn’t already have a list of summer tasks he wanted to accomplish. Ever since that day, between tilling and sowing and watering and mowing, he has been steadily untangling those trees. The first goal was to clear our drive. Now it’s still about taking apart a puzzle to get at the motherlode. He goes in there with the chainsaw and then the boys go in and clear and sort. We have no shortage of firewood anyway.

I have to say I am full of admiration for my man… and I don’t mind fixing him whatever he wants for dinner….

This slideshow requires JavaScript.