Wednesday, August 1, 2012

nightshade fruit and memory


Long years ago, our plucky heroine tasted eggplant for the first time as a young adult. I remember sitting at the table, Pentangle on the stereo, two copper huskies at our feet and the sunlight streaming in through the spider plants hanging in the western windows. Joan and Chuck were maybe ten years older, living in a groovy house out in the country, with a big garden, a waterbed and a woodstove, and I desperately wanted to grow up to be just like them...

Joan added several recipes to my lifelong repertoire over those years, and one that is the very essence of summertime vegetal delight is Melanzane al Funghetto (translated Eggplant Mushroom-style); it is easy, and if you make enough, can be kept in the fridge as a kind of cold salad.

First catch your eggplant... This is best with the small japanese type of eggplant, about six or eight. There being none of those around right now, when I saw the pint containers full of baby eggplant at the farmers market this Saturday, I knew what to do with them. Cut them up into chunks, and toss with about a tablespoon of salt, and leave in a bowl for at least an hour. Then pour away any of the bitter salty juices, rinse quickly and then dry well.

Cut up at least one or two cloves of garlic, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet, toss in the garlic and give it a stir, but before it can get browned, add in the eggplant bits, stir about, and then turn the heat down and cook gently till the eggplant is really soft, well cooked and somewhat shrunken. While it is cooking, chop roughly some roma tomatoes, somewhat less in quantity than the eggplant. If you want to be really fancy, you can peel the tomatoes first, to avoid the little curls of tomato skin, but I rarely bother. Also chop up about a quarter of a bunch of parsley, as finely as you like it.

When the eggplant is done (do taste a bit, to make sure it is actually cooked, slightly crunchy eggplant is nasty) then stir in the tomato bits, and cook just long enough to warm them through, and stir in the parsley just at the end, so it will keep the nice green color. It probably will not need additional salt, but do taste and see... pepper to taste is optional. This is good hot, or warm, or cold. It makes a great side dish, or with some white cheese, a light meal...

Now, if you will excuse me, I am off to ride my bike to the store, the parsley I planted last year has long gone to seed in the summertime heat, and I have a powerful yearning for the tastes of my younger days
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The finished eggplantly goodness just needs to cool off a little bit before it will be a wonderful accompaniment to the roasted drumsticks dusted with smoked paprika...
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Our plucky heroine, while visiting Celia Hart's blog purple podded peas, read about an online challenge that sounds like a lot of useful fun: the "drawing a day for the month of August". Though there is a fair amount of artistic output from Acorn Cottage, drawing is rather a weak point of mine, unlike some of my artist friends who make it more of a priority. Mayhap thirtyone days of practice will help strengthen my hand and eye neurons. If anyone wants to play along, the link to the original post is here. And this is my first drawing, done while waiting for dinner to cook, (could you guess?)
Like I said, my artistry is not particularly draftsmanlike, and in the future, drawing will needs be done in something a bit darker than the first pencil I grabbed out of the mug. This was really difficult to photograph. I miss my scanner...

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