Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Eggplant, Tomatoes and Basil..Oh My!

As I look out of the kitchen window at my beautiful garden, I can see at least one ripe eggplant despite being half my yard away. I just made babah ganoush out of the two I had in the fridge. (It turned out very smooth, but very bitter. I think I'm going to have to try it again. Anyone got any ideas on how to keep the bitter out? I've read to remove the seeds and juice of the eggplant, and I've read to keep them in for the sweetness. What is it?? What is the secret?) I have a lot of eggplant plants out there. I'm not sure what I'll do with them all. Even if you don't like eggplant, the plants are gorgeous to look at. The leaves are a grey-ish green with purple (eggplant purple) veins down the middle, and the fruit (vegetable) of the plant itself is one of the most beautiful colors ever painted (in my humble opinion). I am looking forward to eating eggplant parmesan (Deb's name for it, I call it Eggplant Lasagna) sometime in the next couple of days. Yum. (Can't taste the bitterness that so many people equate with eggplant in this dish, even with the seeds in. What is it about Baba?)

My tomatoes are starting to finally ripen. After relying on friends for my favorite summertime treat for the past few weeks, my garden is finally starting to give up the delicious ripe tomato flesh. Mostly Jubilees (more yellow, less orange than usual-what is with that?) and Brandywines. Most of the others are still languishing in small pots from when I planted them from seeds and got lazy and depressed and didn't finish planting them in their intended permanent homes. I may plant some of them into large pots to see if I can grow them inside later to have fresh tomatoes later in the year than normal for Michigan. I can't bear to buy tomatoes in the winter. They taste bad to me. No flavor, texture like water-soaked balsa wood and no personality to speak of. As "my kids" would say about someone who is only pretending to be a decent human being, but not really, "they are fake". Even though that isn't always an accurate portrayal of a person, I can pretty much unequivocally say that it is true about a winter tomato in the grocery store. (I will add a small bow here to select types of small, bite-sized tomatoes such as grape tomatoes and santa sweets, which in desperation, can almost pass for having a limited amount of tomato flavor, but really at that time of year, I hate to say it, but canned, frozen or dried are preferable most of the time and never as a big thick slice on a turkey sandwich.) Anyway, for now, until a hard frost hits, I get to enjoy my favorite summer treat and delight as the fresh tomato juice runs down my face, and up my arms to my elbows.

By basil is also flourishing. I need to buckle down and make some pesto this year. Every year I say I am going to do that and I don't and much of my favorite herb goes to waste. I may also just try cutting and freezing it this year. Anyone have any ideas on this? Dry basil tastes good, but there is something about the taste of fresh basil that completely livens and wakes up the taste of a dish.

I need to go out to the garden now, before the sun goes down and peek at my peppers to see how they are doing, and check on my young sage plants that hopefully will last for a few years. And I need to talk and sing to the other plants that are so generous in their beauty and their bounty.


  1. Aimee,

    cut the eggplant into slices, and then put salt on it...a generous amount. Let them sit until they soften and give up some of thier water. Then rinse them and cook as you would. The salt takes out the bitterness....

    Catching up on your blog....remember that you are amazingly strong and have strength and power to carry you through this. Try to avoid the negativity of labelling your thoughts, feelings, or emotions as "neurotic", "crazy", or "whiny". You are YOU, and going through this is not a familiar walk. Support YOURSELF through this by being open and accepting of what you think and feel....there is no right or wrong.

    I love you.


  2. Thanks Sharon,

    You are right, I will try to minimize the negativity that I'm attracting with my words. It's been a rough few weeks. I think I'm better now, I feel a little like my old self today.

    I'll try the salt, I think I have some more eggplant ready to harvest.


  3. Re eggplant, I've also heard to salt and rinse, or soak in salt water. I've not tried it, except with cukes to make yogurt dip.
    Frozen basil turns black, but tastes more complex that dried, in my opinion. Thats how I do mine, I also freze cilantro, dill and parsley. I've heard to put them in ice cube trays and fill w/water for soup. After they're frozen pop them into a bag. Also to roll the herbs into tight little balls and shave off while still frozen. I haven't got much furhter than stuffing them into baggies, but I'm always happy to find them in the coldest of winter. they also help out that clean out the fridge/freezer soup!Love ya,T

  4. Hi Aimmee,
    I'm jealous of your garden! I just thought of another thing you could do with eggplant plants. I bet the smaller leaves would be wonderful pressed! I usually don't use large leaves because most of my pictures are 5x7 or smaller, but with the purple veins and green leaves, I bet the little ones would look terrific!
    I left a message on your home phone, but I didn't want to wait any longer to talk to you so I thought I'd write here instead.
    You're doing a terrific job as a writer, and I can see you doing more of this in the future. I know that you make a difference in other people's lives by being willing to share yourself this way. They can be encouraged to know that even in the midst of trials, pain, and fear, they can get through it and triumph over it. You are an inspiration, and I'm proud to brag that you're my baby sister!

  5. Coming from you, Mary, that is one of the best compliments that I can ever think
    of getting. Even though you were an adult long before I was, some of YOUR
    life's journey has really helped me to become the person that I am and to try to
    look honestly at myself and the world around me without losing the mystery and wonder of the
    miracles happening around me. I am so proud of you in your finishing school and
    raising your beautiful, smart, compassionate daughter and maintaining a loving
    strong marriage through all these years and changes of your lives'. I don't
    stay in touch as much as I should, but you are always in my heart.