Eggplant Season

We have a lot of eggplants coming in from the garden right now. I have two ways that I prepare eggplant and am contemplating a third. I fry the slices or I make my own version of eggplant parmesan (which also involves frying the eggplant ahead of time.) Either way I prep the sliced eggplant first by sprinkling sea salt over the slices and letting them sweat for an hour two. I learned that from Molly, an Italian woman who used to watch my boys when they were very young and we were living in California.

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Freezing Vegetables for Virgins

Greens can be thoroughly washed, drained, sliced and then frozen raw.

Greens can be thoroughly washed, drained, sliced and then frozen raw.

When you first start gardening, it is enough to just enjoy what you grow. But even as a beginner you run the risk of growing more than you can use of notorious growers like zucchini. If you don’t keep a garden, but miss the farmer’s market in the winter time, you could think about buying in bulk in the summertime and cooking up some double portions for now and later. Freezing is the quickest, easiest way to save your abundance for later. If you’ve never frozen more than the occasional leftovers, and your freezer is just for ice cream, you’re missing a chance to put a little convenience into your healthy diet.

Not all  vegetables are created equal. There are some that really don’t take well to freezing unless cooked first, like cabbage. Others, like cucumbers, you can’t freeze at all. There are some authoritative sites on the web that you can refer to for specific vegetables,  and squashes. One of my favorite sites is Pickyourown.org. Clemson University is also a great resource for detailed information. But you don’t have to be an expert to get started. You really don’t have to know much at all. You can freeze most vegetables quickly and conveniently. Continue reading

Smothered Eggplant a New Southern Classic

Lately the garden has been giving us lots of eggplant and bell peppers. I’ve gotten used to making a classic eggplant parmesan, and also breaded fried eggplant. When I call something classic, these days, it’s because when I look up recipes on-line I come across numerous, almost identical recipes. If I am ignorant about a particular food, a classic recipe is a great starting point.

So, the other night I prepared some fried eggplant as a side dish. I also wanted to use up some oldish dinner rolls. I cut them in half and laid them in a baking dish with a little milk in the bottom. Then I looked up some biscuit and gravy recipes, looking for a gravy to make. Another classic, I found out, is sausage gravy over biscuits, but we don’t eat pork sausage, and I didn’t have any kind of sausage anyway. But I found something similar at http://www.bigoven.com/recipe/38421/Biscuit-Gravy. When we sat down to eat, my husband mused that fried eggplant with gravy would make a good dish. So on Monday night I got out a baking dish and put leftover rice on the bottom, the leftover fried eggplant in a layer over the rice, and the leftover biscuit gravy over all that, and warmed it up as another side dish; (Monday is leftovers night.) For someone who prefers to taste the expected (as opposed to the unexpected) that went over really well with my southern husband (maybe because he thought of it.)

Most southerners I meet have never cooked an eggplant, even if they have heard of one (not common.) But if they made it like this, with their favorite biscuit gravy recipe, then eggplant would become a new southern classic I am sure! Another thing I have now done with eggplant is to make a stuffing, or dressing as they say down here. Originally I got the idea from Emeril. He has an eggplant casserole recipe that I tried. It has a lot of bread crumbs in it, which made it taste a little like a dressing. Last night I made a roast chicken. Instead of the bread crumbs, I used some more leftover bread and biscuits that I cut up in cubes and toasted in the oven first. Instead of the cream in his recipe, I used broth that I made with the gizzards and some onion and carrot. This made a delicious eggplant dressing to eat with the chicken. I managed to use up three eggplants this way. I used the rest of the broth to make a creamless gravy as well.

Yum. We eat really well around here, if I may say so myself.