In Search of Tahini

I thought I was through writing about eggplant, but I’m not. Last time I was dishing about my eggplants I was roasting more than twenty of them to freeze in cubes and make puree. Now the cubes are in the freezer, and I scrounged up more containers for the puree too, but I didn’t want to just freeze all of it. I want to use some of the fresh puree to make baba ghannouge, which I have never made before. But even without looking up a recipe, I already know that I need tahini (sesame seed paste). So I have unfinished business with my eggplant puree, and we definitely did not grow any sesame seeds this summer!

Having now lived in Greenville for a little more than ten years I can say that I have lived here continuously longer than I have lived anywhere else. In my travels I have turned to middle eastern shops, when available, for a nutritious and reasonably priced meal. But in all the time that I have been here I never knew about Pita House, both a middle eastern market and restaurant. There’s a sign on the door that says cash or check only, and that’s the way they have been doing it for thirty two years now, according to the very friendly and polite young man at the register. They had tahini at a reasonable price, and I bought two pounds.

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Cucumber Salad

Cucumber Salad to keep in the fridge.
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Sometimes when a cucumber vine gets going some of the cucumbers grow too large and turn yellow. When that happens I cut it from the vine and leave it there in the garden. It creates the opportunity for the cucumber to reseed itself and become a late season cucumber vine. Now in late October, I have one growing in the kitchen garden. It’s good timing because just a week or so ago I finished the cucumber salad that I prepared in early summer.

Cucumbers are cooling, which I’m imagining might be good for hot flashes (waking me up early lately.) Dr. Lee told me that cucumbers are better than lettuce for women (and lettuce is very good for men). Since most everything he has told me has turned out to be helpful, I’m taking his word for that.

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Setting up for Spring

The future is buried beneath rich soil.
I searched for good dirt in the compost with my shovel. 
I hoed two empty garden beds and made rows.
With my trowel I made holes for garlic bulbs in the beds,
and buried tulip and daffodil bulbs in my pots and kitchen boxes.
With my imagination I see so much more than dirt.
I pray that we will all rise toward the sun come spring,
and the world will be more beautiful.
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Homesteading in the City

Last week I asked how homesteaders were initiated, and I talked about how I got started with canning. But I’ve been thinking since then about how I used to know people in New York City who kept gardens in community plots. Even though I didn’t even think about doing something like that at the time, it had more of an influence on me than I realized simply because I became aware that other people were doing it. If I moved back to New York City (which I don’t plan to) I would be one of those people on my knees in a garden or advocating for a roof garden, or in some way contributing to making urban life more natural.

So I ask the question, why can’t a city be green? Why shouldn’t city people be able to grow their own food or climb a tree? I’m not the person to say that everyone should move away from the city and start their own gardens. I believe that wherever you live, that’s your homestead. There is so much that we can do to eat healthy food and live more natural lives no matter where we are. It may seem impossible but if we start one step at a time, we can make meaningful and long lasting changes. Probably the most important step of all is to teach our children.

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Herbal Activity

Dried thyme, basil and sage on my kitchen table, with the thresher I use to process them.

There’s a lot of canning and freezing going on this week by those who are taking in and preserving their harvests. I’m one of those people. I already talked about my date with the eggplants yesterday, and I’m planning on pickling my banana and jalapeƱo peppers before the week is over. While I’ve been doing that dance with boiling water and chopping boards, I didn’t have to do anything to dry these herbs except leave them alone.

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Even More Ways to Preserve Eggplant

I’m always seeing hearts in my vegetables…

A month ago I was writing about what to do with eggplant because I had so many in my kitchen. In that post I talked about making fried eggplant and eggplant parmesan. When eggplant love is new it tastes so sweet and delicious. After a couple months of eating and freezing the stuff, I start to think about other vegetables again. My husband stopped watering his garden about a month ago, after he harvested everything else. He left his eggplants to their own devices while it was very hot and dry. We had almost no rain that whole time. But to our surprise, the eggplants have thrived while gardens have withered all over the Upstate.

We have trouble giving eggplant away. Our friends and neighbors mostly don’t like or never tried an eggplant and don’t show any signs of changing their minds. I was tempted to just let those eggplants go to seed, but they looked so big and beautiful; it would have been a shame and a waste. So yesterday I went down in the field and picked most of them, and also dealt with them very quickly after looking for some new ideas online and finding a couple at FreshBitesDaily.com.

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When the Developers Come

a garden with the shadow of the photographer.
my shadow will loom long when they come.
wasps in the lavender bushes will strike out angrily….
my shadow will loom long when they come.
wasps in the lavender bushes will strike out angrily.
fire ants will crawl up their pants.
the bees and the mantid in the dragon breath will be disturbed.
the mint will cover the tangled strawberries
and the groundcover will be hiding
asparagus spears ready for harvest.
the bees and the mantid in the dragon breath will be disturbed....
the bees and the mantid in the dragon breath will be disturbed….

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How Were You Initiated?

We used to have apricots in our backyard when we lived in California. I found the confidence to make apricot jam after discovering Pickyourown.org.

Mostly, when I try something new in the kitchen or garden I start by reading a book or going to the World Wide Web. But the real initiation comes with learning by doing. If my efforts culminate with the desired results then I can say I know something. I am far from an expert cook or gardener and I am not writing this blog to repeat what I’ve learned from people writing other blogs. I’m more like the one who walks you through your initiation, and then walks you through it again as needed. I know you need encouragement sometimes, because I do too.

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