Monday, July 4, 2011

How Does Your Garden Grow?

We had planted a garden of tomatoes, basil, Japanese eggplant, zuchinni and cucumber.
My belief that the people who write the "how far apart you must plant" instructions are wrong was finally put to rest; the tomatoes, basil and eggplant have crowded everyone else out of existence.
At least the victors in the Lebensraum of the Garden skirmish are producing, well, produce. My tomatoes have the perfect balance of bold acidity and and the slight sweetness those lacy slices of juice-rich, red-orange orbs can bring. The Japanese eggplant are growing firm aubergine fingers as testimony to the fertility of the soil they are in and the water they've drunk.
My daughter and son-in-law were in town for the holiday weekend, staying with son, darling DIL and granddaughter so we arranged  dinner out last night. I had picked the garden in the morning and had a fat basket of slim eggplants to share. I put enough in two bags, along with a can of anhcovies each, to give to the kids so they could make one of their favorite step-Mama side dishes we call the Eggplant Thing.

Eggplant Thing
3/8-10 inch long Japanese Eggplant or one fat standard eggplant,
sliced long ways and scored, top cap discarded
6 tbl good olive oil, separated
Sea Salt, fresh pepper, dried thyme and oregano
6 fat cloves of garlic
1 can anchovy filets

Bring 1 tbl olive oil to medium high in a 10" skillet, add eggplant cut side down; cook until light gold and scoring opens, you may need to add oil since eggplant really soaks it up. Place eggplant halves into a glass pan (9x13) that you've greased with about a tsp of olive oil, set aside. Pre-heat oven to 350. If you have a small food processor, get it out. Otherwise get out a small glass bowl, sharp knife, garlic press and whisk.
Clean and press garlic into glass bowl or processor bowl with olive oil, 1/2 tsp each dried thyme and oregano, salt. If using a food processor, pulse for ten seconds or so. In a glass bowl, mash ingredients together under a plastic spoon.  Whisk. Chop anchovies finely with knife if no processor, large chop if you have the equipment, add to olive oil mix. Whisk or whir together to get a fairly smooth consistency. Scoop out about a tbl and begin spreading into the eggplant halves, being sure that you get the mix down into the scores. Once you've covered all surfaces use remainder to top off the halves. Grind pepper to taste over the eggplant (I don't like pepper and use Cavender's Greek Seasoning instead) and place in oven.
This shouldn't take more than 30 minutes; you want to cook until the meat of the eggplant is tender.
Even if you think you don't like anchovies, try this. And remember that you eat anchovies in anything that has Worcestershire sauce:)

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