Eggplant, Tomato, Potato Casserole

I’m not going to lie, this recipe exists solely because I wanted something to do with the heirloom tomatoes at the farmer’s market.

Eggplant, Tomato, and Potato Casserole

1 medium eggplant (this was one of those cool heirloom ones like Cammy grows)
5-6 tomatoes (these were medium to small Cherokee purples and Brandywine pinks)
3 potatoes
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
6 fresh basil leaves, chopped
Half a small can of tomato paste
Olive oil
Spices to taste

Peel eggplant if desired and slice. Salt lightly on both side and set to the side. Chop the tomatoes and put them in a bowl with a glug of olive oil. Add the garlic, onion, and basil. Add whatever spices you want. I added cayenne pepper, turmeric, coriander, cumin, and maybe some other things.

Slice potatoes thinly. Chop eggplant into cubes. Mix the tomato paste in with the macerating tomato mixture.

Heat the oven to 350.

In a casserole dish (mine was 9×9, but bordered on too small) place a layer of potatoes, top with a layer of eggplant, top with a layer of the tomato mixture. Continue until everything is used up. Put in the oven until potatoes are soft, about 1 hour. I ate it over couscous, but it would be good on its own or with rice, etc.

Summer Gardening – Year Two

For those of you who were not interested in my patio gardening exploits last summer, well, you should have said something when you had the chance.  Since you didn’t….

My plants are in the ground, slightly earlier than last year, I believe.  This year’s line up features a reprise of the rosa bianca egg plant after last year’s success.  Also representing the egg plant family is the satin beauty.  With no volunteer tomatoes in sight (and given the oddness of the ones last year), I went with a single Roma and a patio cherry.  And I triple checked that the cherry really is patio sized after last year’s cherry-tomato-that-devoured-the-Midwest debacle (unless, as was apparently the case last year, “patio” is defined as “taller than Cammy”).  The Hungarian wax pepper is also making a return–hello cheese-stuffed goodness!  And, of course, I couldn’t get rid of the chives if I tried (and in some spots I have…they’re insidious).

On a more advanced level, we’re stepping up to seeds this year.  I wanted squash, so, Mom suggested I just try from seeds.  So far there are little yellow-patty-pan seedlings coming up nicely.  Here’s hoping we can buck Mom’s trend of winding up with a powdery mildew that destroys them.  And I thought I’d give beans a shot–so I tossed a few pintos into the ground, and I think I saw signs of sprouting today.

All this ties in to my second attempt to be outdoors more this summer.  Last year wasn’t quite as successful as I’d have liked, but at least the gardening gave me something to force me out for at least a short time every evening.  I’m a bit concerned the real-life job thing might be more invasive this year than last, so it’s up to the squash, tomatoes and egg plant to ensure my fresh-air in take is not confined to the time spent walking between the door of a building and the door of my car.

MTV, MPB Gets Virtuous

In an episode of Bones Angela commented that she always feels virtuous after shopping at a certain organic grocery.  I’ve honestly never felt morally just about shopping at any grocery store.  But where I do feel virtuous is shopping at my local farmer’s market.  Being organic and environmentally friendly is swell and all, but combine that with supporting local farmers and helping the little guy economically and I’m just a sucker.  Also, our farmer’s market has buskers, and you know from previous posts that I love supporting buskers.  So every Saturday morning I drag my college student ass out of bed at 8:00, even though the movies say I should be sleeping till 2pm, and head down to the farmer’s market.  I come home feeling like a saint!

The farmer’s market in my current city of residence is good sized, but not as diverse as the ones some of my friends frequent.  About 1/3 of the vendors at my market are Amish, so they may be less than adventurous.  Honestly, due to my budget I don’t buy much.  Usually just whatever fruit is in season, cucumbers, and maybe a few special things for the week.  I ate a hell of a lot of eggplant this summer before decided we needed to see other people.  I also had some great blackberries.  When colcannon season starts up again I’ll be buying potatoes.  If I buy eggs, which I rarely do, I buy them there.  The last couple weeks I’ve bought beautiful heirloom tomatoes, jalapeños, and tomatillos because I’ve been making salsa (recipe forthcoming).

This prompted my favorite farmer’s market moment so far.  You know you’re in the Midwest when you have this conversation:

Random woman sampling purple cherry tomatoes: (pointing to the tomatillos I’m buying) What are those?

Me:  Tomatillos.

RWSPCT:  What do you do with them?  Do you peel them?

Me:  Yeah.  You peel off the dry part and then wash them well because they’re usually sticky-

RWSPCT:  Do you fry them?

Me:  Uh… you could, I guess.

RWSPCT:  That’s what I’d do with them.  I’d probably fry them.

Me:  Yeah… I’m making salsa.

I like that without even tasting them she decided the best course of action was frying.  I guess John Crichton knew what he was talking about.  You really can eat anything if it’s fried.

Another Gardening First….

While my great plan to spend more time outside this summer has succumbed to abnormally humid weather and a job that has decided to become its own time vampire, I can now count another minor success for the season:

My first eggplant!

Cammy's first Rosa Bianca eggplant

I love eggplant.  It’s one of my top-10 favorite veggies.  Possibly even top-5.  With that kind of ranking, it made sense to try cultivating a plant or two in my patio garden.  I figured it wasn’t likely to pan out, but the spindly, sickly plants were reduced in price at the nursery, so I knew I would’t lose any more on trying to grow them than I would spend on buying two eggplants at the supermarket.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, something nabbed my first one before it actually came to fruition.  But this one has survived.  And there are 3 more that are a few days away from harvest.

I can also report that this one?  Was particularly nummy (lightly salted and sautéed in olive oil)

Cammy Goes Caddyshack

Okay, so first I have to admit….I’ve never actually watched Caddyshack all the way through, but I have seen enough of Bill Murray vs. the Gopher to be endlessly amused.

I have it in for ground-dwelling rodents.  It’s all my Dad’s fault.  When I was little we lived out in the middle of Nowhere, Texas and we grew a large garden.  Of course, large gardens in rural corners of Texas (and many other states) are like a big neon sign to gophers.  So, Dad set out traps for them.  And every evening, when he would come home from work, usually right before dinner, he’d say “C’mon, Cammy.  Let’s go hunt gophers!”  And, I would go tottering after him as fast as my fat little pre-school legs would carry me.  I LOVED to go help Dad check gopher traps.  I’m pretty sure this alone rendered me ineligible for PETA membership by the time I was 3, because gopher traps are a long way from humane.  But when they’re destroying part of your dinner, humane is not really at the top of your list.

This hatred has now extended to the chipmunk living under our back patio who made off with more than his fair share of our tomato crop for several years running now.

Now I have a new personal nemesis:  the fuzzy little cottontail dwelling in the flower bed.

It was adorable.

Until today.

You see, I planted an egg plant this year.  I love eggplant.  I wasn’t sure my plant would make it, but I’ve nursed and babied it, and I was delighted when it first showed a bloom.  For week’s I’ve watched the bloom morph.  It was a palm-sized green pod yesterday.  I could tell it was juuuuuust about pop open to start revealing that lovely shiny-aubergine goodness.

But today.  The day I should have finally seen that deep-purple color signaling what would soon be grilling on my newly acquired bbq pit, lightly salted….instead I found the pod gone.  Gnawed off at the stem.

I’m going wabbit hunting tonight, gentle readers.