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.

Attack of the Killer Tomato Worms

I am all kinds of evil.  Not only did I miss my post for Friday, I’m coming in with one that’s disgusting:

Tomato Worms.

Every year, I get a least a few.  Normally I don’t find out I’ve gained a parasitic little party-crasher until a least two branches of my tomato plant have been stripped bare.

I thought I was done for this year.  My larger plant started showing signs that it was the munchy-of-choice for a tomato worm.  Since I’m trying to be pesticide free in my little garden, I hunted for the worm and any of his friends to find them and squish them.  But hunt as I might, I couldn’t find the little bastard.  I was forced to resort to Sevin dusting the plant–lightly as possible.

That was about a month ago.  Thursday, I started seeing it again.  The little bastard was killing my plant….so I hunted, never found him, and went for the Sevin dust–heavily.  Screw pesticide free, it was ON.

Today, I noticed the tiny cherry tomato plant on the opposite side of the patio–the worm equivalent of a whole continent away–was looking picked clean.  Son of a…..out I went.  This time I was going to find the offender and squish him.  Or possibly snip him with my garden clippers.

I found one right off.  About an inch and a half long and slightly less diameter than a pencil.  Snipped off that end of the stem and squished his green body under the leg of a patio chair.

But something told me he wasn’t alone.  So I went back.  For over an hour I hunted.  Nothing on the bigger plant.  And nothing left on the smaller…..and then I saw it.  Like something from a bloody sci-fi horror film.  Straight from the intergalactic hub of alien invasions, Vancouver, B.C.   Clinging to a spindly volunteer tomato that was trying to reach its way out of the man-eating-squash jungle, was the biggest, most disgusting tomato worm I’d ever seen.

Seriously, I didn’t know they even GOT that big*.  I usually get these things when they’re around the size of the first one I spotted–an inch to an inch and a half, and never any bigger around than a pencil.  Sometimes they’re even smaller when I end them.

This sumbitch was bigger than any of my fingers.  He was bigger around than my thumb and at least 4 inches long–when he was contracted.  I’m pretty sure he alone was responsible for 98% of the tomato plant carnage I’d been seeing.

And I was pissed.

I clipped off the already-stripped stem he was devouring and flung it onto the patio.  As big as he was, I couldn’t risk a close-range squish–it would be begging for a coating of green goo, and no one wants that.  I finally rolled him over with a garden cart.  Even with the green goo emanating from his back end, the little fucker KEPT EATING THAT STEM.  He was technically still moving and going at it when I went in the house.  I mean, there’s no way he could survive having his guts trailing out his ass, right?

Honestly, I give loads of thanks he wasn’t bigger than that or I would have been facing a reenactment of Tremors.  If he has similar-sized friends out there that I missed, I may yet be forced to take more drastic measures.  I’m seriously considering assembling my arsenal of large cal ammo and “a few household chemicals in the proper proportions.”

If you don’t have a post from me as scheduled this week?  Send Kevin Bacon.


*Now that I have googled I’m horrified to see they DO get this big. WTF!

The Gardening Update

Odd fact:  rain is only good for a garden if it comes the right way.

In true Midwest fashion, our rain has been coming in the form of violent thunderstorms (although, even for the Midwest it’s been a bit odd in the timing–usually at this point in the summer we’re dry).  While the volume of water is greatly appreciated, the flow is a bit much.  Until about two weeks ago my cherry tomato plant was about 4 inches shy of being as tall as I am.

Then came “The Storm”

Yeah.  Massive straight-line wind from the outflow, followed by a deluge.  I may as well have aimed a fire hose at my plants.  My tomato plant went  completely parallel to the ground.  The two stakes and massive tomato cage were no match for the weather.  I found myself wrestling it back into an upright position, re-staking and trying to restore it to it’s former vertical glory.

It almost worked.  Until storm two.

The process repeated.

And then storm number 3.

Yeah.  It’s even money as to whether or not I’ll bother to continue this process.  That’s a lie.  I’ll totally keep at it because if I don’t keep it up off the ground, the oodles of little green tomatoes will be in easy bunny-rabbit reach and I can kiss them goodbye (little bastard has already picked clean the lowest part of the bush as well as everything on the smaller volunteer plants).

And thus continues Cammy’s summer gardening adventure (the only part of my great outdoor plan that’s going to survive this humidity).

My First Tomato

I am inordinately proud of myself.  Today I got to consume the first tomato I grew all on my own.

I’ve spent a lot of time helping garden: helping my parents, grandparents, aunt, friends….but this summer is the first time I planted veggies completely unassisted. While it was incredibly freeing to get to pick what I felt like planting (which meant absolutely no space was wasted on my least favorite veggie:  Bell Pepper), I was left with the nagging dread of being solely responsible if my choices failed.  A nagging dread compounded by the knowledge that with all the years I’ve been a gardening-trainee (far more years than I ought to have been a mere apprentice), if I couldn’t handle a few tomato plants on my own?  Well, clearly that would mean my green thumb was nothing but rot.

I’ve been a bit anxious. My patio garden consists of multiple “volunteer” tomatoes that sprung up from my mother’s garden last summer, multiple volunteer onions, a brand new cherry tomato bush, two egg plants, various herbs, and a Hungarian hot wax pepper.  My herbs are going like gang busters, the onions seem okay (I need to dig them up–plant ’em on the shortest day, dig ’em up on the longest…I missed the due date).  My egg plants at least have blossoms.  But the tomatoes–the one thing none of my family has ever messed up.  The standby veggie of the summer….For weeks my cherry tomato had blooms, but no fruit (the volunteers have blooms, but they came from hybrids and those don’t always behave normally in subsequent generations).  And then…, down at the bottom, lurking behind the foliage I realize that not only were there tomatoes forming, one of them was ripe!  Woohoo!  I’m not a complete horticultural failure!

Of course, I wasted no time, rinsing it under the hose and popping it in my mouth.  I could be biased, but I think that may have been the best tomato in the history of tomatoes.  It was certainly the most satisfying.