The Start of Eggplant Season 6/3/2018

This year we are going to have a HOT summer. In fact we mostly skipped spring. We went from winter to full on 100 degree summer super quickly. This weather stinks for Carrots, parsnips, and beets. However, 100 degree temp days are great for eggplants and peppers.

The inspection of the Japanese eggplants revealed more eggplants than expected and required some plucking. Eggplants are among one of the most unpleasant foods to pick. If not properly armed with a knife, forget it. Evil little invisible spikes live all along the flower cap at the top of the fruit. Stabbed more than I cared to be, this was my trophy:

IMG_1097About 10 eggplants.  What to do with this many? well… I had already made my work lunches for the week consisting of baked roasted carrots with herbs, onions, peppers and green beans. So baba ganoush it was! I made one fresh batch and the rest of the roasted eggplant was de-skinned and put into a zip lock bag in the freezer. That way next time I want to make it all that I need to do is defrost for less than 5 minutes instead of roast for 45.

The husband was watching me peel the eggplants and mentioned how he disliked knowing how the sausage was made. It truly doesn’t look appetizing. Especially for someone whom does not appreciate eggplant in its other forms.

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Purple morning glories

 

May Home and Garden Patch Update 5/19/2018

The Back Yard

This afternoon was a perfect day to take a cruise around the back yard to see what there was to see. It’s time to use bug spray. The effect of todays little adventure resulted in no less than 30 bug bites. But this is Texas, and things bite here. I’ve gotten used to it, or rather accepted it for what it is at least.

Plum tree

IMG_0721Today the plum received protective coverings on the 6 fruits that were visible.

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One was a little too high up for me to put a cover on so I snagged it off the tree to test how ripe it was. Still a little tart, but getting close.

IMG_1001Loquat Tree

a few weeks ago I kept an eye out for the loquat fruit to ripen. Well… the loads of peaches were so distracting that I apparently forgot about them long enough the birds had their way and I didn’t get any.

IMG_0840Maybe next year… maybe next year. Until then I’ll just wonder how best to use you.

Pomegranate Tree

IMG_0995It’s starting to look as though we will actually be getting a few this year. I’m very excited by this prospect! I love pomegranates, and dreaming of pomegranate mint salads.

FlowersIMG_0996Monarda is making its first appearance of the year. I love these beauties. They’ve attracted resident humming birds in the past. And this tough little plant is one of my favorite easy growing spreaders for empty area.

IMG_0998The Echinacea patch is also just starting to bloom. I noticed it is naturalizing into the lawn. I’ll have to move clumps to other areas to keep them from getting moved over. Not a bad plant to have spread, it has such a gorgeous color.

Tomatoes and Squash

The first picture is 4/1/2018 the second picture is 4/22/2018

IMG_1002This is 5/20/2018.  Yes. the tomatoes are now covered in bird net and taller than their supports. There’s also some surprise sunchokes in the foreground.

Cucumbers and Volunteer Tomatoes

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Everything is starting to get big quickly. Most of the plants have a few flowers or immature buds.

Garden Patch

IMG_0981I’m busily pulling beets and rutabagas from the ground.

Beans

The two fresh eating beans planted first are starting to make fresh beans now. I think the dragon tongue is my favorite of the two.  Below is a picture of the dried beans that I will just continue to let produce and leave on the plant. They will be brown and leathery when the whole pant is pulled out of the ground.

IMG_1009Soy beans are getting bigger too. Lots of edamame in our future!

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Peppers

I’ve been picking hot peppers for a few weeks now. Last week I picked about 8 large Poblanos and a few Jalapeños to make a shredded chicken crock pot dish that we put into corn tortillas and poured some homemade salsa verde over.

The sweet peppers are finally starting to come on.

The right is a few Jimmy Nardelo’s that I’ll pick and roast when they start to turn red. The Right is red pepper cheese. A cute little turbine pepper reminiscent a Habanero but sweet and will also turn red. The Italian Yellow bells didn’t appear to have any impressive looking fruit that popped out at me yet.

Eggplant

IMG_1006My little Japanese long eggplants are starting to produce. It wont be long before we can start picking them now.

IMG_1013This is the haul for this week. I ran out to the garden patch this morning right before a thunderstorm hit so I didn’t have time to wash everything like I would normally do before I bring it into the house.

I’ve got about 10 poblano peppers we will stuff with chicken and cheese and cover in more salsa verde. I found the BEST recipe for salsa verde which I’ll use an onion and jalapeno for. I’m roasting the beets and other root vegetables for Lunches with some herbs sprinkled over the top and a drizzle of oil.

IMG_1014Things are starting to really pick up out at the garden. It has been a great feeling to be able to eat the things that are worked so hard and cared for.

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Eggplant Recipes for Fall 10/26/2017

Well, Texas fall sure is unpredictable. Last night temps dropped to the 40’s. I had to cover my tomato plants with a planket (plant blanket) to protect the still ripening fruit. Tonight is in the 50’s. Later on this week the low is predicted to be 38. With those sorts of temperatures limping along the summer plants is likely not going to be possible. It’s unfortunate since my eggplants are looking like mini trees and would still be going strong. Plants are capable of surviving lower temperatures than their fruit are, so I picked all the eggplant two days ago in anticipation of a cold snap. If I get lucky, maybe it will be warm enough after to set a few more before winter comes. I won’t get my hopes up too high though.

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Roasted Eggplant

The easiest way I’ve been enjoying eggplant this fall is super simple. If you love sautéed mushrooms you will like this. And the best part is it requires no measurements, which is my favorite.

Ingredients:

Cut eggplant into rings and place on a tin-foil lined cookie sheet. sprinkle in olive oil. The eggplant act like a sponge and can hold a lot of it, I just like to drizzle a few lines on both sides of the vegetable slices. Dust with basil salt. Move the oven rack onto the top shelf, set the oven to Broil and wait about 15-20 minutes for the eggplant to soften. I just pile my little rings in a bowl and have that for dinner. One good sized eggplant will easily keep me satisfied for the evening.

I’ve been eating most of my beautiful eggplants this way selfishly.  Unfortunately, my husband hates mushrooms. He tried a bite of roasted eggplant and immediately rejected it since it not only has the flavor of mushrooms, but also the texture, which is the part he truly does not like.

There was only one plant of eggplants left to pick before the cold snap. In an effort for him to enjoy some of what I grow, I decided to make some with my possibly last batch of eggplants for the season.

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I found a recipe on pinterest that looked promising and gave it a shot. I had no idea it would take me 3.5 hours to complete when I started this project. The roasting of the eggplant whole took a very large chunk of that time. It probably would have been shorter if I hadn’t been in such a baking mood lately.  There were leftover pumpkin seeds to toast from the pumpkin pie I made the night before. Pumpkin seeds require a lower temperature than the eggplant. I decided to bake them both at the same time and in the end didn’t really speed up the eggplant cooking. I’d be willing to bet you could roast and peel the eggplant and freeze the pulp in quantities for the recipe then thaw it out and complete the rest of the recipe later which I will try doing if I ever get a bumper crop.

Baba Ganoush

A hummus type dip made with eggplant instead of chickpeas. My husband loves it. Never have I ever made it before. But it didn’t look too daunting. I settled on this recipe from Little spice jar:

Ingredients:
  • 2 medium eggplants
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons tahini paste
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 pinch cayenne (or more if you want it spicy)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
Roast the eggplant at 375 for an hour and a half. This took me a little longer since the lower temperature only made the outside brown and shriveled but not soft. basically you’re looking for them to become squishy, not firm when poked. This part by far took the longest.

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While the eggplant was baking I made my own tahini paste which is essentially crushed sesame seeds mixed with a little olive oil. I already had roasted sesame seeds on hand so I measured out three tablespoons into a mortar and pedestal and crushed away adding olive oil to make it more of a thick peanut butter consistency.

When that was done I put the paste and two cloves of garlic in the food processor along with some lemon juice and pulverized the garlic into little bits. I let this mixture sit until the eggplants were finished roasting in the oven.

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Peel the eggplant. I kept all my seeds in because the eggplants I picked were slightly under-ripe and their seeds weren’t hard yet. That, and I wasn’t sure if I would have had the equivalent of two medium store bought eggplants. If you buy them in the store the seeds might be better removed. Apparently they can make your end product bitter so just take a the chunk of the core with the seeds out.  The roasted eggplant and the rest of the ingredients (except yoghurt and parsley) were added to the food processor and blend until it looks like a consistency you would joy. I actually omitted the olive oil also. I figured I had used it while making the tahini paste.

I trotted out to the garden in my head lamp and picked some parsley to wash, stirred it in along with a little thick taziki that I had on hand in the fridge. ( I ran out of plain yoghurt and this was the best alternative I could find).

This is the result:

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Let it sit overnight in the fridge or at least 8 hours. This recipe would be so easy if you already had roasted eggplant on hand. It would literally be tossing stuff in a food processor and whirring it together. Now a husband taste test is all that’s required.— YAY!! He LOVES it!

This is the first time I have ever grown eggplants successfully. In Washington they never set fruit and the plant stayed small. I all but forgot about this lovely plant until this year in Texas when we finished a raised bed in August and I was trying to figure out what plant wouldn’t die in the high heat of summer besides hot peppers and ocra. I will certainly be planting eggplant again next year. I’ll also be looking for more recipes that both my husband and I can enjoy.

Do you have any eggplant recipes you like? I need all the ideas I can get.

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