Sunday, August 05, 2007

What do You Do with Eggplant?

I went to a Farmer's Market (yes, people do grow things other than cacti in Tucson) with my friend Michelle last weekend and as she was choosing eggplant, that was my question. Her answer: Ratatouille. Now, I have bought and been given eggplant in the past and it always ends forgotten in the crisper drawer looking wrinkly and vaguely pornographic. I'm from southern Ohio and I don't think anyone there ate or grew eggplant Of course, we were surrounded by soy beans and I had no idea until I left Ohio what those were used for.
photo courtesy of TinyBanquet

Not that I was totally unaware, just that no one in West Portsmouth, Ohio used soy at that time. We didn't have a "Chinese" restaurant until the mid 70s. And way! When she said ratatouille I wasn't too sure, it sounded French and difficult. But guess what? Not! Definitely French but easy and delicious. I used a recipe from Cook's Illustrated except I didn't do anything in the oven. I browned the vegetables in my cast iron dutch oven and finished the dish up in that. We will definitely have it again. Thanks, Michelle!

The monsoon is bringing out all kinds of critters.
This is a tarantula, somewhat camouflaged by the rocks. After a rain, a drive down a somewhat protected road, such as Saguaro National Park, will allow you to see many, many tarantulas. They get flushed from their burrows. This one happened to be right in front of the back door.

On the project front, the wall is finished. Dave and Chris came back and installed the gates. We had by that time, finished filling with the river rock. With all the rain and humidity we've had, the steel is already beginning to rust and the rocks lost much of the grayish gravel dust they had accumulated. We've received lots of positive feedback from neighbors.

I mentioned the rain we've been getting and on last Saturday we got 1.5 inches in 45 minutes. The annual average rainfall for Tucson is 11 inches, with most of that coming in the summer and then a bit more in the winter (February). I wasn't home but Rick said it came sideways. Living in a house with earthen plaster on the outside means that sideways rain will likely cause some damage. It did. But, we knew that was a likely occurrence. We just didn't know how much or where. The greatest damage was on the south wall and luckily much of it is protected by the garage. Now we know where the most vulnerable areas are and can repair and protect. We had planned to put a ramada on the south side anyway-now we know we need to do it before monsoon season next year.

In these two photos, you can see the before storm/after storm difference. The faint lines on the left of the photo to the right is where the bamboo was. But the rain has washed away the damage we had from oil that was sprayed when a piece of heavy equipment malfunctioned and has left a beautiful surface for keying in the next coat of plaster. Everyone chant: Ommmmmmmm...

If you have a minute, check out the Stonehouse Strawhouse blog, as they finish up their plaster. I remember those days!

Until next time...


Anonymous said...

Here's the recipe I promised:

Pasta with Sausage, Eggplant and Basil
Serves 6

1 large eggplant, chopped into 1 inch pieces
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
8 Italian sausage links, casings removed
1 pound cherry tomatoes, halved
6 cloves garlic, pressed
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup half and half
1 pound penne pasta, cooked
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
(remember: no stems or buds -- they're bitter)

Toss eggplant with salt, set these cubes in a colander and let
stand for about 20 minutes.

While eggplant sits, cook pasta according to package directions.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in skillet over medium heat and working
in batches add eggplant to skillet and saute till golden brown
and tender. Once eggplant is done, remove and set aside.

Now cook the sausage in the same skillet, breaking up into small
pieces, till browned and cooked through. Drain on paper toweling
and set aside.

Add remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to skillet. Add tomatoes,
garlic and pepper; saute about 2 minutes. Now add the cooked
sausage, broth, and half and half. Simmer about 5 minutes.

Add eggplant and stir for about 1 minute to warm through.

Toss pasta with sauce adding chopped basil and cheese.

Per serving: 644 Calories; 28g Fat (38.6% calories from fat);
25g Protein; 75g Carbohydrate; 11g Dietary Fiber; 46mg
Cholesterol; 1746mg Sodium. Exchanges: 4 Grain (Starch); 1 1/2
Lean Meat; 2 Vegetable; 0 Non-Fat Milk; 4 1/2 Fat.

StrawBoss said...

Thanks, Olga! If that's what we had at your house on Fri it was great.