Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Eggplant Recipes from the Garden

I love to grow eggplant. In particular, I find the Japanese Ichiban eggplant to be a particularly delightful plant, with its' lovely lavender flowers, and glossy deep purple skin. It grows well here in the PNW, in the same conditions that my tomatoes and peppers enjoy.

But it is a deeply maligned vegetable! Mention eggplant, and you will more than likely get a squinchy face with a stuck-tongue and a big ICK! And I never knew much about them before I started growing them. So what to do the little buggers when they start poppin' in the garden?

My Grammy used to say that invention was the child of necessity, and budget's been tight, hours have been cut, money is scarce, and I am REALLY glad I planted a garden. So I went a'searchin'.

Today, I tried a Ratatouille recipe. Now, I can't cook without messin' around with the recipe. Cooking brings out my inner mad chemist. Plus, rarely can I find a recipe which utilizes the exact left-overs in my fridge. Can't let that good food go to waste, so I experiment. /waggles eyebrows.

Wolfdancer's Ratatouille


* About one pound of left over bar-b-q'd London Broil roast, cut into bite-sized chunks, floured and sauteed until a fine golden crust occurs.
* 2 tablespoons basil-infused olive oil
* 2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
* 2 large onions, quartered and chunked.
* 7 small eggplants, sliced thickly
* 5 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
* 3 to 4 small zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch slices
* 1 teaspoon fresh leaf basil
* 1/2 teaspoon freshd leaf oregano
* 1/4 teaspoon fresh leaf thyme


Grab the slow cooker. Pour the juice from left over roast in it. Place the sauteed meat in it. Throw one freshly cubed onion in it.

In a large skillet, drizzle olive oil and heat. Toss the other cubed onion in, and saute till soft. Add garlic. Saute some more. Add the cut up eggplant. Saute until eggplant is soft, and onions are golden brown. Add a bit of left over pesto, because it's there, and it's left over. Toss into the slow cooker.

Add tomatoes, zucchini, and herbs; mix well. Cover and cook over low heat. Sample occasionally, just to make sure you're on the right track. Smack your lips! Who knows how many it will serve. Haven't served it yet. Made a goodly pot.


Now this one, I've done three times, and it's delicious! I think I've finally have it down enough to write it down.

Wolfdancer's Vegetable Lasagna


*A large pan of sliced Ichiban eggplant. (it winds up being about 7 or 8 eggplants)
*A large pan of thickly sliced large tomatoes. (winds up being about 5 or 6, depending on how big the 'maters are)
*one package of either spinach or other fresh egg noodle type of noodle.
*garlic, if the pesto isn't garlicy enough for ya
*fresh grated romano cheese
*fresh grated parmesan cheese
*mozzarella cheese
*fresh basil
*olive oil


Heat the over to broil. Drizzle pans with basil-infused olive oil, and place your 'maters and eggplants closely layered till the pan's full. Take your pans of eggplant and 'maters, and roast for about a half an hour. Try to flip the 'maters, if you can, although fresh 'maters tend to be pretty juicy! Flip the eggplants. When a lovely dark crusty yumminess occurs, they are done. That takes about a half hour. Watch them carefully, don't let 'em burn.

Prepare your noodles. If you're using spinach noodles, make sure you don't overcook them. It works better if the noodles are cooked slightly al dente.

Get a nice lasagna pan, or any deep dish oven pan. If you spray it with Pam, the clean-up will be a snap. Line the dish with your noodles. You should have at least a half an inch worth of noodles. Spoon pesto over the noodles, then sprinkle romano cheese generously over the surface. Take your eggplant, and layer the eggplant over the romano cheese. Take your tomatoes, and layer them over the eggplant. Add the garlic, if your pesto isn't garlicy enough. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese generously over the tomatoes. Slice the mozzarella cheese in goodly 1/4" slices, and cover the surface completely.

Drop the temperature in the oven to 350* and place the pan on another flat pan to catch potential dribbles. Bake for about a half an hour, or until the mozzarella is golden brown and bubbly delicious.

Let it cool for a bit, or you will scald your tongue.

From my garden to yours! Happy Gardening and Bon Appetite!


Friday, August 21, 2009

Lessons from the Universe

I am doing some Reading (with a Capital "R") about life changes. About Spirit. About the Great Mystery. About God. About the Goddess. About Balance, and Patience, and Lessons, and about how I may take the lemons of my life, and turn them into delicious lemonade.

Well, the Universe is definitely giving me my Lessons. Today, an employee of the Company I work for called me up at home and read me the riot act about all the hard work "everyone else does", and how it's unfair that I "sit inside and play on FaceBook or whatever."

I did speak my Truth, but I could feel myself get hot and metallic inside. I fought most of that back.

Here's this little girl who -bless her heart- just graduated College with her BA. I have to admit to being jealous! I make the assumption that her Family paid for that education, or the State did. I make the assumption that she did not pay her way through her education by her own monies, via her own blood and sweat. I make the assumption that she's been coddled and given her living, her housing, her food, that she's never had to live in her car, that she's never had to deal with homelessness, that she has never had to pull herself out of the mud by her own bootstraps.

So I make those assumptions, and then I have to tell myself, those are assumptions. I know nothing about her background, I know nothing about the trials she has suffered. I could call her, and ask her. I know she is paying for her education via part time jobs and through the summer. Bless her heart. I could call her and ask her who pays for her room and board. Does she have another job to pay for her room & board? Or does her InLaws help support her? She lives with them. I could ask her does she have a mortgage that she is struggling to meet so she doesn't end up on the streets again? If, indeed, she has EVER lived on the streets?

I could. But I won't. Or will I? Would knowing her circumstances and sharing mine further my evolution? Would knowing anything about a girl whose plans include Teaching --when she makes such wide ranging assumptions about others can she Teach? -- would sharing my trials and knowing hers help me in my Journey? I don't know. I just don't know.

I'll have to think about it. I'll have to search inside myself and discover if I just don't give fig about a person who won't be here in a month, but perhaps will be here next Summer, or if the Sharing is part of the Lesson.

What do YOU think??


Monday, August 10, 2009

Chaos Moment by Moment

There are days where no matter how tightly you hold on the control button, the "Rewind" or "Delete" buttons are just set on "No Reply, LOADING, Please Wait." *sigh* This is the tail of one of those days.

I tell you, I AM TOO in control of my Life! (right?) :~o

I am attempting to go back to school, and try for my Master's in some kind of business venue where I can;
1) Make a Living Wage plus a wee bit to Nest Egg.
2) Have a job that I enjoy, one I can be creative with, one which I can use to help folks with, and where I can still work part-time at "my" wee little Garden Center which I love.
3) Have some kind of stability which is not reliant on weather or the Economy.
4) Something Useful.

So, I looked into University of Phoenix.It really sounds like a terrific College! But I am very frustrated with the online application process. *bah* Trying to get funding. I spent 45 min. being put on hold, transfered, re-transfered, re-holded, re-processed and spat out as inappropriete. So I don't know if this particular line of reasoning will be do-able. *bah*

So after the eighth re-hold/disconnect, I called my physical therapist to verify my appointment. I called at 11:55 am, expecting my appointment at 1 pm. Au Contraire! I am due at Noon. WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!! Low flying aircraft! Wolfdancer Airlines, taking off on Runway #9.

And now I am awaiting my appointment with Doctor Sarah. Doctor Orth is recuperating from his hip transplant surgery. I hope he's doing well!

I am sitting in downtown Estacada at the Scenes 'N' Beans Coffee Shop Their website isn't quite done yet. (*gee* If I had my Master's in Web Design, I could offer to build it for them!) Just finished watching the tail end of Overboard, and now I get to watch the beginning of Pink Panther 2 with Steve Martin. Funniness!

I found this on You Tube
I saw these guys at the Lakeside Rodeo, one of the last Ole Tyme Ro-DAY-os, long with the Pendleton Roundup. I wound up with really ugly seats which had no stage view. This was --by who knows-who!-- brought to the attention of a lovely lady in side comment as I was on the prowl for the Refreshment Booth. Turns out she was one of the wives. We got upgraded to the third row. GREAT seats! where we could watch the show without pillers and screens before us.
The Highwaymen and their Lovely Wives, real life style

How delightful to see these Legends and their Ladies relaxed and having fun!

Well, home sweet home, Me's'a going out to wheelbarrow shavings.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

To Bee, or Not to Bee, and Other Veggie Tales

Well, 2 days after my wee Bees showed up for a Staycation at Wolfdancer Creek Farm, the bee house blew out of the wee Grand Fir (ain't she Grand!) and they swarmed off in a huff. Since they weren't IN the bee house, only huddled between the walls of the bee house and the trunk of the Fir like small tiger-eye beads bee-decking the fragrant green of the needles, there wasn't any harm to the bees... I was quite concerned!

Poor wee dears. I hope they know how welcomed they are here.

It's been brutal hot here, we've broke records for heat, and continous hot days. I may have lost my trained larch /sadness! And my evergreen huckleberries are taking a terrible hit.

And I just have not felt much like cooking. Imagine that. So, when my friend Greig came over after he'd been at the Estacada Farmer's Market selling the Zark Galactic Emperor's Finest Soap, I defrosted a nice roast I had had tucked away, and went a'foraging out in the garden.

Now I have not been able to even LOOK at my Gardens, only have had time to put water on everything as frantically as possible; work at work, and water as frantically as possible THERE, try to deal with the fairly intense pain that my slip & fall on-the-job accident has incurred, (standing and walking without being able to sit and shift every hour feels like walking with ground up glass between my hip socket and my thigh bone) Try to deal with the fact that my manager is one of the most truly unhappy humans I have ever met, and takes it out on everyone around her. I am afraid that she is trying to make this job intolerable, trying hard to make me quit, or worse, let me go (or in her words "take me off the schedule" because I cannot "do the job I was hired to do") because of the accident. So I am trying to work hard to put myself in her shoes, and understand her viewpoint so that I may be kind. And still watch my back. *wry chuckle* It's Tricksey! Trying to keep the remainder of the new Guinea hens alive, trying to keep the Song Dogs happy, trying to fight the stupid fleas which are going CRAZY with this heat, and havingthemselves a hatching from HELL-o operator! Give me the flea police..

So yesterday, I went out to see if there was anything ripe I could add to the bar-b-q'd roast for dinner. I found 2 mostly ripened Celebrities, about the size of a very large lemon. I found 1 nicely ripened Abe Lincoln. I found 1 nicely ripened Stupice. and a whole bowlful of Sun Golds.

So I am thinking I need to journal what I liked, and what I didn't like, and why. So far, there is no dislikes!

The Celebrities, as per usual, were DELICIOUS! even not-quite ripe, they were tangy, good acid, nearly seedless, and juicy. They had greenish shoulders still. I should've left them on the vine for one maybe two more days. But one had a bit of a hole, so I figured I'd pluck it. About 3 1/2" in diameter.

The Abe Lincoln was also VERY flavorful! A nearly perfect tomato, it was round, bright-dark red, Great acid tang! Really has that "old fashioned tomato flavor"!!! About 3" in diameter.

The Stupice was DEEP bright red! a medium sized 2" in diameter tomato, it had an almost sweet tangy taste! For a very early tomato, I was VERY pleased with the taste! I will definitely grow this one again! Extends my tomato growing season by about a month.

The Sun Golds, of course, are so sweet with a bit of tang, that they are almost dessert tomatoes. They are prone to spliting, tho, so I try to pick them right away when ripe, wash them (IF they make it inside!) and dry them off by placing them on a paper towel. If I leave them to air dry, they will split. Putthem in the fridge right away after blotting them with the paper towel so as to avoid the umbiquious fruit flies. I like them cut in half in a bowl full of large curd cottage cheese. YUM! OR by the handfulls fresh and warm out of the garden.

I added a young cucumber out of the garden, and just cut them up. No salad dressing, just a bit of salt and pepper. We felt like tomato connoisseurs!

I am excited that the Abe Lincoln, a heritage tomato, turned out so well, as did the Stupice. I am looking forward to seeing how the Carbon Black tomatoes taste, and whether the Bonnie Bests are worth growing, since of all my 'maters, the Bonnie Bests seem always to be having troubles. Curley leaves, or yellowy. Now I know I'm not groing tomato leaves, so I will have to see if the taste is worth the extra effort.

I'm kind of excited to be doing this taste test! I know others are doing it, so perhaps Hanna of This Garden is Illegal will help me out on descriptions.

I planted:
Box Car Willie
* Abe Lincoln
Carbon Black
Bonnie Best

Early Goliath
* Celebrity
* Sun Gold

I think that's it...
Next year, I'm going to add:

Clint Eastwood's Rowdy Red
Dagma's Perfection
Gary Ipsen's Gold
Cherokee Purple

happy Gardening!