Monday, July 25, 2016

Eggplant Caponata & Frugal Accomplishments

I was saddened to see our local feed & seed is going out of business.  We've gotten lots of our seeds there, many plants, organic fertilizer & amendments, and chicks & chick feed.  I'm sure it's tough to make it in these times, but I will miss them.  I stopped in to get seeds, not knowing until I drove up about the closing.  The seeds were 1/2 off.  I got organic fertilizer at 25% off, and plants for $1.  The plants included stevia, 2 Provence lavender, marigolds, and 2 Jewels of Opar.  The Jewels of Opar are new to me, & I was pleased to find while researching that it blooms from June to frost, readily reseeds, is a good pollinator plant & is edible.  I think they're quite lovely to look at too.  I'm joining in with Frugal Accomplishments today.

My sister & spent a day together, making the rounds of a few thrift stores.  My main goal was to find pillows that I could sew covers for, & I found two 16" & two 18" pillows for $6.50.  I'm always on the lookout for cashmere, & scored 3 sweaters and a scarf for $1- $2 a piece. I also found a cute summer blouse, a fleece vest for winter, & 2 flannel pillow cases for .49 ea.   I harvested cucumbers, yellow squash, zucchini, raspberries, tomatoes, basil, oregano, blueberries.  Hand picked japanese beetles & fed them to the chickens, along with greens. Did lots of weeding in the garden.

I harvested the first of the year's elderberries, and began a jar of tincture.  I harvested eggplant with the thoughts of canning them, but then decided to make a batch of my Mom's caponata.  She always tripled the recipe & I did too.  I only measured the seasonings; most of the ingredients were added by sight.  It freezes well, and is especially nice eaten with a good loaf of Italian bread.  Here's the recipe:

1 eggplant (I used 4 smaller asian eggplants for each eggplant), cut in cubes
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup tomato sauce or a little tomato paste ( I used fresh cherry tomatoes, did not use the water & added 2 or 3 tbs tomato paste for a triple recipe)
1 tbs wine vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Pinch of dried oregano or some fresh
1/4 cup water (see note above)
A variety of olives to taste, pitted (around 1/3- 1/2 cup)- I used a mix of black, kalamata & cracked green olives this time.  Use what you have.

Saute eggplant & celery in olive oil for 10 minutes.  Add onion & garlic and saute another 5 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients & simmer covered for 5-10 minutes.  Add more sugar, salt or vinegar to taste if desired.  Some also add peppers or capers.  Enjoy!

This is the table I painted last week.  I'm glad I took the class when I did, as it's already gone up $6 and now requires another basic chalk paint class as a prerequisite that costs $99, so taking it at the right time saved me $105.  I bought supplies to do the pieces I have in mind, with a 10% student discount.  A neighbor I had taken a mushroom class with years ago came by.  She was interested in wild foods, so we did a little weed walk around the garden.  She tasted lambs quarter & purslane, & went home with a few cucumbers.  I planted all my dollar plants from the feed & seed, & watered them in with a bit of nettle tea.  Squished a number of squash bugs.  It's been very hot, so I've been bringing a wash pan of ice water to the chickens each afternoon, along with cool treats like cucumbers & cut up pineapple.  A friend gifted me with cantaloupe rind & berries she had made jelly with to give to the chickens.  They loved it.

This is McNibs asking me "are you ready to walk yet"?  I pulled all but the two smallest cabbages, put one in the crisper, & made my first batch of sauerkraut with the rest.  I canned dill pickle relish with our cucumbers.  After picking the first of our lima beans, I blanched and froze them, & plan to add to the bag as they come in.  If enough come in at one time for a meal, we'll have some fresh.   J & I went out to the garden Sunday morning to find our bean trellis twine had snapped from the weight.  He says that's all they ever used in their garden when he was growing up, & this never happened.  We expect the quality of present day twine has diminished.  We replaced the top row with a metal wire & pulled it all back into place.  J created a teepee for the tromboncino squash, & after seeing signs of squash borers in our summer squash, worked on those areas & killed the eggs he saw.  We're not sure if it's rabbits or deer, but something chewed off all the sunflowers I planted in the newest garden.  That's the life of a gardener.


GlebeTheElderJr - said...

The eggplant caponata sounds good.

Jane said...

Thanks for the recipe. We have a lot of eggplants ripening in the garden at the moment and I needed some inspiration. Very hot and dry here too.


April said...

What a great observation: "We're not sure if it's rabbits or deer, but something chewed off all the sunflowers I planted in the newest garden. That's the life of a gardener. "

I hear you!

cookingwithgas said...

I laugh at myself saving you my compost for the chickens, but it looked tasty enough to share.
Great seeing you and j.

Angie @ thejunkranch said...

I'm going to try your eggplant recipe...sounds so good! I harvested several large ones this morning that I'm going to dehydrate. I tried this last year and it worked so well I wished I had done more...I'll be calling you soon for more Bliss soap and would like to try some new ones. Have a great week!

Laurie said...

Oh, how lovely to see all of you dears here! Jane, my very favorite thing to do with eggplant is Pasta Norma! If you use the search in my blog, you'll find the recipe. It works great with canned eggplant too... directions on the blog as well. April, it does seem to be one thing or another, doesn't it?! Meredith, they got round 2 a few minutes ago, & were just as impressed. I'll take your compost any time! Angie, I'll have to talk with you about how you use your dried eggplant. I've not tried that yet. Yay on the Bliss soap! It'd be great if it worked out to deliver on one of your open shop days! Thank you all for being here!

Michèle Hastings said...

It is always sad when small businesses close. I have never been to that store, but I know that Jeff has.
The eggplant recipe sounds wonderful. I wish I weren't the only eggplant eater in this household!

Laurie said...

Maybe you could freeze it in Michele sized batches :o)