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Adventures in Cooking [Aug. 21st, 2014|11:51 am]
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On Wednesdays, a food co-op leaves boxes of produce at church--outside, in a little courtyard--for its members to pick up.   Arriving choir members headed for supper in the church and then rehearsal, like me, pass by people poking through the boxes and making their choices. Even if no one happens to be there, no choir member would think of snitching a carrot or onion or zucchini.   Exiting choir members after rehearsal (hours and hours later)  see empty boxes on the table and sigh.


Last night the unexpected happened.  The food co-op made its usual delivery sometime in the day, as it does, but...no co-op members showed up to pick up their share.   At least not that anyone saw.  There the vegetables were, out in the hot (and it was HOT) sun, wilting by the hour.   And when the choir emerged from rehearsal and started to leave, the church receptionist said "Nobody picked up the food from the co-op today...go for it."   The alternative was binning it, because leaving it out there overnight would have made the rats happy, but no one else.

And some of us did.  It was dark out there, only a little light from the spotlight near the sycamore tree, so we were pulling things out of boxes and having to smell and feel them to figure out what they were in the dimness.  (The hoped-for bunch of basil was something no one recognized, but Julie took home.)   Tomatoes, if any, had vanished before I got there, but I came home with things I've cooked a lot with (various peppers, a cucumber, a zucchini, three sweet potatoes,  a small onion, a little bag of purple carrots) and something I hadn't: eggplant.  My husband had previously expressed a dislike of eggplant, so I just never cooked it (I didn't much like it myself, the ways I'd had it.)  

But I'm a firm believer in the power of major soup to overcome any ingredient that doesn't make me sick (as broccoli, for instance, does.  Or cabbage.  About fifteen years or so ago,  cabbage in soup turned from a perfectly reasonable addition to a stick of dynamite in the innards.)   I had some other vegetables handy, and just last week had made a fresh batch of chicken stock, that superb base for so many soups.

The rescued  vegetables:

To these will be added more onions, diced tomatoes and green chilis, a yellow and a green sweet pepper, spinach, corn, some white beans (soaking now), celery, and garlic.  And of course bay leave and thyme and basil and peppercorns and...whatever else strikes my fancy.   My soups tend to be free-form--whatever's around goes in them, the more the merrier.  Some of these will get a pre-soup-pot roasting.  My guess is that we will decide we like eggplant in soup.

I'm sorry the people who should have picked up this produce didn't--clearly they missed some good stuff--but I can't help being glad of the chance to try out eggplant in soup without investing in it.

[User Picture]From: green_knight
2014-08-21 08:44 pm (UTC)
I find that cutting the eggplant into small cubes and frying them in butter works very well for me, and we've discovered and absolutely stunning aubergine curry - it's exceedingly complex, but YUM.

I'm glad the veggies found a good home.
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[User Picture]From: enleve
2014-08-25 09:10 am (UTC)
The aubergine curry sounds interesting. What do you put in it? Any special techniques involved to make the eggplant turn out well?
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[User Picture]From: green_knight
2014-08-25 09:33 am (UTC)
It's this one:

(We had it last night: still delicious, though we usually use only greek yoghurt instead of curds *and* cream.)

The trick for the aubergine seems to be to fry it with little oil in a non-stick pan, fairly hot so it browns rather than getting soggy; and I get this out of the way first before I start on the onions etc.

The trick for the rest of the recipe is to measure out spices into two cups and mix them up - that way you cook it 'fry seeds, put in onions/ginger/garlic/chilli, put in second spice mixture'. If you try to measure them out separately, you'll get into a hopeless muddle. At least I did, the first time I tried to cook this, with some things burning before I'd gotten to the last of the spices.

Since I no longer flail just reading the ingredient list, this has become one of my go-to quick meals - you get the aubergine marinading first, and by the time you've measured out everything and chopped the onions etc, it's ready to fry.
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[User Picture]From: enleve
2014-08-27 08:27 pm (UTC)
It looks delicious. Thank you for the recipe, and for the tips on how to prepare it. Looking at the list of spices, I can see why getting them all ready before starting would be helpful. And I haven't browned eggplant before, so maybe that will help the eggplant dishes I cook turn out better.
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