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Home Ec: Fall Gardening

Eggplants

I was thinking today as I was working in my garden that I take mentoring pretty seriously when it comes to gardening. I am such a “wanna-be” gardener even though it looks like I have it down. Well I don’t at all.

I am constantly calling my friends who have horticulture degrees or just lots more experience than I. And I know they call people who have more experience than them. So I benefit from the trickle down of knowledge. Throw in a healthy dose of the, “How hard can it be?” mentality and, shebang!  I have a decent garden.

But I am constantly doubting what I know and have many failures. I also do stupid things like shoveling mushy compost with my white gym shoes!

Well I attempted to photograph myself gardening this weekend. Practically impossible to hold a shovel and a camera at the same time! I finally got a bin full of compost to actually turn into dirt. It took forever because I had added WAY to much green stuff and not enough leaves (I was too lazy to go hunt up leaves.) Therefore my compost spent months in the anaerobic state rather than the optimal aerobic state. But never fear, I finally added enough dry stuff that it degraded into rich dirt. I found a cute frog in my bin and you know, they say amphibians are the first to go if their environment is bad sooo… it must be okay!

I also have been feeling so unmotivated to start fall planting. So with winter on my heels, I am at last into action.

I love the idea that a gentle rain will keep my seeds wet so I don’t have too. So I dove in on Sunday afternoon. First, I harvested all my remaining carrots and beets. I took a shovel and turned the bed, and then I tossed in my compost and turned that in. Then came decision time, what to plant? And then it dawned on me that it says right on the seed package whether or not it’s a cool or warm season vegetable! So I quickly weeded through my seed stash taking out only cool season seeds. I use the Square Foot Gardening approach by Mel Bartholomew. Except he does a professional job and I just wing it using some old bamboo sticks, to temporarily grid off the sq. feet. Oh to be Mel…

In the process, I discovered that I had neglected to support my eggplant all summer and it was a mess, so I gingerly staked it up and discovered a bunch of fruit under the pile! Even when I mess up things still grow and produce! Here’s to Eggplant! A good source of Vitamin K ,Thiamin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Potassium, Manganese and a very good source of fiber, not to mention, a good source of an antioxidant called Chlorogenic Acid, among the most potent plant-based free radical scavengers ever discovered!

– Sara

Eggplant Dip
from Dr Andrew Weil MD

– 1 eggplant
– ½ med onion, grated or finely chopped
– 2 T capers
– 2 T fresh lemon juice
– ¼ cup EVO
– ½ t dried oregano
– ½ t salt
– ¾ t fresh ground pepper
– 1 T  red wine vinegar
– 4 pitas
– 1 tomato, peeled, seeded, diced
– 1 T chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Set eggplant on a baking sheet or dish and pierce it a few times with a knife. Bake until soft, 30 mins.
It should pierce easily with a fork. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Peel off skin, put flesh in a blender or processor. Add onions, capers, lemon juice. Turn on the machine, then gradually add the EVO. Continue to blend until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Transfer to a bowl, stir in oregano, salt, pepper, and vinegar.

Warm pitas briefly on a baking sheet, then cut each into 8 wedges. Arrange on a plate. Just before serving, stir the tomato and parsley into the dip.

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