Here’s a story for you. It wasn’t long ago that cold air blanketed the dry puckered land of Texas. But as winter waned, instead of soft breezes and subtle warmth, it got hot. But only for a second, because soon, it rained. And it rained for 40 days and 40 nights (I’m being poetic here. It rained more than that). As the sky let loose, people everywhere were happy and sad at the same time. But, alas, it stopped, and now it’s hot once again. But before the sun settles in for a stretch, when there will be no mistaking that this is Texas and not Costa Rica or Oregon, my garden still holds its lushness. A helping of happiness and bounty from the rain.
Soaking up the nitrogen filled water and the coaxing climate that came with it, the plants grew with abandon. It was just last week that I took these pictures, but now, as I write this, they are showing signs of the sucker punch of summer as it makes its abrupt arrival.
I tend a garden because I don’t mind a messed up manicure. Because I love food and cooking it. But the plants I grow and the fruit they bring forth are my beautiful muses. I mean, that’s how this blog got started; those knock-out peaches we grew that first year. They were the kind of delicious you don’t find at the grocery, but just looking at them might have been enough. They moved me.
About the peaches, though. Threatening to destroy my brand are the squirrels, who’ve eaten every last peach that my happy trees put forth this year. I can hardly talk about it, much less write about it, and I’m wishing I had the guts to eat truly “local.”
But back to the vegetable garden, which is a casually organized colony of raised beds that calls to me every morning. I go out and prune and fuss, and my green room reliably imbues me with a cocoon-like shield, a tranquility that beckons me to stay and find a place to curl up, like my grand-dogger who loves to lie in the cool mulch.
Pan Fried Eggplant with Lemon, Garlic and Marjoram
For the life of me, I can’t find the seed packet for this kind of eggplant. It looks like an asian variety, but it is colored like a Rosa Bianca, which I am also growing. But the thing to know about eggplant of any kind is that the smaller the better. The asian variety is almost never bitter. As the eggplants get bigger, so do the seeds, which is where the bitterness comes from. So, without going through all that salting, just buy young eggplants, if possible.
I fried these in a very hot skillet with walnut oil, as olive oil can’t take that kind of heat very well. As you can see, I was looking for crispy. Then I drizzled them with garlic that had been cooked slightly in olive oil and a squeeze of lemon, salt pepper and fresh marjoram. Any pungent herb would work well. And you need something like lemon or vinegar to cut through the richness of the eggplant.