Home Alone!

18 Sep

Eggplant and Basil from Community Garden Plot

My husband and son were in Florida for the launch of my husband’s brother’s satellite, the Grail, at Kennedy Space Center. So I was left to my own devices for three days. This was the first time in eight years that I had been left alone at home. I have traveled alone overseas and domestically quite a bit for work over the years, but have not been home alone. So I had to adjust to the quiet and get into the rhythm of aloneness.

I cleaned. I organized. I listened to music. I read. I blogged. I journaled. I reflected. I watched silly TV shows.I went for walks. I called girlfriends and chatted and giggled. I took long bubble baths. I danced in the living room. Then I went on a cooking and canning frenzy. This included making pickled green beans (see recipe below), canned tomato sauce, pesto and a wonderful eggplant dish (see recipe below).

It ended up being a very productive harvesting, cutting, pickling and canning experience. So when my son and husband returned home, they were greeted by a very calm and content me, as well as a refrigerator full of beans and eggplant……

Pickled Green Beans

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds fresh green beans, rinsed and trimmed
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 8 sprigs fresh dill weed
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 1/2 cups white vinegar
  • 2 1/2 cups water

Directions

  1. Cut green beans to fit inside pint canning jars.
  2. Place green beans in a steamer over 1 inch of boiling water, and cover. Cook until tender but still firm, for 3 minutes. Plunge beans into ice water. Drain well.
  3. Pack the beans into four hot, sterilized pint jars. Place 1 clove garlic and 2 sprigs dill weed in each jar, against the glass. Add 1 teaspoon of salt to each jar.
  4. In a large saucepan over high heat, bring vinegar and water to a boil. Pour over beans.
  5. Fit the jars with lids and rings and process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

MELANZANE SOTT’OLIO DELLA SUOCERA

(It is not considered safe to can eggplant in oil. So this recipe can be made and then stored in the refrigerator for a week or so.)

2 large eggplants

Wine vinegar (white or red)
Garlic
Spices (oregano, crushed hot pepper, sage, parsley, etc.)

Directions

  1. Cut the ends off the eggplant and slice very thinly (peel if desired). I prefer rounds but many prefer to slice a big one lengthwise. If you have a mandoline, this would be a perfect time to use it! Layer the slices in a colander, sprinkling each layer with salt. Put a weight on the slices to press down. I use a plate and a kilo or two of sugar/flour.
  2. Leave them overnight like this, or several hours during the day. Remove excess salt and squeeze them dry.
  3. In a large saucepan, bring a mixture of 1/2 water, 1/2 vinegar to a boil. *NB: You only need a couple of inches of liquid since you’re going to be boiling in batches. You can also use 1/3 vinegar to 2/3 vinegar if you don’t have that much on hand. Include a few cloves of garlic in the water if desired.
  4. Cook batches of eggplant slices for about two minutes each, remove from the mixture and set aside. You can either leave to dry on an absorbent towel for 30 minutes or squeeze excess moisture from the slices directly.
  5. Use the best quality oil you can find, and begin to layer the oil and eggplants in clean jars with your selection of spices. I use some oregano and hot pepper flakes.

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