AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: The Best of Times, The Worst of Times DATE: 8/17/2009 08:39:00 AM ----- BODY:
Early in the summer I began noticing worms in the soil. I knew the soil started out in excellent condition, 3 summers ago, when I imported 5 tons of compost, but worried that I hadn’t sufficiently amended the soil in the subsequent seasons. The worms told me that I was doing okay.

Over the years, I have tried and given up on growing heirloom tomatoes. I’m lucky if I harvest one tomato at the end of September. Despite my track-record, I plant at least one heirloom every year. This year, I planted three. And so far, I’ve had 10 tomatoes! It must be the worms.

The threat of blight still looms. I regularly trim back any yellow spotted leaves that show signs of disease. The foliage is thinning, but the tomatoes stalks are heavy with fruit.

And I’m tense. Because, in fact, they are too heavy. The plants are drooping, bending the stalks despite all my efforts to stake them.
I wonder if the tomatoes will get the required nutrients and energy from the plant with a weakened structure.

The tomatoes still ripen on the vine (i.e. they don’t rot), so I continue to enjoy them: lots of tomato/mayo sandwiches and a few tomato sauces.

Mediterranean Eggplant and Tomatoes
With the glut of eggplant and tomatoes, I made a Mediterranean style dish. With basil, it takes an Italian bent and pairs beautifully with grilled steak and potatoes. With dill, the Turkish inspiration takes over making it perfect with mackerel and basmati rice. The dill is in short supply and I’m reserving it for pickles. I decided to lean Italian.
¼ cup plain oil
5 Japanese eggplants, sliced in half lengthwise
2 tablespoons currants or raisins
2 tablespoons pine nuts or pistachios
1 tablespoon butter
¼ cup white wine
1 shallot, peeled and diced
1 large garlic clove, peeled and diced
2 cups diced tomatoes – whatever you have in your garden
2 tablespoons fresh basil or 1 tablespoon fresh dill
Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large skillet heat oil over high heat. Add eggplant to pan, cut side down, and cook until a deep brown. Flip over and cook on the other side until the eggplant is soft, about 1 more minute. It’s important to cook the eggplant in a single layer, so you may need to cook them in batches. Drain on a paper towel and season with salt.

2. When eggplants are cooked, pour off the oil from the pan. Return the pan to a medium heat. Add the pine nuts and raisins and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, or just until the pine nuts start to brown. Remove from heat and drain.

3. Wipe the pan clean, return to medium high heat, and add the butter. When the butter melts and shallots and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes, or until soft. Add the wine and reduce. Add the tomatoes. Cook until the tomatoes have released their liquid and start to thicken. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Just before serving, stir in the fresh herbs.

When serving, sprinkle toasted pine nuts and currants on top.

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types DATE:8/17/2009 10:37:00 AM This recipe sounds so good - I've been really happy with the Japanese eggplants I've been getting from the farm, and this really showcases them. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Alanna DATE:8/23/2009 08:22:00 PM This whole blight thing sure is putting a crimp in tomato enjoyment this year - it makes me realize, once again, how much risk we allow when we rely on food from one source, whether one variety or one geography. ----- --------