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July 16th, 2010

Egg(plant) on His Face

200_eggplantFacebook is a great place for friends to share recipes and gardening advice, and it’s there that my Dallas friend Kirk Kirksey proves himself a font of wisdom—and fun. His most recent post, a recipe for baba ganoush, made me laugh out loud (and hungry). With eggplants so plentiful now, I thought I’d share:

Baba Ganoush, Y’all

3 large eggplants (about 2½ pounds)
1 (7-ounce) can green chiles
¼ cup tahini paste
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
Salt to taste

On the grill, build a small fire with mesquite wood chunks only (or use charcoal if you’re not a purist). Let the flames die down until the wood chunks are very hot, but not flaming. Cut eggplants in half length-wise (is that a word?). Rub each eggplant half with olive oil, and place, skin side up, on the grate. Cover with the grill lid (or foil, I guess) and allow to smoke. Remove eggplants halves when the skin has started to collapse and the meat is mushy—about 30 minutes. Allow to thoroughly cool.

There will be a thin charred layer covering the roasted eggplant pulp. Carefully remove this and discard. Scrape the eggplant pulp into a bowl and discard the empty skins.

Place all ingredients in a food processor or, if you’re a peasant like me, in a blender. Hit the ‘Chop’ button if you like texture; ‘Puree’ if you prefer a smooth, featureless paste. Salt to taste.

Serve with pita chips as a dip. Or, if you can’t stand it, just have a bowl for breakfast like I’m doing now.

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For all you need to know on planting, growing and harvesting eggplants, click here.

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July 12th, 2010

Test Garden Update: Debbie Leung, Olympia, WA

DebbieLeungWow, I think the ‘Little Potato’ cucumber in the previous post looks kinda cool! Unfortunately, no test cukes for me this year. The one I was trialing was weak from our cool and very wet late spring, then devoured by either slugs or bunnies. I replanted with another variety, a long Japanese variety, and planted one outside and one in my greenhouse along with the test watermelon ‘Shiny Boy’. A few days later, I let the chickens out to graze on the property. They found their way into the greenhouse and scratched out the cukes and watermelon! While I felt devastated, my great hopes dashed, I had to laugh since earlier this spring, the chickens’ scratching was welcomed as an attack on weeds. Lesson learned—greenhouse door closed before hen yard door opens!

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July 9th, 2010

Test Garden Update: Andres Mejides, Homestead, FL

I am always surprised that the Test Gardeners in arid western states (like Leslie Doyle in Las Vegas) can grow stuff in summer that can only handle winter here in Florida. The desert is so much hotter! Our heat indexes have been in the triple digits for weeks now, very unusual for us, with very little rain, too. 

 

The two All-America Selections zinnias we’re trialing—’Double Zahara Fire’ and ‘Double Zahara Cherry’—started blooming last week, and now they’re blooming their heads off. Flowers are small but the colors are vibrant. I’m impressed with their self-branching habit and disease resistance. A couple of the plants leaned over almost flat and sure enough they started branching out near the bottom.  I do this on purpose with basil after it’s 4 or 5 years old, and we get some great new growth out of it. 

 

In just 3 months I’ll be able to start most of those veggies the rest of the Test Gardeners have been eating for a while now!


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July 6th, 2010

Test Garden Update: Debbie Leung, Olympia, WA

debbie_tnimage003What happens when a gardener gets too busy to pay attention to some corner of the garden and it gets overgrown? A pair of juncos comes in to raise a family!

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