Thursday, August 28, 2008

Jar You Ready For Fall?

Another cool, grey, damp day greeted me as I left the house this morning, with a sweater tossed on top of the rest of my outfit. There's definitely more than a hint of fall in the air!

So when I arrived home today, I decided to heat things up in the kitchen just a little.

You may have been wondering what I hoped to do with the second eggplant I bought at yesterday's CSA pickup. When I made up my list of things to preserve this year, the memory of a rich and tangy pickled eggplant savored with the fair Titania at a Middle Eastern restaurant in Philadelphia last fall came to mind.

None of my books contained a pickled eggplant recipe that sounded quite like what I had tasted, but a Google search pulled up a Syrian recipe and an Indian one, both of which sounded a little closer to what I had enjoyed.

In the end, I decided to try the Madras pickled eggplant and pulled out a variety of vegetables from my CSA: eggplant, jalapeno peppers, and garlic, along with fresh ginger, a variety of spices, cider vinegar (not local -- I haven't been able to restock yet this season), and local honey.

I followed the recipe almost exactly to the letter (save that I didn't have cumin and fenugreek seeds and used the powdered version instead), sautéing the eggplant for a while before adding a spice paste, the chopped vegetables, and the rest. As it simmered, it gave off a nose-tingling aroma of a very spicy and tangy barbecue sauce from some distant shore: delicious!

Once the mixture had cooked, I packed the ingredients into sterilized jars, added lids and rings, and processed them in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes, ending up with just over two pints of an exciting new side dish or relish for my Indian meals this winter.

Since I had met with such success on that front, I decided to go ahead and can my new tomatoes a little early. Instead of saucing them, though, I simply skinned and crushed or chopped them, heating them before packing jars and processing the lot. I don't plan to make as many jars of canned tomatoes this year since I tend to use the sauce more, but I might as well get some done now.

And after all that, I decided that it was time to pull out the potato leek soup recipe from my CSA sheets again and actually follow through in making it! It made a lovely, comforting meal for a damp evening, especially topped with a few little croutons made with bread from the local bakery. Even the Renaissance Man, who joined me for the meal, approved.

I'm sure I'll be doing a lot more canning over the next month or so to finish filling the pantry for winter, so it's nice to take an evening to get a little done toward that goal.

I'm not ready yet, but I'm getting there.

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At 8/29/2008 1:57 PM, Anonymous Janet said...

You must make up the part about having a full-time job on the side. Amazing! That eggplant look great. I'm amazed that it's fall-ish in Ohio. Still definitely summer in Kansas, though the daylight, sadly, is noticeably less.

At 8/29/2008 2:05 PM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

I wish, Janet. But summer is due to return for the weekend, so I hope to get out and enjoy some of it.

At 8/31/2008 12:59 PM, Blogger Aim said...

Oooooh, that pickled eggplant sounds interesting. I'll have to try that myself :) Going to the farmers market today....

At 9/02/2008 7:09 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

It's pretty good, Aim. The leftover bits I tucked into the fridge taste better and better all the time.


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