Saturday, October 23, 2021

Roasted Eggplant or Aubergine

If you want a quick and light snack roasted eggplant or aubergine is the recipe to make. Although eggplant doesn't have as many vitamins as other vegetables (fruit); it is versatile and delicious. Preheat your oven to 400 F. Take one large globe eggplant and slice into one inch to 3/4 inch slices. Leave the skins on because this keeps the eggplant together when taking off the baking sheet. Take a fork and score both sides of the eggplant in a crisscross pattern. Place eggplant on a aluminum foil lined baking sheet. I tried parchment and the eggplant isn't easy to remove on it. Brush olive oil on both sides. Sprinkle one side with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and an herb of your choice such as rosemary, thyme, oregano, or tarragon. Every time I make this I use a different seasoning. This time I used cajun seasoning. Bake 25 to 30 minutes turning eggplant over once half way through. If you like just after eggplant is removed from the oven sprinkle some grated asiago or parmesan cheese. Serve immediately. Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Accommodating Early Trauma

We lost our last cat Barney; it was so unexpected since he was street wise and we didn't think he would succumb to predators, but yet he did. After several months we decided to go to the shelter and get an elderly cat, one who wouldn't outlive us since we're up in years. The shelter was set up in such a way that visitors entered the kitten area first. Of course everyone loves kittens. The adult cats were in a play room. We were told the kittens didn't get to enter the play room till they were six months old.  What?!!!! How could anyone keep a kitten in a 3 x 3 foot cage for six months. We were mortified.

The shelter employee brought out each kitten and we held it. Although they were cute they didn't speak to us. There was an elderly cat in a cage nearby but it was definitely traumatized by all the commotion and the obvious lack of previous home solace. The last kitten we held was a two month old ginger manx and he was in the upper cage. He was feisty and cuddly all at the same time. When it came time to put him back in his cage he cried a forlorn cry no one could resist, especially us. We didn't make it to the adult cat room. Right then and there we knew this ginger manx kitten had chosen us. We brought him home and he showed us what the problem is with keeping a kitten in a small cage. He became a holy terror running and climbing and getting up as high as he could. We began to think we had made a mistake in getting a kitten so young, but we persevered since we'd made a promise to him. 

In the photo you see Bonkers lying on the shelf above my desk area. He likes to look down on what is happening below. He'd been kept in that upper cage for two months and that vantage point was what he was used to. He kept wanting to jump up on the desk and interrupt my computer surfing. I decided to remove all the books and put a towel up there for him to lie on surveying what is happening below. Being up high seems to calm him and he has mostly settled down from his crazy days. We suspect someone else adopted him and returned him because he was so crazy running around their home. Who could blame him when he was cooped up in a tiny cage when he was so young and ready to play. Animals like humans have trauma in their lives but if you can figure out what they need to accommodate their traumatic experience they will be just fine in their new environment. We love our little boy Bonkers so much and are so very thankful he found us and we found him.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Fresh Chestnut Soup

Making fresh chestnut soup is a lot of work, I won't deny it. First Gary goes to the farm to get the fresh chestnuts which was quite a distance away, that's day one. Next day I have to score each nut with a crisscross pattern. Then I roast them in the oven for about 45 minutes. Then I peel the skin off of each one. Ok that's the second day. I decide to wait till the next day to make the soup part. Peeled chestnuts go into the refrigerator.

I neglected to get a photo of the peeled nuts, but you can see them in this not so appealing photo. It's day three and I sauté one chopped onion, two chopped stalks of celery, one chopped carrot in some olive oil. When vegetables are softened I add one cup of red wine and let the mixture cook for about 10 minutes. Then I add the nuts and 32 fluid ounces of vegetable stock, salt, pepper, along with fresh thyme leaves I removed from the stems. I let the soup simmer for several hours. Next I add three small chopped red potatoes and cook the soup till the potatoes are soft. But the chestnuts are still too hard to puree. Third day soup goes back in the refrigerator. 
Day four soup goes back on the stove to cook the chestnuts a while longer till they are soft enough to not be gritty if blended. I taste one of the chestnuts, finally the chestnuts are soft enough. I let the soup cool a bit then put soup in the blender in batches till I have it all blended up. Chestnut soup is a labor of love but chestnuts are actually a nut which is really beneficial for your health. I liked the soup but Gary doesn't care for it because the wine he insisted we use is a sweet wine which tastes like blackberries. Chestnut soup should probably be a more savory soup rather than sweet. Live and learn.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Stuffed Orange Kombucha Squash

At the last farmers market I was drawn to this little known small round winter squash. I learned it was a kombucha squash.
Thinking it was like a North Georgia Candy Roaster type of squash with a tough exterior I readied my handy garage saw. I made quick work of slicing it apart and realized a kitchen knife would have done the job.
After slicing the top off I scooped out the seeds and discarded them. Should I have saved those seeds? probably so, too late now. After brushing the exterior of the squash with olive oil, I prebaked the squash for 20 minutes in a 350 F oven placing it on a parchment lined baking pan.
Meanwhile I sautéed half an onion, one red pepper from my garden, one small can of black beans drained and rinsed, one small can of diced tomatoes, one cup of frozen corn kernels, salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder. Last I sprinkled some shredded smoked gouda cheese over the top and baked the squash for another 30 minutes on the same parchment lined pan.
Next time instead of removing the top, I'll slice the squash in half lengthwise which will make for a better presentation and an easier task of stuffing the ingredients inside. Slice off sections of the stuffed squash to serve, the thin skin is edible or easily avoided while eating the sliced stuffed kombucha.
If you see an unusual vegetable give it a try, stuffing a kombucha squash is worth the effort. A vegetarian meal anyone would be proud to serve and particularly to eat. Yummy.