Monday, August 5, 2013

August's Abundance

The deer love summer as much as we do. Each year, it seems, they eagerly await the time when apples from the tree in my parent's backyard begin to fall to the ground. My dad often sees deer sleeping under the apple tree in the early morning when he gets up for work. We don't make it up that early, but we've been treated to several daytime deer sightings since we've been here. 

This young buck was so excited about the tasty apples. 

It was amazing to see the photos Dave captured of the young buck through his camera lens. His photos were much clearer than what we were able to see by eye from the window. In almost every frame, the deer has a mouthful of apple.

As if one deer wasn't wonderful enough to see, two very young deer, still with their spots, approached the young buck under the apple tree. Clearly, he was not happy to share his apples. He lowered his head to the ground and snorted at the smaller deer. 

Once the young buck scared the other deer off, they retreated back into the woods behind the house. The deer population seems to be very healthy here; we have lost count of how many young deer we have spotted in the yard, all varying ages and sizes. 

And of course, we always enjoy watching the birds. We just hung a humming bird feeder up, as well, and saw our first humming bird yesterday! We are hoping he comes back soon, with all his friends. 

Today, we got another abundant harvest from the garden. 

Dave and I with the first two eggplants of the season. The whole family has really enjoyed watching the eggplants grow. It is amazing the plants support the weight of the heavy vegetables. Their speedy progression, from delightful lavender flower to glossy purple eggplant, is also amazing. 

We decided to make eggplant parmesan for dinner tonight. 

We combined about three recipes from the internet to make the eggplant parmesan to suit our tastes, one of which included directions for a no-cook sauce. We used all the ripe tomatoes from our garden and placed them in the food processor with two cloves of garlic, some black pepper, fresh basil, rosemary, and thyme, and 1/3 cup of olive oil. 

We pulsed the fresh mixture until liquid, and voila! I would love to also do a minced version of this as a bruschetta topping. 

The final dish turned out wonderfully. Our family ate the whole pan. I'll share the recipe here, though I'm not one for exact measurements. Happy eggplant season! 

Baked Eggplant Parmesan 

Total time: about 2 1/2 hours, start to finish 


1/3 cup olive oil 
Fresh basil, thyme, and rosemary 
Sea salt 
Black peppercorns 
Enough tomatoes from your garden- cherry, grape, Big Boy, and variety- to nearly fill up your food processor 
2 cloves of garlic
2 eggs 
Good italian breadcrumbs  
2 eggplant, about the size of your hand 
Good mozzarella cheese
Fresh grated parmesan cheese 


1) Peel your eggplants and cut them into about 1/4 inch slices. Layer the slices in a colander, salting each layer. Put a plate and something heavy (I used two acorn squash) on top of the eggplant slices to weight them down. Let the eggplant drain for at least 1/2 an hour. *This step is important! The salt draws the moisture out of the eggplants, ensuring better flavor and a non-watery final product. Some reviews on other online sites suggest this makes the dish far too salty. I did not find that to be true. Don't go overboard with the salt; the eggplant slices do not have to be coated. Also, I did not add salt to any other part of the dish, including the sauce, to ensure the final product would not be too salty. This method worked perfectly for me, but feel free to experiment. Others suggested washing the salt from the slices before patting dry.* 

2) Pat the eggplant slices as dry as possible with paper towels. You will be amazed at how much moisture comes out. 

3) While you're waiting for the eggplant to drain, you can make the sauce. As I mentioned earlier, we used all the ripe tomatoes from our garden and placed them in the food processor with two cloves of garlic, some black pepper, fresh basil, rosemary, and thyme, and 1/3 cup of olive oil. Blend until liquified. 

4) Many eggplant parmesan recipes call for frying. Our family doesn't like fried foods, so we opted to bake the eggplant, instead. Beat two eggs in one bowl and dump the breadcrumbs into another bowl. Make sure to have plenty of baking sheets ready to lay the eggplant slices on. Also, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

5) This step is more fun as an assembly line with someone. Dredge each slice of eggplant in egg, then breadcrumbs, and lay in a single layer on the baking sheets. 

6) Bake the eggplant in the oven for about 15 minutes per side. Other recipes suggest cooking for less time in the oven, but I found 15 minutes per side to be just right. You want your eggplant to be nearly cooked through and the breadcrumbs lightly browned when they come out of the oven. 

7) Now, cover the bottom of your glass baking dish with your homemade sauce. Then, layer eggplant slices, mozzarella, and sauce. Repeat. I did two layers. Top with fresh grated parmesan cheese and fresh basil leaves. 

8) Bake in the 350 degree oven for half an hour. Serve with crusty homemade garlic bread and steamed beans from the garden. Enjoy! 


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