On August 1st, I had a minor existential crisis– the farming season is halfway over, how is that possible?! What am I doing with my life?! The panic subsided after a phone call home (thanks, Dad) and the quick realization that I honestly have no time to reflect on that fact that it’s August. The plants at the farm are in over-abundance mode. Every day, we harvest at least half of, or all of, our current crops: tomatoes, eggplant (more on this later), peppers, corn, okra, potatoes, cucumbers, squash, carrots, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, leeks, fennel, lettuce, rainbow chard, spinach, arugula, radishes, turnips, cabbages, herbs, and loads of different kinds of flowers and some ornamental grasses.
Despite the fact that August means a plethora of vegetables, it also means that we’ve turned a corner. We have planted our major crops, even the fall ones– the ornamental gourds and pumpkin plants are enormous. We’ve already started harvesting our winter storage onions. Soon, storage carrots and potatoes will pile high in the service barn. We’ll also start sowing cover crop- rye, clover, barley, etc.- in some of our fields. The crop will “overwinter,” or stay in the ground during the winter, and then Matt will mow it and the spring vegetables will be planted in the nutrient-rich soil.
For me, August means an overabundance of emotional energy. So: I’m cooking and baking up a storm! My food processor has arrived (!!!) and been christened with carrot-leek-cumin cold soup, carrot-chocolate-chip-muffins, potato-leek soup, and nut-apricot cookies. Despite the deliciousness of all of these things (if I do say so myself), I think I’d better dedicate some time to my favorite meal of the week, made without the food processor: Good Old Stir-Fry. And one of my favorite vegetables: EGGPLANT.
Eggplant plants look similar to pepper plants: little bushes that produce tons of lovely fruit for months. Eggplants are originally from India, where they are still valued as a main vegetable. We grow several varieties, including the delicate fairytale eggplant, which fits in the palm of my hand:
To harvest eggplant, you need clippers or scissors and a bucket or basket. It’s hard on the lower back and butt muscles, as you have to bend over and shuffle along the rows of eggplant, cutting the thick stems and moving the plant around to get to hidden eggplant.
Eggplant is hearty and filling; it should definitely be eaten cooked, as it tastes leathery when raw. I saute it with tomato, onion, and garlic, then add a sauce to match my mood. One of my favorites is a delicious vegan tomato-tahini alfredo sauce (mix half cup tahini with cup water, add salt, pepper, basil, oregano, thyme; add to the tomato-eggplant-onion-garlic mixture at the very end, turn off heat almost immediately so that the sauce doesn’t evaporate too much).
Happy eggplanting, and I hope your Augusts are filled with long beach days and bike rides and lemonades.