Saturday, October 06, 2007

Old Man Winter

Can you believe that it’s fall already? It seems like only yesterday I was racing like Indiana Jones in the Temple of Doom to soak my plants with the garden hose before the drought could snatch them up in his dry, brittle teeth. Now the mornings are cool, the days shorter, pushing us ever-closer to the dreaded winter season.

I dread it, anyway. Fall is lovely, what with the crunchy leaves and apple cider and a cozy urge to make delicious, slow-cooked soups and stews. But winter? No thanks.

The first story I remember hearing about Winter and me came from my parents. We were living in New Hampshire, I had recently learned to walk, and the first thick blanket of snow lay beckoning. A glorious Kodak moment was theirs for the taking. My parents bundled me up in a puffy yellow snowsuit, planted me in the back yard, and watched in breathless excitement.

I took two wobbly steps, swayed uncertainly, and pitched forward like an expertly-felled tree.

With barely enough coordination to operate my limbs when they weren’t swathed in yards of fabric and insulation, remaining face-down in the snow was the only option. I imagine I resembled a drunken banana slug.

It’s no secret that my parents promptly fell into a fit of hysterical laughter. Ho ho ho! What kind of first-time parents were they, anyway? First-time parents are supposed to freak out about everything, especially when suffocation is imminent.

(ah, revenge was sweet for the parents of the colicky baby!)

So there you have it. Winter tried to smother me when I was 10 months old and we’ve been at war ever since.

So for anyone who wants to distract themselves from the fact that winter is coming, coming soon, cook this. I made it last weekend and it was delicious.

Braised Lebanese Eggplant with Chickpeas
(From the September 2007 Vegetarian Times)


2 T. olive oil
1 large onion, diced (about 1 ½ cups)
6 medium Japanese eggplant, halved lengthwise and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 clove garlic, minced
½ t. ground allspice
¼ t. ground cumin
1 cup marinara sauce
1 T. red wine vinegar
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 large mint sprigs, plus 2 T. chopped mint

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, and sauté 7 minutes, or until soft. Stir in eggplant and cook 5 minutes, or until beginning to brown. Add garlic, allspice, and cumin, and cook 1 minute more.

Stir in marinara sauce, red wine vinegar, and 2/3 cup water, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in chickpeas. Season with salt and pepper. Lay mint springs on top of eggplant mixture, cover, and transfer pot to oven. Cook 45 to 50 minutes, or until eggplant is tender. Remove mint sprigs and stir in chopped mint. Serve hot or at room temperature.

I served it over Jasmine rice. Mmmmm...

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Blogger Bearette24 said...

I love chickpeas :)

I was colicky, too. Hope that isn't hereditary ;)

1:27 PM  
Blogger laurie said...

that sounds delicious. i regret that i'm allergic to eggplant.

by the way, does dc even actually have a winter?

6:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You and your eggplant...

I would love to try out some of your recipes but I have a five ingredient rule. Any more than that and I am bound to fail.

I love the fall. It is my favorite season. Of course living in Florida now I get hot and less hot. No frost on the grass for me. I pretend it's fall, though, by covering my house in decor from pumpkins and scarecrows to spiced potpourri and autumn yankee candles!

6:30 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

laurie- indeed we do! how much winter? more than Florida, less than Minnesota. :)

teacherbee- if you can wrangle a class full of fourth graders, you can make this dish.

6:51 PM  
Blogger His suzy said...

I'm a little nervous about my first winter on the tundra! lol

8:20 PM  
Blogger R U Serious?? said...

I hope that this winter goes much better than your first!! Not wearing a yellow snowsuit might be key!

Your recipe sounds GREAT!!

11:16 PM  
Blogger BabelBabe said...

it's not even acting like fall here in western PA. it was ninety degrees yesterday. I HATE this.

9:57 AM  
Blogger J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Fall is here? Really?! I think it came for a few days and then left abruptly returning us to icky, hazy, hot, and humid.

It'll be our luck and we'll got for swelteringly hot to ball-numbingly cold overnight and won't get to enjoy the pleasantness that can be fall.

(Okay, maybe I'm just feeling cranky because my weekend at the beach was hot and sticky, rather than cool and relaxing.)

9:41 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

Yeah, no kidding. The glimpse of fall was brief. Today the high will be 90 degrees.

Ball-numbingly cold? heh heh.

8:43 AM  
Anonymous Amy said...

Hey, we made that same recipe a few weeks ago! It was as good as it pictured in the magazine. Isn't it odd to stumble upon a blog through someone else's through yet another and make a useless connection? :)

4:57 PM  
Blogger Roxanne said...

We have leaves falling all over the place, but it still feels and smells like summer here. Old Man Winter needs to come already. Heck, I'm even ready for the flakes to start falling. I'm even more ready to start cooking hearty soups. :)

3:20 PM  
Blogger Heather B. said...

The difference between you and me is that you don't just get Vegetarian Times and look at the pictures, you actually MAKE things. Perhaps I'll try that next month.

On another note, I was so happy to return back to NY this week and it's actually a proper Fall. I get to wear a turtleneck tomorrow and this weekend I'm going apple picking. Oh, the joys of Upstate NY.

9:06 PM  

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