Curried Eggplant, Tomatoes and Chickpeas with Basil

Photo by Con Poulos appeared on the Real Simple website.  He's one of my favorite food photographers.  See more of his work at the link.

The expected vegetables in the Glade Road Growing farm share for the week of July 28 will be include:  tomatoes, head lettuce, summer squash, green peppers, basil, sweet onions and maybe an eggplant.  Here's a recipe for an Indian curry.  If you don't have an egg plant, you can make this with summer squash or with steamed potatoes and cauliflower.  (This share is also perfect for making ratatouille, a recipe I provided two years ago.)

Serves 4

1.  To cook 1 cup dry chickpeas,  in a medium saucepan with a heavy bottom and a tight-fitting lid, cover with 2 cups water, and and bring to a boil.  Rinse.  Return to pot, add ½ teaspoon sea salt and bring again to a boil again.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Let stand over night or for at least one hour. Rinse a second time atwo cups of swater and bring to a boil again and simmer on low heat until soft, about 1 hour.

2.  In a medium saucepan with a heavy bottom and a tight-fitting lid, combine 1 cup basmati brown rice , 2 cups water, and and bring to a boil.  Rinse.  Return to pot, add ½ teaspoon sea salt and bring again to a boil again.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.  Turn off heat and leave for 40 minutes until water is absorbed. 

3.  While rice is cooking, wash, peel and chop one onion.  If you are using cherry tomatoes, cut in half.  Otherwise chop coarsely.  Cut 1 eggplant (about 1 pound) into 1/2-inch pieces.

4.  Measure out these spices:
1/2 tsp gound cumin 
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

5. Toast spices in a dry cast iron skillet and set to the side.

6.  Heat 1 TB extra virgin olive oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, eggplant, spices, 1 teaspoon sea salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until eggplant is tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Stir in the cooked chickpeas and cook just until heated through, about 3 minutes. Remove the vegetables from heat and stir in  1/2 cup of fresh basil leaves.

7.  Uncover the rice and fluff with a fork. Divide among four bowls and top with vegetables and a spoonful of non-fat plain yogurt.


Eggplant, Tomato, Cucumber and Cilantro Pasta Salad

Photo from Joanne Mumola Williams recipe.

The expected bag of vegetables from Glade Road Growing for the week of July 21 will include: tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, cilantro, garlic, and an eggplant.  This recipe includes the tomatoes, cucumber, cilantro, garlic and eggplant.  With days getting hotter, you may want to prepare the cooked parts of this pasta salad in the early morning while it is still cooler and then serve it in the evening for dinner.


Serves 4

1.  Wash and dice one unpeeled eggplant.  Place in a steamer basket and sprinkle generously with salt and toss to distribute salt.  Let sit in the sink for at least 15 minutes until the eggplant sweats.

2.  Peel and smash and finely chop garlic and  and one or more large portobello mushroom caps.

3.  While eggplant is sweating, bring water salted water with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to a boil.  Add 4 ounces of whole wheat spaghetti and return to boil.  Cook for about 7 minutes or until al dente.  Drain pasta, reserving water in the pot to cook the eggplant.  Toss pasta with a bit more olive oil and set aside to cool and then chill in the refrigerator.

4.  Leaving the eggplant in the steamer basket, rinse off salt.  Bring pasta water back to a slow boil and steam eggplant until cooked - about 10 minutes.

5.  In a skillet, heat olive oil and stir in 1/8 teaspoon of pepper flakes, garlic and chopped mushrooms and cook until soft and add eggplant and cook for another five minutes to meld flavors.  Cool and toss cooked veggies with pasta and refrigerate.

6.  Chop tomatoes,  1/2 cup of cilantro leaves,  cucumber with skins on (but seeds removed if too large) and mince about 1 tablespoon of raw onions.

7.  Divide the pasta and veggie mixture among four small bowls.    If you would like this to be a main dish, you can also add in at least a half cup of cooked, chilled chickpeas or lentils  to each bowl. Garnish with raw veggies and with olives and feta cheese, if desired.


Summer Beet Borscht

Photo from Ina Garten from her similar recipe.

The expected farm share from Glade Road Growing for the Week of July 14 will include red beets, carrots, cucumbers, a sweet onion, a rosa de tropea onion, basil, sprig of dill and celery.  Here is a recipe for the beets, rosa de tropea onion, cucumbers and dill.  The carrots, celery and sweet onion would make a good base for a split pea soup, with the addition of potatoes and garlic and bay leaves.

Serves 6

1. Wash and rinse twice, 2 pounds of red beets and roast  in a convection or conventional oven at 450 degrees F until almost tender, about 30 minutes.  If you are using a countertop convection oven, as I do, no preparation is needed.  To roast in a conventional oven, preheat oven.  Coat beets lightly with a bit of olive oil. Wrap beets in aluminum foil, place on a baking sheet to roast.

2.  Remove beets from oven and let cool and then peel with a small paring knife and discard skin.  Chop into a small to medium dice.

3.  Cook beets until tender for about another 10 minutes in 4 cups of boiling water to which you have added 1 teaspoon of sea salt. Remove beets to a bowl with a slotted spoon and cool.  Strain the cooking liquid and cool.

4.  While beets are cooling, wash and dice cucumbers with skin on, but seeds removed to measure up to two cups.  Wash one rosa de tropea onion and chop finely to make 1/2 cup (or you can use scallions, both the white and green parts.)  Wash and chop 2 tablespoons of dill.

5.  In a large bowl, whisk together beet cooking liquid, 2 1/2 cups of plain non-fat yogurt, 1/4 cup demerara sugar, 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice, 2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar  and 1 1/2 teasoons of freshly ground pepper.  

6.  Add the beets, cucumber, onions and dill.  Cover and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

7.  Serve chilled in six bowls and garnish with an extra dollop of yogurt and a sprig of dill.


Fennel and Cucumber Salad

Photo by Helene Dujardin accompanied her recipe for a fennel, cucumber, scallion and mint salad.  I first published this entry on 7/6/15 at 5:24 p.m. and updated on 7/7/15 at 9:45 p.m. to include a picture of the farm share, which can be found at the bottom of the post.

Since the expected Glade Road Growing farm share for week of July 7 includes fennel, cucumbers, sweet onions, carrots, and rainbow chard, I used the above photo as an inspiration and substituted the sweet onions for the scallions and also fennel fronds for the mint.

You could also make a delicious pasta primavera by chopping and sauteing any of the following and serving over cooked pasta, finished with some grated Parmesan cheese: fennel bulb, onions, carrots and chard.

Serves 4

1.  Wash the fennel,  cucumber and the onion in cool water.

2.  Peel the onion, cut in half and thinly chop to to make a quarter to a half a cup.  If you would rather use scallions, as pictured, cut 4 of them lengthwise, keeping all of the white parts and most of the green. Place in a bowl of ice water to curl, while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

3.  To prepare the fennel, trim the stems and fronds close to where they connect to the bulb.  Chop some of the fronds to make 1/2 cup and reserve the remaining to use as an herb in salads or with pasta.  You can also use the stems in stews.

Trim the root end from the bulb to make a flat surface, for the bulb to stand on then cut straight down through the root of the fennel bulb in halves and again into quarters.  Peel off any wilted or rubbery outer layers and discard.  With the quarter on its side, thinly slice crosswise.

4.  With the skin on thinly slice the cucumber into disks.

5.  When ready to plate, layer the cucumber and fennel slices, top with the onions and fennel fronds. To make this salad hardier you could also add steamed string beans and new potatoes. If you would like this to be a main course, top each plate with 1 ounces of crumbed blue cheese and 1/2 cup of cooked chickpeas.  You could also serve it over a bed of cooked, chilled quinoa.

Here's another recipe for fennel:
Gingered Fennel Peach Tomato and Red Onion Salad

The fennel, onions and carrots are also delicious roasted with a Freedom Ranger Chicken.

UPDATE:  Here's the actual farm share (small version) photographed by my neighbor, Blacksburg Town Councilman Michael Sutphin (twitter).  Notice the addition of Thai basil.

In the newsletter, Sally Walker, half of Glade Road Growing's proprietors, writes:

Thai basil is a type of basil that is slightly spicy and also is somewhat licorice-flavored. Try a few leaves chopped into a cold noodle salad with sesame oil. If you do nothing else, just put it in a vase of water on your counter and smell it periodically. If you have a pollinator garden, this would be a nice addition because it has beautiful purple flowers that honeybees love.


Easy Creamy Cucumber Salad with Raw Sunflower Seeds

Photomontage from Community Table, Bates Nut Farm and Serious Eats. (I couldn't find a photograph from a similar recipe.)


The June 30 farm share from Glade Road Growing is slated to include kohlrabi, cucumbers, summer squash, basil, kale, and lettuce and baby spinach mix.

I have a friend who likes tzatziki  and didn't have any dill.  And while I rebuild bone and muscle,  I needed to come up with easy, wholesome meals with enough protein.  This was so yummy that I eat it every day, so I thought I'd share it with you this week.

The principle ingredients are cucumbers and plain non-fat yogurt (or plain yogurt of your choice or a vegan tofu "sour cream" which is at the link for tzatziki.  Plus raw sunflower seeds.  Plus green onions.  If you have them, it's nice to add  fresh chopped basil or dill or mint.  If you have a week when there are no cucumbers, it's also excellent with roasted summer squash or beets with potatoes, raw radishes or salad turnips, chopped kale or nappa or just about anything, I think.

Serves 4 as a main course

Combine in a large bowl:

2 cups of chopped cucumbers
4 cups yogurt
1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup of green onions (or 1/4 cup of finely chopped onions)
1/2 cup, if available, of finely chopped fresh herbs
freshly ground black pepper and sea salt to taste

Stir and refrigerate over night, if you have time, so that the flavors will have time to meld.  It will keep for several days. You can eat this as a main course, as a dressing for your favorite greens or as a dip.


Since we have basil this week, I plan to make pesto hummus, too.

Photo of week 5 share by Michael Sutphin.


Today Only at Blacksburg Farmers' Market: Berries from Talking Hill Farm

Photo of goumi berry (elaeagnus multiflora) by HEN-Magonza on Flickr

Today, at the market, Bill Whipple ((AKA Dr. Barkslip) of  has set up a display of his berries for folks to taste and buy.  He offered at least three kinds of gooseberries, red currants, tart cherries, black cherries, black raspberries, mulberries and one I couldn't identify.

It turned out those were goumi berries, a sweet-tart red fruit (aka gumi, natsugumi, or cherry silverberry), a native of China, Korea and Japan, which he has grafted on to the more common Autumn olive (or maybe Russian olive...I can't remember which)  in the same family.  I read it's  regarded by the USDA as an invasive--that's probably because all of them have the ability to fix nitrogen and thus can grow places where more delicate plants suffer.

Next to the table, he had set out a large branch from a tart cherry tree  in a pail of water, with a sign "pick your own"  sign. I bought a box of mixed berries which included the goumis. He talked about how he lets his trees decide if they're fit for propagation, by whether they thrive without spraying.


 Bill homesteaded his farm in Monroe County near Union, West Virginia starting decades ago and began planting fruit trees as he  pursued a career as a studio furniture maker.  He has furniture on display at Henderson, NC's Silver Fox Gallery and has made traveling violins which he calls wipLstix, pictured at the end of this post.  I'm not sure if he still makes them, as he lists his address on the site as Union, WV, rather than Asheville--I'll have to ask him about the wipLstix when he comes back to Blacksburg with his pears.  That's  how I met him last year, through baker Aaron Grigsby.


If you want to read more about Bill's adventures in horticulture, you can read his blog, where he posted before he started a website for his farm and fruit school.  He has also published on grafting in Permaculture Activist (#87 Weeds to the Rescue, Spring, 2013, "W.E.E.D:  World of Excessive Extracurricular Dendrology") and is one of the founders of the Buncombe Fruit and Nut Club. At one time he was caretaker for the George Washington Carver Edible Park.   In the small world department, it turns out that that park is managed by Bountiful Cities Project, which also manages my friend Randal Phlegar's project, Grass to Greens.

Photo from Bill's site  and three videos from YouTube.

And finally a chin and shoulder rest adaptation from Australia's Animato Strings.


Senators Move to Restore Pre-Clearance in Voters Right Act

Photo by  Heather Rousseau for the Roanoke Times


Rev. Sylvia Ball of Roanoke's Sweet Union Baptist Church (left) and Rev. Leslie Watson Malachi, director of African American Religious Affairs with People for the American Way joined  others in Elmwood park for a three-hour rally calling on Republican House Judiciary Committee Bob Goodlatte, to update (and preserve) the pre-clearance formula of the Voters Right law, struck down two years ago in the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder.

“Hold a hearing, Mr. Chairman,” Brenda Hale, president of the Roanoke Branch NAACP, urged Goodlatte. “You’ll hear the evidence.”

The previous day, Dems Tim Kaine and Mark Warner co-sponsored Patrick Leahy's Senate bill S.1659 seeking to restore the pre-clearance provision. The bill establishes a “rolling” trigger so only states with recent records of discrimination would be targeted and expands the authority of the courts to order that troubled jurisdictions be put under pre-clearance.

Upon its introduction, Senator Leahy explained the rationale for the bill:

Mr. President, this year marks the 50th anniversaries of the March from Selma to Montgomery and the passage of the landmark Voting Rights Act. Passage of the Voting Rights Act was the result of the blood, sweat, and tears of so many brave Americans who marched for justice--and the decades-long work of countless other men and women committed to seeing our country live up to its promise of equality and justice for all. Their actions transformed our Nation. On this 50th anniversary year, we pay special tribute to their legacy, but there is still work to be done. Each generation must contribute to the fight for equality. Each of us must answer the call to move this Nation toward a more perfect union.

In the coming weeks there will be continued celebrations of the passage of the original Voting Rights Act. Unfortunately, two years ago, the Supreme Court voted to dismantle a core piece of that vital legislation. In Shelby County v. Holder, five Republican-appointed justices on the Supreme Court drove a stake through the heart of the Voting Rights Act. Under Section 5 of the Act, the Federal government has the authority to examine and prevent racially discriminatory voting changes from being enacted before those changes disenfranchise voters in covered jurisdictions. By striking down the coverage formula that determined which States and jurisdictions were subject to Federal review, the Court effectively gutted Section 5. And in holding that the formula was based on outdated information, the Roberts Court disregarded thousands of pages of testimony and evidence from nearly 20 congressional hearings held when the law was reauthorized in 2006.
Within weeks of the Supreme Court's devastating ruling, Republican governors and State legislatures exploited the Shelby County decision. Several States with a documented history of racial discrimination in voting implemented sweeping laws that disproportionately suppressed the voting rights of minorities, the elderly, and young people.

For example, Texas immediately implemented the most restrictive photo identification law in the country. Although, a Federal judge found the law to be an ``unconstitutional poll tax'' that could disenfranchise up to 600,000 voters and disproportionately impact African Americans and Latinos, the law was allowed to disenfranchise voters this past election.

In North Carolina, the Republican legislature and Republican governor passed a far-reaching bill that restricted its citizens' right to vote. The bill cut early voting down from 17 days to 10 days, eliminated teenagers' ability to preregister before their 18th birthday, and eliminated same day voter registration. It also enacted a strict photo identification requirement, which is currently being challenged in court.
These are just a few of the numerous discriminatory voting restrictions that have been enacted since Shelby County was decided. We cannot sit by as the fundamental right to vote is systematically undermined. We must not retreat from our commitment to civil rights and the great accomplishments we celebrate this year. As my friend Congressman John Lewis has stated, voting ``is the most powerful, nonviolent tool we have to create a more perfect union.''