What to do with…Eggplant/Aubergines

eggplant cartoonEggplant or Aubergine, whichever you call it, have a beautiful shiny, dark purple skin and a taste characteristic of Mediterranean cuisine.

Where did the name come from?

Some 18th-century European cultivars were yellow or white and resembled goose or hen’s eggs, hence the name “eggplant.”

In the western Mediterranean, the Catalan word was albergínia which was borrowed by French as aubergine, which was then borrowed into English.

 

To salt or not

The raw fruit can have a somewhat bitter taste, but becomes tender when cooked and develops a rich, complex flavor. Many recipes advise salting, rinsing and draining of the sliced fruit, to soften it and to reduce the amount of fat absorbed during cooking, but mainly to remove the bitterness.

Some modern varieties do not need this treatment. The fruit is capable of absorbing large amounts of cooking fats and sauces, making for very rich dishes, but salting reduces the amount of oil absorbed.   The eggplant can be peeled or not prior to cooking.

Buying and Cooking

EggplantWhen buying an eggplant, be sure to choose one that’s firm and heavy for its size.  The skin should be smooth and free of bruises or discoloration.  It’s best to store eggplants in the refrigerator until ready to use.

It can be stewed, deep fried, batter-dipped before deep frying.  It can be roasted in its skin until soft and the pulp scooped out and mixed with other ingredients.  It can also be hollowed out and stuffed with meat, rice or other fillings and baked.

Nicotine

The nicotine content in eggplant is higher than any other edible plant.  The amount of nicotine consumed by eating eggplant is nothing compared to being in the presence of a smoker.  On average, you would need to consume 9kg/20lbs of eggplant to ingest the same nicotine amount as found in a cigarette.

Ideas

So what do you do with eggplant now that you know stuff about it?

Slice into rounds, saute in olive oil, serve hot, warm or cold with yogurt, garlic & dill sauce.

Cut thin slices and make little rolls with a slice of fresh mozzarella, a sun-dried tomato, and a piece of roasted red pepper. Put rolls in a serving dish. Cover with a creamy cheese sauce or tomato sauce and bake at 350°f/180°c for about 30-45 minutes until bubbly.

You can also try out my recipe for Eggplant Lasagna if you want something hardy!

Cubed eggplant can also be added to stews and soups and is quite popular in Indian cooking.

So go get yourself some eggplant and whip up something different for dinner tonight!

♥  Terri  ♥

 

 

 

 

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Terri’s Tuesday Tips ~ Jan 22

Good Morning Campers!

Hope you’re all keeping toasty and warm on this bitterly cold January morn.  I’m sitting here with a nice hot cup of vanilla black tea….mmmm.    Here’s this week’s tips:

AT THE GROCERY STORETry to do the weekly shopping trip on a Wednesday.  Research shows only 11% of people shop midweek so the stores will be quieter.

TT:  For those who work all day, this could be a bit difficult.  If you can’t get out during the week, my suggestion is to get out as early as possible on the weekend.  We have found the stores are fairly empty before 10:00am on a Saturday.

When buying a whole chicken, bear in mind that the bigger the bird the more meat you will get per lb.  It is more economical to buy a whole chicken than various cuts of chicken and the carcass can be boiled for stock.

TT:  I’m a firm believer in this and do use the carcass for stock.  i usually stick the carcass in the freezer for later when I want to make chicken soup and use the meat that is still on it.  However, when we have chicken it isn’t always a roasted chicken.  We do buy big bags of frozen drumsticks, thighs and breasts.

Never use water that has boiled twice to make a cup of tea.  Fresh water has a higher oxygen content so should extract more tea from the leaves, making a tastier cuppa!

TT:  I do agree with this and it does make a difference.

When making a crumble mixture, make a double portion and put one in the freezer.  It can be sprinkled straight from frozen over semi-cooked fruit, then baked.

TT:  I guess this is fine if you make a lot of crumbles.  For now though, I won’t be seeing any fruit crumbles anytime in the near future!

Before leaving for work, put chicken breasts, chopped carrots, potatoes and onions, a can of chopped tomatoes and some seasoning into a slow cooker.  A complete meal will be ready when you get home.

TT:  When I was back home living in the US and working outside the home, I would put all the ingredients into the bowl of the slow cooker the night before and leave it in the fridge.  I would take it out when I got up to allow it to come to room temp and then put it right into the slow cooker before I left the house.  Who has time to deal with prepping veg when you’re trying to get ready for work?

liver-kidneyTo counteract the sometimes overpowering flavor of liver, kidney and other offal, soak overnight in a little milk to draw out the bitter taste.

TT:  I don’t really eat much of these kinds of meats.  I don’t mind calves liver and I don’t like kidney (yes, I’ve tried it) and we won’t even talk about the other offal…

If custard curdles, put the bowl in cold water and keep whisking until the sauce goes smooth.

TT: Great idea if you make your own.  Another item of foodstuff I won’t be seeing or eating anytime soon.

When cooking with a wok, if food starts to stick, don’t be tempted to add more oil.  Instead, add a splash of water.

TT: We cook with a wok on occasion and have done this.  It also helps give a little bit of sauce to the mix.

So there you have your Tuesday Tips!

♥  Terri  ♥

Terri’s Tuesday Tips ~ Jan 8

Hello!

I’ve got a new calendar with lots of kitchen tips so thought I would share these with you on a weekly basis.

Here’s the first round along with my two cents….

BOGOF♠ It is estimated that food worth £420 ($638) per person is thrown away every year.  Turn over a new leaf at the start of the year ~ avoid BOGOF (by one, get one free) offers in supermarkets which encourage waste and plan the weekly menu before shopping.

Terri’s thoughts on this one:  I see nothing wrong with these as long as it’s a product that you actually use.  We tend to get these more on store cupboard items, such as coffee or pasta; something that isn’t going to go bad in a short amount of time.  Don’t buy something just because it’s on sale.  Yeah, that BOGOF offer on the 20lb. bag of flour is great, but unless you run a bakery or do a sh!tload of baking, do you really need 40lbs. of flour??

♠ Use the unpopular chocolates from a selection box by melting them all together and making a fudgy chocolate sauce to pour over ice cream for an instant dessert.

Terri’s thoughts:  Unpopular chocolate??  This was definitely written by a member of the male species or Martha Stewart.  That’s like saying ‘leftover wine’. The only chocolate I don’t eat is if it’s wrapped around marzipan or a sickly sweet cherry.  And of course, that’s what most of us want to do, especially if you’ve decided to start a healthy eating regime!

♠ If a recipe calls for thinly sliced meat, freeze it for a couple of hours as it will then slice more easily.

Terri’s thoughts:  This actually does work!

♠ Put a damp tea towel under the chopping board to prevent it slipping or under a bowl while mixing.

Terri’s thoughts:  I actually have a piece of that rubbery shelf liner under my cutting board and I have a stand mixer so no need for it under the bowl.  Even if I’m using my hand-held mixer, I usually have my other hand on the bowl, turning it.

♠ When preparing a packed lunch in the morning, use frozen bread.  It will defrost and taste fresh by lunch time.

Terri’s thoughts:  A good idea if you take a lunch to work.  Taking a lunch is always a better idea than buying your lunch.  Think of the money you save!

Cheap-white-bread♠ To freshen a slightly stale loaf of bread, steam in a pan with a lid on until warmed through.

Terri’s thoughts:  Not a bad idea if you want to use it for a sandwich, but slightly stale bread will taste just as good as fresh when toasted.  It almost doesn’t seem worth the trouble.

Next week, how to sooth a sore throat, an idea for tissue paper and making a tastier cup of tea!

Terri  ♥

Are you Ready for Christmas??

Christmas is a wonderful time of year for getting together with family and friends, enjoying great food, listening to favorite holiday tunes, decorating the house and exchanging gifts.  It’s also a terrible time for encountering stress along the way.

Even for the most experienced cook, hosting the family Christmas meal can seem a bit daunting.  With a bit of forward planning, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy the festivities, and treat your guests to some really special food.  With only four weeks to go, hopefully you’re already on your way to planning the big meal.  Here’s some tips for your preparation…
Do a Kitchen Inventory ~

Make sure you’ve got enough cutlery and crockery for all of your guests.  Making the traditional turkey?  Make sure you’ve got a roasting tin big enough to hold it.  Stock up on turkey foil and greaseproof paper.  Don’t forget napkins, wine glasses and candles.

Confirm your Guest List ~

Get a proper count of the number of people you’ll be feeding.  Does anyone have any special dietary needs?  Any vegetarians?  Your guests will appreciate your concern and everyone will be happy.

Plan your Menu ~

Once you know who you’re cooking for, you can start to plan your menu for the day.  Start making a shopping list of everything you’ll need.  Go through all your recipes and make sure you’ve got everything, including any special pans you may need.  Put your order in to the butcher for your turkey or other meat such as a beef roast, ham or in our case, a duck!

Start your Cooking Early ~

Anything that can be made ahead of time is worth doing, be it a Christmas Pudding or Cake, mince pies or cookie dough.  These can all be made ahead and stored in the freezer until needed.

Shop now to Save Money ~

If you plan your menu early, you’ll have plenty of time to hunt down money-saving deals on everything you’ll need. Shop around now for a well-priced turkey, and make the most of bulk-buy deals on wine, beer and spirits.  And save yourself some more stress….leave the kids home with your spouse or the grandparents while you go do the shopping.

These are just a few things to get you started if you haven’t already.

These ideas pertain mainly to the food, but what other things do you do to plan ahead?

Can you add to this list? How do you stay stress-free for the holidays?  Please share your thoughts!

♥♥Terri ♥♥

Bargain of the Day

Hello Campers and welcome to Wednesday!

What a beautiful morning it has been down here in the Garden of England!  It was rather cool

Autumn in Kent

and crisp when we got up at 5:00am.  The sun finally showed its bright face later on in the morning and it has been pleasantly warm, yet cool.  Autumn has definitely arrived; in fact I was almost tempted to put the heat on this morning!  Instead, I’ve now got a long sleeved top on and a cardigan and I’m quite comfy.

The kitties too, are all enjoying the warmth of the sun as they are all in their favorite sunny spots, snoozing.

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On Monday, Chef P stopped at the store on his way home and checked out the Reduced to Clear section, as he always does.  He called to ask me if I wanted any plums, but I still have a few left to turn into something yummy, so told him not to bother.

When he got home a little while later, he came in with a big grin on his face and said ‘Wait until you see what I found in RTC!’

This has got to be one of the best bargains he’s ever found, even better than herbs for 5p.  Out of the bag, he pulls a whole salmon.  Now as some of you may know, we often find whole salmon at reduced prices so this was nothing new…until I saw how much he paid for it.

The normal price was £8.00/kg and had been reduced/rolled back to half price; £4.00/kg.  The salmon weight was 1.896 kg, so you figure almost £8.00.  Ah, but remember, this was at an even lower and reduced price. Take a look….

Awesome!

Do you believe this??  £1.50 for a WHOLE SALMON!  Woo hoo!  At the normal price, it would have been £15.16.

So yesterday I scaled it and cut off its darling head and fins and filleted it, removed all the pin bones and cut it up into 10 serving pieces and frozen.  All the bits I cut off get thrown into a pot and boiled, then I pick out all the meat and freeze it to use for fish cakes later.  The remaining bits get thrown out back and then all the seagulls come down to have a feast.  Not one bit of this fish (except the bones) gets wasted and we can get a few meals out of it.

So let’s see what dinner cost last night (plus leftovers for Chef P’s lunch)…..

3 pieces salmon = 45p,  1/2 of an RTC cabbage = 18p,  egg noodles, home made (200g flour, 2 eggs) = 23p,  incidental condiments (olive oil, salt & pepper, butter) = 25p

So for a grand total of £1.11 or .37p a serving, we ate salmon and home made egg noodles.  OK, so it wasn’t very fancy, but we had a decent meal!

I don’t want to hear anyone say they can’t eat well on a budget.  You can if you know where the bargains are.

When was the last time you found a great bargain?

  Terri  

You can still Eat Healthy on a Budget

Money is tight these days and that means for just about all of us.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t eat healthy.

Many people think that they can’t afford to buy fresh food and think it’s cheaper to buy ready-made meals and processed foods.  But you can buy fresh food, save money and still respect yourself in the morning!

Here’s a handful of tips on how to save some of your hard-earned cash and still eat right.

◊ Carry a bottle of water with you always.  If you already have a beverage with you, there’s no need to buy soda, juice, coffee, tea or even a bottle of water when you’re out and about.  Think about what you spend when you buy a can of soda or a bottle of water.  Over time, that can add up.

◊ Pack your lunch. Whatever you make for dinner, make a little extra and take that with you for your lunch the next day at the office.  Just reheat it in the microwave.  No microwave?  Then make yourself a sandwich or a even better, a salad with lots of veggies and some beans and avocado or low fat deli ham or some canned tuna.  Make your own dressing with some mayo, low-fat plain yogurt, herbs and seasonings or just some olive oil and vinegar.  The combination of the veggies with a bit of protein and fat will keep you fuller longer to get through that afternoon slump and is much better for you than a fast food burger and fries and in the long run, cheaper.  If you do feel a bit peckish later in the afternoon, have an apple with some slices of cheese or a couple of whole grain crackers with natural peanut butter.

◊ Eat more vegetarian meals.  For those of you who are meat eaters, I’m not saying to give up eating meat, but meat can be expensive and it doesn’t hurt to have a meal once in a while that doesn’t contain meat.  Legumes, beans, veggies, rice and other whole grains are less expensive and can be a good source of satisfying protein.

◊ Buy in Bulk.  Whenever possible, buy in bulk, especially if you have the room at home to store big bags or boxes of things such as rice, pasta, dried beans or oats.  They will stay longer and cost much less when bought in bulk.

◊ Eat more Fiber. More fiber and less refined sugar.  Refined sugar and hydrogenated oils increase our appetite and therefore our spending on food because we get hungry again shortly after eating them, thus eating more food.  Fruits, veggies and nuts however, are packed with fiber, therefore filling us up and ultimately decreasing our spending on food.

So there’s a few tips on how to eat healthy while not spending a fortune.

Can you think of other ways?  How do you save money and still eat well?  Why not share your ideas with the rest of us?

  Terri  

Psst…Just a reminder, I still need a foodie word for this Friday…A page number 1-632 and a word number 1-20…..

What Has….

…five racks, four doors, three glass panels, a glass cover and five gas burners?

My range!

The reflection on the floor is from the sky light

I decided to give my ovens (yes, that is plural) a good clean this morning.  Cleaning the oven(s) is just one of those jobs that you…or at least I…put off cleaning just because it’s a pain in the butt to do, especially since I have two (one is a fan oven-bottom, left).  It also has a separate broiler/grill (upper left) and a storage area, bottom, right.

I do have some great oven cleaner (Ovenmate) and it also works on the racks and the glass panels

The glass cover is up. There’s four burners plus a central wok burner and plate warmer on the right, which is also great for melting butter and chocolate.

without barely any effort.  You just brush it on and leave it be for anywhere from 3 minutes to 3 hours, depending on how bad the grease and grime is then wipe it off.  It’s a clear gel and doesn’t smell and has no fumes.  I’ve also got a huge plastic tray that’s big enough to put the racks in to give them a good soak.

Now that it’s all cleaned, I’m not going to want to mess it up later by cooking dinner, but alas, I shall.

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OTHER BITS AND BOBS….

I also picked out some potatoes that we had growing from a sprouting potato that I planted a few months back.  Guess what I’m making with the chicken tonight!

New potatoes

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On Saturday we headed to Ramsgate to the green grocer where we can get 12 bulbs of garlic for £3.99.  They also had boxes of mushrooms: 4 lbs. for £2.50 and these are HUGE mushrooms…bigger than Portobello!  When the girl rang them up, they came up at £1.99 (bargain #1).  We then stopped at a pet store as I needed some more bird seed and they had a 20kg bag sitting outside, but no price on it so I went in to ask how much it was.  The guy says £8.99, which is a really good price.  Chef P grabbed one off the shelf and as we left with the seed, Chef P notices that the priced marked on the bag was £10.99 (bargain #2).

We then headed to the farm shop and picked up four cauliflowers for £1.00 (bargain #3) – (One of the big stores here, the one that claims ‘every little helps’ sells cauliflower for £1.87…each!), a 20kg bag of large onions for £7.00 (bargain #4) and a 12.5kg bag of maris piper potatoes for £1.60 (bargain #5) (the same store sells maris pipers; a 2.5kg bag for £1.90)

I love saving money!

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This coming weekend, there are a couple of major events going on.  It’s the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II; the celebration of her being on the throne for 60 years.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip on the balcony at her Majesty’s Coronation

As this country will take any excuse for a party, it  has been gearing up for this over the past year, but even more so in the past couple of months.

Everywhere you look you see the Union Jack flag, crowns, red, white and blue, pictures of the queen and in all the magazines and newspapers, tips and recipes on how to celebrate the jubilee with parties and food.

This is such a big deal, they’ve even given an extra two bank holidays for the occasion, so next Monday and Tuesday, pretty much the whole country has off for the Diamond Jubilee.

Here’s a few facts about the Queen’s monarchy over the years:

1953 ~ The Coronation At 25, Elizabeth II was the youngest monarch to succeed to the throne since her great-great grandmother, the 18-year-old Princess Victoria, became Queen in 1837.  On June 2, 1953, the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II took place in Westminster Abbey, following a 900-year-old Royal tradition.

1955 ~ Portrait Sittings The Queen has been painted and drawn by more than 70 artists in the past six decades, giving a total of 712 sittings.

1970 ~ Gone Walkabout For the first 20 years of her reign, the queen was restricted by Royal protocol in who she met and talked to.  All that changed overnight on a state visit to new Zealand.  She had been on an engagement when she came across a group of young schoolchildren eagerly waiting to greet her.  Quite spontaneously, she departed from the original program and walked informally among the children, chatting, shaking hands and accepting their gifts of small bunches of flowers.

2011 ~ Royal wedding of William and Kate 2011 proved to be a red-letter year for the Queen.  The wedding of her grandson William to Catherine Middleton was a cause for nationwide celebrations and there was a groundswell of public affection towards the couple and towards the Queen and Prince Phillip, who were obviously delighted William had found such a beautiful bride.

So make some food, have a party, buy some souvenirs and celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee!

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Oh yes, I did say there were a couple of major events this weekend….Friday is…MY BIRTHDAY!  Chef P is taking the day off and we’ll be heading to Canterbury again.  Looking forward to it!

Have a nice day! 🙂

♥ Terri  ♥♥